When you travel to another country to do short term missions you really don’t get to see much of the country. You really spend most of your time in one or two places working with the people. Yes, you do get to know their subculture well, but as far as a nation and a whole country you don’t get to see or do much else. Friday was our tourism day. We took off for downtown Ocho Rios to the straw market. Booth after little booth filled with Jamaican goodies. Most of the little shops have the same stuff in them. The same t-shirts, the same bracelets, the same coaster, the same wooden signs, on and on, most of it is the same. But for must of the team, bartering is not something we get to day everyday and it’s really fun. If you are good, really good, at bartering you can walk away with all kind of goodies.
This is also the day that you are on your own for lunch. Who knows what to eat!! There are so many little places to eat, but in Jamaica it really comes down to 2 major foods. Do you want jerk chicken or do you want a juicy patty? Most of the team is in love with juicy patties. There really isn’t much to it, some ground beef or chicken (and when I say ground, we are talking pureed) some spices folded into a flat pie shell and baked or fried. Think hot pocket, even the part where you take it out of the microwave and try to eat it too soon and your burn your mouth. The first thing that those who had been to Jamaica before ran to do when we got to the airport in Montego Bay is get a juicy patty, before half of the group got out of customs, some were already finishing there first juicy patty.
After lunch, the team really needs to do something fun, relaxing and mindless. So we go tubing in the mountains down a cold, cold spring fed river. Just a nice little ride that takes no effort and you get splashed a bit. We stopped twice to jump off of “cliffs”, they were no more than 12 feet tall, but the plunge into crisp cool water is so refreshing. To add to my little tubing adventure I got “bag juice.” It’s hard to explain bag juice… not really, it’s frozen super delicious Kool-Aid in square bag. So good! If you are building a house in the heat, bag juice to the rescue! If you have kids crawling all over you while trying to show them how to make a bracelet, bag juice to the rescue! If you are on top of a concrete building in a bucket brigade, bag juice to the rescue! If you need to be lazy and lay back in a cold creek, bag juice is where it’s at!
On the last night, the ladies that have taken care of our rooms and all our food prepare a Jamaican Feast! It is quite the spread and so good. It’s the perfect way to share one last meal in Jamaica along with sharing the stories of how God has worked through the week. Pray for our lives to never be the same and the Jamaican lives we interacted with to chase hard after Jesus and for Jesus to grow the seeds that were planted so we can go back next year and see the fruit of our labor.