posted August 27th
Runaway Bay & Ocho Rios
Father Mondo kindly drove us to Runaway Bay where the Heart Foundation (you may remember we did a program at one of their vocational schools in Falmouth….) has an actual hotel where they give courses to those interested in tourism as a career. The hotel kindly accommodated us on the weekend & we did a program for their students on Monday morning. Another good program was at the local police station where there was an active & lively youth group.
On the weekend we also met Franklyn, the (local) owner of FDR resort. We shared all about our programs, which he could relate to as apparently his brother had passed away from lung cancer after smoking for many years. If there was a prize to win for the best place we’ve stayed in the Caribbean, this hotel would surely win! Not only was it a lovely room in a hotel right on the beach, but it was all-inclusive with unlimited food & drink for 3 nights: wonderful!
Just as well as the next place, Ocho Rios, was a lot tougher! Apart from Rooms on the Beach that donated our first 2 nights, we struggled to find accommodation. I think we came close to shaking off the proverbial dust from our shoes as hotel after hotel claimed to be fully booked & unable to help, including one with a 40% occupancy.
Usually we share only highlights but here’s a rare ‘lowlight’: we went to do a drug-awareness program at one of the main summer schools, which in turn led to another program nearby. The principal invited us to a meeting of the local Kiwani Club (similar to the Rotary Club) the same evening, & thinking that we would be guest-speakers, or at least among the guest-speakers, we accepted. We get invited to lots of meetings & usually it’s with the purpose of getting up & sharing about our work. However, the principal apparently only intended it as ‘something to do’ & the meeting was full of business, along with a few prayers & read-aloud pledges about how kind & generous & wonderful the Kiwanis are.
At the end of the long meeting, we requested some time to present our work but were only given 2 minutes (?!), during which time we briefly explained our programs, our life of living by faith & our very urgent need for accommodation the very next day! Despite some encouraging comments like, ‘I think they’re working something out’ & ‘I’m sure someone will be able to help’, everyone slowly left & went home! The principal, (our last hope), promised to phone but even he ‘pooped out’ & by the the end of the next day as the sun was going down, we still had nothing! Moreover a guest house where we’d left our luggage & had spent many hours waiting for an answer, finally fell through. We’d been to just about every hotel & were seriously starting to wonder if we’d end up on
the beach or on the street…..the situation was pretty dire!
Finally we saw a church that was open & presented our need to a secretary in the office. She contacted the pastor & after a long, long wait, they decided to sponsor our stay in a hotel for 2 nights. The same hotel then donated 2 more nights & after that we had no more problems as we traveled on towards Kingston.
Reflecting on the week’s events & the huge contrast between Runaway Bay & Ocho Rios, we remembered how Joseph & Mary in the Christmas story couldn’t find room in the inn, how Jesus ‘had no place to lay his head’ & how the apostle Paul went through hard times on his missionary travels.
You can’t force people to be kind & helpful, & God has limited himself to not force people either, so really all we can do is to ask, seek & knock. It’s a real shame when supposedly charity-minded people like the Kiwanis don’t seem to hear the knock, but it makes us all the more thankful for the many kind & generous souls from all walks of life that have been so helpful on this trip & on
all our other trips. May God bless them abundantly!