Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pluckin' down on the farm

During lunch on Tuesday, one of the farmers asked me if I wanted to go help pluck chickens on Wednesday. I am pretty sure he was asking as a joke, but after thinking about it I thought that it would be a good experience to have. A few times I question if I wanted to because I love chicken and I was scared that it may make me not want to eat chicken anymore. Anyway, Wednesday morning I headed down to the farm around 8am to get started. No worries, I documented it all for you to enjoy!
This is where our friend begins his journey. They put the chickens in this "cone shaped thingy" (yes, that is the technical name) to cut the head off. Having them upside down helps with the blood flow and the "cone shaped thingy" keeps them inside because they twitch like crazy. A few times they twitched so much they flew out and were literally a chicken running around with it's head cutoff. When this happened I absolutely lost it with laughter. The Jamaicans enjoyed watching me, watching the headless chicken run around.

After the head is cut off, we dipped them into a pot of boiling water. This cleans off the blood and allows the feathers to come out easier. Here I am with my first of six chickens!

You can tell I was a little hesitant at first....

In no time though I was plucking that chicken like it was my job!

My first victim after all the feathers were out!

What an experience that was! I will never again take going to the store to buy a nice clean piece of meat for granted!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

things I have learned while here

Here is a list of things I have learned while in Jamaica: 
(Oh and me plucking chickens will be a post for tomorrow night- get excited!)
Wow! There really are bugs that look like leaves. It is not just in National Geographic ladies and gentlemen!

If you are peeling an orange and don't realize you let some juice drip; you will know within a few minutes. Quickly I learned to peel oranges outside and anytime food touches my counter to wipe it down with water and soap to prevent a miniature stampede of bugs on my counter. 

I learned how to carve the island of Jamaica into a Jamaican pumpkin. This is (supposed to be) the island and there is a heart where we live. Thanks Erin for getting us pumpkins. Afterward we baked the pumpkin seeds with sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Oh my how yummy those were!

We have not had any water pressure for the past week and a half. So here is my shower...I get water out of the white bucket and use the clear basin to shower. Oh the things I have been taught. (Sorry, this picture is sideways)

The power of stickers! When I am working with Miss Sanieka it is a huge challenge to keep her focused. So now, every time she is following directions and doing the right thing, she gets a sticker. One day was awesome, she had stickers all the way up her arm! If this is what it takes to teach her how to write her name, I am all about it!

And of course...I have learned how to set a mousetrap. After the first night of setting one, I realized the trap was not where I had left it; it had moved basically all the way across the room. When the mouse is still alive and trying to escape the trap (haha good luck it ain't gonna happen) they can move the trap all over from wiggling around on it. So, Erin told me to stick a bottle cap on it and then put a chair leg in the bottle cap..GENIUS! (PS - my mouse count is at 21!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

a little insight on how great God is

As many of you know, I am a gym rat. Since I like to start my days off at home with exercise I decided to have the same goal while in Jamaica. I try to start my day off with a run, key word there is try. Sometimes there are some obstacles that get in my way: rain, no running water to shower afterward, or just plain laziness! When I do get a run in, I use a majority, if not all of that time, to pray and reflect on how God is working in my life. A couple weeks ago I had a great conversation with my Heavenly Father. When I got back to my apartment after my morning sessions, I immediately wrote down my feelings and thoughts into my journal. If any of you journal like I do, you may look back and say, "I should had added this", "I should have said that differently", or "Look at the horrible grammar, good thing no one else is seeing this!". Well regardless of all of those, I decided to share that journal entry with you.
So- here it is.
How awesome is God?! Today has been a very eye opening spiritual day for me. I have obviously been reminded daily of God's love for me here, but today as I was running it really hit me. I spent the 30 minutes this morning in conversation with my Heavenly Father. Realizing how the Holy Spirit has guided me throughout my time here left me in awe. I have felt in a cloud or a bubble since this morning.
I started off my run like any other run I have had here. At first I start off in prayer and usually halfway through I am merely focused on making it out alive. Startig off my prayers giving thanks for all the countless blessings in my life, my mind began to shift to the thought of the Holy Spirit.
Seriously, 5 weeks ago I completely doubted my ability to do this. During my run I thought about my time here, this is God's work that I was called to do. I have the strength and ability to be her through the Holy Spirirt that is alive in me. Because of this, I have has a transformation of my heart to see this for what it truly is. I am NOT here by my own will but God's.
I have been blessed to have the God given gift of teaching and I know because of Him I will be able to impact many lives if I stay focused on Him. If I continue to let my light shine, this feeling will continue after my return home.
I have always "known" God is with me. BUT after putting myself completely out of my comfort zone, I have truly realized, felt, and seen God's presence in my. If it weren't for the Holy Spirit living in me, I doubt that I would have been able to make it through the five weeks."

