Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Home For Christmas!

Thank the Lord we were able to come home for Christmas. It was a long day of traveling as you can tell but, we were so glad to be reunited with family and friends. I will write more about our Christmas later but will include a few pictures of Nathan and his cousins.

Jacob, Heather and Nathan.

Walker and Nathan eating dinner at April and John's on Christmas Eve.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Way To Go Nathan!

Last night was a very special night for Montego Bay Christian Academy. It was their annual Christmas program and at the program they presented a certificate to those who made the honor roll. There is an "A" and a "B" honor roll. Nathan made the "A" honor roll. To make the "A" honor roll a student must achieve a 94% or higher overall average, memorize each months scripture verse, complete the Readers 'R Leaders book report, have only one absence and no detentions. Only four or five made the "A" honor roll out of the seventeen in his class.We are very proud of Nathan! He has worked very hard.
Mr. Winkler, the principal, presents Nathan with his certificate.

The Christmas program was called Redemption, God's Greatest Gift. It wasn't exactly like a drama as we would know a Christmas program to be. They had the program divided into scenes. The first scene started with the Creation and the last scene ended with the resurrection. I don't know why they didn't go ahead and include the ascension while they were at it. Each scene featured either a recorded song with students dancing or doing sign language. Nathan was in the fourth scene. He did sign language with the older boys to You Are The Living Word sung by Fred Hammond and Radical For Christ.

At one point during the performance someone reached over and pushed the button on the smoke machine which was right in front of Nathan and he almost got tickled because he had not seen it before and wasn't expecting it.

The lighting was terrible and every time I went to take a picture some one's head was in the way but at least you can get the idea. Does anyone besides me recognize that Uncle Howie stance?

Monday, December 10, 2007

My Son... full of surprises. Most of the time he is such a well behaved, polite, little boy. Then some days he turns into an alien child. At the most inappropriate times he decides to pitch a fit. I won't go into all the details but he had one of those moments on the CCCD field trip. Yes, in front of everyone, his principal, teacher, fellow classmates and their parents. Thank the Lord the deaf children couldn't hear his weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, which got louder and more intense when I told him he was getting a spanking when we got home. (DeeDee, Granddaddy and Uncle Howie don't label me as the cruel, wicked mother that mistreats your only grandchild and nephew. Because I don't.) Then because the threat of a spanking wasn't enough, he also lost his Nintendo for 2 days.

So, when we got home and he got through with more weeping and wailing and calling for his DeeDee, we had a nice long talk and I explained to him that he had to work on obeying and changing his attitude, you know the usual talk we give our children after the punishment. Then he goes and writes the following...(His Daddy helped him with the last part, but when he finished he was so proud that he had written 13 lines and in cursive to say the least.) Thought you might want to see it.

He sure was good on Saturday and most of Sunday. I extend him a lot of grace on Sundays because they are hard on him. Okay, Sundays are hard on all of us, but especially him. Church is very long and we don't have any children's program established yet.

P.S. Only 6 more days until we go home for Christmas. Nathan is so excited...and so am I!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Community Outreach At CCCD

Each term Nathan's school does a community outreach. The purpose is to teach the children to have compassion for the less fortunate. This term the community outreach was held at Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf. Each class bought Christmas gifts for students at the center and the PTA provided lunch for everybody which included a piece of chicken, a roll, an orange slice, a drink and ice cream.

The day began with, you guessed it, standing in line. Jaleel, who is behind Nathan, wasn't very happy about something. Mrs. Dixon, the school secretary, gave us our orientation and introduced us to CCCD's principal. She welcomed us and talked to us for awhile about the specifics of the school.

We then went upstairs to the multi-purpose room where they had chairs set up for everyone in front of a small stage. The principal of CCCD introduced each one of her staff members and our secretary introduced all of MBCA's staff and parents. We are finding that recognition is very important here.
The program began with the deaf students doing sign language to songs. They were very good but, just like all programs in Jamaica it was over kill and the younger students quickly lost interest. Each age level performed at least three songs, when one or two would have been plenty.

This group was the best. Here they performed My Redeemer Lives by Nicole Mullen. It was very well done and quite powerful. The principal explained to us that this is the group that travels to the states to help the school raise money and get sponsors for each child. They also have a lot of construction teams that come and make improvements to the facility.

After the program, the principal of CCCD taught the kids several phrases in sign language and that was fun but, again, the over kill thing. At the end of the program each one of the classes from Nathan's school came up, got a present and presented it to one of the deaf students.

