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Yea, man… no problem… February 27, 2008

Posted by G in random stuff.
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One of the first things that I learned in Jamaica is that in Jamaica it’s no problem… they have none… but sometimes they have situations and sometimes they include guns…

In the weeks leading up to my trip many people asked me what I was going to do and what I was most excited about.  Undoubtedly the answer was going to Jamaica and learning about the culture there.  I’ve always wanted to go to Jamaica… ever since those high school days.  The culture has always interested me.  I could not believe it when one of the excursions that I could choose from included going to a plantation, walking a mile into a village and then going into a school… and then having a typical Jamaican lunch back at the plantation was definitely an added bonus. 

We left the port and began traveling down a 2 lane heavily traveled road.  We learned pretty quickly that 18-wheelers could care less if you have the right of way and pull out in front of you.  Then within 5 minutes of leaving the port the traffic had slowed and a van decided it was time to pass us…  now remember I said that the road was heavily traveled… that means the cars were bumper to bumper in the opposite direction also… the other van ended up hitting us and taking the drivers side mirror off our bus, so our 45 minute trekk into the hills was put on hold for a time.  Everyone had gotten out of the other van and there was this cool lookin’ Rastafarian guy that I so wanted to take a picture of.  One of the nice guys… we’ll call him red shirt… started marking the spot of our tires using a rock as chalk.  Dumb van driver starts yelling at red shirt because he is helping us since we need to leave.  At this time I asked a woman with us, Karen, if she would open her window so I could take a picture of cool Rasta man.  Just then tour guide lady said “He pulled out his piece, he has a gun!”… Karen turned around “What?”… “Ummm, forget it…”  Luckily it was red shirt that pulled out his gun and dumb bus driver promptly shut his mouth and we were able to proceed.  That was my first lesson in Jamaican culture.

The roads in Jamaica are quite twisting and turning and there are LOTS of beautiful hills.  The countryside is gorgeous.  The fields are amazing… and when you see the trusty Sunkist stamp on your orange… it used to mean that it was grown in the US… but not any more.  When someone purchased land in Jamaica they can then build whatever they like.  Often families will start building a home and finish off just a small section to live in and then continue to build as they have more money to do so.  So often the houses look like they are either falling apart or unfinished… pretty much almost everything looks under construction.

When we arrived at the plantation after a LONG, FAST stomach twisting ride… I stepped out to a beautiful plot of land with the most gorgeous mountain views.  We had a nice breakfast and then a walk around the property checking out different herbs and plants.  I saw a cacao tree and the pods and beans looked and smelled nothing like chocolate.  From there we walked a mile into the village.  Along the walk we were taught about the different plants that grew along the sides of the road and the different medicinal uses that the people used them for.  The “Life Plant” is thought to cure any flu, cold or stomach bug.  There is another leaf that when tied to the forehead cures migraines and head aches.  Coconut water (the stage before milk) is said to lower blood pressure in 7 days.  We also walked by a bar in town where I smelled the familiar scent of my high school days… that was another herb that I’ve heard has many medicinal purposes… 🙂 

The children at the school reminded me of the kids in Namibia… so desiring a high five and a hello.  They sang a couple songs for us and it was so cool to see the smiles on their faces.  The school was started by a German missionary couple.  We also went through an area that was settled long ago by Germans… this area reminded me of Rehoboth because they also have 3 people groups. 

From there we went to a pineapple plantation where we were given some fresh pineapple, some sugar cane and some rum… this was not your typical rum… it was 100% moonshine.  We were told with one shot your eyes are open, with two shots you come to know Jesus and with three shots you meet Jesus.  We were just given a small amount and when I took the drink it literally evaporated in my mouth.  It was the weirdest thing.

So, this was one of my favorite adventures on my trip… it was so fun for me to learn about the culture there.  To learn how the people have come to rely on the plants that God has created on their land to cure illnesses and disease, since there is no option for them to have a doctor’s care.  People in Jamaica average $52US a week and with such a high tourism rate all I could think of was how the place reminded me of Namibia and how are we impacting their society…

maybe tomorrow I will add some pics to this post…

crazy… February 20, 2008

Posted by G in random stuff.
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I just looked and my blog has had exactly 3,000 hits… that’s quite a few for only telling 2 people…  I suppose putting in a picture of Donald Miller and I greatly increased that number… and then there are the stalkers that have found me, but they know I love them… 🙂

To hell and back… February 18, 2008

Posted by G in from the heart, truth.
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My new friends can be just an indecisive as I can, but I think I did pretty well with making decisions this week, and not worrying about what others may be thinking because every choice I made was coming from a perpective of what I wanted to or knew I should be doing… even if part of it wasn’t always the most fun thing to do.

