Oak Hill 7/05/2019: From the Field
Friday Morning Reflections
I’ve tried to make my writings an overview of our days and a post of what I have observed. I wanted the boys to tell their stories through the podcast, and those episodes have been entertaining for sure! However, as I sit here this morning in the quiet, I thought I would try to tell you about my journey and how your boys have been an impact in my life this week. I’ve always had a thought that I wanted to go on a missions trip, but a couple of summers ago when one of my colleagues went on a trip to serve at an orphanage, that thought really became a strong desire. When the Jamaica opportunity presented itself and the girls received the okay, I was thrilled to be allowed to join the group. I have so enjoyed the company of Lauren and Abby this week! What amazing young women these two are!
Attending the various churches to prepare for the trip was an important step in the process to get here, and while the primary goal was fundraising, the worship time together with the team was an important step in building this community we have become. In school, I do get opportunities to work with students outside of the classroom, but this has been an entirely different experience than any of that can ever be. As a teacher of most of these young men, I have so enjoyed the time serving with them and interacting with them at the guesthouse. They have been so kind to the three of us–always having us go first in lines (which was unnecessary but so kind), they have joined us at meals, kept their laughter to themselves as I have been hoisted into trucks, and have included us in games and conversations. I came on this trip knowing that we would be serving the Jamaican people together, pretty confident I’d be doing a lot of painting, but unsure of how I’d fit in with the group. I’m a pretty reserved person and not nearly as outgoing and outspoken as my colleagues on this trip, but God, in His infinite wisdom, knew exactly what I needed. I have never once felt like an outsider, have never felt unsafe, and I have smiled more and laughed more on this trip than I ever expected. God knew I needed to be filled up, and these young men have given me such joy this week. Through sobs last night, I told them I had no idea that would happen but thanked them for that. They have reminded me of how much potential our young people have. I have seen such leadership from these guys as they have stepped up at the houses, here at the guesthouse, and in their interactions with each other. They have mixed and mingled, and have been simply been fun to be around. Yesterday as I watched them play with the kids at the school, these boys laughed and ran and played just as much as the students in the school. That laughter was infectious, and I absolutely loved it! The Jamaican students laughed at our guys in their cornrows, made comments about how sweaty our guys were, and just enjoyed human jungle gyms to play on! The older girls found several to simply follow around and giggle at.
These young men kept their hearts visible in just about everything they did this week, and I have been so impressed with them. They have grown and matured and have simply been fabulous this week. I’m so thankful to have been a part of this trip and so thankful that these guys have put so much joy in my heart. I will so miss these graduates, but God has great plans for them, and I know that as we return home, He will be sending them out into the world to continue His work. The rest of these guys will be able to share God’s love and be examples as they walk through the halls of the school and compete in various athletic settings. The impact this group can continue to have is overwhelming! I’m so proud of them and so blessed to have seen students in this serving capacity. Being surrounded by such an outpouring of God’s love this week has truly been needed and has made a huge impact on so many–including me.
As we traveled today to Ocho Rios, we switched roles and became tourists. In the craft market of the city, the group experienced bartering–which some excelled at and others certainly did not, participated in high-pressure shopping, and found many ladies willing to braid hair! I was struck by how many of the shop owners asked if we were missionaries and then thanked us for our work. We ate lunch in town and then traveled to Dunn’s River Falls. Climbing the falls was so much fun! Many of the group climbed more than once, and many opted for the most challenging route. The group also spent time at the beach at the bottom of the falls, and they enjoyed playing games in the warm water. This evening we have once again spent time sharing and lifting each other up. They all shared prayer requests, and each one of them has a person to pray for as we return home.
It is hard to believe that we head home tomorrow. I’m not sure any of us are ready to leave. The Holy Spirit has been with us this week, and we are grateful for His direction here in Jamaica. The CSI staff is wonderful, and we are so thankful for the CSI Ministries mission here in Jamaica. We are grateful for your prayers and support. God is so good!
Listen below directly from the team in Jamaica:
**Participants in the mission trip to Jamaica are members of the Oak Hill Boys Basketball team. However, this trip is not sponsored by or in any way affiliated with the Oak Hill United School Corporation.**
***All episodes are included below in order of upload date***