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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday, July 23, 2017

July 23, 2017 Our Mission Hump Day 

Today is the half way mark of our mission. The time is going by so fast - which is good and bad. Good because we miss our family and will love being back with them, but bad because we love Jamaica and there is much more for us to do here and so little time. 

As far as what we expect to happen this next year...we expect to continue our work right up to the end. We will do much more than last year because we know so much more about our responsibilities and how things work here in Jamaica. Looking back we had a pretty steep learning curve at first even though our predecessors were fantastic to prepare us as much as they could by email and Skype even before we went into the MTC. They have been great to help us all along the way if we had questions, but of course, until you actually do something it's all theory; the practical aspects of some of the things we do were a bit shaky at first. Now when someone asks us what we do we don't have a quick answer; our calling has so many facets. 


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We were in Kingston all this past week. We had a Handing Over Ceremony for the project with the Jamaica Society for the Blind. This is a project we've been working on since last fall, and it was all finally completed just a couple of weeks ago. We loved working with the director and staff at the society. They taught us a great deal about the culture and needs of the blind here in Jamaica and universally.

Part of the Press Release:

Jamaica Society for the Blind Receives Donation from LDS Charities

LDS Charities, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a leading provider of goods and services and proponent of giving aid to those in need has made a donation of seven (7) Perkins Braillers (Braille typewriters), twenty-nine (29) folding canes and nineteen (19) rigid canes, and partial funding for a Centrevue Fundus Camera to the Jamaica Society for the Blind in Kingston, Jamaica. This humanitarian contribution was for JMD $1,045,828.14 in equipment. The Braillers will re-establish a Brailler loan program for persons who wish to prepare materials in Braille to improve productivity and self-reliance; the canes provide increased mobility boosting confidence and self-reliance; and the fundus camera, a specialized low power microscope with an attached camera, is for diagnostic examinations at Jamaica Society for the Blind Vision Centre. All of these items will help further the cause of the society for the blind.

When asked about the support from LDS Charities Conrad Harris, Executive Director of the Jamaica Society for the Blind had this to say: “It has been a real pleasure working with LDS Charities. They have been very willing to sit with us and learn what our major needs are, and they have responded quickly once they find they are able to help. We are extremely pleased that the support they have provided will directly benefit the clients whom we serve.”

We feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to work with the inspiring people of the Jamaica Society for the Blind. Being able to facilitate this donation, to help the society fulfill its role in the community to help in the creation of more opportunities for the visually impaired, is one of the special projects we have been involved in during our time here in Jamaica,” stated Elder Richard and Sister Deborah Stewart, Welfare Services Missionaries of the Jamaica Kingston Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A special Handing Over Ceremony was held Friday, July 21, 2017 at 10:00 AM at the Jamaica Society for the Blind Vision Center located at 111 ½ Old Hope Road, Kingston.


 Buddy and  Damon McLean, Chairman of the Board

 L to R Standing: Sandra Harris, Director of the Vision Centre & us
Seated: Conrad Harris, Director of JSB & Damon McLean, Chairman
The above was the only picture in the press release.

 Mr. Harris with the new fundus camera

 and with one of the Brailers and canes

Buddy presented a new folding cane to one of the society's clients. 
His old cane had been run over by a car.

Of course, there are so many other NGOs in need of assistance here in Jamaica, but we would love to work with these people again soon. 

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We have one sister missionaries companionship here in Kingston. We've had the opportunity to interact with them quite often. They are so dear to us. Friday morning about 1:06 AM, we got a call from them. Of course, whenever the phone rings in the middle of the night, all kinds of things go through our heads - especially when we are on medical duty like we have been the past 10 days while the Pearsons were visiting other islands in the mission. The precious young sisters had been without power for at least 8 hours and were sweltering in their upstairs apartment. It was a very hot night with absolutely no breeze. They said they couldn't sleep because they were so hot. We told them we'd be right over. Buddy checked the circuit breaker, and then he checked the meter outside. Sure enough, the "red tag of shame" was on their meter. Somehow the office financial elder had overlooked the payment. Oops. He's new at this job, and even if he weren't, no one would be angry with him; these things happen. We had this same situation at our apartment a while back. We had the girls grab their things for the night and the next day and took them to our apartment. We have an extra room with a bed and an inflatable air mattress just for these instances. They slept peacefully all night - most assuredly the coolest they'd been their whole missions. They stayed and did their studying and planning while we went to the Handing Over Ceremony. We told them to enjoy a nice hot shower - they normally do not have hot water - and to help themselves to lunch. Their power was still not back on when it was time for them to go to a couple of teaching appointments. We picked them up later to take them home, and fortunately the power was back on. We were so glad we could help these little damsels in distress. We love the young elders and sisters so much. We think of when our children served missions and how we prayed they would have people taking care of them. It is a pleasure to pay back all the kindnesses they were shown in some way. 

