Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mission Trip 2007 Final Report

Front row (L to R): Chris, Cindy, Julie, Sarah T., Sarah M.,
Rachel, Jennifer, Matt (Jennifer's husband).
Back row (L to R): Brian (Sarah M.'s daddy), Austin (Cindy's son),
Darrell (Julie's Dad), Logan, Scott, Barry, Stephen.

Sarah and I arrived home from our trip at almost 11 pm on Monday July 24. I am having a difficult time finding a single word to answer the question "How was your trip?" Here are a few words that readily come to mind: wonderful, encouraging, heart-warming, exhausting.

I have two primary responsibilities when taking mission teams to Jamaica. The first is making all the arrangements for the team prior to the trip - contacting a church in Jamaica with which to work; arranging lodging, meals, and transportation; putting together a schedule that includes sightseeing activities, while at the same time making sure that the team has enough time to rest and recuperate; then establishing a budget for each team member based on those factors. That process consumes a greater amount of time as the date of travel nears.

The second responsibility is logistics while in Jamaica. I was not actively involved in the teaching portion of the VBS, as my main task each day was to provision food for the team, the children, and the church members who assisted us. On the final day of VBS we had 160 children, plus the 15 member team, plus 10 to 15 ladies and men who helped us in preparing and serving the meal. Sarah was my assistant and was a tremendous asset.

Here is a pictorial journal of the week from my perspective:

07/13, Friday - Flew from Columbia to Atlanta, then to Montego Bay. While in the Terminal E food court saw David Loftis, an MK from Jamaica, whom I had not seen in almost 20 years. He, Carol, and their 3 children were hosting a choir of 52 from Colonial Baptist Church (Cary NC), and were on the same flight into Montego Bay.

07/14, Saturday - Visited Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf, and was delighted to see the staff. They loaned us 2 large coolers so that we could keep our water and soft drinks cold.

07/15, Sunday AM - Left Montego Bay at 8 am and drove to Rock Cliffe Baptist Church for the morning service. Had a wonderful time fellowshipping with the believers there.

Rock Cliffe then

Rock Cliffe now

The music in the 4 church services we attended was outstanding. None of the churches had pianos, and they sang a cappella. At Rock Cliffe there was an old man who played the banjo while sitting on the front pew. He tried to pick up the key that the choir started in and play along with them, but was no match for the voices of the congregation.

At Cataboo, Devene played an electric guitar. She is not a trained musician and plays by ear, but what an ear! The choir would start the song and she would find the key and join them.

After the service at Rock Cliffe the church ladies had prepared sandwiches for us. On Saturday we had purchased sandwich meat, bread, pickles, chips, and drinks for our Sunday lunch, but didn't use them. We were appreciative of the sacrifice the congregation made to provide us with lunch.

07/15, Sunday PM - Sarah and I went to Sellington Baptist Church, while the team stayed at the Ashton Great House, to recuperate from 2 long days of travel.

Sellington then

Sellington now

The church is also in the midst of a building project, working as the money becomes available. Another sweet time of fellowship, with no one checking their watch to see how long the preacher went. Sarah had taken a soundtrack to sing, and a young woman, Demesha, who led the worship, and who had a beautiful voice, sang along quietly with Sarah from her pew. I thought to myself how wonderful it would be if Sarah would give her the soundtrack, but did not voice that thought to Sarah. After the service I was thrilled to watch Sarah give her the soundtrack.

07/16, Monday - After taking the team to the church, Sarah and I, along with Pastor James, went to Black River to get lunch.

We had Juici patties on Monday and Friday;

PB & J sandwiches on Tuesday and Thursday;

and spiced bun with cheese on Wednesday.

Some elderly ladies from the church along with the pastor's wife Retinella, served the food and drink.

Pastor Sylvan James Family

Many of the ladies when introduced to me, said “Your daddy used to be my pastor.” That was a special blessing of the trip.

07/17, Tuesday - After VBS I took some of the team for a 3 hour scenic tour. The others were too exhausted. I think that summers in Columbia, SC are warmer than Jamaica. The difference here is that I go from a house with A/C to a car with A/C to an office with A/C. The only time I am away from A/C for any length of time is my 3 hour UPS shift from 4 am to 7 am. In Jamaica, our vans and our rooms had A/C, but we spent more time away from A/C, and the humidity tired the team quickly.

07/18, Wednesday - I started transporting children to the church before going for lunch. On Friday I had 41 children, plus myself and Deacon Coke.

full front seat

counting the children

Deacon Coke Family

I called my dad, and told him that I was a better man than he because I carried more children in my van than he had (the most he ever carried was 32). The vans were 15 passenger Toyota Hiace's, with 5 rows of 3 seats. The 5th row was removed to make room for luggage.

In the afternoon we took the Black River Safari cruise to see the flora & fauna and the crocodiles. Cornell was our pilot, and at the turn-around-point of the cruise he jumped into the river, followed by 2 of the teenage boys and Pastor Matt. One of the teenage girls jumped in next, followed by the other 2 teenage boys (who I'm sure didn't want to be outdone by a girl), and Pastor Barry. I, being mature, stayed in the boat. The crocodile that had come up to the boat earlier swam away because of all the commotion.

Cornell & 'friend'

Cornell & 'friends'

07/19, Thursday – The 4th day of VBS. Pastor Matt posted entries to his blog from the cyber cafe in Black River, and has more information about the VBS, along with pictures.

'we be surfin mon'

07/20, Friday - 160 children at VBS! On our way out of the Cataboo community we decided that it would be fun to jump off the bridge into the river.

Crocodiles, what crocodiles?

a calm river

the water was cool

On the return trip to Montego Bay we stopped at Fairview Baptist Bible College, where camp was in session.

I was very pleased to see that the playing field has been leveled. This work was done by a group from Colonial Baptist Church (Cary NC) a few months ago.

07/21, Saturday - Visited Dunn's River Falls.

The north coast highway is complete from Rose Hall Great House to Ocho Rios, and is a pleasure to drive. The remaining portion to complete is from the airport heading east to Rose Hall.

There is a new resort property, The Palmyra, being built near Rose Hall.

07/22, Sunday - Returned to Cataboo for the morning service. I asked those who had heard my daddy preach, to stand.

07/23, Monday - Our flight was delayed leaving Montego Bay because the incoming flight was late, so we missed our connection in Atlanta. They have finished building the beautiful new east concourse, housing Gates 8 to 19, and waiting is “no problem, mon.”

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J. Brian McKillop said...

An article appeared in today's Gleaner about the display of Jamaican art in the new airport concourse.

Marilyn McClain said...

Enjoyed the pictures and letter very much. So glad you folks had a good trip.

David Smith said...


Thanks for the great report on your ministry trip. It was interesting that you crossed paths with David Loftis.

The cricket pitch at Fairview looks great.

Jane Kurisko said...

I loved your Blog, Brian. It brought back a lot of memories.