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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunset in Kingston

This is the view from our front door looking actually almost due east rather than west. The sunsets have been spectacular lately because of the smoke from the burning of sugar cane fields. There's also often a slight aroma of burnt sugar in the air. 

Our time on this beautiful tropical island is quickly coming to a close. We are extremely busy trying to finish up projects we've been working on for months. Of course, we realize humanitarian work all over the world is never really finished, but we certainly would like to see these right to the end. They are so near completion, and we hate to leave with them not quite finished. There has been a big set back for our replacements, Elder and Sister Arrington, receiving their visas. It looks like it could be several weeks or even months before they arrive. We mentioned last week we had a Plan B, but now we're brainstorming a Plan C to cover what we need to do before we leave and in the following weeks to cover for this lapse of time. There are chickens and feed to purchase, hospital equipment to purchase and make sure is delivered, and..., and...

We keep reminding ourselves the Lord is in charge; peace, be still! We will just keep working hard to do all that we possibly can. 

We failed to share some pictures from Kingston Stake Conference in the last post. 
Elder Jose Alonso 
Caribbean Area Presidency First Counselor

Sister Alonso with Spanish - English interpreter

Interim Jamaica Kingston Mission President 
Kevin G. Brown

One of two instances Elder Stewart wore his suit here in Jamaica. 
Not sure why such serious face.

Stake Choir

We especially wanted to share this photo with Brother and Sister Nugent. The Nugents were the first members of the Church baptized here in Jamaica.
Nugent Family 1974

A co-worker of Brother Victor Nugent  here on assignment from the U.S. introduced him to the gospel. The Nugent family was baptized more than four years before the Church was organized in Jamaica in 1978 and were the foundation for more than two decades before immigrating in 2000 to the United States, where all five of Victor and  Verna's children graduated from BYU. 

In a previous post, I had mentioned the Be One celebration that was held a few weeks ago in the Conference Center in Salt Lake commemorating the blessings of the priesthood being extended to all of God's children everywhere in the world in 1978. One of the main cast of the historical presentations of the event is the Nugent's grandson. The Nugents live in the U.S. but were here in Jamaica hosting a huge family reunion. 

This week found us at the Jamaica Society for Blind on two different days to receive training on using the Victor Reader Stream listening devices. Through a recent LDS Charities project partnering with this amazing society, we were able to acquire 30 devices, most of which are for members of the Church who are blind or severely visually impaired so they can easily listen to the scriptures. 


We wanted to get these into the hands of the ±25 members before we left, but since the devices arrived later than anticipated, we personally may only be able to take them to one or two people. When we deliver them, we want to have time to show them how to use the device. We plan to train our dear friend, Tracy, and she will then in turn train others. One sister here in Kingston was able to meet with us at the JSB to receive her device and be trained. 

This sister and others will be able to receive further assistance as often as needed from the Jamaica Society for the Blind and especially from our good friend, Conrad Harris, the Director. We are so appreciative of his Christlike service to so many in Jamaica.  

Image result for wheelchair logo

On another day of the week, we traveled to Savanna-la-Mar and Top Hill to conduct wheelchair interviews/inspections. We are still trying to visit with people who received their chairs as part of a 2015 project. We have had many challenges finding the people to meet the required percentage we need to interview. As expected, many of the chairs are out of service, and unfortunately some of the recipients we've tried to reach are deceased. We were able to visit with four people this week, so we only need four more to reach our goal. 

We first went to the Westmoreland Infirmary in Savanna-la-Mar. 


Our new friend, Dwayne, had a cheerful outlook 
even in the midst of such extreme physical disability and poverty.

And another new friend, Matron Russell
It's take a special kind of person to fill the demanding position she has especially in these harsh circumstances. She shared with us her commitment to do all that she can to assure the residents receive adequate care; we could tell she is sincere. This is more than just a job for her; it is her way of serving the neediest of God's children. 

We then travelled to Top Hill up in the hills close to Junction. Elders Shepherd and Rich kindly offered to call the contact, and then we were able to follow them to her home. The recipient is an elderly lady whose daughter cares for her. We enjoyed talking with the daughter while a few quick adjustments were made to the chair. 

