Drifting to the Bahamas

Amy Carlos  wouldn’t drink the Goombay Punch. On this trip she was known as  Travelocity .  Judy Simmons  loves her essential oils and eating healthy. On this trip she learned that quinoa in a glass pot on a stove top wasn’t a great idea.  Tom Carlos  is an honest fisherman at heart. On this trip he took hold of a bonefish, but he caught a barracuda.  Eddy Fredryk  was our designated driver. On this trip he was constantly reminded to stay on the left side of the road.  Emily Fredryk.  Fun fact, she can pop almost every bone in her body. On this trip she needed a chiropractor because Eddy hit a dip in the road and she hit the ceiling of the van.  JJ Lain  is that multi-purposed media guy. On this trip he learned that you can be sunburned so bad that it leads to bruising.

Amy Carlos wouldn’t drink the Goombay Punch. On this trip she was known as Travelocity.
Judy Simmons loves her essential oils and eating healthy. On this trip she learned that quinoa in a glass pot on a stove top wasn’t a great idea.
Tom Carlos is an honest fisherman at heart. On this trip he took hold of a bonefish, but he caught a barracuda.
Eddy Fredryk was our designated driver. On this trip he was constantly reminded to stay on the left side of the road.
Emily Fredryk. Fun fact, she can pop almost every bone in her body. On this trip she needed a chiropractor because Eddy hit a dip in the road and she hit the ceiling of the van.
JJ Lain is that multi-purposed media guy. On this trip he learned that you can be sunburned so bad that it leads to bruising.

The second trip to Cat Island, Bahamas, was a huge success for Driftwood Church at the Beach. Where the first trip to the island was for the purpose of gathering information and trying to understand exactly what it is that God would have for us to do, the second trip allowed for the team to dig into the felt needs of Brother Moss.

Brother Moss speaking on Sunday Morning. 

Brother Moss speaking on Sunday Morning. 

Have you not heard of Brother Moss? He is married to Sister Moss. Oh, you don’t know about her either? For starters, the Moss family is at the forefront of the Old Bight Mission Home. What’s that? Well, you certainly may feel out of the loop at this point, don’t worry though, we’ll catch you up real quick.

The Old Bight Mission Home is a government and church funded mission home for kids who have been misplaced from their parents in some capacity or another. Currently the Mission is home to 5 boys and 6 girls ranging from elementary to middle school ages. Those kids live in a two story facility that provides boys and girls separated living quarters upstairs with bunk beds, a wide selection of books, RCA 32 inch flat screen television with a satellite that picks up television channels from the United States. Downstairs, the mission home has separated boys and girls bathrooms and showers. They have a eating area with a industrial grade kitchen. A separated room is designated as a large closet with plenty of clothes for the kids to choose from; however, the kids will wear much of the same clothes from day to day or week to week because they “love that shirt.”

A quick introduction to the kids would be nice, but you will never understand who they are until you have the opportunity to meet them for yourself. The 5 boys are Christian, John, Tobbey, Marcellus, and Daniel. The 6 girls are Nellie, Ofeca (Oh-fee-ka), Bianca, Branae, Bryanique (bruh-nee-qua), Bryanisha (bruh-nee-sha). Christian has a mind of his own, that’s the easiest way to say that. John is very strong willed and loves to quote lines from Major Payne. Tobbey is good at most sports and he is a strong runner. Marcellus is Tobbey’s younger brother and always has a sweet smile, but he is often mischievous. Daniel has some of the prettiest eyes you will see and always wants to play with your phone. Nellie is good at basketball and dancing. Ofeca and Nellie are sisters, she is good at whatever she sets her mind to but is not very confident in her abilities. Bianca is sassy…of all the girls, this girl has the most ‘tude! Branae is very shy when you get to meet her, but once that girl warms up to you she is a best friend. Bryanique and Bryanisha are sisters. Bryanique is older and clings to her favorites. Bryanisha is bashful until she warms up to you, then she makes everyone her favorite.

At any given time there are at least two ladies who are hired by the Bahamian government to be the caretakers of the children, but those ladies are often known by and recruited through Brother and Sister Moss. The caretakers work for a third of the day with shifts from 7 am to 3 pm, 3 pm to 11 pm, and 11 pm to 7 am.

Bahamas Goombay Punch is just one item that can be purchased at Alvernia's. Goombay is comparable to Mountain Dew, but with the flavor of a Pina Colada mixed with Fruit Punch.

Bahamas Goombay Punch is just one item that can be purchased at Alvernia's. Goombay is comparable to Mountain Dew, but with the flavor of a Pina Colada mixed with Fruit Punch.

