The Voice: Summer 2003
Vanderkruks end time in Jamaica
John Vanderkruk writes:
My wife Malita (ex 90), Natasha, Daniel, and I have been working with
MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) in Jamaica for the past five years.
After graduating from Dordt in 1989, I worked with Hortico Inc. in Canada
while Malita went to grad school to further her studies in Psychology and
Dance Movement Therapy. We married in 1992 and settled in Waterdown, Ontario. Our
lifestyle was comfortable. Malita landed a great job with Columbia Health Care. We
were settling well, built a home, and gave birth to Natasha. We were
active in our community and church.
Five years later, we felt unsettled. I had begun to work long hours.
Many nights I came home long after Malita was asleep. One evening I
woke Malita up to share with her what I felt was a certain
vanity in our lifestyle. After tears we poured out our thoughts to our
The transition was not quick. It was almost two years after that one
late night that we made a career change. Daniel was born around this
time. How we packed our belongings and moved out of our home the
Christmas of 1997 so that a refugee family of eight from Pakistan could
move in when we did not even have our new career settled is
a separate story. Only when MCC sent us an email nearly two months
later did we receive affirmation that we would work towards community development in
a third world country.
Jamaica is known for its clear blue skies, turquoise waters, and golden sandy
beachesnot for the masses of poor, the corrupt government, and the violent communities
inland. In 1998 we moved to a small town in the Northern Parish
of St. Mary. Here we began to live and work with orphans and
underprivileged persons in the area. For two years we lived with and learned
with the people of St. Mary. It was an incredible experience: just to
be the minority, learn the language, and begin to be a part of
the culture. We lived on the compound of a childrens home, learned from
local farmers, and visited the Parish prison all as a part of our
work. The area had a reputation for being one of the most dangerous
in the landonly God could have made us feel safe. During this time
we welcomed Thomas to our family
At present we are living and working at Jamaica Bible College in Mandeville.
The campus is located in central Jamaica in the cool Manchester Mountains. Malita
has been teaching psychology and developing the program here. She has also worked
with the campus library and physical education programs. I worked in campus development,
community involvement, and constituency awareness. The college offers a three-year biblical program and
a two-year business program. Despite the socio-economic challenges, the college offers the country
and wider Caribbean an affordable Christian education for students to make a difference
in their world. Malita and I have witnessed Gods handiwork in the lives
of those around uswe have felt incredibly blessed.
In three weeks we will complete our work here. It has been a
rich five yearsbeyond our imagination. We have made wonderful relationships that have given us the courage
to continue to serve in any capacity that God lays out for us.