Our First Trip to Jamaica, Day Three

Published on 09.30.12

Waking up Wednesday morning was different. We had fun the last couple of days, but today we were making a massively huge step that would change our lives forever.

We were both pretty quiet that morning, and had no idea what sort of adventure would await us.

After grabbing breakfast we headed to the entrance to wait on our driver that had been recommended to us by the Robin’s Nest. Apparently he takes all the missions teams up there and helps out whenever he can.

We had hired him for the whole day - as our appointment at the CDA was almost 2 hours away and then we were going up the mountain to the Robin’s Nest. I was expecting him to show up in a truck or something, but he pulled up in a good sized tour bus. And were were the only ones on it!

Driving to Montego Bay, we got to ask our driver a lot of questions about all the things we were seeing - Why most of the houses we saw looked half finished, how people lived there, what they enjoyed doing, etc…

So it turns out that most people can’t get loans - they build as they can. They’ll build one room, close it in and live in it and then just chip away at it as they get money. Because they never know how big the house will get, they run rebar and pipes through the roof just in case they add another floor on. Seeing so many houses with all that sticking out of the top is very odd.

Also, the government owns huge chunks of land that people will just start building houses on without paying for it. If enough people get their houses started before the government finds out they’ll just let them stay there so there’s no a riot. Many seem to use whatever they can find to build with - metal, wood, concrete - it’s all sort of thrown together. We found out later that the living conditions we were seeing on the coast was just the tip of the iceberg - yeah it gets worse. But for now -

After nearly 2 hours we finally got to the CDA and our driver dropped us off. We went inside, told them we were there for our scheduled appointment and sat down to wait. It was all pretty surreal, honestly. Finally a lady called us back and told us that the person we were scheduled to meet with had cancelled the appointment! Wait, what? We flew over here and just drove 2 hours and our appointment was cancelled without us knowing? Awesome.

But hey, things are different here, right? So we muster our best “No Problem, Mon,” attitude. The lady that called us back was actually the assistant to the director so she looked over our paperwork and said she’d put our file together and get back to us.

And that was it. 10 minutes total and we were back outside. It was almost like a dream. Honestly, it was a bit anti-climatic.

Then again, it’s not really about us is it? We didn’t go to the CDA that day for some sort of emotional high or validation. We went to help two kids find a new home. The waves of emotion will come in spades later, no doubt - but for now we just have to do the work that needs to be done.

After the CDA, it was over to the MegaMart to buy some supplies for the kids at the Robin’s Nest. And we found another surprise here. While they had most of the things we have here in the states, they’re more expensive. So not only are people getting paid less, but their basic goods are more expensive. Gas there was nearly $6 American dollars/gallon. Crazy.

Finally, it was time to head up the mountain. Can we talk about the roads? And by roads I mean pot hole ridden one lane paths? Yeah glad I didn’t eat that highly questionable jerk hamburger right before we left. Oh wait. I did.

But that’s not important. What we immediately noticed was the houses. Remember when I said the living conditions on the coast were pretty rough? As we ventured deeper into the heart of the island, we came to the crushing realization that we were staying in a luxury resort while most people were living without electricity or running water.

About 2/3 of Jamaica is actually mountains, so that whole “tip of the iceberg” thing I said early was pretty literal. In the short 45 minutes we drove to the children’s home we saw such a lack of what we have come to expect as basic living essentials that we couldn’t believe it.

And yet at the same time we saw an unquenchable independence. Small restaurants and shops in the middle of nowhere started by entrepreneurs. Men like our bus driver who told us later that he had sacrificed to let the rest of his family move to Canada while he stayed here and started his own tour bus company. In fact, there were independent businesses all over the place, and we’ve already told you about the craftsmen turning their art into their livelihood. Nobody wants to work for the man there. They make their own destiny.

Then again, that was the feeling we got after being there for 4 days. We might be totally off base. No matter.

Finally, we pulled into the Robins’ Nest. The view on top of the mountain was flat out gorgeous - no question why the people that started this children’s home put it up here. It was like a sanctuary.

I was struck by how big the Nest was. There were at least 3 or more major buildings, a nice playground, a pool. And the kids - they were all just amazing. Every single one. This place was different - the children were taken care of, loved and paid attention to. They were well fed, both physically and spiritually. We really stumbled onto a special place. Or you know - God led us there :)

We had so much fun that afternoon - just being with all of them. No agendas, no plans - just talking and playing. And while we secretly hoped that a few of them would magically stand out as the perfect children for us to bring home one day - well that would have been too easy.

Nothing about this journey has been or will be predictable. We left that afternoon with such a paradox of feelings - hope, love, anxiety, fear, longing, confusion and even numbness. We weren’t even sure what to feel.

All we know is that we won’t ever forget our time at the Nest. Those kids faces are burned into our hearts and minds - and whether we get to bring any of them home or not we’re going to find a way to help them somehow. We’ve got some ideas. But that is for another time.

As I wrap this one up I just want to say a huge thanks to our friends and family who are supporting us by prayer, encouragement and even finances. Your generosity blows my mind every day. Thank you.

Jonathan, Ashley, Adali, Jett, Jax & Ada

  • Outside the CDA

    Outside the CDA

  • Someone's house on the way up the mountain

    Someone's house on the way up the mountain

  • That view

    That view

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  • Boys being boys :)

    Boys being boys :)

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