Jamaica Mission Mt. Osborn Methodist Church
Jamaica Mission Mt. Osborn Methodist Church
JAMAICA MISSION 2017
On July 4th a mission group of 11 members led by Golden Hill United Methodist Church, Bridgeport Connecticut traveled to Leeds, St Elizabeth Parish in the hills of Southwest Jamaica. For six members of the group, this was a return visit having worked with members of the Mt. Osborn Methodist Church in constructing a church hall adjacent to their small church, back in 2015. Further progress was made this time, putting in doors, toilets, sinks, showers, and cabinets in two of the rooms, as well as painting and placement of a sewage line. In addition, a Vacation Bible School was held for approximately 25 Jamaican children, ranging in age from three to 16.
Our group ranged in age from 16 to 80. It was led by John Machledt and Mize Johnson, assisted by Phyllis Machledt who organized the VBS, along with Polly Torrence, our Children’s Choir leader, who ably created a song book and accompanied us with her guitar for sing-alongs, one of the high points of the mission. We were joined by two younger members of the Poughkeepsie Methodist Church, Mike Emard, and Alexa Lundin, along with three high school students, Kellie Taylor, from Milford, Connecticut and Sam and Maya Pelletier, from Ellsworth, Maine, all of whom supplied the much-needed enthusiasm and energy which allowed our mission to be so successful. Completing the group was Bob Lindquist, who had just returned from a mission trip to Alaska, and Panton Christie, a Golden Hill member who had been born in Jamaica and who acted as our “interpreter” of the Jamaican patois.
Each day started with devotions, led by team members, followed by a scrumptious breakfast, supplied by Mt Osborn Church members, often consisting of sausage, eggs, pancakes, a fish dish, and fruit, including mangoes, pineapple, and breadfruit. Then we split into groups, doing painting, various forms of construction and leading the Vacation Bible School. We usually worked alongside Jamaican church members, sharing in the efforts. We marveled at Brother Lewis, the expert Jamaican carpenter, who showed us how to create the frame for hanging a door (nothing of the pre-hung variety), and how then to put the hinges and hardware on the door, using only a chisel to fashion the slots. Everything seemed to run smoothly under the leadership of the Rev. Jacqui Liddell, the local parish superintendent.
On the second day, we dug a ditch for the sewage run-off; there were almost as many rocks as in New England. A number of our members got to use a pick and shovel for the first time. It was hot and difficult work, but satisfying when completed. Another challenge was chiseling into the cement walls and floor to allow placement of the electric and water lines and door frames. To help us keep hydrated, a neighbor supplied us with coconuts, which he opened with a machete, so we could drink the coconut juice.
We did take one day off to explore a bit of the country. We visited a National Park named YS Falls, where we were able to swim and picnic. A few of the more adventurous swung from ropes tied to trees along the shore, dropping into a deep pool below one of the water falls. Later that day we traveled to Black River, the capital city of St. Elizabeth Parish, which is on the Caribbean Sea. We had a wonderful meal of various seafood, including conch, with the ocean breeze wafting in through our shore-side tables.
On Sunday, we participated in the Mt. Osborn Church service.It was an uplifting experience. During the service, there was much singing and three young girls performed an interpretive dance. They had a keyboard and a set of drums. Having worked the previous days with many of the parishioners, we felt we were among friends. The children who had participated in the VBS displayed the LED-lit lanterns that they had constructed, and the bead bracelets they had made.
Following the service, we were treated to a luncheon of stewed chicken, jerk pork and chicken, dumplings made from cassava, and a cornmeal based bread, called “festival”, followed by sweet potato pudding for dessert. But after the meal, the best was yet to come. We returned to the small sanctuary and, led by Polly on the guitar, sang a medley of church songs starting by ourselves, but were quickly joined by the church members. Soon, there was much clapping, dancing, and tambourine-playing, with everyone joining in. There was a great sharing of joy and love, a truly touching moment.
After a final day of work, we found ourselves on a bus, heading for Montego Bay and, eventually, New York City. But we took with us the memories of a wonderful group of people, who seemed to have welcomed us into the fabric of their community. We only hope that we will be able to share another mission experience with them again.