Give Thanks

From all of us at Jah Works, we give thanks for all that Jah has blessed us with to be able to complete the work at hand.

We give thanks for all of our readers, who like, comment and share our posts to help us spread the word.

We give thanks for all of our donors who host fundraisers and give directly to help us fund work to be done.

We give thanks for the people who travel with us to give back to others and want to experience a different culture and way of life.

We give thanks to the communities where we serve, who welcome us with open arms.

Give thanks, and be blessed this holiday season. One love.

Don’t Worry, About a Thing!

These are some thoughts from a past traveler as we neared the time we were leaving for the 2012 mission trip. It’s always at about this mark that worry starts to creep in for all of us as we try to wrap up all the little details to get us off the ground and to Jamaica. Read these words, and remember that Jah is in control, in all areas of your life. He’s got “it” so you don’t have to!
Bluefields Bay
Bluefields Bay
“I knew I belonged on this particular trip when the first team was sharing their experiences with the church. I was new to this church, but somehow I knew that I would be going along on the next mission trip. I told my husband that day, “I’ll be going with them the next time they go.” When I attended my first meeting and learned about the financial contributions I was very worried. Financing would be the only thing to prevent me from going along. The team leaders encouraged me not to let that stop me, so I committed whole-heartedly.
 
The first couple of financial commitment dates rolled around and miraculously my totals were always met through fundraising and donation letters. The totals were always met a little early so I never had to even worry about it. But that wasn’t the case as the last few deadlines approached. The worry set in. This is where I experienced God.
 
Every single time that I had a “worry-day” I would hear the same song multiple times each day and in different settings. The first day it happened, I woke up with an unusual amount of stress. I decided the best way to deal with my stress was to put my iPod on shuffle and clean my house. When your iPod is on shuffle you’re not supposed to hear the same song twice. Well, I didn’t hear the same song twice – I heard it 3 times within 1 hour! And before you start to wonder… I only have it downloaded one time.
What is the song? ‘3 Little Birds’ by Bob Marley.
Of course it had to be a Jamaican song, what other kind would be so meaningful for a Jamaican mission trip? The lyric that sticks out to me is, “Don’t worry about a thing. Cause every little thing gonna be alright.” Once I was tired of cleaning I turned on the TV so my son could watch cartoons. Naturally, the song is also playing on TV. Later that afternoon I took my son to the library to see a balloon artist. Half way through her presentation guess what song she started to play? You guessed it – ‘3 Little Birds’.
 
From that day on, any day that I became stressed over my financial commitment I would hear this song.
 
Then last week I know my total due going into our last fundraiser and I know that it is due the next day. Stressed doesn’t really define my feelings because I had no idea where I would get my balance from if we didn’t raise it. But I kept reminding myself that I didn’t hear that song so many times for no reason, so I just let me faith take over. I stopped worrying about where the money would come from.
We didn’t reach our goal that night and as soon as I learned that the worry started to creep back in. That is when I got the email from one of the team leaders saying someone had anonymously taken care of my balance. I’m still speechless about how this makes me feel. I’m just overwhelmed! And grateful! I knew God wanted me to know not to worry – that it would all be alright….and it is. Not only did one person answer God’s call to make sure I was taken care of, but others did as well. In turn, I was able to pay it forward. That made me feel amazing!

 
It’s awesome so see and feel God at work! I’m anxious to see what God-experiences I have while on our mission trip. I know we are going to have some!”

Things we Know

We met as a team this past Saturday, for the first time since our initial interest meeting last September. The main purpose was to get a good game plan in place for the next 6+ months we have until arrival in Bluefields, since there’s tons of work to do before that time.  For a moment before we started to get into all the tactical details of fundraisers, packing and communications, we spent some time learning a bit more about each other and why we feel called to serve in Jamaica. Some of the team have been on past mission trips with the team, and some are total newbies to the whole “mission-work” thing. So cool. We recounted times we had spent working with others in various capacities – telling stories of “God-moments”, things that were inexplicable, stories of found love and faith-sharing between people from different cultures, backgrounds and races. It was awesome to see how the Light truly shone through all of our teammates. What a great blessing as we start this New Year together.