time flies while you are living the dream

Can you believe it, I have less than four weeks left in Jamaica?!? Where has the time gone? Once again, so much has happened since my last blog posting. I have continued to work with my students and see progress all of the time. Seeing them learning and understanding more is so rewarding.
The school had midterm break last week to celebrate their National Heroes. Erin and I took this free time to escape once again! We headed to the beach in MoBay with Ionda, Kadeen, Daphawn, Tashi, and Blake. While there we got to enjoy two beach days, which were very relaxing. Erin and I took Blake, Tashi, and Daphawn back to Kingston a week ago and indulged in some delicious ice cream at Devon House.

the school building

This is a view of campus from the second floor of the school. Immediately on the left is the girls' dorm and opposite that is the boys' on the right. The dining hall and auditorium are on the right after the boys' dorm. In the background on the right you can kind of see the vocational school and up at the top of the hill is where I live.

Daphawn, Blake, and me at Devon House in Kingston. This was the house of the first millionaire in Jamaica.

The three girls at Devon House

Some Jerk Chicken from Pork Pit in Montego Bay.

Daphawn and me at the beach!

This is my classroom where I spend my morning working with Annakay and Sanieka.

Monday, October 10, 2011

lots of catching up!

I have been neglecting my blog recently. sorry friends. After I have included pictures in one posting, I feel as though I need to include them always now. In order to do that, I have to borrow someone's laptop and I do not want to be a bother to others by frequently asking them to borrow their computers.
Since my last posting, a lot has taken place! I had a nice relaxing weekend staying here on campus (2 weekends ago). Last week we had a team come from Samaritan's Feet and they distributed a new pair of shoes to all of the students. During the process, they were sized for shoes, got to color a bit, their feet were washed by the team, and then they tried on shoes to find that perfect fit.
On Friday, Erin treated Joanne and I to a girls' getaway. We went to YS Falls and then out for a dinner on the beach. The rest of the weekend consisted of football watching, movie watching, and baking!
Now for a catch up on pictures!
Sanieka is working very hard everyday to write her name. She is so proud of herself while we are working together. Frequently, she will look at me and sign "Smart".

Funny Story. I was hanging my clothes out on the line to dry and a Jamaican woman came up to me and started frantically signing. She was telling me how I was hanging all my laundry the long way. After some laughs and rearranging, my sheets hung the proper way.

Love him. We watched the movie "How to Train Your Dragon" and now he always imitates that dragons.

Hanging out in front of the girls' dorm.

Not the best picture, but this is right after Sheldon got his new shoes!

Miss Sanieka and her new pink shoes.

Gloria washing feet and telling about Jesus.

Allesha and Britania coloring before they got their new shoes.

the shoes

part of YS Falls

Joanne and me in the water, it was freezing.

Me jumping off the waterfall!

This is Little Ochi where we ate dinner. There were a lot of boats up on stilts and your food was brought out to you. Erin and I had fried chicken and Joanne was daring at had the fish. She picked it out of a cooler and they scaled it and cooked it.

The three girls at the end of the day. Erin was a trooper and drove through some crazy rain and roads that were temporarily rivers to get us here!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

picture Thursday!

