Although the world may seem predominantly “Un-Christian-like” and there are many who practice different religions, there is no doubt that the predominant religion here is Christianity. There are churches everywhere, and they come in every size and style, from the cathedrals to the tents.
On Sunday I woke up very early, I decided to make breakfast for the first time- pancake with scrambled eggs. As I was in the process of getting ready for church, I was talking to a cousin on my father’s side who lives in Spanish Town, a city in St. Catherine. After sometime, she nicely informed me that she had to go get ready for church. For a second I was surprised by this. On top of the fact that I wouldn’t have had the time to talk to friends or family on a Sunday morning, more often than not, he/she would not have been going to church. Majority of the time, sundays are often used as a rest day. So yes I was a bit surprised, but then I shouldn’t be because things are done differently in Jamaica. In fact, in my opinion, if tourists want to get a sense of the Jamaican lifestyle church on Sunday morning (even as early as 7:30am) should be incorporated on the list of things to do.
Most people go to church, it’s just a part of the culture. Sundays you go to church, like on Saturdays you clean your house, go to the market and/or to the beach. It’s just the way it is. We left just after 10am and arrived at church before 10:30am. Praise and worship was going on when we arrived and we joined in. We were given visitors cards to fill out. And during the service all the visitors were announced and asked to stand. Much the same as any church I’ve been to.
When service was done we decided to go grocery shopping. For a minute I thought nothing of this, but then realized that decades ago, absolutely nothing was open on a sunday! Businesses were closed because Sunday was considered a day of worship. Times have changed I see.
On the way to PriceSmart (which is exactly like a costco), we stopped to have coconut water from the actual coconut! Can you say refreshing!
Upon our arrival at home, tired and hot, my cousin’s wife and I sat on the floor where it was much cooler on the tiles while my cousin and his son were outside mowing the lawn, finishing up from the day before. Another great day, and it ended with me going for a long walk along the paths with my two younger cousins. A bonding day with everyone. I suppose going to church often have that effect on people.
A few observations I’ve noticed: Don’t people say ‘bye’ in Jamaica after a telephone conversation? No really? The first few days when I went out without my family, they called to check on me and somewhere in the conversation one of us left while one of us is still on the phone wondering, did my phone battery die? did I accidentally press a wrong button? But it hit me, when I was listening to a phone conversation and as I was observing, I noticed the phone removed from the ear and the conversation ended. Not a ‘talk to you later’, or ”take care” or more commonly, “bye”. Is this a common thing?
Another observation which goes along well with the strong christian background of everyone. Most females on the street wear long skirts. I see many of the tour guides wearing these. And even while downtown, I would see people wearing them. Modesty is one character trait though of course, I’ve also observed the total opposite.
My new routine is to go jogging at 6am in the morning. This would never happen in Canada! When I returned from my one hour workout I was given a glass of sinkle bible (Aloe vera) with orange juice to drink. “It’s really good for digestive systems” my cousin’s wife told me. She sat next to me with a glass of her own, still wearing her workout attire. I looked at the foam at the top of the yellow liquid in the glass, scringe my face and took a sip of the beverage and quickly gulped it down. I tried it again, and again. It wasn’t as bitter or slimy as I had thought. The next day I walked into the backyard and cut a long piece of sinkle bible myself to be prepared again. I was handed a piece by my cousin’s wife, “Rub it on your skin, it brings back elasticity in the skin” as she had already cut herslf a piece and now doing the same.
I rubbed it everywhere: face, neck, legs, and hands.
I’m feeling really relaxed about being in Jamaica. The anxieties I was feeling are slowly going away. There is nothing to be afraid of, it’s just another country. I’m really looking forward to going to other parishes now….so stay tuned for those blogs. Some of those trips may be for mission work still I’m sure the experiences will be worth writing about. Thanks for coming along with me on this journey so far. We’re now in week two!