Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Montego Bay :)

Today was our third day of VBS in Mo Bay and things are going GREAT! We had 15 of our group leave last weekend, so our number is quite a bit smaller, but there are also fewer children here each day than we had last week so it works out perfectly. I had the opportunity to teach the women's class for the past two days and I am so encouraged by their determination to serve God and raise faithful children in the midst of so many obstacles. We studied lessons from women in the Bible like Sarah, Lydia, the woman caught in adultery, the widow who shared her oil and flour, Tamar, Mary & Martha, and Bathsheba. There are so many important lessons from these women; a few that we covered were not letting the events of your past hold you back from accomplishing great things in the future, the consequences of sin outweigh the fulfillment of sin, being a faithful example even when your family may not be, trusting that great things will happen when we put our trust in God, etc. I learned so much by teaching - which seems to often be the case here!

My apologies for those of you who have been checking this site and wondering what happened to the updates. I started feeling ill late last week, and the pains got severe enough that Sunday morning I was taken to the local hospital here. After 8 hours of waiting (I'll spare the details, but I'm sure you can imagine what the facilities and medical care are like down here), I finally saw a doctor, who (after much pleading) agreed to do an ultrasound. The baby seems to be doing fine and the heartbeat was strong. I'm taking the medicine they prescribed, and dealing with the pains until I can get back home. I can deal with just about any level of discomfort as long as I know the tiny life inside of me is okay! The wonderful news is that while I was spending my Sunday in the hospital, our group traveled back to Savanna la Mar for evening services and baptized two young women!

Back in 2002 I met a woman named Carmaleta who had a small daughter. She has been a wonderful friend to me through the years, and now she has two girls - 11 and 7 years old. They spent the night with us on Monday night and came back after VBS yesterday to go down to the water with me. The girls has never seen an air mattress before and it took over an hour to temper their excitement just to get them to sleep! These girls live in Jamaica, yet only swim once a year when we are here because the taxi fare is too great to spend on a recreational trip like that. We have very little time for 'fun activities', but watching the girls splash around, laugh, and play in the sand was the sweetest sight, and I'm thankful that I was able to help make some great memories for them.

Yesterday we were inquiring about a young 16 year old Christian girl who is here every year but that we hadn't seen yet. We were heartbroken to find out that she had been raped 7 months ago and was too ashamed to come. Sadly, it seems like we hear of atleast one case like this each year. David was able to make contact with her and she has spent the day with us today. I pray that we have been able to lift her spirits a little and offer her some hope - please keep this young girl in your prayers.

Chris Jones (from Texas who has been here several times) flew down Saturday and has added updates to the blog he kept last year. He has also added some photos from the past couple of days and I encourage you to visit his site:

Thank you for taking the time to stop by and stay involved with our work! It's hard to believe that we're down to our last two days here - we prepare all year long and the days seem to fly by much too quickly! Please continue to send notes and remember us in your prayers.

Love & blessings!
Sarah Lyon

Thursday, July 14, 2011

VBS-Day 3

Wednesday, July 14th
Written by Sarah Coffey, Concord, NC
I'm writing to you all today with tears filling my eyes. Mr. Tant just lead a wonderful devo that ended our night with very humble hearts. I couldn't help but think of all of my blessings. I can't think of a time I have ever gone a night without access to a shower or some source of food. The kids here would only dream of just 5 minutes in a shower or a house that doesn't leak when it rains.

Most of us have never been alone in this world. The people here have no one. When I say the people here have no one, I mean the people here have no Godly example in their every day life. They see no good. They don't even see the simple things we see in life like holding the door open for someone or doing someone a favor without requiring something in return. But more importantly, these people don't know Jesus. It really hit me today that these kids need us, they need the Word.

We studied Elijah today at VBS. We held 125 at the Cave this morning and 33 at Grange Hill. It poured right before VBS at G. Hill which really seems to discourage Jamaicans from leaving their front porch. We talked about the great faith Elijah had in God even though he stood alone, and we made an alter set ablaze by fire as our craft.

