My Outlook on Life: Changed
"So, Jamaica, that sounds like so much fun!" I heard many of these remarks as months went by before the youth group at Broadmoor Baptist Church went on a mission trip to Jamaica over Spring break. Mississippi's "manners" did not allow me to say anything but "Yes, Ma'am," as I smiled as big as I could, drawing out the word "Ma'am." I wanted to tell her that we would not be staying in a Sandals resort. I knew the world outside of Madison, Mississippi, or as others call it the "Beverly Hills" of Mississippi, was different. Places twenty minutes away from Madison are different. This "difference" was a drastic one in Galina, Jamaica. Here, or even cities in America, a mother of six living in a one-room shack panics to see her fourteen-year-old child has been raped, beaten and impregnated. I panic to see that Kroger is out of the yogurt that I like. Before I left for this mission, invested time in changing my mindset about the world unknown to me.
One of the mission team’s tasks was to construct the foundation of a future recreation center at an elementary school in Galina. After our shifts of dumping concrete out of each plastic bucket, we played with the children during their recess time. They were different. They were honored to have us even look at them in a respectful way. We set up games, and they listened to the instructions carefully. Most importantly, they accepted our desire to love them, and they loved us in return. After these long days, the mission team headed back to our accommodations and talked for hours about the situations of the students in the local school. The same night we learned that building the recreation center would help keep crime, and more specifically, sexual offenders away from these children. Today we are relieved to hear that the recreation center is finished and that our laying the foundation helped to change Galina, Jamaica.
The last two days of missions we piled on the bus, ready to visit the local infirmary. We expected a run-down version of an American low-funded nursing home. Little did we know, this infirmary was in far worse conditions than we could have imagined. Peering out the window of the van, we watched anxious ninety-year-old Jamaicans waiting and longing for affection and love. We observed in amazement the poor conditions: no walls, old concrete, small, rusty wheelchairs and cots, people sleeping on the bare ground, and stray dogs and cats roaming around the area. As we departed from the bus, we were greeted with open arms and passionate hugs. Their skin was sweaty and filthy but also in desperate need of a friend's touch. Walking toward the back of the place, I saw despondent, elderly and mentally-challenged women sitting in their old wheel chairs, which was all they knew how to do. They appeared as though they could not breathe or think, and I cried in helplessness as I noticed bones sticking out of their skin. The infirmary in Galina, Jamaica was a place of several needs I could never meet. There is one need that I know we all met that day, though: the Jamaicans’ need for encouragement. All our hearts were broken but, without a doubt, changed.
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