Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day, Kingston, Jamaica 2012

It is Christmas day.  It looks like it is going to be another gorgeous summer day here in Jamaica. The sun is shining, the temperature is around 80-85, there are a few white clouds in the otherwise clear blue sky and the hills around Kingston are a beautiful green.  As I am sitting here I can hear the birds singing in the trees and except for a little distant traffic noise all is calm, all is bright. 

What a beautiful place to spend Christmas!  All the usual hustle and bustle did not touch us this year.  We have seen a few Christmas lights in the nicer neighborhoods, two trees on the tops of cars, a few displays in the shopping malls and heard some nice music—often with a pop beat.  I spent yesterday with my usual fudge and spiced nut making but it was very quiet.  Christmas Eve was at the Mission Home with the other Senior Missionaries and a nice meal.  We talked about Christmas traditions and listened to a wonderful talk about the Savior and the Godhead by Elder Holland. 

As I have been reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish for the past year I spent a little time before going to bed last night reading the Christmas Story in Luke 2 in Spanish.  That was a really neat experience.  Because I am so familiar with the story I was able to understand it perfectly--and simply.  I am so glad I have always believed the story of the Savior’s birth.  I have always believed about his life and his teachings.  I have always believed in the resurrection and life eternal.  It is sort of like I cannot NOT believe.  I fear I take the fact that he is my Savior a little casually at times and even take for granted his blessings and love for me and all of God’s children. 
So this quiet Jamaican Christmas is an added blessing for me to take the time to reaffirm my beliefs even if it is just to and for myself.  It is impossible to live in this world and not believe in a loving Creator God.  The only explanation that makes any sense to me is a Heavenly Father/Creator—one who knows and loves his children.  I cannot comprehend his omniscience and omnipresence but I cannot imagine anything else. Even if a world of pain, sorrow, evil and sin, God’s greatest blessing to all his children is powerfully evident.  It is the reason there is peace and joy in the lives and hearts of some, sorrow and pain in the hearts of others, and evil and hatred in the hearts of still others.  It is the great eternal blessing of moral agency—the whole reason for our existence on this earth-- The right of every living soul to choose what they believe, what they say, what they feel, what they do, and how they will live their lives.  It is why the Savior of the World came into the world.  It is why he allowed himself to be slain by those who chose to hate him and ridicule him and his teachings and to desire in their hearts to kill him in the hopes of stopping his work and teachings from spreading throughout the world.  Because his teachings were the truth, because it was indeed the good news for all people, they were only able to kill his body not his doctrine or his influence.  

What a profound comfort it is to truly believe these truths and to have knowledge of the doctrines he taught and know that it is The Gospel of God our Heavenly Father and of Jesus Christ, His Son and our Savior.  My life is peaceful and joyful in a frightening and evil world because I choose to believe in a personal Savior who is the Son of The Eternal Father In Heaven, and because I have a absolute faith and hope in eternal life in a world that will be even better than this beautiful and wonderful world in which we now live.
Merry Christmas Tony, may you always remember these feelings and these truths.  25 December 2012

Jamaican Taxi Service

Sunday 23 December 2012
I mentioned we were going to participate in the branch service project—what a day that was!  We arrived at the church a few minutes late and found people packing into vehicles.  As we drove up Pres Singh asked if we were going with them and then said we could take some passengers.  In the first place we forgot to take into account that this was Pres Singh’s branch and he does not run on Jamaican time—he is prompt and even early sometimes.  In the second place he really gave us no choice—we were taking passengers.  We filled the car and then were informed we had to wait for someone else.  About 15 minutes later three more people showed up and squeezed into the car.  Then someone got on the phone and was talking to someone else we had to pick up on the way!  

We took off with all these loud young Jamaicans giving me driving directions.  The girl who was talking to the other girl on the phone settled with her that we would be looking for a “brown girl”.  Everyone in the car was dying laughing that we were looking for a brown girl.  I started to go to Devon House the way I knew and everyone stated correcting me and then we had to turn right (which is across traffic) and they were all noisily telling me to “nose out” into the traffic so I could turn.  Then I was driving and missed the brown girl and had to stop in the middle of the street like a taxi and wait for someone to get out and yell at her to come.  She came but was not in a hurry even though I was stopped in the lane of traffic.  (I did not hear one single car honk at me for stopping in the lane and waiting.  I told them at home I probably would have been shot.)

