God has been good! I got to close out 2011 in Jamaica with an amazing team of 11 from Racine, WI in church in the tiny community of Belmont just outside of Montego Bay. At midnight we stopped our church service to celebrate with each other and then saw about a dozen people want to make 2012 the year that they started following God! I can't explain how much I needed that! Believe it or not, I thrive on leading teams in Jamaica! So since August I've spent much of my time talking to churches and groups about Praying Pelican Missions and what we do, and occasionally I got to talk specifically about Jamaica. And although I love talking about what we do, I love DOING IT! So what a perfect way to get some perspective, close out 2011 and start 2012.
Our team, being only 11, was very close knit and we bonded immediately! A far cry from the teams of 60+ where you struggle to get to know even the key leaders of the group. So our time together was more intimate and I got to share with them as they discovered the love that this little community had to share. Our ministry time was "hampered" by the surprise that was the election of a new Prime Minister. . . and that was just day one. But we soon found that God had much bigger plans than what we had prepared. So as our plans shifted and changed and each time it was just that much better. For example: on our first day (Thursday) we were supposed to gather a large group of children and have a VBS of sorts. Instead, elections caused us to go visit some of the elderly in the community who are members of the church but are no longer able to physically go to church anymore. This turned out to be one of the most unforgettable times of the entire trip. As one example, we met Milicent who is a young 95. She was a founding member of the Belmont Baptist Church and as we talked with her we found out just how much of a beacon she had been to the community and a few individuals in particular. She was so young and still had so much joy at a time in her life when many are "old" and bitter at life and their circumstances. Well, there were countless stories like this! But don't take my word for it. . . read about them here!
Well, the team left Tuesday the 3rd and we all shed a little tear as we were not ready to say goodbye yet. As they flew away I met up with Jon (my wonderful boss. . . hey Jon!) and it was immediately back to work. We spent the next few days meeting with pastors who will be hosting our teams in the spring and setting up plans for these trips. It was great to meet with them and to see their passion for their communities! And it was all made just a bit easier to envision after such a great trip!
Rounding out my two weeks in Jamaica was a time of fellowship and training with a good bit of our Jamaican staff. We had a short day and a half of worship , chatting, goofing off, and getting to know each other a little more. . . OH, and we did some training in there as well. :) It was cool to hear several of them express how much they enjoyed our short weekend together and appreciated our time and the information gathered. We're set up to have a great spring and summer in Jamaica! We finished 2011 with just over 1,000 participants in Jamaica and about 3,300 for the whole organization (including Belize, Haiti, Mexico and our US locations in Miami and Tucson).
Looking at 2012: PPM already has almost 5,000 participant signed up to go on trips with us! That's 5,000 lives that will be changed! If they go home and change just one life because of their trip then we're at 10,000 lives changed. If we're VERY conservative and say that while they are serving on their mission trip they each touch just ONE person then we're at 15,000 lives changed in 2012. And these are VERY conservative numbers! God has been good to us this past year and He has good things in store for this year!
So. . . this is what gets me up in the morning when it's COLD and I don't want to get out of bed! This is why I love my job! This is why 2012 will be the best year yet! Oh, and the bananas? I got some bananas yesterday and they are absolutely flavorless compared to Jamaican bananas. That's it. :)
Drinking my Blue Mountain coffee and loving life! Here's to 2012!