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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. 

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. 

Two weeks ago at church, a sister spoke to us about a need she knew of at a preschool here in Kingston. On Thursday, she accompanies us to show us the way to the school and to introduce us to the principal. This little school is in a 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. 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 who, along with others, 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 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 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, 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. 

1 comment:

  1. I love hearing all these stories-thank you for sharing! We love you guys!