Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Between Christmas and New Year's Eve 2012

Wednesday 26 December 2012

It was a pretty quiet week between Christmas and New Years.  We worked on our PEF lists trying to find which participants would benefit most from our contact and we tweaked our Job Seeking Seminar yet again.  But mostly it was pretty quiet.  One day we drove with the Larsens up to visit the Brown family.  I have mentioned this family before.  This is a note I sent to Elder Roberts in DR: 

“Elder Roberts,
I don't know when you will be having your meeting to give the spiritual thought, but I thought of an inspirational story I would like to share with you.  We have a couple of sisters here in Jamaica who are part of a really remarkable family.  I don't know the facts exactly but approximately 11-12 years ago their mother was murdered.  There were six daughters left to be raised by the father.  The oldest was about 10-11 and the youngest about 3-4.  The parents had been sealed in the temple so the younger 3 girls were born in the covenant.  The girls are now 23-14 years of age and about two or three years ago their father also passed away.  He has obviously trained them well.  They are wonderful girls, as you can guess they are anxious to go to the temple where the older three girls can be sealed to their parents and family.  They live on their own in a very modest apartment.  The oldest sister works and the next two are PEF participants--I think one of them also works part time.  But these girls have stayed current on their payments and are now both on auto debit.
All in all this is an outstanding family.  They never miss meetings or any activities, or service projects, or seminary, or institute--and this is saying something as we went to their home the other day and they have to walk at least half a mile on a very steep mountain road to catch the first of two buses to get them to the church.  When Scriptures were given away by the Area Presidency, I think for continuous reading of the Book of Mormon, two of the girls received scriptures.  Their apartment looks like any LDS home with pictures of the Savior, the Temple, plaques for academic achievement, and Family Home Evening art on the walls. 
I have not gotten their permission to share this story with anyone but if you would like to share it without names I think it would be okay.  For your information only, the Participants are Shirlette and Tonnie Brown.
Thankfully they have good Priesthood leaders who look out for this wonderful family.”

Youngest to oldest: Rachell, Alexie, Elizabeth, Tonnie, Shirlette, Ruth-Ann.

 From in front of the Brown's apartment.  Houses way down below and mountains in the distance--since we are on the top of this one!

I just inserted this note to save writing it again.  But in any case they are a great inspiration to me.
I forgot to mention that this apartment is located on top of a high and very steep and rugged mountain on the outskirts of Kingston.  It is the same mountain the Dakins live on but the Brown’s apartment is higher and the road to their apartment is extremely steep—we had to use 4 wheel drive and it is very narrow, rutted and full of switch-backs.  The steepest part they have to walk because even taxies will not go up it.  There are actually several apartments up there.  I have not figured out why people live up here except that the views are wonderful and the rent is cheap.  Locals call it “The Hill”—for Red Hill not even a mountain.

When we left the Browns we drove to Spanish Town and had pizza at the only Pizza Hut in the area.  They share a building with Kentucky Fried Chicken so Bob had chicken instead of pizza, but the Larsens think this is the best pizza in Jamaica.  One good benefit of the trip was discovering a new/better way to get to the Spanish Town chapel where we have to go again the next two weeks for our Jobs seminar.
On the way to Spanish Town there are two little burro drawn carts almost every time we go—not the day I was not driving however –I hope to get a good picture of one of these quaint little carts before we leave.  It sort of tells a story of its own as it drives slowly along the very fast and often very crowded highway.  If the burros are not pulling the cart they are grazing in the meridian of the highway.

