St. Maarten: Day 3

Day 3 was a packed day in which we darted from one place and one meal to another. We began the day with breakfast at a little French restaurant, where I ate french toast made from freshly baked croissants. I's a hard life. (But wait until the end of the post.) We walked through a marina and marveled at the money some people have and the lives they lead. Amazing.

Next, we darted off to Phillipsburg, which is the capital of the Dutch side of the island. It's a busy place with lots of traffic and crazy drivers. I don't know how long we spent looking for a parking place only to park far away in a dirt lot and take a long, hot walk back to the shops. Oh, well, I had to work off that sinful breakfast somehow. We passed New Testament Baptist, where Chris suggested I try to find a restroom. I refused, afraid I would have flashbacks of the three hours I'd spent there the day before. There is a little outdoor market right next to the church, where island women sell souvenirs that everyone who visits such a place is compelled to buy, for some reason. Naturally, we bought a few things (after Chris skillfully talked them down on their prices).

Then it was off to the water. As you can guess from any travel brochures you've seen of the Caribbean, it was breathtakingly beautiful. There were two huge cruise ships parked in the distance, many smaller sailboats dotting the water, and beautful crystal blue water to put our little piggies in. That's the part of the island that you're thinking of when you ask me why I wouldn't want to move here. I'll tell you about the other part later. We continued through the shops on Front Street, a beautiful cobblestone street lined with palms and full of cruise ship tourists. I was seriously tempted to swim out to the ship and just see if they'd let me on, but I had a sneaking suspicion the answer would be no.

After a few moments of forgetting while we were here, it was back to reality. We had lunch (on that very same beach) with a local pastor who is one of the students in the Bible training classes that CMA does here on the island (which we'd be heading up if we moved here). It was a very interesting conversation. Most Americans who come here don't sit for hours and get to ask a local any question they can think of about the island. There's nothing like the perspective of a local. He has been a pastor for many years, but says he has learned so much from the five classes he's taken already. It gave us a glimpse of why the ministry is important.

On a full stomach, I came back to our little apartment for some rest. This is the thing I hate about the heat. I came into a stuffy apartment, covered in sticky, dried sweat and tried to get comfortable. Not happenin'. For a guy, he could just take a quick, refreshing shower, but for a fairly high maintenance gal like myself, that would mean redoing hair and makeup only to return in a few hours for another shower to get the new dried sweat off before bed. Yuck. I know that's too much info, but I just hate being dirty. I'm always horrified when I tour old homes in historic places and the tour guide tells how they would take one bath a week, all sharing the same water. Seriously, that is disgusting.

After trying to get refreshed without actually showering, we headed to dinner with Kadesh and Stacey Jerome, their kids, and two other men here ministering on the island. I ordered a gigantic hamburger and loved it, by the way. Stacey is such a sweet and fun person to talk to. It's so amazing how you can live such different lives, but connect so easily with someone.

With a full stomach once again (I'm starting to feel a little piggish), we headed to Kadesh's church, where the Bible classes are being held. We met with the students as they came in. There was one lady who I liked a lot, beginning right after she asked me if I was Lisa's daughter and told me how young I looked. (I'm not sure Lisa appreciated it so much.) There are about six men and six women in the class, all very eager to come and sit for three hours a night and study the Bible. Last night's discussion was on angels and demons.

However, I only heard the introduction, because Stacey came by to get me and Lisa so that we could go visit one of her church members with her. Now, I've been on visitation before, but this was a little different. This is the part that seems a world away from the sailboat bordered beach I had been on just a few hours earlier.

The three of us stepped out of the very basic church building, walked across the rotting plywood that is the front step, and headed down the very narrow, dark street, full of speeding cars and lined with local men. I wasn't really scared, but I'm sure I would have been if I were alone. I actually felt rather adventurous. Now, where strange men on dark streets didn't really bother me, bugs were a different story. After walking a block or two down the road, we turned down an even darker street and stopped at a gate. We walked through the gate into a courtyard area with houses on each side of us. All the windows were open (no a/c) and people were walking in and out, talking, shouting, and making noises I couldn't discern. Stacey knocked on the window and shouted that we were are there to see the girl inside. (I'm awful and can't remember her name.) The 19-year-old seemed a little caught off guard and sent her 1-year-old girl and 2-month-old boy into the courtyard/dirt yard with us. As we stood there and waited on her to get decent and invite us in, I was a little worried about the people around us and more than a little worried about the bugs that were probably around us out there in the dark.

