Well, another four months have passed since I blogged last. Unfortunately, my computer has had to undergo a total hard drive re-haul, which has had to wait until our returned to the United States.
Putting my technology issue aside, the past four months have had their challenges but they have also had some amazing blessings. Therefore, let me recap our adventures starting with Ash Wednesday and proceed to the present date.
- On March 5th, Lowel was asked by Fr. Danilo to facilitate Ash Wednesday Service in Guys Hill. We had a good turn-out of parishioners considering they had not been able to have an Ash Wednesday Service for some time due to the shortages of Priest and Lay Ministers.
Lowel took the opportunity to challenge our parishioners to seek transformation in their lives during this Lenten Season between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Lowel’s message to the congregation could be summed up as follows:
“We as Catholics, have a tendency to do things out of Tradition during whatever liturgical season we may be in at the moment. When our practices are done as mundane traditions they have a tendency to become hollow and void of any passion or meaning. This Lenten Season we must do something new! We must realize that REAL transformation is what is needed to transform our surroundings. But, REAL transformation does not start around us, it starts within us. It is ludicrous to think that fasting from a candy bar is going to bring about any real transformation unless you are a small child that is just learning the basics of discipline. Fasting from the more subtle sins is a more realistic approach to growth for adults. By the time we get to Good Friday we may come to realize that we are unable to do the subtle yet simple things that Our Lord has requested of us. For the men; Let us stop the eye wandering over smooth curves and creases that don’t belong to us. (Matt 5:28; 6:23) For the women; Let us stop worrying about things that are not within our purview of control. (Matt 6:24-34) Both of these activities, when adolescent in their maturity in our hearts, lead to idolatry and misery in our lives. When sin is full-grown, it leads to death.(James 1:15) Therefore, on Good Friday when we come to the realization that we are not able to do these fasts that we have set out to do, we need to nail these things to the cross so that they might die with Christ. Once our sins are dead, we will rise with Our Lord Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday as new men and women realizing that the fullness of Jesus in our lives is what allows us to conquer the garbage in our lives. (Phil 4:13)”
- Furthermore, Lowel attended Youth Explosion at St. George’s College in Kingston – which was held on the weekend of Ash Wednesday. The days were filled with various speakers and events for the youth, to help inspire and challenge them to be living examples of Jesus Christ in their homes, communities and workplaces.
- On the 12th of March, Gary, who is the owner of the home in which we reside, arrived from CA to have a new nine month old Red Bull delivered to the
property. It was an exciting morning watching the delivery of the young bull and the reaction of the herd upon his entry into the pasture. I’ve personally never witnessed anything like it before and found it quite cool… (OK, educational).
- On March 20th, Lowel and I paid a visit to Mary Mount, an all girl high school in Highgate, in the Parish of St. Mary. We obtained the approval of the use of their popcorn machine for our movie night in Guys Hill on Holy Thursday – so that we could give the children and adults the feel of a real “theatre” when we played the TEN COMMANDMENTS. We also made a trip to Above Rocks, in the Parish of St. Catherine, to retrieve a canvass movie screen left by our missionary friends that have since had to return to the United States. Thank you, Dan and Gayle for directing us to the location of the movie screen so that we may continue to share Biblically based movies with our parishioners and community.
- On March 27th, Lowel and I had some engaging conversation on our veranda with Sister Polly and Brother Green from the local Seventh Day Adventist Church. Over cool refreshments, we discussed an array of Jamaican issues that are not quite in line with Biblical Truth and brainstormed what could be done in the community to overcome such distorted and non-Biblical thinking. In the near future, we look forward to visiting their community and continuing the dialog.
On March 30th, the four communities of our Mission gathered together in Ewarton for one Mass celebration. Ewarton is located a good hour from our parishes in the mountains; therefore, a small bus was obtained to assist our parishioners with transportation. Lowel was asked by Fr. Danilo to present the Homily to the congregation and afterwards there was a light lunch for all. Fr. Danilo was extremely pleased at the parishioner turnout and everyone seemed to really enjoy the fellowship.
- On April 1st, Lowel and I took our fourth day off in five months. (We have been poor stewards of our day of rest! Please keep us in your prayers.) We headed for the water and were blessed with meeting a gentleman by the name of David Wilson who referred us to a small establishment called Hermosa Cove in Ocho Rios. There, we actually enjoyed a nice lunch near the water. I realize that may sound strange to the average tourist, however, most locals do not have the access or means to enjoy the beaches in Jamaica. The nice beaches are pretty much owned and controlled by the tourist industry and only the well to do in Jamaica can really enjoy them.
