.post img, .post img a{ position: relative; z-index: -100; }

Monday, May 28, 2018

Sunday, May 27, 2018

In Jamaica, Labor Day is in May. Unlike in the U.S., neighborhoods and organizations involving many Jamaicans actually do labor in their communities to fix up and clean up. There are still many people who choose to use the day off for outdoor activities with family and friends much like in the U.S.  

We traveled to May Pen and Mandeville on Labor Day so Buddy could conduct several temple recommend interviews. About 40 Jamaican saints and some of the senior missionaries have a trip planned to the Panama Temple in July. We are so happy for them. 

This precious family of three generations will be sealed in the temple. The grandfather and father are deceased. I shared some pictures with them from our trip to the Panama Temple last August. They are so excited though a little nervous about taking their first plane trip. 

While in Mandeville, we stopped in to see our dear friend, Tracy, just in time for a Labor Day cookout.

We loved seeing Elder Shafer patiently instructing Tracy on the use of some new gadgets to help her function with her blindness. We commented on his kindness and compassion as he took the time to minister to her in this very practical way. 

With heavy hearts, we're in our last round of Zone Conferences. We attended one conference last week and will attend three more this next week

Spanish Town Zone Conference

We had a very special experience in the morning session as President and Sister Pearson shared an extraordinary video of an address Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave at the Missionary Training Center in Provo in 2011. It is definitely one of the most inspirational messages for missionaries we have ever heard. 

 Everyone enjoyed the yummy taco salad and of course brownies for dessert.


Good down to the last crumb. 
Now, that's a sad elder. 

A few nature shots we thought we'd share.

The tree this banana bunch is growing on is actually in the neighboring yard, but the banana bunch is hanging over the wall of our apartment complex. Does that make the it fair game? Here in Jamaican these green bananas are usually served boiled. that may sound gross, but honestly, we thought the ones we ate tasted like artichoke heart - just needed some butter and salt. 

An interesting cactus we see all over the island. This Euphorbia Lactea has several common names including candelabra cactus. 

These gigantic French Peanut trees are also found all over the island. 
This gives you some perspective as to the 
enormity of these trees. 

The pods of the French Peanut tree 
- evidently some of the species of this tree have edible fruit. 

To further the objective of bringing the Church out of obscurity and of course to serve our fellowmen, the National Public Affairs Council participated in the Family Expo and Special Needs Resource Fair in Kingston on Saturday. A few of the council members manned a booth and offered a variety of free Church materials promoting family values and unity. It was a beautiful day, and the event was attended by 100s perhaps 1000s. 

This past Saturday was one of those days we missed being with family. Our oldest grandson, Zach Stewart, was ordained an Elder by his father, Jeff; and our 8 year old grandson, Jackson Price (Carly) was baptized and confirmed by his father, Kegan. We are so proud of these two precious grandchildren and are thankful for their good hearts. Heather and Tom were in Utah checking on the progress of their new home, so all the siblings were together except Emily. It won't be long before we'll ALL be together at least for a few days; we will treasure every moment. 

L-R: Josh, Ben, Jeff, Zach, Renee, Sam 

L-R: Tom, Heather, Collin, Kenna, Tamri, Mason, Ben, Zach, 
Sam, Jeff, Renee, Josh

Lucky Aunt "Gigi" snuggling with Oliver (Collin's baby boy) 
and Uncle Jeff with Lucy (Carly's baby girl)

L-R: front row: Tamri, Paislee, Jaidree, Kallie, Jackson 
2nd row: Megan w/Oliver, Kenna, Paidan, Liam, Collin, 
Madison, Sammy, Mason, Josh, Renee, Sam, (Ben)
3rd row: Chelsea, Faryn, Blake, Zach, Carly w/Lucy, 
Boston, Kegan, and Jeff

Jackson and Oliver

Besides attending the Zone Conferences this week, we will be sorting and organizing the Welfare Services materials in anticipation of the arrival of our replacements, Elder and Sister Arrington. They are in the MTC for their second week and were originally scheduled to arrive this Friday. Even though they were told to expect a delay in leaving the U.S., we're hopeful they'll arrive soon. 

