Update from home

To all my friends and readers,

I apologize for the long silence, as always. For the past month, I have been living with my parents, in their two bedroom little house. My bedroom is really my Step-dad’s office, so we are sharing the very tight space together.

Work: I was hired from my first face-to-face interview (last week). Friday gone (July 22) was my first day at work and Monday will be my second. I’ll be sharing my time between two offices in San Francisco, working for a Fiduciary. Not sure of the spelling on that one, but I’ll learn! There is a lot of technical terms to learn for that job.

Now that I have been hired, I hope to also find my own apartment, and I am looking forward to that adventure!

Until I move out, however…

My Mom and Step-dad are remodeling the house that they will be moving into next, so every day and every evening, that is all they talk about. My mom just spent a week at a recorder (a wooden instrament) workshop and performed in two concerts-one last night and one this morning.

Every evening, or almost, Craig, my step-dad, practices his viola. I really wanted my mom to do the workshop because I want to see her spend as much time on her recorder as Craig does on his viola, though I can’t really see that happening. Anyway, I am excited for her, also because I want to be doing my art things and look forward to her supporting and encouraging me when the time comes.

Food shopping, house shopping, dinner, dishes, commuting, the people of San Fran, that is my life these days…

Take care and hope to hear from you!

Posted in Transition after Peace Corps | 2 Comments

Party and Presentation

To all readers and friends of this weblog:

For those that are in the area, there will be a welcome home party and presentation in the San Francisco Bay Area at the Sun Gallery in Hayward, CA on Sunday, June 26 from 3-5 pm.

I will be showing some of the photographs that I have taken over the two years and talking about my experience of two years in the Peace Corps in Jamaica.

If interested, please RSVP to (510)339-9472 or email me at rachelannamcvey@hotmail.com. Thank you and have a blessed day 🙂


Posted in Transition after Peace Corps | Comments Off on Party and Presentation

Coming Home!!

Dear Friends and family,

I have enjoyed my Peace Corps experience in Jamaica and guess what? It has
been two years already and it is time to come home! The experience has been

a good one that I will treasure forever. I will be coming home on Tuesday,
June 21! That’s less than a week away! For those of you in the SF Bay
Area, there will be a welcome home party on Sunday, June 26. Venue and time

are yet to be determined and if anyone is interested, please reply so that I

can keep you updated. For those at Principia, I am planning on coming to
give my presentation (to any class or group that invites me) in the fall.
Who knows? If I make it to the 10 year reuinion, I could give it there too.

As for plans, I am still listening. I would be honored to work at Principia

or The Mother Church, or another organization that harmonizes with what I
believe in (honesty, efficiency, compassion, also known as wisdom, economy,
and brotherly love, also known as Life, Truth, and Love).

If I stay in the Bay Area, I am hoping to set up my studio and start
committing time to art (making jewelry) and the Practice.

That is about all the news I can think of right now.

Much love and I would love to hear from everyone and anyone!


Posted in Peace Corps Experience, Transition after Peace Corps | Comments Off on Coming Home!!

Encounter on Duke Street

Today I had a remarkable experience. I was on Duke Street in downtown Kingston around 5:00 pm, I had a warm can of juice and proceeded to the closest establishment (a bar) that could give me a cup with ice. I was standing on the sidewalk drinking my now cool drink when the barman and I saw a very elderly man trying to take a step in the street. He had one shoe on and the foot without a shoe was quite swollen. The barman said that he thought that the man was pretty ill. I asked the barman if he thought that the man would accept the rest of my juice. He said “Its possible. Go try.” I went to where the man was and held out my juice. The look on his face was priceless. He looked genuinely grateful that someone would offer him something but even more, that someone would take the time to recognize him as a human being and friend. I helped him to the sidewalk and we both went our separate ways, but I can say that I am very grateful that I was privledged to have that experience. The whole thing only lasted about two minutes or less, but I hope that I won’t forget that precious smile that he shared with me.

