Pennsylvania--No Problem

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Our trip wound down peacefully last weekend, with Friday's drive to Montego Bay, where we left our bags at the friendly and comfortable Verney House hotel before setting off for the glorious Dunn's River Falls near Ocho Rios. We climbed the falls (several of our group actually made the climb several times), then relaxed on the beach. After a quick stop for pizza in Ocho Rios, we drove back to Montego Bay for that evening's marvelous seafood buffet dinner at a restaurant on the beach. Saturday morning we had time for some souvenir and gift shopping at a store and then a group of market stalls in Montego Bay, then a bit of pool time and a delicious lunch back at Verney House before it was time to head to the airport.

The food and service on Air Jamaica were delightful! (Remember the old days of flying, when you were served a nice snack?) Our flight departed promptly and was problem-free, there were next to no lines at Philadelphia Airport, and before we knew it, Jim, Anna, and I were hugging our new Ursinus friends and making our new Moravian friends promise that we'd see them again soon. The week went by way too quickly, and now that we're back in Bethlehem, we're missing those fresh, open faces and all the laughter on that bus.

The adjectives ("beautiful," "breathtaking," "kind," "open-hearted") grow tiresome, even for me, and so I find that I don't even want to try to put our Jamaica experience into words. Chaplain Clennon provided all of us with a full, meaningful, and also tremendously fun experience on this trip. (The photo accompanying this post is of Salem Moravian Church in Beeston Spring, one of several churches in rural Westmoreland Parish that Hopeton Clennon served as a young minister, fresh from seminary.)

We all hope to return to Jamaica--and I think it's safe to say that we'd most like to return to the same kind of trip: one where we have work to do, one where we actually meet, talk, and work with the people who live in communities in the mountains and along the beautiful southern coast like Culloden (where our home base for most of the week, Camp Hope, is located), Beeston Spring, Left Hall, and Darliston.

"Jamaica--no problem," we all learned to say. Of course there are problems. But there's something to be said for an open heart in the face of those problems. The challenge for all of us, now that we're home, will be holding on to that open heart--without the blue Caribbean, the pure, clear air, and the warming sun of Westmoreland Parish to remind us.

--Joyce Hinnefeld