in Jamaica: February 2017


This trip, my photos were about 10% sunset/sunrise/blurry pictures of the full moon, 10% food, 10% Bible quizzing, 9% sea urchin spine removal process, 1% cows on the loose, and 60% silly selfies. Which is a pretty accurate idea of what my week was like! 20170209_071825

We are kindred spirits, and always have been. 20170209_095837a20170206_134301a

It was a blast to have my friend Julie along with me! 20170208_123354a20170207_101850a


more from Jamaica


My traveling necessities: pillow pet pig, nook, kleenex. 20160202_101015

Watching this school start its day was a highlight all week. As students filter in, different classrooms are singing or clapping in rhythms or doing devotions. Small groups of kids would be sweeping or washing out trash cans together. Even for those who may struggle first thing in the morning, it makes you smile and think, “Oh yeah, this will be a good day!” 20160203_075902

Every morning I’d watch the ocean for a bit, keeping an eye out for Billy’s van. 20160203_100416

Sweet girls!! I miss them. That was the best, having tons of small group time every day. We’d talk and study the verses together or ask questions. Just getting to know each other!20160204_102629

My love for yellow continues! Actually in the same way we say “red, white and blue” in America, the colors of the Jamaican flag are “black, green and gold.” So yellow, gold, whatever, I like it. 20160204_111405

Supreme is such a fantastic school, I always look forward to being there. This year they had a majority of boys on their teams, with STRONG PERSONALITIES and show-stealing goofiness. Which was such a blast (I’ll take high energy over bored/not caring any day) but also lead us to bring the girls outside for some confidence-building separate practice time.20160205_085054

With my new friend Pearline at the registration table on the morning of the tournament!20160205_103005

This old organ was outside the door of my quiz site. So cool! 20160205_152837

The church who graciously hosted us this year was Hillview Baptist. Perfect name although “hill” is almost not a strong enough word! How great it was to simply have one building to work with. In the past we’ve rented three churches right in downtown Montego Bay. In 2014, I had the kindest police officer in Jamaica assist me as scorekeeper, and he raised some concerns about security and safety- with school children crossing busy streets, lots of entrances and exits, etc. We all agreed about that, plus it was crazy expensive, and very tough logistically to run a tournament in that setting. We never could find a better option until now. This church, and the pastor who bent over backward to help us, was a blessing from God! 20160205_145133

Championship quiz! John Rollins Success (my original favorite school) came in first, Howard Cooke took second, and Chetwood took third! I get caught up in the competition, it is the most fun ever. My small team had practiced with the kids at Chetwood all week and it was SO exciting to see them come so far! Wow! We got to present their medals. So cool. What an awesome group of students. 20160205_152749

I love a happy aftermath! We were all celebrating. In fact in my mind I could just hear the “end of the movie” music start up! After many struggles and defeats over the past two years, the goodness of this week was not lost on me. My brain is full of ideas and my heart is full of hope for next time!

For more about my adventures in Jamaica:

Jamaican Bread & Jam for Frances
Jamaica Video
Sixth Grade
It’s the same all over the world

Welcome back

“I just got off the plane.” -My text to Val.

“We just pulled up into the airport. We are walking inside.” -Val, to me.

(For us to get through two consecutive texts without a disastrous typo is rare.)

“We??” I wondered, since I was only expecting Valerie to pick me up. I walked faster, ready to be done with airports for the day! Who did I see as I began to descend on the escalator? Val, Hanner, Kay and Martin (one of my favorite almost-2-year-olds) were waiting for me at the bottom. They smiled and waved and tried to point me out to Martin, who couldn’t see me yet.

I waved wildly. Suddenly his eyes lit up and he yelled, “Fwancen!” (his current name for me) as he began jumping up and down. I should mention at this point, he was wearing child-sized cowboy boots. The excitement became too much for him and he started to run about in circles!

Yes, it was one of the cutest things I will ever witness. My dear friends, smiling and laughing with glee. The antics of a toddler who was amazingly thrilled to see me. All this unfolding slowly (yet too quickly) at the speed of the escalator as I balanced my luggage.

My tendency is to wish I had a picture but some things can’t be picked up in a photo. This was only meant for mental pictures and savoring the joy of the moment.

