On May 13, ten NNU students and two staff sponsors boarded a plane to Jamaica. Their goal: bring the Gamertsfelder Mission Center (GMC) one step closer to providing complete medical care for the citizens in and around the rural city of Frome, Jamaica.
Students Becca Barrett, Catlin Bauder, Elizabeth Beaty, Nathan Hamm, Mark Horton, Brandon Humble, Marie Smith, Elisha Storm, Andrea Terpstra and Michelle Terpstra come from various academic programs and parts of the country. Two staff sponsors, Julene Tegerstrand and Mark Wheeler, also work for different parts of the University, but over the three-week Work & Witness trip, the group of individuals grew into a strong team.
Soon after landing on the island, the team met local pastors, two dynamic leaders from the Burnt Savanna Church of the Nazarene, and international figures Lionel and Jennifer Brown. The Browns hosted the NNU team for the entire trip, but they did much more than open their home to strangers. From organizing work teams to feeding volunteers, this couple monitors every day-to-day detail concerning the GMC.
Lionel Brown designed and built their home to accommodate Work & Witness teams. There is seldom a week during the summer when all ten rooms of the home are not filled with international volunteers. Jennifer Brown is currently the president of Nazarene Missions International. The dedication and level of service of both leaders motivated the team throughout the trip.
The students were pushed to their limits physically and emotionally. They moved rocks, mixed concrete, played with children, used their medical skills in the GMC, shared their testimonies with Jamaican peers and served disabled and chronically ill patients in an infirmary. “The team blew me away. They are rock star students—all of whom are just amazing people,” said staff sponsor Mark Wheeler.
Only an hour drive from Montego Bay’s yacht clubs and resorts, the families in and around Frome, Jamaica, a rural village on the western side of the island, struggle to find medical care. While some local clinics and care facilities provide the most basic services, blinding cataracts and painful dental health issues hinder many citizens’ quality of life. Currently, 250 patients near Frome are waiting for cataract surgery, and in just two days, 200 patients were seen for dental appointments at the GMC’s grand opening. The GMC offers its services for one-tenth of the costs Jamaicans would pay at other hospitals, and it is currently in the process of constructing an early childhood development center as an addition to the facility. The NNU team partnered with the Jamaican Nazarene Church to get the Mission Center one step closer to offering a full range of medical services.
The Browns’ giving spirit and dedication to making the GMC a success have brought them some notoriety, but to a large degree, their work remains behind the scenes. They have continued cultivating a wide circle of influence and relationships—a circle that we are now proud to say includes the NNU community.