From the picture you can see that today’s breakfast is a little better, no? Different for sure. I don’t normally fry up yams, onions, pancakes and serve it up with a really ripe plantain. However, I’m hungry and I don’t want to offend the sweet lady that walked up hill, in the dark, early in the morning to prepare it for me. We had stopped at the local grocery store the day before and by the grace of God found and bought some bottled water. The store also had hare with hair on it wrapped in plastic for sale there too.
I had a unexpected and unwanted surprise today too (nervous ovary) and was forced to pay $20.77 for what looked like 10 year old tampons. There was literally a picture on the box of a sunset, apparently the gals there don’t use them?
After breakfast we traveled to Barrouallie to see the community center where we would host the children for a bible club later that afternoon.
Even with few telephones word travels fast on this little island. We were hoping to get to know the parents of the kids attending the bible club so we could invite them and tell them about a new church that would soon be starting there – Harvest Bible Chapel, St. Vincent would launch in a few months. We had small prayer and worship services at night and we each got a chance to share our faith story.
The whole Island is about 133 miles and is densely populated with around 120 thousand people. A big volcano occupies the northern third of the land so everybody else squeezes together on the remaining two thirds. I also discovered what it was like to be the minority, that was interesting. The entire time we were there I didn’t see another white person (with the exception of those in our group). The people of St. Vincent are so kind and friendly. Every person that I made eye contact with gave the biggest smile or would approach me to say, “hello”. There is limited electricity and most cannot afford it in there cinder block abodes so when the sun goes down and it does early, the place is dark and quiet. The government has set up public showers (put they forgot the shower curtains or doors) the water gets warm after the sun has baked the pipes mid afternoon. Even though a lot of the area looked like the ghetto the people were friendlier than main street in Mayberry. I kept thinking they have so little and they seem happy, carefree and content. They don’t even have ice cubes….
I heard that fishermen will ride in the back of a pick up truck into the towns and upon arrival will blow a conch shell to let folks know that the fresh catch of the day has arrived. Mostly humpback whales are caught, butchered and sold on the western side of the Island. Although we only ate fish one night. It was loaded with little bones and was missing the long john silver batter that I was hoping for.
I borrowed a satellite phone that one of the Dr’s on the trip brought. I called home and the first thing Jim asked me was, “how many people have you connected with and have you had the opportunity to share Christ with anyone?” I felt like such a heel. I was calling to check on the kids and all the other “stuff” I left behind. I wanted to make sure he was following all the directions and lists I gave him before I took off. When I got off the phone I stared off into the dark vastness that I could make out on the balcony and prayed silently to God. I asked him to use this time to impact me and change my heart. I hadn’t really been open to that and was spending my time “touring” stand offishly. I asked him to help me “connect” with someone the next day. With the help of Ambien I drifted off to sleep in a pool of my own sweat.
The kids poured into the community center after school and we weren’t really ready for them. Instead of worrying about organizing everybody into groups for arts and crafts or bible stories I just started talking with some of the them. The more I listened, the more they moved in closer. Most of the kids were still wearing their school uniforms. I asked them if that was the only one they had, “yes” was the response. They said their mama’s wash them in a hot pot on the fire and iron it. I don’t even do that and I have an actually iron and ironing board, those poor souls use a hot rock and the light of the moon.
The number of kids that showed up over the course of the days that followed grew. Just like with any vacation bible school, kids that have fun will invite other kids. Lots of eager children turn out to see why we have come, what we have brought and to show us their hearts.
Men and chicken breasts are noticeably absent on the Island. I saw people eating chicken legs, they were served to us every night at dinner and there were a lot of kids running around, coming to see us. So I knew that there had to be men and chicken breasts somewhere (you can’t have one without the other – not men and chicken breasts – you get were I’m going with this?). It also seemed that the people on the island have a knowledge of God and are willing to talk about him but he seems distant there.
I’m hot just typing this, I’ll wrap for now but tune in Friday for the not exciting conclusion.