By Briana Schultz
Being able to be a part of the Dispatch Project allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and experience both the Jamaican culture as well as Deaf culture. I was in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people, visiting places out of my comfort zone and working on projects out of my “normal” routine. However, the experience was rewarding, but in different ways at different times. When I say rewarding, I don’t mean it in a way that refers to compensation, incentives, or a way to better myself. I mean it as more of an eye opening experience and an opportunity for me to understand another culture and way of life other than my own.
It was physically rewarding as we poured the concrete we mixed into the cistern we helped JDV build throughout the week. It was emotionally rewarding as I witnessed a lady in the infirmary who could barely speak sing “Jesus Loves Me” in a voice as clear as the ocean. It was mentally rewarding as we emptied the semi-truck full of clothes, diapers, paper towels, toilet paper, toiletries etc., and I was able to reflect back on my own lifestyle and realize how fortunate I am to have good health that allows me to have a job to purchase these necessities. Our society is always under the assumption that more is better, myself included, but JDV clearly showed me that you can be perfectly happy without having items that we consider “necessities” back home.
I would have to say my favorite part of the trip was the infirmary, not because it was the most fun or because the weather was nice, but because it was the most challenging for me emotionally. I was able to interact with people with all different types of struggles whether that’s physical disabilities, mental disabilities, health concerns and so on, but guess what? God doesn’t love me any more than he loves them. When one of the residents of the infirmary was told by a fellow team member that we are all brothers and sisters of Christ and share one Heavenly Father, her eyes lit up like a child’s eyes on Christmas morning. Her eyes filled with joy. The expression on her face portrayed a sense of calmness and relief and that is a moment I will forever have engraved in my mind.
I’ve heard the phrase “It takes a village” before and have always thought it’s been true in different aspects in my life, such as in my workplace, my family, my circle of friends and in my church. That was taken to a whole new level in Jamaica. Everything was done as a team. You celebrate as a team. You struggle as a team. You laugh as a team. You cry as a team. This goes for both the people of Jamaica and within my own team. I could clearly see God’s presence in the lives of the residents at JDV as it was shown through their actions in their work, with one another, and with our team.
I’m very grateful to have experienced my week in Jamaica and I am very fortunate to have an employer that supports their employees serving others. If you’re on the fence about going, just take a leap of faith and go for it!
Here are some additional thoughts from JJ Noel of A&B Business who accompanied me on this trip:
One of the main highlights of the trip was going to church with our group at the Jamaican Deaf Village Church. Seeing the worship team doing sign language with each song and the expressions on their faces was incredible. Then having Pastor Sheldon share his sermon and seeing how passionate he is about the Lord was great to experience.
This trip was really a life changing experience for myself. We are very privileged to have the many blessings that we have in the United States. Observing the Jamaican culture gave me a new meaning to life. Seeing how appreciative on what they have and how they go about serving the Lord. At times when I think I may be going through hard times, I will reflect on what I experienced on this opportunity.
I would like to thank Tim and the Dispatch Project Team for this great experience. I would recommend this opportunity to anyone that has a heart for making a difference.