So we had about 8 people in the back of our car which would hold 6 Americans very uncomfortably!—and complaining loudly.  But these people were all very happy and there was not a word about sitting on top of each other.  They are used to crowded taxis and buses.  So with lots of people giving me directions we arrived at the nursing home where we were to carol and visit and share goodies. 

There were about 20 people there and when I walked into the open patio area they were all walking around the edge in front of the individual rooms singing carols.  I joined in and shook people’s hands and wished them Merry Christmas as I walked by and saw that we already had a couple of our young adult women sitting with the patients visiting with them.  Some people are just naturals!  The nursing home has several complexes or units which are individual buildings built in a square with a nice open patio or court yard in the middle.  This one has a huge beautiful tree which provides shade.  I loved the fact that the rooms have both a back and a front door.  So the people can come out of their rooms and sit in the shade in the court yard or they can go out onto the grass in the back of the building.  It is nice that it is all open and of course the weather makes it lovely to be outdoors in the shade.

 Ruth Ann Brown was one of the first to sit with the elderly women. 


 Sabrina Singh also spent a little extra time visiting with these little ladies.

 Our Baptist friend leading the group.

One Baptist joined us in the singing and then led us.   The kids sort of got a little carried away with the “Christmas” songs but then they went around and visited with the elderly patients while they were eating their cookies and fruit.  One woman by the name of Joyce took a liking to Bob and came up and put her arm around him and gave him a hug when he left.  

 Bob and his friend Joyce.

Getting back to the church was a little easier and when we got there Pres Singh had stopped and got drinks and jucie patties. (In England they would be called Pastys).  We ate those in the parking lot and then people started going their own way.  We planned to go up to the Dakins to bring Austin his Christmas gift of granola bars so we told one Sister Richards we could drop her off.  We had already told Brother Bonilla we would take him home so his wife would not have to bring all 4 of their little girls out to get him.  So when everyone was finished with their refreshments our car started filling up!  We ended up with not one but two Sister Richards, Bro Bonilla, 5 Brown Girls—that is girls by the name of Brown, and Sister Bradford—10 people I think!.  We had to stop for the first Sister Richards to get some money (not sure what that was about) but we sat in the parking lot packed in that car and no one uttered a word of complaint for at least 20 minutes.  Then we drove to Bro Bonilla’s house with many people giving directions.  We dropped him and one of the Browns, who was going to babysit for them and headed back the opposite direction.

We had to stop at Mega Mart!—the big grocery store.  It was so crowded I dropped everyone at the door who wanted to go in and I and two of the Brown girls drove around the parking lot twice before finding a place to park and wait.  We waited for over an hour!  I fully expected all those women to bring huge bags of groceries out to stuff into our already overcrowded car but they really didn't—it just took a long time because it was so crowded.  Again no one complained about either the wait or the crowd.  They really are positive people.

Going up the hill is rather harrowing at best but with a car full of noisy Jamaicans it was even more.  Driving through this one residential area suddenly they started telling me to stop.  When I finally realized what they wanted we were half a block from this young man they jumped out of the car and started hailing.  He got up to the car and without even looking in to see if there was anyone there he started squeezing in.   Everyone was excited to talk to him and so everyone was chatting noisily in the back in a language we could not begin to understand—but they were having fun. 

Two of the beautiful little neighbors of the Dakins.

 A couple of the boys had these toys.  A stick with two wheels and ropes to stear it with.  Sister Dakins said her husband played with this same kind of toy when he was a child except he would get a green orange and run a stick through it and a stick to steer by and he would run that up and down the street as these boys do their toys.

We finally dropped everyone off and Bob said “are we alone?”  It was sort of hard to know since our ears were still ringing!  So we went down to the Dakins.  We brought little candy canes to give to the neighbors, which was fun, and the box of granola bars for Austin.  We didn't stay long but by the time we got back to our apartment it was after 4:00.  I made a cranberry-apple crisp for dessert for Sunday and we took it to the Larsens because I knew we would not have time to come home and get it before going to the Mc Phersons for dinner the next day.  We had a nice little visit with the Larsens and came home and went to bed.