During our time at the Cave I tried to help take some of the stress off of the nursery crew by taking a child outside because the pitch of her cry distracted our Bible class. I held her and tried to get her to calm down so I sang, ''Greatest Commands.'' This moment solidified my reason for being here. I am here to help these people come to know our Father.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

VBS - Day Two :)

Day 5 of the trip - July 12th

Today we taught about Gideon's army and the importance of trusting in God. At Savanna la Mar we had 165 children and at Grange Hill we had 91(which is excellent for our first year there!!). Listening to a church filled with children singing 'Jesus loves me' at the top of their lungs might possibly be the sweetest sound I've ever heard.

The number of children eager to pile into a bus to come to VBS or evening services never ceases to amaze me! More than once today, we crammed over 35 bodies into a 15 passenger van. Often times, we will be packed tighter than even we thought possible and will see a group standing on the side of the road patiently waiting for us to drive by. Somehow, we manage to fit them in -- it's hard to leave a child on the side of the road who has gotten up early with high expectations of coming to Bible School...even if it means sitting with two or more on your lap :)

The island was blessed by a strong storm this afternoon which cooled everything off, but also knocked out the electricity at the church we packed into the pews, sang loudly from memory, and were brought an excellent sermon from Jed by flashlight!

A little girl named Sabrina stayed the night with me last night. She is 7, bubbly and affectionate, consistently ranks top of her class, and knows where to find any passage in her pink bible. We baptized her mother and father the summer before she was born, but soon after her birth, her mother abandoned them. Her father, Jude, has not only raised her entirely on his own, but has remained a faithful Christian and is raising her to love the Lord. Jude works extremely hard to make ends meet, and rarely asks for more than a new pair of church shoes for himself and Sabrina each summer when we come. Their one room home has been beaten down by years of hurricanes and tropical weather, and they have no indoor plumbing. This morning, as I was getting ready for the day, I listened to Sabrina singing and laughing in the shower. This is the first indoor shower she's had since we came last year, and she rejoiced like it was Christmas morning. At that moment, I couldn't help but close my eyes and thank God for the small blessings that I take for granted each and every day. The people here have less materially than most Americans, but are filled with a greater joy than I have ever known. Each day in Jamaica is filled with hundreds of moments where I am encouraged and humbled.

We start our mornings around 7...and right now the devo just ended at midnight...& we can't wait for another great day tomorrow :) We are loving your emails...keep 'em coming!

Love and miss you all,


PS Amy's Jamaican Running Team is still going strong--even though she ran around the grounds here alone today. Also, the Lyon baby seems to be doing just great!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 3 - Sunday, July 10th

What a wonderful day! We traveled to Montego Bay for morning services and had three great Bible Class groups. We had about 55 in attendance for worship. Andre lead several Jamaican choruses which are always joyful as everyone sings from memory and lifts their voices in praise. Matt Dickenson lead the singing and Burt brought us a great sermon on perseverance. After a quick lunch, we drove back to Savanna la Mar for afternoon services at 4, where we had about 75 in attendance. Everyone is excited for VBS to begin and energy of the kids' anticipation is wonderful! After dinner and our devotional, which was lead by Mike B., we spent some time finalizing lessons and details for tomorrow. This will be the first time we've held two VBS programs in one day. Tomorrow morning will be in Sav and tomorrow afternoon at Grange Hill.

There is so much that I learn each year from this experience. Take today for example: we left at 9:30am and got back at 8:30pm. In that time we went to two services, ate two fast food dinners, and took people to/from church. The service this morning ended at 2 pm, and the two children's bible classes were held outside on a concrete slab. At 11am, in the beating sun, children gathered with smiles to sing and learn about God. We didn't have to fight for their attention or reprimand poor behavior due to the heat or discomfort. This is simply how it is here and there's very little complaining. Without the comforts of padded pews, carpeted aisles, air conditioned buildings, audio systems, water fountains, or so many other conveniences that we are accustomed to, the brethren come and engage in worship each and every week. Also, there is only one vehicle amongst all of the Christians in Montego Bay, so getting to services is not as simple of a task as one would think. This takes preparation, planning, and taxi fare. There is much to be learned from their example!