Drugs and homelessness are very challenging here in Jamaica, and every day I pass people that are dealing with those problems on my way to work. Often, the same men, women, and children beg people for money and it is very difficult to know what to do. Giving money supports their drug and begging habits, but not giving leaves a person feeling like they are stingy and lack compassion. Often, walking on the street I have prayed for opportunities to show kindness that will mean something and not just taken advantage of. I pray that my heart will be open to future opportunites where I can continue to bless others through wisdom, kindness and compassion. The key to navigating these waters is to fully understand the depth of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmelss as doves.”

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | 2 Comments

News Commentary on US Drug Policy Overseas

Today I read several articles from the Monitor World, the weekly international version of The Christian Science Monitor. One such article (from the week of January 29- February 4) spoke of the US tactics in Afghanistan to destroy the opium trade. I was upset to learn of the strategies being implemented by the US government—crop spraying. This sounds simple at first, but accomplishes very little and would actually cause much more harm than benefits for all involved, including the Americans who devised the plan. Readers learn that the poppy trade comprises about 60% of the legal trade market and 40% of the market overall.

Now, I understand that the US has interests in the safety, health, and well-being of its citizens, and that drug use is a problem, and of course I am not a supporter of drugs, but I do not believe this gives cause to destroy 60% of another country’s “legal” revenues. An alternative [and I believe much wiser] option, as the article points out, would be to provide cash for farmers that were willing to grow other crops. Yes, this will take a lot of money, work, and creativity, since poppy farming is much more lucrative than other crops, but the end result is worth it. The article succinctly states “Economic shrinkage is one of the surest predictors of instability and conflict”.

And if the plan had gone through, “economic shrinkage” is an understatement. We would have had an instant civil war on our hands, one that the US had caused.

When you consider what the US was planning to do—spend $152 million on a mission to invade a country and destroy the livelihoods of how many countless people, just like that (with no knowledge of the side effects, the article noted) and no concern whatsoever for the well-being of the citizens, bystanders, and children in the area—that sounds like one plan for disaster to me. There has to be better methods and stratagies that consider everyone’s interests, and the US government needs to have the willingness to find creative solutions. Above all, if Bush is a Christian as he claims to be, he should start acting like one and practice the Golden Rule—to do unto others (other countries) as he would have them do unto him (his country).

Side note: The Golden Rule is embedded in most all of the world religions, each with their own version, but with the same idea: be loving/don’t be nasty. Each individual’s job is to focus on his/her own actions, and make sure that they are in line with this simple and universal principle—not to judge other persons and complain about how the other is not living up to the standard.

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | 1 Comment

Update on my activities

Dear Friends,

Last week I moved to Kingston, both to live and work. I had hoped that I would still be able to carry the cause of Old Harbour Bay from Kingston (which would have been easy to do, since there are many agencies here that have an interest/stake in the betterment of that seaside town) but I was reassigned to a totally different agency as well. You are probably wondering why the change since I only have two more months in Jamaica, and the answer is kind of complicated, but I will try.

Way back in early January, I was informed that there was a man in the community that was allegedly in the US armed forces and then tortured in prison and later deported. So he has been here in Old Harbour Bay for some years now, daily (according to his neighbors) cursing America and Americans. Rumours were going around that he was saying that if he ever saw me, he would inflict harm (in not so many words).

When this information came to me, the person asked me to tell the Peace Corps office, which I did that day. I was already planning a 6-day trip home to the States for later that week. The Safety and Security Officer asked me to pack my things that day and I would be spending the week in Kingston (until my departure).

Upon questioning the man, he told the police that if he had ever wanted to do anything to me, he would’ve done it a long time ago, since it is a small town and he saw me all the while (so he allegedly said). This is all so ironic to me because apparently he feared that I was a CIA agent and he felt that Bush had sent me to spy on him!— I don’t even know what he looks like! I guess some would be afraid in that situation, but I never felt the least bit fearful—I instinctively felt that I was protected.

Anyway, I did as I was told and packed my things that day (January 3rd), filed the required police report, and was whisked away in the large Peace Corps SUV. I came back to the community (as planned) on January 12 because I had a very important meeting that I wanted to attend and the PCO permitted me to go.