You are in for a treat with this blog posting! I am able to upload pictures this time thanks to Keri for letting me borrow her laptop. Pictures definitely spruce up the blog life, so I am hoping to have a blog with pictures at least once a week now. Thanks to all of those who have been reading about my life even though it may be bland at times with no pictures.
Last Friday, Erin helped me install door sweeps in order to help prevent mice. Also, I noticed a few furry friends in my couch (which I never sat on) and Kirk was great and removed my couch. Unfortunately, they are hiding somewhere else. Last night I captured number 14!
My trip to Kingston with Erin was great. I was able to see the CCCD school there. Tashi (Blake's wife), Ionda (Blake's friend), Erin and myself went to Rituals (Jamaican Starbucks) for some fellowship, coffee, and relaxation. It was nice to get to know Tashi and spend more time with Erin. We had a nice lunch at Blake's house, had lunch, and hung out.
On Sunday, Erin invited Joanne and I into her home to watch some American Football! It was a nice little piece of home. She warned me though not to let the commercials make me miss America any more than I already am.
Paris, an absolute sweetie.

This is my little Sanieka. She was so excited to get her Handwriting Book. Throughout our time together, she kept asking me "This mine?" When I would say yes, she would get a HUGE smile!

Sanieka and myself

Kids during snack time.

Annakay showing off her sentence. After she writes a sentence correctly, she always wants to go around and show the teachers in the school. We are now working on "I am 14 years old."

Girls during snack break!

Jevaughn with the Jamaican flag. He is new and absolutely cracks me up!

Sheldon with his communication cards.

The boys love their playdough creations.


My cup o' joe in honor of National Coffee Day in America!

This week came and went just like the last one. I am continuing to work with Sheldon, Annakay, and Sanieka. Tuesday Joanne and I tagged along with Kirk and Keri when they went to a government run infirmary. This was basically like a nursing home for individuals with mental handicaps as well as physical impairments. The living accommodations there are quite sad. There is a building with about 20 beds with about less than a foot of space between the beds in order to walk through. Kirk and Keri's son, Drew, came with us to read Curious George to some of the women. One woman in particular really touched my heart. Miss Harriet stays in bed all day long and she can not take care of herself. She is very frail and extremely thin. When she began to sing "I am Blessed", my heart was touched and tears began to stream down my face. Realizing how thankful and joyful Miss Harriet could be considering her circumstances really made me reflect on my own life.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wait, it's Thursday already?

My oh my has this week flown by! My first week here definitely dragged on, but week number two has come and gone.
I do need to apologize for many typos in previous postings. Typing on an iPad takes a lot of time for me since I am not used to it yet. By the time I am done typing and see I have an Internet connection I go ahead and post. From now on I will proofread my posts so I don't look like a goober.

After praying and talking with friends and family, I felt as though I was not doing the work that God had intended for me to do here. God was tugging at my heart to work with Sheldon. He is a young boy with Autism, and he is hearing. Sheldon ended up at this school because other schools did not know how to work with him. Luckily, the principal here is amazing and was more than willing to change my schedule around. Currently, Sheldon is nonverbal and can be very aggressive at times. I am working on communication cards that I made with him. The goal is that he will point to the card in order to communicate what he wants. The first few days implementing this have been stressful, but it will improve.

I have been working with a 14 year old girl Annakay. She was out of school most of her life and came here last year for a bit, but then never came back after a holiday. This week we have been working on the sentence "My name is Annakay". She wrote it completely by herself multiple times! Way to go girl!

For my mouse situation. I have now captured 8 friends! Today I am headed to the hardware store to buy door sweeps to help close off the gaps under the doors.

My life in Jamaica is starting to settle in more. I am becoming more used to it everyday. Thank you to all those who have covered me in prayers for the past two weeks. I truly appreciate it. God is doing amazing things.

I will try to post again this weekend about my journey to Kingston!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Armed and ready!

This girl has more mousetraps and is ready for some more friends! I came home from an ice cream dinner with Erin and found two mice hanging out on my stovetop. Erin let me borrow some glue traps until I get back to the store! Real friends share mousetraps!!! Ha

Anyway, this weekend was pretty great. Both Friday and Saturday night we had movie night with the kids. We watched both "Letters to God" and "Ramona and Beezus". Loved them both! Definitely recommend "Letters to God". It is based on a true story about a young boy battling cancer and letters that he puts in his mailbox addressed to God. These letters are his prayers. It was interesting watching movies with the kids because they were so loud moving chairs, walking around, etc but it didn't phase them because the closed captions were obviously there way to hear it.

Yesterday was very hot! We played on the playground for a bit with some rabbits that the kids just got as pets. I had a pretty bad headache so I stayed in and tried to read and hydrate myself to get rid of it.