Things we know:

  • God’s with us always.
  • It’s been easier to see God at work when we had less resources and therefore less distractions.
  • We all have trouble with trusting His path for us, but try to have faith it will all come together in the end.
  • We love people. We get aggravated with people sometimes, but we love them.
  • You gotta have a sense of humor in this life.
  • We will have to pack extra tissue on the trip, because one teammate has, in her words, “crying incontinence” and this is easily spread through the rest of the teammates.
  • We are counting down the days until we can be on Jamaican soil once again (or for the very first time!).
  • There are always unknowns!

Be Blessed, thanks for following along on the journey!

Ms. Hughes Graduates!!

One of our strategies is to “Build Knowledge.” For a number of years we have has been able to provide scholarship opportunities for University students in Jamaica, through the Rebecca Campbell Foundation/Bluefields People’s Community Association (BPCA).   A few weeks ago, we received word from the BPCA that a recipient of a past scholarship has completed her nursing degree! Ms. Tamekia Hughes graduated from the nursing program at the local university just a few weeks ago. Congratulations to Ms. Hughes; we are celebrating with you!

Platfarm Party

A note from Wolde Kristos of the BPCA:

Dear Partner,
Please see below thank you note from Ms. Tamekia Hughes after she graduated from University of the West Indies on November 1, 2013. Please see pictures attached. Ms. Hughes did her Nursing Council License exam and awaiting the result to start a practice. Ms. Hughes is the latest in the list of persons BPCA/Bluefields have sent to University. Thanks to Megan, TJ and the Team for your support in helping her through!!!

Ms. Hughes Marching

Tamekia writes:
I finally made it! Made it through all the struggles, sweat, tears, sleepless nights and a couple failures that cause me to go back to the drawing board and fix all I needed to and came back to conquer. Through it all ma mommy (Wolette Kristos) never gave up on me and made sacrifices to help me reach ma fullest potential. Wolde Kristos did his fatherly duties (although not my biological dad) to make sure I had all I needed no matter what. Also, Mr. William Wedenoja who was with me from start to finish. Cassie Gopaul was always a source of motivation and encouragement and I love her for that! And ma baby, Nigel Williams, who kept me strong at times when I felt I couldn’t make it, he’s the shoulder I can cry on and my source of happiness. Also the Rebecca Campbell Foundation for their tremendous assistance that did go a far way. And to all ma family and friends who knew I could do it, Thank you all for believing in me!

On the platfarm

Hearing that Call…

Seems like just when you get to questioning if you are on the right path, God’s got a funny way of pulling you back and making sure you understand what you are doing is right (or wrong). Of course, this only works if you are open to “hearing the call” and you are listening for it. When we first started this journey more than a decade ago, we didn’t know where it would lead. Heck, it took a while before we even recognized it as a journey – and not just one random trip to Jamaica for our honeymoon. The first “call” I heard was on the plane ride back to Charlotte from Montego Bay in April 2003. On the plane, I shed tears (I am TOTALLY not a crier…so this is a big deal!) for the family I was leaving; the family I had only met a week before and knew for seven days of my then 23 years. The family that showed me the love of people and community, and outstretched their arms to my husband and I as newcomers to that community.

Trucks

The first call I heard was “no worries…you’re coming back”. Since that first plane ride back to our other “home” in North Carolina, we’ve been blessed to get back and forth to visit our Jamaican family many times over the years. This coming August we’ll make our sixth visit back to the place where we spent our first week together as husband and wife. It’s changed a lot since then; people have mobile phones, Facebook and the power doesn’t (always) go out every night with the blowing wind. And, in some ways it hasn’t; there are roadside stands where farmers and fishermen sell fresh fish, fruits and veggies. There’s a community of people who know and love each other and build their togetherness up every day, every week.

