Garland Hall Children’s Home, Jan 29 – Feb 5, 2014

 In From the Blog

Christ Lutheran Church of Marine shares its Mission Jamaica experience full of projects, joy and friendships.

Click here for the full report 2014_MJTeamReport-1

There are twenty-four of us who saw and heard and touched and smelled and tasted the experience of God in our midst.  At Garland Hall Children’s Home we saw, heard and touched twenty-five children and multiple staff who saw, heard and touched us.

We are a Wednesday to Wednesday Team. Wednesday was a travel and orientation day. Thursday, Friday and Saturday are intense work days.

Pastor Jim Sbertoli, Dan Froiland and Ton Nyman went to Jamaica in December and identified twenty projects for our team. It was an adventurous list.
We divided into six teams to deal with the carpentry, plumbing, tile work, electrical, painting, plastering, concrete, and other construction, maintenance and repair needs. We repaired walls, ceilings, doors and windows. Outside work included gutter and downspouts, building a cover for a large cistern and constructing a storage building. The projects involved almost every room at the Home.

Bunk Bed Rails.  The Jamaican Child Development Authority had decreed that the bunk beds used for the younger children were not in compliance since they had no top guard rails and no ladders. Initially, we thought we would have to replace them but, because of the skill of some of our team members, we were able to construct and secure these items to the existing beds.boys



Ensuring Clean Water. Another item flagged by the CDA was the large cistern on the south side of the building. Several years ago we designed and built an elaborate system of gutters and downspouts to collect rainwater in the cistern. We covered the cistern as a safety measure. The water was used for washing. The CDA does not want Garland Hall to use rainwmjater for washing. So we re-routed the gutters and downspouts and constructed the Great Pyramid of Anchovy protecting the cistern from the dreaded rainwater and other impurities. The Cistern was then cleaned, bleached and purified and will be used to store potable water from the National Water Commission. There are occasions every year when water is not available. The cistern will provide reserves of water for such times. It will hold about 10,000 gallons.

Storage. Secure storage is limited at Garland Hall so we built a new 8’ x 12’ storage building in the back part of the property. We also remodeled an outdoor toilet.

Sunday is Beach Day. We have seen and heard the children by Sunday and they have touched us. Some time apart from work and routine is welcome and more comfortable because of our familiarity. We bussed the children,mj1 staff and team members to Cornwall Beach where proprietor David Chung treated us well. We gathered first for worship where we tasted and saw the goodness of the Lord.Then we swam and played on the beach. Our Wisconsin contingent brought materials for temporary tattoos and face painting which gave us a breather before we enjoyed chicken and french fries. We swam again before showering and riding back to Garland Hall Children’s Home for Christmas in February.


Chicken Coop Update. In past years, we constructed chicken coops and a goat barn. The chickens are layers and fryers. The fryers were harvested just before we arrived so we only saw the layers. We left money for additional chicks and food and will receive news of their arrival.
Some goats we purchased previously succumbed to illness. We had doubts whether the surviving nanny was fertile or sterile. She gave birth to twins on the Monday of our trip erasing our doubts.

Goats. We bought two new goats, billy and nanny to insure the survival of the project. mj4So, while we were there, we could taste see, smell and hear the goodness of goats in the food chain.mj3

Show Shopping. Generous gifts enabled us to offer the children a new treat. We brought all the children shoe shopping. This is big because the children never get to pick out their own things and they never get to go shopping. They got to pick out their own shoes – with some restraints. Some of the girls, even the littlemj6 ones, picked out high heel shoes which were vetoed in the interest of safety and sanity. They were all eventually happy with the shoes they picked.mj5


Partnering with the Wannabees. We are grateful to the Wannabees, a group from Hamilton, Indiana for their work at Garland Hall. They constructed a tool shed that they offered to share with us. It is so good to have a place to store tools, hardware, fasteners and supplies. We met with Sharon Haver and her teammate Jackie from the Wannabees to discuss future plans. We want to find ways to complement each other’s work at Garland Hall. They are planning to work on the kitchen in July.


Technology for kids. Mr. Benson has been hired to teach a computer class for the children. Over the years we have donated a number of computers for the children and some are still functioning even through the are technologically dated. We purchased an IPad Mini to go with the other equipment and to give them the experience of a more modern technology.

We left some money for a party for the children at a later date, and for additional food, and for incidental expenses.

Another outside project was modifying the rear entrance to the kitchen area. Because of previous design peculiarities, rainwater poured off the roof and walkways into the kitchen area.

We hired Orlando Marksman and Omar Barrett to work with us while we were at Garland Hall and to complete a few unfinished items after we were gone. Both men in their 30’s are former residents of Garland Hall Children’s Home.

mj2Each child and staff member got a bag of gifts. After poignant goodbyes, we left the children and staff for our temporary home at Sunset Beach Resort where we rested and reflected on our experience.

Continued Commitment. This was our fourteenth year at Garland Hall Children’s Home. We have been eager to meet new children each year, and anxious about the ones who are no longer there. We have brought them some hope and some joy. They have given us a sense of purpose in our lives. We live with the hope of making a difference in the lives of some special children somewhat separated from us by distance and culture but connected to us by a loving God who had generously allowed us to sense God’s presence in our interaction.

May God grant us yet another experience to taste and see God’s glory in our next Mission Trip.

Click here for the full report 2014_MJTeamReport-1

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