Thursday, November 29, 2012

Experience is the Best Teacher

We are preparing for a 10K race we are going to run in this weekend so we have been out running for time since we have no idea how far we are running.  So the other day we went to Devon House and ran around the parking lots and grounds.  On Monday we returned to Devon House grounds.  We kept going for 2 hours.  Just as we were quitting and getting ready to go back to our car which we had parked about 3 blocks away this woman came up to me and started talking.  I of course was still trying to get my body to cooperate and breathe normally again so I was a little out of it for a second.  But then I realized she was looking for work and was networking with us.  She told me her name and the kind of work she had done and I finally tuned in so I told her we are not employers but if she had a written document with her information on it I could perhaps give it on to someone else.  So she spent about 5 minutes digging through her bag and did come up with a very professional resume. 

When she came back (she had gone over to a bench several yards away to go through her bag) I told her we were missionaries and one of the things we were doing was trying to help people find jobs.  The look on her face was great.  She recognized the miracle in an instant.  It was about 10:00 in the morning, the park had just opened, and there were no other people around except a few workers.  Why had she gone in the park at that time?  Why did she stop us?  How did she stop us at the end or our run instead of in the middle when we would have been more reluctant to stop to talk?  Maybe it was even coincidental that she had a resume in her bag.  Maybe it was coincidental that we are working with some employment things.  Her email address was on her resume and when I sent her the packet of articles Bob has located on I basically bore my testimony to her that the Lord had sent her to us that morning.  That was very much what she was thinking by the time we finished talking in the park.  I complimented her on her appearance and her resume and the fact that she was already using the most powerful tool for job seekers—networking. 
I have not heard back from her and have no idea if she was able to find the information on but I sure am convinced that Heavenly Father was directing her that morning.  There were just too many coincidences to be anything else.  I hope one day to run into her again.  And I sure hope I run into someone to whom I can hand her resume.

This has been a quiet week as we have all our calls done and we have everything in line to begin our calls and monthly routine next week.  So on Tues we drove out to Mighty Gully with the Larsens to pick up the beautiful wood sculpture Bob bought for our anniversary.  It is so beautiful and the work they do there is really outstanding—we sure wish there was some way of promoting them and helping them market some of their work.  It is really not that expensive but it is quality work.  

This is a gorgeous wood carving showing the China Bumps in the back of the hair.

Our piece is the smaller one--and she is about 10 inches tall.

 One of the artists--wish the beautiful grain in this carving showed up better.  This iron wood is a beautiful wood naturally.

On Thursday we had the experience of a life time.  We (and other senior missionaries) were asked by the humanitarian missionaries to go see the projects that have been started in each of our branches.  So the Elders took us up the mountain to Bro Dakins’ house.  He is a counselor in the Elders Quorum in the Branch and he was to take us to the different projects.  He himself has goats which have been donated which he is trying to raise to sell (for food)  to supplement his living.   He has lost 2 of his 4 goats (one was his only male) so his project is not thriving yet.  But we visited with him and his wife for at least half an hour.  She stopped her washing which she was doing in front of their house and they showed us through their house because Bob asked them if they had any damage form the hurricane.  Well yes, they did.  They lost half their roof so they are living in basically 2 rooms.  He told me I could take pictures but I felt it was an invasion so I didn't except to get one of them in their living room/bed room.  Their house sits on a very steep hill which was difficult to climb in the shoes I was wearing—very rocky.  It was difficult to even stand outside their house the ground was so steep.  She had her wash tubs propped up and shimmed with rocks and wood. 
Anyway, it was a delight to be in their home and humbling to see the way they live.  And they are happy—and active in the Church even though it takes them about an hour and a half to get there each week as they have to walk down off the mountain to where they can catch a bus that takes them to another bus stop.  

You can see one of the goats and this is the goat pen.  It was damaged in Hurricane Sandy but I am not sure what it would look like if it was repaired.  This also gives you an idea of how steep the hillside is where this house is located.  This goat pen is about 10-15 yards from the house.

Bro Dakin and his goat.

From inside the Dakin's house.  Still under construction.  Notice the top left corner--this is the part of the house where the roof was blown off.  I wish I could say the blue was the ocean in the distance but it is a tarp on the roof next door.

The Elders left us with Bro Dakin and stopped to talk to his neighbor.  I took this from his window.

 Brother and Sister Dakin in their living room/bedroom. 