Goats

Back to this call I heard. This past week, T.J. treated me to some theatre: playwright Katori Hall’s “The Mountaintop”, performed at Triad Stage in Greensboro. (The story revolves around Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the last night of his life in the Lorraine Motel. If you have a chance to see this two-person performance – here or anywhere – you should, it was life-changing!) We found parking a few blocks away and as we walked towards the theater, ironically (or maybe not so) we passed by the old F. W. Woolworth building where the lunch counter sit-ins happened in the late 1960’s to stand against segregation, and which is now the home of the International Civil Rights Center.

4426_700267246688_2720554_42004716_8385073_n.jpg

Upon arriving at the theater Bob Marley played over the outdoor speakers as we entered the main doors. It might seem strange to you, dear reader, that Bob Marley’s reggae music signals the “calls” that I (and T.J., and a number of other Building Jamaica team members) hear coming from the Most High (that’s God, for all ya’ll Southern Christians 😉 ) but it’s true, and it happens as a somewhat normal occurrence these days. But this particular one was special. See, I have lately been a little unsteady in my direction with this work to improve a place not on U.S. soil. With all the turmoil and need here in the States, I question if I am supposed to pour my self and my time into a “foreign” country’s needs. This particular “call” was Marley’s “Redemption Song”. In this tune, Marley sings of freedom from slavery, past, present and future; physical, mental and emotional. Hearing the song, then experiencing the theatrical production that followed, hit home that the human inequalities which Dr. King began fighting against are still present today – and are global, not only in MY immediate backyard, but beyond. And so, the baton of unity and love must be picked up and carried, to all the ends of the earth. GAME ON.

“Redemption Song”

Old pirates, yes, they rob I;
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.
But my hand was made strong
By the ‘and of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly.
Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom? –
‘Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
Some say it’s just a part of it:
We’ve got to fulfil de book.Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom? –
‘Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our mind.
Wo! Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Yes, some say it’s just a part of it:
We’ve got to fulfill the book.
Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom? –
‘Cause all I ever had:
Redemption songs –
All I ever had:
Redemption songs:
These songs of freedom,
Songs of freedom.

Jamaica Bound…through Many Blessings

Jamaica – Out of Many, One People

On August 11, the Building Jamaica team will depart North Carolina and head to Belmont Fishing Village and surrounding area to become a part of that community for a week. We’ll be working with Mearnsville Methodist Church to host a Vacation Bible School, and also be able to serve those in need through construction projects, a community meal and whatever else God reveals to us while on the ground. Jamaica’s motto is above – Out of Many, One People – which reminds us of Christ in that out of many differences among the human race, we are all part of one big family in Him and through His grace.

Remembered Blessings and Moments of Faith from Travellers

“I feel blessed and know God had a hand in our “Pinto Night.” Even though the date was the same as graduation we had a great turnout and made a profit. There were a lot of prayers and we were blessed to have gotten Shield of Salvation to play for us that night and on such a short notice. The golf tournament turnout was also a blessing. I believe God has planned a major blessing in each thing we have accomplished and have yet to do.”

“It seems like at a lot of events we didn’t do as well as we had hoped, but still somehow all of us are going to Jamaica. I feel we are being rewarded for all of our hard work and determination. God knows that we have a task to do, and he is making sure that we get that opportunity.”

“Our spouses, significant others, friends and families have given up some or most of their time usually spent with us while we worked many long hours to make this happen. They are our closest support team and a huge blessing.”

“The day we spent in Jennifer and Jody’s basement making birdhouses was a blessing, as it was the starting point of when we started to work, laugh and learn together as a team. Since then, we’ve become much stronger together in Christ through our many get-togethers, planning meetings, fundraisers, group prayers and other events.”

“I found each event had its own blessing. At the Santa photos, children were happy or scared of Santa but it was cute. Having a great Santa was a true blessing. The first bake sale was in December and it was freezing cold but we had a heater and something hot to drink. The second bake sale we had in July, but there was a cool breeze blowing every once in a while. We loved the fellowship with all the people when we helped with Italian Night. At the golf tournament, we were able to have fellowship with each other while we waited for the golfers. At the Cruise-In, we were able to still pull it off, even when we are all tired of fundraising. God has provided for each event. I learn a little more about being humble and I am looking forward to what God will provide for us in Jamaica.”

