Saturday, January 30, 2010


My Jamerican Parents!


Back in May of 2005, on my third trip to Jamaica, I met Marc and Laura White. They were the new missionaries at the Jamaica Deaf Village, and knowing that I loved the ministry, they gave me the opportunity to come back later that summer for Deaf Camp and to spend a week with their family. That trip in July of '05 was my first glimpse into the reality of the ministry. It wasn't the fairy tale experience of a work team going for a week, but I saw what daily life looked like, and saw first hand some of the difficulties. This didn't scare me away though, in large part because of what I learned from Marc and Laura. A year later, through some God things (a long story), I found myself returning to Jamaica for 3 months as an intern. Marc and Laura graciously hosted me in their home and took me in as their own. By the end of the summer, I had become their Jamerican son and they were my Jamerican parents. They left Jamaica in spring of 2007 to work in the US office, as the previous manager moved out of the state. What a blessing it was to have both of them down here last week, and to visit me at my new Jamaican home, Kingston!


The Dentist Comes to Town

Since 1998, Dr. Buz and his wife, Sharon, have been coming to CCCD to treat our children and staff. After a few annual trips to the Knockpatrick campus, he began making a second trip to the island each year to attend to the MoBay and Kingston schools. Every January he comes to Kingston and spends 4 days cleaning, filling, and extracting. It's hard work, without all the convenient tools found in his office back in Georgia, but he truly blesses our children and ministry by his compassionate, professional care.
Sharon, Dr. Buz and me

Dr. Buz preparing to extract one of Akeem's teeth

Along with Dr Buz and his wife, were former CCCD missionaries Preston and Mary Ellen. They first got involved with CCCD work teams back in the early 90s. After spending months at a time hosting work teams for a number of years, they made the move down to the island in the late 90s and lived at the MoBay campus for several years. They have remained very active within the ministry and serve on the board of directors. They also come down with Dr. Buz every year and help with the teeth cleaning and other areas. CCCD is SO blessed to have faithful servants like Dr. Buz, Sharon, Preston, and Mary Ellen!
Me, Preston and Mary Ellen

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Easy Street

You may remember my legal issues from when I came back from Christmas on Dec 31 (previous post). It took me two hours to get through immigration because I didn't have my VISA (which I got yesterday). Today when I got back to Kingston things could not have been better. In fact, it almost seemed wrong how easy it all was. We were taxiing down the runway at 6:03pm. I was out of the plane, through immigration, collected my bag from baggage claim (it was the 2nd bag off), and was through customs and waiting to get picked up in the parking lot by 6:22pm. 19 minutes!!!! Wow, feeling a bit like Usain Bolt...thank you Jesus!


I'm Legal!

Tuesday (yesterday) I flew from Kingston to Fort Lauderdale. I arrived at around 8:30am and Maria Lawrence (my boss/ principal at cccd) had family in the area, and her aunt's husband picked me up. We made the 40 minute trip south down I-95 to downtown Miami, then explored a few city blocks til we found the right street. David dropped me off and we planned to meet at a nearby hotel in a few hours. I found the Jamaican Consulate and made my way up to their suite. I didn't know what I was expecting, but I didn't think it'd be very busy...boy was I wrong. I opened the door and almost hit some folks standing in line waiting to be seen, and there were probably 20 people sitting in chairs. I was in line for maybe 15-20 minutes before approaching the window. Everyone else in the room were Jamaicans getting Passports, and I felt like I was back on the island, complete with two different women cutting ahead in line by just walking up to the window while claiming to everyone in line "I just need to ask a question..." Well lady, what do you think the rest of us are doing here!?!? Anyways, I had all the documents I needed, the lady helping me clarified a couple questions on my application, and then I was told to sit and wait for my name to be called. 20-30 minutes later, I got called to the cashier window, where I dropped $161 for some ink to get stamped in my passport. After paying, I was told it'd be about half and hour. I ran and grabbed some breakfast and then about 11:30 I got called up to the window and collected my passport, VISA stamp inside!

After the Consulate, I walked down to the hotel where David was going to pick me up. They had wifi, but you had to be have a room and a PIN to access it. I picked a nice lady at the front desk and approached her, stating that I needed to get a PIN for the internet and the concierge told me to go to the front desk. She asked if I was a guest at the hotel, and I said no, I just wanted to get online for a bit....she grabbed a piece of paper, wrote down some numbers, handed it to me with a smile and said, "I'll make an exception, just this once." Thank you! and I was good to go...I was catching up on things online when the Indiana Pacers started pouring through the lobby on their way  back from practice. An assistant sat down in the lobby on the chairs next to me, and pretty soon Troy Murphy walks through the door and sits down next to him. He's a big dude! I had my camera in hand waiting for an opportune moment to get a picture, but David pulled up so I needed to leave.
We headed to Miami Beach and took the scenic wrote up through South Beach and the Art Deco district. We arrived at his local hang-out, an English Soccer Pub, to watch the Manchester United vs. Manchester City soccer match. It was funny watching crazy soccer fans from opposing teams talk smack back and forth during the match. It's the first time in my life I've actually watched soccer on TV, and the first time I've watched it around soccer fans. Made it less painful, and the end was slightly exciting with MU trying to tie the game in the final seconds, but I'd still have to say that soccer is very boring to watch...although, it was better than expected. Then we headed to the restaurant Maria's aunt runs (Auntie Fay) and got some delicious fried chicken and chips. We got back to their house and I killed time until the Purdue game, which made my night end on a very positive note. Go Boilers! Today I head back to Kingston around 2:30. Goodbye America (again).