We've been sorting and organizing and were able to take a couple of small loads of humanitarian supplies and equipment this week over to the apartment where the  Arringtons eventually will live. The plan is to enlist the help of some strong elders to move all the office equipment at the end of the week. Transfers are this week, and the new Mission President and his wife arrive on Thursday. With the rest of the packing,  organizing, and preparing for a smooth transition we need to do, it is going to be a bit hectic. We'll gird up our loins and fresh courage take - we'll be ready! 

We had the occasion to take a couple of elders out for dinner at a nice Chinese restaurant we like here in Kingston. We had enlisted their help in moving our treadmill to the family who purchased it, but  because of a change of plans in the family's schedule, the delivery fell through. We still wanted to treat the elders to dinner.  After a delicious meal, the elders were excited to have a photo op with the Jamaica's favorite-son runner Usain Bolt's "little" brother, who is actually one of our favorite waiters at the restaurant. Even though he looks stern in this picture, he is very friendly and a very competent waiter.  


We were able to get the treadmill delivered on another evening with the help and strength of our apartment manager and a neighbor of the buyer.

Great men of God
Mandeville District President, Anthony Robinson; Jamaica Kingston Mission Presidency First Counselor, Elder Richard Stewart; May Pen Branch President, Carlos Frater; May Pen Branch Presidency First Counselor, Clinton Glaze; Mandeville District Presidency First Counselor,  Jason Piper; and Mandeville District Presidency Second Counselor, Paul Durrant. 

Today we attended the May Pen Branch Conference. We enjoyed three wonderful hours of meetings. Buddy spoke in Sacrament meeting and shared how we had visited the May Pen Branch our very first Sunday on the island in August 2016.  He mentioned how hot it was that day and our thinking - well, especially me - oh no, I don't do well in the heat. Fortunately, we have become very accustomed to the heat overall. Actually today, there was a wonderful breeze during all the meetings, so we were very comfortable.

During the third hour, President Robinson and President Stewart led a session of counseling together for all the youth and adults. There was a great discussion of needs and possible solutions to a few areas of concern expressed by the members.  We appreciated President Robinson's teaching the principles to not just complain but to counsel together to come up with ideas of what can be done going forward. The end result was realization by the district and branch leaders and membership that all the concerns can be addressed and solutions found through a well-functioning Branch Council as they unitedly seek and follow the direction of the Spirit. 

Elder and Sisters serving in the May Pen Branch.

Sister Penman, on my right, concludes her full-time mission this week. She has been one of the sweetest and most valiant sisters we've known. We know she will continue to be a great missionary for the rest of her life. 

Mosiah 2:17
And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. 
Our prayer remains to have strength of mind, body, and spirit to continue to serve God as we serve our fellow beings not only as we conclude this full-time humanitarian mission but in every future aspect of our lives. We truly believe our whole life prepared us to serve the Lord and His children. Our love for God's children and our desire to serve have "qualified us for the work." We feel we have other opportunities to serve ahead of us and expect to meet these with enthusiasm and commitment. We trust the Lord to know best where, when, and what those experiences will be.

Until next week...all our love.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him! (Proverbs 20:7) 

Our family is eternally grateful for a righteous father who honors his wife, children, and the holy priesthood which he holds. 

We were able to accomplish so many things this last week including finishing two major projects and holding both Handing Over Ceremonies. 

The first project was a donation of several large kitchen appliances at the Jerusalem Children's Village in Spanish Town. The Jerusalem Children's Village is one of the several facilities across Jamaica that comprise the Mustard Seed Communities, with another 12 centers scattered among Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Zimbabwe. Mustard Seed Communities began in 1978 in the impoverished community of Mona Common on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaica, as a home for a handful of abandoned and disabled children. Today they serve over 600 children, young adults, and families who belong to the most vulnerable groups in Jamaican society. The populations of their homes include children and young adults with disabilities, children affected by HIV/AIDS, and teen mothers along with their babies. MSC Jamaica also manages a number of community outreach programs to combat poverty and provide education to local populations. This facility houses about 160 residents of varying ages, which includes those who are HIV positive and those with both physical and mental challenges. The property features a chapel, adoration rooms, an art center, a physiotherapy center, play therapy areas, classrooms, a clinic, as well as a five-acre farm. 