 Sunday we went back to Spanish Town 1st Branch for our follow-up Job seeking seminar.  It did not go as well as we had hoped or as well as the week before but the people still seemed to appreciate it.  I sure hope we are teaching at least a few people some things that will help them find some kind of job.  It is discouraging but we really feel we have to do something and what we are doing we feel is the best we can do at this time.
We had a nice Christmas dinner at the Mc Phersons.  He is in the District Presidency and she is the District Relief Society President.  They have a nice home with a beautiful back yard where we had our Christmas dinner with all the local missionaries and Arian Segree and a young Chilean woman the missionaries are teaching.  She is here in Jamaica trying to learn English before going to England to study.  Everyone laughs at the very idea of coming to Jamaica to learn English!—even the Jamaicans.  Anyway, we may have some further contact with her.  She is getting baptized next week and she may want to come here to our apartment to talk English with us.

Sister Mc Pherson.  The arch that is over her right shoulder was the perch for a bold little hummingbird she says attacks the gardener when he comes to mow. It was cute to see all the missionaries trying to get a picture of him.  (the hummingbird)

 Elder and Sister Larsen

 Elder and Sister Murdock

I think by Sunday night we were so exhausted we actually started to bed around 8:30 and slept until almost 8:00 the next morning.  I woke and read for a couple of hours in the night but went back to sleep eventually.  We were really tired!

Monday I made fudge, and spiced walnuts and a pot of Mother’s hamburger stew for our potluck at the Mission Home in the evening.  We had a nice dinner of soup and salads and talked about Christmas traditions and visited for a while.  Then we listened to a talk by Elder Holland on the Godhead. It was really good.  He made it very clear we know The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost are separate Beings but he really emphasized that we need to also teach that they are absolutely unified in their purpose and dealings with the Children of God.  I know that is true but I guess in trying to make clear that they are separate some people down play their absolute unity.

We had a very nice Christmas Eve.  We came home around 9:00 and read for a while and went to bed.  Today, Christmas day,  we have been having a very quiet day.  We went out for a couple of hours and drove down to the water for the first time.  We took off toward the water from our apartment which was a little mistake as it took us into what I suspect was the heart of Kingston down town, which is an extremely poor area.  The street market, which I heard was open most of the night with the lowest prices of the year, was still doing business.  There were quite a few people still out (this was after noon) but there was evidence there had been many people there earlier.  There was debris all over and there were tons of little stalls selling all sorts of things. –very colorful.   As we tried to make our way to the water we drove through some very poor neighborhoods.  I was not scared but I was uncomfortable because I didn't know if we should be there and what kind of neighborhoods these were.  

We finally made it to the road that runs along the water, drove to the end of it and if we had not turned around I think we would have been on the road that takes you out on the spit where the airport and Port Royal are.  But we drove back and went to the other end of this road and caught Half Way Tree Road which took us back into town and into familiar territory. 

Getting Ready for Christmas

Sunday 16 Dec  
We did our first Job Seekers Seminar today in Spanish Town 1st Branch.  We had asked the Branch Presidents to hand select participants but Pres Lue announced it to the whole branch so we had about 30 people show up after meetings.  Bob’s presentation went pretty well.  We were glad we cut it back to basically Networking for the first day.  We were also happy to have Sisters Sandra Moodie and Sandra Whitehorne the Branch Employment specialists (probably actually the Island Employment Specialists—since they have been doing it for years) there to help us deal with the number of people and to fill out mini resumes.  We probably had at least 20 or our 30 who actually filled out forms. 

We felt pretty good about how things went and realize we will have to simplify again for next week.  We had planned to give them the rest of our presentation which went through ldsjobs.org and interviewing skills and what employers want etc.  I think we will pretty much stick with networking skills and how to present themselves.  It was fun to meet so many people and to be able to interact with them.  We enjoyed attending their meetings.  We have pretty much scheduled every Sunday up until two weeks before we leave our mission—two weeks in each branch.  Some of these will be overnighters as we will not be able to drive one way early on Sunday mornings. 