Thank you for your continued prayers and notes - We are encouraged by your comments and emails. If you know anyone on the trip, please take a moment and tell them hello on here or through email, and I assure you they will be encouraged! Our email is

Love & blessings,

Saturday, July 9, 2011

We're Here!

We made it! The group this week is quite large - there are currently 31 of us and everyone made it in safely. 12 are returning back home next weekend, and two more are flying in from San Marcos, TX. It took a few trips to get us all down to Sav. We had a devotional at 9 led by George Slover, then visited for a while before settling in to our rooms. The majority of our group is here for the first time, and we are all eager to get started! Today our plan is to drive the area and make sure the word is out that VBS starts Monday. We're also going to stop by and visit with several of the brethren here in Sav. Amy has started a 'Jamaican Running Team'! She and five others woke up early to get in 4 miles in before breakfast...we'll see how their energy levels are in the mornings toward the end of the week :)

Tomorrow our goal is to make it to services at Montego Bay, Savanna La Mar, and Grange Hill. Mo Bay has services early, Sav meets at 4pm, and then evening services at Grange Hill. It will be a full and encouraging day. Thank you for checking on us, and please continue to keep us in your prayers!

2011 Jamaica Group

David Tant - Atlanta, GA
Flora Tant - Atlanta, GA
Sarah Lyon - Cincinnati, OH
Amy Hammond - Cincinnati, OH
Matt Dickenson - Houston, TX
George Slover - San Marcos, YX
Burt Rogers - Middleburg, FL
Crystal Rogers - Middleburg, FL
Addison Rogers - Middleburg, FL
Harrison Rogers - Middleburg, FL
Kollin Stone - Augusta, GA
Leslie Stone - Augusta, GA
Sawyer Stone - Augusta, GA
Shelby Stone - Augusta, GA
Lloyd Barker - Birmingham, AL
Brian Beck - San Marcos, TX
Emmadel Beck - San Marcos, TX
Esther Cockrell - Wichita, KA
Mike Bickle - Augusta, GA
Jeanne Bickle - Augusta, GA
Jed Bickle - Augusta, GA
Abby Bickle - Augusta, GA
Elisabeth Warner - Augusta, GA
Karen Greer - Victoria, TX
Sarah Coffey - Concord, NC
Cassidy Amason - Atlanta, GA
Cynthia Newberry - Atlanta, GA
Mark Short - Atlanta, GA
Dakota Short - Atlanta, GA
Jeff Winburn- Atlanta, GA
Shane Winburn - Atlanta, GA

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"Go into all the world..." -Mark 16:15

In each life, there are events that shape our character and truly teach lessons that become part of us. In the summer of 2002, I was afforded the opportunity to work with the growing churches in Jamaica for the first time. It was an experience that taught me how God has truly blessed me, and that I am obligated to share His love with others. It's hard to believe that July is here already, and that I will be leaving bright and early Friday morning to meet up with the group once again in the country I've come to love so dearly. I want to encourage everyone to check back here for updates throughout the trip on the work we're doing.

Because we are spending the first week in Savanna La Mar, there will probably not be many updates until our second week when we have better access to the internet in Montego Bay....... but please take a second to check the site or simply send us a note - it's so encouraging to hear from our friends back home. You can either leave comments here or send an email to We will read the notes each evening after our devotional.

Please pray that those we study with will be receptive to God's word, and that the children will grow from the things we teach them. This year we are studying:
1.) Balaam & the Donkey (Honesty)
2.) Gideon's 300 (Trusting in God/Teamwork)
3.) Elijah vs Baal's prophets (Faith & Standing up for what is right)
4.) Ezekiel and the Dry Bones (Thankfulness/ God gives life)

Discipleship is the cornerstone of Christianity. As disciples, we are obligated to spread the good news not only to those which it is convenient, but to everyone. We look forward to using this blog to report our experiences over the next two weeks. Words cannot express my excitement to once again see my brothers and sisters in Jamaica and pick up where I left off. We are so fortunate, and I know that my life has an abundance of distractions. Being in Jamaica helps me to realize all of the blessings that surround us each day. Open your eyes -- God is everywhere!

Love, Love, Love you all!

Please keep our safety and success in your prayers,

Sarah :)