Archive for the ‘Stage 11: Charting the Course’ Category

One of the many traditions that I have had the privilege of being a part of at Sam Sharpe is Love Feast, which occurs one week after Lunch Sacrifice and on the day before spring break, which is also Easter break. In Jamaica holiday breaks are still called Christmas break and Easter break since ‘they are a Christian nation’!

The auditorium at Sam Sharpe serves more purposes than any room I have ever been in including large lecture hall, student workroom, chapel, lunchroom, concert hall and special event room. Today it was set up for Love Feast with the tables set up in the middle of the room in the shape of a cross, draped with lace table clothes and candles. On each side of the room were enough chairs for all of the students and lecturers.

Then the chapel committee took us through the seven stages of the cross, including readings, singing, instrumental numbers, solos by both lecturers and students, a song or two sung by the choir and of course, dance. The president of the Year One class played the role of Jesus and did an outstanding job.

After a two hour program food was brought out of the kitchen and covered the table…Jamaican Easter delicacies such as fruit bread, buns and cheese, escovitch fish and festival. Then the lecturers each took a tray of food and after distributing plates to each student, served the student body. It was moving to say the least and reminded me of Jesus washing his disciples feet, it was such an act of humility in a school where lecturers are highly revered and students don’t even sit until requested to do so by a lecturer.

It was such a blessing to be a part of Love Feast and is one of the many things I will miss about Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College.


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Worship at The Meeting Place lasts close to an hour each Sunday morning and is one of my favorite parts of the week. We sing many Praise and Worship songs that are familiar but others that have a bit of a ‘Jamaican’ beat to them. One such song is ‘Say So,’ quickly becoming one of my favorites.

I hope you enjoy the words as much as I do and I would encourage you to find it on You Tube as I’m sure it is performed there by more than one group.

Say So

What does it mean to be saved?
Isn’t it more than just a prayer to pray?
More than just a way to heaven?
What does it mean to be His?
To be formed in his likeness?
Know that we have a purpose.

To be salt and light in the world,
in the world.
To be salt and light in the world.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, say so, say so! (repeat)

Verse 2:
Oh that the church would arise.
So that we would see with Jesus’ eyes.
We could show the world heaven.
Show what it means to be His.
To be formed in his likeness.
Show them they have a purpose.

To be salt and light in the world, in the world.
To be salt and light in the world.
To be salt and light in the world, in the world,
To be salt and light in the world.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, say so, say so! (repeat)

I am redeemed, I am redeemed
I am redeemed, I am redeemed
I am redeemed, I am redeemed

Amen!!! Ya Mon

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Pastor Mary from The Meeting Place/ Trumpet Call Ministries International recently received a prophetic word that Gentile Christians are called to help our Jewish brothers and sisters, both in Jerusalem and around the world. To that end, the church collected money specifically to bring displaced Ethiopian Jews back to Jerusalem and collected over $45,000, a considerable amount, especially by Jamaican standards. Last Saturday the church celebrated its’ first Seder and invited Rev. Jerry Clark from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews in Chicago to participate since his organization would be distributing most of the funds. His organization is impressive to say the least and it is particularly appropriate that Jamaican Christians would help their Ethiopian brothers and sisters return to Jerusalem since so many Jamaicans have Ethiopian roots.

Our Seder celebration was moving and was followed by a Jamaican feast, which was appreciated by all in attendance. It was quite the party and such a blessing to celebrate with Jamaicans as well as fellow Christians from around the world.

Then today, as I opened my e-devotional from Purpose Driven Connection Ministries I found that it was on Passover and its’ significance for Christians. Allow me to quote from the devotional since at our Seder we drank from the four cups of wine which are referred to in the devotional.

“Passover is all about how God sets his people free and, in the Passover meal, we see the four promises that God makes to set his people free. Easter is a celebration of God’s promises, that through Jesus, God sets us free: “So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.” (John 8:36 Msg)

The Passover meal begins with the first (of four) cup called the cup of sanctification. You would recite a blessing: “Blessed be the God, the maker of the universe and the creator of the fruit of the vine.” And then you would drink from the cup.

This prayer, the Kadaysh, and this cup reminded people that they were sanctified, meaning they were set apart for God’s purposes, set apart for God’s love, set apart because of what he wants to do in our lives.

God set the people of Israel free, set them apart and freed them from slavery. Jesus wants to set you free; he wants to set you apart too: “I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23a Msg)

There is a second cup in the Passover meal called the cup of plagues. And it is a reminder from God that he will free us from slavery to our fears. God sends ten plagues across Egypt, such as the Nile River turning to blood, a swarm of frogs, the death of livestock, festering boils, darkness, even during the day, and, finally, the death of the first born. Things we all might fear. But God told the people of Israel: “I don’t want the death of the first born to occur in your households. If you’ll put your faith in me, if you’ll trust in me in this way, my death angel will pass over your house when it comes into Egypt. Take a lamb and kill it, then put the blood of the lamb on the door of your house and I will pass over your house.