With the development of this year's first tropical storm in the Atlantic, we're also double checking on preparedness for the upcoming hurricane season. Typically, Jamaica is more likely to have hurricane activity in September and October, so we're thinking we may personally escape any difficulties. 

 Until next week...all our love. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Transfers Week

As of last Wednesday, four elders and one sister now eagerly join us in saying, "It's a great day in Jamaica; Ya, Mon!"

These fine young adults represent Idaho, Arizona, and Italy. 


The mission also welcomed back a few missionaries who had been serving "off island" and sent others to replace them. We've most likely said this before, but we'll say again how much we love seeing the new missionaries embrace the work they have been called to do. We witness the trainers immediately exhibiting Christ-like characteristics as they greet their trainees with compassion. They remember their first day, and we're sure they try to make it the best day possible for their trainees. 

For those of you who have served missions, we imagine you too can remember the first day with  your first companion in your first area.  We certainly remember our arrival in Jamaica and how strange everything felt. We though had quite an advantage in that we had known our companion for a long, long time. 

Our week involved putting 100s of kilometers on our truck (or van as Jamaicans call it). We not only had two long drives to deliver missionaries to new areas, but we also made a long trip one day all over the south and western end of the island to accomplish several tasks. On this trip, we were able to complete the last apartment visit in Savannah-la-Mar for this round of inspections - making a total of 33 inspections and medical kit updates. In three other locations we delivered mail in Santa Cruz, visited the site of one of our projects in Lucea, and finally interviewed a few wheelchair recipients in Falmouth. We love it when we can make a long trip so productive. 

We also had the chance this week to visit one of our favorite project sites - the Mustard Seed Jerusalem Center in Spanish Town. This most recent project provided two new freezers and stove. The center is located on eight acres of land. It is a residential care facility providing a nurturing environment for over 150 children and adults who are challenged both mentally and physically. 

New stove ready to unwrap and put to good use

New freezer already in service

There is always such a peaceful feeling when we drive into this beautiful compound. 

Chapel on the grounds of Jerusalem Center

In the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants, Latter-day Saints are given a commandment to bring the Church "out of obscurity." Today, thousands of faithful Latter-day Saints serving in public affairs callings work hard to help people better understand who we are and what we believe. These public affairs councils help Church leaders build relationships with community, government and faith leaders, forming a vital bridge between our congregations and the communities they call home.

Rafael Gutierrez, Caribbean Area Director of Public Affairs

As the first (and only) counselor in the Mission Presidency, Buddy serves as the Priesthood Advisor for the National Public Affairs Council. This past weekend, we hosted the Area Director of Public Affairs, Rafael Gutierrez, who works for the Church and lives with his family in the Dominican Republic. We benefitted from two sessions of amazing training with him. I'm not actually part of the council, but I was able to sit in on both meetings and learned so much. 

Several times during the weekend, Brother Gutierrez talked about how fast the world is changing. In just the last few months, we have seen monumental changes in the programs and administration of these programs in the Church to better fit the needs of the Saints. The Doctrine of Jesus Christ is eternal and unchangeable, but there are inspired changes happening in the  approaches and procedures to bring about the mission of the Church which is to invite everyone to Come Unto Christ and be perfected in Him through Perfecting the Saints, Proclaiming the Gospel, Redeeming the Dead, and Caring for the Poor and Needy.

Brother Gutierrez shared a short history lesson involving the Winter Olympics in 2002 held in Salt Lake City. Once the location for the Olympics was announced, many people sought information about Utah and the Mormons. Unfortunately, Internet searches often led people to sites with negative information leading to many misconceptions. This experience made the Church leaders aware of the value of using social media to provide information about the Church in a positive way and to speak up and out to clear up misconceptions and to build relationships of trust.

Brother Gutierrez was quick to teach us that Public Affairs is not about advertising nor publicity. The core purpose is to build strategic relationships with opinion leaders who affect the reputation of the Church and whose actions and influence can help or hinder the Church's mission. 

On Sunday morning, along with Brother Gutierrez, Sister Richards (National Director of Public Affairs), and Sister Williams (National Assistant Director of Public Affairs), we attended a portion of a special forum on religious freedom hosted by leaders of the Seventh Day Adventist here in Kingston. We were warmly welcomed and left feeling enriched from hearing testimonies on faith and the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy.

