Major income is from tourism. Exports are bauxite, sugar, bananas and coconut. Unemployment is prevalent. Many work at home in the manufacturing of wicker furniture, brooms, hats, fans and other straw ware.
Food is purchased at a few "super markets" or in the open markets. Their foods we are not familiar with are achee, chocho, nesberry, soursop, sweetsop, plantain, breadfruit, boiled green bananas, ginger beer and patties.
Our plane usually lands at Montego Bay Airport. Which is about eighty miles west of our house at Raceourse, Oracabessa. At that compound is located the six bedroom house occupied by the childrens home, a church building also used for basic school and two bedroom home for minister.
Most of the ministers on the island are graduates of the Mona School of preaching in Kingston. This has a three-year program and offers extension courses toward a masters degree.
Our work started in September of 1970, when S.B. (Doe) Beau and his wife) Bert went with a group from Tallahassee to Gayle. The men stayed in the church building and the women camped at Brother V.H. Roberts home. They walked about one mile to river for baptisms, also to bathe and do laundry. This was the only congregation of the church on the north side of the island at the time.
In 1971 a congregation was started at Sandside near Port Maria. The Bealls and Bro. Beaus two sisters made a trip to help this group.
In May of 1973 the Beaus and Orvel and Mildred Boyd flew into Kingston and returned to the same area near Port Maria. They rented an English Ford, which was smaller than an American Ford. With Wesley Goude, (a student at the Mona School of Preaching) giving the directions, Orvel Boyd drove on the wrong side of the road for the first time, through the big city of Kingston, and on the narrow and crooked roads across the island. We stayed in two rooms of Violas house. We shared the roach infested kitchen with Viola and about four other people.
The Church had constructed a very small, wood meeting house. Pews were boards between blocks. The building was filled each evening with many people in the yard and at the windows. The singing was led by teenager Orville (Barry) Gordon. Owen Johnson was minister.
From April 13 through May 11, 1974 a meeting was held in a large tent in down town Port Maria. Loud speakers were used and huge crowds attended. During each meeting that was held, days were filled with house-to-house visits and personal Bible studies. At this meeting we went to the tent about 6:30 because the vans were used to transport people. (No one owned a car.) We sang for about an hour, had question and answer periods, sang from hymnals and had preaching. After services we had Bible studies while they made three trips to take people home. We arrived back to our rooms about 11:30. A large group from the school of preaching led by Marvin Crowson assisted all four weeks. Orvel Boyd preached week three.
In October 1974 Ron McIndoo made his first trip to Jamaica, preaching at Sandside. The Chastains made their first trip in August 1975. At that time property was spotted for a church building at Galina. It was purchased December 17, 1975 for $8,000.00 US.
A nice building was constructed on this property. The contract was for $27,392.00 J, or about $30,300.00 US. The building was opened on July 19, 1977 with Brother L. B. Chastain doing the preaching. Fred Baker followed. The building was full each service. Clifford Palmer was minister.
Housing was a problem for most of the groups of Americans who went to Jamaica for campaigns. Most of the time they stayed in the second floor of Vera Lundi1s house. This had five rooms with a bath. This had an old tub on legs and only cold water. A rusty sink hung outside one bedroom window where we could wash dishes. Our stove had only two burners with no oven. Again roaches were sometimes a problem.
After Barry and Zar Gordon were married in December 1983 they rented two rooms and a bath in a nicer home near Oracabessa. Barry was at that time preaching at Gayle.
In June of 1984 Bert and Fairy Brown, L.B. and Daris Chastain, Orvel and Mildred Boyd went to Jamaica with air mattresses planning to stay in the Galina church building. The Palmers insisted we stay in their home and they moved to the church building. Zar Gordon invited the six of us for a dinner at their two small rooms. At this meal we learned this property was for sale.
This well constructed six bedroom, four bath; concrete block house sat on a large piece of land. It is 126 on the main highway on the north side of the island. It is 247 deep and had 146 on the beautiful Caribbean Sea. On January 7, 1985 this was purchased for $45,000.00 US. This house is now used for the childrens home where two housemothers and nine children live. We have built on this land the Racecourse church building which also houses the basic school and the seven bedroom, six bath house where the workers from the states stay.
