Friday, November 27, 2009


ACWR Sea Container Delivery

Three times a year ACWR (Apostolic Christian World Relief, my church / sending agency) sends a 40-45 foot sea container full of aid to various organizations here on the island. The fall container that just arrived was designated for; St. James Infirmary, Hopewell Community, Blossom Gardens Orphanage, New Beginnings Ministry, Manchester Infirmary, Santa Hill Community, and CCCD. General contents are as follows; rice, kidney beans, cooking oil, soap (bar and powder), clothing, school supplies, health kits, mattresses, and bedding.

Our team (Chad Huber, Kirk Plattner, Erin Davis, and myself) set out early Monday morning in order to be at the port when it opened at 9am. The customers broker we work through had confirmed that everything was ready for us, so we arrived in Montego Bay hoping to get everything delivered that was designated for the MoBay area, and then head up to the Deaf Village with the rest of the items Monday night. What were we thinking?!? Apparently either we have not learned our lesson that things never happen as quickly as we would like, or we are eternal optimists. Wouldn't you know, after sitting around the dock for almost 6 hours, we finally found out that their was a hang-up in the paper process, and someone in Kingston (opposite side of the island) couldn't find the letter that showed our container was released.

We crashed at the MoBay campus, and then headed back to the port Tuesday morning. This time we were able to get in, but had to wait an hour for our container to get moved from the waiting area to the pick up area. We unloaded the first half of the contents and set out to deliver them. Again, we wanted to unload all the MoBay deliveries then refill the box truck with the remaining items, and get it all done on Tuesday. The truck was a bit overloaded and had troubles making it up the hills in MoBay, so we didn't get done unloading until about 7:30 pm. We decided that I would stay back and bring the rest of the items up to the Deaf Village with the Jamaican truckers, and the rest of the team made the long trip back yet that night.

Wednesday morning we loaded the rest of the items into the box truck and left the port at 11:30 am, arriving at the Deaf Village a little after 4:30pm. It was a long 5 hour trip, but I was thankful everything arrived safely. We unloaded at JDV and the Manchester Infirmary, and were down with everything just before 8pm. Looking back and and remembering we wanted to get it all done on Monday was a bit comical. But I was just glad we were done on Wednesday night and didn't have to continue on Thursday.

Here are some pictures and video highlighting the process.

Kirk removing the shipping mattresses.

Transferring Load #1 from the container to the delivery box truck.

About halfway done, as two dock workers stand around and later expect to be paid :)

Chad squinting, Kirk acting like he's busy, and Erin smiling....I love my team!

I had to find a stick to hold up the power lines that were handing too low for the truck.

Delivering aid to the St James Infirmary.

My view out the window of the delivery truck.

Monday, November 23, 2009


God is Good, and Unpredictable

On May 18th, at about 8pm, I was going through final details on my travels to Jamaica for the next day. My little brother Matt (22) was home to say goodbye, and I told him he should really consider coming down and helping out for a month or so (he had plans to go to Europe with a friend but those plans had fallen through earlier that week). He had already been thinking about it and new it was an option, but wasn't sure what he wanted to do. Ticket prices were still pretty good, so I was able to talk him into going with me, so at about 10pm we booked his ticket, and at 5am the next morning we left for the airport.

First, Matt and I enjoyed a blessed week at the Deaf Village with Ted Hirstein's May team.

(Matt and I laying block together)

(Matt goofing off with my brother Ionda)
Then we headed to Kingston where Matt and I both had to learn a new place and a new culture. We hosted three teams, FPC from Macon, GA (a first time team that was a huge blessing to us), Tracy McAvoy's long-time group from Conyers, GA (another blessing to our ministry), and Mark Geib's annual group from Naples, FL (they did an awesome job painting our new office, as well as the school building).

(Matt and I with Britney Barnes, a student at Kingston campus)

During our stay in Kingston, we had friends and family (well, our brother John's in-laws) at the Deaf Village, so one night Matt and I made a trip up for Papa Tone's birthday!

(Matt, Papa Tones, Mama D, Kaitlyn (Tots), and me)

Following Kingston, we were with the Rittman/Smithville AC team at the Deaf Village. This is where things started getting interesting. A friend I had met back on a team in 2007 (Tamara Raber) was doing a short-term internship with the ministry, helping out for 6 weeks. She's an interpreter for the deaf in Indiana, so she was a great help interpreting for teams. Tamara didn't really know anyone on the team, so she hung out with me and got to know Matt a little bit (this may or may not be accurate, I don't really remember to be honest). Long-story short, Matt and Tamara hit it off and got to know each other really well during the next 10 days (they were block masons together a few days, I guess you could say they were laying the foundation for the their relationship...momma, at least you'll laugh at that).