Brother Gutierrez was graciously invited to address the forum. 

We then attended the Spanish Town 2nd Ward for all three meetings and observed Brother Gutierrez renewing friendships with many Jamaicans he has worked with over the years.  

The Jamaica Public Affairs council is certainly blessed to have had this opportunity to receive such valuable training and can now go forth to serve with increased understanding and confidence knowing that Brother Gutierrez and his staff are ready and willing to give further direction and guidance as needed.

Jamaica National Public Affairs Council

Until next week...all our love.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Sunday, May 13, 2018

When we decided back in August of 2016 to entitle this blog Joy in the Journey, we had no idea what an amazing journey it would be or how this phrase would apply to our overall outlook on all aspects of life. We truly are enjoying to the end. When we attend branches or wards on Sundays, we are now telling people we most likely won't see them again before we leave. That's so hard to imagine. We realize we have been just a ripple in the water. Their lives will go on without a hitch, but we'll sure miss worshipping and working with the wonderful Jamaican saints.

On Wednesday,  we had the amazing opportunity to help teach a gospel lesson to a young female investigator with the Linstead elders - Elder Rich and Elder Day. We were excited to hear her testify of those things she already knows are true because of the witness of the Holy Spirit as she prays and reads the scriptures especially the Book of Mormon. She has set a date for her baptism; unfortunately it will be after we leave, but we are thrilled she has made the commitment. She has and is being fellowshipped by other young men and women in the ward which is the ideal way to help her feel loved and supported. 

We travelled to Lacovia (about 2 1/2 hours to the west) on Wednesday for Buddy to meet with the Mandeville District Presidency for a training session on the new Ministering program of the Church. We are excited to see this newer, holier approach to taking care of one another. 

Presidents Durrant, Robinson, and Piper

A Vision of Ministering

"May we labor side by side with the Lord of the vineyard, giving the God and Father of us all a helping hand with His staggering task of answering prayers, providing comfort, drying tears, and strengthening the feeble knees." 
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Mosiah 18:
8  ...and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light:
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life -

Attending baptisms is one of the glorious opportunities we have here, and we had the blessing of  attending another one on Saturday. A sweet sister was baptized in the Boulevard Ward by one of our fine Jamaican elders - Elder Edwards. 

One of the many valiant elders - 
Assistant to the President, Elder Harrah 
We seem to have a lot of pictures of these two together; 
they definitely have a special bond. 

     The elders and sisters of the Kingston area blessed us with a beautiful song. 

"Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd"
Dear to the heart of the Shepherd,
Dear are the "ninety and nine";
Dear are the sheep that have wandered
Out in the desert to pine.
Hark! he is earnestly calling,
Tenderly pleading today:
"Will you not seek for my lost ones,
Off from my shelter astray?

Green are the pastures inviting;
Sweet are the waters and still.
Lord, we will answer thee gladly,
"Yes, blessed Master, we will!
Make us thy true under-shepherds;
Give us a love that is deep.
Send us out into the desert,
Seeking thy wandering sheep.

Yesterday, we attended the Yallahs Branch. This branch is one we've attended more often than others because Buddy has responsibility for it. It is one of the branches overseen by the Mission instead of the Stake or the District. 

Yallahs Branch Relief Society
I said, this is like a Where's Waldo picture...
but look closely and you'll see me there surrounded 
by the faithful sisters who I love so much.

We loved having the four Primary children 
come into Relief Society to sing for us for Mother's Day. 

The rest of Mother's Day we enjoyed visiting with the children and grandchildren on Face Time. We also had four elders come to our apartment to use our computers to talk with their families and afterwards to have dinner with us. We loved being able to hear about their families and the great missionary work they're doing here.

This is transfers week, so we have a couple of assignments to help with moving elders and sisters around. Hopefully, we'll have some pictures to share in the next post. 

Unbelievably, this is our last full transfer. We will leave a week after the next one. We plan to cross that finish line with heads held high and hearts filled to overflowing. 

Until next week...all our love.