Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Week of Inspiration and Excitement

Monday 18 February 2013
This was a very busy and uplifting week.  Monday I helped Sis Larsen make lasagna for that evening when Elder Cornish, of the Seventy and the Area Presidency would be here with the Senior Couples.  There was a lot of confusion around this visit as we also had to prepare for Elder Rasband of the Seventy on Tuesday.  Sister Larsen and I were doing it because the Hendricks were going to Montego Bay to pick up Elder Rasband and then flying in on Tues afternoon when we planned to serve a lunch for both Rasbands and Cornishs.  Anyway the weather in the US made it impossible for the Rasbands to get out when planned so instead of going to MoBay they flew directly to Kingston.  

As part of security for General Authorities in foreign countries they travel in a 3 car caravan in case of breakdown etc.  So the Larsens were assigned to be the 3rd car along with Pres Hendricks and Pres Brown.  This made the timing a little tricky for her cooking and then getting Elder Cornish from the airport and to a meeting with the PEF Committee and then back to the hotel to pick up his wife and son Reid and then to the Mission Home for dinner and then back to the hotel.  And then the next day getting the lunch ready before Larsens and everyone else had to go off to the airport to pick up the Rasbands—get them to lunch, to a 2:00 meeting with missionaries, to the hotel for rest and dinner, back to the church for a member meeting and then back to the hotel.  I only mention all this so I can try to remember how tricky it was hosting General Authorities. 

The PEF meeting with Elder Cornish was wonderful.  He is great.  I remember hearing him in conference and being impressed with him but he is really a great teacher and an amazing mind.  He taught us about being a Zion People and what that requires.  I think we all are trying our best on what we know but he pointed out that we are forgetting that there must be no poor among us for us to achieve that state.  This is the focus of the new PEF/Self-Reliance program.  We have to help people get jobs to be able to take care of their families.  He was able to teach this in such a way that I really felt the Spirit and the inspiration behind the evolving program.  When we told him what we are doing in our Jobs seminars and our attempts to lift and motivate people to look for jobs he was very complementary saying it is exactly what we should be doing.  (We were very grateful for this as we have felt a little insecure about what some others in the Area have felt about it).  I really loved listening to Elder Cornish, he has a very warm and loveable personality.  

At the FHE with the Senior Couples he was great also.  He talked for a few minutes and then let  people ask any questions they wanted to.  What he talked about was our position in time.  And the fact that we are the link from the past to the future and if we fail that link will be broken not only for us but for all future generations.  That is sort of it in a nutshell though it was a very spiritual talk.  He really made us feel our responsibility to stay true to our covenants and to help our children to stay true as well as do as much family sealings and temple work as possible.  It is so inspiring to hear these leaders, you can really feel their calling from God and it strengthens my testimony to hear these great minds bear testimony of the same things that I believe so firmly.  The spirit of truth is almost palpable.

 Elder Cornish and his wife and son Reid.

I had an opportunity to talk privately with Pres Brown about something that I had been thinking about and when we came out of the room he put his arm around me and kissed my cheek and said “You know, Sister Pugmire, I love you.”  It was very sweet and I know he meant it.  He spent the evening on the floor sort of leaning against my leg as I sat on the couch.  I teased him that he was just showing off since any of the rest of us would not have been able to get up from the floor if we got down there.

 Pres Hendricks and Pres Brown. 

The next day I made and delivered my fruit salad to the mission home and escaped just as the caravan was on its way to the mission home.  We stopped off at the shopping mall to get a replacement shirt for Bob (could not talk him into more than one).

We arrived at the 2:00 meeting at about 1:42 and found all the visitors and the Hendricks lined up in front of the chapel where they were just finishing up shaking hands with all the missionaries.  No one told us we were to be in our seats by 1:45—we were, but we missed shaking hands and just got in our seats when everyone moved up onto the stand and started the meeting.  It was a really good meeting.  Pres Hendricks and Elder Pearson sang “My Sheep Hear My Voice” which was nice.  Then Pres and Sister Hendricks and Elder Cornish bore their testimonies then Elder Rasband excused everyone else off the stand and he began by asking Pres Brown to come onto the stand. He asked if there were any missionaries here as a result of Pres Monson’s announcement regarding the age change for missionaries.  We had both an 18 year old Elder and a 19 year old Sister whom he invited to come onto the stand.  They each bore their testimonies about wanting to serve a mission and then he invited Pres Brown to bear his testimony.  He said he knows where Pres Brown is going to serve as Mission President but he will not say because that is for the First Presidency to announce—probably next month.  (I think Pres Brown knows too and is extremely uptight because he cannot tell either.)  Pres Brown bears a very powerful testimony which he says he acquired as a 12 year old boy when a Sister Missionary gave him a Book of Mormon.  He describes himself as a “patriot”—a Jamaican who wants to stay in his country to build it up and help the people lift themselves up.  

