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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday, June 20,2017

Picture taken by Elder Schnebly.
Picture taken on my iPhone.

Sunrise to sunset, we are anxiously engaged in many good causes. 
(D&C 58:27)

The past two weeks were jam packed with humanitarian activities and events. 

During the week of June 4-10, we had the satisfying opportunity to participate in a very important phase of a Member Welfare Project in Savanna-la-Mar. The six families participating in this project worked very hard for months building coops and completing the Self-Reliance Course - Starting and Growing My Business - and were ready to receive their livestock and feed. 

These 6 families chose to raise broiler (meat) chickens. With the help from LDS Charities, each family was able to build a new chicken coop. They were now prepared to receive the first batch of chicks. Each family received 100 chicks and enough feed and medicine for two batches of chickens. The chickens will be ready to sell after 6 weeks, and then the families will receive one more batch of 100 chicks. From that point, the plan is that they will have earned enough money to purchase subsequent batches of chickens, feed, and medicine about every 6 weeks. In other projects, a family may choose to raise chickens for eggs. In that case, they receive 24 chickens and feed for one year.

Chicks settled in to their new home. 

We met the group at the farm store early in the morning and started a very busy day. It was so hot, but we still enjoyed being part of the progress of this project. Ideally, the welfare couple doesn't need to help with picking up the chicks and feed, but we were excited to help and our truck was such an asset. The farm store receive new chicks twice a week, so there was a flurry of activity with people picking up chicks and feed. The sound of peeping chicks filled the store and beyond. During our time at the farm store, in and out about 4 hours, we saw two semi-trucks come deliver feed. I can’t begin to estimate how much feed was unloaded that day. Our group alone took 240 bags (25 kg each) of chicken feed. Each family received 10 bags of crumbles to feed the baby chicks and 30 bags of pellets. It took 5 pickup loads to get all the feed delivered; one family picked up their own. The young men loading the truck were working so hard in the stifling heat, and Buddy and the recipients worked hard unloading at each location. One of the families lives way up in the mountains in Darliston about 25 km outside of Savanna-la-Mar. I usually waited at the farm store during the deliveries of feed, but I went along for that trip, and I’m so glad I did. It was a beautiful drive, and when we arrived, we found that one of the family members is a master woodworker who makes beautiful furniture.
Blue Mahoo tree wood (national tree of Jamaica)
Cedar tree and lignum vitae wood (national flower of Jamaica)


Wheelchair Training 2017

Saturday, June 10th, we arose early to finish packing and be out the door and on our way to Montego Bay. We met Elder and Sister Schnebly and Elder and Sister Hart from Salt Lake City at the Montego Bay airport about noon. After many months of phone calls and email communication in preparation for this event, we were excited to meet one another and begin the wheelchair training in Jamaica. Elder Schnebly is a retired physical therapist, and Sister Schnebly is a retired nurse. Elder Schnebly is quite the energizer bunny. He is 71 years old and has run 59 marathons with plans to run another in the fall. The Schneblys have been in 18 other countries to provide wheelchair training. Elder and Sister Hart are the Wheelchair Specialists for LDS Charities’ Wheelchair Initiative. They coordinate and administer everything in connection with this initiative all over the world. They actually served in the Caribbean until a year ago as the Area Welfare Specialists in the Area offices in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. We work very closely with the current missionary couple in the DR, so it was wonderful to be able to get more information from the Harts about other aspects of our calling since they so recently served a welfare services mission. This was their first wheelchair training to oversee and will now travel extensively to facilitate trainings. We think they did a marvelous job.

Here is a little background about the Wheelchair Major Initiative.
LDS Charities works with partner organizations that serve people with mobility disabilities to provide appropriate manual wheelchairs to individuals. According to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, they ensure each person is assessed, fit, instructed, and given ongoing support. In 2016, 55,500 people received chairs in 48 countries. We are humbled to be part of the statistics for 2017. The Salvation Army received 315 wheelchairs in the latest shipment from LDS Charities. It will probably take about a year for all of the chairs to be distributed. 

After picking up the Schneblys and Harts, we went to the Salvation Army facility to plan the set up and coordinate all the arrangements. We then went to check into the Holiday Inn resort. That may sound a bit extravagant for missionaries, but actually with having all the meals included, the cost was equivalent to what it would have been to stay at another hotel and eat out all the time. We were so busy each day, we didn't get a chance to enjoy the beach or pool until the last day when we took a quick walk out to the "private" island to enjoy the tropical breezes for about an hour. Some of us did take in some of the evening entertainment after dinner. There were amazing performances including a young man doing the limbo under a 1 foot high, 3 foot long FLAMING platform - pretty exciting.