LDS Charities has had the privilege of partnering with this center for several projects over the years. One of note is a chicken project that was begun years ago which was the start of a very successful operation with now over 3000 chickens. The center strives to be self-sufficient by raising fish, chickens, goats. They also maintain a garden and have recently commenced a solar operation to provide power to the facility. ​

 Residents gathered to join in the celebration. 

President gave all the praise to the Lord and expressed gratitude to Jerusalem Children's Village for allowing us the opportunity to serve as instruments in the Lord's hands. 

The kitchen staff expressed their gratitude for new appliances and equipment. 

Everyone enjoyed the refreshments!

This beautiful young lady raised her voice in song; others joined right in. 

The other project was at the Hanover Parish Infirmary in Lucea on the west coast of the island. LDS Charities was able to provide commercial size washers and dryers, a solar water heater, a 1000 gallon water tank, a generator, an industrial stove, a refrigerator, microwave, fans, as well as large cooking pots, dishes, utensils, and cups. 

We were invited to attend the Hanover Parish Council meeting to officially hand-over the donation. We were presented with a lovely plaque recognizing LDS Charities for the generous gift which will improve the lives of so many. 

Our new friend, Winston, was quick to remind us we had expressed interest in purchasing one of his paintings. We were glad to support his small business venture. 

Unfortunately, after over a week of hospitalization, President Pearson's medical condition became such that plans were quickly made for them to leave Sunday - two weeks earlier than expected. Then on Saturday, it was decided they would be flown back to Utah by air ambulance because he needed to remain on IV for the duration of the trip. Everything was put into motion for this big change in plans, and they flew out Sunday afternoon. This was certainly not the way any of us thought their mission would conclude, but we are glad he is receiving the medical attention he needs and pray for his speedy recovery.

We were delighted to see President's smiling face on Facebook today as he's surrounded by loving family.

Kevin and Nadine Brown of Kingston, Jamaica, have been called to serve as the interim Mission President and Companion of the Jamaica Kingston Mission until the new president and wife, President and Sister Parker, arrive on June 28th. The announcement was made by visiting Area Authority, Elder Jose Luis Alonso, First Counselor in the Caribbean Area Presidency, during the Jamaica Kingston Stake Conference on Saturday, June 16, 2018. President and Sister Brown served in this position for three years before the Pearsons, so it is a blessing to have them right here and ready to serve. President Brown serves as Bishop of the Boulevard Ward in Kingston and is thDirector of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion in the Caribbean. 

The mission seems to be carrying on as normally as possible. The missionaries are working hard continuing to lovingly invite, teach, and baptize. Baptisms took place around the island on Saturday and more are planned for next Saturday. The elders and sisters know that even in the face of such challenges, the Lord is in charge and His work goes on. We're so proud of them. 

The book is blue; the Church is true!

I've always been one to have several contingency plans in mind for most situations. This practice is coming in very handy right now as many adjustments are made in how our time is allotted during the final days of our missionary service; there are so many new, unexpected variables. We want to be available to assist President and Sister Brown as much as we can. I will continue as the main missionary health care coordinator until I can train one of the other sisters, and Buddy will continue with his many duties as the First Counselor to President Brown. Our replacements are still delayed because of waiting on their visas. We have a Plan B, well, and maybe even C, D, and E to make sure the transition goes smoothly. No matter what, the amazing humanitarian work of LDS Charities goes on. We have branches to visit, wheelchair interviews to conduct, projects to finish, final reports to enter online, and new projects to research for proposal, and next week is transfers and the arrival of the Parkers. Phew! We will be ready to put our feet up - but not for long. 

Thank you seems inadequate to express our gratitude for your prayers for God's blessings to be poured out upon all His missionaries around the world. We trust you will see the fruit of our labors and recognize our love of the Savior as we diligently strive in all the multiplicity of roles in building the Kingdom of God on earth.

Until next week...all our love.