Thursday Bob got his braces on his lower teeth.  He is still struggling with the associated discomfort.  He is not particularly good with discomfort.

 Sister Richards is the Relief Society President and is one of the more successful at raising chickens.

 These are 5 of the 6 Brown Sisters.  Ruth Ann is the oldest at 23 and Rochelle is the youngest at 14.  Their father passed away a couple of years ago leaving them completely on their own.  They do amazingly well.  Ruth Ann works and Tonnie (missing from picture) and Shirlette are in college both quite academic.  The next Alexia plans to go into medicine.  Amazing family--never miss a thing.

Saturday was the Constant Spring Branch Christmas dinner—the one we went with Pres Singh to check out the chickens.  It was supposed to start at 2:00 but in Jamaica we actually got started sometime after 3:00.  We had a nice dinner with Jerk chicken (jerk is apparently a kind of seasoning they put on chicken, pork and fish—sort of spicy), and grilled chicken, curry goat, rice and peas, green salads, and cake for dessert.  It was quite nice and there were at least 150 people, which was good.  Afterward, the young adults did another “talent show” –more dances and a few songs.  It was interesting though that they incorporated in their dances signing for some of the Primary and Christmas songs.  They also Rapped some Christmas songs as well as “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus”.  A few of the young women modeled some dresses they made out of various products like black garbage bags, newspaper and phone book paper.  They were actually very well done and people really got a kick out of them.  

We helped clean up and then Bob wanted to take the Dakins’ home.  This would have been great except they live on top of the mountain and the roads are horrible and windy and narrow and it was dark!  And to make matters worse some of the other people who live up there wanted a ride too but of course we did not have room.  We ended up with 10 people in the back or our car where 6 people should have fit.  I am sort of getting used to the drive up there as we have now been 3 times but I really feel the responsibility with so many people in the car.  I think maybe the Dakins’ and we have adopted each other.

Thursday we had the Mission Christmas Conference/Devotional.  All the missionaries from the entire  island were in for the conference.  It was really nice.  Pres Hendricks invited Pres and Sister Glazier, the MTC President and his wife from Dominican Republic.  We met them when we were there for our training on our way here to Jamaica.  They had known all the Jamaican Missionaries so it was fun for them to see each other again.  They gave some nice talks about Joseph Smith as we commemorate his birthday this weekend.  It was good to be reminded how important it is to often renew my testimony of Joseph Smith as a Prophet.  It is so easy to remember all the good things that are said about his personality and leadership but it is important to remember that he was a man with weaknesses just like every other man and yet God chose him to be the prophet of the restoration.  Too often we expect prophets to be like the Savior and be perfect and they are often portrayed as almost perfect but it is good to know that, good as they are, they are no better than anyone else, it is just that they were chosen by the Lord to be the prophet for that time.  I am so grateful for my testimony of living prophets on the earth today to help us deal with the difficulties of our world and times.

 Picture courtesy of Sister Smith.  All the missionaries in Jamaica except the Wrights who are with their daughter.  Pres and Sister Glazier from the MTC in DR are also present in this picture.

The major part of the program was what Pres Hendricks described as his "ponderings” about the circumstances surrounding the birth of the Savior.  He wrote sort of a readers theatre with readers representing Isaiah, Nephi, son of Lehi, Nephi, son of Helaman, the angel Gabriel, Zacharias, John the Baptist, a Shepherd, one of the Kings, Joseph, and Mary and others that I cannot now remember.  Pres Hendricks sang a really neat song about Joseph and his care of the Son of God.  He has a pretty good bass voice and the song was very poignant.   The whole program was very good and really helped us to focus on the divinity of Jesus Christ and all the important circumstances of His birth.  I hope I will be able to keep the feelings I had then with me at least through the Christmas season.  I wish I was better at keeping those good feelings with me permanently. 

