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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday, September 25, 2016

This week we spent some of our time in the office in our apartment making phone calls and emailing many people continuing the work with a few humanitarian projects already in place and gathering information about potential projects. 

May Pen Primary School

On Wednesday, after our personal and companion study time and doing more phone calling and emailing, we went to a town west of here to visit a primary school and talk with the principal who reached out to us about a possible project there. A church member is one of the school's guidance counselors. They have over 2000 students, 1st-6th grade. Because they're so big, almost all the schools here do split shifts. Some kids go 8 AM -12 noon, and then others 1 PM - 5 PM. We were impressed by the dedication and vision of the principal and staff.

The school is in need of a lot of help, especially electronics like computers and projectors. Just like in the US, the government wants them to implement new curriculum, but computers are needed to do so, and there's no funding for those. They also really need fans for classrooms and AC for offices, and some improvements to the kitchen. It gets really hot there, and there's only a one layer of board roof, so there's no insulation to keep out the heat. One of the buildings is 3 stories; it must be stifling hot up on the 3rd floor! 

After we met with the principal, we went to see some of the classrooms. The kids were so adorable. In one class, the teacher had them all stand to welcome us, and they spoke to us so politely as a group in unison. "Good afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart," etc. and of course they're all in neat uniforms. So cute! I don't know how they keep their uniforms looking so clean and pressed. Driving around, we always see uniforms from little preschool to high school sizes hanging out to dry on all types of clotheslines. 

They do seem to really value education here in Jamaica. We had a great visit, and we hope to gather enough details to be able to propose a project to help them in whatever ways we can. 

Nadz Kidz World Early Childhood Institution
Two weeks ago at church, a sister, Jessica Lamey, spoke to us about a need she knew of at a preschool here in Kingston. On Thursday, she accompanied us to the school, Nadz Kidz World, to introduce us to the principal. This little school is in a very poor neighborhood and needs many improvements. We met with the very sweet, young principal. (I say young, but it's hard to tell ages. Jamaican women don't really show their age at all - luckies!) We discussed the needs and what we can and cannot potentially help with. At the top on their needs' list is a new playground. Their current playground has been overtaken by goats and needs a new fence and play structures. 

If you zoom in, you'll see the goats.
This isn't intended to be a petting zoo!
Maybe when we go back again we can read to the little ones. They were so cute in their little purple and white uniforms. Throughout Jamaica, all the students wear uniforms that match the paint colors of whatever school they attend.

Saturday, we took a trip to another town west of here, Mandeville. We have driven this route several times now, so we're becoming very familiar with the roads. This time we went to meet up with two of the district priesthood leaders, President Watson, and President Haughton, who along with one other member, Sister Bodily, have undertaken a farming project as a result of their desire to be an example and to lead the way in self reliance. They have leased 5 acres and have begun to clear the land and plant crops on a limited basis. Fortunately, they do have water available as part of the lease. 

So far, they've planted pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, corn, and plantain and were planting bok choy that day. 

Buddy says the red dirt reminds him so much of Oklahoma. This experience brings back fond memories for him of many summers spent helping Pappy on the farm, and all that hard work is proving to be good training for understanding such a project as this. Who knew that all those hot summer days of being exposed to the hard work of running a farm would one day provide such valuable insight.

As Welfare Services missionaries, we hope to be able to help them expand their project by possibly assisting with the leasing of equipment to clear and cultivate the land, providing implements, and especially inspiring others to join in their labor intensive efforts. We certainly admire their vision and diligence in following the council we've all been given to become self reliant. This type of assistance would be considered a Welfare Member Project. As we understand, it still falls within our responsibilities, so it is another potential humanitarian project for us to research and propose. 

Our son, Collin, loves the color orange. We found the perfect Jamaican house for him!

I'll close today with just a couple of thoughts from Saturday evening's Women's Session of General Conference:

We will receive the answers we seek, if we keep knocking - even if we may have to go to the 4th floor, last door! paraphrased (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

We should not avoid offending someone and fail to speak up for or against sensitive issues.  "If we don't teach our children and youth true doctrine and teach it clearly, the world will teach them Satan's lies." (Young Women General President Bonnie Oscarson)

And one more thing.  We want to congratulate our dear young friend back in Vancouver, Travis Hullinger, on his call to serve in the Trinidad Port of Spain Mission. We have watched him grow into an amazing young man, and we know he will be a great missionary. He was born of "goodly parents" who we love and admire so much, and he has kept himself worthy and ready to serve. We wish him all the best. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

We continue to enjoy the beauty of Jamaica and especially the wonderful people. They are so friendly and helpful.

This week our travels involved going to Port Antonio by way of another mountainous road.  Port Antonio is on the northern coast, so we drove up through the middle of the island once again but on a different road. The scenery was gorgeous, but the road had almost constant switch backs and was very narrow and a bit rough in places. I commented that it was a good thing neither of us get car sick.  (Laura, Heather, Kaylee, and all the others who do get car sick, you would NOT have enjoyed the ride!) We saw a huge banana plantation and a botanical garden on the way; maybe we'll be able to visit these in the future.

We were surprised to find the LDS Meetinghouse right on the coastline road. The young elder who serves as the Branch President, Elder Rowley, and his companion, Elder Wood, greeted us as well as several branch and community members.  Many hands made quick work of assembling the 100 school kits that will be so useful to elementary students. This project is a combined effort with an NGO (non-governmental organization) called Triumphant Outreach Ministries. It was great to interact with these fine people and to see this project nearing completion.  The kits were to be distributed on Saturday. 

It had been raining in the mountains, so the drive back was all the more challenging even needing to dodge a rock slide that had closed off our lane in one place. Many of the streets back in Kingston were flooded, but we made it home just fine. 


Immunization is one of the major humanitarian initiatives of the Church—the others being: clean water, emergency response, food production, neonatal resuscitation training, vision care, and wheelchairs. The Church has contributed millions of dollars to help provide funding for immunization supplies such as vaccines and syringes. Our part as Welfare Services Missionaries in this initiative is to receive requests from medical clinics for vaccines, pick up the vaccines from the Health Department, and then deliver them in coolers quickly back to the clinics. We attempted this on Friday, but unfortunately the GPS sent us on a bit of a wild goose chase resulting in our missing the open hours of the Health Department. We will take care of that first thing Monday morning. 

Mandeville Meetinghouse
Sunday - we drove 1 1/2 hours west of Kingston to visit the Mandeville Branch. We didn't know ahead of time that the office couple, the Browns, and the newly arrived senior missionary couple, the Gotfredsons, would be there also. It was great to meet and welcome the new couple to Jamaica. They will be serving as Member Leadership Support missionaries beginning with an assignment in May Pen. There was quite a stir as the office elder (who also serves in the Mission Presidency) presented large white envelopes to two young sisters - their mission calls.  One sister is called to serve in the Trinidad Port of Spain Mission (learning Dutch), and the other in Cape Verde Praia Mission (learning Portuguese). We are so excited for these sisters. Their willingness to leave their families, step into the total unknown, and learn new languages shows their amazing faith, their love of the Lord, and their desire to share the message of the Gospel.