Monday, January 18, 2010


God Sightings: My God is Mighty to Save!

God-sighting 3,4,5,6: ...continued from last week's post. January 2nd an ACWR work team from Gridley, Illinois arrived in Kingston. They had 18 men and 10 women. 6 were parents/chaperones, the rest were 18-20 somethings. A little over half were Christians, with quite a few making a return trip after having a great experience on a previous trip. We had skilled laborers, willing helpers, and experienced team leaders. It was, on paper, going to be a great week. My good friend Josh Stoller was also on the team, and I was blessed to have him room with me for the week, providing fellowship and encouraging conversation and prayer.

Was it a good week? Yes, it was. We got a lot accomplished on the campus, we had a lot of fun, and bonded as a team but as the team left, it was a bit sad and feeling as if "we just needed more time with them." However, that empty feeling was filled up and things got better the week after they left. Sound confusing?  It would be, but let me explain. While here, those that came on this trip without Jesus heard repeatedly the Gospel message. Their hearts were softened, they were touched by the love of our students, and they knew that surrendering to Jesus was what they wanted. But as always, Satan is waging war for souls. Many of us were praying for the unsaved, praying that hearts would be changed, because the emotional and spiritual impact of a mission trip wears off quickly upon returning to the States.

(Eph 3:14-21)
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Praise God! On Monday, two days after returning, two souls (Mike Roth and Amanda Vercler) gave their hearts to Jesus, confessed their sin, and came to our Father in broken repentance. I was so thankful. The past week now seemed so much more full (sorry for the poor grammar)! Not one, but two souls! God you are SO good, you are working in the hearts of man to this day!
Then on Wednesday night, another soul, Wendy (Stoller) Schick surrendered. Hallelujah! It was hard to believe, three souls in three days!
Friday night, Nate Bauman surrendered. God, are you really doing this? Bringing four souls to Calvary! I am in awe, and ashamed that, a week ago, I lacked faith to believe that He would do such glorious works. "To Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think"...amen, amen.

As was posted on my facebook wall by my BCFPP (Ted Hirstein):

Savior - He can move the mountain... My God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save... Forever, Author of Salvation... He rose and conquered the grave, Jesus conquered the grave!

Please pray for these new Christians, that they would be (Eph 6:10-11) strong in the Lord, and continue to pray for those that have not heeded the call to come, just as they are.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


God Sightings: My God is In-Control (even if I fail to realize it during the hard times)

Two weeks ago I came back to Kingston after Christmas holiday. It seems a lot has happened in that two weeks, and God has once again proven Himself to be Mighty and greater than my mind can imagine. At SPLICE training in Colorado this fall, we were encouraged to make notice of "God-sightings" and give him praise for what He does in our journeys.

God-sighting 1: After a smooth day of travel on the 31st, we arrived in Kingston. Long story short, I came into the country with a one-way ticket (just like I did in October, which was fine then...) which was illegal without a VISA. I got questioned and then "detained" to a small office area. A supervisor then came out to talk to me, and questioned me again. The issue stemmed from my Work-Permit paperwork still being in process even though it was supposed to be done by the first week of December. He left the room and returned again. He said he was bound by law to deport me to America on the same flight I arrived on, since I was not coming into Jamaica as a tourist. He said he was going to get my paperwork to send me back, and that he would escort me to the AA counter to purchase a return flight. After about another 15 minutes wait, he came back and said "unfortunately sir, the flight you were on has already departed back to Miami. Therefore we'll have to put you up here at the airport until the 6am flight tomorrow morning." My heart sank, but it was what it was and I couldn't fight it. Then after a pause he continued, "but I don't want to deal with having you here or making you stay here, so this is what we're going to do. We will give you a one-time entry Visa, but you MUST have your proper paperwork the next time you enter the country." I was so thankful and marveled at how God worked, the delays that I was so frustrated about while waiting in that room was enough time for the plane to leave, which allowed me to get in because the Jamaican official didn't want to deal with me staying. God is good. I paid $20 and was out of there.