We were eventually invited in, and we entered a kitchen and living room area that is probably the size of my living room, maybe a little smaller. There was one light bulb burning in the adjacent hallway, blankets hanging over the open windows, and a tiny space full of furniture. A table, a couch, and two chairs are smooshed into the small area. There is a slightly foul odor and the room is stuffy and hot, but we sit down to chat. Now, this is where I show how absolutely spoiled and selfish I am. While I feel bad for the girl and am happy to spend time with her, most of my thoughts consist of a prayer to the Lord, "Please don't let me see a roach." If I do spot one, I'm afraid that I will run screaming from the house into the dark streets alone, never to return. Fortunately (I guess you could say), I only saw small bugs that would crawl on the ground toward me and which I would discreetly squish under my flip flop as the conversation continued around me. I'm sure they thought I was a freak because I kept brushing off my arms and legs to get the imaginary (I like to think they were) bugs off of me.

During our visit (and a later conversation with Stacey), we learned that this girl had been severely beaten by her mother, raised a few years by her grandmother, and shipped off to another island where she stayed with some other old woman. At 14, she returned to St. Martin and met the father of her children, whom she is not married to. She lives in a home owned by her father and neighbor, who just happens to be a cocaine addict.

What can be said about that? It made me thankful, of course, for the blessed life I lead, and amazed that God would allow me such blessing while others are born into such misery. Evidently, the nicest thing anyone has ever done for this girl was when Stacey bought her a pack of diapers a few weeks ago. Of course, people in this situation are sometimes blessed by the fact that it is easier for them to see their need for Jesus, which is what this young girl has done. After a tent revivial at the Jerome's church, she gave her life to Christ. But where do you begin to disciple someone who can't read and who is in a situation like hers with two babies? That's just what Stacey is aiming to do, though, which is wonderful.

When we left, honestly I was relieved to get fresh air and eventually return to my tiny, but seemingly luxurious apartment. And, tomorrow, when I get home, I will be so appreciative of my clean home, electricity, running water, and cozy bed. I'm not sure yet what to do with my experience from last night, but I did think, while I was there, that this is not unique to the French Quarter of St. Martin. There are people who are living very similar lives just miles from our home. I've met some of them at Lovelady. What do I do with that? I'm not sure.


  1. Wow Amy! What a day. We are still praying for you and Chris. Hope you have a safe trip home tomorrow and I can't wait to hear more from you!

  2. I second Kerrie, WOW! I hope you and Chris are hearing from God about His plan for you. Be safe.

  3. WOW! There is nothing like experiencing that, huh? Thanks for reminding me to remember things that I saw during my time on the mission field. Thanks for spurring me on to give more. I look forward to seeing you Thurs.

  4. That all sounds like so much fun! This place has a lot of upsides. Even if you are in the darkest alley on the whole island, you're within walking or at least bike riding distance of a beautiful beach! Not only is there a beautiful beach, but some locals that need ministering too. Hey, you would be proud! I met my new neighbor today and on two days ago as well. The first one...I followed their kid home from the bus stop because I knew she must be the child of the new people. Stalkerish? Maybe... Did it work? Oh yes ma'am! Super nice, have a relationship with The Lord and are looking for a church. I met one today too. She's been there for at least two months and never seems to be home, but she was having furniture delivered today-HA so her door was wide open. She's really sweet, has been through a lot and we're going to talk more. YAY! I thought I would share this here so that you can be happy with me. I'm so excited! I'm so happy for you too, Amy! We missed you in Accountability last night and are praying for you guys and can't wait to have you back!


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