Patience, joy and faithfulness in the eyes of Jamaicans

She saw faithfulness in the eyes of a woman who suffered much but worked hard to provide for her family her entire life.

She saw joy in the way a paralyzed man crafted beautiful works of art though he could barely get around to complete daily tasks.

And she saw patience in the life of a man who has been in search of a job for three years now, with a wife and children, but hasn't given up the search. 

Alexandria Arnette is one of four students who took a five-day trip to Morant Bay, Jamaica with Lipscomb's Missional Entrepreneurship Program. 

She boarded her plane with plans to help men and women in Jamaica create sustainable businesses. 

But when she landed back in the states she would have an entire new outlook on life because of the people she got to meet and connect with. 

"In their culture they don't have a lot of opportunities," she said. "A lot of times our culture is very fast-paced and you just kind of get caught up in that and forget about all the opportunities we have here."

Opportunity is not something many Jamaicans come by. And this was no exception for native Borris Dixon.

He hasn't had a job for three years, but that's not because he hasn't been trying -- there just hasn't been any opportunity for him there. 

Borris is a husband and father to three. He keeps moving forward, in search of opportunity, despite the economy and culture.

"He just showed me that you do have to continue to have patience," she said. "Especially after not having a job for over three years he just didn't give up. He taught me that you can't give up on what you're trying to do -- you just have to keep pushing forward no matter how hard it is."

His patience has now been rewarded. Lipscomb's program will help him create a restaurant to cater to his passion for cooking. 

During the trip, students also connected with local Marcia Thomas who has also had very little opportunity to make an income to support her family. Her dream is to start a cook shop in a building beside her home. 

When the Lipscomb group shared with Marcia that they wanted to go alongside her to help her make her dreams become a reality, she cried and uttered phrases like, "I've suffered long and hard, thank you Jesus Son of God," and "Thank you Lord for remembering me and for sending help for me"

"A lot of times in situations when things aren't going our way we start to doubt our faith, but she didn't despite the conditions," Alexandria said. "Her faith is very strong and very evident, and she enjoys sharing her faith with others and we want to bring that out in her cook shop so she has a place to share that in addition to providing goods"

Perhaps the most joyful person Alexandria met on her trip was 29-year-old Christ Doyley. 

After a motorcycle accident eight years ago, he was paralyzed from the waist down. Since then, Chris has been stuck in the Morant Bay infirmary. But that didn't steal his joy.

"When he told his story of the accident he kept using the word 'determined,'" Alexandria said. "When he got in the accident, they didn't think he was going to make it so they didn't help him, but he was not going to give up then."

And he didn't. Because of that experience, Alexandria said Chris has been more motivated and inspired to do what he loves and have a positive attitude while doing it. 

"He loves his music, he loves to sing, to rap. He loves to do his artwork," Alexandria said. "He is by no means going to let this stop him or slow him down in pursuing his artistic career."

Alexandria said that seeing how Chris handled this minor setback changed the way she views common day to day activities. 

"We have the opportunity to cook a meal for ourselves, we can go out to eat, we can go watch a movie, we can go and do anything fun, but he cannot leave," she said. "He doesn't have the opportunity to do those things."

Photos courtesy of Rob Touchstone and students who participated in the October trip to Jamaica