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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Jerk chicken with rice and peas (peas = pinto beans). 

We did it! We ate at a Jamaican cook shop for the first time. We were in Spanish Town to deliver some things to the elders there, and since they've helped us out several times, we wanted to buy them lunch. They introduced us to one of their favorite places just down the road from the church building. We have been a little nervous about buying food from one of these restaurants, but we trusted the elders' choice and were not disappointed. The food was quite good. 

This week we had the joy of delivering some audio/visual equipment as part of the final stages of a preschool project. The kids and staff were so excited. While Buddy and a young man on the staff (the principal's son who is waiting on his mission call) were setting things up, I had the fun opportunity to read and sing with the kids. When I first sat down, several of the little ones came over to touch my hair and skin. They were very curious about this faired-skinned, gray-haired lady. There was a little bit of competition as to who would get to sit closest to me - of course, I loved every moment.

They're watching Barney - a universal favorite. 
It was the only DVD available at the moment, but we were told 
they would have some educational videos to watch soon. 

 Some of the kids were much more interested in watching the video 
than getting their pictures taken. 

We also delivered some stepping stones to this school a couple of weeks ago so they wouldn't have to walk in the mud out to the kitchen and the rest rooms. They did a such cute job of laying the stones.  

We love the little part we are able to play in the fulfillment of such projects and especially being able to hear the heartfelt expressions of gratitude - not to us, but to Jesus Christ - for the answers to their prayers. That is exactly as it should be.  

Otherwise, this week was not as busy as previous ones have been. We are at the point of waiting for several partnering organizations to get back to us regarding projects. We of course continue to use our time seeking out ways we can help the great people of Jamaica. 

Today, we attended Sunday meetings at the Spanish Town 1st Ward. We enjoyed meeting new friends and look forward to future service opportunities in this community. In the Gospel Principles class today, the lesson was on temple work and family history. One of the fine elders led a good discussion, but it is difficult for investigators and even many of the members to understand and to relate to the blessings of the temple since there is no temple here in Jamaica. The closest temple is in the Dominican Republic and few have had the opportunity to travel there or to any temple. We pray every day that the time will soon come for a temple to be built here so everyone can have the eternal blessings afforded by the temple ordinances. During almost every Sacrament meeting we've attended so far there has been a confirmation of a newly baptized member or an announcement of an upcoming baptism. We are excited to see the Church growing here and know that in due time the Jamaican Saints will have the blessing of a temple in their midst. 

Thank you for your continued love and support. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

The temporal highlight of this last week was enjoying this beautiful sunset on the beach at Negril, Jamaica. We were there for a night during a trip to check on a humanitarian project in nearby Savanna-La-Mar. Seeing sights like this is a definite benefit of serving here. On Sunday morning, we attended church in Savanna-La-Mar. We love being able to meet and worship with the Jamaican saints all over the island. 

We've been here over 2 months, but this was our first taste of jerk chicken, and it was indeed quite tasty. It was served on top of what they called succotash (a bit different from what we thought succotash was). This was almost like refried beans but made with either garbanzo beans or hominy and corn.  It was very good, but oh, mon, extremely SPICY! Surprisingly this was much spicier than the chicken. The fried plantain garnish was delicious too.

We were able to return to the May Pen Primary School this week for another meeting with the principal and other staff members to continue our discussion of a potential project there. Because the year is quickly coming to a close, this will most likely be proposed in 2017, but we still wanted to continue the information gathering now. After our meeting, we ventured out to stroll through the busy market place that is always on the streets around the school. It is filled with vendors selling everything from cabbage to shoes.  Quite the experience.

The weather here now is pretty much the same every day. It's cooler in the mornings and evenings (only mid-80s instead of mid-90s) with thunderstorms every afternoon. Our drive back from Negril yesterday was quite the adventure. There was a torrential rainstorm.  We were on windy, mountain roads, and many of the "Sunday drivers" were NOT taking the weather and road conditions into consideration. Some of the pot holes were big enough to swallow our truck. I imagined cayman (look like crocodiles) swimming in some of the deeper ones. It was pretty crazy. My neck and jaw always hurt after these trips. Buddy keeps telling me to relax; yeah, right!
We received the sweetest letters from each member of Jeff's family this last week. Of course, we love picking up mail at the Mission Office, but as I shared with all the family in an email today, anyone wanting to write to us may want to just email. Mail seems to be taking way too long - up to 2 weeks. We would love to receive emails, or scans of handwritten letters, drawings, pictures of preschool/school projects, essays, stories, etc. Can you tell I'm missing seeing these things? 

I also wanted to relate to you one of our spiritual highlights of this last week. I have permission from our oldest son, Jeff, to include a portion of his letter. He was definitely inspired to share this with us at this time, and we wanted to share it with you. This was an experience from his mission.

I was in the office with President Galbraith and there was a group of missionaries who had finished their missions and were about to go home and there was also a whole group who had just arrived. It was unusual to see this because they usually came in and went out on the same flight, and they never got a chance to talk. But for some reason this time they were all in the mission office. One of these brand-new, fresh-from-the-MTC, green-as-can-be missionaries asked one of the veterans, 'What is the one bit of advice you would give to a new missionary?' I think he was expecting something along the lines, of 'Work hard, Elder,' or 'Don’t drink the milk,' or 'Study your Russian,' or something like that. But what the veteran elder said was very profound, and it has stuck with me since.  He said, 'Elder, don’t resist the changes that the Lord will make within you.'

