Farewell to Ochie
Even after a stay of five weeks in a church setting, the process of saying your farewells can be quite complicated. My farewell to the two churches that had adopted me began last Friday. The McKellas took me down to Hi-Lo Supermarket and one of Sister Sylvie’s favourite vegetable stalls in Ochie Market so that I could buy the materials for the ‘Thank you’ meal I was going to cook on the Saturday for Revd Russell and his family, the McKellas and Pat, my host, and TJ her son. We worked our way through two long shopping lists. Then I stayed on in Ochie at Computer Wizz – the internet cafe where I have been doing most of my blogging and e-mail sorting. I had a two long spells there and finishing around 6pm went over to St Andrews Church for 7pm for a lift to a special farewell party in the home of one of the St Andrews members.
This official farewell party was a splendid affair with a lavish 3-course buffet meal, some speeches and presentations, including the reciting of a specially-written poem by Sister Buck (pictured, above, handing the poem over to the departing dignitary). Then there was the singing of some lively Jamaican Folk Songs by four women, with Revd Russell on the drum (see the picture below). We all arrived home well after our regular bed-times.
Saturday, I cooked most of the day. I made a vegetarian version of Saturday Soup – a spicy split-pea soup with lumps of yam and spinners (my first attempt at making these delicious dumplings). Sister Mac made fried chicken and I contributed Hard Food, rice, Vegetable and Cashew Nut Stew, Gerrman Potato Salad, Avocado Salad and Macaroni Cheese, Oh, and Pat made Rum Sauce to go with my Apple Crumble…. Fortunately, it all came together and all the guests seemed happy. It felt good that my attempts to say ‘Thank you’ seemed to work so well.
The farewells continued on Sunday. Revd Russell called and took me to St Andrews, where I sang in the choir for the last time, then on to Lauriston, where I preached for the last time and where they gave me their own farewell gift – a specially-made keyring with a picture of the church on it. That Sunday, because it was Mission month in St Andrews there was an evening service at St Andrews at which I gave my last talk – a sort of re-run of the talk about the Jamaican Mission to Britain (since Windrush) that I’d given to Lauriston at their ‘Missionary’.
That was the final farewell to regular church members but on Monday morning John McKella took me and Pat down into Ochie and then Pastor drove us up Fern Gully and over the hills to Kingston, finally dropping me off at Shirley Retreat Hotel after lunch.
It’s amazing how engaged with folks you can become in five weeks! Everyone asked me to take greetings back with me to Tottenham and to all the folks in London with whom I serve. Here’s an advance on that – Greetings and God bless!