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Worth Wiles

I was recently asked the difference. Looks to me like jelly is made with fruit juice…I dunno. Apparently the mac doesn’t know EVERYthing. ::wink::

jam—a sweet spread or preserve made from fruit and sugar boiled to a thick consistency.
jelly—a sweet, clear, semisolid, somewhat elastic spread or preserve made from fruit juice and sugar boiled to a thick consistency.
preserves—food made with fruit preserved in sugar, such as jam or marmalade.
conserve—a sweet food made by preserving fruit with sugar; jam.

I’ve always liked the verse in Proverbs (25:25) that says, “Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” Well, Jamaica isn’t that far away and sometimes our news isn’t all good, but I can definitely identify with this.  I understand what it feels like to be really thirsty and I’m getting used to the happy panic-attack I get when I find/hear something interesting from home (any of them).

Thanks again for your letters, cards and packages! I tell you, they really cheer us up and sustain us.  The MJ and Gallatin parents are probably sick of us requesting items out of our packed boxes by now. Ha. Never underestimate the importance of systematic packing, people. I’m sure we’ll have another chance to do it better. Sorry, parents. ::smirk::

So I’ve been listening to a podcast series from the Village Church on the life of Jonah.  So far, I’m through the first 2 of 4 and I’m wondering why I didn’t pick it up sooner! I am SO Jonah…maybe not in the most obvious ways, but in lots of little decisions I make.  A good point that Beau Hughes makes is that Jonah doesn’t head in the opposite direction of where God called him because he is afraid for his life or because he doesn’t expect God to work.  He goes in the opposite direction because Jonah is a little…well, let’s just be honest. The Ninevites were big, bad, sinful people.  Jonah didn’t identify with them and didn’t much like them.  Jonah tells the Lord in chapter 4 that he knew God would call them to repent and that they would and he didn’t want anything good for them.  So, basically, God calls Jonah to minister to a people that only God knows Jonah is prejudiced against.  In calling him to the Ninevites, essentially He is showing Jonah the sinfulness in his own heart, and calling Jonah to repent. The practical application here is that God calls us to obedience; to delight in HIM and nothing else.  We are all depraved (usually unaware of how deeply). We are all self-righteous (putting our identity in what others think of us).  We all desperately need reconciliation with God and with one another…and we need reminding because it’s not a one-time thing.
In the belly of a big fish, Jonah gets the revelation and practically preaches the gospel message to himself.  I would love Jonah to keep the revelation, but I’m not sure it’s such a happy ending. Chapter 4 ends somewhat ambiguously. If you know, do share!

A couple song lines I’m liking now:
I had to lose myself so I could love you better ~Lauryn Hill “Lose Myself”
I just want to hold you; don’t wanna hold you down ~Graham Nash “Simple Man”
Life is crazy, it’s a zoo…and we love the animals
~Langhorne Slim “We Love the Animals”
Who will love you, who will fight, who will fall far behind ~Bon Iver “Skinny Love

Enough with the artsy crap, right? You want to know how we are and what we’re doing!

You know, since we swore in as volunteers, life and work has slowed quite a bit.  Josh and my work is starting to separate a little, which is natural.  My work is shaping up to look like “community cheerleader” and that’s just fine with me.  Our site and agency situation is unlike anyone else’s on the island.  Most volunteers have a primary and secondary project.  Right now, we each have like 15.  So, it’s this strange junction of many projects and lack of daily work.  I don’t think it’ll be like this forever, and I sincerely hope NOT.  Josh and I were discussing recently how important it is for us to feel productive.  A day goes by when we haven’t really done anything and it’s easy to get a little depressed.  But that’s misleading.  We’re just in that stage where we’re trying like crazy to get projects off the ground, mentally running ourselves into a tizzy, but not producing any hard results.  This Thursday, we are being trained along with a group of 5 or so members of the CDC group, being readied to conduct a community household needs assessment. Once that’s in full swing, our days will be much busier…at least for a few weeks.

Two weekends ago, we helped at Long Bay beach, doing our part for Int’l Coastal Cleanup Day. Most of the PC contingent went to a beach at Manchioneal, so it was just Molly, Dave, Josh and I at Long Bay. I think it went alright for what we had to work with. Each of us led a small group of students. These were my girls. Also, it stormed right as we were finishing up. Quite timely.  I took this right AFTER the group shot was taken. I couldn’t convince the rest to stay, so it’s just Dave and one of the sponsors. ☺

Last weekend, we joined Sean for his birthday eve.  It was a lot of fun cooking black bean burgers, hanging with his host siblings, making cake (eating cake) and going to the beach at Frenchman’s Cove the next day.  This beach is private, so you have to pay a fee to enter.  It’s worth every penny, though.  It’s our favorite beach so far!  My camera battery died, so we didn’t get a good shot of it, but I suspect we’ll be back soon. It is secluded, clean and has a pretty little river running right beside it. Can’t wait for you to see it for yourself!

