Make Disciples of All Nations: Southern Officers Serving in Caribbean
By: Captain Mike Michels
Cathy and I came to the Caribbean knowing, in part, what to expect. We visited Kingston on spring missions in our second year of training so we had already experienced the riot of life, the depth of worship ad the love, kindness and respect of the people. We thought we were uniquely prepared for a transition into Caribbean culture.
First, let me tell you that a 10-day visit to Kingston in the spring in now way prepares you for a record-breaking heat wave in the height of summer. It seemed we could hardly catch our breath the first week or two here. Also, being driven from the School for the Blind to Rae Town in an air-conditioned van in no way prepares you for the experience of driving yourself in rush hour every day. We thought that traffic was bad when we got here, only to find out to our dismay that it would get worse when school started. We also found out that folks from the U.S. drive on the wrong side of the road from the wrong side of the car.
The other day, I was talking to one of the staff members here and realized we had not only transition from the U.S. to the Caribbean, but we had also transitioned to a new territory with different ways of doing things, from corps work to headquarters work. We have found that we are insufficient to the task, but God is more than sufficient for anything that comes our way.
Kingston is not all of Jamaica. Kingston is a bustling place of commerce and culture, but just a half hour drive into the mountains gives you another view of Jamaica. The northern coast of the island is beautiful, and there are so many more places for us to visit and see. Cami, our daughter, was talking to us the other day, and she noted that even though we have less in the way of material goods here than we had in the States, we still have so much more than some of the people we serve. She realized that the material was not important, but the relationships that she has already formed here are. It has given her a greater appreciation of all that she has.
When we were here as cadets, we were amazed that upon arrival in Kingston, the secretary for program not only came to meet us at the airport, but that he also loaded our luggage with us. This man of God was around a lot while we were in Kingston and his buoyant personality gained him the nickname
“Colonel Joy.” Years later, as we arrived in Kingston, “Colonel Joy,” or Lt. Colonel Devon Haughton, met us at the airport, took us to dinner and drove us to our accommodations. He is now the chief secretary. The officers ad staff have all been so friendly and helpful, especially to a couple of corps officers suddenly appointed to THQ.
Most of all, the people are just as we remembered, full of dignity, kindness and love. The worship is wildly varied but always leaves us feeling the presence of the most high God. Ministry is different from what we are used to, but the feeling of being of value and use to The Salvation Army, and even more so to God, is the same. We are blessed beyond measure to have been given the opportunity to serve God and The Salvation Army in the Caribbean Territory.