Today I woke up from the best sleep that I’ve had since I’ve been here. Usually when the roosters start crowing at 4:30 I wake up right away. However, I slept right through them this morning. I read a little bit in Philippians and took in some powerful words on humility and looking out for others instead of ourselves. Then I went out to meet Barry and Shannon to exercise. We did the Training For Warriors workout, followed by a mini soccer clinic. Barry taught some amazing skills in dribbling forward, backwards, and sidways. Then we did some jogging around the field. I had such a wonderful time. I shared with Barry and Shannon what I read in Philippians. It felt awesome lifting them up with the word. We even met a man named Roger who was on his way to work but stopped for a few minutes to show his soccer skills. Soccer, or football as they call it down here, seems to be a popular pastime.
We all came together for our official first breakfast as a group. Mother Cooper and Sister Betty made calaloo with cod, ackee and salt fish, fried dumplings, bread, grapefruit, watermelon, and cantaloupe. I’m going to miss eating ackee and salt fish. It’s my favorite Jamaican dish. I’ll have to make eggs and fish when I get back to the US.
We went to the morning church service at Colegate. Norda was one of the worship leaders today. She sings so beautifully and helped to usher in God’s presence. While we were worshiping, Herman commented how his foot was still hurting from stepping the sea urchin yesterday. His knee was hurting also. I felt compelled to pray for him. As I rebuked the pain and called for God’s healing, I felt something break inside of me. I’m not entirely sure what it was but all of a sudden I just started crying uncontrollably. I had to cover my mouth with my sweatrag so I wouldn’t make too much noise. I really felt the Holy Spirit and while I don’t know what it meant I’m thankful for how he came into me. Today was a special day for Pastor and First Lady Codling. They were celebrating 18 years of marriage and the church presented them with a large basket of goodies. They were very surprised and appreciative. Don preached today from the theme “Change is difficult, but necessary”. It spoke to me. Sometimes I struggle with change, but Don taught me that change helps us to grow into the man or woman of God we need to be. We must also move past excuses and we have to stand up and take responsibility. Change is for our betterment and it may even inspire someone else to change. There are things in my life that I want to change and God has already spoken to me about things that need to change. I went up for the alter call, as did the whole congregation, and we all prayed together. I feel strengthened and have so much clarity. I’m believing in God for these changes and I’m expecting him to come.
Dinner was wonderful. Cassandra came and ate with us. Mother Cooper and Sister Betty served us fried chicken, rice and peas, coleslaw, macaroni and vegetables, and salad. It was very good, especially that chicken. I went back for seconds. It was juicy and succulent. We also drank coconut water. I enjoyed it. It was very refreshing.
Most of us went to the beach. Don, Herman, and Barry stayed behind. Rupert came with us. We went to Mahogany Beach, located in a different part of Ocho Rios. It was smaller than the one we usually go to. The water was crystal clear and warm. I enjoyed swimming, watching the marine life beneath the surface, and playing football. I saw lots of fish, a crab, and starfish. I took the starfish out the water so I could get a picture. Shannon, Rupert and the kids had a great time running and diving into the lagoon.
After we came back, we got ready for the evening service. Norda lead us in worship again with help from Kisha, Omar, and Demario. I’m going to miss the worship when I’m not here. The sound is so beautiful and celestial. Pastor Don was preaching at a church in Ocho Rios so he enlisted Barry to preach tonight. He gave a powerful message on endurance. He used a lot of references from his experience as a marathon runner and drew many comparisons with running the Christian race. Some of his points included keeping a laser focus on Jesus. He is the author and finisher of our faith and he has run this race of endurance and won victoriously. He is our model for endurance. Jesus was obedient to God and that’s how he endured. It reminded me of what Don preached about this morning. He also said that we can’t allow anything or anyone to distract us in our race. There was so much meat on the bone. I feel like God was speaking right to me with both of these messages. I’m thankful for how my heart is being transformed in his hands. Thank you, Lord. You are good and all together lovely and I praise you!