Most people who visit Jamaica never see the real Jamaica. What they do see is the inside of an all inclusive resort, the “fixed-up” area where cruise ships dock, the clean and neat main drive through resort towns and beaches with clean white sand.
While Jamaica has it’s beauty, a large majority of the island lives poverty and general dirtiness. This is the Jamaica the tourist board does not want you to see, and the Jamaica where I have spent time every summer for the last three years.
In this Jamaica there is access to public beaches where tourists do not go because they are so dirty.
There are thousands and thousands of houses falling down or incomplete. Homes with outdoor showers, kitchens and toilets.
You have to bring your own bucket and cup after you have carried your water to bathe with.
There are parishes where the main streets are filthy and you feel dirty just driving through. There are children who roam the streets both day and night who are scrounging for food or trying to con you out of a dollar. If they can’t afford book fees, “tuition”, or just don’t make the grade, they do not get to go to school. It is nothing for a local to walk up (while smoking) and offer you weed (ganja), and to see a man peeing on the side of the road is not uncommon.
But in the middle of this ugly is also a natural beauty. One that touches your heart and reaches deep into your soul. It’s beauty that many will never know because they choose not to step out of their comfort zone. This is the beauty of Jamaica that I love, the beauty that has changed me and my family over the years.
It is the people.
We don’t go to Jamaica to “save” them all. We go to Jamaica to offer hope, love and encouragement. We don’t knock on doors inviting people to worship, we go into homes and offer love and service. Over the years we have painted homes, built porches and dressed children.
We do have a Vacation Bible School, but we also go to the schools and read to the children.
If just one life is touched, changed, or given hope because we share love, then I see success. So many people in Jamaica feel hopeless.
I am often asked why would I go to Jamaica for mission work when I can find the same type of poverty here in the USA. The answer is simple.
In Jamaica, people, especially children want hope. They are receptive to the love of God and you feel welcomed with open arms.
Here in the States? God is more often than not, an afterthought.
I cannot begin to put into words the power of this type of trip, so I hope pictures will suffice.
I do know that as long as I can, I will continue to work in Jamaica. My children are falling in love with the people as much as I have. They want to make a difference as well. In a world filled with pamper me attitudes, I swell with pride watching them grow in such a giving manner.