A few weeks later however, the Peace Corps Office asked/encouraged me to consider moving. They left it open to me where I would like to live. Kingston was a natural choice for me because that would enable me to attend Wednesday evening church service and make getting to church on Sundays much easier. Currently, it is only a 10 minute drive/20 minute bus ride instead of 1 ½ -2 hour ride of two buses and two taxis. It is great—I love my new place and this is only one of many benefits.

On the whole, my living situation is much easier to deal with—much quieter neighbors, a quieter household, no reggae/dancehall music shaking the walls, and I LOVE being so close to everything in town. The employment situation was not as smooth a transition, but I need to trust God, that He is in control and has a plan.

I am actually supposed to be leaving in August, but I have decided that I want to attend two events in June in Boston and CA, so I am applying to leave Jamaica on June 1st.

I always love questions, so please submit them and I will address them in the most appropriate way—either an entry or a personal email.

Take care and may each of you have a blessed day!

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | 2 Comments

Building Houses!

Dear Friends and family,

I hope that all of you out there are having God-filled and productive days. My very best wishes in all of your endevaours. Lately, I have been working a lot with different groups, joyously helping families build their houses.

One project is called Yard Project, and was started by people from Old Harbour Bay that currently live abroad. They were concerned about the effects of the hurricane on Old Harbour Bay, and so they started this organization so that they could support the community’s development. In January, Yard Project volunteers (from OHB but living in NY and Washington state and in between and regular OHB residents) constructed 10 houses on family land for people that experienced total destruction. The expatriates were here for two weeks and did what they could, but those first ten were all taken to a point. They left though, and the volunteers still in OHB continued the work. That is where my friend Russ and I came in.

If any of read comments that people post, well one such comment was from Russ Smith on December 11. Russ said that he would like to come to Jamaica to volunteer and “give back,” and did I have any suggestions for where he could use his skills of constructuion. My immediate thought was Habitat for Humanity, since I know they love volunteers and even more, skilled volunteers! After a few weeks of emails back and forth, he announced that he bought his ticket so there was no turning back.

Russ arrived on January 17, stayed in Spring Village, and worked with myself and another volunteer’s projects, in addition to Habitat work. So Russ and I helped work on Yard Project houses, but our specialty was installing the slat windows, while the Jamaicans put on the zinc roofs.

For a Habitat house, Russ and I were part of the bucket brigade to mix and pour cement roof. Here in Jamaica, the mix includes sand, stone (gravel), cement, and water. I was the person right next to the mason filling the buckets. Because the buckets were heavy and I wanted the nexxt person to be ready for them, I was calling “Bucket!” just about every 3-5 seconds. In this chain, the masons filled the buckets faster than the buckets could come back. There were three persons (including me) in the chain on the ground, one on a platform, and Russ was on the roof, pouring buckets into a wheelborrow, and the mason dumped the borrow it when it got full. That was quite a day. I hadn’t worked so hard in a long time.

The next Habitat house (in a community called Polyground) I helped with is a pre-fabricated house made out of plastic columns and peices that connect together. Steel (rebar) runs through the middle of every other peice and when the house is ready, cement is poured down through the columns. I helped out there yesturday for the second time. The first time I was there, about 2 weeks ago, we set up the house with the interlocking columns. Yesturday, we poured the cement for about half of the house. We probably would have gotton farther if we didn’t have water problems. See, water wasn’t running in the pipe, and we were going to need a couple hundred gallons. Many Jamaicans have large black plastic tanks of 400 and 680 gallons (sometimes even more). About five of us carried water, bucket by bucket, from the neighbor’s black tank to the one on the site. It was very slow though because of the tap at the bottom of the tank.

