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.