Missionaries well set to enjoy first Jamaican ChristmasSaturday, December 25, 2021
BY ROMARDO LYONS
They have professed their love for bag juice and are now looking forward to strictly “Jamaican food” this Christmas, while they promote their faith and provide their services for Jesus Christ here in Jamaica.
They are missionaries – 20-year-old elder Jacob Nearon and 19-year-old elder Conner Brown – who are anxiously bracing for a Christmas like nothing they have ever experienced.
“Back home, you know you have like the mashed potatoes and gravy, and you know you might have like a turkey or something. But here, you're going to have something a little different. I'm excited to experience that,” elder Brown, who has been in Jamaica since September told the Jamaica Observer in an interview.
“The dumplings here are good! Jerk chicken good, yam good, potato good, fried chicken good. Everything is good here man. Bad food is not something you get here. So, I am just excited to have a Jamaican Christmas dinner,” he added.
Standing in Ocho Rios with his head tilted as he squeezed a bag dry, elder Brown also shared his fascination with bag juice.
“I love it. It's sweet and it just tastes good. With just $25, I can get one from the shop.”
His brother in Christ, elder Nearon, who hails from California, pronounces sorrel as “so-real.” He told the Observer that he recently learned how to make the drink in Mandeville before he was transferred to Ocho Rios in St Ann.
“Someone taught me how to make sorrel. It's really, really good. We made rice and peas, we made festival, we made jerk chicken, we made oxtail, curried goat; all kinds of things. When I was leaving Mandeville, I was saying goodbye to some of our friends up in Mandeville and one of the families wanted to teach me how to make different Jamaican dishes and different drinks,” he recalled.
“One of them, she was showing me the different things so I can bring it back when I go home. For me, it's about learning about the people, learning about the culture, learning how they live… different foods and dishes so I can show all my friends and family back home.”
Elder Nearon added, however, that he doesn't really have any expectations outside of the cuisine.
“I just want to see what it's like and experience it. I'm just loving the Christmas spirit. Everyone's celebrating and have the lights up. I love the lights. I wish there were Christmas lights all year, especially downtown.”
Meanwhile, elder Brown from Georgia told the Observer that not having to clad his body in thick sweaters this season will take some getting used to.
“I lived in the United States before, so it gets cold. So that is going to be a little bit weird being out here sweating during Christmastime. I love it here because everybody comes together. You can really feel that Christmas spirit. I believe I'll be really able to feel it here a lot,” he related.
He said that being in the island for the last four months has been rewarding, as it relates to preaching the gospel.
“Everyone is just so welcoming and loving. And everybody wants to talk about Jesus Christ. It just feels good, and that bond is created. It's not a you and them type of thing. It's an us type of thing.”
Elder Nearon, who has been here since June, added that since he has been in Jamaica, people have also reached out to them seeking his teachings.
“We just go around spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, helping others grow their faith in Jesus Christ and learn about Jesus Christ. I know; I have seen it myself personally, what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ and how growing my faith in Jesus Christ has helped me. We're just befriending everybody in the community and learning about the culture.
“We go everywhere, and a lot of people really like to talk about Jesus Christ. We can go down the road and talk to pretty much everybody about Jesus Christ. A lot of people are reaching out to us and asking to learn more. People are receptive here in Jamaica,” he said.
It's his first time being in Jamaica as a missionary and living in Jamaica. However, he had visited when he was just eight.
“It is a little different. I was here a long time ago. I came on a cruise ship as a tourist; I don't remember too much from when I was here. I have pictures of myself when I was here in Ocho Rios but it's changed a lot. A lot of things have been upgraded and it's different from parish to parish.”