We awoke to the unfamiliar sounds of squawking birds and roosters. To the delight of our team, we gathered for a traditional American breakfast of bacon, eggs, & toast in the main room of the Cloisters Methodist Center where we are staying. As we learned quickly, Jamaicans have a different speed at which they operate; this we appropriately named “Jamaican time”. Our driver, Patel, was to shuttle us to Brown’s Town to attend worship in Wesley Methodist Chapel at 9:00am sharp.  Although our meal, our shuttle, and our arrival at church were behind schedule, we were pleasantly surprised to find our group was of the first to attend the service. The congregation began filing in well after 9:00 as is customary; however, it was youth Sunday on the 14th, and the Jamaican children had on their most formal “Sunday best.” The service lasted around 2 hours with a lively welcoming and announcements, followed by a heartfelt sermon and several hymns in which every verse was sung. Following the service we were invited for juice and fellowship in the assembly hall next to Wesley Chapel.

Patel returned to shuttle us back to the Cloisters where we had the rest of the day to prepare for the busy week ahead. We used the afternoon to get familiar with the culture and people of Jamaica, and with one another. Activities that evening included organizing supplies, preparing pen pal letters, and planning educational lessons to be administered the following day at St. Ann’s Bay Primary School. While enjoying the spectacular views from the patio at the Cloisters, the boys hand-copied NCAA March Madness brackets for each person who wanted to track their predictions.

By Griffin