It feels like I’ve been here for a month and in reality just over a week, I’m starting to feel sad about leaving. I’d like to bring Jim and the girls back here sometime in the future, when they are old enough to fan themselves. I’ve often thought about them this week, I promise to appreciate them and all that goes along with my life if I make it home.
We have visited Kingston, which is the major “city” and I see a different side of St. Vincent. Local shops that sell dated goods for an arm and a leg. There really isn’t an industry here, the employers are the hospital, police and the schools. The kids are the ones that really get dressed up every day and go somewhere… school. But when secondary school is over you have to apply for our version of High School and not everybody passes with a good enough score to get in. If that’s the case your future isn’t looking so good.
We visit an elder day care and find alert and bright folks that are maybe my parents age? We go to a preschool and see the sweetest little St. Vincy’s! We spend the rest of the day walking and talking with the locals. A large, soft spoken man pulls me aside and asks me if I want to meet the gods of the Island. I smile as he pulls out a machete and starts chopping up what looks like oregano a wooden plank. I nicely decline and then walk briskly back to join the group. In all honesty though, I felt very safe there, the folks are super kind, nice, loving and friendly. I think its all the natural vitamin D.
Saturday, a choppy ferry ride delivered us, a few vehicles and some live stock to the small island of Bequia. The day is meant for us to debrief and relax in and on some white sandy beaches. I have only envisioned water this warm, clear and crystal blue. I have the opportunity to snorkel and get 2nd degree burns. A major squall comes through and rocks the ship upon our return to St. Vincent. I am reminded of the verse where God says to the water, peace be still and the waves obey Him. God is so much bigger than I can imagine.
A sunset dinner at Pirates Cove (ever seen a little film called, Pirates of the Caribbean? The opening scene with Johnny Depp riding a commandeered ship that is sinking, it was filmed right were I’m standing). I can’t describe the beauty of God’s creation on this part of the globe. The rocks that line the black beach shine like onyx in the setting hot sun. It was eerily quite, even the ocean in this inlet is gentle and calm. This evening local Pastor, Paul Jack shares his testimony, his burden and his heart for St. Vincent. The Blakes and Pastor Paul are some of the most humble, meek, serious – yet driven and passionate people I have met. They are serving with little to no resources and hardly any success.
Pastor Blake found Christ at the age of 12. While fishing for him and his mama’s supper one evening in the small town of Fancy, a missionary from America appeared out of nowhere and shared the story of Jesus, the fisher of men. This was a scenario that he could understand and appreciate. For over 35 years Veral Blake, his wife and his sons have ministered to the people of St. Vincent. He carries a burden for his land and community.
I was moved and changed by my time (as short as it was) in St. Vincent. I miss my life and my family. It’s really hard even now to process all I’d seen, heard, smelled and done. This impoverished nation has a beautiful ocean backdrop but the day to day life is ugly, hard – crud at best. God is at work there as He is in my small town. I am really thankful to get a perspective that I so desperately needed.
PSS – You knew I would bring back souvenirs…