Tuesday 26 February 2013
Last week was a pretty routine PEF/Employment missionary week. We made calls and worked on our presentations—Actually Bob made lots of calls and I worked on our presentation for the PEF Firesides we will be presenting in March. We will do 9 different firesides all over the east end of the island next month in addition to two Jobs seminars. This will be a very busy month for us. So last week I started getting our things together for that presentation. We had an orthodontist appointment to break up the work schedule and then on Saturday we had a wonderful Senior Missionary outing to Port Antonio which is on the north east corner of the island where we have not been yet.
Actually it was not in Port Antonio but on the Rio Grand River out of Port Antonio. We traveled in the mission van—there were only 14 of us as the Wrights were not able to go this time. We went up and over the Blue Mountains again. I have described before what a thrill it is on that windy, narrow, bumpy mountain road with lots more traffic than you would imagine for such a road. But it was of course a very beautiful ride and thrilling at times. We stopped at what looked like a hotel or resort or something where we got tickets and saw where we were actually going to land at the end or our float down the river. It is at the mouth of the river as it empties into the ocean. A beautiful building and site. We got back in the van and drove up the mountain for about 5 miles or so and got onto flat bamboo rafts with a seat for two people and a pole man who stands and poles the raft down the river.
I'm not sure what this place is--it is beautiful but there are no people here.
This is the place at the mouth of the river where we disembarked. There are lots of old bamboo rafts sitting here apparently they last about 3-4 months. That is the ocean in the background.
Here we are at the beginning of our adventure. You can tell by the depth of the pole in the water that at this point the river is very shallow. We took off our life vests right after this shot was taken. We also stopped a ways down the river for Neville to run up to his house and change into his "uniform". He said he needed to wear it so we would know he was an official captain of this craft.
This is Neville before he got changed into his official uniform. He was very pleasant to visit with as we sailed along. He enjoys English speaking travelers so he can chat with them.
We were given life vests but the pole man (Neville) told us we could take them off which we did so we could rest our backs on them. The river was mostly very shallow but at times it came within 3 feet of the 10 foot pole Neville was using to push and steer us down the beautiful mostly lazy river. There were a few very mild rapids but in all the float was very quiet, lazy, relaxing and beautiful. At one point we saw some young men doing something at the side of the river, when I inquired Neville told me they were cleaning chicken. I then was able to identify the pile of pink flesh on the river bank. Then I asked about a couple of young men swimming and diving near the edge of the river and they were catching crayfish. There were several people scattered all along the river diving and doing laundry and I don’t know what all but it was always interesting to see so many people because we never saw any houses or any other signs of civilization.
Doing the laundry while the kids play in the water and on the rocks.
Cleaning the chicken in the river--notice the stack of meat on the right side of the picture.
These young men are diving for cray fish. You can see the water is not deep though in flood season it can be very treacherous. You can also see the beautiful jungle type forests all along the river.
The bird is a little hard to see but I also like the river bank and the picture in general.
When we had gone about an hour and a half we pulled over to the edge of the river by a large flat area where there were a few little bamboo structures and a woman cooking on an open fire and serving peas and rice, chicken, crayfish, dumplings, greens and bread fruit. It was a really good meal for about $1000 Jamaican (about $10-12 US). After relaxing on the shore for a while we got back on our rafts and relaxed on them as Neville poled us to the end of the river and the end of our voyage. It was really very lovely—I could not get any pictures that would do the beauty justice and for some reason the pictures I got were over exposed maybe from shooting into the sun.
Our lunch stop. I did not take a picture of it but the bamboo poles that are embedded in the ground to make the structures are still sprouting.
All this food was cooked on an open fire--great dutch oven meal!
Some of the couples brought umbrellas but Bob and I sat in the direct sun all the way and barely got any sunburn at all as the day was so mild.
I can't tell which couple this is but it is one of our group. This also gives you the idea of how long the raft is as well as the vegetation on the river bank.
This is about as rugged as the rapids ever got.
We went through the space between the big rock and the rock on the river edge. Neville called this lover's lane and stopped to take our picture.
There are vines of every kind in all the trees. It makes it very interesting to look at but kind of eerie to think of being lost in there.
This is the end of our journey. The ocean is ahead of us. Very beautiful. Lovely ride!
We got back in the van and headed back down the mountain to Kingston. Bob and I were in the very back seats with the sun beating in on us and the windy bumpy road caused him to get a little headache. He was not sure he was going to make it without getting sick. What a great outing!
