Over 15 years ago, First UMC began a relationship with the people of Golden Grove, Jamaica, one of the poorest communities on the island, located in St. Thomas Parish near the eastern shore. Our work centered on the Moses Baker Primary School and the Isaac Barant Health Clinic. In the beginning the school was a one-room structure made of plywood and a tin roof. Over the years it was expanded to a three room structure. Click here to view our YouTube video overview of our work the past 16 years.
However, after one team left in 2007, Hurricane Ivan came through and flattened the school. This was not the first time that the school was damaged by a hurricane and First UMC knew it would not be the last. A dedicated group within the church began the work that culminated in the completion of a cement block and rebar structure with a hurricane resistant roofing in 2011. The 2011 team did a lot of the finishing work and Pastor Teressa attended the blessing and dedication of the structure in January or 2012.
Due to the existance of the new building, Moses Baker principal and staff were able to secure grants that allowed for a second floor to be added. Pastor Teressa and our 2014 team leaders were able to tour the new floor in January of 2014. The new team of 2014 will be working at this new school during their trip in July.
Isaac Barant clinic has also secured funds for a "face lift." Though the structure is large, much of the building has not been used in the 15 years that First UMC has been working at the site. In January 2014 we discovered that much of the struture is being reclaimed, rejuvinated and many needed services will be added. The 2014 mission team is excited to see how much has been finished and add some colorful touches to the waiting rooms and exam rooms.
SUNY Delhi has also donated an exam table, some storage cabinets, and other items that we are hoping to send to Isaac Barant Clinic in the near future. Shipping into Jamaica can be an adventure in and of itself so we are taking our time to ensure the materials go where they are so desparately needed.
Theotokos is an ancient Greek term used in the early church to speak of Mary, Jesus' mother. It means 'God-bearer.' The early church also used the term as a call for all followers of Jesus to emulate Mary and to also 'bear God' to the world in the form of our mission and ministry. We are called to bear God's love to all people. Our Jamaica team adopted the term as the embodiment of what they do--they bear God's love to the wonderful people of Jamaica and to all those whom they encounter.