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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

We have been very busy the past two weeks, and finally now have some time to share some of our thoughts about the wide-range of experiences we’ve been having.
It appears to be cold and snowy back in the areas of the U.S. where 5 out of our 6 children live. Emily’s family in San Antonio has had some pretty cold weather, but in Texas that won’t last too long. Debbie does miss the changing of the seasons and especially at least a little snow, but Buddy’s okay with the year-round summer weather. Feeling very Christmasy is a bit of a challenge as it is so warm here in Jamaica with highs right around 88 each day. Fortunately, Jamaicans love Christmas, so there are Christmas decorations everywhere, and Christmas carols are playing in the stores. Yesterday, we even saw Christmas trees for sale at the grocery store although not the type of trees we were used to seeing in America.
We understand the rainy season is coming to an end which is just fine with us. We were able to go for a short swim in our nice little pool this week. Yes, senior missionaries can go swimming. We seem to be the only residents in the complex who really use the pool, so we always have it to ourselves. It’s good exercise and can be relaxing too.
We’ve been trying to go for walks in the mornings, and we saw this beautiful poinsettia plant (more like a tree) intertwined with another flowering plant on one of our walks. We’d never seen anything like this.The flowers right now are spectacular. They must thrive in the cooler weather and rain. The lawns are definitely greener.



So what's been keeping us so busy? 

President and Sister Pearson (mission president and wife) have traveled “off island” twice recently to visit the smaller islands in the mission to check on the welfare of the missionaries and the facilities. The mission nurse and her husband finished their mission here in early November, so Sister Pearson is now taking care of any medical needs. Sister Pearson asked if Debbie would fill in for her in this capacity whenever they need to be gone. It is a significant responsibility, but so far we’ve been able to handle the needs - mostly rumbly tummies, colds, coughs, sore throats, cramps, etc. Sister Pearson’s counsel was to listen, evaluate, and then make recommendations as we would with our own children. If anything unusual or serious were to come up, we have quick access to local doctors and hospitals and phone access to the Area missionary doctor in the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, we did have an elder end up with 5 stitches after taking an elbow to his eyebrow during a P-day ball game. This close communication with the sisters and elders has been a sweet experience. We are constantly amazed by the faith, obedience, and dedication of these young missionaries.
If you know any retired LDS nurses who would love to be on a beautiful tropical island for a year or two, please encourage them to put in their application to come serve a mission; they would be welcomed with open arms; we guarantee! 
On the first day of December, we were excited to join with millions of others all around the world to begin the Christmas countdown. Every day leading up to Christmas is a chance to look at the things Jesus Christ did and resolve to do the same. The Church is providing daily inspiration, suggestions, and encouragement on how we can follow the example of Jesus Christ and LIGHT the WORLD.
We also attended our first MLC (Missionary Leadership Council) on December 1st. This council is held monthly with President and Sister Pearson, the Assistants to the President (2 elders), the Zone Leaders (Jamaica has 4 zones, so there are 8 Zone Leaders – including 2 in the Bahamas who joined the meeting through Skype), and the Sister Trainer Leaders (4 sister missionaries) to council together. This meeting was an absolute feast of spirituality, vision, and unified purpose. We came away with many inspirational thoughts and feelings which will be with us forever. 
Two of the darling STLs                                             The handsome APs

With Elder and Sister McBride
at Montego Bay Branch Meetinghouse

Disclaimer: This next part is a bit wordy; that's just the way Buddy writes. So those who want to know details read on; for you non-detail folks, skim away and enjoy the pictures.

As soon as we returned to Jamaica from our trip to the states, we continued preparing for a visit from Elder James and Sister Glynis McBride. They serve as Welfare Missionaries under the direction of the Welfare Department at Church headquarters. They live at home in Canada, but travel frequently to the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. Their role is to act as advisers to local Priesthood Leaders in implementing Member Welfare Projects. They assist with various needs such as developing ideas, preparing proposals, monitoring, and evaluating projects. These projects are designed to assist in meeting the basic food and financial needs of saints who are currently unable to provide for themselves. Depending on the locale, projects may include the raising of chickens (broilers or layers), goats (for meat or milk), bees, pigs, rabbits, and the planting of gardens.

The idea is to provide a sustainable food source for the family, with the opportunity to sell any excess to earn money. The church may provide materials for coops, pens, hives, or garden boxes. Additionally, feed and medicines for the animals and seeds and tools for the gardening may be furnished. The families are given training and ongoing advice on their selected project by a local expert.

These “Pioneer Projects” are priesthood initiated and overseen. In council with the Welfare Specialists, Stake/District/Mission Presidents decide for their respective units if the projects should be attempted. Bishops/Branch Presidents are then directed to council with their respective ward or branch councils to select member families that could receive the most benefit from a project. When projects are approved, priesthood leaders then interview with the families to determine if there is enough interest and commitment to move forward. Each selected family is then required to attend and complete the 12-week “Starting and Growing My Own Business Course”. This is a church authored training course to assist the members in learning the basic fundamentals of business and sustainability. Armed with knowledge and desire, the saints have a better chance of being successful.

The priesthood leader then monitors the project’s progress with the assistance of a project manager or “champion” from the local unit who is called to oversee the day to day operations and report back to the local priesthood leader. The Bishops/Branch Presidents have regular interviews with each family to measure success and to provide accountability.

Despite the best efforts of all concerned, sometimes individual projects fail. The church has a “Second Chance Program” that allows for the re-evaluation of failed projects. The selection/training process is the same as for the original project, except the materials acquisition may not be needed since the coops, pens, etc. should already be in place. If approved, the church will provide new livestock and feed or seeds and fertilizer to get the project to a sustainable status.

 “Second Chance Projects” were the primary focus of the McBride’s visit to Jamaica. They were here in March and returned last week to check on progress (or lack thereof) of previous projects. We had the opportunity to arrange for the meetings with priesthood leaders around the island, transport the McBrides, and learn from them what our responsibilities are regarding member welfare. We are the In Country Coordinators (ICC). Our part is to advise and assist priesthood leaders (shadow leadership), provide for the purchasing of project materials as the agent for the church, receive reports from the various units involved, then report back to the McBrides. Whew!!!

The McBrides arrived from Canada on December 2nd. We picked them up at the airport then conveyed them to their hotel. Meetings began that very evening. We first met with the President of the Kingston Stake. Over the next week we met with two bishops, five branch presidents, the district presidency, the mission president, the self-reliance manager for Jamaica, and the Self-Reliance/Pathway sister missionary for Jamaica. Our travels took us from Kingston to Old Harbor, May Pen, Mandeville, Santa Cruz (twice), Savanna-la-Mar, and Montego Bay. We met with families in each city to observe their projects. The McBrides left for home on Friday. We enjoyed sharing fun and inspirational family and church service stories as we traveled. We quickly came to love and admire them and look forward to their next visit sometime in the Spring.



Hello up there!                                             Love their smiles.

                        Annie, the pet chicken.



This was an amazing learning experience for us as we observed and talked with saints living in the most humble of circumstances. We have gained a new perspective on our missionary calling and of how truly blessed we are to get to serve in this capacity. Father loves all of His children. We grow in our love for the Jamaican people with each passing day.


Today we attended the Kingston Stake Conference. This stake created in 2014 is the only stake in Jamaica - SO FAR. We wanted to share some of the incredible smiles of the fine sisters and elders we have the privilege of knowing. 

One of our new dearest friends - Self Reliance/Pathway Sister Missionary
Retired from the Ministry of Education.  

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing time! You guys look great! love hearing the stories!