Another mission  trip in early January in Jamaica. Another bunch of bus rides and street meetings. Another moon and starlit night. Another new friend. A bunch of wonderful memories all wrapped up in one week. Another morning that I wake up ready to go home.

team-picLast night, we sat and took turns talking about how the trip had affected us. 72 people shared and every experience was different.

As I sat and waited for my turn to speak, not-so-little 9 year old Gabrielle reached up and stared fiddling with my hair. She lost her mom when she was murdered by her boyfriend six years ago. Tears came to my eyes as I thought it should be Sasha’s hair she was playing with and not mine. But then I remembered her grandmother, Esmine, at the street meeting on Friday night and how much better she was now than six years ago. Gabi is keeping her young. My heart was grateful for the healing power of God’s love. The human spirit is truly amazing and makes me realize that it’s not a human spirit at all, but God’s spirit and that’s why it’s so resilient.

It’s been 21 years since our first mission trip to Jamaica. The relationships multiply every year and God always shows up in unexpected ways.

Our first trip here, we traveled 1.5 hours into the mountains to the boys’ home every day and helped to make their living quarters in an old British great house more inhabitable. A few years later, we started to help to build Teen Challenge Women’s Center and then moved out into the neighborhoods with our Jamaican Extreme Home Makeover. A visit to the girls’ orphanage and nursing home is always an eye-opener, no matter how many times we go.

My heart has always been pulled back to Jamaica to try and help. It took many years before I realized that I can’t change a culture, I can only help to enhance it by showing God’s love to its residents.

As I sit in the airport heading home, I’m reminded of so many things, but mostly how precious the Jamaican people are and how blessed I am to live in the USA. And yes, it is already great.