Jamaican CMM Montage

History Page

It seems hard to believe it has been 10 years since we made plans to go on our first Christian Medical Mission to Jamaica.  Karen Horrell was asked by Reverand Caughlan of the United Church of Christ in Cape Girardeau to form a team to provide medical, dental, and eye care to their sister church in Carron Hall. (Keep in mind Karen was one of 2 nurses in the congregation and the other one was not interested in going. God was so gracious that some people even came to Karen asking to go on the trip.) Twenty-five people went on that first trip serving 1200 people in 4 days. Few people had medications which they carried with them in their handkerchief (making it hard to identify what they were since they use mostly British medications). Some people used local herbs. People stared at us and touched our white skin. Many people had never even had their blood pressure checked. Although this was intended to be a one time event, we found ourselves saying, “The next time we come, we could…”

Since that first trip, things have changed and yet stayed the same. Gwen Maloney took over as our organizer. The Jamaican people now ride more instead of walk (resulting in more high blood pressure), dress in current fashions, and have several cell phones (the phones are free). The mountain roads are still curvy, on the edge of cliffs, with washed out areas and potholes. Our hosts are still gracious and great cooks. The children are still polite, soft spoken, and well-behaved. God is still watching over, guiding, and providing for us in miraculous ways.

Unfamiliar foods have now become familiar:  fried plantain (like banana), curried goat, callaloo (greens), jerk chicken, Fry Dumplin’ (fried pastry dough), salt fish, Patties (meat pastries), Ting (grapefruit soda), coconut drops (candy), Blue Mountain coffee, and Red Rose tea. Some foods were surprises:  real chicken feet in the soup, a cow’s foot in the deep freeze (we’re not sure what they did with that), milk in a box, tiny baby chicks at the market for sale.

We’ve had some challenges along the way:

  • Not being able to do everything you would like to do to help the people
  • Traffic on Easter Monday holding us up for hours on our way to the church
  • Lack of sleep due to an all night funeral wake with loud music and singing
  • Mentally ill man running loose in the clinic grabbing things while everyone was screaming as if he had a gun
  • Finding out the orphans, whose beds we were sleeping in, had parasitic worms
  • Malaria scare in Kingston
  • Cold water for showers (the first year everyone took at least one hot shower the minute we arrived in our hotel the evening before flying back home and there was a collective “Ahh” from our hotel rooms).
  • Trying to satisfy the very bureaucratic Jamaican government
  • Sitting around in the airport for hours trying to get through customs

But the Blessings have outweighed the problems:

  • Getting to know the really wonderful team members you work with
  • Learning about another culture firsthand staying in their homes and eating foods prepared by them
  • Finding out that people are more like us than different from us
  • A clinic has been built that is used by local health care providers when we are not there
  • Worshipping with fellow Christians who are strong in their faith
  • Appreciating your blessings more when you come home (especially warm water showers)
  • Receiving financial and prayer support and encouragement from family, friends, and strangers like all of you present tonight.

 
We thank God for the blessing you have been in our endeavors to do His work in taking care of widows and orphans (the church in Jamaica runs an orphanage), the sick, and all of His children. We wouldn’t do it without those who may not go on the trip, but support us in many other ways.

God’s richest blessings and our sincere thanks all of you,
Ann Albrecht, Hope Botwinski, and Gwen Maloney


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Copyright (c) 2009  Jamaican Christian Medical Mission