That part was really sweet and that is, of course, what it was all about. Unfortunately, the student that was to receive the present Nathan and Jaleel had wasn't there.

So, one of the teachers took it from them and put it aside to give to the student later. I was waiting for Nathan to ask where his present was but, he didn't. I think Nathan's teachers did a good job explaining what the purpose of the visit was.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Field Trip To The Great House At Rose Hall

Last Friday, we went with Nathan on his first field trip from Montego Bay Christian Academy. The trip took us out to the Great House at Rose Hall which is about twenty minutes outside of Montego Bay. The Great House sits on what use to be a sugar plantation. Although the house itself has been mostly restored and is beautiful with a spectacular view, the story line and the tour was not very "kid friendly." It was also obvious that Natoya, our tour guide, was use to adults that were attentive to her and not a large group of elementary age school children.

We drove separate from the buses because it was way out of our way to go to school and then out to Rose Hall. As soon as the buses arrived, Nathan, found the one with the first graders in it and they all lined up and walked with their finger over their lips to where we were to meet our tour guide.

Somehow, he always manages to be the line leader. As I'm sure you can guess, it wasn't long before the fingers came off of the lips and they began to sound like a bunch of irritable first graders.

When the tour finally began, we climbed the steps of the Great House and gathered on the outside porch for our first tidbit of history. As Natoya began to tell the story of the plantation owners we realized that it wasn't real appropriate for the smaller kids. Annie Palmer murdered three of her husbands. She strangled one in his sleep, poisoned another and I think she pushed the third one out a window. For her entertainment she would watch the slaves be punished by beating or decapitation.

So, I didn't concern myself when I noticed the kids weren't paying much attention. They were more interested in getting a drink or finding a snack in one of their lunch boxes.

This is the view from the front porch.

As we entered the house, Natoya, warned the kids not to touch anything, not to sit in any chairs and not to cross the ropes. (Yeah, right!)

Needless to say, during Natoya's speech one of the kids knocked over one of the wooden poles that held the divider ropes and it made a very loud crashing noise as it hit the wooden floor. She was very annoyed by it and didn't try to hide her irritation.

The library didn't have many books in it.

Just about the time we got to the third room which was the dining room, Nathan made his way over to me and said," Mom, I don't want to go on the field trip anymore." I wanted to tell him that I didn't want to either but we moved on and endured.

This painting was really neat. Natoya did not know who the people were in the painting but, the artist painted the eyes of the girl in the red dress to appear as if her eyes follow you as you walk by it. And, it did appear that way. It was cool.

After walking past the painting six or seven times, just to see if what Natoya said was true, we went upstairs and went through several bedrooms including the guest room and a sitting room. Then we went downstairs to the dungeon and the tomb area where Annie Palmer is buried.

Annie Palmer's bedroom.

Stairs to the dungeon.

This picture speaks for itself.

Annie Palmer's tomb.

The kids were thrilled to get to this part of the tour because they could climb on the tomb, which of course Natoya did not like, but the tour was officially over so I think she was as glad as the kids were.

Jovanna, Nathan, Ashton, Jaleel.

Ashari, Nathan and Jovanna.

All in all, it was a good day. The kids got a break from school work and got to spend some time together and have some fun. After the tour we all loaded up and went to Burger King. I enjoyed getting to see the kids that Nathan comes home and talks about. Nathan says he likes Ashari because she plays Power Rangers with him and the boys after lunch and because she gives him pencils. Jovanna just likes Nathan and stayed near him every chance she had. But, then again, who wouldn't want to be around that smart, handsome boy of mine!?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Jamaican Tooth Fairy

The Jamaican tooth fairy came to visit us last night. Nathan has had a lose tooth for quite some time now, but he wouldn't let me get close to it. After supper last night he had had enough of it though. So, he asked me to pull it. Sorry the pictures aren't too clear but at least you can get an idea of which tooth it was.

It finally came out after the third yank. It bled quite a bit but he was a big boy and didn't cry.

I asked him before he went to bed if he wanted the tooth fairy to bring him American or Jamaican money. He said that he didn't care. So...he got both!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Miss Water

It took us several weeks before we learned our way around Montego Bay. We live up on one of the mountain ridges that overlooks the port and the long road that leads up to our house is called Fairfield Rd. When we first arrived we made many trips to town and we began to notice the same people walking up and down Fairfield Rd. And, we would comment on the man who wore the loin cloth made out of a plastic grocery bag, or the man who wore two different shoes, or the man whose dreadlocks had so grown together that they resembled a solid thick curtain around his head. Another person we noticed was a lady. She has very little hair, she is usually barefooted, sometimes only wears a long t-shirt and always walks with her head down at a very fast pace .