I had no plans in the Grand Caymen Islands except that I knew that I wanted to see the Island.  My friends didn’t have an excursion plan, but were trying to come up with one.  An arrangement to meet at 8am was made so that we could make the final decision.  Terry and I stayed up a bit later the night before to go over the list and cut things down.  My only stipulation was that I needed to go around the island.  Throughout my conversation with Terry I said that I would be happy to go snorkeling again as long as I was able to tour the island, if they decided to just go snorkeling or go to the beach then that’s fine with me… I would just find something else to do. 

In the morning 5 of us met for breakfast with the handy-dandy excursion list.  I mentioned that they can choose whatever they would like, and that I was fine with going off on my own, and then just sat back and let people decide.  The decison was made to go on the land & sea tour.  This tour included riding in a semi-submersed boat with glass sides and viewing shipwrecks and the Cheeseburger reef… it pains me so to know that this beautiful reef was named after Burger King.  From there we went to the Turtle farm where I was blessed to hold a beautiful endangered species.  Then it was off to the Rum Cake Factory for, you guessed it… a yummy piece of cake and candy-like shot of rum… yea… really… After that the next stop was to the town of hell… yea… odd name for a place.  We just sat on the bus when we arrived thinking that it was just a cheesy place and almost didn’t get off.  First we walked into the post office/store to see if it was as cheesy as imagined… just the typical tourist trap.  Then we walked around to where it got it’s name.  Behind the building was this crazy looking rock formations.  The rocks are actually an old coral reef from when the ocean covered it.  Coral only grows approximately a half inch a year.  It was pretty much an amazing site to me… despite it’s nasty name. 

During this time another girl that game with us, Dee, walked around to corner drinking coconut water from a green coconut.  This is the liquid inside the coconut in this first stage, it it extememly healthy and been known to significantly lower blood pressure within 7 days (I learned that in Jamaica, but more on that later).  Claudia got one and I tried it.  It tasted alright and I thought I might get one for the novelty of it… not because I really wanted one.  When I asked where to get it I was told to go around the corner to the store.

I went straight inside and asked the lady, Pearl was her name I found out later, where the coconuts were.  She promptly said “outside the door.  Are you a Christian?”  Although I wasn’t wearing a cross or anything that would “define” my beliefs.  I told her yes and she said “Will you tell this man about Jesus?”  The man was standing to my right and I told him that God has called us to be in relationship with him because he loves us.  It appeared from what he said that he may suffer from some form of stigmata and he didn’t understand why a God that loved him would cause him so much pain.  I told him that God never said that life on earth would be easy, but if we perservere and believe in him that we would sit at please pray for David...the right hand of God in heaven.  He had tears in his eyes and on his face throughout our conversation, this man could quote scripture like the best, when I asked him his name he did so round and round and then said that his name was David.  I said “Ahhh, a man after God’s own heart…” He then went into how could David be a man after God’s own heart when he did all that he did (he was quite specific).  I explained that once David realized his wrong doings he was broken and fell to his knees, he realized he was a sinner.  He fasted and prayed, and once his son passed and judgement came down, David got up, washed, ate and worshipped God.  David is still trying to get the concept that he is a sinner and needs Jesus, and I am just another watering of the seed that Pearl is tending to.  Yet I am so blessed that God chose me to travel to the Grand (or not so Grand) Caymen Islands to share His love with a man that He is pursuing. 

While I was talking with David the bus drivers were in the store and Pearl asked them if they were Christians and they said no.  She said that they should listen to our conversation also.  Please pray with me for David and the bus drivers…

stopping time… February 17, 2008

Posted by G in random stuff.
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As I am uploading pics and stuff from my trip I took a moment and found this on a friend’s blog….

