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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

To start off our post for this week, we’ll share details and pictures of our wonderful – though very short – visit last Friday with Carly and Kegan and two other couples from Utah – the Crains and the Kennedys. Jamaica was their last port on their cruise, and we're so thankful we had this chance to spend such a great day with them. 

We stayed in a hotel outside of Falmouth (their port) since we were involved with project and mission responsibilities in Montego Bay (about 30 minutes west) and Ocho Rios (about 1 hour east) on Wednesday and Thursday, so we were able to watch their big ship come into port on Friday morning.

We drove over to the port by 7:00 AM to be sure to get a good parking place and to be right there as they came through the gates. It’s usually pretty chaotic as the ships come in. We enjoyed watching all the hubbub all around the gates area as all kinds of vendors anticipating the arrival of another big ship of tourists set up their little shops to sell their wares. We enjoyed talking with some of them and even got a referral for the missionaries. We don’t proselyte, but if someone asked us questions (we had on our missionary tags), we can certainly answer basic questions about the Church and then if they’d like we take their contact information to pass on to the missionaries. Which is exactly what we did. The Montego Bay elders were able to set up an appointment with this man for Saturday. We’re anxious to hear how this went. 

  De ship, de ship!                                     And they're docked!


After a fun reunion with lots of hugs and a few happy tears, we headed off for a Jamaican adventure. We took them to Dunn’s River Falls – one of the favorite tourist stops on the North Coast. We arrived there before any of the other tour busses, so we didn’t have to deal with crowds. The tour guides and photographer made the climb up the falls a lot of fun. I wasn’t sure how I’d do climbing the falls, so we followed along on the stairway right next to the falls back up to the top. There were observation decks all along the way allowing us to take great pictures and video. The group went as slow as necessary for all the climbers, so I think I’ll try it next time.        



The "tourists" were able to do some souvenir shopping at the vendors and purchased cute things to take home.


On the way back to Falmouth, we went to the Ultimate Jerk Center right on the coast highway for lunch. Everyone loved the authentic jerk chicken and all the side dishes – like rice and peas and festival (like a cake donut), etc. For some reason they didn't order cowskin and beans or chicken feet!

            Bromeliads in tree                      Stone walls lines both sides of the road for miles 
                                                                   on the way up to Good Hope Great House.
We had just enough time to drive up a little way through a small town and into the “jungle” to give our visitors the chance to experience a characteristic Jamaican town and typical Jamaican roads and to view the beautiful vegetation – like coconut, banana, mango trees and other species of trees that are laden with bromeliads. This road leads up to a tourist attraction and a plantation house that we’d driven to before. The old plantation homes are called Great Houses. Some of these grand, old homes have been or are in the process of restoration, and many offer tours. One can just imagine the stories these houses could tell.


Much too soon, it was time to take everyone back to the ship. We are so thankful we had this wonderful day with Carly, Kegan, and their dear friends.

Now that the holidays are truly over, our work with projects is picking up. We traveled to Savanna-La-Mar on Monday of last week, to meet again with the Branch President to further the progress on the member welfare project involving broiler and laying chickens. There was a bit of a glitch in the progress due to some government red tape, but things should get moving again now. Two more coops will be built, and then the participating families will start receiving their chicks – then the fun really begins for them! Most are experienced in raising chickens; they just needed material help getting a start to reach their goals of becoming self-reliant. We also visited a basic school and began to gather information about a potential project. We enjoyed meeting the staff and some of the children. We never tire of interacting with the children.


Wednesday we loaded up the big mission van we were able to borrow and made the drive up to Montego Bay. We left very early to arrive in time to help set up the A/V equipment so we could view the Special Missionary Broadcast from Salt Lake City with the North Coast Zone elders and sisters. We watched as the Missionary Executive Council presented eternal principles as review and offered additional training in regards to the missionary purpose – to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Doctrines and methods for improvement in missionary service were also discussed, and lastly the changes in the missionaries’ daily schedules were presented and discussed. The new schedules offer the missionaries more choice in how they carry out their daily activities as well as giving them more time to sleep if needed and a longer time period for their Preparation Day activities. 

After the broadcast we took the Ocho Rios sisters back to their home in “Ochi.” We enjoyed having the driving time to get to know them a little better. One of the sisters is from Jamaica and the other from Johannesburg, South Africa. As we interact with sister missionaries we always think of our sweet Emily and her dedicated, faithful missionary service in Santiago, Chile. The Chileans were blessed to have her for those 18 months, and I’m sure she’d say she was blessed by them.

