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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday, October 22, 2017

 We thought this was a cool, HUGE, old tree. 
It's located on the grounds of the 
St. Catherine Parish Infirmary we were visiting in Spanish Town.
We think this is a Blue Mahoe tree - the National Tree of Jamaica. 
The wood from these trees is various colors - a wood worker's delight.
The craft markets are full of things made from this wood...
like this vase we purchased 
made from three different kinds of wood - 
Blue Mahoe, Cedar, and Lignum Vitae. 

We had the privilege of helping with transfers this week. We picked up the elders from Yallahs (40 km east) and took them to the Mission Home to meet up with their companions. One was picking up a new missionary from Utah. There were only two other new missionaries this transfer - one from Haiti and the other from American Samoa. We then drove a companionship to Junction (119 km to the west). It was another long day of driving, but we always enjoy having this time to talk with the missionaries. 

Today, we attended the Yallahs Branch and enjoyed worshipping with the faithful saints. 
As often happens in the smaller branches, Buddy was asked to teach the lessons in Sunday School and Priesthood. He, of course, did a wonderful job in both. 

The Sunday School lesson was entitled, "The Desert Shall Rejoice, and Blossom as the Rose". We discussed how we have been blessed by the sacrifices of the early Saints and the importance of following the example of these faithful people. 

The lesson for Priesthood was taken from the Teachings of Presidents of the Church - Gordon B. Hinckley,  Fellowship with Those Who Are Not of Our Faith
"Let us reach out to help men and women of goodwill, whatever their religious persuasion and wherever they live." (President Gordon B. Hinckley)

Buddy's turn: Today we talked a lot about the foundation of faith and endurance that was left for us by those saints who built the Salt Lake City Temple. The true account of the temple foundation is a great life lesson for us all. 

Originally sandstone blocks were used and later found to be cracked. The sandstone was too soft to bear up the weight of the rest of the structure. President Brigham Young required that the foundation be removed and replaced with granite blocks. The Lord wanted this temple to last through the Millennium. After forty years of construction, the temple was completed and stands as a monument to the faith of those earlier Latter-day Saints. 

We likewise sometimes have a foundation that, upon inspection, is found to be cracked and flawed. Our responsibility is to replace it with the only sure foundation of Jesus Christ. He is the only foundation without flaw that will never fail. When our lives are built on the Savior of Mankind, we will stand solidly against all of the storms of life. 

Until next week, all our love....

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday, October 15, 2017

We had a pretty quiet, non-stressful week. We stayed in the Kingston area and were able to accomplish a good amount of office work. We finally were able to have some communication with the Area Welfare Services Specialists in the Area offices. They have been occupied with disaster relief coordination for weeks, so we were glad to be able to talk with them. We truly appreciate their help and pray for them always. They have so many responsibilities as they over see all the welfare services activities all over the Caribbean. 

We're grateful for our little piece of the Caribbean for which we have responsibility. No comparison! And we are very thankful that all the big storms missed Jamaica this hurricane season. 

As we've mentioned in previous blog posts, one of our areas of responsibility is facilitating the Wheelchair Major Initiative here. Just a quick explanation: LDS Charities sends shipments of wheelchairs to Jamaica. Once the chairs arrive, they become the property of the Salvation Army who partners with LDS Charities in this and many other humanitarian efforts. We had an extensive blog post back in July about the latest shipment of chairs and all the training and clinics held in connection.

This week we did something totally new as part of this initiative. We are tasked with finding and  interviewing 10% of  the recipients of chairs from each shipment. The previous shipment arrived in the summer of 2015. Somehow, none of the follow-up was accomplished for those recipients, so we have been asked to complete the interviews for that shipment too. We have names, phone numbers, and addresses, but unfortunately much of this information is no longer up-to-date. Well, we always like a chance to do some sleuthing. One of the things were able to find out was a location where a group of recipients live here in Kingston. We visited the location wondering why there were so many recipients with addresses on the same street. We found a nice little independent living community sponsored by a nearby rehabilitation facility. At least one resident living in each home is disabled. We were able to speak to some of the residents and set up a time to come back to conduct the brief interviews. We received a warm welcome when we returned Wednesday afternoon. One of the residents helped us find all the others and introduced us as we met the new people. We really appreciated his help. 
Our new friends




We really enjoyed the short time we were able to spend with these delightful people. They were so friendly to us, and their Christ-like attitude was inspiring. This community is located in a somewhat volatile part of Kingston, but we felt very safe, and we were glad to witness the residents concern for each other. 
We were able to see all but one recipient who was out of town. Our visit ended with one of the residents a CD of him singing with his gospel group. We were told they had been an internationally acclaimed group. He even wanted us to have the album jacket to the original LP; he's in the middle of the painting on the cover.  

