Thank You

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We are glad the Lord has led us to Bethany, and look forward to serving together with all of you who make up the body of Christ in this place.  Thanks to all those who gave their time to help us move and unpack, to those who have provided for us while we get settled in, and to all those who faithfully serve in the church and bring joy to a pastor’s heart.  And thank you for the welcome service today — the music, the fellowship, the prayer and ministry in the word from other pastors who came, but especially the warm words of welcome expressed by the deacons on behalf of the congregation.  It means a lot to us.  May the Lord bless you as we serve Him together in the days ahead.

~ Pastor Philip, Sydonyia, and family

Jamaica Journey Review

It has been a week now since our team left Jamaica (yes we did make it back safely a day later than expected) and as I reflect on our time there the only appropriate response is praise. Praise God for blessing exceedingly abundantly above all that we asked or thought. Praise God for gospel advance in Jamaica allowing us to reap where others have faithfully planted and watered. Praise God for Christian brothers and sisters whom we were able to meet and fellowship with. It is such an incredible joy to be part of the family of God. Praise God for pastors whom we met who are steadfastly holding forth the Word of Life. Praise God for Bible college students who have hearts to serve God with their lives. Praise God for spiritual growth in each of the team members hearts and lives. Praise God for safety in travel and health and strength while in Jamaica. Praise God for His incredible creation we experienced in the the rich diversity of fruits we enjoyed, the beauty of flowers arrayed fairer than Solomon in all his glory, unique animals, dazzling waterfalls, lush foliage and beautiful, strengthening sunshine. Praise God for the joy there is in serving Him. Praise God for answered prayer!

I’m sure the full impact of this missions trip has not yet been realized but as I reflect on what God has already accomplished through it I am filled with wonder at God’s incredible grace to use us for His glory. Thank you for your prayers, for your giving and for your interest in God’s work through us. May we continue to serve Him faithfully where He has placed us till Jesus comes.

Pastor Joel

Jamaica Journey Day 9

Today was a day filled with mixed emotion. We were first of all sad to leave the people and country that we have come to love over our week here. There were plenty of hugs exchanged and promises to see each other again soon. After a brief stop in Montego Bay to pick up last minute souvenirs and lunch we headed to the airport. There our emotions changed to the joy of being on our way home to see all the ones we love and missed this week. We had warning of a possible storm in Toronto but we were thankful that our flight out of Montego Bay was only delayed by 20 minutes and we made it safely in at 7:15 pm local time. That was the end of our flights for the day however as everything was cancelled. After making it through the maze of the airport and the large crowds we were able to confirm that we were rebooked for the same flight a night later and by God’s good hand we found the last 3 rooms at an airport hotel. The shuttle was delayed because of the weather and while most stayed inside because of the cold and snow (and the fact that some were still in shorts) Caleb, Tiffany and Christian bravely stood watch till the shuttle finally arrived.  After checking in at the hotel we were able to get pizza at 11:15 pm for supper and all crashed into bed exhausted. These certainly weren’t our plans but we know God’s ways are best and we are trusting that our extra day in Toronto has a good purpose. We are looking forward to seeing you all soon,

Pastor Joel

Jamaica Journey Day 8

Today was a day of hard work to get as much done on the construction project as we could, knowing that we leave for home tomorrow. The men worked all day cutting rebar, making and pouring concrete, creating forms and putting in the last two footings. The end of the day brought a large rainstorm that we worked through in order to get the last footing done. There is still plenty of work to do to complete the building which the Jamaican men will do when we leave but we were able to accomplish much for the glory of God. We trust that this upgraded building will aid Fairview Baptist Bible College continue to hold forth the faithful word and train men and women for life long service to Jesus Christ.

