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.