One of the many crops in this agricultural area. Someone said this might be ginger.
We saw these beautiful carrots on our way up and could not resist stopping on the way back--I think we bought all they had. This is Sister Smith holding part of our purchase.
Coconut grove. Also lots of banana trees but the crop has not yet recovered from the hurricane which hit very hard on this end of the island.
No one knew the name of this tree but the flowers are just beautiful. Large hanging trumpet bell type pink flowers.
Sunday we got up early and headed for Ocho Rios about 2 hours away. It is a beautiful drive but one that really keeps me on my toes every second. We made it in good time and enjoyed the meetings in the room at the top of the yellow stairs behind the bright red door in a building which houses many business offices during the week. The member attendance was very small but there was a good contingent of Utah tourists who had happened to see the sign for the Church on the street as they were walking around. One of them rescued the elder who was having a terrible time playing the keyboard for our singing. One of them gave the opening prayer for Sacrament meeting and I gave the closing prayer.
The Sunday School class was taught by a young woman who was educated at BYUI in secondary education. She did a very good job but I was distracted by the fact that the 3 youth who were in attendance (and incidentally the Sacrament meeting speakers) were in the Gospel Doctrine class because their teacher was not there. And then in Relief Society there were a couple of children with their mothers because their teacher was not there. This is one of the problems here in the small branches; people don’t always take their callings and responsibilities seriously. It makes it very hard on the branch presidents. Anyway, I talked to this young woman afterward and was very impressed with her and her abilities but she is not able to find a teaching job and therefore works at a supermarket—thankfully she has a job!
She and about 10 others attended our Jobs seminar which went pretty well. I felt like they understood the concept but I did not feel a great enthusiasm for putting it into practice. I hope I am wrong. After the meetings we went upstairs from the one large room that is used for the chapel to wait for Pres Lester. Upstairs is his office and two smallish rooms one for youth and the other for Primary. As we waited we talked to the Elders assigned there one is from Trinidad and the other from Jamaica--Elder Clarke and Elder Christensen. Elder Christensen was asking us about PEF as he will be finishing his mission in June and would like to start school in September and would be interested in a PEF loan. I don’t know how he will manage it as we are starting next month and I don’t know how he can do all the things and still stay focused as a missionary.
This is the Ocho Rios Chapel. I showed a picture of the bright red door up the bright yellow stairs leading to this chapel in a previous post.
This is Peter Lester, the 14 year old son of the Branch President. He was one of the speakers in Sacrament Meeting.
They brought us a sandwich Pres Lester had made –probably for himself and his son to eat on their way home—anyway it was a small hunk of cheese stuck between two pieces of spice bread. I would not have done it that way but it sure tasted good. I hope he and Peter got some. When he was finished with the finances we met with him about our upcoming PEF fireside. Pres Lester has only been a member of the Church for 2 years and was made Branch President after the former Branch President to whom he was counselor, went abroad to work. He is a very diligent church worker—he was in his former church and he surely demonstrates that same dedication as a Latter-day Saint. He had studied the handbook and all the letters we had sent branch presidents so he is well prepared to do what needs to be done.
We went from there to our hotel—well not directly as we thought it was on the main street before we got to the strip mall where the church is located so we went around the block since the street is one way. But we ended up back at the mall and not far enough up the street so we went around again. We got on the street above the mall but could not find the hotel so we went around a third time. This time we saw a policeman and asked him where it was and learned it is on the other end of the street from the mall so drove right to it. It is called Rooms On The Beach (Bob thought it had a different name) and it is lovely.
These are all pictures of the entry of the hotel. It is all open--the pool area, the dining area and out to the sandy beach.
This is our view from our ground floor room. There was a Carnival Cruise ship in the harbor.
Our plan was to do the workshop and then spend the night in Ocho, prepare the mini resumes, deliver them to Pres Lester and enjoy a little time on the beach. So when we got to our room we started immediately on the typing of the resumes. We got them all typed and printed before our light ran out. (They do not use a lot of light in hotel rooms here so I was depending on sun light a lot.) We ate dinner at the hotel which was lovely—open to the pool and overlooking the pool as well as the ocean.