Matt was flying out on Wednesday, July 2, so on the 1st we went to YS Falls and Little Ochie seafood restaurant for his farewell. I didn't know the way, so Erin Davis (fellow ACWR missionary) went with us, and naturally she needed a sister to go with her so Tamara tagged along as well. We had a great time at the falls

(Matt and I at YS Falls together)

and enjoyed a great meal at Little Ochie. Little did any of us know (Matt and T included) but their friendship would plant a seed in each of their hearts that last week resulted in Matt asking for Tamara's hand marriage. I never would have predicted any of this to happen, nor could any of us have planned it any better...the Lord knows best, and in Seeking Him First, He will always provide. Praise God for an awesome, Christ-focused little brother and the blessings of another amazing sister-in-law (Cookie is pretty awesome too)!

(the infamous picture at Little Ochie, which my Grandpa Leman saw back in August and commented, "doesn't Matt seem to be holding her kinda close?"...very prophetic Grandpa!)

Friday, November 20, 2009


Pastor links 'bad dads' to rise in violence against children -

Pastor links 'bad dads' to rise in violence against children -

This Wednesday several of my students were given the opportunity to meet with Author and President of Compassion International Dr. Wess Stafford at a conference regarding "At-Risk Children." Please pray for our children!


My First Visitors!

Round trip airfare from Chicago to MoBay: $309
Lodging at CCCD campuses for 7 nights: $55
Food for a week: $75
Gas for 1300 kilometers of driving: $30
Entry into water fall parks: $20
Per person cost: $489
Spending a week touring the beautiful island, visiting all 4 CCCD campuses, and giving friends a glimpse into Jamaican life: Priceless!

To fill you in on the details, this summer Air Jamaica ran a special for fall flights, and my close friend Jaimie Oppermann found dates where round trip travel (taxes included) was only $309 from O'Hare to Montego Bay. Too good to pass up, we quickly found some dates that looked clear on everyone's calendar, and Jaimie and a former co-worker of mine, Hannah Brescher, booked flights. That same night Jaimie casually told roommate Kayla Eberhardt (another good friend of mine) that she should come along as well. Being the spontaneous and adventurous girl that she is, Kayla jumped on board as well and booked a ticket after considering the trip for, oh, about 5 minutes.

(We successfully visited each location on the map, as well as Dunn's River and YS Falls)

Erin Davis (my teammate and mutual friend of the girls) and I arrived at the airport on Thursday, November 12, and after being hassled by Jamaican customs (unfortunately all the items they were bringing down for us Jamericans were taxed under Jamaican duty law) they finally let the girls out at about 1pm. With a very small idea of what we would accomplish in the next 7 days, we set out for lunch. We decided on the Pork Pit and gave Kayla and Hannah their first experience of Jamaican jerked chicken, rice n peas, and festival. Next we headed to Doctor's Cave beach, only to be rained out 20 minutes into our swim. Because we park in a tourist lot, we have to patronize one of the retaurants to get our parking ticket stamped. We decided on getting some-Ting to drink (Ting is a delicious Jamaican soda, made from grapefruit) at Margaritaville, and Jaimie and I decided to have fun on the water slide while we were still wet from the rain. (Jaimie said this hurt a little bit...)

Once the rain stopped we headed to Mega Mart to pick up groceries for dinner. We settled on chicken stir fry and callaloo (Marie from the school taught us how), then went back to the Montego Bay campus to cook dinner.

Friday morning we woke up, ready for an adventure to Ocho Rios. After a quick breakfast at the Pelican, we hit the road. On the way up north coast we stopped at Falmouth Public Hospital, a place ACWR has supported for over a decade. As a RN in the states and someone who has served in medical missions in the past (she worked in Ethiopia for a month recently), Kayla is always looking for a medical related cultural experience. A few weeks before they came down I contacted the matron of the hospital who is very familiar with ACWR, and she agreed to let Kayla come for a day of "observation." I recall her telling me that she wouldn't actually be able to treat the patients, but that she could watch...I kinda chuckled because I had a feeling once she was there and help was needed, she would jump right in. We waited for her escort to come for about 45 minutes, but soon we were on our way to Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios and Kayla was about to embark on a journey she'll never forget. Her stories from one day in a Jamaican ER are more than I have for the entire week, so I'll spare details, but let's just put it this way: She didn't just observe, she got her hands dirty! Stabbings, abscess wounds, chicken bones lodged in an esophagus, heart attacks, baby delivery, girl attacked by stray dogs, etc.

(Kayla was very excited before we left that morning)

(The sign in the Matron's office...very prophetical considering what Kayla experienced)

(Kayla after her exciting day...she's saying "nurse" in sign language)

The other four of us headed to the falls, where we enjoyed overcast skies and a little rain. It wasn't enough to spoil the day though, and the sun did come out for a bit. We also met up with Trishana Joseph's mother and little brother (TJ is a graduate living with the Hermann family in Illinois and attending ICC for college). We left and headed back to the hospital, where we picked up a very excited Kayla who kept telling story after story of her adventure. I was so thankful it was a good Jamaican experience, and not a bad one.