When this house at Racecourse was purchased the Gordons started having Bible studies on the front carport. Soon after this, an open pavilion was constructed. Because of the strong sea breeze this soon had to be enclosed on two sides. This was the beginning of the Racecourse congregation. A campaign was held from June 18 to July 1, 1985 with L. B. Chastain doing the preaching.
On October 30, 1986 a small lot of land adjoining this with a partly constructed two bedroom, one bath, house was purchased for about $11,000.00 US. This house was completed and Orville (Barry) and Zar Gordon and their two children live there.
On September 12, 1988 hurricane Gilbert devastated the island of Jamaica. Approximately 80% of houses and other structures throughout Jamaica were severely damaged. Houses totally destroyed left more than 20% of population homeless. Crops, gardens and fruit trees were stripped. Worship facilities of the church at the eight places were destroyed and seven others were moderately to severely damaged. Our pavilion at Racecourse was completely destroyed.
The American brethren jumped to the aid of the Jamaicans. Eight 40 to 50 foot trailers loaded with food and supplies were shipped. Two trucks to deliver the supplies were sent. Uncle Bens Rice in Louisiana donated 75 tons of rice. Mona in Kingston and Montega Bay churches served as distribution points.
Damage at the Galina building was minimal. Many people were housed there during the storm. We had to replace four sheets of aluminum roofing, 30 feet of fancier board and two mattresses. This cost was estimated at $6,470.00 J.
The roof on the east side of the main house was gone, wiring had to be repaired and four doors replaced. Because we had stored all dishes and linens in plastic bays Barry and Zar were able to move these to Boscabel at the beginning of the storm. Estimated cost on this building repair was $22,979.50 J.
The ministers home was badly damaged: roof off, windows and doors out and some walls damaged. Estimated cost of replacing this was $44,346.00 J. The slab and baptistery was all that remained of pavilion. The estimate for church building was $91,260 J.
The total for these four buildings would translate into about $28,000 US.
At the dedication of the new church building at Racecourse on May 23, 1989 Orville Gordon said, "During the period of reconstruction we had some gloomy experiences. For example there was the scarcity of building material and the passing away of our contractor. Despite these dilemmas we had to go on. With much aid from our American brethren, and the work team led by Bro. H. Broom-field, we want to say thank you to all who have worked so skillfully on this building to make it what it is."
The result of much relief work by the Church opened many doors for the gospel. On May 26, 1990 a group often from Eustis started working house to
house, up hills and down in Jacks River. They were inviting people to the coming tent meeting and setting up Bible studies. The day they left, June 5, Melvin Barker arrived with a group to start meeting. Because of rain some services were moved in a school building. The day they left, June 19, L. B. Chastain anived with a group to continue meeting. This started the congregation in Jacks River. They met in the school building but soon moved to a structure on leased property located on the main highway. Orville Gordon conducted services on Sunday afternoon.
In 1991 the house used by the Ameiican workers was constructed. This is a seven bedroom, six and one half bath, concrete block building with each block reinforced with rebar and poured solid with concrete. It has a six-inch slab roof with two and a half tons of steel rods in it. The cost of this house was raised by individuals paying for a room or rooms. No church contributions were used.
When the house used by American workers was complete in January of 1992 the childrens home was opened. Sisters Icalene Sinclare and Laurna James have served faithfully as housemothers for nine children. Some of these have lived there since it opened.
July 1, 1992 Regenald Brown was hired to be minister at Jacks River. In August of 1994 the land on which the church was meeting in an open pavilion was purchased. In February of 1995 construction was started first, on a three bedroom home for the minister and then on a church building.
At the present the congregations at Galina, Racecourse and Jacks River are enjoying good growth. Brother Stannett Reid has worked with Galina since 1984. Brother Orville "Barry" Gordon has been with Racecourse since it started in 1985. Reginald Brown remains at Jacks River since 1992. The works at Gayle and Sandside continue with the help of East Tallasee, Alabama.
|Reginald's Contact Information||Reginald's Sponsoring Congregation|
St. Mary, Jamaica
Plymouth Church of Christ
P.O. Box 324
Plymouth, FL 32768
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