After the program we ate pizza (the delivery man had to make 4 trips because he could not fit all the pizzas in his car for one trip) and salads and brownies.  The missionaries love being together and being able to spend time visiting and enjoying each other.  After we ate, Pres and Sister Hendricks handed out all the packages from home to all the elders.  One of the cute moments of excitement was when one of the elders opened a package at the urging of some of the others.  Laughter broke out when he pulled an old pair of his own shoes from the package.  One young man got a particular kick out of this gift as it was he who had sent the old shoes to his former companion because he had left them behind at the last transfer.  They really do grow to love one another.  

Bob and I are getting in the Christmas spirit by going to the shopping mall almost on a daily basis or even twice in a day because one of us (me) keeps forgetting things I need.  It is a pain in the neck as the traffic is pretty bad and the parking at the mall is congested but the mall is decorated and there are lots of happy shoppers.  We went this evening and decided to eat at one of the local favorites while we were there.  It is a sort of fast food place in the food court in the mall called Island Grill.  We had barbeque and jerk chicken and rice and peas and a festival.  Rice and peas is actually rice with red beans in it.  It has a slight flavor which is really quite tasty—not just the usual bland rice flavor.  A Festival is a type of bread stick which is rather dense and almost has the flavor of a corn bread but not quite.  It was very good.  I really enjoyed the meal.  However, when we got home I realized again I had forgotten something I need for tomorrow!

Tomorrow we will participate in our Branch service project—I think we are going to a nursing home to visit the elderly shut-ins.  It will be nice to participate with the branch members, they are such good people.
I have been wanting to write a little about some of the fun Jamaican idiosyncrasies.  For example the tops of all the telephone poles or electrical poles have all these curly wires sticking out of them.  I guess that makes it easier to find the wire you need when there is a problem.  When we went to Negril I noticed in these little housing areas there would be a group of poles clustered together, each pole had wires going to a different house.  

Another example is the way they build stairs.  I think they do not measure or anything when they begin the stairs.  They just begin and whatever is left over at the bottom becomes whatever it is:  either a step noticeably shorter than all the others or one that is noticeably taller than the others.  It happens way to often to be just a mistake. Once in a while it can be the top step that is the odd height.  It can be a little jarring. 
Speaking of little stairs, almost every building we have been in has these 3 inch steps leading from one room to another.  There are several in the building that houses the mission office.  I am not sure why the floors cannot remain all one level.  I can see no purpose at all for the little steps, but I have seen many of them.  As a matter of fact coming into our apartment you have to step up about 2-3 inches walking in the door—not sure why it has to be a different level from the hall.  It is an inside hall so there is not a fear of water coming in…

One of my favorites is sort of difficult to describe because it is the way they talk.  But for example in Church at Linstead the music was lead by Sister “All” and the organ was played by Sister “Handerson”.   (We would say Hall and Anderson.)  I love it!  We still have a little trouble understanding some people especially if it is hard to hear.  Tonight when we ordered our chicken at the Island Gril the girl asked us if we wanted “brest” or “ties”  since it was hard to hear she gestured by putting both hands over her breasts and then on her thighs.  I don’t think Bob caught it but I cracked up.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A "Typical Week" as Senior Missionaries

This is the Green and Black Streamer Humming Bird, or Doctor Bird, the National Bird of Jamaica.  I got this picture thanks to Elder Larsen who spotted him in the tree in the parking lot of the Church.  Remember how small a humming bird is but this guy's tail is about 6-7 inches long.

Tuesday December 11
Well we miss our truck but the car is actually working out very well—I am a little less worried about hitting street vendors between the lanes of traffic.—It is working much better for Elder Evans so I suspect this will be our car for the remainder of the mission though the senior couples trade whenever anyone needs a truck or whenever the Larsens need to service a car. 

 Sister Pugmire and her truck.

We were invited by one of our participants to attend the Institute class on Friday night.  When it started there were 11 people including us by the end of the evening (2 hours) there were 22 or 23.  Pres Brown was the teacher and he is very good.  There was wonderful participation and the comments were most often very insightful and even profound.  Talking about scriptures I was very familiar with but giving insights I had never considered.  Like how when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples it was a symbol for the Atonement.  It was a really good class—we want to go again.

