On the morning of Saturday, July 27, 2002 Darrell Peavey and his
grandpa Ed picked me up at my house and we headed to Tampa. Ed dropped us off at
the airport and there we met up with the rest of the team. A few were there
already and some trickled in later. The only people I knew on this team were
Darrell and Mike. We had all three been to Bolivia together three months
This was a larger crew than the last trip; fifteen men and five women. Our first stumbling block came when one of the ladies did not have the proper credentials to travel to St. Kitts. She was told by the agent at the ticket counter that she would not be going with us. We have encountered problems like this before and knew from experience what to do; Pray! We did and sent her somewhere in the airport and she returned just a few minutes later with something proving her U.S. Citizenship and we were ready to go.
St. Kitts is a small island in the eastern Caribbean in the West Indies. It was territory of England until the early 1980's. Many of the buildings have a European look and the people drive on the wrong side of the road. Our first stop was in Puerto Rico. As we were getting off our plane, the first week's team was boarding theirs at the next gate over, only about twenty feet away. We said, " hi", to everyone we knew then they had to go. We boarded a small bus (the short bus) and it took us to a propeller driven plane that would take us the final stretch to the island. Upon arrival in St. Kitts, the small plane pulled up to the terminal and parked. It was almost like the Wal-Mart parking lot only less crowded. We pulled right up alongside the building and parked with the nose of the plane away from it. We then walked down the stairs at the back of the plane and walked to the building. A group of people from the church met us there and we loaded all our baggage (except the things that the airline decided not to put on the plane, like our food) into the vehicles and they drove us about forty minutes to our houses. The ladies and eight of the men stayed at a small two story house and the other seven of us stayed at a house down the street. It was late so we ate some leftovers from the first week and went to bed.
The next morning we had breakfast and then took a walk to check out the neighborhood and see if we could find the church. Of course we walked the wrong way, but finally asked someone where the Lighthouse Baptist Church was, and they pointed us in the right direction.
The church building was located at the edge of the small town of Sandy Point; about a hundred feet from the small highway that encircles the island, and less than a quarter mile up the hill from the Caribbean Sea. I saw some small gauge railroad tracks and followed them behind the church. I found out later that the tracks go around the entire island and are used for hauling sugar cane. I walked back around into the building as a cloud came over a mountain to the north. It was a neat sight seeing the rain coming from the mountain toward us, though it never did reach us.
A short while later church was to begin, so we went downstairs in the unfinished building as the people arrived for church. I forgot to mention that I found out that the man that drove me and two others from the airport was a guitar player and played in the church. I had asked him if he could find a bass, and if so I would like to play with them in the service. He did find one, and Sunday morning I played along with all the music.
The people down there really liked to sing, they sang loud and strong and with harmony. It really blessed me to hear them singing praises to the Lord.
After church we ate and then prepared the job site to begin work the next day. We mainly just unloaded the trusses from the shipping container. Many of the people from the church helped. My job on this trip was to finish laying the interior block walls and pour the concrete steps into and out of the baptistery. I noticed some strange electrical work though. I knew it had to be a practical joke, nobody runs pipe like that.
I spoke to Paul Puleo on the phone that night and asked him if that was some of
his handy work. He just chuckled and said he thought I'd get a kick out of it.
I climbed up on the roof after the decking was on and took a picture off to the northwest. You could see an Island off in the distance. I believe it was called St. Eustasias. It was obvious that it was volcanic in origin by it's shape. The first day we were on the job by six o'clock A.M. so we could get all the trusses on that day. Since we started early, we also quit early. I think were left the job at about three, changed clothes, and walked down the street to the beach. I was surprised to find black sand. I live in Florida and had never seen black sand.
Once we went into the water we found another way it is different than Florida; rocks, everywhere. We later found a spot just up the beach that wasn't so rocky. After returning home from the beach, I took a quick shower. Since we only had one shower and seven men, we would rest on the front porch while waiting for the shower to be free.
