On Mission in Jamaica

“You’ll always make a friend there. Whether it’s an American friend or Jamaican friend. Once you leave and come back you won’t be the same. It will change your life.”

Drew*, a 13 year old boy, had never been out of the country. He’d never flown on an airplane. All of this changed in June. He, along with his Home Parents Brian and Mandy Wallace and their daughter Amber, traveled to Jamaica to serve alongside 60 other parents and children from The Crossing.  A couple of times I forgot I was on an airplane, and I kinda wanted to go outside but then I remembered I was on the plane.”

Each of them traveled with two extra 50lb suitcases full of donations to leave in Jamaica. When they landed in Montego Bay, everyone hopped in buses and the luggage was loaded in a dump truck to travel the 3 ½ hours to Harmons. This would be their home for the week.

Harmons is a rural, mountainous community in South Central Jamaica. According to Won by One to Jamaica, despite having a healthy and highly motivated workforce, the Harmons Valley finds itself with an approximate unemployment rate of 75%.  When jobs are available, they are often temporary, lower paying, and require costly transportation outside the community.  Won by One to Jamaica has been serving in this community for 25 years. In just a week, Drew could understand their influence as a necessity for the Harmons community,

The day we left is the day that somebody flew in. Even right now there are people there. The Harmony House is always full. It’s a well-oiled machine. They always have a new house to build, because there is always going to be a need.”

Each day the group worked together to accomplish needed tasks to eventually get three homes built for its Jamaican residents. The first day was maul haul. An assembly line of volunteers passing a 20lb bag of concrete mixture up the hill to drop it at the building site. The next day, there was donation sorting at the store, assembling the walls of the concrete homes, and visits to the infirmary.

The infirmary is a place where people who have physical or mental disabilities live. It’s wide open rooms with simple cots. These individuals have been abandoned by their families, yet many have a faith that surprises all of their American visitors.

Drew visited with two men named William and Churchill. “William couldn’t form coherent sentences, but he still loved to sing. Everything he sang was gospel music. I’d ask him a question and he’d sing 5 or 6 songs back and the answer was in there somewhere. Churchill is paralyzed from the waist down. He knows more about American politics than I do. He could beat anyone in Jeopardy 10 to 1 every time.” 

Amber visited with Anness, 

“I sat and read the bible to her. She picked the passages; she knew exactly what she wanted. I read her a psalm and Luke 10 [which just so happens to be the story of the Good Samaritan.]”

In addition to the work, there was fun built into the trip as well. One evening they held a dance party in someone’s yard while they ate Jamaican ice cream. This was Amber’s favorite night. Another day there was a trip to the beach in Montego Bay. Amber enjoyed the outlook her new Jamaican friends take on life, “I like the simplicity of life there. Everyone likes to have fun. They do a lot of things just for fun. We introduced them to American football too. They sort of got it. They were trying to tackle each other at the end.”

After all the hard work and fun at the end of the week, there were three new homes finished and dedicated to three individuals who have been waiting years to own. Drew describes the homes as, “a 12×12 one-room house of 6 inches of concrete, with styrofoam and metal in between and a tin roof, and they are crying because they are so happy to get this house.” One of the recipients was Apple. She had waited 9 years for her home. Another was Leon; he had waited 7 years.

As Drew, Amber, Brian and Mandy settle back into life at Coyote Hill they all commented on the life changing work this was for them. Brian said, “We went with great ambitions to help the Jamaican people, not knowing how much they would in fact help us.”

Amber recommends everyone try to go to Jamaica, and is appreciative of everyone who helped get them there, “I recommend a Typhoid shot, and then just try it. Trust God for the outcome. You’ll probably really like it. Thank you, we couldn’t have done it without your support. Money and prayer alike.”

Drew echoes this life changing impact,

“I’ll always remember it. I won’t ever forget it. I feel like my path is in missions where I go and help other people. I feel like I have it too good here, so I want to help other people. Because it’s not their fault that they’re impoverished. It’s nice to think that whenever I’m going down there I’m changing someone else’s life. Won by One’s motto is: changing lives by changing lives.”

THANK YOU to everyone who played a part in helping these four experience this life-changing, foreign mission trip!

*name changed for sake of confidentiality