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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017

We had the amazing of experience of attending a special Stake Conference here in Kingston yesterday and today. Visiting authorities for this weekend were:  Elder Quentin L. Cook, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Sister Cook; President Walter F. Gonzalez, Caribbean Area President, and Sister Gonzalez; Elder Claude R. Gamiette, Area Seventy. We loved hearing their inspiring messages.


We also were thrilled to have visiting President and Sister Wingo,  the Panama City Temple President and Matron. We so enjoyed our time with them when we were at the Panama City Temple and count them as eternal friends. 

Both yesterday and today, the conference sessions were broadcast throughout Jamaica and to the other islands of the Caribbean. 

A Priesthood Leadership meeting was held yesterday, and as is often the case after these meetings, Buddy walked in the door and gave me a hug. I think without fail, at least one of the speakers at a priesthood meeting will admonish the brethren attending to go home and hug their wives, and that's exactly what Elder Cook did. Buddy never needs to be prompted to hug me, but even so he can say he was obedient to the direction from an ordained apostle. 
We came away from the conference with many motivating and encouraging stories, teachings, and statements recorded in our journals. Of course, on such occasions, we receive what is meant for us, so, our notes are different. What our notes do have in common are the words of Elder Cook's Apostolic Blessing. 

Elder Cook blessed the listeners to have a great desire to have Zion in our hearts and homes; to have increased faith through reading the scriptures, partaking of the sacrament, and worshipping in the temple; to spend more time studying the scriptures; to have joy, love, and unity in our homes and on parents to know what to do; to be able to rise above the many financial and societal challenges of life; to have increased reverence and religious freedoms in our countries; and to increase love of and faith in Jesus Christ individually and in our families.

There was silence and reverence in the chapel and connecting cultural hall as Elder Cook pronounced this blessing upon us all. Hearing his powerful words touched our hearts personally, and we trust the wonderful Jamaican saints will remember and lean on this beautiful blessing for many years to come.

The following is a wonderful video with Elder Cook sharing the history of missionary work and his apostolic testimony of the work. 

We submitted four projects for approval this week. This is the culmination of a lot of work especially on Buddy's part. He's very good at following up with participants to make sure we collect all the necessary quotes and information. We always tell the potential beneficiaries, the more specific information we can include in the proposal, the better. 
We definitely feel a sense of urgency as the year draws to a close. We want to make sure this year's funds allotted for caring for the poor and needy in Jamaica are utilized with proper stewardship. We prayerfully hope to receive the approval for all four projects which will ultimately serve thousands on the island. We'll share the details of these projects as soon as we get the good news from the Area Welfare Committee; we're very optimistic. 


Our Thanksgiving this year will not include turkey and all the fixin's, but we will still express our gratitude for the bounty of blessings we realize every day. We plan to join with the other senior missionaries to tour a Chinese Gardens here in Kingston on Thursday, and then we will all go out for a send off dinner for Elder and Sister Brown. Their diligent service has inspired us, and we will miss their smiling faces. We wish them all the best in their next chapter of life. 

Until next...our love you all

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Another week has come and gone here in beautiful Jamaica - well, let's amend that to RAINY Jamaica. It is definitely the rainy season in the Caribbean, and it seems to be much wetter than our last fall here. 

Because of the torrential rains, we weren't out much this week. Yes, we're from the NW where it rains a lot, but it's extremely different here because the streets and roads get terribly flooded very quickly; just getting from point A to B can be a real challenge. 

We did have the opportunity to transport some elders and sisters who needed to come Kingston for doctors' appointments; we always enjoy time with the young missionaries. We traveled to the north coast twice to Port Antonio and Montego Bay, so we were away from Kingston for most of two days. 

Today we drove north through the beautiful mountains and valleys to the north coast highway and then on west to Montego Bay to bring the sister missionaries back here. We stopped at the Linstead Ward on the way to attend Sacrament Meeting and were excited to be able to see their Primary Program - so adorable. This small ward only has 17 children in the Primary. They all did an amazing job sharing their budding testimonies of Jesus Christ and specifically of the blessings they could realize from choosing the right. Their parents and teachers are doing a good job of following the admonition in the scriptures to:
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6) 
A beautiful promise.

We are looking forward to a special visit from Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Claude R. Gamiette, an Area  Authority Seventy, who will be here next weekend for a special conference. I'm sure we'll have some insights to share. 


Buddy's turn: While we were inside much of the week, we did get two of the four projects we are working on submitted for approval. The Area Welfare Committee meets on Thursdays to consider projects, so we hope to hear back on Friday comin' (Jamaican saying for the day). Our hope is to get all of the outstanding information for our last two projects this week in order to submit them to the Area Office. There really is a lot going on right now but it's mostly completing paperwork, emailing, and making phone calls. 