Before we left, we had a chance to talk with just these two fine men. In that brief conversation a Gospel principal was shared. We spoke of the amazing blessing it will be when someday we all meet again and will be able to walk hand in hand into the eternities. 

We were also able to locate another group at the parish infirmary in Spanish Town, but unfortunately many of the recipients have since passed on. We have an appointment to go back this week to see the few recipients who are still living and using the chairs. 

Buddy's turn: As Debbie wrote earlier, we have been able to stay in Kingston and work in our office for most of the week. We truly have been busy. Monday we began the official process of project origination by entering the data that we have compiled for two humanitarian projects into the church's humanitarian computer program. We have been working for some time to gather all of the needed information for these projects. One is with a parish infirmary in the northwest coast city of Lucea, and the other is with a Kingston NGO (Non Governmental Organization) helping the blind and visually impaired. There are three more potential projects that we are hoping to add before years end. 

We keenly feel the passage of time and desire to lengthen our stride to accomplish all that we can. It is almost unbelievable to think that we are under nine months to go. There is so much to do. We have come to love these people and desire to assist all that we can. 

Thank you all for your prayers on our behalf. This is the Savior's work. He is at the helm. We find great joy in being instruments in His hands to bless the lives of His brothers and sisters.

With love, until next time.....

Monday, October 9, 2017

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Luna Sea Inn 
Bluefields, Jamaica


Last Saturday night, we stayed at a nice little inn right on the southwest coast. Did you catch the pun of the name?  We arrived about 5 PM just in time to enjoy a marvelous stormy night. Our hostess said the sea was being very boisterous but to not be scared. Indeed, we were not frightened a bit, in fact, we thought it was wonderful. Our ocean view room was only about 50 feet away from the rocky shoreline, and we could hear the crashing of the waves all night. 

We arose early on Sunday to drive about 30 minutes further west to Savanna-la-Mar to attend Church and to participate in a meeting of the Member Welfare Project group there. This group is having a great deal of success raising broiler chickens. During the meeting, each participant had a chance to give an update. We especially appreciated hearing how they were all working together to help one another be successful. That's exactly what we like to see happening.  



Our monthly senior missionaries Family Home Luncheon potluck and lesson was held on Monday at the Mission Home. Sister Dennis, an amazing senior missionary from Jamaica, was in charge of the lesson, so she asked each of us to be prepared to share a favorite quote from General Conference. Of course, it was hard to narrow down to one for each of us, but we chose our golden lines from Elder Holland's and Elder Anderson's talks. We all could have talked for hours about all the inspiring talks, and of course, we paid tribute to Elder Hales who passed away at his home during conference. His loving, wise council will be missed. 
Elder Robert D. Hales 1994-2017

Our potluck was all Jamaican cuisine - curry goat, rice & peas, stewed peas, callaloo salad, fried bammy,  pumpkin soup, steamed bread fruit, banana bread, zucchini bread, and akee & salt fish. (Peas here are beans - kidney, pinto, etc.)

Callaloo is a leafy green that resembles spinach. 
It is a staple here, hot and cold.

Bammy is a bread made from the cassava root. 

Akee and saltfish is made with akee and, well, fish that's been salted. 
Buddy thinks the akee has the consistency of scrambled eggs. 
He's not a big fan, and I don't "do" fish at all.

Akee tree and fruit


We finally completed all the purchasing and assembling of 20 cleaning and 20 kitchen kits to store in the emergency container. We hope these never need to be used, but it feels good to have them ready just in case. 




This week, we also had our personal interviews with President Pearson, attended part of a District Meeting, drove to and from Yallahs to transport the elders to a doctor's appointment for one of them, and went to Portmore to inspect the sisters' house. These are the types of things we fit into our other activities, and we love it all. We especially like being with the young missionaries whenever we can. Their enthusiasm gives us a boost of energy. 


(Heather, Carly, and Emily - notice the cute LuLaRoe dresses.)

We received the go ahead to write up a proposal for another humanitarian project at an infirmary, and we've started doing follow-up interviews with recipients of wheelchairs. Needless to say, we are never bored. No two days are the same, and no two experiences are the same. The best part is being able to interact with so many wonderful people who are also trying their very best to follow the Savior's admonition to love one another. 

Until next week...

Love to all.