One day we were driving and Nathan was in the back seat playing his Nintendo. Todd and I were making our usual comments about the people we saw and we noticed the same lady with very little hair. When I realized that she was a regular, I said, "We need to give her a name." We drove on and in a minute from the back seat I heard, "Water." I asked Nathan if he wanted a drink of water and he said, "No, we can name her Miss Water." So, let me introduce you to Miss Water...

I don't know how or where he came up with that name. You know sometimes it's best not to ask questions. In the above picture Miss Water has on shoes and a dress under her normal t-shirt attire. I have tried to get more pictures of her but it's really hard to do because I don't want to offend her in anyway.

One morning, I was taking Nathan to school and we were listening to Hot Chocolate from the Polar Express soundtrack. As we drove along we passed Miss Water on the side of the road. She was picking up a styrofoam container and looking to see if there was anything in it. Nathan, whose world revolves around how many Pokemon he can find, began to engage in what I considered a deep conversation. It went something like this:

"Mom, where does Miss Water live?", he asked.

Hot! Hot! Hey, we got it.

"I don't know, Baby.", I answered.

Hot! Hot! Say, we got it.

"Does she have a job?"

Hot Chocolate!

"Probably not."

Here we've only got one rule.

"Well, how does she live?"

Never ever let it cool.

"She probably survives on what she can find. Like that styrofoam container she was looking in may have a few bites of food in it that she eats."

Keep it cooking in the pot.

"Well, it's probably raw." (Let me explain that "raw" is one of the few baby words Nathan still uses. When he should use "rotten" he uses "raw." Let me also tell you about the first time he used the term. He was still using sippy cups and he use to leave them around the house with milk in them. One day he came across one that had been sitting a couple of days and he reared it back and took a nice long sip and after swollowing, thank God and not spewing, he said, "Oooh, Mama that mulk's raw!")

You've Got.

"I'm sure most of the food she finds and eats is rotten."

Hot Choc-o-lat!

"She doesn't look very happy."

(Finally Tom Hanks stopped singing.)

"She's probably not very happy because she leads a rough life having to walk to town and scrounge for every morsel of food and clothing she can find. Would you be happy if you had to live like she does?"

"No, ma'am."

"I wish there was a way we could help her."

"Me too." He quickly added, "Maybe we could pray for her this morning when we pray for me to have a good day at school."

Needless to say, we prayed for Miss Water that morning and asked God to provide her with all she would need for the day and that His hand of protection be placed upon her. We are thinking of creative, tangible ways to help her, too. The other morning as we were stuck in traffic she made eye contact with me for the first time and even gave me a quick nod when I smiled at her. Maybe that was the first step.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Happy Birthday Todd!

Today is Todd's 44th birthday. Last night our internet connection went down which means that our american phone line goes down, too. I began to pray as I always do when it goes down because I wanted Todd to be able to get all of his birthday wishes from friends and family today. When we woke up this morning, it was still out. Todd proceded to call Cable and Wireless and jumped through all their hoops and within the hour they had it up and running again. Todd is a wonderful father and a very patient husband. Here are a few of the pictures I have taken of him since we have been here in Jamaica.
Doing what he loves the most!

Todd and his brother, Tripp, love Mr. Bean. This is his impression of Mr. Bean.

Todd and Nathan at Doctor's Cave beach. Aren't they cute?

Nathan's first day of school at Montego Bay Christian Academy.

Playing pool at Montego Bay Yacht Club.

Happy Birthday Todd!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Jamaican Jackfruit

We were first introduced to jackfruit one day when we were leaving Doctor's Cave Bathing Club. One of the street vendors whose main spoil was selling sugarcane, asked us if we wanted to try some jackfruit. Being the brave adventurous missionaries that we are (okay, Todd is) we tried it. It had a distinct sweet flavor of it's own. One, unlike I had ever tasted before. And, it was very crunchy. We all liked it well enough to buy a quarter of a slice. The guy showed Todd what part to eat and when we got it home, Todd cleaned it and I made a fruit salad with papaya, pineapple, apples, bananas and jackfruit. It was quite tasty. So, when Mama, Daddy, and Howie visited us a couple of weeks ago I wanted them to try as many of the Jamaican "treats" as they could. On the way back from Dunn's River falls we stopped at a roadside vendor and bought Daddy some sugar cane and a jackfruit. Todd put it in the back and on the ride home the odor began to drift forward and to me it just had a sweet smell, but Howie said that it smelled like his dog's food bowls when they need to be cleaned out.
When we got home, I decided to clean it. I remember Todd complaining about how sticky it was. But, you know, how sticky could it possibly be? Let me tell you it is the stickiest stuff I have ever had to work with. You know how sticky the sap is on a fresh Christmas tree? Well, it's worse than that and it just strings and it won't come off. More on clean-up later.