Sister Moss and Brother Moss run Alvernia’s general store in Smith Town, about a 15 minute drive from the Old Bight Mission. They both have a deep love for their community and for the kids. Brother Moss will admit that Sister Moss is the brains behind the whole operation. She knows how to balance the books, send the emails, and is often the one responding to Brother Moss’ text messages. Brother Moss spends his days running the physical labor within the store, often running the errands and networking within the community. He and Pastor Eddy share the desire to hold an “actual conversation” with someone.

Pastor Eddy? Well if you haven’t met Pastor Eddy, you will soon if you visit Driftwood on a Sunday morning or if you are a thrift store shopper in Saint Lucie County. He is just one of the members of the six member team that traveled to Cat Island this trip.

Thursday, March 17 | 5:15 a.m.

Uncontrollable screams of frustration come from those of us who are not morning people and have to make it to an early morning flight. Luckily for the Driftwood crew flying with Missionary Flights International (MFI) out of Fort Pierce on Thursday morning, there wasn’t much frustration. Our entire group was there and ready to go at 5:30 am. Well…Eddy, Emily, and JJ showed up at 5:34, but who is really keeping track?

When flying with MFI there are usually missionary groups flying to Haiti or the Dominican Republic. These groups carry larger cargo for the purpose of taking supplies to do ministry. For this reason, there are many items that can be carried onto a flight that normally can’t be carried on a commercial flight. The traveler is also able to carry multiple cases at 50 lbs per person and roughly $1.75 per pound over that limit. The ability to carry extra weight allowed the team to bring materials to hold a beach party and to fix the grill of a lady on the island.

The team landed at the New Bight Airport (TBI) around 9:00 am; we actually made it to the airport before the customs agent got to his office. Once there, we were greeted by Brother Moss and his crew of men that help him move store supplies around the island. To give you an idea of the trust held by the Bahamians of Cat Island, Brother Moss was given permission to drive a truck onto the airport to pick up our cargo. We were given the keys to the Old Bight Mission Home van for the week’s use.

After getting settled into our living quarters at the Old Bight Mission Home, the team of 6 decided to go…well, we found ourselves going on an adventure. Pastor Eddy had been told by his son, Matt, that just down Old Bight beach was a waterway that we refer to as “the creek.” The team began to walk north on Old Bight beach and after 35 minutes we came to the creek that was “just down the beach.” During this first trek that JJ began to acquire his sunburn, though everyone on the team had applied sunscreen before setting out, they had not anticipated that they would need to re-apply sunscreen.

Tom made a very wise decision in bringing along a fishing pole on this trip. As he walked along the shoreline, he would casually cast out a lure; he fished this way all the way to the creek. Once at the creek, Eddy spotted a fish lying on the shoreline (apparently it was a good day to work on one’s tan), and at a closer view he realized that it was a bonefish! We tried to have Tom take a picture with it so that we could tell a great fishing story, but he didn’t think it would make him an ethical fisherman. Instead, Eddy cut the bonefish down and Tom used that as bait. Tom caught a barracuda. The picture to the right gives you a good idea of the magnitude of that barracuda.

Don’t get disheartened now. I know what some of you may think. In fact, it may be the very same thought that many have had when they are on a mission trip that is not created by a large organization but instead is beautiful in it’s simplicity.

“This doesn’t seem much like a mission trip.”

What do you expect out of a mission trip? Do you expect long nights and exhaustion? Do you want to go door to door endlessly sharing the gospel? Do you expect to see large conversions? Do you want to build a large structure? Does a mission trip have to be in a disaster relief scenario?

Take a moment and think about the purpose of Driftwood Church…

“Helping Each Other See Life from God’s Perspective.”

Our goal is to shorten the time between hearing the Word of God, applying it to life, and sharing it with others. Our mentality is big church, little church, go. We desire to see disciples created, but those disciples are best created when we establish relationships. Those relationships foster the opportunity to share what God is doing and when we have the opportunity to share what God is doing we have the opportunity to make an impact with the Gospel that is long-lasting.

Thursday started with an adventure to explore the beach, but we learned a couple of things. We learned that a race to the creek during the Saturday beach party would probably be a bad idea. We learned that it would have been much easier to drive to the creek, and that happened later in the week. Everyone, except for JJ, learned that they would need to apply large amounts of sunscreen throughout each day. The team found out that there was a public pavilion on Old Bight beach that would be perfect for serving hot dogs and Koolaid during the beach party. It was also during this trip that we were able to meet up with Ms. Mary and we learned that she would be traveling to Nassau the very next day and wouldn’t be back for two weeks…Good thing we decided to go for a walk!

