Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cool Runnings: An open letter to my children

My dear children, we are about to take off to Jamaica. This has been my dream for our family since I can remember. The reason we are going brings me much sadness but I know it is a trip that will also be quite special for us. I always wanted to go to visit Grandpa but something tells me this might have been a dream of his too and he's making sure we will all get there now. I trust God's timing in it. Do not worry about missing school and all of the make-up work you will have. This is an education those four walls or a book could never give you. For so many Jamaica is a tropical vacation destination, a fun place for Spring Break. For us, it is so much more. I just wanted to share a few thoughts with you before we depart.

You will see some very extravagant places while we are there....beachside wonderful vacation homes and resorts with all the food you could ever want to eat and 5 pools and water sports and all the fun and fancy. People from all over the world come to admire the beautiful resources Jamaica has to
offer.I know you'll notice the beauty of the island: lush green rain forest, clear turquoise waters, rushing waterfalls, white sand under your toes, bamboo forests that look like they reach the heavens. While you notice those things, remember Who created them. Thank Him for it.

You will also witness a poverty that most of you have never seen. We talk about it in our home. You know it is there. Seeing it with your own young eyes is different. You might feel like you want to cry. Mom did. That's okay. It hurts our hearts when we see people struggling. It should hurt our hearts. That's Jesus whispering to you...that's Jesus nudging you that with your own set of gifts and talents you have the ability to make a difference in this world. In fact, He calls us to.  That's Jesus
telling you, yes you, through Me, are my answer to the people in the world that are hurting. So you take a deep breath and you gather up all that love in your heart you hold for Him and that He has for us and you pour it out on those around you. It is okay to question why we have so much and others so little. I wish I had the answers to that. You will probably have many questions while there that Mom doesn't have the answer to. The contrast between those that have and those that don't is very easy to see here and it will be hard on your hearts.

You will notice the difference in the development and infrastructure of the country.You won't have a name for it but you'll notice. You might complain because of your lack of wifi access or the no hot water at Daddy's house. The electricity might even go out for a short time and we'll survive. The van might hit a hundred potholes in the road and sometimes their won't even be a road so we'll park and walk up the path to your great aunties house.You will think her rain tank is cool and be amazed that is how she gets her water to her home. You will love the cane field that daddy will lead us too. He will cut a piece clean off and the taste of the juice from it will be a memory that never leaves you.

When we visit the school named after Grandma B you will see disparity in the way your school building looks and the school they are in. You will observe that there aren't 3 or 4 choices for lunch but each child will be given rice and maybe some carrots. You won't see IPads. Might not see a computer. But do not be fooled, you will see educators and students all the same. You will see children who value education and know it can make all the difference.

I already know you are in love with the food. When Daddy and Aunt Ju take over the kitchen your mouths start watering and it's as if the flavors of the island were more nature versus nurture. The smells, the colors, the intense flavors are one of the things I think Daddy misses most.  We will get our fill of patties and bullah and Ting and you can eat jerk chicken til your eyes water.  Some of the best food in the world is from Jamaica.

You will hear the music everywhere you go.  Constant music, as if it were to stop, the people would too. The entire country seems to move in rhythm.  It is full of life and rich in history. From the moment each of you first heard reggae and the steel drum we've seen the innate love for it that was birthed deep within. It is your culture.  Soak it in.

The thing I am most excited for you to experience is the people, oh the people.  Whether it is the lady at church on Sunday with her hair neatly tucked under her best hat and color coordinated from her earrings to her shoes or the Rasta that lives in the hills by aunties house that carries his machete to cut away the brush as he walks, or the young man that serves you the best patty you've ever had in your life, they will be friendly. You will notice the joy of life they have and you will feel a sense of energy there that you have probably never seen here in the states. It's hard to describe but you will feel it and you will want to experience that again and again. You will notice the beautiful sea of all shades of brown faces. You will notice how proud Jamaicans are to be Jamaican. You will fall in love while we are there. You will fall in love with the island and the culture and your family.

I know you'll notice the melody of your daddy's national dialect. You will hear so much Patois your head will spin and every conversation will seem to be on fast forward for the first few days and then it will start to become clearer.  By the end of the week you will give it a shot yourself and I want you to know that language is a part of you.  It originated from the English control over Jamaica and the slaves coming to the island from West Africa. It is a blend of those languages born out of ingenuity and circumstance and smart, brave, young black men and women that learned how to make it in a world they were thrown in to. Be proud of it. Speak it loudly. Let the sounds of it fill your spirit and lift your shoulders high.

I hope this trip gives you an insight in to your Daddy you haven't had the privilege of knowing until now. I pray you see just how hard he has worked. I pray your young eyes see the concrete walls and the dirt yard, the broken bottles that serve as a security gate around the house and the bars on the windows. I pray you see your Daddy for the man he is and know that he is that man because of all of that. His integrity and character are the best you will find. He works tirelessly for our family. His parents gave selflessly for him to have more opportunity. That is what he does for you. God put people in Daddy's life to encourage him and offer opportunity. God created Daddy to be who he is and I am thankful your daddy allowed Him to work in his life. The best way you can honor Grandpa and Daddy is to become who God made you to be.

I know you will see so many come to honor Grandpa this weekend. You will hear stories about his life and love. You will see the fruits of his work and meet people that know Jesus because Grandpa showed them who He was. You will experience first hand the legacy that has been laid out for you. It is my prayer that this brings you comfort as your grieve and that it inspires you. It is my prayer that you take in every single second and that you tuck each memory neatly away to be able to bring it to mind when you need it most in this world. I am so very thankful to see this life through your eyes and watch as you learn more about yourself and your dad and Grandpa.

I know you'll remember the sights and the sounds.  I know you will remember the aunties and the uncles and the new cousins and their love for you and you them. I know you will remember Daddy's home. Look deeper. Listen closer. This is you. Claim it as your own. This is a part of you no one can ever take away. This is your culture, your rich amazing heritage. This is your grandpa's legacy. Your daddy's legacy and it will be yours. Embrace every last drop of it. Take pictures in your mind and stay in the moment. Read the lines of the faces of your great aunties and uncles that tell of the hard work and soak in the sound of the laughter that have carried this family through life and it will fill your soul and carry you in yours. Wipe the tears of the pain around you at Grandpa's funeral and know the tears come because love came first. Big, crazy, God filled love. Appreciate who you are and to Whom you belong. To whom much is given, much is expected.

Enjoy Jamaica, my sweet babies. Cool runnings....Peace be the journey.

1 comment:

Beautiful Mess said...

This made me cry. Beautiful.