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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Prayers were answered here in Jamaica, and Hurricane Matthew drifted east of the island. A few places received heavy rain, and we did end up with one big sink hole on a busy street here in Kingston, but that kind of rain is very typical.

In our follow-up meeting on Friday at ODPEM (Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management), the initial discussion was about feelings of gratitude for being spared and feelings of sadness for the devastation in Haiti. The group talked for quite a while about faith and prayers being answered. We haven't attended many government agency meetings in the U.S., but we imagine it is highly unlikely religious discussions are present in most government meetings there. Committee members' expressions of gratitude were also coupled with trying to explain why the prayers of the Jamaicans were answered, and the prayers of the Haitians were not. Their faith is just as strong; maybe even stronger. Many people spoke of the puzzlement we as humans feel in these disaster situations or when we witness one person miraculously healed and yet see another, who had prayed just as fervently, die from the same disease.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why are some prayers answered and seemingly others are not.

Buddy and I were discussing this universal question again today. Our studies led us to a few things that gave us greater understanding:

Doctrine and Covenants 122:7

 And if thou shouldst be cast into the , or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

John Bytheway (a well-known LDS speaker) shared, 

“Early in the Book of Mormon, an angel asks Nephi a tough question, ‘Knowest thou the condescension of God?’ Nephi answers, ‘I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things’ (1 Nephi 11:16–17). Nephi’s answer is a perfect statement for us to remember in times of trial. We don’t know the meaning of all things. We don’t have all the answers to explain all the tragedies in the world and in our own neighborhoods. However, we know, we are sure, that God loves His children.

[Buddy was able to testify of Heavenly Father's love for all His children in the meeting discussion.]

“God already knows what we’re made of, but perhaps He wants us to learn what we’re made of. I think we would all agree that we learn more from our tough times than from our easy times. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. We don’t know the meaning of all things, but we know God loves His children! And because He loves us, He will never desert us” (John Bytheway. “Five Scriptures that Will Help You Get Through Almost Anything.” New Era September 2008.)

Besides the hours of running around on Monday and Tuesday continuing to help with preparations for Matthew’s arrival, we were able to work on some of our other responsibilities this week. We are “learning our duty” (Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence. Doctrine and Covenants 107:99) We are feeling more confident, but we still have so much to learn and to experience.

We have been invited to return to meet at ODPEM next week. Each faith-based relief agency participating on this committee has been asked to share and give input. ODPEM recognizes that the government and other relief agencies cannot take care of everyone's needs immediately in a time of crisis and that there needs to be more personal responsibility. Of course, those most vulnerable should be the prime focus, just as they are for us as humanitarian missionaries. There is an urgent need to better educate and elevate the awareness of the Jamaican people to lead to more self-reliance particularly in disaster situations. We hope to share some of the core concepts of emergency preparedness taught by the Church - for example food and water storage, 72 hour kits, etc. As always, it is a matter of teaching correct principles and then people governing themselves. 


Yesterday, we took an exploratory drive going east from Kingston. We hadn’t traveled this way before, and we wanted to find the meetinghouse for the Yallahs Branch and to scope out a beach or two to maybe enjoy in the future. I know, I’ve spoken of our experience with bumpy, windy roads previously, but, oh my; once again this was quite the adventure. We could see the beautiful ocean as we drove along the coast, but we didn’t find a way down to the shoreline except for one place which really wasn’t a true beach access. Next time, we need to ask some of the locals.

Here we are next to some beach front property we found. Just needs a few improvements, don't you think? I bet Flip or Flop or Fixer Uppers could make this place look great. 

This is the tiny chapel where the mighty Yallahs Branch meets. We braved the roads again and attended meetings there today. It's about 27 km or 17 miles away. The people were very welcoming, and we came away uplifted and enriched by the faith-filled testimonies shared in Fast and Testimony meeting and in the lessons. One of the fine elders of the Jamaica Kingston Mission was sustained as the new Branch President today. I should have gotten a picture of this wonderful young man; he has the greatest smile. There are four elders assigned to this area, and we know they are needed and appreciated. 

See the porch? That is where Priesthood Meeting was held today.
Buddy says it was really quite comfortable because of a nice breeze. 

Last of all for this week:
We of course are not permitted to nor would we solicit funds for any specific projects we're involved with here in Jamaica, but we do want to encourage contributions to help Haiti. We understand that the best way to help is to donate money. 

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading this! Thanks for the updates and reminders of we don't understand everything now but God is all knowing and loves us!