Have we broached the subject of customer service in Jamaica? Let’s!
“The customer is always right” does not hold true for government and private business everywhere in the world, at least not in my little slice of Jamaica.  Neither does “go the extra mile.” Granted, I have the special privilege of dealing with other professionals in social development, which is known for being bureaucratic, political and sloooooow.  Still, from the grocery to government, local shops to individuals in community groups, folks in the service industry(and anyone else in any role) don’t give you any help unless they are having a really good day or it directly affects them.  I can’t tell you how many people have stared at me blankly, as if they can’t understand me (but they do!). They don’t seem to consider helpfulness an aspect of their job, even if that’s what the definition of what I think their job is.  Forget finding any concrete information out from a person over the phone. Sure, a visit in person seems unnecessary and could take hours.  It’s probably your best bet, though.  And I wouldn’t expect that to work the first time either.  When I ask my colleagues if I’m crazy or doing something wrong, they simply say, “welcome to Jamaica.” No more welcoming. I’m full up. Apparently it’s something that everyone here has to strategize against, not just people like me, called “foreign.”  I keep trying to make sense of it, like maybe this and other corruption is what has forced them to be so self-reliant, nay opportunistic.  Whatever the psyche behind it, it’s 100% inefficient. I doubt any Jamaicans will mind me sharing this cultural difference with you.  In fact, second to the government, it’s the biggest complaint I hear from people.  I imagine that it’s different inside the big resorts at Ochi, MoBay and Negril.  Most of the time, I’m so happy to NOT live in a tourist town. But non-tourist Jamaica has it’s definite irritations and this is one. Subject broached.

I feel like we’re getting closer to actually “working.”  Feels like it’s right around the corner, but not sure when.  The BPFA coordinator has asked me to head up writing a project proposal for agro-forestry planting and climate-change mitigation and that’s due October 15th (yikes).  I have a feeling I’ll be busy doing research for grant-writing and maybe doing the actual writing here soon.  Technically, we newbies aren’t supposed to head up grants until after November, but I’m sure it’s fine to “help.” (I now know what they mean when they say, “Jesse/Josh, we’d like for you be involved in this.”) A couple of events are scheduled in our communities, so we’ll help with those, I’m sure—Josh fixed up the flyer for this year’s Nanny Day Celebration and it looks f-a-b.  It’s not really Josh’s..style, but it’s what works here.  This December 5th is supposed to be the re-opening of Ambassabeth Cabins (BPFA) and we haven’t even begun to organize for this.  It’s actually a busy month for Peace Corps goings on, too.  I’m now an Assistant Warden, which means I help our Parish Warden with stuff and carry on in her stead.  She does a pretty thorough job, so I basically have to fill-in while she’s visiting home for a few weeks in December.  It also means I attend quarterly warden meetings in Kingston (all expenses paid).  So that’s cool.  October 14th, Josh and I have a sector meeting in Ochi that will require two nights away.  The following weekend is Quarterlies in Kingston (another two nights) and then we are co-hosting a Halloween brou-ha-ha in Long Bay the next weekend.  For Quarterlies, we are supposed to stay with embassy families, so that should be interesting.  The actual event is a day and a half of meetings (woo).  All this travel and time away makes me thankful for the flexibility in our jobs.  We know some volunteers who really have to pick and choose because a day away means a ton of makeup work!

In other exciting news, we realized that we aren’t eating so healthy these days. Neither of us have become experts in “how to cook the strange stuff we see in the market.”  So, it’s pasta, rice & peas (a family favorite), pb&j (with guava jam), grilled cheese and eggs w/ whatever vegetables with can find.  This is the time of year when almost every thing is out of season locally.  No more apples (taste like pears), jelly coconuts (the young ones), pears (we call avocado), pine (we call pineapple), breadfruit, ackee (the national fruit), plantain or ripe banana. THIS means we only have options of: green banana, calalloo, pumpkin, rice, things made w/ flour (dumplings, fritters, biscuits)…that’s it.  Oh, and guava & sorrel on trees.  Tomatoes and sweet peppers are uber expensive, so is cheese.  Madge & I figured out how to make pumpkin pie (it was good, but weird) and pizza crust. Here’s us with our callaloo & onion pizza.  We actually made pizza two nights in a row, by request (Madge’s!).  The first night it was pineapple (canned).  We do what we can-can.

Anyone who wants to send us tortillas, Luna bars or special cheeses should feel free. ☺


5 Responses

  1. hey! added some pics from September onto the blog. I know we need to catch up on the first 3 months’ worth of pics, but…hey, we do what we can. :)

  2. rather, onto FLICKR. go check it out.

  3. Sweet calalloo, who knew you could put it in pizza. Any good recipes to share with fellow beans and ricers?

  4. We in Jamaica call bean n rice “rice n peas,” first off. Actually, I could send you a pdf of a Jamaican cookbook! It might be too big, but I’ll try! Otherwise…msg is good? Not really, but they use it here a lot.

  5. I don’t think 15 projects is an abnormality at all. I currently am working on at least 10 and I have completed several others. Up to this point I was looking for new stuff almost every day trying to make sure I had enough to fill my time. I now don’ t have enough time and am starting to think about if the projects will be completed before I leave. Some will, some won’t. Enjoy the variety that can come from working on different things every day and not being bored, but be careful that you find enough time for yourself.

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