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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunday, December 31, 2017




All the beauty and splendor of the lights of the Christmas season will soon be a memory, but we can keep our hearts, our lives, and the lives of others  filled with the light of Christ every day.


"Next year will bring new things. Some old things might be repeated, but best of all, a new year can bring you one year farther in your progression as a human on this good earth." (Landau, Elliott D. Ph.D.,"A Time to Talk", Friend, Dec. 1971)

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Our prayer is for 2018 to be as wonderful a year as possible for everyone. We realize some of our friends and loved ones are facing challenges and trials; we will continue to fervently pray in faith for them. We know this next year will be one of further enlightenment, learning, and new experiences for us as we continue the mission here in Jamaica. Most likely when we get home next summer, we will see some major changes and need to make quite a few adjustments to the new normal, but we face all of this with faith, trust, and hope. 

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 

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Until next year...all our love










Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December 25, 2017 Christmas

    

Christmas 2017 in Jamaica

Doll ornament in typical costume of the fabric 
called Jamaican bandana. 
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Every year, Jamaica Kingston Stake Patriarch and Sister McPherson host a wonderful Christmas dinner in their beautifully landscaped backyard. They actually feed all the Kingston missionaries every Sunday. On Christmas, they generously extend the invitation to include all the senior missionaries. We enjoyed their hospitality again this year. 


 

  

  


Kingston elders and sisters share 
their testimonies of Our Savior through music. 

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We enjoyed our few simple Christmas decorations in our small but very adequate apartment. So much about our lives these past 17 months has taught us how we really don't need very many things at all to be comfortable and very happy. 


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We had the opportunity to have 3 elders and 2 sisters come to our apartment at different times throughout Christmas day to Skype with their families. Hearing the squeals of their families as the connections went through brought tears to my eyes remembering the indescribably joy we felt when being able to talk with Jeff, Collin, Emily, and Blake during their missions. We didn't have the capability to Skype when they served, but the phones calls were priceless to us. 
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#Light the World
The theme for this year’s Christmas initiative was Light the World. The following is an excerpt from a most inspiring Sacrament Meeting talk given by our dear new eternal friend, who is the wife of one of the counselors in the Jamaica Kingston Stake Presidency.

  • The Lord is my light when I chose to be baptized, choose to attend church and renew my covenants. 
  • He is my light when I study His words daily and strive to live them.
  • The Lord is my light when I pray always, not just when my trials seem too much. 
  • He is my Light when my family chooses to have scripture study, family home evenings, family counsel.
  • The Lord is my light when I encourage my children not only in temporal learning but also in spiritual learning such as participating in Seminary and Institute. 
  • The Lord is my light when my husband and I who have not been employed for over a year, still seek to do work that will help us provide for our family and invite the Spirit as we continue to pay our tithing no matter how small our income is. 
  • The Lord is my light when I forgive others.
  • The Lord is my light when I repent. 
  • The Lord is my light when we teach our children what is right and not force them, but influence them in the way we live and pray for them. They will make mistakes, nevertheless, they will know when you are disappointed, but they will know that you will not stop loving them.  
  • The Lord is my light when I choose Him over the things of this world.
  • He is my light when I desire an eternal marriage despite the divorces that I see happening around me. 
  • He is my light when I seek out my ancestors and provide for them access to the atonement. 
  • The Lord is my light because of His infinite eternal love and sacrifice for me to make me whole and return to live with Him and my Father. He has made the journey; there is no other that could show me the way.


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May the Light of Christ fill our lives 
not only during the Christmas season but always. 


Until next week...all our love...

December 4 - 23, 2017


Merry Christmas, when it come!

That is the typical Jamaican Christmas greeting. If we say, "Merry Christmas," a Jamaican will answer, "Thank you, and Happy New Year, when it come."

Jamaicans love Christmas, and even though there is no crunching snow, we have heard a lot of silver bells and enjoyed seeing lights, lights, and more lights. It is especially interesting to see palm trees decorated with lights. 

Shopping Center in Montego Bay
I remember sharing pictures of beautiful poinsettia bushes last year, but in case you missed seeing our blog...this particular bush is right around the corner from us.
  
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This month's Senior Missionaries Family Home Evening/Christmas Luncheon was held at the Mission Home on December 4th. Sisters Baird and Hunter, Self Reliance Missionaries, shared a beautiful Christmas lesson. We all tested our memories of Christmas carols to compete in a sisters vs elders game of Hey, Team, Guess What Carol I'm Humming. It was a lot of fun. 