If you haven't heard the song, "Good, Good Father," check out this video from Housefires website.

There were late nights starting on the very first night of the trip. We were exhausted from being in the sun all day, but that didn’t stop us from having worship with the kids at the mission home that night. That night they were excited to give hugs and spend time with us. JJ and Emily were tasked with leading worship during the week and the kids quickly fell in love with the song “Good, Good Father” by Housefires. Pastor Eddy preached from Proverbs 17 to help the kids begin to see how they could read a passage of Scripture and find meaning that is applicable to life. Our main focus this week was to try and help people apply Scripture rather than to simply hear the Word and do nothing with what they had heard.

That night as we sat around the table, the team realized that they had only been on Cat Island for a day! We couldn’t imagine how so much could happen in one day. Have you ever experienced a feeling like that? Join us for our next trip to Cat Island and you will understand what we are talking about.

Friday, March 18

Emily has a tradition each time she is on Cat Island at the Old Bight Mission Home. She loves to wake up early every morning that the kids have school and wait with them for the bus to arrive. During this time the kids are very restless, often running around and stealing book bags and doing back flips off of waste high walls. Regardless of the chaos, Emily finds this time very sweet. She gets to talk with them about their night and their ambitions for the day. As the bus pulls up she provides them a friendly face to look back at and wave to. It’s a tradition that says, “I love you.”

The kids get on the same bus. First the bus drops off students at the Old Bight High School and then the bus continues on to the Old Bight Primary School. These schools have a uniform dress code of navy blue pants or skirts (for the girls) and a light blue top dress shirt.

The Driftwood team with Principal Jerome Forbes at Old Bight High School.

The Driftwood team with Principal Jerome Forbes at Old Bight High School.

Friday we visited the High School to invited students to a youth rally at the Old Bight Mission Home that night and the beach party on Saturday. We went to each class room and JJ introduced the events. Judy brought mini beach balls on the trip and we wrote the event information on the beach balls as we walked around. As we told different classes about the event we threw the beach balls out as a reminder. We quickly came to the realization that the main goal for this trip, and for further trips, would be to reach out to the high school students because the focus is so often on the kids in the primary school.

We decided to randomly show up to the Primary School. We didn’t need to make an appointment. You couldn’t do that in the States. Driftwood couldn’t have went from classroom to classroom like we did at the High School. There is an opportunity to reach out in the public school system in the Bahama’s. To put it as Pastor Eddy did this trip…

“I would hate to stand before God one day and try to come up with an excuse for not pursuing this opportunity with every effort possible. God has given us the opportunity to go into the public schools and to reach the community in the Bahama’s…what excuse could we possibly have?”

Friday night we were fully anticipating 100 students. We learned a few things about Bahamians and Cat Island that night. First, Bahamian’s are rarely on American time. Second, Old Bight High School is responsible for half of Cat Island, meaning that there is about a 20 mile stretch in either direction of the Old Bight Mission Home. Many students are not going to come to an event in a centralized location if there is no transportation. Third, there are teachers of the Primary and Secondary schools who want to have us involved in the lives of the students.

There were about 40 people in attendance for the youth rally. Of those 40 people, there were about 15 teenagers. We were able to give out about 35 New Living Translation Bible’s. During Pastor Eddy’s sermon, Judy took two little boys out of the room because they were getting restless. They ate popcorn, played with chalk, and just talked about life in preschool.

Saturday, March 19

Saturday was the Beach Party! The team boiled hot dogs, mixed Koolaid, set up the volleyball net, and transported everything to the beach around 10:15. Sure, we advertised that the party was starting at 10:00, but we were on Bahamian time now!

The plan was to have games running so that the students who showed up wouldn’t get bored. But there is a lesson to be learned by every mission trip, plans are a safety net for the planner and that net is often broken. Besides planning to serve hot dogs and Koolaid, the specific beach games that were planned quickly became chaos. Trying to play volleyball with water balloons only lasted as long as we could keep the water balloon storage location hidden. A race with the blow up whale floats lasted as long as we could keep a controlled line (we couldn’t keep a controlled line if you get my drift). In the failure of some of our plans we noticed a recurring theme, the students of the high school, the parents of the kids, and the teachers appreciated that we were there to simply love them. There were no strings attached