On Thursday, April 3rd, we started our first Children’s Bible Study at our Donnington Mission. The kids now gather every Thursday in the church following school and partake in an hour Bible Study. Recently, the adults have asked us for a Bible Study of their own which we now facilitate following the Children’s Bible Study.
- On April 13th, Lowel facilitated Palm Sunday Service in Guys Hill.
- On April 15th, Lowel and I arose early in the morning hours to watch the Blood Moon and we were amazed at the response of the animals during this awesome event. The cows began to moo at the beginning of the eclipse at about 0200 hours and continued mooing until the total eclipse, at which time they stopped, and the cocks began to crow as soon as the total eclipse took place. It was all quite surreal and exciting at the same time. As the Bible says, the heavens declare the Glory of God. (Psalm 19:1)
On April 17th, Holy Thursday, Lowel assisted Deacon Yeesing with Service at Guys Hill. Our Donnington mission also joined us in Guys Hill for the Foot Washing Ceremony and the Movie Night showing of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.
Lowel and I had made several trips to Guys Hill prior to the official movie début to work out the installation of the movie screen and sound system, as well as, choosing the proper location for the popcorn machine. A week prior to the event, Lowel and I passed out flyers to the community encouraging all to partake in the Free Movie Night Event.
Our Holy Thursday Service was set for five o’clock but was late in starting due to Deacon Yeesing having difficultly getting up Devil’s Racecourse. Yes, that is the name of the road leading to our missions in the mountains. Upon his arrival, we started the service and realize that the church was experiencing some major electrical issues with the lights turning on and off. One of are parishioners sent word into the community to find an individual that could assist us with the issue at hand. The Service continued as scheduled with Lowel using his iPhone light to assist Deacon Yeesing in reading the scriptures, all the while, individuals worked on the electrical box and wires so the night could go on as scheduled.
As the service came to an end, everyone gathered outside the church to watch the man on the ladder fix the electrical line that goes into the church. He used painters tape to make the connection. Yes, I did say painters tape instead of electrical tape. I must give credit to Jamaicans for doing what has to be done when supplies such as electrical tape are not readily available.
After a short while, the problem was addressed and the air was filled with the excitement of the children for the start of “Movie Night”. I scurried to get the popcorn machine up and running, however, it just didn’t seem to pop fast enough for the children’s desires. The popcorn machine was such a success that night that I actually had to make a trip to the local grocery store next door to purchase additional supplies before they closed for the evening.
All seemed to be going well, when suddenly, near the movies intermission our Monster Surge Protector experienced an immense electrical surge that shut our system down. Thank goodness we had the surge protector or all of our equipment would have been ruined. Lowel quickly assessed the situation and gathered some men to assist him in getting our small generator out of our vehicle. They quickly got the system back up and running using the generator and the show went on as planned. However, Lowel knew that there wasn’t much gas left in the generator; therefore, he prayed that it would last long enough to get us to the intermission of the movie. Well, GOD IS GOOD and that is exactly what happened. We were able to complete the first half of the movie before the generator started sputtering due to a lack of gasoline.
Afterwards, we took a vote and decide to complete the movie the following day after Mass at our Donnington Parish. Nevertheless, in lieu of all of the challenges we faced that evening, everyone seemed to have a great time and we were pleased with the participation by the community. The event touched approximately 40 to 50 community members. I realize that this may not seem like a lot in comparison to community events in the States, but considering that there were only six to eight people in attendance at our first Service in Jamaica – we were pleased with what God had orchestrated. TO HIM BE THE GLORY!
- The next day, April 18th, Lowel was asked to facilitate The Stations of The Cross in Donnington. At noon, we gathered with our parishioners near a small store in their community and proceeded to the Donnington Parish for Mass.
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After Mass, the children eagerly assisted Lowel and I with setting up the movie screen and projection equipment while the mothers gathered a snack for all of us. Traditional bun and cheese and some drink was on the menu. The parishioners really seemed to enjoy the second half of the movie and Lowel did not let the opportunity pass by to emphasize to our parishioners that God’s Power is the same today as it was then. (His Awesome Power Still Reigns!)
- On Saturday, April 19th, Lowel assisted Fr. Danilo and Deacon Yeesing with the Easter Vigil in Linstead at 8pm – which got us back in the mountains at the wee hours of the night.
- On Resurrection Sunday, Lowel was asked to present the Homily in Guys Hill and Fr. Danilo celebrated Mass. Following Mass, Lowel and I returned home in the early afternoon with a new founded respect for all Priests, Pastors and Lay Ministers that perform services during Holy Week. It is truly a grueling schedule to keep.