Carrying water like this reminded me of another house that the same Polyground group worked on. After our work day two weeks ago, we found ourselves heading to another site, just as dusk was coming upon us. One of the same volunteers, named “Locks” (for his dreadlocks) was to be recieving a house from Red Cross the next day, but the foundation still needed to be mixed and poured. We made our way down, and up the very steep dirt path (quarter mile) to the spot where his new house was to be built. He showed us what he had done and what needed to be done. Our task was to carry bags of stone from the entrance of the dirt road up to the site. Seven of us worked for about two hours, right up until we could barely see the road. That was a humbling labour of love. Apparently, Locks finished pouring the cement the next morning because yesturday he told me that the house was up.

Much love to all of you!

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | 2 Comments

Victory in the backyard!

Yesterday was a National holiday (Ash Wednesday) and I woke up (don’t ask what time) and called the owners of the house where I am staying (the owners are in the States) and asked about taking down the destroyed chicken coop.

They said go ahead and take it down so I did. I completed the job so much that the backyard looks so much better than even before I started. In the middle of the day however, I wasn’t so sure that I would get it all done. In fact, I really wondered how I would be able to finish it as it was getting late and there was still a lot to do to make the backyard usable again.

What was holding me back was trying to decide what to do with the scrap wood. In the end though, I relented and made a big fire–and thanks to my growing up years, I knew how to make a really nice minature bonfire . I justified it saying that no one else would want this rotten wood and I knew that I wasn’t burning any plastic. When the fire was at its tallest, I bet it was maybe 8 or 9 feet tall. I finally left the coals last night at 12:30 am.

The next day, this morning, there was a small pile of ashes. After coming home from my all day meeting (5 pm), I pushed the pile with a fire tender to find out that the small pile of ashes was really a fairly big pile of coals. They were still very hot! Anyway, it was a very long work day and I have a long clean up day tomorrow so take care and as always, I hope to write more soon.

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | 1 Comment

A Request Fulfilled

The picture above is of the Kingston Drummers at the Swearing in ceremony 2004. I had spoken about this ceremony last year and how I had hoped to post pictures. So, a year later, finally, here is a picture of the Kingston Drummers.

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | 1 Comment

BUSY, very busy with work coming out of my ears :)

Dear Friends,

Lately, I am very busy with work–I have a whole lot of projects coming at me from every angle. At work, we are publishing a magazine and putting on a Community Expo, just like last year. Today at work, it feels as though I made about 50 calls–I was on the phone all day, but it was worth it. The number of advertisements has tripled in the past 3 days.

I go to several meetings a week in various different circles of groups and people. On Monday (Nov. 8), I was at a meeting with about 40-45 fishermen discussing issues pertaining to the beach and hurricane relief. Every fisherman on the beach (which is several hundred) is about to be given a roll or two of wire which they make their fish pots out of. Since my # 1 project is the development of the fishing beach, I was able to get a few minutes where the men told me their ideas of what they would like to see on the beach.

Thursday at 1:00 I was at a meeting with some other community members and we were supposed to meet with a UNICEF representative. As it turned out, the UNICEF rep couldn’t show and the group applying for the funds wasn’t quite ready anyway. We learned more of what the project needs to get the funding though, and that was good.

Next week Tuesday (Nov. 16) is our next Fishing Beach Management Committee meeting, where we should be electing an Executive body and confirming the Constitution. I hope that we will also have a chance to talk about development issues, or at least set up a committee that is willing to really dig in and commit thought and time for real progress. I say that because at so many meetings, the people come to chat but not to work.

Another project I am working on is applying for some funding to fix up the local Community Center–partly for hurricane relief and partly to make the center more user friendly (like connecting the bathroom and kitchen to the sewer system).

Anyway, this is just a snapshot of what I am up to these days. The job is really nice because it is pretty flexible and the demands are always changing, thus keeping me on my toes. I find that I love work, and it is when I don’t have work to do that I am in trouble–or when I procrastinate doing my work.

One of my favorite things to do for fun is to ride my bicycle around town and so forth. Not all the roads are paved, so sometimes the ride is very bumpy, but that is okay because my (mountain) bike has shock absorbers. When I ride, anywhere I go, several people always wave and say hello (being the only white girl in town makes me pretty popular) and I say hello, morning, afternoon, or evening, back.


Posted in Peace Corps Experience | 3 Comments