Today, I went to JDV (Jamaica Deaf Village) for church. It was nice to get off campus and see that part of the ministry here on the island. They sang some songs that I had learned how to sign this summer, so that was nice. I was able to get in front of the church and introduce myself in sign which felt good. My sign is definitely improving everyday! The sermon was definitely god for me to here. It was about time and living for today and not yesterday or tomorrow!

Erin and I will probably go to Kingston next Saturday for the day to visit my friend from home, Blake, and his wife, Tashi. It will be nice to spend some time wit Erin off campus and see Blake and his new wife! Also, Erin and I discussed having a beach day sometime while I am here up in Montego Bay (about two and a half hours away). While we are in Kingston and Montego Bay, we will visit the other CCCD campuses.

Our evening wrapped up with an ice cream dinner date! Thanks Erin for getting me off campus!

I am really sorry, but I will not be able to post pictures on my blog. I know that it is boring to look at a blog without pictures, so for those of you following my life in Jamaica- THANKS!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Unfortunately, I do not think I am going to be able to upload a lot of pictures onto Photobucket. It is taking forever and a day to upload one picture with my slow Internet connection.
I was going to try to upload a video of the campus and school onto YouTube, but that may also take too long. I will see what I can do.

New outlook

As I am nearing the end of week one a few things have become apparent to me. Prior I was counting down days until my return home and thinking about America, home, family, Chance, and friends. I have realized that the outlook I had on this situation was completely negative. Of course there will be times that I immensely miss home, but if I am not living in the present it will be hard for me to learn and grow in this experience according to God's plan.
I talked to Nicole last night, who is in America but has been down here many, many times. She really helped me undertand that the transition is hard but soon this will be normal. Nicole also helped me with ideas on where my place is in this ministry.
I have now caught my third mouse and have seen more! I am excited to head back to the store to get more traps so I am armed and ready for these critters that think they can cramp my style :).

Tonight was great, I was invited over to the neighbors house for dinner with their family. It was great to sit and talk with other people. They have made me feel welcomed and supported. We discussed my feelings and saddness that has been apparent the first few days, but they assured me,like Nicole, that I will settle in and get used to it. Keri made a delicious stromboli and salad! It was a great "escape" from the dining hall.

I am still tying to see exctly what God has planned for me while here. I think that I could hopefully work more with a boy that has Autism. Seeing how this week goes with my current schedule is important, but if I do not feel as though that is my call while I am here I am going to try to talk to some people to get that rearranged.

Also, unfortunately I am not able to upload pictures onto my blog. Therefore I have set up a photo bucket account. The username is : laurenschraut and password: Jamaica11. So just go to and sign in with those. (if that doesn't work someone please let me know!)

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

First days of school!

Yesterday was my first day at school with the kids and staff. We started the day off with breakfast at 7, chapel at 8, and then classes began. After meeting with the principal I had a better understanding of what my days would look like here. She and I decided that allowing me to work daily with individual special needs students would be the most beneficial for my time here. She was gracious to give me a two hour break after lunch and then I would be with another missionary, Erin, helping out with after school programs. They get out of school around 3 and then they have time until about 5 with us either on the playground or in the library playing games.
Yesterday I also went into town with Erin to go grocery shopping. I have realized that if I want to run in the morning, I need to eat breakfast on my own because the water for the shower isn't usually ready until about 7:30. Going into town was nice. Erin definitely helped me with everything and was a great support.

Today, I began meeting with students for tutoring. As I expected, the language barrier is kind of hindering me while trying to help these students. I know God gave me the gift of teaching and all the traits that go along with that. I know it will be a challenge to jump into the tutoring due to my lack of knowledge of the resources available at the school. Most of the kids I am with can't even spell their name.

I have been practicing my sign with the children throughout the day. Most of them are very patient and willing to help. I know God has big plans for me while I am here and I know they will become more apparent everyday.
God has blessed me with this opportunity and the wonderful people who are here that have been helping me on a daily basis. The first night here I was sitting in bed reading and I saw a mouse run across my bedroom floor. The family that lives next to me was great and helpful. The next morning I woke up to two mice trapped on the glue trap! YAHTZEE! And get this, I disposed of them all by myself!

