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Reflections on Jamaica

    

Easter Sunday I sat in the airport crying. I was in a circle with 10 other people. We were all from Alternative Spring Break. We weren’t crying because our flight was cancelled or because we weren’t getting home until late we were crying because we were reflecting on the powerful connections we made with each other and the Petersfield, Jamaica community.

Today I didn’t have a pen on me when I needed one and I just got a knot in my stomach. All I could think about was how in Jamaica not everyone could afford pencils, so the students were literally fist fighting for them.

I have plenty of pens, I just forgot them, and all I have to do is turn to the person next to me and ask for one. No fighting, no screaming, no problem. So why do I feel so bad? Because I was taking what I have for granted. They would cherish it. This makes the Alternative Spring Break trip sound depressing, but it really wasn’t — it was insightful.

It was really cool to just be dropped into the culture of Jamaica. We lived in their homes, ate their food, worked in their schools and even went to one of their churches. It was a completely different experience, church especially for me. When my house mother’s niece told me that church was only two or three hours I was blown away. I struggle with sitting in church here for an hour. But church there  was so different. The first hour everyone sang, dance, and yelled hallelujah. It was a lot more lively and intense. In fact, one woman had a spiritual enlightenment. I was a bit thrown off by it because at first I thought she had fainted from maybe the heat, until I saw her on the floor having seizure-like symptoms and screaming about Jesus and the lord. If church back here was like that every week, maybe I would go more often.

Even more shocking than me enjoying church was how forward some of the people were. Each of us received a marriage proposal or an offer to make children. One day I was at the local store and a man in there said “I like you. Are you married?” He was very persistent even after I lied and said I had someone at home.

The families were sweet and treated us like we were one of their own. Learning a lot about the culture and community really made this trip. My two roommates and I also learned how to play dominos, which is our new favorite game.

It’s really hard to explain the impact, but it was the best experience of my life and I encourage anyone to do ASB.