February 16, 2010

Trinidad & Tobago 2010, part two

To me, one of the most exciting things in life is traveling to a foreign land. I think of myself as an adventure-seeker, and nothing is more adventurous than deliberately placing oneself in unfamiliar surroundings, choosing to be outside of one's own "comfort zone." It is when I have ventured outside of this comfort zone that I have experienced the most personal growth. In a way, I feel travel is essential for me. It breathes new life within me and allows me to learn more about myself. Travel is the journey to help me find the true "Deanne." Each moment experienced during my travels has become part of my identity, and the more I travel, the more I desire to see and experience other parts of the world. As much as I long for the opportunities to travel, I also relish returning home. Home is where all that I have absorbed of the world quietly integrates into my heart, home, friends, and family. There is nothing like the sweetness of coming home and crawling into your own bed and returning to all things happy and familiar. The return home also helps me realize how immensely my life is blessed. I have so much and live a life that truly most of the world could only ever dream of. So I am thankful to be reminded of just how good I have it. This helps me to take things for granted less, although I, like everyone else, inevitably take almost everything I have for granted. My trip to Trinidad has encompassed all I described above. It's always hard to put experiences and memories into words, but I will try nonetheless. The whole experience left me filled with so much joy!
This is the sign outside the church facility in Arima, Trinidad. Arima is in the northwestern vicinity of the island. The church facility is less than ten years old and is quite large! Our group spent the majority of our trip here, working, eating, and sleeping.
Saturday, January 30th was a travel day. I was picked up by Bill, Jalene, and Jaela Jones at 2:30 am and then we made it to the Detroit airport at about 3:45. The early start wouldn't have been so bad, but once we flew to Miami, we had an EIGHT HOUR layover until our next flight! It was a killer!
(Side note: Whilst boarding our 6:40 am flight, we encountered one very inebriated passenger on the plane stumbling down the aisle. We watched as he made about four tries to get his bag placed in the overhead bin. We all felt so sorry for those sitting next to him on the flight!)
We arrived in Port of Spain, Trinidad at 10:30 pm. Church members had a truck there to transport our suitcases to the church; then the rest of us were taken in cars driven by other church members. The cars were all very nice! The islands of Trinidad/Tobago belonged to Great Britain until the 1960's, so there are many echoes of British culture there. Thus, they drive on the left side of the road and the driver's seats are mirrored to ours in the US.
Once we arrived at the church, there was a wonderful meal ready for us! (We were all hungry--they didn't give us a meal on our flight from Miami, let alone peanuts or pretzels!) We met the church's pastor, Pastor Providence, and his wife. We ate and visited with the church members who had chauffeured us, then headed upstairs to our accommodations.
We stayed in several different rooms upstairs--one for the men and two for the women. The rooms had bunk beds and our room consisted of the six youngest of us on the trip. The three couples each had a room to themselves downstairs. The beds were very comfortable and we had one women's bathroom upstairs and one downstairs to share, both with showers.
Trinidad is quite similar to the US in many ways and not at all close to a third-world country. Their standard of living is not quite the same as what some of us are use to in the US, but overall, they have very nice homes with all the same comforts you and I enjoy. They are very tech-savvy with the Internet and their cell phones, and they love Wii's as much as we do!
English is the language spoken by the natives. Their accent sounds very much what we would describe as a Jamaican-sounding accent. I loved to listen to them speak! Most of the time communication was not a problem. It reminded me a bit of being in England, though. At times, when Trinidadians were speaking very quickly to one another, it sounded as though they were speaking a different language! Also, some had very, very thick accents and spoke quickly which made them much harder to understand. Thankfully, many church members realized this and made the effort to speak more slowly when talking with us. :)
Sunday morning, church began at 8:30. The sanctuary is quite large and it was a lively service! There was a worship band and most worship songs they sang were ones we were all familiar with. Our group leader, Demitrius Booker, gave the sermon. When the service first began, we were a bit puzzled because not many church members were there. They slowly trickled in at 8:45, 9:00, 9:15.... we later learned that time is more of a suggestion! We called it "TT time" ("Trinidad & Tobago time") and I just loved that about the culture.
We were fed lunch, prepared again by church members and served to us in the fellowship hall. Our meals were served to us like this the whole week and the food was just amazing! So delicious! We had lots of rice and beans, lots of chicken, vegetables and the sweetest fresh fruit! It was heaven. :)
Sunday afternoon, the church had arranged a bus tour for us of the surrounding areas and other Church of God locations. The pictures below are of our tour:

Gorgeous flowers!

Here we are up in the mountains at the Church of God
College. This building is the girls dormitory.

On the college campus.

View from the college. The house in the foreground
is the home established for the Church of God's
missionaries to Trinidad. (currently vacant)

We experienced phenomenal weather while in Trinidad & Tobago. It was in the high eighties and mostly sunny for our entire trip. We were all loving it and dreading going back to snowy Michigan...

Our bus

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