We went up to see how Brother Dakins is coming on the roof of his house.  When he took us to visit all the Humanitarian Projects it was evident he has had a hand in nearly every one of them in terms of building the foundation upon which the chicken coops are built.  And he has helped repair them as well.—sort of a Wesley Miles type of good man.   I was impressed with his involvement with so many different people, but Bob did something about it.  He offered to buy the materials to replace the zinc roof that blew off his house in Hurricane Sandy.  I am always pleased with Bob’s good heart and his generosity to others. So we went up to see how they were coming.  We took Bro Dakins on Thursday last week to buy the materials and he said he could have it done by Saturday but of course when we got there the roof is on but not completed and he was off helping someone else!  We had a nice visit with his wife and met some of his sisters and took pictures of some of them and made lots of friends when we handed out granola bars to a small group of the relatives.  Fun experience except that one little boy saw it happen and came and asked for a granola bar and I was out –all I had was a mint candy piece in my purse.

The new roof.

The back side of the house where the bathroom is.

Sister Dekins' wash tub still in the yard.  She usually has 3 tubs--two rinses after the wash.  You can see on the left where the pole is holding up the clothes line.

This is the side door into the kitchen area.

This is the cooking area, just outside the kitchen door.  This is where Sister Dakins cooks her "peas and rice"  rice with red beans to us.  The corrugated "zinc" on the top is what she had propped up when it was raining while she was cooking.  Some people use a car tire rim to cook on, which looks like it might work pretty well.

 Austin Dakins and his cousin.  Most of the people in the complex are relatives of Bro Dakins.

Then on Saturday evening we had another interesting experience.  We were invited by the District President, President Medley, to a birthday party for his wife.  The other senior couples were all invited.  We had an adventure getting there—thankfully we borrowed the Larsen’s GPS (they were not able to go as their Branch, Kingston, was having their Christmas Program and she was organizing the kids in a “pageant”).  We ran into construction and that in addition to the rough, very random, unnamed streets we never would have found it.  But we were actually the first there—the others had the same problems.  Anyway, we were invited for 5:00, President Hendricks was invited for 5:30, Pres Medley was not there when we arrived and did not get there until around 6:30 or 7:00.  There were several branch members and several young single adults also invited.  We arranged chairs on the driveway that ran along the side of the house.  At around 7:00 Pres Medley started things by an opening prayer, song (lead by his 9 year old daughter) and a spiritual thought.  Then he asked each of us to tell something we had observed in terms of the growth of the Church in the past year.  (They were cooking chicken and hot dogs when we arrived.)  Around 7:30 he said so let’s eat and walked into the house.  I thought we would all follow but no one moved and pretty soon the kids and some neighbor women brought us all a hotdog in a napkin and handed catsup around.  Then a drink (and we were told to keep our cups). And then we were each brought a plate with chicken, fish, rolls, and salad.  By this time I was deep in conversation with Sister Veronica Bonilla, (more later) so I did not really eat anything but my salad and a roll, one of the Bonilla children ate one of my pieces of chicken.  (I felt bad about the waste but I really could not eat the chicken and fish.)

Sister Medley in the pink and Sister Hendricks, the Mission President's wife.

The Pinocks in the blue were married last month so it was a big deal for a lot of the mission as they had a ceremony here and then left the next day to go to Panama to be sealed in the Temple.  They took some family members also and did some temple work while they were there.  The woman in white is Patience, a young woman from Africa--can't remember which country.  She is here in Jamaica studying medicine.   She has two more years and then will return to her country.  On the right is Ariana Segree my special friend whose hair I often photograph.

Part of the Bonilla family.  They are from El Salvador and he is in the Branch Presidency of Constant Spring Branch where we are assigned.  They have 4 daughters with a fifth on the way next month.  

Brother Bonilla, Sister Medley and President Hendricks.
You can tell we are outside in the evening in the middle of December!

Not long after eating the missionaries started leaving, but Bob and I were visiting with some of the young adults (some were PEF participants) and so we did not leave until 9:45—after the young people enticed Bob to participate in the dancing!  It was cute and they got a kick out of him.

