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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spent part of the day with the other senior missionaries; something we always enjoy. We all met at the Chinese Gardens in Kingston and received a wonderful tour of the gardens. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about this particular garden and the history of its creation. He also shared great information about some of the Chinese culture symbolized in the these types of gardens. 

 "The Harmonious Enjoyment Garden"
This was a gift to the people of Jamaica from the Chinese government in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's independence and 40 years of diplomatic relationships between the two countries.   

Left to right: representing Washington, Utah, Florida, Jamaica, and Illinois

This courtyard represents a place an emperor would stand to speak to his people. The acoustics were quite interesting. A voice really carries when a person stands on this spot.  

Not only did our guide share a lot about the Chinese culture, but he also told us interesting details about the vast variety of trees found in the gardens. None of the trees are native to Jamaica but were gifts over the years from visiting foreign dignitaries. Before this Chinese Garden was created, the trees were part of the Hope Botanical Gardens since the time of Jamaica's independence in 1962. The Chinese designed and built the gardens around the trees. We only included a few of the trees. 

Our guide said the spikes of the bark seem to say, "Monkey, no climb on me." 
The seed pods can violently explode shooting seeds up to 200 feet away at 125mph. No wonder it is nicknamed the Dynamite Tree.

Leopard Tree
Sausage Tree  
the pods get very big and heavy - 
you wouldn't want one of these falling on your head

Cannonball Tree
another tree with potentially lethal fruit - the vines are part of the tree - 
the blossoms, thus the fruit, are on the vines

Row of Lions Entrance to the Gardens
(image from TripAdvisor)

Love these and what they symbolize

We then went to the Marriott hotel restaurant here in Kingston for our Thanksgiving lunch. Two of the senior missionary couples are going home over the next two weeks; this was also our farewell luncheon with them. We will miss them. We have two new couples coming in December - one will serve in the Mission Office in Kingston, and the other with work with Seminary & Institute and live in Mandeville. 

The Mandeville Branch put on quite an event Friday night to honor the two senior missionary couples who are leaving. They've both been living in Mandeville. We'd certainly live there too, if it weren't so far from all the services and resources we need here in Kingston. Mandeville is a small city up in the mountains; it is much prettier, cooler, and less crowded there. The Jamaicans put on quite a show for the entertainment portion of the evening. Unfortunately, we didn't catch all the jokes because we couldn't understand most of the Patois, but we could tell all the Jamaicans were having a great time. A few of the skits reminded us of YW Camp skits. The food was finally served about 9 PM. Buddy grabbed a some dinner - including Mannish Water (stewed goat head and intestines - yeah - gross!)*, and then we drove way back into the bush to Junction take an elder home. His companion had stayed in Junction with a member's family, and being the obedient missionary he is, he wasn't happy with his companion getting back home after their usual curfew. The elder we took home is leaving this week, too, so he had permission and wanted to stay for the full activity; we didn't blame him. I'm sure they worked things out by the next morning. 

One of the cute little Mandeville Branch members in her traditional Jamaican attire. She's enjoying a piece of sugar cane. 

A storyteller with bongo accompaniment. 

We have no clue what this was all about, 
but they are sure having a good time!

* We're just sure you want to add this recipe for Mannish Water to your favorite recipes!

Manish Water is a hearty Jamaican soup made with a goat’s head and feet. It is best cooked in a pressure cooker to soften the meat. It is often served as an appetizer at special parties and events in Jamaica. You will see Jamaicans drinking it out of a small white coffee cup at these events. It is believed to be an aphrodisiac, which may explain its name.
·       Chopped up goat head (burnt is best)
·       Goat feet (burnt is best)
·       Garlic, scallion, thyme, pimento seed, salt to taste
·       Whole green pepper, black pepper
·       1 pack Grace Chicken Noodle mix
·       3-6 green bananas
·       1 ½ lbs. Yam
·       3 small Irish Potato
·       Flour for dumpling
·       2 chochos (optional) [a kind of lentil]
·       2 Whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper
1.     Wash chopped goat head
2.     Put in a large pot (pressure cooker best) with enough water to cover the meat
3.     Add 3 teaspoons salt, 8-10 seeds of pimento and let cook and 5 crushed garlic cloves
4.     Cook on a medium/high stove till meat tender
5.     Add more water and also 1 pack Grace Chicken Noodle
6.     Peel and cut up potatoes and chochos and add
7.     Peel Green bananas (or cut off the top and bottom and slit in skin)
8.     Add Peel and add Yam when bananas almost cooked.
9.     When almost done black pepper, thyme, couple pimento seed, escallion, whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper (do not let it burst open) and let simmer
10.  Serve hot

We were away from Kingston Saturday through Monday for project work and to attend a branch conference. We first stopped in Santa Cruz to check on the progress of the Member Welfare Project. One of the participants is raising chickens to use in his cook shop. We had heard about his yummy food, so we gave it a try. Yes, indeed, we think his was the best fried chicken we've had in Jamaica. We then went out in the country (just outside of Santa Cruz) to see the new beehives of another participant in the project. It was getting to be evening, and we were amazed at the number of toads all around the hive area. Evidently, the toad like the bees. The hives need to be high enough off the ground so the toads can't get the bees. It was quite a sight to see. We're excited for both of these families and their progress toward self-reliance. 

