Last week I was speaking at a camp in Virginia. I called home Friday night and Claudia Mahaffy informed me that my parents (who live in Chicago) were meeting my brother Ben his son Isaiah (who live in North Carolina) in Charleston, WV on Saturday to return 2 of my nieces, who had been visiting my parents. It just so happened I was supposed to fly out of Charleston on Saturday. We were able to arrange a quick 30 minute visit before I headed to the airport. It was so awesome to see them even though it was brief. Of course, then my flight was cancelled and I ended up having to rent a car and drive the 600 miles home so I could be at church to preach Sunday morning.
Speaking at Group Mission Trips Workcamp
Last week I had the great joy and privilege of speaking at a Group Mission Trips Workcamp in Pocahontas, Virginia. It was a blast being able to share and see students out serving. There were 216 campers from 14 churches and 8 different states. They served on 37 different work crews at 25 different homes and completed all of their projects. They served a total of 6,480 hours and also donated 2,050 cans of food to bless the community. So proud of them!
Kerri Ann’s Baptism Video
From 4/6/16: Kerri Ann is a resident at West Haven home for the developmentally disabled in Jamaica. She just exides Jesus! Mission Discovery knows her well from their years of visits. She told us she wanted a Bible, and yesterday Hannah told her she would give her her Bible! Today she delivered it and you should have seen the smile on her face. She has also been asking to be baptized for quite some time. Unfortunately her church would not baptize her because of their insistence that it must be by immersion, which is impossible for this young lady. Jen and Scott approached the director and asked if we might be able to baptize her today, and he agreed! We asked her if she wanted to be baptized today, and she lit up. When we gave her the news that she could, she had no words and simply covered her mouth and cried tears of joy. Nathan from MD drove up, and we all gathered under the shade of a tree where she professed her love for Jesus, and Jen, Nathan, and I had the tremendous joy of pouring a bottle of water over her head to baptize her. It was one of the most sacred thigs I have ever witnessed or been a part of!
Jamaica Mission Day 6
Today Natalia, Ren, and Ana led us in devotions, then we enjoyed a wonderful and much-deserved day off. We went to the market for a little shopping, then we went on a glass-bottom boat and did some snorkeling over a reef. We saw lots of beautiful fish and other sea life. We had lunch and enjoyed swimming, snorkeling, and lounging at the beach. This evening we had our closing service with some amazing worship. Tyler went out into the hallway and invited kids from the other church group staying in the hotel to join us, and several did. I then shared on how we can continue living out our faith when we get home. After small group time we gathered together and shared things we saw in one another this week, then took time to share memories about our graduates.
Jamaica Mission Day 5
Today was our last day at our three ministry sites. We started off the day singing Happy Birthday to Brad Spicher then were led in devos by Josiah and Mike Fenimore. We finished painting the fence at Blossom Garden, visited our new amazing feiends at Westhaven, finished building a cabinet, installed a door, and mixed and poured four more columns of concrete at the Jamaican Christian School for the Deaf. We’ve done a lot of physical labor this week, but more importantly, we’ve loved on many people – those society would consider outcasts; “the least of these” as Jesus would say, and in them we have seen the face of Jesus more clearly than ever before. It has been an honor to be in their presence! This evening Rebekah, Tim, and Ady shared their devos then we had pur small groups.
Jamaica Mission Day 4
Today we returned to our three ministry sites – Blossom Garden Childcare, Westhaven home for the developmentally disabled, and the Jamaican Christian School for the Deaf. The BG crew did some painting and then interacted with the children. The other team went to Westhaven first where we had an amazing time playing music and dancing, doing crafts, and serving snacks to the residents. You likely cannot comprehend the joy and stimulation this brings them! After our farewells we left and went to JCSD where we continued working around the campus and on the construction of their life skills center.
One incredible highlight to share … There is a wheelchair-bound girl named Kerri Ann at Westhaven who just exudes Jesus! Mission Discovery knows her well from their years of visits. She told us she wanted a Bible, and yesterday Hannah told her she would give her her Bible! Today she delivered it and you should have seen the smile on her face. She has also been asking to be baptized for quite some time. Unfortunately her church would not baptize her because of their insistence that it must be by immersion, which is impossible for this young lady. Jen and Scott approached the director and asked if we might be able to baptize her today, and he agreed! We asked her if she wanted to be baptized today, and she lit up. When we gave her the news that she could, she had no words and simply covered her mouth and cried tears of joy. Nathan from MD drove up, and we all gathered under the shade of a tree where she professed her love for Jesus, and Jen, Nathan, and I had the tremendous joy of pouring a bottle of water over her head to baptize her. It was one of the most sacred things I have ever witnessed or been a part of! I will post the video when we have a stronger internet connection. Another group has arrived at our lodging, and they all have cell phones (Quite interestingly, our students have commented on how much they are missing out on by having their phones!) and it went from turtle to sloth.
Jamaica Mission Day 3
This morning we were led in devotions by Kat and Brad. Wow! They both gave us some powerful things to think about today. We then headed out in two teams. One team returned to Blossom Garden and painted the three murals we sketched out yesterday. They turned out awesome! Some talented artists on our team! The other group spent the morning at Westhaven a home for people who are deveopmentally disabled, singing, playing games, feeding them, and more. This afternoon they returned to the Jamaican Christian School for the Deaf and continued their work projects. It was another awesome day! This evening Donna led us in worship and Ben, Tom and Claudia shared their devotionals with us.
Jamaica Mission Day 2
Today Annie and Tyler led us in team devos then we headed off to our ministry sights. One group went to an orphanage called Blosson Garden and started 3 murals in the children’s rooms and hallway. After lunch we held babies and played with the children. (No pictures were allowed of the children (sad face).) The other group went to the Jamaican Christian School for the Deaf. They worked on constructing cabinets, transported gravel for the cement work we will be doing, dug a hole for an outhouse, and spent time interacting with the kids. It is hot and sweaty, and other than a couple of kids temporarily dealing with the heat, everyone is well. We have been having some amazing worship, sharing, and discussion times. Tonight Hannah and Olga shared their devos and did so great. Thanks for your prayers and support.
Jamaica Mission Day 1
We arrived safely in Jamaca at noon today. After lunch we got settled into our rooms, enjoyed a quick dip in the pool, then had dinner, orientation, worship and sharing. Matt and Tabitha both shared devotions with our team, then we got into small groups to discuss our hopes for the trip and pray for each other. Tomorrow our service begins! We will be serving at three locations this week. Thanks for your prayers. Everyone is in good spirits.