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  • Writer's pictureKelly Wright

Remember Your Harmons Heart

By Kelly Wright

Beyond the Beaches: Serving in Harmons, Jamaica

What could be better than spending the last week of January in Jamaica with forty-three VUer’s? You might be picturing an all-inclusive with crystal blue water and beautiful beaches. That’s the Jamaica most of us are familiar with. But where we served, in Harmons, there is no running water in the community and the true beauty we experienced was in the eyes and smiles of the people there.

Jamaica Service Trip

Building More Than Just Homes: A Week of Service

Our days were filled with serving in a variety of ways: building a house for a young mom with three children, building a foundation for another house to be built, repairing an elderly lady’s roof and outhouse, helping children in the school with reading, painting in the church and education building, and visiting elderly shut ins.

The projects were so fulfilling, but as I reflect on my time there, the one thing I notice more than anything else, is how time in Harmons impacted my heart.

A Transformation of the Heart: Lessons Learned in Harmons

Harmons is a very poor community with a lot of needs, but Harmons is a community that takes care of each other and is dependent on God to provide all they need. To have so little and yet, to be so loving and giving, is really a gift that the people of Harmons gave to our team. Harmons is a place where you see people living out – “God is all you need because God is all you have.”

My heart was encouraged to not find security in material things or what I have, but instead to find my security in God a little bit more.

Being in Harmons reminded me of how truly blessed we are to live in the US. We have running water and an ample supply of everything we need. My pantry and refrigerator are full and if I get sick, there are multiple options I have to get the care I need.

Finding Security in Faith: A Shift in Perspective

My heart was also convicted to worry less and trust God more. So often I worry about the smallest and biggest things that could happen that I waste a lot of my mental and emotional energy planning for outcomes that might not ever occur. As I watched God take care of every detail of the trip, I was reminded that Jesus invites us not to worry and instead pray about everything. So, I’m taking Bob Marley’s advice and trusting that “Everything little thing is goin’ be alright!”

Not only did the community encourage me, but serving with our team from VU was amazing, too.

A Team United: Serving Alongside VU Colleagues

Half of our team had been on the trip before, so they knew what to expect, which is always very helpful. They were so caring as they remembered the residents of Harmons and picked right back up from where they left off last year. I think most of them had decided to make this trip a yearly rhythm in their lives.

For the other half of our team, it was their first time going to Harmons. When it’s your first time going on a service trip outside the country, you most likely feel 80% nervous and 20% excited, even questioning why you even signed up as the trip gets closer. But our first timers were absolutely amazing.

One first timer got sent back home because of passport issues. But she persevered and arrived back the very next day – with no sleep, but a heart ready to serve.

A group made up of mostly first timers volunteered to go the infirmary on the very first day. The infirmary can be a difficult place to visit as its residents are the elderly, the feeble, and the ones with no one to care for them. This group stepped up and jumped into this opportunity and were blessed beyond what they could have imagined. Jumping right out of their comfort zone on the very first day.

What impacted my heart most was seeing our employees live out our VU values for the sake of those in Harmons.

Living Out Values: Passion, Integrity, and Enhancing Lives

We were passionate and had fun. Working in the hot sun and pushing our bodies to do work we are not accustomed to takes passion. Getting up as the sun is rising after sleeping in bunk rooms with loud fans takes passion. Physical and emotional exhaustion can often lead to complaining or withdrawing, but this team abounded in energy that was fueled by laughter and conversation. Not only were we passionate, but we had so much fun! We had fun making necklaces and bracelets with the children. We had fun competing against each other with nightly card games and on game night. We had fun on the worksites. Everywhere we went, we brought the fun!

We delivered results with integrity. To say we worked hard seems like such an understatement. We probably worked harder in one week than several weeks combined. But when we dedicated the house to Melissa and her children and gave her the keys, there were shouts of joy and tears of love for our new friend.

We enhanced lives everyday we were there. We loved those we came in contact with and loved each other. We pushed ourselves out of many comfort zones and came home stronger. We arrived with the commonality of working at VU, but we left as family. And we left Harmons stronger - Melissa has a house, Miss Elsy can sleep without rain dripping on her, and Mr. Miller can provide an afterschool program that helps children read.

With love and care, we helped each other live out these values – in a place where people have very little materially but have the biggest hearts. We went to help them, and we did. But we left helped – with expanded hearts that were encouraged, convicted, and so very grateful.


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