When you think “Jamaica,” you usually think white sand, turquoise water, and cocktails with umbrellas. Well, my mom’s trip over there wasn’t usual. She just returned from a mission trip to the island country, and it was anything but glamorous. Here, she shares some of her experiences with you. Introducing my mama, Janet Dobie.
First of all, I would advise everyone to go on a mission trip if you have the opportunity. It takes you totally outside yourself and makes you trust God to take care of everything, because you have no other choice. You also become part of a team and quickly become very close to that team because you eat, sleep, wash, and dress in very close quarters and, usually, in primitive conditions.
Our dorm rooms featured bunk beds and no glass in the windows. Instead, there were little wood slats that we could turn down or up and a bathroom with no hot water and one toilet for eight women to share. I slept like a rock, though, almost every night because I was so tired from the work we did each day. I woke early the first morning and sat on a bench outside our room in the hall. The sky was a beautiful dark blue with light growing brighter in the east. I had a wonderful time of prayer and meditation, feeling so peaceful in the quiet. I watched the sun rise over the mountains from our dorm window.
My roommate and I were both nurses, and our job was to hand out hygiene kits that we brought to the school children and to do some teaching there. This was exciting but made me nervous when I thought of getting up in front of rooms of kids. My daughter can vouch for me when I say that kids are not my thing. I am much more comfortable in front of a group of adults than children. But this is what mission work is and why it makes you more dependent on God. He takes you out of your comfort zone and says “Here, do this!”
So a group of us went to the school and taught the three-year-old through fifth grade students about how to brush their teeth and wash their hands, along with general hygiene. It went amazingly well, and the children were polite, attentive, and beautiful. We gave them their own toothbrushes, and I was shocked at how many didn’t already have one. The next morning, we were asked to teach the sixth grade girls and boys about HIV/AIDS and STI’s. (That’s “sexually transmitted infections.” They changed the name, but I still think they should be called “sexually transmitted diseases”! That sounds scarier, which they are! )
Mike, a male nurse on our team, spoke to the boys, and Cindy, the other nurse, and I would tackle the girls. I was quite nervous, even though I had prepared what I was presenting and studied the material that we brought. Cindy went first and taught about HIV/AIDS, and then it was my turn. I stood up front and started talking. I felt relaxed and confident, and the girls asked lots of questions of Cindy and me both. They seemed really interested! (The most challenging question was during our discussion of condoms and involved the use of a bread bag … Amazingly, we were able to maintain our composure and answer the question.)
After we finished, the Head Girl, Kim, thanked us for teaching them and helping them to learn this information. She seemed very sincere and I thought, “This is why I’m here.” What a blessing those girls were to me, and I hope the information that we gave will help them to make wise decisions in the future. The other members of the team did many other activities during the week, like construction, installing a new bell system at the school, and Bible School for the kids. I helped with those things, too, but my favorite time was spent at the school where I felt God’s presence and strength leading me.
I’m back home now in my warm, comfortable house with my hot running water and all my stuff, but those beautiful children and the other Jamaicans I met will stay in my heart for a long time. Hopefully, I will be able to go back and see them again. I know God will go with me and continue to push me out of my comfort zone to serve in whatever way He wants me to. I hope He does the same for you!
Jake and I donated some cash to my mom’s Jamaica trip fund, and I was thrilled to learn our cash went toward the new bell system at the school. In my head, I imagine the bell going off right before recess and a bunch of happy Jamaican kids running out into the sun. I’m blessed to have had my mom as a role model all my life. Soon, I hope to do a mission trip of my own. I’m sure I’ll be freaked out, but I find God works best when I’m in a state of panic. Thanks for sharing your trip with us, Mama!