After we visited with them Bro Dakin took us to visit several other families who are working on projects.  His own father has chickens but we were not able to go down into the gully where he lives.  We stood up on the road and he called down to his father and he trudged up the steep path to meet us.  I felt really bad when I saw his walking stick and shook his arthritic hand and saw the condition of his worn shoes and realized how old he is.  His chicken project is not doing that well either but he has a good meal once in a while.
These places we went to were not just next door to each other.  They are spread all over this mountain and the roads are as windy as you can imagine, narrow and full of ruts and potholes that would ruin a normal car (though there were a few who passed us on these roads throughout the day).  We saw another chicken project that also is not really thriving though they have about 20 chickens they are getting ready to sell for Christmas.  And maybe they will make enough money to buy more.  But we were not really encouraged by this project either and were beginning to worry that none are really thriving until we visited the Relief Society President’s chicken project.  Wow.  It was great.  She has several batches of chickens at various stages of development and she has a good market which she keeps very good books on.  Her chicken coop is well maintained and orderly and she has her process down to a science that is earning her a good living.  Her husband helps but he also works full time—we did not meet him.  The next one we saw is equally well maintained and managed to the point that it is supporting a couple of families.  They also have a couple of pigs.  

Just a couple of pictures to show the contrasts.

The goat pen built by the humanitarian group behind the house.  I think these people abandon both home and goats.

School children in a tiny neighborhood school.

 Down in this gully to the right of the blue and gray house is the elder Bro Dakin's tiny house where he raises chickens.

At one place this man asked for a ride in the back of the truck to the top of the hill.  I just sort of kept driving until Bro Dakin asked me to stop.  I told him we could not take people in the back because of our insurance.  While he was telling the man that, Bob and I looked at each other and told him to tell the man to get in the truck.  The first thing I noticed as he got in the truck behind me was the smell!  He smelled of fresh scrubbing soap!  --a very clean and fresh smell I did not expect on this hot day, in this area with little running water and lots of apparent dirt!  His skin glistened not from sweat but from being scrubbed clean.  I would not have thought less of him had he smelled of sweat—I do my share of that here—it was just that the experience was totally unexpected.  He turned out to be a friend of Bro Dakin.

Elder Pugmire checking out the chickens.

I hate to tell you what these water jugs are used for where chickens are being raised to sell as broilers.

Two different batches of chickens.  When one batch matures a new batch is brought in.

This is quite a nice operation with lots of chickens
and a couple of pigs.

We spent from 11-4 at least winding all over this beautiful mountain and seeing tiny little shacks and stone or cinder block houses nestled in these gullies and perched on the rocky hill sides.  And all interspersed –usually on the higher ground are huge lovely and obviously expensive houses.  Bro Dakin said they call these little settlements Ghettos.  I did not ask him to explain the word.  He said many of the homes are occupied by people who just came into the area and built—the land does not belong to them—it probably belongs to the government.  But they just came and started living there and many have been there for 50 years!  He grew up in this area.  The land where he lives he was very anxious to tell us his mother owned and left to him and many of his neighbors are relatives.  I would have loved to have taken many pictures but I am so afraid of offending someone by my curiosity and interest—by which I mean no disrespect!  The area and the mountain was amazingly beautiful and most of the homes were amazingly poor.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Getting Involved with People

On Monday we took Bob back to the dentist about the pain in his tooth.  She told him to keep taking the anti inflammatory and come back on Wed.  Bob gave her a Book of Mormon which she graciously accepted.  I took her picture and her card to give to the Mission office. 

Elder Pugmire and Dr Lawson-Myer

We went to the Terra Nova Hotel for lunch afterward.  Bob really has been wanting to do that and I am glad we did, it was very nice.

  On Tuesday Larsens had to go to Portmore to return the Sister Missionaries car so we rode over with them and then spent the rest of the day finishing up some calls and record keeping.

The Portmore chapel

Portmore is a little south and west of Kingston.  It is a port town with lots of container cranes.

Wednesday we had to go to the dentist again and then to Bob’s blood doctor to have his blood test interpreted.  And we came home so late I forgot about an appointment with one of our participants.  Luckily Sis Larsen called for him so we were able to get to the church in time to meet with him.  He is a young man who had to quit school to help his family financially because his dad got hit by a car on his bicycle.   It was fun to talk to him and be able to help him get his loan deferred for a while so he can get on his feet.  