Right now pictures are not working on here. So I will keep messing with it and try later!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Safe and sound

I have arrived safe and sound in Jamaica! Goodbyes were very difficult last night and this morning, but I am here. I flew into Montego Bay and was greeted by Kirk and Keri who are missionaries here with their young children. After finding them, we stopped for lunch and then drove about two and a half hours to the school. For those of you who are wondering where I am geographically, I am very near Mandeville.
After arriving to the school Erin showed me my room and let me get settled in. She saw the tears coming once things started to sink in. I sat in my room a bit and contacted a few people and then Erin showed me around the school. The campus has a vocational school, library, church, playground, dining hall, dorms, farm, and a preschool through high school.
I know a lot of people were quetioning my living situation prior to leaving. My room is great! I have a eating area, couches, kitchen, bathroom, closet, dresser and a nice bed!

For dinner I went down to the dining hall and brought some food back to eat in my room. While I was down near the dorms I came in contact with a lot ofnthe kids and I struggled a bit with what to say and how to sign some things- granted most of the time I was just trying to watch them sign and pick up on somethings.

Tonight has been very relaxing, but also very lonely. The kids are in their rooms and the other missionaries are in their own apartments doing their own dinner. I am going to go to the grocery store probably early next week to buy some food to cook for myself for meal time - granted I can figure out how to use a stove :) haha!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Here we go!

So, this is it, the final days, hours, and minutes I will be in Indiana. I have slowly started to say goodbye to family and friends. Looking back to February when I got the awesome phone call saying I was going to be headed to Jamaica to serve, it hadn't really sunk in that this was for real happening! Now, as I sit and pack, my mind begins to fill with thoughts and emotions. What will it be like? How will God use me? What will I learn? How will I impact childrens' lives? How will they impact my life? With all the emotions that come along with these questions, I know one thing is absolutely certain, God is with me and His Spirit is in me. So, regardless of the stress, anxiousness, and nervousness I feel now, God is there and He is my rock.

I am very excited to experience a new culture and way of life for ten weeks. At times, I feel as though ten weeks is not long at all, but other times I think about being away from family and friends for ten weeks and I begin to worry. This experience will be life-changing for me. I hope that God uses this time to help me grow closer to Him and grow as an individual as well.

This trip is possibly because of amazing family and friends who have chosen to support me financially while I am down there. Special thanks to Brenda Young, Chance Young, Steve and Lisa Zarnow, Ron and Joyce Gruber, Jeni and Antonio Moretti, Bill Bloom, Otto and Carol Knoche, Therese and Ervin Schraut, Mark and Debbie Young, Dean and Patty Bartolone, David and Emily Tueting, Becky Olson, and my parents. Also, HUGE thanks to Elise for signing with me throughout the summer so I am a little more confident in my sign language. Thanks to Nicole, Erin, and Blake for giving mass amounts of information to ease my stress about packing! Most importantly, thanks to all of those who have been praying for both myself and the people in Jamaica that I will work with.

Here is a picture of my packing efforts. I am attempting to fit everything for ten weeks into one suitcase and a duffle bag.

(I promise the pictures will be a lot more interesting once I arrive in JAMAICA!)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It is all becoming real

Two months from today I will be embarking on a new adventure. This adventure has been a dream of mine that has become a reality. After graduating from IU, I knew that I wanted to volunteer somewhere overseas prior to applying for a full time teaching position here in the states. Throughout the process of looking for organizations to work for, I remembered Blake Widmer. Blake is a friend of my brother's from high school and I knew he had been volunteering at a residential school in Jamaica for the deaf. I began talking to him about his experience and options for me there. After a lot of praying and discussing this opportunity with family and friends, I applied to the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf. I waited anxiously to hear from them. Frequently I would receive phone calls or emails informing me on the status of my application.
Then on February 16th, I got a voice mail saying, "We are all set. You have been approved and you are ready to move forward." I got goosebumps and began to cry with joy! 
After I heard this news, a lot of emotions and thoughts were running through my mind. I knew God was leading me to not only benefit the children of Jamaica, but myself as well. Sign language has always been a huge interest of mine, but at this point it was going to have to become a language I felt fully confident in. I knew I was going to be away from family and friends for about three months. My family is everything to me so I know this will be hard, but the most important thing is God is calling me to do this. I am being called to go use my gifts for the glory of God.