Our Easter dinner was quite modest in comparison to how we celebrate the day in the United States. Furthermore, I must confess, I shed a few tears that evening reflecting on how blessed we are to have been born in a country that founded itself on The Word God, honored God and weighed its laws with the teachings in The Holy Bible and in doing so has prospered with abundance. We are praying that the Leaders of the United States will return to God, the Father of our nation. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
- On Friday, April 25th, Lowel and I met with Dr. Young in the Hills of Kingston to visit with a rabbit breeder. The Archbishop has asked Lowel and me to learn this new industry as a way to help our small communities survive during the economic down turn.
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- In conjunction with the foresaid events, Lowel and I continue weekly with Praise and Worship Wednesdays in Guys Hill followed by an Adult Bible Study.
We facilitate both an Adult and Children’s Bible Studies every Thursday in Donnington and we have just recently completed a twelve week TRUTH PROJECT program that took place every Friday evening in Kingston. The response to the TRUTH PROJECT program was fantastic and our group is eagerly waiting for us to start a new program. At the moment, we are looking at a series called THE FAMILY PROJECT by Focus on the Family.
In early May, Lowel received word that his Aunt had passed away in N.Y. and was asked by his cousins to play his flute at the memorial service. NOW IT’S MIRACLE TIME!
Upon hearing word of the news we packed our suitcases, closed up our house and headed for Kingston to stay with a friend who so graciously offers us a room in her home when we are in need of a place to stay. Lowel confidently professed that if God wanted us be to in New York that He would orchestrate it.
We awoke the next morning and over breakfast our friend received a call from the Missionaries of the Poor (MOP), who are kind of like “the Mother Teresa of the Caribbean”. They were in need of a donation to cover the expense of a bus to take their handicapped children to the beach. Our friend graciously offered to cover at least half of the expense for the bus. At that moment, I watched my husband excuse himself from the table. I knew that he was hearing from the Lord. Lowel returned with a portion of our rent money that we had just received to pay the full amount of their transportation expenses. (Matthew 10:8) …Freely you have received; freely give. Our friend squealed with excitement and called the Brothers back exclaiming that, “We serve a Mighty God!” She explained to them that they now have all the money needed to take the children to the beach”. (Early in his life the Lord spoke to my husband telling him, “I decide for you where faith ends and foolishness begins!” Rent Money on the table is “Foolishness” unless you are assured of the ability of your God to provide for you when you walk in obedience to Him. So, this is how it all panned out……You can never Out-Give God. (Malachi 3:8-12.) Our Dad would supply the rent money PLUS!
Following breakfast, Lowel got on the phone with Delta Airlines to see what we would need to do, to not only change our departure date, but also our destination. We also had to figure out how we were going to get from NY back to Detroit which was the original destination for our previously planned sabbatical. After being placed on hold several times, the airline assistance returned with the following itinerary; Our departure date would be moved up four weeks to the following morning, we would arrive in NY on Wednesday and we would depart NY the following Tuesday to arrive in Detroit as our final destination. My husband was impressed with her suggested itinerary and therefore asked, “What is this going to cost us?” The airline assistant replied, NOTHING! He smiled, and professed that “He serves a Mighty God!” And that “You Can’t Out-Give God!” (2 Corinthians 9)
The next morning we departed Kingston on the Knutsford Express to make our way to Montego Bay and catch our blessing to New York City.
Our time in New York with family was awesome and much-needed. Our Lord knew that on our own accord, there was no way we could afford to see all the family members that we did ; therefore, He orchestrated Lowel’s Aunts Homecoming in His perfect time. THANK YOU LORD!
- Since our return to Detroit, we have been busy processing seven months of mail, scheduling necessary appointments, attending dinner engagements, birthday parties, speaking engagements and visiting with family and friends among other things. We have also encountered numerous issues with our electronics, from iPhones to computers but now seem to have most of the bugs worked out.
Lowel and I are presently scheduled to depart Detroit for Kingston at the end of July to return to our missions. We would like to thank our family, our friends and our associates for providing us with a roof over our heads during our stay, blessing us with a vehicle to use while we are in town, and for financial sustenance.
WE SEND OUR SINCERE APPRECIATION TO ALL – FOR WE KNOW WE COULD NOT WALK THIS WALK WITHOUT YOUR LOVING KINDNESS, YOUR PRAYERS AND YOUR SUPPORT!
God Bless all of you!
R & L
Until next time… Keep us in your prayers!