An interesting side light:  we have had the opportunity to get a little acquainted with both of these young missionaries.  We met Elder Barber in Negril and had lunch with him and Elder Christensen. And then this week we met Sister Evans in Mandeville when we went with the Larsens to fix the bumper on the Sister’s car.

Elder Rasband then opened up the floor for any questions anyone wanted to ask.  It is amazing how (even dealing with jet-lag) he was able to totally teach by the spirit as he answered a variety of questions.  And then he would refer back to them as he answered another.  I cannot imagine having a mind so totally capable of recall, inspiration, intelligence—I don’t know what it was but it was inspiring to me.  One of the first questions asked was Pres Hendricks who asked how to keep missionaries committed and growing even after their missions.  (I was aware he had had to have a disciplinary council for one of his best former missionaries just last week—it was very hard on him.) Elder Rasband invited others up to also answer some of these questions and so his wife told what they did when he was the mission president in NY, NY.  They had problems with obedience among the missionaries and the president had tried everything he could think of and then they decided to change the focus of all their leadership trainings to building faith and testimony in the Savior.  As the missionaries grew in their faith and testimony of Christ the obedience problems took care of themselves.  

Elder Rasband added to this and told how when he was called by Pres Hinckley to be a Seventy the very last question Pres Hinckley asked was “Is your testimony of the Savior burning as brightly in your bosom now as it was when you were a missionary?”  He was surprised by that question but was able to answer yes.  He challenged the missionaries to do everything they can to strengthen their testimonies of Christ so they will be able to always stay strong and faithful to their covenants.

Another question was in regards to building the leadership here in Jamaica and he asked Elder Cornish to start off with an answer.  He brought up the Elder who had asked the question (who happens to be a young Jamaican man who just served as a branch president) and illustrated by standing in front of him and then beside him which way is the best way to train leaders.  He feels very strongly that missionaries who do too much actually hurt the member’s growth.  So he helped us see how to let local leaders lead.

There were many more questions and wonderful answers but I can’t write them all.  It was a very good meeting and as it was over and I started across the front of the room to speak to someone I was headed straight for Elder Rasband so I shook his hand and thanked him.  He asked if he had shaken Elder Pugmire’s hand and I said no so he walked over with me to shake Bob’s hand.  He thanked us several times for serving.  It felt funny to me since we are only here for a year and he has now dedicated the rest of his life. 
The meeting for members that evening was really good.  As we went in we met a young man who was interested in learning more about the Church so we of course invited him in to sit with us.  He was very attentive during the meeting and it was a great meeting for an investigator.  The first several talks were testimonies by Pres and Sister Brown, Pres and Sister Hendricks, Elder and Sister Cornish and Sister Rasband.  It really is touching to hear that many fervent witnesses for the divinity of Jesus Christ, the restoration of the gospel and the priesthood, living prophets, Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  There really is power in bearing witness or testimony.   (I sent the young man’s phone number to the missionaries in his area.)

When Elder Rasband stood up to speak he said,” I have been sitting here with several things going through my mind and I have decided that what I need to talk about is the family”. (This is a huge issue here in Jamaica as most families are not what we would refer to as traditional.  I don’t know what the percentage is but many women have had at least one child before marriage—if they do get married at all.  Many have children with different fathers.  I think the large majority of fathers are absent.  Promiscuity is rampant and child molestation is 9 of 10 children according to unofficial reports.) Anyway he gave a wonderful talk about families, parental responsibilities, eternal relationships, loving and caring for children.  I can’t help praying there were ears to hear and hearts to feel and change.  The “Jamaican Culture” is a difficult thing for members to contend with even when they gain a testimony and even as they are active and serve as branch leaders.  

 I borrowed this picture from one Sister Rasband sent to missionaries after their visit.  Elder and Sister Cornish, Reid, Elder and Sister Rasband and Sister and President Hendricks

Interestingly both Pres Brown and Pres Royce Britton who substituted in institute class last week spoke about the “Jamaican Culture” of sexual promiscuity and the struggle it is for the Saints to stay in the Church and break away from the culture.