After getting a quarter of it sectioned off, I cut off the top of the slice.

The fruit is made up of hundreds of pods.

Each pod contains a huge seed that can be roasted and eaten as well.

The pod itself is the fruit part that is eaten.

Mama said that it tastes like a sweet onion, I think Howie said it tastes better than it smells and you know Daddy, he likes and eats anything. It's a great filler for fruit salad and I like it. Unlike the curry goat that I just can't make myself eat.

The clean-up was awful. I picked and scrubbed and scrubbed and picked with every household cleaner I could find and finally just resorted to wiping with an old rag and threw it away when I got done. As for Todd's knife handle, I think it's still sticky. I just put it in the sink in some soapy water to "soak" and somebody got tired of it being in the way a did something with it. Probably my precious mother who just couldn't understand why I wouldn't let her clean her room and bathroom on the morning she left.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Where, Oh Where Is Tripp?

My brother-in-law, Tripp, has been a master hairstylist for as long as I can remember. He is the only one that has cut my hair for the last fifteen years. When my hair was down my back, he cut it off. He gave my son, Nathan, his first haircut and of course he has always cut Todd's hair. I sure wish he were here...

About four weeks ago, Todd started in about me giving him and Nathan a haircut. I thought he was kidding but he wasn't. I went online, watched a few hair cutting technique videos and got my confidence up. I announced to Nathan that I was going to give him a haircut. To my surprise he was very willing. Out came the kitchen scissors (that was a mistake) but they were the only scissors we had. Then I got a chair and when he sat in it he was too low. So, I got out a pot. Much better.

His hair was so long that I had to use clips to hold up the top part. He wasn't too keen on that but I think I promised him something and he was fine. That, and I let him watch TV.

Todd was next. He was scared but he couldn't take the hair on his ears and his neck was beginning to look a little "ape-ish." He kept telling me to just trim it so I did...three times. I would trim, he would go look in the mirror and come back for me to trim more. All in all, both turned out pretty good. But, believe me, there is always room for improvement.

There are places to get haircuts here but you know how it is when you have to go to someone new. And since we are on the mission field...aren't haircuts part of what missionary wives do?

Todd has assured me that he has watched Tripp enough that he would have no problem cutting my hair. I'm just not that desperate yet. We are going home for Christmas and I can't wait to get in Tripp's chair at Studio Tripp!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Golden Anniversary In Jamaica

Fifty years ago today, Uncle Earl walked my mama down the aisle and gave her away to the blind wonder. They tell me there wasn't a dry eye in the sanctuary. They have traveled all over North and South America and have left everyone that has watched them in awe. They have proved the doubters wrong and both of them are my heroes.

Mama has often been teased that she didn't look as happy in their wedding pictures as Daddy did, but to her defense she had a fever blister that day which made smiling painful. Many in our family are prone to getting fever blisters and they always seem to pop up just in time for special occasions. Howard, my brother, of course has never had one in his life. I think I have had his share and unfortunately I have passed that viral gene down to my son.

Everyone who knows Roland and Evelyn knows that they don't like attention drawn to themselves. Back in December, Howard and I along with the staff of IBMM where Mama and Daddy have worked for the last several years gave them a retirement party. It was just about more than Mama could take. So, they decided with their fiftieth wedding anniversary approaching they better get out of Dodge before someone gives them another party.
I am so glad they decided to come see us. What better place than Jamaica to celebrate any anniversary? There won't be a big party but they both have assured us that they are exactly where they want to be, doing exactly what they want to be doing. After all, what could be better than playing Go Fish with their one and only grandson?

Friday, November 2, 2007

All Together Again!

Mama and Daddy have been here for almost two weeks. Saturday is their 50th wedding anniversary. Yesterday we picked my brother up at the airport and surprised Mama and Daddy as well as Nathan. He will be here until Sunday.

Nathan went with us to the airport so he got to see Uncle Howie first. When we got home he ran in and told DeeDee to close her eyes that he had a surprise for her. And did he ever! They didn't suspect anything. More later...we are off to Dunn's River Falls.

P.S. Thanks April for making the drive to Orlando!