“Our children are always a blessing, especially all the kids in our Vacation Bible School that collected school supplies and made friendship bracelets for the Jamaican kids.

“I knew I belonged on this particular trip when the first team was standing in front of Morris Chapel sharing their experiences with the church. I was new to Morris Chapel, but somehow I knew that I would be going along on the next mission trip. I told my husband that day, ‘I’ll be going with them the next time they go.’ When I attended my first meeting and learned about the financial contributions I was very worried. Financing would be the only thing to prevent me from going along. Megan and TJ encouraged me not to let that stop me, so I committed whole-heartedly. The first couple of commitment dates rolled around and miraculously my totals were always met through fundraising and donation letters. The totals were always met a little early so I never had to even worry about it. But that wasn’t the case as the last few deadlines approached. The worry set in. Then, last week I knew my final commitment total going into our last fundraiser and I knew that it was due the day after the event. Stressed doesn’t really define my feelings because I had no idea where I would get my balance from if we didn’t raise it. We didn’t reach our goal that night and as soon as I learned that, the worry started to creep back in. That is when I got an email from Megan saying someone had anonymously taken care of my balance. I’m still speechless about how this makes me feel. I’m just overwhelmed! And grateful! Not only did one person answer God’s call to make sure I was taken care of, but others did as well. It’s awesome so see and feel God at work! I’m anxious to see what God-experiences I have while on our mission trip. I know we are going to have some!”

“A blessing I remember is the guy that hand made and gave us two huge bags of metal pocket crosses. So many in fact, that we were able to split the blessing with two other mission teams traveling to Guyana and Guatemala!”

“In December, Sharon asked me to go with the Jamaica team.  She said the trip would be in June or July.  I was very excited, but knew my work schedule could end my ‘plans’ quickly.  When I got back to work on Monday the schedule didn’t look too promising for July and only 2 weeks were available in June.  Slightly discouraged, I expressed my concerns to my husband.  Him being so much calmer than me said, ‘If it’s meant to be, then God will work it out.  Just pray.’  So I did, and God has been providing for this trip since then.  The date was set for August when I had already requested my vacation.  I was supposed to take my oldest daughter back to school that week.  So next came the task of talking to her.  Again, God paved the way.  She said, ‘Mom, this is a once in a lifetime chance.  I have many more semesters of school left’.  God has sent me many more blessings since then through financial support from my friends, family, church, and church association.  I also have people all over the United States praying for me and our trip. But I think the biggest blessing I have received is my renewed love of sharing God and spreading His Word.  Not just to the people of Jamaica I have yet to meet, but to everyone I interact with on a daily basis.”

Last but not least, a big THANK YOU (or “BIG UP” as they say in Jamaica!) to all of Morris Chapel, our families, and blog readers for your prayers and being there to see us through every step of the way! We are so blessed to have families and friends that are supportive of international missions. There are not words enough for all the kind souls along the way that have contributed to our journey in one way or another. YOU are a part of this! One love and many blessings!

~T.J., Megan and the rest of Team Jamaica 2012

PS – Be sure to follow this blog, as we plan to post daily while in Bluefields!

Recent Blessings

Recent blessings we’ve already received, although we haven’t even left yet:

~The children in our Vacation Bible School at Morris Chapel – they will collect school supplies and a donation for the children of Jamaica throughout the week of VBS. The VBS program leaders are also donating the supplies to the team so that we may share Vacation Bible School with the children of Jamaica.

~All the random people giving us hugs/telling us they support our mission/telling us they are praying for us/slipping dollars discreetly into our hands.

~The sounds of Shield of Salvation playing at our Benefit Night! Due to unforeseen events, we only had about 2 weeks to pull it together, and we needed a live band. These guys (and gal!) really came through for us. Even though it was their first night off in a LONG while, they dropped their plans on a dime, and came out and played for 2 solid hours. These folks are great Christian musicians, love Jesus and totally ROCK and ROLL. Give ’em a listen.