Sunday, the six of us attended the Montego Bay Branch and each had the opportunity to share a brief testimony. After church, we had a yummy buffet lunch at the hotel, changed into work clothes, and then returned to the Salvation Army to set up. We assembled 15 wheelchairs, hung posters, and arranged the room. It would've been better to set up on Saturday, but that wasn't possible since this corps of the Salvation Army holds their church meetings in the same facility. 

Thirteen people attended the 3 days of training to become new assessor/fitters. Buddy and I were also trained since one of our responsibilities now will be to go to a percentage of the wheelchair recipients over the next year to conduct follow-up evaluation interviews. 

Besides Elder and Sister Schnebly, we had a local physical therapist assist with the training. She has been an instructor for several other LDS Charities/Salvation Army trainings. She is a very out-going, fun-loving, confident women, and we appreciated her expertise and ability to help us understand the culture to better interact with the other Jamaicans in the class. 

During the 3 days of very thorough and rigorous training for new assessors/fitters, we learned the importance of appropriate assessment and fitting of a wheelchair. We received instruction in how to teach proper maintenance and care and the safe use of a chair. 

We learned how to maneuver in a wheelchair and how to teach the mobility skills including how to negotiate rough terrain, slopes both up and down, small obstacles, and stairs.

We had a spiritual thought, a prayer, and a song entitled, "We Are Together Again" at the beginning of each training session. We were quick learners and were able to join in the singing on the 2nd day. 

We are together again
Just praising the Lord.
We are together again
In one accord.

Something good is going to happen;
Something good is in store.
We are together again
Just praising the Lord.

Something good definitely did happen during the afternoon of the 3rd day of training. We held a clinic to actually assess, fit, and provide wheelchairs to qualifying recipients. This was an amazing culmination to the training. We saw our commission, to relieve suffering and seek out the poor and needy of all nationalities and religions, realized as we administered and ministered to those who came with the hopes of receiving a wheelchair. Humble people arrived by any means possible despite the torrential rainfall.

Most came with family members or friends and with medical conditions that touched our hearts. Among other needs, we had two gun shot victims and one young man who had fallen out of a coconut tree who were paralyzed from the waist down. Another person had a broken ankle that had never been set. Expressions of gratitude abounded and filled our hearts to overflowing. Everyone recognized that these blessings were possible because of a merciful Father in Heaven and the loving generosity of those who contribute to the humanitarian funds of the Church. 

Usually the wheelchair projects here in Jamaica do not provide for children, but this year's shipment mistakenly included 12 pediatric chairs. 
A sweet mother brought in her son who has cerebral palsy with very little use of his legs. After careful deliberation, Elder Schnebly made the decision to provide a chair for this young boy. Not a one of us could imagine saying no.

We held a brief but very touching closing ceremony after all the recipients left. Each of the newly trained assessors was presented with a certificate. There were tender moments as the Schneblys and Harts spoke of the unlikelihood of ever seeing the participants in the class again but yet knowing the bonds of friendship we now share will carry over into the eternities. 

We held a refresher course training on the 4th day for 9 previously trained assessors. The seven of us took turns reviewing the various modules of the training with the class members, and we had another clinic after lunch. Only 4 people come in to be assessed, but it was still a wonderful experience.

We will never forget this experience. Our hearts are full of gratitude for the generous donations to the humanitarian fund of the Church which allows for compassionate projects such as this. So many lives are touched all over the world every day. 

We've already had a couple of grand experiences this week, but we'll include those in our next post.

All our love...


  1. Thanks for sharing these experiences.

    Has the chicken project been successful there in the past or is this the first time it has been tried? When we were in Indonesia they had tried both the chicken and goat projects but the people either ate the animals or sold them and spent the money so the Church decided to stop the programs. We hope the people of Jamaica are more responsible.

    1. The projects here require that the participants complete the self-reliance course on Starting and Growing Your Own Business Course before they can receive thei first batch of chicks. It is emphasized that you cannot eat your chickens or otherwise deplete your stock. Careful monitoring an accountability is built into the program.