Archive for the ‘Stage 1: Hearing the Call’ Category

If you are new to reading my blog or are a bit confused by the “stages” let me offer you some clarification and helpful hints. At the top of the blog you will see three links: “Home” which will get you to the latest blogs; “The stages of a hero’s journey” which will give you some important background on a book that my blog is based on and the twelve stages that I am blogging about; and “What am I doing in Mo Bay?” which will help you understand how I found myself living and working in Montego Bay for five months.

Also, on the right side of the page you will see a section called “Categories: Stages of the Hero’s Journey.” If you hold you cursor over any of these stages you will be able to read a short description of that stage and my blogs will begin to make more sense to you. I am not necessarily going through the stages in order nor am I writing about them in order and that will become clearer if you read the stage explanations.

Also, please feel free to leave comments on blogs that you read. I love reading your comments as it helps me connect better to my readers. Finally if you click on “Subscribe to ‘jammin’injamaica’” you will receive e-mail updates every time I post a new blog. Thanks for sharing my Jamaican adventures with me. Happy reading. Patti


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Once I had applied for a Fulbright Scholarship to spend the spring semester of 2011 teaching at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in Granville, St. James, Jamaica the doubts began to set in. What did I get myself into? Could I really live by myself for 4-5 months? Could I live on Jamaican food for that long? How would I handle the heat for that long? Who would be my friends and confidants in Jamaica? How would I live without my husband, Rick, children and my best bud my dog, Bella, a Schnoodle who adores me? I knew that I had friends in Jamaica but how would I live without my support group which included Kathryn and Linda, Mary Lynn, Hilda, Sherry, Barb, Val, Kim and others who I knew I could call on at a moment’s notice? My hope was that at least a few of them would come to visit me were I to receive a Fulbright but I also knew that I would basically be alone for extended periods of time.


I’ve always been an idealist and have wanted to change or at least make an impact on the world ever since I was in junior high when I first accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I became confident that this would not be an accident if I was able to spend a whole semester in Jamaica and I trusted that if I continued to walk through open doors, I as well as the students I was going to serve and teach would be forever changed. I don’t know God’s plans for me for this time in my life but trust that they are for my good and will help me grow and mature in Him.

I am fortunate in that my college was willing to give me a sabbatical if I were to receive this amazing opportunity. My family, and particularly my husband, Rick, seemed to understand my desire to spend an extended period of time in Montego Bay and my children seemed to like the idea that they could come and visit me in Jamaica so I had my family’s support.

I hope that I am able to make a lasting impact on Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College but if that doesn’t happen, I trust that the Lord will use my efforts for his glory.

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My favorite teacher was Mrs. Huijsen, my third grade teacher. That was the year that I decided, no knew, that I wanted to become a teacher because I wanted to be just like Mrs. Huijsen. That year was very exciting because my teacher was expecting a baby, a joyous event for a 7 year old!. Well the day came for her baby to be born and her lovely baby was born with Down Syndrome. I decided then that I would not be an elementary teacher but rather a special education teacher. A year later when I started playing the flute I determined that my dream job would be to teach music to children with disabilities.

From that day on I had one dream, to teach music to children with disabilities. My path to that job and subsequent adventures took various twists and turns but I was able to fulfill that dream for fifteen years. After getting a bachelor’s degree in music and elementary education from Calvin College I went directly to the University of Arizona, got my masters degree in Hearing Impairments and taught first grade deaf students for five years. After marrying my husband, Rick, and moving back to the Chicago area, near my home town, I stayed home for several years with my babies before reading about a job posting for a music teacher at Elim Christian School, a school for children with severe mental and physical impairments. I spent fifteen years teaching at Elim and then was offered a job teaching sign language at Trinity Christian College.

I began teaching one course at Trinity and within three years was teaching full time, had received my Ph.D from the University of Illinois at Chicago and resigned from Elim. My second year at Trinity I took my first group of students to the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf in Montego Bay, Jamaica and the rest, as they say, is history.

So here I am, eleven years later, blessed with the opportunity to teach for a semester at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in Granville, St. James, a small village just up the hill from Montego Bay and down the road from CCCD. God is good…all the time…all the time…God is good.

By the way, I lived through the great Chicago snowstorm of 1967 but managed to avoid the great storm of 2011…praise God!

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Jamaica feels like a second home to me.  The first time I flew into Sangster airport in Montego Bay in 2001 with a group of Trinity students, I immediately knew that my soul was connected to this country and these people.  Ten years and 13 trips later, part of my heart remains in Jamaica every time I visit, but for this trip, I will be doing more than visiting…I will be living and working with and among both old friends and yet to be discovered friends.

I first received the call to take students from Trinity Christian College to the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf in Granville, Jamaica (a small town just outside of Montego Bay) after hearing a friend from Hope College share about her upcoming trip to CCCD.  The seed was planted and I began dreaming of taking my own group of students to work at CCCD.  For me my passions of deaf education, international travel, the sun and sea and working with college students all came together in this opportunity afforded me by both a Fulbright Scholarship and a spring sabbatical from Trinity Christian College:  As Fredrick Buchner says, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

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