*For those in a hurry, read the underlined text!
We hope this newsletter finds you healthy and well! It feels like we say this every month, but we can't believe it's already May, and that we have now been in Jamaica for five months! Things certainly don't look like how we imagined they would in Jamaica (and the world) right now, but we are trusting God has us here in this season for a specific purpose.
C O V I D - 1 9 U P D A T E
All mission teams have canceled through June, schools and many businesses are closed, and the borders continue to be closed until at least May 31st (read: no flights in or out). The island has a stay-at-home order from the Prime Minister, as well as specific days to travel or do any grocery shopping (requiring face masks while in public). Cases on the island spiked to over 250 in a matter of days after a large call center near the capitol was found to have an employee diagnosed with the virus, after contaminating the rest of the call center. Fortunately, the number of cases in our parish remains low, but people are certainly bracing for cases to continue to rise. Additionally, there are no reported cases on any of the CCCD campuses or students/staff.
D A Y - T O - D A Y L I F E
Our day-to-day life has pretty drastically changed since the coronavirus flared up. Staying at our house significantly more has allowed us opportunity to continue making it our own through house projects. Whether it is hanging pictures, tilling the garden in back, or baby-proofing (more on that ahead...), we have been trying to make the best of the stay-at-home order. We were able to start composting this month, which is something we have been looking forward to doing, and we are excited to get our garden going with produce! We have been able to host a few outdoor movies in our yard for the Deaf residents on the weekend with our projector. This has worked well to continue to build community, while also maintaining social distance. Another way we are working to love the community here while maintaining social distance is in making bat houses. The attic of an apartment in the Village is completely infested with a colony of bats (no one is living in the apartment under it any more due to this). Pat has taken the lead on finding an alternative place for the bats to reside (cue the homemade bat houses), as well as humane ways to evict them. Pat also continues to work on finishing his Master of Divinity program, graduating officially on May 11! After graduation, he will have a senior theology exam via Zoom with the Zeeland RCA Classis, and plans to be ordained as a specialized minister. We are all very excited for him to no longer have homework and online classes after five full-time years in the program!
D R O U G H T
The Jamaica Deaf Village largely depends on rainwater. All of the buildings have cisterns built below them that collect rainwater to be the sole source of water for houses and the apartment complex. In addition, a large area of income for the Village is raising cows and selling them for profit. These cows rely on grass throughout the Village to eat. Additionally, there is a large farm at the Village that needs to be maintained with rain. Since moving to Jamaica in January, we have not experienced a "real rain". Cisterns are running low on water, and the cows are dangerously hungry due to the grass being dried up (they have even resorted to eating palm leaves off of the shorter palm trees, as pictured). This dryness is leading to a large increase in farm and brush fires - we see multiple in the valley our house overlooks at least four days per week (also pictured). This is very uncommon for Jamaica, in fact, we have been told that it has not been this dry in the 20+ years that the Village has been here - and we are in the middle of the typical rainy season. All of that being said, before this week, we had been without rain entirely for 2 months. Earlier this week, The Lord blessed us with a strong and lengthy rain! Would you please be in prayer with us for continued rain?
S I L A S
Our sweet 8 month old. This month has been very fun with Silas, as he is officially on the move! It all happened so quickly - one day he was sitting on his own for the first time, and within two days he had perfected the army crawl and rocking on all fours! We have been busy with further baby-proofing the house, because this kid loves to show-off for us. Earlier this month, Silas also had his first haircut! He continues to amaze us with how silly and smart he is, and he melts our hearts more every day with how affectionate he is. We just love him to pieces! We so look forward to when we next visit the US and you can all see him for yourselves!
T H O U G H T S O F M I C H I G A N
We debated sharing about this in our newsletter, but we want to be transparent with you all in this journey! One thing that has increased in the past month is our longing for Michigan. We of course miss our family, friends, and community in the States - but lately we have been missing some of the smaller, mundane things. We struggle with imagining what life would look like if we were still living there (while also bearing in mind that the pandemic has things looking exponentially different there than we remember them!) and missing things like a walk downtown Holland, a store like Menard's, places like Northern Michigan, coffee shops, and so on. It's hard to know if we would be having these thoughts quite to this extent if: A) teams were still here keeping us busy B) we could explore the island more C) our trip to the US in May was not canceled. That being said, our training with Mission Training International in Colorado last June prepared us with the fact that months 3-6 are often some of the most difficult in this regard. We continue to cling to God's plan and that He placed us here very intentionally, and that His plan is always greater than any we could imagine.
S P R I N G H O P E 2 0 2 0
As shared previously, all missions teams have had to cancel their trips here through June (and we anticipate into at least July, as well). These teams actually make up 40% of CCCD's annual funding, so the organization has taken a huge hit in more than one way from the virus. In addition, general giving is down due to the impact of the virus Would you consider praying about if the Lord is calling you to support CCCD right now? The link below includes more information about the state of things at CCCD financially, and on giving.
[ J A M A I C A N I S M S ]
We purchased a wall clock for our kitchen because none of our appliances seemed to keep time... It appears the appliances are made for 60hz, but we have 50hz in Jamaica, so our appliances continue to slow down time despite how many times we change them back...(fortunately the wall clock takes batteries)
- Praise the Lord for rain! We desperately need rain at the Village to fill our cisterns, feed our animals, and maintain our farm, and this week He provided it to us. Please pray for continued rain.
- For continued peace and reminders of God's plan for us to be here in this season
- For Pat in finishing up seminary and in his classis exam (May 19)
- Continued health for our family and the residents at the Village and throughout CCCD
- For CCCD's Spring Hope 2020 campaign to be fruitful and for the Lord to provide financially for the organization