It was not like a party we would have at home but it was a nice experience.  Though it was not really set up for it, Bob and I did a lot of visiting with more than the missionaries and so I felt good about that.
As I said I visited with Sister Bonilla.  She and her husband are from El Salvador.  They are quite young and have 4 little girls with the 5th to be here next month.  He is here for his employment.  In El Salvador he was a Bishop and is an outstanding young man.  He is in our Branch Presidency and so we have heard him speak several times.  He really is a good leader. He is also a PEF participant.  They are setting a wonderful example for the people here.  They talk a lot about Family Home Evening and blessings from paying tithing, and Family Prayer and all the things they are trying to do as a family that many of the people need to learn here.  I think I have mentioned that there are relatively few priesthood holders here in relation to the number of faithful women—women raising children alone often times.   Anyway, Sister Bonilla’s English is almost without accent and she is obviously very bright.  I asked her one day if she would teach me Spanish.  We have not been able to arrange any time yet but this may be my perfect opportunity.  She is going back to El Salvador to have her baby and her Mother is coming to stay with her other children.  She is looking for a nanny for her children when she returns and I am going to keep my ears open with some of our PEF people who are not finding jobs.

 I was a little distracted during Relief Society in Linstead.

Sunday we went to Linstead.  There is a great little folk song about taking Aki fruit to Linstead Market—I hope I will learn the whole thing before we leave—that is how I remember the name of the town—by thinking of the song.  We used Larsen’s GPS again and again it was a good thing.  The drive was absolutely beautiful--All along a windy little river with huge dark green leafy trees and tropical type trees and vines in the very close forest.  The road is very narrow of course…  But we had plenty of time and it was a wonderful hour drive.  Unfortunately—or fortunately—we turned in a little town called Bog Walk before we even got to Linstead.  We thought we were turning in the right place but we weren't.  This road took us winding out into the orange and lime orchards and then the sugar cane fields.  We did not see another car for several miles and it certainly did not feel like we were getting close to a church.  But finally as our time was now running out we started to see another car or two—always going the opposite direction.  And then finally we started seeing houses and people walking to church and all of a sudden we pulled up in front of the Church, with only a few minutes to spare!  

 Linstead Chapel

Again the chapel is really lovely—another upstairs chapel with classrooms below.  Ours was one of two cars in the parking lot but the chapel was nearly full (it is less than half the size of our chapel).  Many of the women were in their Sunday hats and everyone was shiny clean and crisp.  It was a good meeting as was the Sunday school class, a very good teacher.  We met with Pres Barrett after –after many branch members—but while we waited we visited with one of his counselors, Denito Ford, a returned missionary (served in Jamaica).  He is engaged to a girl in our branch so we have met before.  We talked with Pres Barrett about PEF participants and our Jobs seminar we are planning to take to all the branches before we leave.  He told us a little about what he is trying to do with his branch to help them be more self-reliant.  He would like to buy some land for the people to farm—raise food and animals I think.  He is also exploring ways people can be self-employed as there are very few actual jobs available—so they can market their own personal skills and products.  Bob and I have been very impressed with both Pres Barrett and Pres Britton of the Spanish  Town 2nd Branch who really seem to be assessing the needs of their people and addressing them directly and aggressively.

Monday we went with Pres Singh, our Branch President to check out one of the chicken farms to see if he had any chicken that would be ready for dinner this Saturday.  It was interesting to hear them sort of haggle.  It almost sounded as if they were irritated with each other but of course they weren't it is just a tone of voice common to these people.  And they do indeed say ‘Yea Mon’ often, just as we would say yah. 

Wrights came again to look at the changes we have made on our jobs power point presentation.  They have been a great help.  Then we all went to the office to have our PEF Council meeting with Pres Hendricks and Pres Brown.  We talked a little about what DR is expecting of the Pugmires in regards to employment and then Pres Hendricks advised us to be cooperative and do what we can but not get uptight if we are not able to do all they want.  We all, but Pres Brown, hurried to the missionaries favorite Chinese restaurant where we all met for FHE dinner together.  It is good food and fun to be with all the senior missionaries.