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Saturday, July 21, 2018

2018 June 25 - July 20 Last weeks & homecoming

June 25th - July 20th

The time arrived. We reached our final days in the wonderful Jamaica Kingston Mission and were headed home to the divinely blessed, U.S.A. 

The last full week in Jamaica, we helped with transfers one last time. We started on Monday by picking up an elder in Ocho Rios to take him back to Kingston. On Wednesday, we then picked up three elders from the Mission Home to deliver a new elder and his companion to Linstead and the other elder to Ocho Rios. We always enjoy helping with transfers and being able to meet the new ones and spend a little more time with the missionaries. The mission only received one new elder and one new sister this transfer; all others who were expected were sent temporarily to other missions in the states to wait on their visas. On Thursday, we arose early to take two sisters to the airport to fly to Cayman, and we were also able to say good-bye to all the missionaries who were returning home. All of these missionaries have been with us the full 18 or 23 months, so we are extra close to them. We love and will miss all these wonderful, dedicated, faithful elders and sisters. 
Elder Gibbons and Elder Boyer

Elder Anderton, Elder Hudson, Elder Wilding, and Elder Jensen

Elder Day and Elder Lott (fresh from the MTC)

Sister Patterson and Sister Jackson

Elder Christensen, Elder Shafer, Elder Gibbons, Sister Bradshaw, 
Elder Markwalter, Sister Penman, Elder Stewart, President Brown, 
Elder Harrah, and Elder Willard 

We spent many of our last days saying good-bye to some of the people we have come to love and admire so much. 

Jamaica Society for the Blind - our last photo with our dear friend, Conrad Harris, as we presented him with the Victor Reader Stream listening devices for the blind. 

We attended the Savanna-la-Mar Branch for our last Sunday on the island. We have become very close to the Robinson family. President Robinson was the Sav Branch President and is now the District President. We know the District is in very good hands.

Sister Robinson and two of their daughters

 Current Branch President's wife, Sister Tate

and from the Santa Cruz Branch...
 President and Sister Morrison

We had our last Family Home Evening with the other senior missionaries and the new Mission President and companion, President and Sister Parker from Atlanta, Georgia.

L-R: Elder and Sister Osborne (Office Couple), Sister Dennis (Women's Auxiliary Specialist), Sister Baird & Sister Hunter (Self Reliance), President and Sister Parker, us, and Elder and Sister Foisy (Seminary & Institute)
President and Sister Parker

Elder Harrah and Elder Willard
And perhaps the hardest good-bye of all was to these two amazing elders who are the current Assistants to the President. We love and admire them for their untiring dedication and service to not only the President but all the missionaries. 

One of last special opportunities we had two days before leaving Jamaica was to participate in the Handing Over Ceremony for the closure of a large project we were able to facilitate with the Victoria Jubilee Maternity Hospital in Kingston. LDS Charities was able to help equip the new Materno-Fetal Medicine Unit. This project was one of our largest and took the longest to fully complete. We anticipate thousands of women will benefit from the care they'll receive at this clinic. The purpose of this clinic is to lower the rate of maternal mortality by reducing deaths due to complications of chronic non- communicable diseases (NCDs) by providing clinical services designed to cater specifically to the unique needs of women with NCDs. This clinic is the first of its kind locally. While Victoria Jubilee Hospital is the largest maternity hospital in the English speaking Caribbean with 8000-9000 deliveries yearly, there was, however, no service available for prenatal screening, diagnosis, and surveillance for the women with NCDs until the creation of this clinic. 

 Dr. Leroy Campbell, Consulting Obstetrics-Gynecology doctor
He and Dr. Kelly, also an Ob-Gyn doctor, were the originators 
of the proposal for the new clinic.

Jamaica Kingston Stake Presidency Second Counselor, Patrick Medley

 Materno-Fetal Medicine Unit Staff

Dr. Kelly with a few of the pieces of equipment

Medleys and Stewarts - eternal friends

After many weeks of visa waiting, Elder and Sister Arrington from Heber City, Utah, finally arrived in Jamaica on the evening of Tuesday, July 3rd. We were so excited to meet them and welcome them to Jamaica. We only one full day with them, so we tried to use the few hours we had to share as many of the details as we could about the humanitarian work without totally overwhelming them. We will stay in close contact with them as long as they want help during the transition. We're confident they will soon be comfortable with their new surroundings and handling all the many facets of this calling with ease. We wish them all the best.

We arose quite early to arrive at the Norman Manley Airport at 6 AM on Thursday, July 5th. Our hearts hurt as we took off from the beautiful island of Jamaica, but they also were filled with joyful anticipation of the long-awaited reunion with our precious family. 

