Jamaica on “Heroes Day”
Our first visit to Jamaica in three years was all about renewal, both of relationships and our own familiarity with the island.
We were also reminded of tasty goat curry, ackee and salt fish, fried plantain and juicy papaya.
Bro. Nathan and I were joined by his brother, Bro. Dave—who along with his wife, Sis Cassie, spent two years living in Jamaica as full-time missionaries, finishing their time there just as the pandemic was getting started.
Our major purpose for the trip was to attend the All-Island Heroes Day Fraternal (October) in Broughton. This is the first large in-person event the brothers and sisters in Jamaica have been able to hold since early 2020.
Broughton is a rural farming community fairly close to the resort town of Negril, so we spent a few nights at Bro. Ray Arthur’s small hotel on Seven Mile Beach. It’s always a joy to spend time with Bro. Ray, as conversations with him overflow with his love for God, for the Scriptures, and for the welfare of the community of believers in Jamaica.
A stay at Bro. Ray’s also demands a walk over the road to the beach with its soft, white sand and clear, turquoise waters. Sting rays, sea stars, crabs, little fish and big fish all play in the water close to shore. We had great fun exploring this microcosm of God’s incredible creation inside the cordon in front of the somewhat optimistically named restaurant, Alfred’s Ocean Palace.
The heroes of Jamaica didn’t get much of a mention at the Heroes Day Fraternal—or any mention at all if I’m honest. The focus was on being back together after such a long time. It took a little longer for the members from the other side of the island to join the rest of us after their bus was canceled at the last minute, but they eventually made it just in time for lunch, and the Broughton Hall was filled to the brim with believers once more.
Bro. Dave led classes on John 14:2, “In my father’s house are many mansions.” This community of brothers and sisters on the island is one such mansion, and to see everyone’s joy at being together again is just a small glimpse of what we’ll all share in being united in the Kingdom.
After the fraternal, we traveled on from Negril, first to visit old Bro. Matthew of the Harvey River Ecclesia. With no way to contact him beforehand, we just had to hope for the best—and unfortunately, after journeying up the long, potholed mountain road, we discovered he’d gone into town for the day. The same town that, of course, we’d passed through on our way up. So, we spent some time with Bro. Matthew’s granddaughter, who takes care of him, and Sis. Murna, who’d come with us for the visit.
We enjoyed the peace and quiet of the family’s mountain-top compound, watching chickens roam and eating starfruit fresh from the tree. When it was clear Bro. Matthew wouldn’t be arriving home before the threatened rain started, we bumped our way back down the mountain and dropped Sis. Murna at home.
From there we turned northeast, towards Port Maria, and the small cluster of sisters who live in that area. It’s hard for them to meet as a group, and they love it when visitors come through and can help facilitate meeting. A special joy for them is to visit Sis. Enid, who lives over an hour away in Port Antonio, so along with Sisters Shauna, Alissa and Sandra, we did just that.
The natural beauty of Port Antonio, and the surrounding parish of Portland, have long been popular with the rich and famous, but the real treasure is to be found in a small wooden house on a hillside and an old sister in the last days of her pilgrimage.
Though Sis. Enid’s eyes can no longer see, and her body can’t get out of bed, her vision of the Kingdom is clear, and her walk towards it just as eager as it has ever been. Encouraged by our time with these faithful sisters, we can’t wait to see the day when Sis. Enid will leap like a calf from the stall, her youth renewed.
On the island’s south side, we spent some time with Bro. Leroy and Sis. Loraine, and started to put together plans for 2023’s Easter Youth Camp. It’s hard to believe that when we waved goodbye at the end of camp in 2019, it would be another four years before the next one. The youth have grown a lot in those four years! Some have turned from kids into full-fledged teenagers, and others are nearly at the end of their university days and are about to embark on careers. Before the pandemic, we visited Jamaica two or three times a year. The world turning upside down like it did teaches us to not take anything for granted, to really, truly understand the meaning of James’s words:
So, we pray that if it is the Lord’s will, the Jamaican young people will be able to come together in April for fellowship and mediation around God’s word and that we will be with them.
CBMA Link Person for Jamaica