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The week after our last post on Sunday, December 3rd, was a busy one. Elder and Sister McBride, the Caribbean Area Member Welfare Technical Specialists from Canada, arrived on Tuesday, and we hit the road right after picking them up at the airport to start visiting wards and branches around the island who have members participating in current and potential Member Welfare Food Production Projects. We were in Yallahs, Ocho Rios, Kingston, Santa Cruz, Mandeville, and Savanna-la-mar to visit with Priesthood Leaders and participants. We figure we traveled about 800 kilometers (almost 500 miles); it was a very productive week. The highlight was visiting a sister's home in Savanna-la-mar on chicken slaughtering day!

  

Two of our faithful, diligent, hard-working elders were right there elbow-deep in chickens from 5:30 AM until after dark.


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The regularly scheduled Kingston Stake Conference was the weekend of December 9 & 10. We enjoyed attending meetings and receiving inspiration from wonderful talks and music.
We love and appreciate these righteous men 
who so faithfully serve all the members in the Kingston Jamaica Stake.
The Jamaica Kingston Stake is really quite young. This stake, the first and only one in Jamaica at present, was formed in 2014 when Elder Jeffrey Holland visited the island. We try not to compare the workings of a long established stake in the U.S. with this budding stake filled with faithful Latter-Day Saints. 

We hosted Sunday dinner for the new senior missionary couple, the Osbornes, who arrived early Saturday morning and our visitors from Canada, the McBrides.
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Just like last year, all the elder and sister missionaries were treated to a wonderful Christmas dinner this month. We have 5 Zones of missionaries covering all of Jamaica and the other islands of the mission. Each had their own day to meet at the Mission Home. Even all the missionaries serving off-island - Bahamas, Cayman, and Turks & Caicos - were flown in. 

The Senior Missionaries presented a feast for the missionaries each day. The menu consisted of smoked pork chops, chicken, Christmas potatoes (aka funeral potatoes), mixed vegetables, stuffing, rolls, raspberry butter, brownies, and strawberry cheesecake. Our contribution was to prepare the smoked pork chops, mixed vegetables, and our requested strawberry pretzel cheese-cake dessert. We prepared our dishes and delivered them before noon each day. On two of the days we stayed to serve and clean up. It is a good deal of work, but we loved doing this. 

      

  

  

  

  
Full tummies & plum tuckered out

Another fun activity at this time of year is wrapping and, this year delivering, all the missionaries' gifts. 
  

Even Santa's elves deserve a break. 
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December 17th, we attended the Port Antonio Branch up on the NE coast. As a member of the Mission Presidency, Buddy was asked to speak, and then he invited me to share my testimony. I mentioned our love of Jamaica and how this Christmas it was a bit easier being away from family, but I admitted, when our children and grandchildren have shared their family Christmas activities, I have been heard to say, "Next year..." .
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The week before Christmas, we were busily engaged in further preparations to make this a great Christmas for all the young missionaries. We had one more wrapping session for the last minute packages that had arrived, and we also put together packages for those missionaries who hadn't received anything from home. Several families of missionaries kindly sent extra gifts,  families who knew the Pearsons or had some other connections with the mission also sent boxes of goodies, and lastly Sister Pearson had gathered some fun things for us to include in these gift boxes.


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Along with the many responsibilities Buddy has in his new assignment in the Mission Presidency, he also serves as the Jamaica Public Affairs Advisor for the Church. We attended the first meeting of the Public Affairs Council and have great trust and confidence in the sisters who are serving as the Director and Assistant Director of the National Public Affairs Council. They are quite knowledgeable and helped Buddy understand his role as the Priesthood Advisor. One of the first assignments he had was to support the #Light The World activities in Kingston and Spanish Town. Unfortunately, we had previously scheduled meetings, so we weren't able to participate. On two days during heavy morning traffic, LDS saints in the two locations gathered at busy intersections to hand out #Light The World cards. 

Here is the link to the video of the activity. I'm not able to include it because of the size. 
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In addition to our regular travel for projects around the island, we put a lot of kilometers on the ol' sleigh this week as we delivered packages to the Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Port Antonio missionaries. I tried to get Buddy to let me decorate the truck, but he vetoed my suggestion. 


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"Christmas is a perfect time to rededicate ourselves to living the principles taught by the Savior."  
           President Thomas S. Monson


All our love...

















Monday, December 4, 2017

Sunday, December 3, 2017


Transfers Week
Transfers are always an exciting time in the mission, and we love to help when we can.  The mission received 4 new precious sister missionaries representing Utah, Canada, England, and California. We also have 3 new valiant elders representing Canada (2) and Utah. One of the sisters served in the Washington Vancouver Mission while she was waiting for her visa. It was so fun to talk with her for a few minutes about Washington and Oregon. 