When we got back to our room Bob pretty much crashed. We were both very tired but he fell asleep earlier than we usually even think of going to bed and after wakening him twice he decided to get settled in and went to sleep about 9:00. I forced myself to stay awake until 10:00 and then I crashed also and we slept well and long. In the morning we had breakfast and then finished up the mini resumes. We decided to walk on the beach and look around a little. We thought we knew where the Church was from where we were but we took the opposite turn and ended up walking quite a long ways before we came back down on the beach where we started and turned the opposite direction and walked directly to the Church. We thought we would walk there to deliver the minis to Pres Lester.
Right across the parking lot from the Church is a craft market. We decided to walk around it but had no intention of buying. I found a scarf/cover-up and asked the girl how much it was she told me 1500 but she would negotiate so I turned to Bob and asked how much he was willing to pay so he said he would pay 1500 is she would teach me how to tie it. She and I really got a good laugh at poor Bob’s expense. We teased him and he of course was a very good sport and when we left with our purchase (which of course I already knew how to tie) Bob invited her to church and told her where it is and she and I exchanged a hug.
We went back to the hotel and changed clothes and went into the beautiful water for a little while then laid on lounge chairs on the sand for an hour or so. We decided we did not want to walk on the beach back to the hotel in the dark so we showered and drove to the Church to meet Pres Lester. When we walked up the stairs Peter, his son, was sitting waiting for his dad. We visited with him while we waited. He was one of the speakers in Sacrament meeting on Sunday and had spoken of his trials and hard times. He joined the Church last month apparently wanting to have his own testimony and therefore not joining at the same time as his father.
I neglected to mention that Pres Lester had announced that he had prayed to learn how to strengthen the youth of his Branch and had decided that every 4th Sunday he would have them be the Sacrament Meeting Program. The three, including Peter, did a very good job on Sunday. He was sitting next to me in the meeting and as the first speaker was reading from Alma 7 I pointed out the verse that talks about how the Savior takes upon himself not only our sins but our infirmities as well. I think because he is new to the church and to the scriptures he pulled out his red marking pencil and highlighted the verse. Then when he returned to his seat beside me after his emotional testimony I reminded him of the verse he had highlighted only a few minutes before. I hope he will learn to gain comfort from that verse and from the scriptures.
Anyway, we visited with Peter while we waited for Pres Lester. He told us of getting a detention today in school and how he was going to have to have his father sign a paper. So as soon as his father arrived he told him—he didn't wait longer than one minute. His dad reacted by looking him in the eyes with a parental look and then leaning down and kissing him on the head. We went into the church room and he sent Peter upstairs to change out of his school uniform and to wash school off his hands and we gave him the mini resumes. We then asked if he had plans for the evening and he listed all the things he had to do. A few minutes later he asked why we had asked and we said we were going to dinner and wondered if he and Peter would like to go with us. He said he had time. Then he said we must love him to invite him to eat dinner with us. He has a real sweetness about him. I can’t remember why but at another point he told Elder Pugmire that he loved him.
So we went to dinner at the Ruins by the Falls. I guess this is where the tourists always come but we were the only ones there for a while. We asked Pres Lester to tell us his conversion story. He said he had been a leader in his other church but left it about 5 years ago when his marriage was breaking up because the members of the church could not look up to him if he was having trouble with his marriage and getting a divorce. Then his house burned down and he and Peter lost everything. So he was sitting on a bench reading a book feeling very low and depressed when the missionaries came up to him and invited him to read the Book of Mormon and come to Church. I think it took about a month before he was baptized. He did not tell us but we had heard before that it was either his neighbors or people from his old church who burned down his house and not only once but again after he had rebuilt it. So he and his son live in a house not totally rebuilt from a fire and raised decorative house plants and chickens for a living. He also works at another job I could not really understand. But he does all the cooking, laundry etc and they are both very clean and neat in their dress and appearance. As a matter of fact he was fixing Peter’s shirt collar earlier and I heard him quietly say “You have got to learn to do this because Daddy is not always going to be around.” (They all use the terms Mommy and Daddy—even as adults referring to their parents.)
We had a very pleasant evening. The next morning we did not take time to go in the water again but ate breakfast at the hotel and drove back to Kingston. We were to meet the Wrights for lunch at our new favorite restaurant The Jade Garden. That was a very pleasant time as well. We really enjoy and appreciate the Wrights. We went to the office where I was able to see very briefly Pres Brown and give him a hug of congratulations as he learned last week that his assignment as Mission President will be here in Jamaica. He is happy about it. It will be interesting to see how things start to change. Most mission presidents walk out the door just before the new president walks in, but in this case Pres Brown has been a counselor to Pres Hendricks for 3 years I think—no walking out the door.