Archive for the ‘Stage 12: Returning Home’ Category

Prepare my heart to reach the hearts of my students, both from Trinity and Sam Sharpe while in Jamaica. Give me words to speak and an attitude of service as I lead the team from Trinity and as I teach at Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College. Give me leadership skills as I do my CCCD board work and may there be oneness as the board meets to make decisions about CCCD. Bless my relationship with Rick while I’m away and fill it with your love. Keep me safe and help me to grow stronger in you as I worship each week at The Meeting Place and work with my fellow lecturers at Sam Sharpe. Equip me with your grace and love as I venture out into this great adventure that You have prepared especially for me!

This was the prayer that I wrote as I prepared to leave Palos Heights, Illinois in January to live for four months in Montego Bay, Jamaica. It was based on two Psalms, 1 and 27.

Psalm 1:
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 27:
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When evildoers assail me, uttering slanders against me, my adversaries and foes, they shall stumble and fall. 3 Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. 4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. 5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent, he will set me high upon a rock. 6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies round about me; and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD. 7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me! 8 Thou hast said, “Seek ye my face.” My heart says to thee, “Thy face, LORD, do I seek.” 9 Hide not thy face from me. Turn not thy servant away in anger, thou who hast been my help. Cast me not off, forsake me not, O God of my salvation! 10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me up. 11 Teach me thy way, O LORD; and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. 12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. 13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the LORD!

Now the time had come to pack up the condo, rid myself of extra food, wash the towels and linens for the last time, pack my belongs and gifts and come home. I had my share of going away parties and dinners but it was when I said my last good-bye to my driver, Mr. Johnson, I knew that I really would be leaving Montego Bay for good…at least until next January.

I left with mixed emotions…excited to again be headed back in my own home with Rick, my dog, Bella, and my family near by. But I knew I would certainly miss opening wide my curtains each morning to greet the sun rising over the Caribbean Sea and watching it set daily from the pool outside of my condo. I would be happy to again have my cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee several mornings a week as well as good Mexican food but would certainly miss my newfound love, cheese patties. And I would certainly miss the many friends and students that had found their way into my heart.

I believe that God answered my prayers in so many ways. He kept me from harm and evil, kept me on a level path, helped me see the goodness of the Lord in so many ways and allowed me to yield fruit in its season. I experienced the power and beauty of the Holy Spirit each week at The Meeting Place and received emotional healing and amazing grace. The work I began at Sam Sharpe and continued at CCCD may never be fully done but my time was fruitful and blessed by God and my personal journey made richer by this experience. Work wise I was able to help the special education lecturers at Sam Sharpe change their program from a 3-year diploma program to a 4-year degree program, I co-taught an Introduction to Special Education class with Sharon, getting to know the year 1 students, I visited and advised numerous student teachers and was able to introduce the concept of ‘service-learning’ to the school at large.

To God be the glory, great things He hath done!


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Today I again experienced the perfect way to say good-bye to the year 1,2 and 3 special education majors from Sam Sharpe…over lunch. I had heard that the students wanted an end of the year party but no one seemed to be taking the lead in planning something so I offered to host a party at the pool and restaurant adjacent to my condo, a place where I have spent MUCH time this semester. The students were all for it so the planning began.

I’ve learned that planning anything in Jamaica is challenging because of the ‘fuzzy’ time element that everyone seems to live with, but I persevered and we ended up having a pretty awesome party.

I talked to Ruth, a caterer from the hotel, El Greco, that manages the restaurant and we were finally able to settle on a menu that the students could afford with a little help from me. Then we talked about the type of party we could throw poolside. Our party was planned for 12-3 or 4 but of course, no one came until close to one and we finally started eating at about 1:20 but once we began, we had a party!

Our lunch of small sandwiches, French fries, salad, muffins, ice cream with chocolate sauce and fruit punch was perfect for the group of almost entirely young women. We took over most of the restaurant and had a thoroughly enjoyable lunch.

Then we made our way over to the pool and the real fun began. I had planned some simple games, had students sign up for at least one game and they were certainly not shy about singing up to participate! The first game, a race around the pool with a hard boiled egg on a spoon, was something entirely new and a bit crazy to these Jamaican students but once they got the hang of it, they were into it, and I mean INTO it! The second game, a water balloon toss was even more foreign to them. Why would you throw a water balloon at your partner? But again, once they got the hang of the game, the purpose being to NOT let your balloon pop on your partner, they jumped right in and had a great time. The bun eating and Pepsi drinking contests were much more familiar to them and I found myself scrambling to find more buns and Pepsis for all of the participants. Our final event, a dance contest, complete with a DJ, was the most fun since Jamaicans KNOW how to dance! It must be in their blood because just about everyone participated and had quite the moves.