To give you an idea of how long the beach party lasted, let us consider JJ’s sunburn. Before the beach party JJ was a little pink. He had learned his lesson from the first day on Cat Island and was applying sunscreen. Before the beach party, he applied a coat of sunscreen. He anticipated that the party would last until noon, and so around 11:30 he applied a second coat of sunscreen. During the application of that second coat he realized he might need to stay in the shade the rest of the day and possibly apply some aloe. By 2:30 the beach party was still going on and JJ was playing volleyball and running around with kids on the beach. He knew it was a little later and he knew that his feet were beginning to ache, and he applied some more sunscreen but the sand was making application harder. By 3:30, JJ started to try and stay in the shade. It was a long day in the sun and his feet were now in pain and started to feel swollen. By the time that JJ arrived back at the mission home it was around 5:00 pm. JJ’s feet were a purplish-red and he knew he wouldn’t be wearing shoes the next morning for church. Saturday was an all day event. The students loved it. The team was exhausted. JJ’s feet were burned so bad that they were bruised (they are still peeling as I write this blog post 17 days later). Poor JJ.

A quick shout of appreciation has to be given to Amy and Judy. During this trip these ladies prepared dinner almost every night. On Saturday, after being exhausted by a beach party where they spent a majority of the time in the water, these ladies still prepared dinner. We are all gifted in many ways by God, these women are great servants who know how to prepare a great meal.

Sunday, March 20

On Sunday morning, Pastor Eddy preached at the Old Bight Mission Church on decision making from Galatians 6:7-10. It was during this sermon that many of the kids began to make the connection of how life application can be made from the Bible. Even Sister Moss was heard telling one of the girls immediately after church that her decision to disobey was one that would have a short-term consequence that may be good, but in the end the consequence would be punishment.

Sunday afternoon, Eddy and JJ went to Ms. Mary's house to fix her Weber grill. If you have been with Driftwood since December of 2015, you may have heard Pastor Eddy mention Ms. Mary's grill being in terrible condition and asking for financial support to fix her grill. At Driftwood, we are convinced that God is into every detail and that it is no accident that Ms. Mary has the exact same grill that Pastor Eddy has at his house. Eddy was able to order the parts, bring them on the flight to Old Bight, and fixed the grill on Sunday afternoon. JJ went along as a supporting role in carrying materials. Other than watching Pastor Eddy replace all of the parts, he also fought a couple of wasps. The grill repair was a success and resulted in a very thankful Ms. Mary.

During the day we challenged people to find a verse from Proverbs chapter 20 and talk about it in front of the group that evening during worship. Along with that challenge we told them they would have the opportunity to win prizes from a box of stuff. They didn’t know it, but it was a box of the supplies that we didn’t have room to bring back with us (blow up whales, beach balls, Koolaid powder, pens, balloons, candy, etc.). We had adults, teenagers and children talking about various things that stuck out to them in Scripture that night. Some had even written down their thoughts in a journal. What’s better, the next day they didn’t have a prize to win and some were still telling us what they had read that morning.

We had accomplished our mission. Beginning to teach how to apply the Word of God to life.

Monday, March 21

Monday we explored the Island. Look on Google Maps and you can trace our trip… We went from Old Bight High School for an assembly where Pastor Eddy gave a very quick devotion (that’s quite a story in itself), to New Bight to visit the Hermitage, then to Hawk’s Nest, then to Devil’s Point which leads to French Bay, then we explored a few areas on the east banks of Springfield Bay. We ended the day eating out at Hidden Treasure. Check out some of the pictures!

Tuesday, March 22

There is never a moment wasted when you are on a mission trip. At least there should never be a moment that you feel is wasted. Exploration leads to further insight for the next trip and opportunities that may have never been found otherwise. God may bring someone or something your way you never expected. The last day of the trip is no exception.

These two guys are graduating seniors. They have always done well in track competitions and agreed to cross the finish line together in the 1500 meter.

We attended a portion of the Old Bight High School Track & Field competition. During this competition the students are split into randomized teams and then they are given the opportunity to compete in up to six events, but every student must compete in something. Those who compete have their time or distance reviewed by the school’s athletic coordinator who then takes them to compete against the other High School on the Island in Arthur’s Town. JJ gave a devotion before the competition began. Tom competed with the oldest group of students in the 1500 meter, he just enjoyed running. Eddy, Amy, Emily, and Judy cheered on all of the competitors that they knew by name.

Like all good things, this trip came to a close. We traveled up to the Moss’ Store before arriving at the airport and then caught our plane at 2:30 pm. As the team boarded the plane, we asked each other what the favorite part of the week was. None of us had a specific moment that was particularly our favorite, each moment was special. But we all agreed that the next trip needed to be sooner than this coming December. The only question left is, who wants to go next?