On Friday we thought we would like an outing so we called the Smiths to see if they wanted to take us on a hike they have told us about—they didn’t answer their phone so we called the Murdocks to see if they were interested in driving to Ocho Rios with us.  They were, so we planned it.  I knew the Larsens had piano lessons but called just in case.  They wanted to go but couldn't.  In the meantime the Smiths called and I had to tell them we made different plans.  Saturday morning the Murdocks called to say they were both unwell and could not go.  So I called Smiths again.  He had a blessing to give (he is the Patriarch for the Church on the Island) and would not be available until after noon but they wanted to show us their hike and go to Hope Garden.  So I called the Larsens back and they wanted to join us as their lessons would be over.  I forgot to mention that I actually called the Evans first if they wanted to do something but they had to drive to Yallahs where he is the Branch President because one of his families needed some food. So anyway, we gathered up the Larsens and Smiths and I drove up another hill where they walk near their house (steep and windy but not near as rough) then we went to Hope Garden and walked around.  It is a lovely old English garden that apparently they are trying to restore so it is quite lovely but not quite like England yet.  Then we stopped at the store and got some chicken and went to the Smiths for dinner.  The Evans live in the same complex and they were now back from Yallahs so they joined us for dinner.  Then we played a card game that was very long and said good-night and headed for home.  Very nice day.
        View of Kingston from on top of the hill the
         Smiths walk near their apartment.                                                 

Some of the houses on top of this hill--obviously there is a lot of money in Jamaica that most of the people we know don't have!  Love the colors!

Flowers and plants in Hope Garden, Kingston

Great sculpture in the garden.

Smiths, Larsens, and Bob.

Sunday was at Spanish Town again.  I really like these little seminars because we get to meet some really good Jamaican people.  This group was actually quite small so we were able to interact quite a bit.  I have mentioned before about the Jamaicans sense of personal space—I have noticed something similar with time.  If they need personal attention it does not matter that there may be 10 other people that you are trying to deal with.  I have seen this other places but it seems so Jamaican here—sort of like the way they drive—“I will push in and it is okay if there are 10 cars trying to make the same turn—because it is okay with everyone else if I do it.”  

The main thing we have the participants do is make out a “mini resume’ it takes a few minutes and then we told them I would type it up for them and bring it next week.  This one woman handed me her form and said, “what is your email address, I am going to email you my resume and you can make up the mini from it and type it up for me.” Her email said “I have attached my resume for you to make my mini as promised”  I thought that was a little pushy but I decided It was not worth offending her or hurting her feelings—so I read her resume and typed her mini for her—no big deal.

Monday evening we went to the Mission Home for our New Year Eve party/dinner.  The Hendricks arrived just before we started eating.  They had been in Guantanamo Bay reorganizing one of the 2 branches of the Church there (there is also a “Group” of about 18-20 also organized there).  We had a nice time played a game and talked and planned our first monthly outings before the Smiths leave in May.  Pres Hendricks is pretty loose about planning for meetings he said the Zone Conference would be on the 16, 17, or 18.  So I called him and if I could vote for the date I wanted he said I could but it wouldn't make any difference (he can be blunt).  I told him I voted for the 16 as the 18 is our anniversary and we are planning to go to Montego Bay and have invited the Larsens to go with us.  He said don’t change your plans.  I said we didn't want to miss Zone Conference and he said again firmly “don’t change your plans.”  So hopefully we will go to Zone Conference, drive to Montego Bay for a couple of days, get back in time for District Conference on Sat and Sunday, and our Job Seminar In Kingston Branch on Sunday too hopefully.
We stopped at the District New Years Eve party held at the Constant Spring Meeting house on our way home.  It was about 10:00 and there were tons of people there of all ages from babies to some elderly people.  The little kids were in the middle of a Musical Chairs game when we arrived the winners were two little girls about 9 and 6.  Then they had another Musical Chairs game for the adults which was cute also.  We saw many people from all of the branches we have visited—it is really fun to know so many people now.  I am doing pretty well keeping track of them by name but last night I told this woman I was happy to meet her and she said you met me already—I was embarrassed but joked with her that it wasn't fair because “you girls change your hair all the time!”  The women around us laughed –because it is true!

The kids playing Musical Chairs--the two little girls tied to win.

The crowd in the cultural hall--there were many people downstairs as well playing games I think.
The theme was celebrating Jamaica's 50th year of independence from England--thus the green, black and yellow.

We got home a little after 11 and went out on the upstairs balcony and hall and watched the fireworks from down on the water.  There was also a nice loud party at the club which is just through the block from us and very loud!  I think they have their stage outside and the speakers are loud enough to almost shake the windows.  We had a little trouble going to sleep but when I woke before 4:00 I realized it was quiet—nice.

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