Last year when I graduated high school, I decided to go on a mission trip instead of a senior trip. When my Mom and I visited the missions spot at the FP Blount Campus, we found out about an opportunity to travel to and serve a deaf community in Jamaica. Since sign language is important to both of us and has been used in our family for years, we began seeking God’s will and praying over it. Thankfully, over time, God showed his favor on us, provided, and sent us to Jamaica in June of 2018.
During my time in Jamaica, I fell deeper in love with sign language, the deaf culture, and the deaf community. God developed in me a heart for the Jamaican deaf and the country itself. He taught me many things and I left with a desire to return the following year. I went to college in the fall and began saving money, but I didn’t have any plans set in place. When I heard someone mention an international internship God brought Dana to my mind; Dana is a short term missionary I met during my week in Jamaica. She served alongside the Faith Promise Mission Team and she lived alongside the Jamaican Deaf and missionaries. I took my desire to return to Jamaica as a Short Term Missionary (STM) to God and began praying about it. I contacted Mr. Ben Beukema, a friend of mine who is also the president of CCCD’s (Christian Center for the Deaf) stateside office, and one of the missionaries Faith Promise supports. He directed me to his wife, Mrs. Krista Beukema, who is also a missionary. Mrs. Krista guided me through the application process and I obtained recommendation letters from core members of the Blount Campus. God had his hand on it the whole time and I was granted permission from CCCD to become a STM/intern at their campus in Kingston, Jamaica during May and June of 2019. Then, through a time of waiting and God teaching me, God provided me with the finances for my trip. Not only did he provide me the $2,700 I thought I needed, but he provided me with an extra $600. I used this money to cover unexpected expenses and, once in Jamaica, buy wheelbarrows and shovels for the deaf village.
The very first donation I received to cover these expenses was from Faith Promise Church. The church made a significant contribution towards my mission trip. It confirmed to me that it was God’s will for me to serve in Jamaica and live alongside the deaf community at the Kingston campus. I am very grateful to those who helped make this possible. Many people have believed in me and prayed for me. I would not be the person I am today had it not been for individuals within the church body at Faith Promise. God has used you all in my life and I am sure he will continue working through you to encourage me, to teach me, and to remind me of his love for me. Thank you for your impact.
While in Kingston, I lived on the campus of one of CCCD’s boarding schools. For the first couple of weeks I served as a teacher’s assistant. This experience taught me important aspects of the teaching profession, which I will apply to my education major in college. After a few weeks, my role changed to serving as a bridge between visiting mission teams and the campus, the children, the culture, sign language, etc. However, the impact is not as much through the things I accomplished as it is through the relationships I made and cultivated. I value the people I met and the lessons God continues to teach me through these relationships. I want to tell you about two relationships of the relationships I made during my time in Jamaica.
When I went to Jamaica in 2018, I made several friends at the Jamaican Deaf Village. Calva and I became friends early on during this mission trip. He sat and had hour long conversations with me and taught me a lot of sign language. He is a very good and patient teacher. We were able to learn about one another and enjoy each other’s company. Just about every evening, Calva, other deaf at Jamaica Village and our own team, would play card games and dominos. When I got back to the states, Calva and I found each other on social media and have kept in touch all throughout this past year. We messaged each other several times a month and video chatted a few times as well. I was grateful to have the opportunity to visit JDV for a week during my recent trip this summer. When I arrived, Calva and I found each other and it was a happy reunion. I am very thankful for the friendship Calva and I share and that we’re able to keep in touch. Our contact with one another throughout the year keeps our friendship alive. It’s an amazing thing to see my friend after being a year apart.
On the Kingston campus, there are around 30 students attending the CCCD school. Their ages range from 6 to 20. Throughout my time on campus, I did life with these students. We ate, played games, went on field trips, learned, and talked together. I got to know several of these kids. My relationships with them varied in their depth and in their roles. To some of them, I was their friend. This was the case with a little boy named Martino. Martino is a sweet boy around the age of 8. He loves to play with cars and his friends. He and two other young boys, Jamie and Nathaniel, are referred to as the three stooges or the three musketeers. One of their chores was to take trash to the dumpster. One day, when it was their turn to do their chores, all three of them loaded bags into wheel barrels and then raced them across campus to the dumpster. It was a very funny to watch. Throughout the whole thing, Martino held his nose a little in the air. It’s one of his cute little quirks; he tilts his head back just a little like he’s trying to see over his nose. I have no idea why he does it but it’s funny to watch when he does it while racing a wheel barrow. There were many times when Martino would come sit beside me and lean up against me. He has a kind heart and would give hugs while smiling great big. He drew me pictures and colored coloring pages (all of which I’ve kept.) I love him and our relationship continues to bring me joy. I intend to write letters and keep in touch with him and several other students.
I could write about several more relationships I’ve made with children and adults alike. They’re allspecial to me and I cherish them. I hope to continue and always remember these friendships. Relationships are where memories are made and it’s where God moves. It’s important not to underestimate the impact relationships make, on all of those involved.
I have found that God gives us a heart and a passion for a people, place, and/or language. This certainly reigns true in my life. God continues to open doors and invite me to walk through them. I’m not sure what God has in store for me next. But I’m excited to see what he does next because I know it’s going to be incredible. I ask you all to pray that he guides me and reminds me of his promises for my life. I want to walk with him and I want to walk in his love.
There is a lot of value in mission trips, but we can also do missions work where we are right now. Our jobs, the grocery store, the local shelters; everywhere around us is our mission field. God can use even the simplest conversations we have with the people we encounter every day. I challenge you to start a conversation with a stranger or ask your waiter how you can pray for him. God will use it to touch that person’s heart and show them his love; and he’ll do the same for you.
Thank you for loving me church and thank you for believing in God’s work in my life. I appreciate you all. Y’all stay blessed.
-Ally Rey Carpenter