It caused me to think about my willingness to be molded and shaped and changed and the resistance that I would put up.

Two scriptures come to mind that encapsulate this thought:

Matthew 16:24-25
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Mosiah 3:19
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. 
[Interestingly, this was the foundational scripture for Jeff's "homecoming" talk in 1997 when he returned from his mission.]

This principle of submission, is what Elder Wright was talking about with this new missionary.  It’s what the Savior has said many times. It truly is the message of the invitation to “Come, follow me” …it is the mark of discipleship.

There is no better place to learn and to practice this than on a full-time mission.

Jeff went on to encourage us to get rid of distractions in our life and fully submit as there is no better place to do so. We feel very blessed to have received this wise and valuable counsel. Thank you, Jeff.

I asked a young man who sat by us at church yesterday if they celebrated Halloween here. My new young friend replied, "No, but we sure do Christmas!" I admit I bought a bag of the bite-size chocolate candy bars at our Costco-like store. I'm divvying out only 2 or 3 pieces to myself every day. I don't even have to share; Buddy isn't a chocolate lover like me.

So until next week...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday, October 16, 2016

Smart Start Basic (Preschool) School      Linstead, Jamaica
Today was National Heroes Day here in Jamaica. It is a day when the people of Jamaica give thanks and honor seven National Heroes who fought for freedom against the tyranny of slavery, for adult suffrage, and for the birth of independent Jamaica. There are awards ceremonies, celebrations, and events going on all over the island, but we actually were advised to pretty much stay in. Evidently, some of the celebrating can get a bit wild. 

The seven national heroes are shown above painted on the side of the building of one of the preschools we work with. Jamaicans are very proud of their heroes and their heritage. 

On this day not only are the national heroes of the past honored, but also modern day heroes are recognized for gallantry and service in the community. This young man heroically saved people from a house fire. Maybe next year, we'll brave the crowds and attend the awards ceremony that is held on the lawn of the King's House here in Kingston. (The official residence of Governors of Jamaica have always been called King’s House even during the reign of Queens.) It's a beautiful place we pass by almost every day. We need to check to see if there are public tours. 

This week we spent a fair amount of our time in the "office" in our apartment. We successfully made many necessary contacts and continued to organize and plan our efforts. We have 11 files on Buddy's desk containing the information about projects in various stages of progress including some we are continuing from our predecessors. Some projects can take a couple of years to complete. We received information this week from SLC that another major vision project is planned for 2017. Our part is to provide logistical support on this end. In the past these projects have involved multiple donations of sophisticated optical equipment and the training for use and maintenance. 

Hi, all, Buddy here. It was suggested that I occasionally add my perspective, so here goes. It is hard to believe that this week will mark the end of our second month in Jamaica. We have been busily engaged in the task of learning our duty and coming to grips with the enormity of what needs to be done. It is a lot like quail hunting: the birds flush, they all rapidly take flight at the same time and go in all different directions. If you just shoot in all directions, generally you will miss everything and accomplish nothing. You have to find one bird and concentrate on it to have a chance for success. There is so much that needs to be done; it is difficult to narrow things down. This is where the Spirit comes in. As we pray to know what direction to go, we receive the insight to move. Remembering that this is His work and not ours provides motivation to serve with love and compassion.

This missionary experience has been a blessing to Debbie and me. We have drawn closer to each other in wonderful ways. After over four decades of married life, we have the opportunity and blessing of really concentrating our attention and service on each other. Our daily companion study has been enlightening and a delight as we discuss gospel principles. Morning and evening prayers together draw us closer to heaven and the Divine as we in unity petition Father on behalf of our family members at home and our new family in the Jamaica Kingston Mission. We are learning to live on less and to be grateful for what we do have.

Our love for the Jamaican people grows each day, as we serve them and come to know them individually. They are delightful souls that have welcomed us with open arms, literally. The women greet each other with hugs and smiles on the first encounter. It has been fun to watch the open way they have embraced Debbie in church meetings. The little ones are adorable and very much loved by all. The saints are the same all over the world. The gospel life is the best life.

We'll close this week with a sweet experience Emily shared in an email: 
Oh my gosh the cutest story: so I was putting the boys to bed and Landon had some questions. He started asking about the resurrection and where our bodies will go, how will it happen, and where will we be, etc. Our conversation just kept going, and I was talking about signs of the Second Coming and how there will be wars, earthquakes, and things, but that more importantly people on the Earth needed to get the chance to hear about Christ before the Second Coming can happen. Landon replied with a sweet but anxious tone in his voice, "Grandma, Papa, hurry, get lots of missionary work done so we can have the Second Coming before the wars!" 

Emily went on to remind us, that even though we are not knocking on doors we are sharing the light of Christ with the people we are serving. We are certainly doing our best. 

I love this quote from Sister Jean B. Bingham, First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, so I made a little poster for the wall by our desks.

Love to all.