Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jamaica

Today's post is by Amanda Benedict who is the 13 year old daughter of Pastor Steve and Pam.  She just got back from her first overseas mission trip to Jamaica.  

Going to Jamaica was an awesome experience for me. It was my first time on a overseas mission trip, and my first time on a plane. For me, everything was different and exiting. I probably took about 50 pictures of clouds alone! The ocean was clear, the sky was cloudless, the sunsets were breathtaking, and there was always a warm breeze drifting. It was the perfect place for some one to take a nap.... But wait!!! There were things to be done, places to go and people to meet! From Monday to Saturday, it was a crazy adventure, but I think that I really saw God the most in the orphanages.

On Monday our team went to Blossom Garden, a state run orphanage. It is very hard to adopt from Jamaica, and many children have been there since infancy, and will be there until they are teenagers, or are transferred to a group home. The first room I visited was the baby room, with children ranging from a few days old to one year. There were probably about twenty babies total, and only two women to take care of them. It was heartbreaking to know that you could only hold a few, and that there were so many more, starving for love. I fell in love with two babies, Omar and Daneesha. They were so adorable, and so ready to love. Daneesha absolutely loved to be played with and tossed up in the air. 

I really had respect for the two women who worked in the baby room. At feeding time it took fifteen to twenty minutes to feed one child. Now multiply that by twenty hungry mouths and you probably get the picture of what two women had to accomplish in one afternoon, not including other meals, naps, diaper changing, baths, burping, and dressing. 
After feeding time I worked with the 3-9 year olds. Some of the toddlers were getting baths, and the rest were sitting around or playing. Many little children would come up to you and raise their arms, just wanting to be picked up and held, to get the attention that they were deprived of. Some of the older toddlers and children were outside on the play ground using the jump ropes and balls that we had brought. The ground was dusty and very rocky. Almost none of the children had shoes, and some women who had helped there for a few months said that they were only put on when they had people come over and help. They were all infatuated with bubbles, and there were even yelling fights over them! 

One little girl, Rosanne caught my attention. Rosanne was four years old. She was sitting alone at a little bench. She was very quiet and shy, but not at all reluctant to let me pick her up, and put her head on my shoulder while I carried her around. She was terrified of men and would tense up whenever my dad or another man would come near. She also didn’t want to partake in the other kids games, but was content to sit on a swing in my lap. She was so happy swinging, and would giggle every time we went down. I found out that she loved bubbles, but the older children would take them away from her as soon as she got them. I did finally get bubbles for her:) She was so sweet, and I wanted to take them all home.

Another orphanage that I went to was West Haven. West Haven was a special needs orphanage. Although most were children, there were also many teens and young adults there as well. When I first got there all the kids came out to see us. We got out coloring books and clothes that we gave to the kids. Jordyn, Rebekah, Miki, and I all took some kids that were on wheelchairs for a “walk.” While we were out, Kianan gave us a tour of the compound from his wheelchair. He was very talkative, and told us where everything was. When we had walked back, we colored some with the kids and also pushed some of them on the swings. Later on we discovered two puppies that all of them loved cuddling and petting. Trudy had taken it on herself to be the puppies' protector, and it was sweet to see the smile on her face. I went up to one of the houses, where almost all of the kids/young adults living there were in wheelchairs and could not talk. There I met Donald, and many other kids. One little girl's wheelchair was old, and had a sharp spot on it that had rubbed part of her arm raw, but they didn't have the funds to replace it. I quickly fell in love(once again) with a little four year old named Deandre. He was in a wheelchair and did not talk. He was so sweet and would smile and laugh whenever Jordyn and I would talk to him. I got to feed him, and quickly realized that if I actually put the spoon in his mouth, he would bite it, while I desperately tried (to no avail to dislodged it from his mouth. We got into a pattern, and we managed to feed him almost all of his “food.” I don’t know if you could even call it that. It was cornmeal mush, and similar to grits, and looked like it had no nutrition in it whatsoever. That its self would not have been so bad, except that’s what he ate, three meals a day, every day of the week. Though he was four, he was the size of a two year old. Even so he ate all his food and would giggle insanely when I asked him if he wanted more (I have no idea why.... I know that I'm not supposed to have favorites, but Deandre was definitely my favorite.
Amanda with Deandre who has the "awesomest smile ever!"

In my opinion, none of the kids were handicapped. They are happy, sweet, friendly, and loving. They do not see their poor surroundings, and are perfectly happy in the world they live in. In reality, we are the ones that are handicapped. We are easily 
angered by a dead battery in our TV remote, and we complain about being the slightest bit hungry. Those kids don’t have TV, and they never have enough food. But they are content with what they have. If anything, the people in Jamaica gave me more than anything that I could ever give them. I learned that some can be enough, and some days, when I feel bad for leaving the kids there alone, I remember that they are not alone. God loves at them the same way he does us, and he is watching over them as well. They are not alone.


  1. Amanda, you are an amazing girl. Your compassion and love for all that you come into contact with is a blessing. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  2. Wonderful insights into what you and others did to help in Jamaica! Amanda, you are wise beyond your years and have a huge heart for others! God bless you!

  3. Thank you Amanda! I love hearing your Jesus heart! You are an amazing young woman and I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts as you continue your life walk. May you express our Dad often, here, there and everywhere!

  4. Loved this story, Amanda! Made me feel like I was there with you. Thanks for sharing as I'll be praying for these sweet children in the days to come. I love your special heart and am certain that it's Jesus in you shining outward. So glad you were there on the trip. I bet the children were all blessed by your sweetness and will remember your touch, your smile, and your kindness forever. I'm sure you will remember them forever as well. God bless you!

  5. proud of you girl! was so awesome to see Jesus in you for a week, especially with the children at the orphanages. you have such a servant's heart, just like we talked about on the bus after WestHaven. i can't wait to go back with you again!