 We took this very happy, ready-to-work companionship to their home 
in the Boulevard Ward in Kingston.

  

We drove these darling current sisters to their new area in May Pen. 
One is from Jamaica; the other from Trinidad. 

In all the excitement of welcoming new missionaries, there is also the sad part of saying good-by to those  who are going home. 
We will miss these fine young men and women; we've grown so close to them and love them so much. The exiting missionaries always attend a two-day seminar (taught by senior missionaries) on adjusting to being home. They talk about spirituality, education, jobs, dating, and marriage. We would love to go listen in one of these times. 
  
These two sisters were here only 2 months before we came, so we have had many opportunities to really get to know them and serve with them. They are amazing, faithful sisters - going home to Utah and California. 



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We spent several days working in our "office" this week with very little travel except for transfers. We were gearing up for the visit from the Caribbean Area Member Welfare Projects Technical Specialists who come from Canada usually twice a year. We look forward to this next week with them. We will take them around the island to visit the functioning projects and to meet with priesthood leaders and groups in the process of project proposals. 
Our office
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On Sunday, we attended the Old Harbour Branch and as always enjoyed worshipping and learning with the saints in that branch. 

Sunday evening, we had a lovely dinner at the Mission Home as a farewell with Elder and Sister Brown. They leave Monday to return to their home in Illinois after diligently, lovingly serving in the Mission Office and as Member and Leader Support missionaries. Elder Brown also serve as the Second Counselor in the Mission Presidency, and Sister Brown served in the Mandeville District Relief Society Presidency. Elder and Sister Chandler, who served with the Seminary and Institute programs all over the island also left earlier in the week. Both couples leave holes in many hearts and organizations, but just as with the leaving of the young missionaries, the work goes on pretty seamlessly. We have 2 new senior couples arriving this month; one will serve in the Mission Office and the other will work with Seminary and Institute. We are excited to meet and serve with them. 

President Deans (from Jamaica) who has served as the First Counselor in the Mission Presidency and Elder and Sister Lindberg were also at the dinner. The change in the Mission Presidency counselors was announced in all the units this morning, so this evening was the official turning over of responsibilities. Buddy is the new First Counselor, and Elder Lindberg the new Second Counselor. Each They will have responsibilities for 5 units each, conducting interviews for temple recommends, new missionaries, and Patriarchal Blessings. Somethings are different outside of a stake. For example,  receiving a recommend for a Patriarchal Blessing requires two signatures - one from the Branch President an one from a member of the Mission Presidency. Buddy will work with the branches in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, May Pen, and Yallahs. 
President Deans, President Pearson, and President Brown
 President Stewart, President Pearson, and President Lindberg
It is such a blessing for us to be able to serve as couples in this wonderful work. We definitely have an advantage over the young missionaries; we got to choose our companions! 
                                         
"Well, that companionship inventory went well."

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In our reading of the Book of Mormon this week, we read in Mormon 8:5 some of the most heart wrenching words in the whole book. Moroni has been given the charge for the keeping of the final records of the Nephites from his father, Mormon. He is the last man standing and states, "....for I am alone. My father has been slain in battle, and all my kinfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go;  and how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not."

In our lives, we each have times, like Moroni, where we feel that we are alone. It is in those dark lonely times that we are most in need of reaching out to the Prince of Peace for solace. He who knows us perfectly and took upon Himself all of our sins, sadness, sicknesses, afflictions, and, yes, our times of loneliness, is there with outstretched arms to gather us in, enfold us in His perfect love, and heal us. Each of us pass through the refiner's fire to become purified. Let us not shrink from our trials, but use the experiences of our lives to increase our faith in Jesus Christ, who is mighty to save. While the hurt and anguish of the moment can be overwhelming, keep an eternal perspective and press forward with hope in the future and a better brighter day. 

Many of our problems will melt away if we get outside of ourselves and just serve others, especially those who are the closest to us and depend on us the most. We will love those we serve. As Jesus Christ set the perfect example as He served others, we too can become more like Him as we do good for those we love and who love us. 

President Monson has said, "May we ever watch over one another, assisting in times of need. Let us not be critical and judgmental, but let us be tolerant, ever emulating the Savior's example of loving kindness." As we love in the Savior's way, most of our troubles will melt away and we can have joy and peace in our lives.

Until next week, all of our love......