Thanks Feather!!  🙂

Sometimes the embedded video disappears… if it’s not above view it here

I didn’t find nemo… February 15, 2008

Posted by G in from the heart, mindless ramblings.
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All I can say is that this has been truly one experience that was no question full of God ordained appointments.  From the beginning of deciding to go on this cruise… I was sure that God was telling me to come, the person that told me about the cruise told me that she thought God told her that I should come on this cruise.  When I called the person in charge of coordinating the cruise, she told me that the cruise was sold out, but she thought I was supposed to go, so she worked her butt off to get me on.  I was expecting a lot of time to myself… but that was not His plan.  God immediately supplied me with friends… without me having to put any effort into it.  My closest new friend is Claudia and she was a last minute addition to the trip… and God definitely wanted us to become fast friends.  The next of my “just add salt water” friends are Terry & Jim… they also happen to be my next door neighbors.  There have been many in depth late night conversations on Biblical teachings, when life can be so structured (yea… they are Baptists)… and more.  And sometimes it’s true that no good conversation happens after 2:30am… but that is not the rule.

I came with no real expectations… I was looking forward to time on my own. In the port of Key West my thought was to have no expectations about my time (other than a margarita at Margaritaville and a piece of Key Lime pie for Antje… Ft Lauderdale pie wasn’t the best… so I kept trying for you… the reseach ended soon and it’s true… the best Key Lime Pie is in the Keys) . 

Claudia had met an 86ish year old Athiest man last December and felt a need to continue to pray for him and seach him out while on this visit.  Many of us headed out in a group and she was torn with what to do.  Once she was clear she suggested we rent bikes.  Three of us rented them… Claudia Matt and I.  She was not sure where Peter lived but we were determined to figure it out… the Island is small enough & we saw it all.  Once we found it Matt & I had planned on leaving her be and going off to our one scheduled event where we were supposed to meet by 11:15am.  Peter welcomed us all in.  As we sat drinking out apple juice on the rocks he told us many stories of his Nazi days (as one who did not approve of Hitler and did what he could, when he could… but still had to serve as a Nazi).  During our conversation we tried to bring up the subject at hand and he continued to talk and talk and not give us much of an opportunity to get to the matter at hand though we tried to bring it into conversation.  As we were leaving Matt & I went out to get the bikes and Claudia was last coming out.  As she left she said “Peter I will continue to pray for you”.  His response was “Oh,you know I don’t believe in God… you don’t have to pray for me.”  “Last time you gave me permission to pray for you and I am going to pray you into the kingdom” She said… and as his demeanor changed he said “Well, then, maybe that’s why you are here.”  We have no idea what God has for this man… but the seeds have been dropped and watered.  It was the best time I could’ve had in the Keys and I am blessed that He had me be a part of it.  I love how it is all based out of relationship.  Matt is a hard core evangelist (we have since found out) and was praying for that type of opportunity.  It is no coincidence that we were all together that day and were able to break off from the larger group without all parties involved knowing why Claudia and I were looking to rent bikes.  btw… I felt like 12 again riding around that island… it was so much fun!!! 

As for Cozumel… I ❤ snorkeling…  Jorge and “captain no english speaking mexican man” were our guides and it was amazing… even thought it felt so sketchy pre-leaving dock.  We saw an Eagle-Ray, sting ray which is a rare sighting…. a huge lobster and many amazing fish… all I could think of was how amazing God is, that there is another universe under the water and he created them beautiful bright colors… even though he didn’t have to.  I can not wait to go through all my pics… I am sure that it will not do any justice to the beauty I saw.

It is amazing to me how God has brought me here and given me so many friends that have pursued relationship with me when all I had to do was just be me.  It’s been a time of truly realizing that focusing on relationship is what is really important, to continue to live as Jesus did and love one another and share His story in every day conversation.  To put away any checklist I have created and live… just live.

disclaimer… it’s way too early in the morning and I have no idea if this made any sense.  Time to get to bed so that I may enjoy the sunshine again tomorrow as we sail back to home port.  Don’t worry… the story will continue and it only gets better. 

ummmm… February 4, 2008

Posted by G in mindless ramblings.
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yea… I don’t wanna talk about it…

The time is drawing near… February 3, 2008

Posted by G in mindless ramblings.
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I have never been more excited to watch a football game…  okay, maybe in 2006 when I went to Gillette Stadium and saw the Patriots live… but I had no time to anticipate going to the game and the past two weeks have been full of anticipation…

GO PATS!!!!