Friday, November 20, 2009


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!

awww, how fun B! Wish we could have known about those specials... J might not have been able to make it, but Liam could have gone to Jamaica for his first international travellings! We miss and love you! :)
thanks Am, I can't wait for you guys to bring my little Liam down here for his first trip to visit Uncle Blake!, what are your Christmas travel plans? (back to PHX?)

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