Editor’s Note: Hannah Hagarty, Missioner in Jamaica, reflects on a poem from Brian Andreas’ Flying Edna and how it relates to her experience on mission so far.
Those of you who know me well understand that I rarely miss the Flying Edna story of the day.  I am a really big fan of Brian Andreas and his artwork (formerly StoryPeople). Above is the story that Brian sent out the day after I spent time on Sunshine Beach.

“She stood there waiting to see what the Sea would bring…”

The previous day I was looking out at the Caribbean Sea alongside Tim, my fellow missioner, and a young Rastafarian man named Everton.  Everton runs the Airbnb where we were staying. He took a liking to us, impressed by the work that we are doing as missioners here in Jamaica. He kindly offered to take us around, giving us an authentic, non-touristy experience. We made a stop at Sunshine Beach, a secluded spot enjoyed by locals.

“…& the sea brought everything she had imagined…”

This was the first time in my 2 months of living in Jamaica that I have been to the beach or even touched the Caribbean sea. I had seen glimpses of the sea as viewed from Kingston, with no opportunity to dive into the water. When we stepped onto the sand the view took my breath away.  I was able to just sit in the sand and the sunshine and the salty air.

“…grief and sadness…”

As the waves of the Caribbean Sea lapped against my skin, it hit me. I hadn’t found the time or space to fully process life on mission here in Jamaica. I have been on the go, nonstop. At Sunshine Beach I began to sort through what it really means and how it feels to be away from everything familiar and be fully immersed in the unfamiliar. I wrestled with what it means and how it feels to be committed to the ministries I am discerning–living in solidarity and being present to people experiencing homelessness, children with severe mental and physical disabilities, and orphaned boys born with HIV. I reflected upon what it means to be present with these people on the margins and how to be a witness to grief and sadness.

I was able to honor my feelings and process these thoughts.  As swiftly as they rolled in, they were washed away.

“…& laughter & wonder…”

Hannah with her friends, Daniel and Charles.

What remained with me was the realization that with grief and sadness, laughter and wonder are often nearby. I find laughter in my friend Daniel who is blind yet greets everyone with a grin. Similarly, I find wonder in Charles, who shares genuine love with all of us. As the boys joke around with each other at the orphanage, we are full of laughter and wonder.

Among many ministries I am discerning, I have committed to being a co-teacher for grade 2 in an inner-city Kingston school. My days at Alvernia Preparatory School are filled with laughter and wonder.  I now recognize the impact that a ministry of presence and accompaniment can have on the bright, shining faces of thirty one rambunctious, seven and eight-year-olds. I am humbled by the multiple opportunities I have to offer them love, laughter, wonder, and compassion—and to receive the same in return from them.

“…because the sea brought her only itself & met her exactly where she was.”

I now fully appreciate the mental, physical, and spiritual growth I have gone through in such a short time.  I understand more fully how mission changes my perspective on life. My eyes, mind, and heart have been opened by all the beautiful souls I have encountered, and I realized how fortunate I was to be sitting in that spot at that moment experiencing the sea.

“Cast all your anxiety onto him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 ). I know that all of these things and more will come up consistently during my time on mission, and I feel capable of handling them when they do. The Holy Spirit is with me, guiding me, comforting me. We spent 3 hours on the beach and in the sea and I was doing a lot of thinking during that time. During this time, the sea washed over me, literally and metaphorically, and met me exactly where I was, exactly where I needed her. She will always be there during my stay in beautiful Jamaica.

Reflection Question: When was a time that the sea brought you peace or understanding?