On our way back to MoBay we stopped at the world famous "Glistening Waters" (, where tiny molecular creatures glow in the water when disturbed, creating a visible green flash when it is dark outside. Unfortunately, the glow was not bright enough to be captured by camera, so all you get to see is the dinner setting :) Come visit me and I'll show it to you in person!

Saturday morning we spent some fun time in fellowship with the Montego Bay students, then headed for Erin's home at the Knocpatrick campus. We then cooked dinner at Erin's and enjoyed delicious lettuce wraps (a tradition we had back in Indy when I lived there...all we were missing was Makoto).

Sunday we attended New Life Church of the Deaf and heard a very challenging and direct message about God's design for the family. The girls also got to meet my best friend and brother, Ionda Campbell. After church we grabbed some lunch in Mandeville and then visited our friends at the Manchester Infirmary.

We arrived in Kingston at about 5pm and were approached by all my kids, curious as to who all these visitors were. It was quite funny, they all stayed about 10 feet away from the car until I asked, "who wants to help carry bags?" Then we were swarmed by willing helpers and they carried all the girls luggage up to the apartment they were staying in that night. We spent that evening and the next day hanging out with the Kingston students, touring the campus, and enjoying $100 (about $1.10 US) ice cream cones at Devon House (so worth it!) Hannah and I also captured video of the campus, as Aaron Price (close friend, brother in Christ, and former co-worker in Indy) and I plan to create a video featuring the Kingston campus where I live and work. We also interviewed our oldest student, Semaj Barrett, with hopes to include her life's story into the video.

We hung out til about 7 Monday night, then made our way back to the Deaf Village. We enjoyed a fun game of Phase 10 (always entertaining when Ionda's playing), then woke up Tuesday morning ready for another adventure. We went to the water falls again, but YS Water Falls is inland and much less of a tourist destination like Dunn's River Falls. We were blessed with a beautiful, sunny Jamaican day and enjoyed swinging from the rope swing, jumping off some of the falls, and seeing God's creation.

(my attempt at a backflip off the rope)

(Kayla was shaking pretty bad before and after the leap, but she did great!)

(Hannah loved it and was smiling the whole time)

(Jaimers had her nose plugged the instant her hand let go of the rope)

(the six of us: me, Ionda, Hannah, Jaimie, Kayla, Erin)

On our way back to JDV we stopped at Little Ochie, a well known seafood restaurant on the beach. We sampled steamed parrot fish, jerked snapper, and garlic butter was delicious! I was even dared into eating the fish eye balls for the first time, a famous Jamaican delicacy (I'm not too sure I'll do it again...)

(Beautiful sunset on the beach)

(not much is left of a fish after a Jamaican eats it!)

(The fish eyes before we ate them)

(Jaimers and I eating the fish eyes...our faces pretty much capture it)

(great setting, great food, great friends, great time)

Wednesday was our last day, so we packed up in the morning and headed back to Montego Bay. They had an evening departure, so we first made a pit stop back at Doctor's Cave beach where we got a beautiful two hour swim under the Jamaican sun. It was a perfect end to a blessed week of travels, fellowship, new experiences, and strengthened friendships. Praise God for safe travels, His provision, and sisters in Christ to share in the Lord's ministry here in Jamaica!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Calabar Church

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel with Pastor Damian Campbell (from New Life Church of the Deaf at the Jamaica Deaf Village) and his family to Calabar Church in Kingston. Calabar is a Baptist union school that has offered its facilities for the deaf to gather and fellowship for many years. Recently there has been a substantial increase in the thirst and desire for God’s Word to be taught, yet they lack a full-time pastor. To help, Pastor Damian travels to Calabar once a month to preach. A hearing pastor also comes once a month and a hard of hearing woman interprets for the deaf. On Sundays where there is no pastor, they will worship and someone will share scripture and their thoughts. Please pray for the Lord of the Harvest to raise up a shepherd for this community of believers. It impressed me greatly the enthusiasm the congregation had for Pastor Damian to teach.

We arrived at the church only to find several men painting the walls and ceilings of the chapel. Due to the strength of the odor we decided to move the service outdoors, and as Damian told everyone, “we are going back to the old days how they worshipped in the country, right under a shade tree.”

It was a unique setting and I won’t soon forget these images.

Pastor Damian taught on the “Christian Family Home” and went back to the Creation story to lay the foundation for God’s design for marriage. In Jamaican culture it is common for a young couple to get married but not have the financial means to live on their own, so they will initially live with one of their parents. Damian highlighted circumstances in which that may be necessary and viable, but he challenged everyone to take heart to God’s command to “leave your mother and father and cleave to your wife, and two will become one flesh.”

It was encouraging to see the participation those in attendance showed to Damian, excitedly waving their hands and signing responses to his rhetorical questions, as well as the continuous “amens” being signed (make a fist with one hand and place it in the open palm of your other hand).

Please pray for this church at Calabar!

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