Jamaica: Paradise And Other Observations

NOTE: I wrote this a long time ago….LIKE A LONG TIME AGO…and forgot to make it life…so HERE YOU GO!

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It’s been three weeks since we were in Jamaica. If you’ve followed any of our posts from Facebook, you probably already know we had a wonderful time. It was such a relaxing trip with enough adventure in there to make it fun.

We arrived in Omaha late Sunday night, after our wedding. Monday morning, at 4:30 am, we woke up and headed to the airport. Nearly 12 hours later we were in Jamaica and at Whitehouse Sandals resort.

Here is video of our journey on Day 1:

When we got the Montego Bay Airport and made it through customs, we were escorted to a lounge. We immediately poured a beer and sat down. A few minutes later we boarded a bus and took an hour and a half ride to our resort. Within 30 minutes we were out of Montego Bay and into the heart of Jamaica. I found it to be a lot like Haiti actually. Scattered through the hills and windy roads were homes of all different kinds. Some were basically sheds or shacks. Others were grand and luxurious.

The further we got away from Montego Bay the more I felt as though we were entering a very poverty striken area. It turns out, this journalist, didn’t do much research before we left, so I had no idea what we were getting into.

It turns out, it was a very poverty striken area. Those homes were all some people had. People were bathing in the streams and selling goods on the sides of the roads. Children were walking without shoes, many people didn’t have anything. There were a lot of unfinished homes, metal rods sticking out from the tops of them, first floors finished but no second floor.

I really was starting to feel guilty. Here I am this relatively well off person, driving on a charter bus, to a big resort off the southern coast. It felt wrong.

When we arrived on our resort and finally got settled into our room I had the chance to talk to our concierge representative. As he was walking us to the resort shop he told us that without visitors like us he would not be employed and would not have a way to support his family. He explained that Jamaica’s economy relies heavily on tourism and that it gives his people jobs. He was extremely grateful for our visit and wanted us to feel at home.

That conversation made me feel a lot better about things, though I found myself wanting to do more. Which, let’s be honest, I couldn’t do while I was on my honeymoon with my husband, enjoying the vacation.

As the week went one, we ventured off the resort. First stop was a Black River Safari. Our tour guide was great, we got to see crocodiles up close (he even kissed one, see the video below). Then we visited YS Falls, where we jumped off a rope and into the waterfall. It was great. The people working there were very helpful and worked off tip money from tourists like us. Everywhere we went we tried to tip a good amount. But it’s hard not really knowing what is good money there. Friday we went on the canopy tour. WE ziplined through the rainforest. It was amazing and we got to know our tour guides well.

Day 3 (Black River Safari, YS Falls)

But venturing off the resort taught us a lot about Jamaica. Each time we did, our drivers would tell us about various parts of Jamaica. One driver explained why so many houses were unfinished. He told us the interest rate is very high and it’s hard to pay for a mortgage so sometimes it takes 15 years to build a whole house. People build and pay as they go. Another driver told us about the Sandals Foundation and the schools they build and operate through out Jamaica. He said they provide an educational opportunity for kids who might not get one. We even passed by a few schools. The journalist in me really wanted to stop inside and chat with students and teachers. I wanted to see what it was like.

On our 4th day we learned of a trip you can take to one of the schools. It’s two hours off the resort, reading to children. We didn’t know about it in time and it was full but if we had known we would have loved to visit a school. Good to know for the future.

Day 5: Canopy Tour

All in all, Jamaica was amazing. The food was great, the drinks were great and the people were so nice. It made me realize how important it is to be aware of what’s going on around you and around the world. I know we can safe everyone, solve all the worlds problems, and I am by no means saying that us going to Jamaica saved anyone or anything. What I am saying is that when we meet people and learn about their culture and their background, it’s an opportunity to get a better understanding of life outside our own little world.

Jamaica reminded me that it’s all a matter of perspective (as it was when I visited Haiti too). Things may appear one way and be completely different.

Bottom line…live a little, learn a lot.

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Prayers of the Faithful

For those of you who know me and Scott, you know that our faith plays a major role in our lives.  We’re almost one month into marriage and it’s wonderful.  I recognize that we are in wedding bliss and that it won’t always be sunshine and rainbows. But I am enjoying it while it lasts. Last week we attended mass together for the first time since our wedding/honeymoon.  It was great to share that with my husband.

Our wedding was carefully planned to share the apsect of our life with our guests.  Two weeks ago we received a DVD copy of the documentary of the day. I watched our ceremony and loved reliving the moment.  But I wanted to share one aspect of it that I even forget about: the prayers of the faithful.  In the Catholic Church before we begin Liturgy of the Eucharist (communion) we pray for each other and those who need our prayers.  Our good friend Kate Lange read these and the response was “Lord Hear Our Prayer”

I wrote each one, carefully considering the people who have made a difference in our lives, the people who couldn’t attend our wedding and the people who needed our prayers most.  I hope you enjoy and perhaps take a moment to pray for each of these as well. I think we can always work on improving our pray life, even in small ways.  This is a start.

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For our Pope and our bishop, Father Klein and all who minister in the Church, that they may lead us to love one another as the Father loved us.

We pray to the Lord…

For vocations…those discerning the priesthood or religious life, that God may guide them. For those preparing for marriage, may each and every one of  them remember to honor God in all we do.

We pray to the Lord…     

For the sick, lonely and poor people of the world, especially those in Haiti and Mexico, that through our prayers of love and concern they will be blessed.

We pray to the Lord…

For the newly married couple, Lauren and Scott, that their love for one another fosters growth and deepens the faith of all they meet.  That their lives be blessed with Love and graced with lasting peace and health

We pray to the Lord…

For their parents, Jeff and Michele, Laurie and Bob, that their 30 years of love and commitment continue to set an example and be strengthened through the sacrament of marriage celebrated today.

We pray to the Lord…

For friends and family gathered here today, that you always share the faith, hope and love you have with each other.

We pray to the Lord…

A pray of thanksgiving for good health, especially those who have battled cancer and heart disease. That God continue to give us all strength to fight illness and live each day remembering it as a blessing.

We pray to the Lord….

For those who have died, especially Jeanie Switzer, Max and Bobbie Squires, Ed Hoffman, Frank Ready, and Amanda Jacobson.  May they be experiencing eternal joy with the ever lasting love of God.

We pray to the Lord…