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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Jamaica doesn't need to participate in Daylight Saving Time.
The sunrise and sunset times here vary only by a few minutes all year.
Interesting contrast.


We have been very busy with various events and activities the last three weeks. Since the last post, we've had three sets of visitors - the Cohoons, three brethren from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, and the McBrides from Canada. We also have been very involved with moving forward several humanitarian projects. 


We were delighted to welcome all the Cohoons - Emily, Bobby, Landon, Eli, and Savannah - plus Bobby's parents, two brothers, a sister-in-law and four other kiddos - to Jamaica on February 22nd. It was so fun to see the look on Savannah's face when she saw us. For months we had talked on Face Time about them coming to see us, but until she saw us in person, I don't think she really understood. She certainly did NOT understand why we weren't getting back on the "cruiser" with them when it was time for them to leave. These good-byes are so hard, but we're grateful for every moment of these visits. 

Their ship docked in Montego Bay. After lots of hugs and happy tears, we loaded up in the big mission bus and drove a few miles up into the hills to give them a taste of Jamaican side roads and to let them enjoy the beautiful scenery. The kids especially loved seeing all the goats along the roads. We then drove right through downtown Montego Bay to also give them a look at a very busy, very crowded Jamaican city including all the vendors lining the streets. We then went to one of the nice beach areas called Doctor's Cave right on the main strip of Montego Bay. 

The night before the Cohoons arrived, we stayed in a hotel right across from the beach. We had an unexpected bonus of a fantastic steel drum band performance while we ate dinner out on the front veranda the night before. The band had 8 steel drums, bongos (large and small), a full drum set, and a bass guitar. They performed for an hour and a half, and they didn't just play the instruments, they danced the whole time while playing - what energy! It was so exciting. 

This is not the greatest quality video, and it doesn't
really do justice to their sound. Go to
to hear 5 of their songs.
Positive Vibrations Steel Drum Band

Our picture is so dark, so I found a better one online.

The Cohoons arrived with all kinds of
goodies for us from the states in a huge
suitcase - thank you, thank you!
Couldn't get enough hugs.

Grandma surrounded by sweet ones.
We love you, Uncle Jake, even though you photo bombed our picture.

Brothers Poulson, Rich, and Hollist in front of the May Pen Chapel

The last week of February, we had the pleasure of hosting three wonderful men who are Church employees from Salt Lake City. They were here to conduct focus groups with youth, parents, and youth leaders to collect and analyze input about church materials for the youth. The leader of the group works in the Research Department. The other men work in the Priesthood - Family Department; one as a Product Manager and the other as an Audience Manager. 
They had fun-loving, outgoing personalities. It was great getting to know them and all about their young families. We often heard, my wife would love seeing this; my kids would be amazed by that. We enjoyed sharing some of the sites, sounds, and food of Jamaica as best as we could in the three days they were here. They appreciated learning about the people and the culture of Jamaica. They commented that they broke all the rules and guidelines they'd been given about foreign travel, e.g. eating the local foods, etc. Buddy teased with one of them calling him the "Woodchipper" as he consumed more than his fair share of sugar cane purchased at a road-side stand on one of our drives through a beautiful gorge up in the mountains outside of Kingston. Just as we have been, they were impressed by the friendliness of Jamaicans and by the spirituality and commitment to the Gospel of the members they met. 


Our humanitarian work continues at a quick pace as we are in the process of writing proposals for two more projects and gathering information for others. The steps to writing a proposal are complex, but the program we use - Church Humanitarian Systems (ChaS)- takes us step by step through the process, so now that we have had more experience it's not too overwhelming. We complete all the steps as concisely as possible and then send a detailed written proposal to the Area Welfare Manager, Elder Acosta in the DR. He goes over all the details including the budget; if it is complete and he approves of the project, he then submits the proposal to the Area Presidency for final approval. We appreciate the thoroughness of the process and the seriousness shown for the stewardship over the Lord's sacred funds. There are so many needs here in Jamaica and all over the world. Not all needs can be met, but many, many can be and are because of the generous contributions of so many. 
Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the Church, 1995-2008, once said, "I repeat that the Church is frequently spoken of as an institution of great wealth. When all is said and done, the Church is wealthy only in the faith of its people." It truly is the faith of the saints that allows humanitarian missions like ours to 1) relieve suffering, 2) foster self-reliance for people of all nationalities and religions, and 3) provide opportunities for service. 
Sample emergency hygiene kit


Elder and Sister McBride from Canada, Member Welfare Specialists for the Caribbean, came to spend another week here in Jamaica just as they did last December. They were here to follow up on several potential Member Welfare Projects for food production - e.g. chickens, bees, goats, pigs, and gardening. Their month-long travels this time took them to Haiti, Cayman, Bahamas, Jamaica, and Dominican Republic. Phew! I'd be exhausted. We continue to learn so much from them about the process for these worthy projects. We share in their excitement as many of the projects here in Jamaica have come to the point of proposal submission. Their proposals go directly to their manager in Salt Lake City. We serve as the In-Country Coordinators for these projects after approval. We take care of purchasing all materials for construction and repair of coops or pens, livestock, feed, tools, seeds, fertilizer, etc. We then give continual support to the priesthood leaders and project members.
McBrides visiting family for potential chicken project
Two of our sweet sister missionaries teaching a family
at a site for a potential bee project


This week we participated in a wonderful Closing Ceremony for the successful completion of this humanitarian project at the Smart Start Basic School in Linstead. Jamaicans enjoy ceremonies and parties to celebrate successes of all kinds. Several members of the school board and supporting priesthood leaders gave inspirational messages of gratitude and recognition of the progress of this great little school. We have loved working on this project and will continue our relationship with Sister Walker, the principal, and all her staff. Sister Walker's son, Claron, recently received his mission call to serve in the Dominican Republic. His older sister, Jodee, served a mission here in Jamaica and now is one of the teachers at the school. 

Our dear, eternal friend, Sister Jennifer Walker,
Principal and Owner of school
Former Jamaica Kingston Mission President, Kenneth Brown

Jodee Walker, returned missionary, teacher at school

Claron Walker, recently received mission
call to serve in the Dominican Republic

Pictures below show some of the things donated by LDS Charities. 

Educational toys, tables, and chairs

Partitions built by parent and branch member volunteers

Teachers' desks 

Much needed fans
Enjoying lunch and treats after the ceremony -
love the fun beaded hairstyles

Jacob 2:18-19
But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. 
And after you have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good - to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

All our love.

1 comment:

  1. I love that scripture! Love the updates! You guys sure are apart of an amazing work!