I was sitting on the porch and this man walked by. He had very dark skin and a beard, he was carrying a rake, a hoe and a machete. He began talking to us. His accent was so deep that he was very hard to understand. He spoke for several minutes and about all I got out of it was "mango, quarter, and jam". Apparently, he was telling us that for a quarter he would get some fresh mangos and his wife would make some jam for us with it. His name was Vincent so we began calling him Crazy Vincent. I don't think he was really crazy. He was such a character that I had to get a picture with him. A young boy was nearby and wanted to be in the picture too. His name was Rasheed. Rasheed became my newest friend
One of the other men on the trip was Rob, who really enjoyed the kids too. Rasheed had a basketball, so Rob drew a line in the street with a rock, and they began to hit the ball back and forth. I came later and made the line into boxes as more kids came around and we taught them a new game called "four square"(at least it was new to them). In the following days I saw four square courts scribbled all up and down the street. The next day there were more kids and Rob started a game of soccer.
We gave each of the kids nick names though some of them already had nick names. There was Curly White and Curly Blue. They got those names because of the curly hair and the color of their shirts.
There was Smiley, Gyzmo, and a boy that had a band-aid X on his head. We asked what had happened, he told us that a stone had cracked his head. Rob began calling him Crack-Head but we soon changed it to X-man. His real name was Chavez. There also was an older boy who said he wasn't from St. Kitts, he was just visiting. He was Jamar.
As work progressed at the job site, there were a few kids that hung around as their parents helped us. Deacon Brown had two daughters and a small son. They were there every day and were very sweet kids.
One day at lunch we went back to the house to eat and as we got out of the van, we were bombarded with water balloons and water pistols. It actually felt pretty good after working in the hot Caribbean sun.
That evening during our evening devotion time, I heard my name called from the street with a Kittitian accent, it was Rasheed wanting me to come out and play. After we finished, Rob, Mike and his daughter Michelle, and I went out into the dark street and played four square with the kids. By that time the whole neighborhood wanted to play, it was a lot of fun. We posed for a picture after the game.
Thursday evening, after showers, some of us were sitting on the front porch when the kids came by. I had brought toys to give out so I turned it into a game; A form of Bible trivia. Whoever was first to give the right answer got a prize. I asked easy questions like, "Who took all the animals on the ark?" And "who was the first man God created?" I also asked if they knew where the church that we were building was located and the name of the Pastor.
I was amazed that some of the kids did know. I also quizzed them on the times for Church and Sunday School in hopes that someday they will attend there and come to know Christ. It was getting late so I told the kids we would do this again tomorrow night (Friday). We finished our part of the project Thursday so Friday we were free to go sight-seeing. Before we left for town, Gyzmo and Chavez met me in the street and we posed for a picture.
You could see our building from the fortress. I had a picture taken while sitting on an old cannon with Pastor Saunders. He is the Pastor of the Church. We then headed to a little place on a mountainside where they make Batik, clothing with dye and wax.
The clothing was very nice, and very expensive. There was a nicely kept garden and fountain outside. We had packed a picnic lunch and ate at the square in town.
Pastor said it's the same place that slaves were once auctioned off. That was somewhat of a somber thought. We shopped in town and then went snorkeling on the banana boat. I guess it was called the banana boat because it was yellow. Snorkeling was fun but I had no further pictures because my camera got wet on the boat.
That night during devotions, I heard my name called from the street many times. The kids were wanting to play the quiz game again. We didn't get through until about ten-thirty. I walked down the street to my place and the kids were nowhere to be found. But when one of the guys let the door slam, I began to hear the sound of feet running down the hill toward us. It was the boys.
We weren't able to play the quiz game because they would have gotten so loud it would have awakened the whole neighborhood. So I gave each of them a small gift and said my good-byes. They seemed sad that we were leaving and it almost broke my heart. I told them that another crew would be coming the next day and one of the boys said sadly " but it won't be you". I called Rob out to tell them good-bye. He did, and then the kids left. We left early the next morning and flew back home. I sure do miss those guys.