It was time to say good-bye, a difficult but necessary closure for me, and I did so hoping that I will be able to stay in touch with many of my new students. I’m anxious to see where they end up teaching (the year 3 students) and how student teaching progresses for the year 2’s. I asked them to find me on Facebook so I expect to have many new ‘friends’ very soon.

Saying good-bye over lunch was VERY good!

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From ‘Letters’, Rainer Marie Rilke writes, “ Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other against the sky.”

Rick, my husband of 31 years, gave me the greatest gift this semester…letting me pursue my dream of teaching in Jamaica for a full semester. He not only let me go, he encouraged me to pursue my dream to become all I could be…and I believe I will be a better person for having gone to Jamaica and taught at Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College.

I have learned that loves really does mean being willing to let go and let the other person choose their own path and Rick did that for me. Now it’s time to return home and adjust back to life in Chicago and all that that means to my family and me. I will definitely miss waking up to the beautiful Caribbean Sea each day but it will be even better to wake up and again see Rick each day. He truly is my better half.

Thanks for encouraging me to take this incredible adventure…it was quite the ride and one I will NEVER forget!

Enjoying our anniversary at Geejam in Port Antonio, Jamaica.  What a great night!

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Saying good-bye to the children at CCCD each January has never been particularly hard for me because I always knew that I would see them again, probably the next January. But today I had to say good-bye to a group of fellow professors (lecturers as they are called in Jamaica) knowing I may never see them again. Oh we all said the right things…you’ll come back and visit us; we’ll stay in touch; we can’t wait to see each other and work together again…but the reality is that none of those things may be true.

They threw a ‘surprise’ good-bye party for me today but Sharon just had a sense that I wasn’t big on surprises so I knew it was coming since she warned me last Friday about an ‘event’ that would be happening on Monday. She too doesn’t like surprises so I was glad we were on the same page and I was prepared, at least in part, to enter a room prepared for a good-bye party.

I walked into Room 1 of Building A, the only air-conditioned classroom in the school, and found a room full of lecturers, a table full of food and a gigantic cake saying ‘Thank You Dr. Patricia Powell (Patti). I was referred to as Dr. Patti by everyone so I’m glad they didn’t just have ‘Patricia” written on the cake. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a cake with my name on it before so I was very touched.

Then both Dr. Asburn Pinnock, principal of Sam Sharpe and Sharon Anderson-Morgan (why didn’t I decide to hyphenate my name?), chair of the special education department each said a few words. I was touched and deeply grateful for my time at Sam Sharpe and the true friendships that had formed in the four plus months I was there. They ‘got’ me and accepted me and I think, even loved me as I loved them.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, saying good-bye over food seems to be a good idea and today it was a very good idea.

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How do say good-bye to a church? Oh I know a church is really a group of people, not a building, but nevertheless it is also a physical place where God meets His people and for me, particularly at The Meeting Place, a place where I have been healed of many hurts. But today I had to say good-bye to a church, a pastor and a group of people I have come to love in four short months.

When I try to understand why this is so hard I realize that it was a place where I was free to worship, praise, cry out to God and grow emotionally in Christ without anyone really knowing my concerns or even me. Little did they know that I was a Dutch Reformed girl from South Holland, Illinois with deep hurts but also areas of giftedness.  I was able to just come and be a part of a body of believers without having to do anything or prove anything.  I could just be me.  Also, because it is a Jamaican charismatic church I experienced and saw physical and emotional healings, lives transformed, prophetic words carried out weekly and an emphasis on freedom. Because of that, there was  freedom for me personally and for all who attended with me, in our worship and in our expressions of love for our Lord.

Allow me to share the words of two songs that touched me deeply, ‘I’ll Stand’ and ‘Freedom’. We sang both today and when I sing them I feel total abandonment and a freedom to worship through dance, singing and the lifting of my arms to the God of the universe who loves even me.

Finally, I was able to say a personal good-bye to Pastor Mary Wildish-Reece and her husband John Reece and asked John to pray over me. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to lend closure to my extraordinary worship experiences at The Meeting Place.

I’ll Stand

I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the one who gave it all
I’ll stand, my soul Lord to you surrender
All I am is Yours


I wanna clap a little louder than before
I wanna sing a little louder than before
I wanna jump a little higher than before
I wanna shout a little louder than before

Freedom, freedom,
Freedom, freedom
Freedom, freedom,
Freedom, freedom

No more shackles, no more chains, no more bondage
I am free, yeah
No more shackles, no more chains, no more bondage
I am free, yeah
No more shackles, no more chains, no more bondage
I am free, yeah

I am free to run, (I am free to run)
I am free to dance (I am free to dance)
I am free to live for you, (I am free to live for you)
I am free (I am free) I am free (I am free)
I am free to run, (I am free to run)
I am free to dance (I am free to dance)
I am free to live for you, (I am free to live for you)
I am free (I am free) I am free (I am free)

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On my bucket list of things to do while in Jamaica, and before I head for home, was to visit the Rastafari Indigenous Village. I tried to arrange a visit while I had visitors at my condo but it never seemed to work out so this week I made it a priority to arrange a rip and today was the big day!