The Passover meal celebrates the truth that God saved the first-born sons of Israel. Easter celebrates the truth that God gave his first-born son to save us. Just like the angel passed over those households, God says you can crossover from death to life.

The third cup in the Passover meal is the cup of redemption. Redemption means to buy somebody’s freedom. Jesus bought your freedom with his life on the cross. At the Last Supper, which was a Passover meal, Jesus said, “This third cup, I want to give it new meaning. This is the promise of a new covenant between you and God, a new promise of freedom that comes through my blood. Jesus sets us free from ourselves; he sets us free from our fears; and he sets us free from our sin and our guilt. This is why we celebrate Easter!”

by Tom Holliday

I am amazed and blessed at the connections I am discovering between The Meeting Place in Montego Bay, Jamaica and Parkview Christian Church Orland Park, Illinois. Pastor Tim Harlow recently visited Jerusalem and was so touched that he is planning to bring a group from Parkview there in the near future…in fact the trip was scheduled for this January and Rick and I had signed up to be a part of it but it is now temporarily rescheduled for next May. How fitting that I would have been able to participate in a Seder meal, and especially with a pastor from Chicago that has a ministry to Jerusalem.

God is good…all the time. All the time…God is good!

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I could hear the band in the distance making its way up the LONG hill to Sam Sharpe College. Everyone had the choice to march up the hill with the band or meet them at the top of the hill and I had decided that morning to NOT march. I’m used to the hot weather but it has been unseasonably warm the last few days, even for Jamaica, so I decided not to press my luck. But I was so impressed with the large number of students and lecturers who did brave the heat to follow the band through the town of Granville and up the hill to Sam Sharpe…brave souls indeed!

Once up the hill both the band and the student military guard put on quite a performance in the courtyard. The drummers in the band were extraordinary and put on a show that had both students and lecturers dancing and singing along with them…of course, in Jamaica that’s not at all surprising.

Once the show was completed everyone made their way into the all-purpose room for the program celebrating Sam Sharpe Day. Except for Lunch Sacrifice, I have never seen this room so full of people and anticipation. I am so privileged to be able to be a part of this special day and celebrate a man who made such a difference in Jamaica’s history. In America we have George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and even Pulaski but for a common slave to have been able to start the revolution that set the slaves free all over Jamaica is truly extraordinary! He certainly has become one of my heroes for in him I can see that anyone can make a difference, if he or she believes in the cause and the cause is worth dying for!

The program went on for close to four hours, not unusual for a Jamaican event, and several dignitaries, the founder of Sam Sharpe, former principals and students, and leaders of alumni associations from around the world spoke. There were also songs, skits and of course, the singing of the Sam Sharpe College song. It was very moving as each person stressed how they had come to Sam Sharpe rough around the edges, not ready to devote their time and energy to study, and left as a teacher, ready to change the world, or at least, Jamaica, by influencing and teaching children.

Of particular interest was a talk by Dr. Hixwell Douglas, a blind former student of Sam Sharpe who failed all of the government tests administered to grade one, four and six students but Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College saw something in him, took him in and he went on to earn not only a bachelor’s degree but also a masters and a doctorate. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and was hilarious (he has won several toastmaster awards as well). Dr. Douglas served as the Master of Ceremonies and was the highlight of the day.

The day continued with a BBQ/jerk luncheon, typical Jamaican fare, and then ended with a judged program of drama and song. What a day…a stirring tribute to Sam Sharpe. It should be noted that when the college was being built there were piles of human remains found as they were excavating and it is thought that they were the remains of the slaves that revolted along with Sam Sharpe, earning independence for all of the slaves on the island. The ghosts (duppies) of Sam Sharpe and his fellow slaves may still by guarding and protecting the campus. The judged program included a series of Dubs (ballads), Skits, Songs and Dances put on by the various houses (homerooms). I was ‘fortunate’ enough to be one of the judges and it was definitely a difficult job as each house presented what the essence of Sam Sharpe College means to them. It was a most excellent day!

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Sam Sharpe’s motto includes a pledge to service, commitment and excellence and that was remarkably demonstrated yesterday when their yearly event, Lunch Sacrifice, was held. Students give up their lunch for the day and in its’ place, invite the community of Granville, a very poor community that houses both Sam Sharpe and CCCD, to the school for lunch, entertainment and gift bags containing toiletries and food items. This event is anticipated by the community and they certainly come prepared…prepared to eat, prepared to take home leftovers (they even bring their own containers), prepared to enjoy the student performances, prepared to take home some necessary essentials, even requesting things they need, and of course, prepared to dance at the end of the session.

There is an interesting mix of preschool and elementary school children and the elderly with a few parents thrown in for good measure. The preschoolers arrived first and were at least 45 minutes early so Barney and Dora the Explorer DVDs entertained them. I guess some things are appealing in every culture. Next, the elementary children walked up the hill to the school and found their seats. I still don’t know how some of the elderly and invalid seniors made their way up the long, steep road to the college but about 50+ did and were greatly rewarded for their efforts.