On Sunday, we attended the Savanna-la-Mar Branch for branch conference. A new branch presidency was sustained. We know they will be very good leaders. We have worked closely with the previous branch president since we first got here. He has a new calling; we'll tell you more about that when all the changes actually take place. In earlier blog posts, we've mentioned the success we're seeing in the project in this branch. There is a great feeling in this branch - especially of the level of commitment of the members. They are great examples to us. 

While Buddy presented some training to the new branch presidency, I enjoyed being with the wives and children who were also waiting for their husbands/daddies. I had my computer out which always seems to act as a magnet. "Do you have any games?" I didn't have any action games like they wanted, Mario, etc., but I did download a color-by-number app for them. They were really sweet with one another taking turns coloring. I need to download some of the children's games or puzzles found on the church-related apps.

We stayed in Negril both nights. Before heading back to Kingston, we went to a nice shopping mall for tourists Sister Pearson told me about. I was excited to get a few early Christmas presents - Merry Christmas to me. We've started purchasing a few souvenirs here and there to take home. In the past, we would always say that we had plenty of time and would get things later, but now if we see something unique, we like to go ahead and buy it. Our time is flying by. 

Transfers are this week, and once again we get the fun opportunity to transport some of the elders and sisters to new areas. Quite a few of the old timers - some of the first missionaries we worked with when we  arrived -  are going home this transfer; we will certainly miss them. We're thankful for Facebook so we can stay in touch with those who leave. We love seeing their smiling faces in all their many new adventures - including pictures of temple weddings. 

We were so excited to get the approval for two more of the four projects we recently submitted, so we now have three new projects to get underway. We will be working with two hospitals and an association for the blind vision center. We hope to receive one more approval very soon. 

We love representing the Lord as we reach out to care for His children in need. We are humbled and feel very blessed to be doing this work here in Jamaica. We understand our replacements have already received their call. We anticipate being a little emotional when we turn all of this over to them in just 7 months.

Once again, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ by serving others this Christmas season. As we follow His example, we can help #LightTheWorld

 25 Ways, 25 Days
The teachings of Jesus Christ show us a pattern of service for our lives. Apply these 25 teaching over the 25 days of Christmas to brighten the world around you. 

First Presidency Christmas Devotional
The First Presidency invites Church members and their friends to participate in the First Presidency’s Christmas devotional broadcast on Sunday, December 3, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. mountain standard time.The program, originating from the Conference Center, will include Christmas messages by General Authorities and General Officers of the Church. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will provide the music
Until next week...all our love.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017

We had the amazing of experience of attending a special Stake Conference here in Kingston yesterday and today. Visiting authorities for this weekend were:  Elder Quentin L. Cook, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Sister Cook; President Walter F. Gonzalez, Caribbean Area President, and Sister Gonzalez; Elder Claude R. Gamiette, Area Seventy. We loved hearing their inspiring messages.


We also were thrilled to have visiting President and Sister Wingo,  the Panama City Temple President and Matron. We so enjoyed our time with them when we were at the Panama City Temple and count them as eternal friends. 

Both yesterday and today, the conference sessions were broadcast throughout Jamaica and to the other islands of the Caribbean. 

A Priesthood Leadership meeting was held yesterday, and as is often the case after these meetings, Buddy walked in the door and gave me a hug. I think without fail, at least one of the speakers at a priesthood meeting will admonish the brethren attending to go home and hug their wives, and that's exactly what Elder Cook did. Buddy never needs to be prompted to hug me, but even so he can say he was obedient to the direction from an ordained apostle. 
We came away from the conference with many motivating and encouraging stories, teachings, and statements recorded in our journals. Of course, on such occasions, we receive what is meant for us, so, our notes are different. What our notes do have in common are the words of Elder Cook's Apostolic Blessing. 

Elder Cook blessed the listeners to have a great desire to have Zion in our hearts and homes; to have increased faith through reading the scriptures, partaking of the sacrament, and worshipping in the temple; to spend more time studying the scriptures; to have joy, love, and unity in our homes and on parents to know what to do; to be able to rise above the many financial and societal challenges of life; to have increased reverence and religious freedoms in our countries; and to increase love of and faith in Jesus Christ individually and in our families.

There was silence and reverence in the chapel and connecting cultural hall as Elder Cook pronounced this blessing upon us all. Hearing his powerful words touched our hearts personally, and we trust the wonderful Jamaican saints will remember and lean on this beautiful blessing for many years to come.

The following is a wonderful video with Elder Cook sharing the history of missionary work and his apostolic testimony of the work. 

We submitted four projects for approval this week. This is the culmination of a lot of work especially on Buddy's part. He's very good at following up with participants to make sure we collect all the necessary quotes and information. We always tell the potential beneficiaries, the more specific information we can include in the proposal, the better. 
We definitely feel a sense of urgency as the year draws to a close. We want to make sure this year's funds allotted for caring for the poor and needy in Jamaica are utilized with proper stewardship. We prayerfully hope to receive the approval for all four projects which will ultimately serve thousands on the island. We'll share the details of these projects as soon as we get the good news from the Area Welfare Committee; we're very optimistic. 

Our Thanksgiving this year will not include turkey and all the fixin's, but we will still express our gratitude for the bounty of blessings we realize every day. We plan to join with the other senior missionaries to tour a Chinese Gardens here in Kingston on Thursday, and then we will all go out for a send off dinner for Elder and Sister Brown. Their diligent service has inspired us, and we will miss their smiling faces. We wish them all the best in their next chapter of life. 

Until next...our love you all