Several years ago as part of orientation for a new employer, I was introduced to storming, norming and performing. These were terms the company used to describe the adaptation of a new employee to the workplace. Storming: the early days when problems tend to crop up and things often do not go as expected. Norming: when one has adjusted to the new surroundings and is settling into a routine. Performing: what happens when you know what is expected and are able to perform, or exceed the expectations. So…based on that analogy, I would say we are norming.
We have indeed settled in, our new congregation is starting to feel less new and more familiar. We are getting familiar with the territory here. I am even comfortable with the whole left hand drive thing :-) We also are enjoying some nice experiences in the ministry. For example:
Shortly before the Memorial Suzanne was introduced to *Pat, a woman whom she was told wanted a Bible. When we went to her house to meet her Suzanne asked if she wanted a Bible; no said Pat, "I need a Bible." She had apparently studied the Bible before and felt a great need to give attention to her spirituality. A study was started with her and we invited her to the meeting on Sunday. She did not attend but promised to try to make the Memorial. Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the Memorial site and she was already there waiting for us! She lives up in the hills north of us and walked to the Memorial location, a solid hour or more! When we invited her to the meeting we told her the Sunday meeting started at 4p.m. She confused this for the Memorial time and arrived at 4 p.m. The correct time though was 7 p.m. and she waited around for 3 hours prior to the event. We were enthused by her zeal to attend and continue to study with her and hope that she becomes a regular meeting attender.
One of my biggest adjustments to coming here to Jamaica was the fact that it is an English speaking country. You might say that I have a love affair with the Spanish language. I enjoy speaking it and interacting with others. I enjoy it's descriptiveness and eloquence. I enjoy Latin culture, food, music…You haven't really heard a romantic ballad until it is sung in Spanish :-) So for me coming here was a bit of a let down you might say.
One particular morning Dani and I were in service approaching our first door. We were walking up one of the infamous hills here and I was having a moment in my own mind: I hate it here, stinking hills, wanna go back to Mexico, blah,blah,blah. Well Jehovah must have heard my thoughts. At the next gate a brother and sister had knocked and I heard the householder say "I soory but my ingleeze is no goood" SPANISH! I thought to myself as I ran to the gate with Usain Bolt like quickness. As the friends reached for their Good News brochures I immediately took over the conversation in full Spanish, much to the householder's surprise. She is from Cuba and apparently lives here with her family and runs a business in Kingston. She and her Mother-in-law are Spanish speakers and they have not only developed into a nice magazine route, but also a regular opportunity to keep my Spanish sharp.
Interestingly after having that experience my ears were open. Were there perhaps more Spanish speakers here in Kingston scattered about? Well…we shop in a store called PriceSmart, Jamaica's version of Costco or Sam's. The only store on the island is near where we live so often we find ourselves there shopping. Well on the last several trips there while walking through I have heard people in full blown Spanish conversing with one another. I had the courage to strike up a conversation with one guy and he told me he was from D.R. I had a chance to tell him we visited there a few years ago, in Juan Dolio, and what a wonderful time we had. But all of this gave me a thought. We are often told that people respond better when they hear the truth in their native tongue. As there are no Spanish congregations here on the island, is this something I can do, present the good news informally while shopping? I have dubbed this "Market Witnessing" and will have to keep you apprised of my results. Informal witnessing has never been easy for me so I will truly, truly, truly be relying on the power beyond what is normal to carry this out. But, it is a need that I see…here I am, send me.
All in all we have had our ups and downs. Wherever we are in this system of things, life is full of challenges for servants of Jehovah. As we continue to adjust and move on I can only look forward with enthusiasm to saying: "We are performing!"