All were treated to a typical Jamaican feast: curry goat, rice and peas and vegetables (shredded cabbage and carrots). As is typical in Jamaica, after eating, they were then given orange drink and/or water as Jamaicans rarely eat and drink at the same time. The food comes first and then the drink. The students did an incredible job of serving so many people so quickly and truly had servant hearts.

Then another group of students took over the entertainment portion of the day, which included poems, songs and dances. As people were preparing to leave, many gave their ‘waitresses’ left over bowls to fill with food for them to take home. They definitely came prepared! Then they were presented with a baggie of necessities to take with them. It was interesting that some people had special requests such as soap or deodorant, things we so take for granted and things that they desperately needed. While the gifts were being distributed, the music came on and the dancing began. Of course the preschoolers were ‘shaking their booties’ but one of the other first people to join in the fun was a young woman with Down syndrome. The Sam Sharpe students took turns dancing with her and made her feel perfectly at home. I was so proud of them. Then the older folks decided to join in and ‘shake a leg’ as well. I couldn’t resist joining in the fun so of course I grabbed a preschooler or two and began dancing as well. I’m not sure how many of them had ever even seen a white person (though my skin is now about the same color as theirs) but my blond hair and blue eyes were a dead giveaway!

The excitement around campus continues with a celebration of Sam Sharpe day on Thursday and Lunch Feast next Wednesday, an Easter celebration before the students depart for their spring break and I make my way back to Palos Heights for the week.

I’ve talked to several of my colleagues here that with just a few tweaks, Lunch Sacrifice is the epitome of service-learning. With the addition of some preparatory work and a reflection component, the students are already serving AND the learning would be immense.

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I consider it quite an accomplishment that Rick and I have been married for 31 years. We met in Tucson, Arizona, have had six children together, and have gone through more highs and lows than any couple should have to endure or are privileged to have in a lifetime. But on April 3-6 we had the opportunity to celebrate by spending a short holiday at the Moon San Villas in Port Antonio, Jamaica. What an experience it was!

For those of you unfamiliar with Port Antonio, it is home to the famous Blue Lagoon (yes the one that made Brooke Shields famous) as well as numerous other sites that formed the backdrop for a variety of movies. Hollywood types who come to Jamaica typically stay in Port Antonio and Errol Flynn loved it so much when filming a movie there that he bought an entire island called Navy Island.

Staying at Moon San, Rick and I were right next to the Blue Lagoon, which is much smaller than I expected. We had the opportunity to go biking in the Blue Mountains, the highlight which was stopping at a small country school and being sung to by the 3-5 year olds. We also rafted down the Rio Grande, snorkeled near Monkey Island and ate our anniversary dinner at Geejam, the villa known as the home away from home for movie stars since it has a state of the art recording studio on the premises. While there we were introduced to a Jamaican group called the Jolly Boys and were given one of their new CDs, Great Expectations.

It was a wonderful get-away in an incredibly beautiful part of the island. Perhaps one of our favorite spots was Winifred Beach, the beach the locals frequent and the place where I bought a necklace, bracelet and earrings made from lavender seeds- gorgeous! We also went to the famous Frenchman’s Cove and saw San San Beach as well. Swimming in the Blue Lagoon was also an experience not soon forgotten.

Of course we ate well, finding the best pizza on the island (at least from my experience so far), cheese and beef patties, burgers from Woody’s, a great meal at Anna Banana’s and of course a gourmet meal at Geejam. Each morning Donna treated us to bacon and eggs or French toast and of course, fresh fruit and Germaine was always available to take us out in the boat swimming or snorkeling.  We ended our holiday with a trip to Scotchie’s for jerk pork and chicken, the best on the island!

We’re back in Mo Bay, preparing for Rick to head back to Chicago on Saturday but will not soon forget our wonderful time in Port Antonio. Here’s to 31 more great years being married to an incredible husband!

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Student teachers at Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College must pass many hurdles in order to receive their education diploma. Three weeks ago teams of two lecturers from the college evaluated each student teacher and then went back again the next week to reevaluate each student teacher, looking particularly for improvement in areas discussed the week before. Then the student teachers met as a group to discuss what would be expected of them when the external reviewers from the department of education came for their third evaluation, which occurred last week. This week the evaluations continue as lecturers are again going to each school to evaluate the interdisciplinary project that each student has been working on with their students throughout their entire student teaching experience. In addition to this, their portfolios (books filled with lesson plans and other important artifacts from their student teaching experience) will also be evaluated, and then on Friday, it will all be over.

Evaluating the student’s projects today (and tomorrow) is an amazing experience. The student’s choose a theme, write the rationale and objectives for their project and then highlight student work in all subject areas that support their theme and objectives. It is important to remember that each student teacher is working with deaf students or student with moderate to severe impairments. The work that the students have been able to accomplish under their tutelage is awesome! Kudos to the Sam Sharpe lecturers who have worked so hard to get each student teacher to this point, ready to end their formal education and take over their own classrooms. What a joy it was to be able to see the student teachers throughout this entire semester, moving from novices to true special education professionals.

Some of the student teachers were even able to add a service-learning component to their project. Pictures of some of my favorite projects follow…enjoy!















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