God-sighting 2: I walked out of immigration to pick up my bags, but Erin and Ionda were waiting with the news that all of our bags didn't make the connection. They would arrive tomorrow. We met a nice guy and he helped us out with all the paperwork. We left the airport, then the bags got delivered the next day. However, instead of my bags showing up at Kingston, I got Erin's bags. I checked the tags and they had my name on the barcode. When we all checked in together in Indianapolis, the lady didn't know who's bag was who's I suppose and put Erin's name on my bagtags. I told the driver and he called another guy who had "Erin's bags" and told him to bring them to me. They arrived a couple hours later, and as I was carrying both bags up the stairs I realized the bigger one was not 50lbs. My heart sunk, I knew it was the LCD projector my supporters/cousins Randy and Mara Leman had bought me for the campus. I immediately opened the bag and it was gone. My heart sank, it had been stolen! I reported it to AA and they said the next day I could come to the airport to fill out a claim. A couple hours later I got a phone call from Jamaica customs, asking for Erin Davis (since the bag tags were switched). I said I was Erin (in Jamaica, if you say you aren't that person, you won't get any info, and I needed info) and he said that they had my projector in customs and that I needed to pay duty. He apologized that they didn't inform me sooner, but he said I could pick it up the next day. So Saturday, before the Gridley work team arrived, Erin and I headed to the airport. We realized that because they thought it was Erin's possession, she would have to claim it. But what that meant was that we wouldn't have to pay duty either, because Erin was legally in the country as a "non-resident alien" with proper work permit ID, which meant that she was entitled to $500 US goods duty-free. After some haggling and waiting, we got the projector back from customs and didn't pay a penny! God is in control. If those luggage tags had not been switched in Indianapolis (which at first I thought was a huge pain...shows us why I should be patient when things are going perfect) then I would have been stuck with maybe an expensive duty fee. God is in control, even with luggage tags!

God-sighting 3: Tune in soon to hear about God's work in the hearts of sinners during the Gridley work team! be continued

Monday, January 11, 2010


Christmas in America

4am on December 12th we head to the airport. Ionda was anxious, excited, and ready for his long awaited first trip to America.

we found a Harley at O'Hare, which IC thoroughly enjoyed.

We arrived in Indy, and I was very excited to see my little sister Katie and eat fresh chocolate chip cookies with a glass of cold milk (our tradition for picking me up on a return from Jamaica...yes, I'm spoiled).

Widmer Family Christmas Pic (with Ionda and sister-in-law to-be Tamara)

It was great to be home and spend time with my family, enjoy momma's cooking, and sleep in a bed with lots of blankets pulled around you to stay warm. On Sunday we went to West Lafayette church where Ionda got to meet Kevin and Laura Gutwein's deaf son (adopted from Ethiopia) named Taye. They hit it off and it was a neat moment to see Ionda interacting with Taye.

Sunday evening we went to Tess Gutwein's wedding reception in Francesville, where Ionda got to meet my grandma and grandpa Leman and other family members, as well as some of Chad Huber's extended family.

Monday we headed to Indianapolis to meet up with my friends and former co-workers. Ionda and I took a detour to downtown Indy, where he soaked up the large buildings and downtown monument circle.

I also took Ionda to the Indiana School for the Deaf, where he was shocked to see such a large facility just for deaf people. We took a quick tour through one of the buildings and were able to see some kids signing in classrooms, which was a neat experience for both of us.

Monday night we had dinner at Jerry and Dorene Leuthold's, along with my former roommates Makoto Inoue (now married to Anna) and Eric Frantz. This was my family while I lived in Indy, and I miss them all greatly.

Tuesday morning Ionda and I headed to Fast Times go-karting, this was a blast!

Getting suited up.

Time to race!

Wednesday we checked in on Matt and Brad while they roofed at the new WLAC church, giving Ionda a taste of what construction in America is like (especially in the winter).

Wednesday afternoon we went bowling with Jamerican friend Chris Bahler. Ionda and Chris are two-peas in a pod and love to tease each other and be goofy.

Ionda's form wasn't all that bad and he got a couple strikes!

Monday the 20th I was able to meet up with good high school friends Justin Wells, his fiance Allison O'Neil, Brett Puetz, and Nick Schraut. It was great to catch up and see the various places we are at now (Cali, Chicago, Florida, and Oregon).
Tuesday I headed over to the Gutwein's to hang out with my buddy Taye. He is a joy to be around and an incredibly bright young boy, his potential is limitless and I'm excited to see what his future holds!

Tuesday night I met up with some of my siblings to catch the Purdue game. We had a blast introducing Tamara to the Widmer way to cheer (loud and constant), and Ionda also thoroughly enjoyed his first experience of being in an arena for a real game.

Being home was also filled with lots of random moments, many including stops at McDonald's for soft-serve or driving thru Wendy's to get a frostee. Yum, yum!

Brad and Ionda saying goodbye, with Ionda reppin' the Paradigm hoody.

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