By Jerry Angelo
Jamaica gets its name from an Indian word meaning “Land of Wood and Water.” Looking out of my office window, Montego Bay lies below me and I can see about 20 miles of coastline beyond. It truly is beautiful. However, when you get downtown the stench of garbage is everywhere. Vendors selling all kinds of fruits and vegetables line the sidewalks in the midst of the filth. It is nauseating at times. Poverty is ever present, with over 50 percent unemployment and the average worker making about $150 per month.
We arrived exactly one month ago (September 11, 1990). On the first Lord’s day we were here, we arrived for worship and found no one there. Eventually the local preacher arrived and, after we had dismissed two hours later, one sister and her small son came. Evening services had not been held for several weeks. On Friday evening, the regular “midweek” service, only Bev and 1, in addition to the local preacher, attended. We have now resumed the Sunday evening service and have started a Tuesday night study in our home. This week seven members were in attendance. In addition, one young man, David Smith, was baptized into Christ (October 4).
Brother Kyle Smith from El Cajon, California spent two weeks with us, arriving September 21st and leaving October 5th. He baptized David the day before he left to go home. Kyle preached in Savanna-La-Mar, Catadupa and Montego Bay.
During his stay I received word that brother Carlton Medley from Plum district, wanted to talk. Plum is about 20 miles from Montego Bay. Carlton told us that there are 21 brethren in Plum (13 members of his family and 8 others) and they want us to work with them. At this time we are unable to do so due to lack of transportation.
We are severely hampered by not having a vehicle at this time. We are in desperate need of our vehicle, located in Miami, awaiting completion of the paperwork to obtain an import license. We are also in need of about $6,500.00 for duty and fees. It is imperative that we have transportation if we are going to get around as we should. Local residents move about by taxi. Sometimes you wait an hour or more on a street corner, in the hot sun, before one with space available comes along. Then there is the problem of transferring to a different taxi to go in a different direction. That will require walking to another taxi stand in another part of town. Since you are American, they try to charge you five to ten times the going rate. On Sunday the problem gets worse. You either have to call for a “charter” taxi ($35.00 each way) or walk, hoping that a taxi will come along with space available. That doesn’t happen often.
Jamaica is currently suffering through a period of severe financial instability. Inflation is rampant. Some items have doubled in cost since we have arrived. It costs us more to live here than back in California. However, we are trying to live on $1,000.00 per month less than we were prior to coming.
Our youngest son, Tony, arrived two days ago. He will be joined later by Travis Kimball from San Jose, California. They will be living in my apartment in Catadupa, 21 miles southeast of Montego Bay. They will work with the church there. Since Catadupa and Plum are about 12 miles apart, with a larger town, Cambridge located almost midway between, we are going to try to persuade the brethren in Plum to agree to merge with the brethren in Catadupa and find a meeting place in Cambridge. Since there are about 5 or 6 brethren in Catadupa, this would be a group of almost 30, including Tony and Travis.
The church in May Pen, Clarendon, is making progress. The local evangelist there, brother Leslie K. Williams, has been hampered by transportation problems. He is a good man, experienced in the preaching of the gospel. He spent over 20 years with the institutional brethren. He is worthy of your support.
The church is Savanna-La-Mar is an example of what hard work and devotion will do. Brother J.S. Lawson and his wife Euphemia have devoted themselves to the lord and his church in Sav for the past years and it has produced good results. The church has grown, especially during the past two years, due to the Lawson’s efforts, assisted by various brethren from the States. They are in desperate need of a larger meeting place. The Lawson’s spend an unusual amount of their personal funds to provide a meeting place and transportation for the members.
I am writing this to accomplish two goals: (1) inform brethren regarding the church in Jamaica, and (2) hoping to stir up the “go ye” fever in someone who reads this. There is a great need for faithful men and women to come to Jamaica to work, not only here in Montego Bay but in many other areas. There is not one faithful church in Kingston, a city with a population of over one million people. This would be a suitable work for older couples without children or those that are unmarried. Let me hear from you.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 24, p. 745
December 20, 1990