The women cleaned and got everything ready for our departure tomorrow. Then some of them had the opportunity to get their hair done in Jamaican braids by the librarian here. After supper we were taken to a local wood carver to pick up a few souvenirs and then we ended the day with a team meeting to share the blessings we all experienced from the trip along with the lessons we learned. We all have much to praise God for and are looking forward to seeing you all soon to tell you about it personally. Please pray for our return trip as the weather is calling for snow in Toronto! Thank you for all the prayers and following along. Good night from Jamaica for the final time,

Pastor Joel

Jamaica Journey Day 7

Our cup runs over with the joy of serving the Lord! We had an incredible day worshipping at Black River Independent Baptist Church which is lead by our gracious host Pastor Black. It took about an hour to get here from the college and while we were concerned about possibly being late for a 9:30 start we shouldn’t have worried: they take laid back to a level even beyond Lepreau! Our Sunday School teacher had to wait for a taxi and didn’t arrive till after 10 but we enjoyed his lesson from the book of Job. Tara and Tiffany were able to sit in on a class with some of the kids and enjoyed meeting new children that quickly became friends. The morning service followed with the opportunity for the team to sing a special number and for us to join in on Jamaican worship. While livelier than we are used to we appreciated their joy in the Lord and were able to join in on the songs that we did know. Then I was able to preach and I was thankful to God that He answered prayer and I had a voice to do so. God was at work and 2 men and a girl came forward at the end of the service with one of the men trusting Christ. God is so amazing as the man Wayne, who lives in the UK, was here visiting relatives. So God brought a preacher from Canada and a man from England to Jamaica where the gospel was presented and received. What a joy this was for all of us. While this was all going on, Claire (aka mom), led the children’s church with the other ladies helping out. Needless to say our day of worship was rich and blessed. We were able to meet many warm and inviting brothers and sisters in Christ who we look forward to seeing again soon but if not in glory.

After the service we headed back to the college with a stop along the way to Bluefields beach to have a quick swim in the Caribbean Sea for a much needed cool off. Supper at the college was another great meal provided by the tireless ladies in the kitchen. Then we had an evening service together at the college with a time of singing and testimony as a group. There were plenty of blessings to share and we are rejoicing in all that God has done. It is hard to believe that tomorrow will be our final full day here before flying out Tuesday. We have appreciated your prayers and are looking forward to seeing everyone soon. Good night from Jamaica,

Pastor Joel

Jamaica Journey Day 6

Today the team took a well-earned break from work to explore the beautiful island of Jamaica. Pastor Black graciously played tour guide as we drove off campus to the south shore of the island. We saw the beautiful turquoise ocean water and smelled the salt air bringing memories of home. Our first official stop was at the Black River safari where we were able to head out on “Black River” on a guided boat tour. The river is an amazingly intricate ecosystem filled with interesting plant and animal life. The most interesting for the group were the many crocodiles that we were able to observe close up. The guide asked which of us would volunteer an arm but no one was quick to raise their hand. The scenery was beautiful and the guide entertaining. It was a wonderful way to experience God’s creation in this corner of the world.

After a quick lunch of Jamaican patties, a pastry like crust stuffed with chicken or beef, eaten at Black River Independent Baptist church the group headed out to YS falls. (That is the church, by the way, which we will be ministering in and fellowshipping with tomorrow so I’ll tell more about it then) The YS falls are located on a large former plantation property and are majestically beautiful. Several sets of waterfalls provide different levels of pools that the group were able to explore. Especially fun was the Tarzan swing that allowed you to swing over a pool and then plunge into the brilliantly clear waters below. Several of the group found the courage to try it out while others just enjoyed the relaxing time spent in the water and among the falls. This was definitely a highlight of the natural beauty that Jamaica has to offer.

We finished our day with a supper at the “Border Jerk” which is a famous jerk chicken and pork place right next door to the college. The food was tasty and certainly an interesting cultural experience. After a team meeting and time spent with Pastor Black the team headed to bed, rested and grateful for a blessed day of enjoying God’s handiwork. We are greatly looking forward to our time worshipping with Jamaican believers tomorrow. Thank you to those who prayed for my voice, God has graciously allowed it to return so I can preach tomorrow. It is not fully back but should be enough for me to preach, continue to pray to that end please.  I trust the days of worship will be blessed back home and will be praying for you. Good night from Jamaica,

Pastor Joel