 This is Jermaine Clarke.  He will be a great school teacher one day.

Thursday was Thanksgiving we spent the morning on PEF things and then Elder and Sister Wright S & I / PEF missionaries form Junction came early and met with us.  He first helped with our computers again and then we met about our PEF firesides we will be presenting on the Island after the first of the year.  They will do the west side and we will do the east.  They are nice people and we really like them.
We cooked her candied Yams while we were meeting and then took our things and went to the Institute where we had a really nice Thanksgiving dinner with all the Senior Missionaries.  The Hendricks could not be with us as they had one of their kids in town so there were only 14 of us.  We got a chance to visit with Elder Mortensen a little which was nice.  Elder Larsen presented all of us with little Nativity sets he had carved out of whatever wood he could find and set them in a coconut shell for a manger.  I love it.  We had a nice time and then got home fairly early which was good.

Sister and Elder Evans, Sister and Elder Murdock, Elder Larsen

Sister Wright, Sister and Elder Murdock,  Elder and Sister Larsen, Elder and Sister Smith

Elder and Sister Mortensen, Elder and Sister Wright, Sister Evans

Elder Murdock, Elder and Sister Larsen, Elder and Sister Smith

 Elder Pugmire, Elder and Sister Montensen,

On Saturday I cleaned and did laundry most of the morning and waited for Sis Larsen to call me to help with her quilting class she was teaching in the Boulevard Branch.  She called about 3:00 when I was supposed to be there because she forgot to call earlier.  Anyway I was embarrassed and sorry I hadn’t just gone over at 3:00 because I knew that was when it was to start.  

Sister Clarke, the Relief Society President and her counselor.

Sister Davis, darling lady.  She is the one who raises Chickens on her roof.  When she goes up there they follow her around like kids.

Sister Bennett and her friend.  They were darling the whole time.  I really enjoyed teasing with them.

Latoya Williams, works at the Facilities Management office at the Mission Office,

Sister Larsen is really great--there is nothing she cannot do and almost nothing that she does not do.  Great person.

 Sister French, the YW President.

There were about 15 women there when I arrived and about 5 more came later and they were sewing by hand a 9 square piece in the Jamaican green, yellow and black.  I was a little help but it sure was fun to be with them.  When it was time for refreshments someone opened a big black “garbage bag” full of sandwiches.  She put two half sandwiches on a napkin using tongs, and sent a young girl around with the sandwiches and a drink of punch to each woman as she worked.  Then when everyone had their refreshments they started singing some of their folk songs and some could not help dancing as they sang.  It really was cute and fun to be a part of.  They lingered until Pres Singh sort of rushed us out so they could get ready for the Constant Springs Talent show.

I told one girl I didn’t know if I was coming to the talent show as I had to go home and get Elder Pugmire, but of course he wanted to go so we went back and thoroughly enjoyed their “talent” show.  It was mostly dancing—sort of a combination modern dancing and street or pop dancing—I don’t really know what it is called.  Even the few boys who were involved were pretty much into it.  They did not flinch when they received lots of hoots and teasing from the crowd.  In the end the boys did a impromptu dance which I guess I would call street jive –I don’t  have a clue what they call it but these boys are very good and their moves are pretty amazing.  Every joint in their bodies are fluid and can move in the most amazing ways.  There were some brothers who said they were going to sing but it was pretty much just a Rap with not much that resembled music but everyone enjoyed it.  At one point this one girl was trying to sing and she either forgot or got shy or something but 3 or 4 women in the audience started singing her backup and really getting into it with moves as well.  The audience really loved the show which was entirely performed by the young adults and no adults or kids.  It was probably good for some of these kids to be able to show off in front of a very appreciative audience.  The other amazing thing was that the sound man was Pres Singh, the Branch President!  He had to have been at every rehearsal.  He was really great he did not say anything about how things were going he just played the songs when it was time and played music between acts.  Perhaps his involvement helped but there was not a single inappropriate costume or any really inappropriate dance moves—some could have been but had been very appropriately modified.

The audience getting ready for the fun.  Pres Singh's wife in the denim.

The audience gets in to the action.

Little spectators trying to see behind the curtain.

This young woman was the MC, as well as one of the performers, as well as the refreshment server.  She is a secondary school teacher and a counselor in the Branch Relief Society.   A really lovely person.

The boy's finale.  Too bad I could not get the moves.

Branch President Singh ran the sound and music.