I was picked up in front of El Greco hotel, the hotel that sits adjacent to my condo, and made the trip to Montego Bay Gardens with a young couple from San Diego. We were first met by two young men from Brussels who spoke “only a little bit of English” but were fluent in French (not Dutch- the other language of Brussels). We were then met by First Man and escorted across the river to the Village.

This is one experience I will not easily forget. I’m so grateful that I read “The Rastafarian Experience” before I took this journey or much of what we were told, especially of Rastafarian history, would have made little sense. We arrived at a very humble village and were treated to coconut water and a lesson on healthy eating since the Rastas only eat fruits, vegetable and herbs. We were told which fruits, vegetables and herbs offered which nutrients and how they were able to make their foods both sweet and salty. Then we were escorted to the labyrinth which we all walked and were given a lesson on identifying which herbs are good for various ailments. Many herbs aid in ‘manliness’ so guys, take a lesson from the Rastas. Coming into the tent we were treated to drumming and singing, Rasta style, and invited to participate. While enjoying the music we were treated to herbal tea and fresh fruit. Again we wee given some history of the Rasta movement in Jamaica and some of the concerns of the village.

We ended our day with a trip to the ‘souvenir shop’, something even offered by the Rasta Village. First Man took us back across the river, sharing his dismay over the accumulated plastic in the river. I too have been appalled to discover that I just throw away milk jugs, juice jugs and soda bottles since there is no recycling in Jamaica. He was truly interested in our ideas and the man from San Diego actually worked in recycling so we had a very interesting discussion as we crossed over the river and back into the non-Rasta world.

Now the only thing left on my Jamaican bucket list is to visit the Pelican Bar- a Bar in the ocean on the south shore. Rick, are you up for another trip to Jamaica?

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Today was one of the most emotional days I have experienced yet during my semester at Sam Sharpe. The year-end Valedictory service for year 3 graduates was held at Calvary Baptist Church to a packed crowd of students, family members, friends and lecturers. What an amazing experience!

The service was supposed to begin at 2:00 and at 1:45 my driver had still not arrived but I wasn’t too concerned since nothing, and I mean NOTHING has started on time at Sam Sharpe since I’ve been there. So I called my driver, arrived at the church at 2:05, and made my way to the stage to sit with my fellow lecturers. Then the students began their procession into the church. Students in the day program chose a solid fabric and matching patterned fabric as did the students in the night program but everyone had a different style. I’ve never seen so many different ways to use two different fabrics!!. It was beautiful and very stately.

The ceremony was moving and made me very proud to be a teacher…it is considered such a noble profession in Jamaica. The keynote speaker, Dr. Claudette Crawford-Brown from the University of the West Indies, Mona, gave a stirring talk about how teachers are the answer to stopping the violence that plagues Jamaica. In fact, she shared that Jamaica is the most violent country in the world and much of the violence is done against and by children. Jamaica may not deal with terrorists or even wars but deals with violence on its streets and in its homes and schools every day. In fact, last Friday a 3-year-old was taken from the preschool right up the road and transported to the middle of the island. Happily the child was found unharmed but that is the exception, not the rule.

Dr. Brown challenged this new class of teachers to be the difference needed in Jamaica and turn the tide of violence that is around every corner. In addition to her talk there were several responsive readings calling on God to grant each of us wisdom and knowledge, patience and perseverance and courage to face the future as teachers. It was one of the most powerful, moving, and thoroughly Christian services I have ever experienced.

After three hours of pomp and circumstance, the service ended. The lecturers lined the aisle as the students passed between them on their way out the front door of the church. There were plenty of handshakes and hugs as the students and lecturers had moved beyond teacher/student to friends. It was bittersweet to congratulate the special education majors, all of whom I know quite well, knowing I will only see them perhaps one or two more times before I leave.

Then it was time for the group lecturers’ picture. It was pretty funny when the photographer asked me to move because ‘I was too light’. Once again I was the only white person in the church but by golly I’m trying my best to change my skin color to match theirs. ☺

I ended the night by stopping at the Pork Pit, getting jerk chicken for my driver, Mr. Johnson, and myself. Sharing meals with the special people in my life in Jamaica is becoming a very welcome habit and a great way to say good-bye.

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