 The beautiful Ocho Rios sisters and their cute little home
We were back in Montego Bay early Thursday morning to drive on up to the West Haven Children’s Home for additional work on the current project. As often happens with projects like this, a slight set back was experienced with the installation of the water tanks, but with the expertise, insight, and generous gift of his time, the Montego Bay Branch Elders Quorum President got everything figured out so progress could continue. The beds and mattresses have been delivered, and the staff is now just waiting to receive the leatherette mattress covers to be able to set up the new beds.

Water tanks and beds delivered and ready to be used
We had a little time in the late afternoon to drive up to the Good Hope Estates. (I mentioned taking our visitors part way on the road to this site.) On the same property is a tourist attraction called Good Hope Chukka Adventures offering the Great House tour, dune buggies or ATVs to rent, horseback riding, a zip line, river rafting and kayaking, bird aviary, challenge course, swimming pool, and gem mining – something for everyone. This was closed for the day - these places close around 3 or 4 because all the cruise ship excursions need to be back to port - but we were allowed to drive around to see what was there. There is the most gorgeous view from the hilltop where the main plantation house is located – absolutely breath taking. We stopped to talk to a couple who has purchased one of the old buildings near the main house and is remodeling it to be a six-bedroom villa. We didn’t think to ask if it will be something they’ll rent out or will be for their use only. We definitely want to go back up there some day to take the tour of the Great House.

Good Hope Estates Great House  

The Counting House

Gorgeous view 

This structures is being renovated/remodeled to be a villa. 
It looks like it might have been the carriage house at one time. 

Just after saying good-bye to Carly and all on Friday, we received a call from Sister Pearson to see if we could come back to Montego Bay to pick up a sister missionary to ride with us back to Kingston. She and her companion (one going home, the other being transferred) were going to ride with the Pearsons, but between the two of them there was too much luggage to fit in the Pearson’s car. We all safely arrived back in Kingston late Friday night. It had been an eventful and delightful three days, but we were glad to be home in our cozy little apartment for a much-needed night’s rest.

The last thing we want to share in this post is the Caribbean Area Vision for 2017. This was presented to all members of the church here in the Caribbean on Sunday.

Invite all to increase faith in Heavenly Father and in His Son Jesus Christ to strengthen individuals and families as they strive to become self-reliant and prepare to receive saving ordinances and keep the associated covenants. (Luke 17:5, D&C 128:22)

The following is taken from a message by Elder Julio César Acosta. Elder Acosta is the Caribbean Area Welfare Manager, and everything we do is under his direction and guidance. 

The full message can be found on the Caribbean Area website -

The Caribbean Area is vast. It runs from French Guiana in South America to the Bahamas, and from Barbados to the Grand Cayman, “. . . Great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea.” (2 Nephi 10:21)
The beginning of the path of discipleship for each of us is faith. It is to rely “alone upon the merits of Christ.” (Moroni 6:4) In the measure that our faith is nourished by living according to His teachings and those of His chosen servants, (D&C 21:5) we will receive His blessings. 
In this message, Elder Acosta mentions some of the invitations that the Savior has given us and His blessings:

Keep His Sabbath Day holy, participating in the sacrament, so that we may “more fully keep ourselves unspotted from the world” (D&C 59:9) and, furthermore, by doing His will on this day, our Sundays will become Sabbaths of delight. (Isaiah 58:12-13) 

Let us solemnly speak to others of His gospel “And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.” (D&C 100: 5-8)

May we be worthy to enter the temple, and may we visit it often, bringing with us the names of our ancestors.
This vision is for all of us, to help us increase our faith in our Heavenly Father and in His Son Jesus Christ, so that we may obtain a more profound conversion as we keep every one of the covenants that we have made with Him.

We all received a bookmark to personally participate in the Area to make and write down our goals for 2017 in connection with these invitations from the Savior.

We love you all and want to share our testimony of the divine mission of our Savior Jesus Christ, His Atonement, the gospel He has given us, the restoration of the authority of the priesthood and the ordinances which make it possible for us to return to His presence.

We share in the testimony of the Twelve Apostles of the Savior and testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts. (The Living Christ)

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