We went with Pres Kevin Brown to Junction to meet with the Wrights who have been helping with PEF.On the way we talked shop quite a bit, but he talked a lot about Jamaica and its people and problems etc. He loves his country and really wants to see it improved. He is one of few people who make something of their lives and then choose to stay in Jamaica. 2.2 million Jamaicans live in Jamaica and 2.8 million Jamaicans live in the US and Canada or England. For people to make it, they emigrate. On the way home he talked some about the history of Jamaica. When the Spanish and English came here originally there were Indians here—Lamanites, Kevin thinks. They were totally killed off and then the English started bringing in African Slaves. Apparently the elite here in Jamaica area still the white people though we have seen very few, and most of the common people are still sort of stuck in the master/slave mentality. A lot still have ingrained in them the entitlement of the slave to have the master take care of their every need. I can sort of see this but at the same time I really reject the idea that people would still live like that after 150 years.
But the truth is, most of the people of Jamaica are pure Africans and some are starting to feel the drive to stand up and claim their true heritage by adopting some of the ways of Africa. Pres Brown even named his last child with an African name. It was interesting to have this frank a conversation with a black man. There really does not seem to be any prejudice against whites here. They are a very friendly, loving, bright people. I am very impressed with the literacy—some of the adults who read in Sunday school class don’t read perfectly but most seem not only to be able to read but seem to be studiers of the scriptures. All the younger people read very well and seem to be very committed to study and the scriptures. It is hard to tell the age of people but I am very impressed with these young adults.
Anyway, on the way home he also stopped at Mandeville Chapel where he went as a kid. Mandeville is a beautiful little town spread out in the mountains sort of in the middle of the Island. The chapel really is a lovely building. He also showed us the spot where Elder Ballard dedicated the land of Jamaica to the preaching of the gospel on 5 December 1978. There was a huge banyan tree on the spot which got blown over and someone took the wood to the US and made pens for many of the local people who remember the tree.
This is the Mission office located in Kingston--not in the middle of down town but in pretty busy area.