Along the Way - Our journey to Jamaica

Along the Way

by Herb and Peggy Casey

This was our third Maryknoll Immersion Trip, but the first time Peggy and I visited Jamaica. Some of the main purposes of these types of immersion trips are to experience Christ wherever we go, and to be present to all those we encounter. This trip certainly fulfilled these objectives for us. Many of us took some time to get acclimated to the weather from the minute we deplaned (it was very hot and humid), but our accommodations were comfortable and the hospitality provided by our host was wonderful.

We plunged right in with songs, prayers and introductions so that we would get to know each other since most of us (team of 11) had not met each other. As we embarked the next morning for our first adventure, our eyes were opened to the bustling sights and sounds of life in Montego Bay. We travelled to our first encounter at Blessed Assurance; a home to those children that were abandoned and discarded by family, and the Jamaican society, mainly because of serious physical and mental disabilities.

Our hearts were immediately touched as the children, mostly suffering from the effects of
Cerebral Palsy, greeted us with hugs and kisses. Most could not speak, but their actions and
eyes told us of the beautiful God given soul trapped inside. Our eyes watered more than once,
and there was an ache in our hearts as we watched and hugged them back. We were led to
their chapel where we learned about the Blessed Assurance facility, the staff and their activities
and methods of care given by the caregivers that assisted and supervised and loved them 24
hours a day. We joined them in prayer and song.

Many of us never encountered children so deformed and disabled so we felt clumsy at first. We
were lucky to be able to assist in feeding them, playing games (kicking a soccer ball around)
and just being present. Also, we visited the Hope Center which housed mostly senior citizens
who were bed­ridden and others suffering from old age. They were so happy to see us and
share their life stories. One gentleman was 101 years old. He was alert, talkative and
engrossed in making “Ropes” out of plastic bags. He was eager to show us how to do his craft.
And his eyes lit ­up when one from our group tried to help. We sang and prayed with them,
which we all enjoyed. There was a small miracle that was noted. One woman was blind and
could not walk about six months ago, but when we were there she could see again and walk.
Fellowship and presence is such a blessing to all who participated.

Our fledgling group bondedas we shared table fellowship as the days progressed. The activities were emotional and tiring, but we gathered each night for support and gave thanks, and discovered each others’ gifts in our reflections. We began each day and ended each day with Liturgy of the Hours. We are so thankful for the blessings we received encountering those that we met along “The Way”.