We had a layover in Atlanta just long enough to have a quick lunch with Allen and Phyllis Stewart. 

We arrived in Salt Lake City at 8:20 PM and quickly made our way to the baggage claim area where we were greeted with, "There they are!" We could barely contain ourselves as we hugged, hugged, and hugged again all of the family [except Dr. Bobby, who was diligently serving at the Carl R. Darnell Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas].

Patiently waiting the arrival of Papa and Grandma

 Jeff & Renee, Zach, Josh, Ben, & Sam Stewart
(Layton, Utah)

 Tom & Heather, Kaylee, Toby, Darren, Jenna, Daniel, Lilly, & Ethan Wheeler
(Stansbury Park, Utah)

Collin & Megan, Tamri, Kenna, Paislee, Jaidree, & Oliver Stewart
(St. Anthony, Idaho)

Kegan & Carly, Mason, Sammy, Maddie, Jackson, Kallie, Boston, & Lucy Price
 (Stansbury Park, Utah)

[Bobby] & Emily, Landon, Eli, Savannah & Baby Cohoon
(San Antonio, Texas)

Blake & Chelsea, Paidan, Liam, & Faryn
(Shelley, Idaho)


Eventually, everyone piled into the various family vans and travelled back to Carly's house to continue the evening of reunion. We even had fireworks to add to the celebration.

Buddy couldn't resist making carpet angels in the lush carpet.  
All the flooring in Jamaica is tile or sometimes wood. 

We were all so wound up, it was several hours before we finally called it a night and headed to bed. We were exhausted but so happy to be HOME. 

Friday, July 6th 
Another special day as we went to the Ogden Temple with our oldest grandson, Zach, as he received his endowment of knowledge, light, and truth. Tears flowed as we saw our loved ones once again dressed in white in the House of the Lord. With us were Jeff, Renee, Tom, Heather, Collin, Carly, Emily, Blake, and Chelsea.

Zach holds a very special place in our hearts. 
He will be a fantastic missionary in the Ghana Kumasi Mission.

Nourishment for our bodies after a wonderful experience 
of receiving nourishment for our spirits. 

Sunday, July 8th 
We all attended Carly and Heather's ward to partake of the Sacrament and witness Kegan lovingly perform the ordinance of naming and blessing their sweet baby girl, Lucy Gwen Price. Standing in the circle were Papa Stewart, Jeff Stewart, Collin Stewart, Blake Stewart, and Bishop Mace Glazier. 

Joy abounded as we shared a wonderful Sacrament Meeting with our family and had the chance to spend the Sabbath Day with most of them. We loved watching the grandchildren interacting with one another. Emily's family left early to drive in an RV with Bobby's family,  and Bobby flew into Portland to join them. They all went to Crater Lake, Oregon for a week-long camping trip.  

Monday, July 9th
We got up very early to get the car packed and on the road by 7 AM. It was much easier to leave knowing we'd be back with all our loved ones again soon. 

Our trip back to Vancouver went smoothly, and I do mean literally smoothly. One of the few things we don't think we'll miss about Jamaica is the mentally and physically challenging, bumpy, windy, narrow, pothole-ridden (pick an adjective) roads. The drive seemed quick and uneventful which is best for a long road trip. 

The first glimpse of our home and towering evergreen trees brought us great peace mixed with melancholy. We could certainly relate to the bittersweet feelings expressed by our four children who served missions when they returned home. 

This chapter of our life is now closed, but we look forward with a brightness of hope to the next opportunity to serve. Our experience of serving in Jamaica has forever changed us, both as individuals and as a consecrated couple. Our discipleship of Jesus Christ has blessed us beyond measure as we strove to fulfill our commission to "relieve suffering and seek out the poor and needy of all nationalities and religions". Just as the apostles of old, we cannot go "back to our nets" (John21). We hope our future holds more missions serving in whatever capacity the Lord has for us. We will await His guidance and inspiration as we fill our days with family, relocation from Washington to Utah, and continued service in the Church. 

With this final post, we recognize the support and prayers of all of you over the term of our missionary service in Jamaica. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Debbie and I have received many more blessings than we provided through our humanitarian projects. We also hope we have had a positive effect as we shared our experiences. 

May the Lord bless you all forever. 

All our love.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Last week was such a flurry of activity, and this next being our last few days is even more hectic. So, in light of our total overwhelmedness (well, it's a word now),  I am only posting pictures and hope to go back - someday soon - to add commentary. 

We plan to write one last post to cover our final week in Jamaica and our return to America. This might take a while since we plan to be spending most of our time just holding babies, and we want to give all our attention to our family. 

All our love...