In our Book of Mormon studies, we just finished the "war chapters" in the Book of Alma. I love the multitude of life lessons that are contained in those chapters. As we look at the conflicts and situations that the Nephites find themselves in, we can see how they prevail when they have divine help and fail when they lose divine assistance. The Lord's response comes quickly when they are repentant and quick to call upon Him. His response is slow or withheld when they are unrepentant and slow to rely on His might. We are often beset by forces that would attempt to destroy us. These chapters give us great examples of how to live our lives so as to claim Heaven's aid as we rely on His arm instead of our own. As we "liken the scriptures to ourselves" they come alive. 

Until next week...all our love

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Parable of the Sower

Mark 4:1-9
1 And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. 
2 And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,
3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth;
6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 
7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 
8 An other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.
9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage

I am inspired by the teachings in relation to this parable from the book, Jesus the Christ.
"Seed falling in shallow soil, underlain by a floor of unbroken stone or hard-pan, may strike root and flourish for a brief season; but as the descending rootlets reach the impenetrable stratum they shrivel, and the plant withers and dies , for the nutritive juices are insufficient where there is no depth of earth. 
So with the man whose earnestness is superficial, whose energy ceases when obstacles are encountered or opposition met; though he manifest enthusiasm for a time persecution deters him; he is offended, and endure not."
(Talmage, James E. Jesus the Christ: A Study of the Messiah and His Mission according to Holy Scriptures both Ancient and Modern. Deseret Book Company, 1974.)
I find as now we are in our 15th month here, I have to guard against allowing day-to-day obstacles thwart my enthusiasm. As we listen to the young elders and sisters, I am constantly motivated by their enduring commitment. I'm so thankful for each one and want to be more like them and have the zeal they have.
So, one of the frustrations - certainly not of eternal consequence - is the horrible condition of most of the roads throughout the island; we are thankful for the two nicely maintained tollways. We thought we'd share what we deal with on just the road we travel from our apartment. 

The photo above shows the size of many of the pot holes when we first arrived.
Below are what we're dealing with now. Yes, in Jamaica, we drive on the left side of the road, but not on this road. You drive on whichever side will avoid the most discomfort 
- which can be tricky during rush hour. 
Above - Looking toward our apartment complex gate. 
We have even named some of the biggest holes. 
The huge pothole on the bottom right started out as several small holes, but they finally became one in purpose - being as troublesome as possible!
Out and about it is often a game of dodging the holes 
WHILE dodging the other vehicles dodging the holes!

Fortunately, we can ignore some of the irritation of the potholes 
because of the beauty of other sights in our neighborhood. 

 Small bananas growing in a yard right around the corner.

We have four substantial projects very close to being ready for submission, so much of our work last week and this week is finalizing paperwork from the Project Leaders and entering everything into the computer program. We are excited and hope to have all four approved by the end of the year. These projects will ultimately serve 1000s of people in various ways. They involve providing equipment for pre-natal care for expectant mothers; laundry and kitchen equipment, and beds at a very-needy parish infirmary; beds at a small hospital; and vision examination equipment at a free vision center. 

Our other welfare services responsibilities allow for choice interaction with members and non-members alike as we continue the processes involved with creating and implementing Member Welfare Projects (food production) and conducting wheelchair follow-up interviews. We are especially grateful for the recent support from the four new Self Reliance senior missionaries to assist members in the training and planning aspects of creating businesses for raising chickens, bees, gardens, etc. 

This week we had the monthly SR missionaries FHE get-together in Mandeville. Elder and Sister Chandler had arranged for us to visit a very interesting museum which is still in the developing stage. When finished, it will be the culmination of many years of hopes and dreams of a newly baptized member of the Mandeville Branch. This brother has four doctorate degrees in various science fields. His main passion is geology. He purchased a 3 bedroom house located across the street from his home and is in the process of creating a 100 room museum by building up and out. We saw all 100 rooms. He has named the rooms after his ancestors to pay tribute to their legacy. He hopes to have the museum completed by 2020, a very ambitious goal. We were amazed by the enormity of this project as we walked up and down narrow stairways to see each room most containing 100s of items. 


 This is just a few of the conch shells he has collected over the years. 
We estimate he has over a 1000.


Brother Miller wanted to make sure we all went up on the roof of the building to enjoy the amazing view of the mountains and valleys around Mandeville. 

We definitely could feel his love, enthusiasm, and passion for this enormous undertaking to share his love of geology and nature with Jamaicans and all the world. A conference of visiting geologists from all over the world is already planned for 2020. We wish him well in meeting his deadline. With his indefatigable determination and hard work, we trust he will be successful. 
We attended two Zone Conferences this past week and were richly blessed by the teachings from President Pearson and the elders who serve as the Assistants to the Presidents.

Along with his other inspirational lessons, we appreciated President Pearson sharing the following from the recent mission presidents' training by the Area Presidency in the Dr:
  • We can connect with Heavenly Father through faithful prayer.
  • We can connect with Jesus Christ through faithful study of The Book of Mormon.. 
  • We can connect with the Holy Ghost through faithful membership in the Church. 
Until next week...all our love