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Ocho Rios

Today, we drove to the north coast to Ocho Rios for church. It is an easy and beautiful drive up there since we can go on a tollway. We always enjoy worshipping with the Ocho Rios Branch saints. One of the elders who is leaving this week bore a fervent, touching testimony of his love for the people he has served and for his Savior. He tenderly expressed his love for Jamaica when he said, "I don't know if I'm going home or leaving home." We wish him well.  

The Sunday School lesson today was entitled, "Establish a House of God." As a class we had an amazing and inspirational discussion of the blessings of the temples. 
Santo Domingo Temple
We will have a chance to go here on during the week of 
August 14-18 while we're in the DR for Area welfare training 
with the other Welfare Services missionaries in the Caribbean. 

Panama City Temple
We are going here August 28 - September 2 
with about 40 other people from Jamaica. 

Many Jamaican saints save for years before they are able to afford the long trip to a temple, and then it is often the only time they will go. Our teacher today told of saving for years to be able to go and the extraordinary experiences she had. Others spoke of being so emotional when it was time to leave the temple and crying on the bus all the way back to the airport. My heart went out to them for their faith and courage to make sure they received the eternal ordinances for themselves and their loved ones living and deceased. 

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We have a busy week ahead with among other things a project culmination and Handing Over Ceremony in Montego Bay. We'll write about that next Sunday. This week is also transfer week, and we are involved with some of the moving to and fro of the elders and sisters. There are 13 missionaries going home, and I believe, 15 new ones were expected, but at the last minute, 9 of those became visa waiters and will not arrive yet. It is an exciting time as new companionships are formed and new missionaries are welcomed to the island to start their joyful journey.

Until next week...

All our love. 






Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday, July 16, 2017

We had a fairly quiet week at home in Kingston. We were able to get a lot of paper work done for completed and current projects. We've received approval for two new projects and are anxious to get them underway. 


The weather is very predictable right now with lots of sun and warm temperatures in the earlier part of the day; then every afternoon about 2 PM the clouds roll in resulting in rain and thunderstorms. Just this afternoon we had a few loud claps of thunder, the electricity went out for about 10 minutes, and then the skies went back to just being very cloudy. 

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Tuesday evening, President and Sister Pearson invited us over to the Mission Home for a lovely dinner with them and two missionaries who were leaving mid-transfer. This fine elder and sister have served diligently and will be missed. 


 Well, someone had to finish off the last of the yummy dessert. 



The next transfer is in two weeks. We have 14 missionaries going home and 15 new elders arriving. A lot of changes for the mission, but the work goes forth smoothly. 

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Wednesday and Thursday, we had the wonderful opportunity to go on a teaching appointments with the Boulevard Ward sisters. It was a great experience, AND the investigator came to church today and stayed for all the meetings! He has so many questions and is a genuine seeker of knowledge and truth.

As we worked with these sweet sister missionaries we thought of our precious Emily when she served her mission in Chile. We know the people loved her there just as the Jamaicans love the sisters here. 

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One of the projects recently approved is similar to one we finished up for our predecessors when we first arrived last fall but on a bigger scale. LDS Charities is providing 405 back-to-school kits for children in foster care all around the island. We have boxes and boxes of supplies stacked in our living room. We will take everything to Montego Bay next week. We have asked some of the missionaries to help us on their P-day to assemble the kits. We'll then hold a Handing-Over ceremony with the partnering organization - the Child Development Agency. 


We had to take down our usual "fancy" dining table 
(which is actually a round plastic folding table) 
to make room for all the boxes. 

The other project will provide some much needed kitchen equipment for a little neighborhood school. We are partnering with a finance company here in Kingston for this project. 

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Yesterday, Saturday, we went to Portmore in the morning to inspect the sister's home. We always love visiting with our beautiful Hawaiian sisters. They informed us of a baptism they were having that evening, so we went back later to attend a very special baptism. Of course, all baptisms are wonderful, but this one seems extra special in that this man's wife and children are already members of the Church and have been praying for years that he would be baptized. Now, another family is on the right path toward becoming an eternal family. 


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Parting thoughts 
(taken from Stand a Little Taller by President Gordon B. Hinckley)

Giving Loving Service

"Yea, and now behold, O my son,
the Lord doth give me
exceedingly great joy in the fruit 
of my labors." 
-Alma 36:25

                   Tremendous happiness and peace of mind are the results 
                   of loving service to others. Nobody can live fully and happily 
                   who lives only unto himself or herself. 



We humbly and gratefully testify of the truthfulness of this principle because we experience opportunities to give loving service everyday here in Jamaica in one way or another. 


Until next week...

All our love. 