Isn’t that like joy? Meeting me at the end of a long journey. Surprising me and overwhelming me with grace. Pure and overflowing.

monday gifts


Thankful for…

safe travels to & from Jamaica. (P.S. going to Jamaica via Venango, Nebraska- where I met up with two of my traveling companions- is very strange.) 


each opportunity to spend time with students. It is so fun to do Bible Quizzing with them.

my poor brain, confused as to my whereabouts, the weather, etc. On the plane home I had the thought, “It’s taking us a long time to get to the school… oh wait, I’m not in the van… I’m in an airplane heading home.”  

breakfasts at The Pelican.


my buddy Mr. Francis. We were so excited to see each other!


when you have joy but also, your heart is breaking at the same time.

when things do not turn out how we want.

mornings everywhere.

pineapple juice.

all the wonderful people who send me and pray for me and help me along the way.

including Miss Velma, a truly one-of-a-kind woman, who died last week.


silly faces & big smiles with our girl Kayla!

her daddy, the best van driver in Jamaica. And one of the wisest, most caring people I know. I’m proud to call him my friend.


Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised! The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens!
-Psalm 113:2-4 ESV

caregiving, mon


Big smiles all around at the start of Bible Quiz season in Jamaica!!  From students, teachers/coaches, principals, the team in Jamaica, and me in Nebraska wearing a necklace from the island to remind me to pray! Today I’m looking through pictures posted by my fellow Jamaica travelers and I’m so there in spirit. And kindof pretending to be there by putting myself in the picture. Later I will probably have to woefully drink my last Ting, stashed in the back of the fridge, while scanning all the trip updates again and again.

Because I’m a caregiver, I get to go to Jamaica once or twice a year. I am not thinking that too many people have ever said that sentence before. Because I’m a caregiver, I’m freed up to give some of my time so that students on a gorgeous little island can put God’s Word in their hearts and feel awesome while doing so. Because I’m a caregiver, I’ve collected a treasury of experiences that I will no doubt still be talking about when I myself am old & gray. Because I’m a caregiver, I get to be a tiny, small, little part of several priceless ministries.

What a random set up I have going.  (Or, what a perfect plan God has going, that’s what.)

I like it.

(Go here, here,  or here for more Jamaica posts.) 


questions of color


Why have a brown door when you can have a purple door?
Why have a white classroom when you can have a lime green and yellow one?

That’s one thing I always enjoy about being in Jamaica- all the different, bold colors. And not just in the places everyone sees, but in tucked away classrooms, storage rooms, sheds. Why not?

When I was a teenager and we remodeled our farmhouse. My violin teacher Miss Linda went through all this trouble painting my closet the same light buttery yellow as my room, just because she knew I’d enjoy it.

My lifelong best friend’s mom painted their farmhouse a vivid light aqua. My mom thought it was the ugliest thing! And against the light browns, dark browns, brownish greens, and light blues of northeast Colorado… yes it is a bit shocking. But transplant that house to any street in Montego Bay, and it would be just another normal, boring, brightly colored home.

(I’m in Jamaica this week for Bible Quiz Nationals! Thanks for praying!!) 

monday gifts

Thankful for…

the best kind of Sunday dinner. Cinnamon rolls and biscuits and pasta and Jamaican soda and haricots verts pronounced in every possible way.

how a 5 year old boy will talk about football, Legos, and his favorite pair of underwear, all in the same serious, conversational way. It was a fun night babysitting for Erin!

the ups and downs of caregiving.


my work of creative genius- a children’s book of sayings from Psych, illustrated by me. According to Kathy “This is the weirdest children’s book ever” but Han & Caleb laughed alot when I gave it to them so I say it’s a success!

a new Flavia book, I’m trying not to race through it. Jill and I were #1 & #2 on the library hold list, we’ve been anxiously awaiting this book!

26 teams signed up for the Bible Quiz tournament in Jamaica next week! That is the most we have ever had! Very awesome. We are taking a smaller group of teens this year though, which means some of us will be running a quiz site solo. Doable, but I know from experience you end the day with no voice, a shattered brain and crossed eyes. Pray for us!!


photo by Jenny Schwager/Seasons Photography

fun night supporting Anna in her new career as a model! haha. (It was just for a church women’s event and she’s still planning to be a doctor as far as I know.)

my planner. May I never lose it.

my most battered old quiz book. Using it to re-learn verses for memory group this week. 1 John was and is a favorite of mine!