At the end of the meeting I was greeting several people—which I love to do—and I mentioned to this one woman that we had talked to her daughter.  I knew her daughter was somewhat estranged from the family because of rebellion and I knew how this mother’s heart was broken.  She immediately became very anxious to know what her daughter said and what we said etc.  Her daughter is a PEF participant which is why we talked to her.  Anyway, as we talked she told me she has been talking to her daughter and how much she loves her but her husband is having a hard time forgiving his daughter.  I encouraged her to talk to him about the lessons Elder Rasband had taught just now.  As she shed painful tears she hugged me and thanked me.  This was one of the hearts I prayed would be opened this evening and some of the ears I hoped had heard the inspired message.  

Because I had been so involved with these lunches and dinners and meetings I had not been able to work on the mini resume’s from Linstead.  So Wednesday I got started and made one of the business cards.  As I was doing it I remembered a young man there who wants to get into graphic arts but has no degree so I had the brain storm to call him and see if he would like to do the business cards for those members of his branch who are trying to get started in self-employment.  He was excited for the opportunity.  I talked to all those involved and they all agreed to let him have their information to do the cards.  He and I and another brother talked a couple of times and got pretty excited about networking some services and business within the branch.  I sure wish we could light a fire under a bunch of these people and get them into a new mindset about  thinks they can do to support their families and not depend upon others.  

Thursday I had the mini resumes about done so we decided to take a ride with the Larsens to Mandeville because he had to fix the bumper on the car of the Sister Missionaries.  We met them in the parking lot of the Church and had a nice little visit while Elder Larsen worked.  They are good people and fun to be with so we had a nice time—even the adventure we went on when we took a wrong turn and had to drive through May Pen instead of around it.  As we were coming home we decided since it was Valentine ’s Day we really should go out to eat.  So we called all the other seniors as we were driving and arranged a meeting place.  But since it was Valentine ’s Day this place (a favorite Chinese place) did not have room for our group of 16.  So we ended up at an even better Chinese place as far as Bob and I were concerned.  We will go back there.  It was fun because this was the first time we have been able to sit next to Pres and Sis Hendricks and he is a kick with lots of very funny stories.  

Friday we went to institute class—actually early this week—(The traffic is so bad in the afternoons that it takes us over an hour to make this 10-15 minute drive.  So we left early this evening!) We were surprised to get to meet the Area Director of S&I, Kent Rapley, and then Pres Royce Britton came in as well.  When I asked him if he was joining our class he said he had been invited.  When he was introduced as the teacher and Pres Brown went to the back to sit with Bro Rapley I figured that Pres Britton was auditioning for the Director of S&I position for when Pres Brown leaves on his mission.  We have not heard anything but I am pretty sure this is the case.  He will be good though.  He is very young--early to mid 30s--Branch President in Spanish Town, (one of the best). He taught a lesson in the combined RS/Priesthood meeting, when we were visiting his branch, that was really good, about the rich man who sold everything to buy the land that contained the pearl of great price.  He challenged everyone to evaluate themselves to see what the pearl of great price is and how much we would give to obtain it.  --Very powerful lesson.  

He did a nice job with the institute class but I hope Pres Brown will continue teaching until he leaves.

Saturday Bob had a satellite broad cast priesthood meeting and when we went out to get him there we had a flat tire on the car.  We thought we might be able to drive it slowly to a place to fix it but when we were a block away we decided to turn back.  As we were limping along a young man came out of a parking lot near our apartment and opened the gate and asked if we wanted to pull in to fix the tire.  As it turned out he changed it for us—it would have taken us forever.  So we took Bob to the church half an hour late.  I was going to go get the tire fixed but I really did not want to go alone.  So I called Sister Larsen and we decided that instead of fixing it we would trade cars with them and they would get it fixed on Monday.  I had just gotten back to our apartment when Bob called me to come get him.  I thought he would not be able to concentrate--stewing about that tire but, he said it was because the broadcast was impossible to hear and the translation difficult to understand.  So we went to get the tire fixed, went to Wendy’s for a frosty and a salad and came home.

Sunday we returned to Linstead to meet with a few people who were not able to come last week.  Afterward we met with Pres Barrett who is one of my favorites.  He really works hard for his branch. 

1 comment:

  1. Good post, Tony. You sound so busy. We are too, but I'm not sure we are accomplishing as much as you are. LOTS of changes in our Zone. We'll just keep plugging away.