Friday, July 14, 2017

July 3-10, 2017 Collin and Megan's Visit


We had a fantastic week with Collin and Megan. They arrived on Monday, July 3rd after a very long overnight flight. We were sad to see them go, but we are so thankful we had this time with them. Buddy figured out we drove 1,063 miles during the week on an island that is only 146 miles long and 52 miles wide at its thickest point; so needless to say, they saw it ALL.



Maybe you saw this in the last post. I had planned routes that would allow them to experience the ups and downs (literally), and the narrowness and windiness of some of the Jamaican roads, but we often also used the tollways so as not to "shake" them up too badly. They seemed to fair the crazy roads and drivers very well. 

Our first activity was to take them rafting on the Rio Grande River up on the north coast by Port Antonio. We heard, "Yep, we're definitely in a tropical jungle," several times along the 7 mile stretch of river. We stopped at Melinda's for a lunch of crayfish for Buddy and jerk chicken for Collin; Megan and I opted for the snacks we had brought along. 




Buddy had crayfish - zoom in to see how big they were! Collin enjoyed Jamaican jerk chicken.

We drove back to Kingston along the east coast which isn't the prettiest part of the island, but the road follows the ocean around and has some beautiful scenery here and there. 

Wednesday, we stayed in Kingston to allow us a little time for some office work, to swim in the apartment complex's pool, and to do some souvenir shopping. We had planned to drive up to the north coast to go to Glistening Waters in Falmouth, but we couldn't make it out of Kingston on time because of backed up traffic due to an accident. So we ordered Chinese and came on back home to enjoy a passionate round of team dominoes. We couldn't let a visit go by without at least one game. I can't recall which team won, but does it really matter? Actually, YES, in our family it usually does. 



Thursday, we left early to go to Black River Safari over on the southwest side of the coast. We stopped in May Pen to meet with a sister missionary who is from Collin's stake to give her some things from her family. We arrived at Black River just in time to catch a boat which was ready to head out. Buddy and I were a little disappointed with our guide because he really didn't tell us much as we went along, and he didn't seem to seek out the crocodiles. We only saw four, but we all still enjoyed the boat ride. The first time we went, our guide was funny and very informative; he share all kinds of trivia about the crocodiles, the birds, and the river foliage. 


If you look really closely, there is a crocodile in the water behind Collin and Megan. 


Instead of driving back to Kingston the way we came over the bumpy, windy roads, we decided to go up and around the west end and north coast back to the tollway. We were coming through the Falmouth area right about 6 PM, so it was perfect timing to go to Glistening Waters since we didn't get to go the night before. We had a nice dinner and then went out on the boat so Collin and Megan could see the Luminous Lagoon. 

For those who may have missed an earlier post about this place - this is one of four places in the world with this strange phenomenon. The conditions are just right for the microscopic organisms to thrive. These organisms emit a phosphorescent light when the water is disturbed. Collin got in the water to swim around, but our cameras couldn't get a picture of him. We're so glad we got to share this most likely once-in-a-lifetime experience.



Friday, we packed and took the nice, smooth tollway to the north coast, first stopping in Ocho Rios. We met up with an elder from Collin's stake to give him some things from his family too. We went to a huge craft market for some souvenir shopping. We then drove through Montego Bay and then down the west coast to Negril. We arrived at Coco La Palm and enjoyed a lovely dinner out at the beach restaurant. Collin loved Jamaican jerk chicken!



  


Saturday was a fantastic beach day. The sun was hot, and the water was gorgeous. 


Collin and Megan had a blast parasailing.

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Sunday morning, Coco La Palm 

Sunday, we drove to Montego Bay to attend the branch. It was Branch Conference, so the Pearsons and Browns were also there. A couple from the states was also visiting. An interesting thing about them, she is an artist, and many of her paintings have been used in Church publications. 
                                       
Pioneer Mother
from page 36 of Daughters in My Kingdom

Since it was Branch Conference, the third hour was a combined meeting of all the adults (well, except Primary teachers and leaders who stayed with the children). Collin played the piano, Buddy led the music, and I gave the opening prayer. It was like old times. President Pearson led a great discussion entitled, Wake UP! Specifically, the group discussed the need for teaching and understanding true doctrine which will result in receiving help from on high for all struggles, e.g., member missionary work, Home and Visiting Teaching, callings, examples, etc.  Every single, worthy need can be answered by the gospel.  We left the meeting individually pondering how important it is to actively continue learning the gospel principles forever. 

We drove back to Negril to spend a quiet afternoon enjoying one another's company. There was quite a thunderstorm with lots of rain, so it was a good day to be inside. 

Our great week had to come to an end

Monday, we went back to Montego Bay to take Collin and Megan to the airport. Too soon, but we had had a wonderful week making lasting memories. 








I forgot to include this video when I originally published the blog post. 
Wanted to remember this.

video