Friday, March 15, 2013

Joys of Senior Missionary Work

Thursday 14 March 2013
I realize I have not written anything since Ocho Rios which is quite a long time ago.  That is partly because we have been mostly working and that is not as interesting to write about; and partly because we have been mostly working and I have not had time!  

We have started our PEF fireside presentations.  We have nine to do this month along with two Jobs Seminars.  We will be very happy when this month is over because we are running about as fast as we can.  We are also trying to make lots if phone calls to PEF participants to help them and encourage them to stay current on their payments and in their schooling. We sure are coming to love them--especially if we get to meet them in person. 

I am taking a more active part in the PEF fireside presentations than I do in our Job Seminars.  We have adapted a PowerPoint presentation that was put together a few years ago.  It is pretty good but we had to work to make it feel like ours so we could do a good job with our presentation.  I think we have done that.  We have made two presentations so far and they felt pretty good.  I guess we will be able to know more when we see how many people sign up for loans and how well they do with the instructions we gave.  I actually like interacting with the people in the seminars but last week Pres Brown emailed and asked me to substitute for his Institute class and I sort of panicked.  In the first place he asked the day before and in the second place there was no lesson plan just a review of what was done the week before and in the third place we were getting ready for our first fireside which was to follow the institute class.  So I wrote him and asked “What are you thinking????!!!”  Those were not my exact words but when Bob read it he laughed because he felt like I had really blasted him.  Pres Brown emailed back and sort of answered some of my questions and then said he was actually going to ask someone else (the Seminary teacher) to do it and so I was off the hook.  I wrote back and apologized for blasting him.  Happily he and I have a very special relationship and I had not offended him at all.  The next time I saw him he just got up and came over and gave me a big bear hug.

The other evening there was a beautiful sunset so I made Bob go up on the patio on the 4th floor so we could see it.

 A group of young men and boys play soccer every Friday evening while we are in Institute Class.  This evening Pres Medley, our District President joined them.  (White shirt far left.)

One of Bob’s granddaughters jokingly gave us a hard time because we talk so much about going out to eat with the other Senior couples and we travel all over the island for our work and make a vacation of it, but that is part of the busy life of senior missionaries.  We work hard but we also try to take full advantage of all our opportunities.  Having said that, we went out to eat with all the Seniors last week to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the baptism of one of our couples.  Then on Saturday we invited the Evans to go to early dinner with us.  Last night the Larsens and Pearsons were on their way home together and decided to go to dinner so called some of the rest of us and of course we dropped everything put on our missionary clothes and badges and went to dinner.  Monday evening our Senior FHE was a movie night.  We met at the mission home and brought movie treats and watched the "Story of Ruth."  An old movie and not too closely related to the Bible but we all enjoyed it. 

 This is a lovely park Emancipation Park near where we live.  We went walking there one day.  These people are playing ping pong at permanent tables in a game area.

The woman on the far right is a woman we met as we were walking and ended up talking to the whole time.  We stopped to meet her friends who are playing checkers with bottle caps at a permanent game table.

I sight we would not see in our macho men at home.  This young man is protecting his head with a scarf.

 I can't remember this neat elderly man's name but we see him every time we go to Spanish Town.  This was Tues evening and he was there watering the plants on the grounds.  I love the way he is dressed--can't see very well but his pants are striped.

The first Sunday we do not schedule Job Seminars so we can stay in our own branch for one week a month.  So this month we went to our branch and afterward a woman came up to me and asked if I could council with her niece who is feeling suicidal.  –Not what I wanted to do on this mission!  I had actually heard about this situation before but was hoping not to have to get involved. But I met with her and realized the situation is bad but not really dangerous.  I will meet with her again.  This is one of those I think uniquely Jamaican situations where this girl is not really related to this woman but she has raised her since she was 6 weeks old (she is now 24).  They live with the woman’s parents, sister and two nieces.  The natural mother actually lives nearby but does not really make any claims of motherhood.  I sure hope I do not uncover anything that is going to make her situation worse in any way as she really has no other place to live or anyone else to take care of her (she is in need of care.)

Sunday we went to Portmore for our Jobs Seminar.  We always go for the full block of meetings which I love because it gives us a chance to see more people.  We got there early and Sister Smith of the Senior couple assigned to the Branch invited us into the Branch Council meeting.  That was a very nice experience.  They really did a great job—as good as any ward council I have been in.  We then went to the other meetings and we were able to identify several of the PEF participants we have talked to on the phone and not met in person.  That is so Fun!  This was an especially fun group.  I was so mad at myself I got home and realized I had not taken a single picture of a single participant. 

In Relief Society and Priesthood we are introducing a program called No Poor Among Us.  We are trying to get people to report any jobs they know about in case there is someone else in the branch who might be interested.  I am hoping there will develop a Network not only in the Branch but in the District for people to help each other find employment.  I introduced it in RS and really felt the women picked up on it.  I hope so.  Anyway we had a good Seminar with lots of participants—some even filled out forms for friends who were not there for me to make mini resumes for.  I had 24 mini resumes to do before Thursday when we will take them back when we do our PEF fireside in that Branch.  In the meantime the young man from Linstead who made business cards for 11 of his branch members asked me to print them up for them and asked if I could also have them ready for Sunday.  

Pres Frnacis of the Portmore Branch.

 Roshene Wilson the Relief Society President of the Portmore Branch.

I am glad Bob is so good about making all the hard phone calls because I have taken on the roll of keeping us functioning mechanically.  I type and print and cut the mini resumes. (Bob does stuff them in the baggies for us.)  I print all our materials for all our seminars and firesides.  I edit and maintain the power point presentations. And I get involved with some of the people that I am trying to network and with some of the people about their job search.  I talked this morning for about an hour with one of my favorites—Sibthorpe Dennis.  (I am hoping to get a picture of him and his family—they are some of the cutest people I have met.)  He is a PEF participant so we have talked to him on the phone but meeting him in person was a real joy.  Then talking to him further on the phone in a very personal way was rewarding and I think fruitful for him.  He works several jobs and is a multi-talented young man who needs to settle down to one good thing and earn a good living for his family.  I made an agreement to check back with him next week.  In the meantime Bob is trudging away with all our phone calling.  He is great.

The PEF fireside in the Portmore Branch.

 I was able to get the picture I wanted--this is the Sibthorpe Dennis Family.  She is a Relief Society teacher and the Institute teacher--she is very good.
Darling family!

 This is the Dennis's little boy, Alex, I think.  I couldn't get him to smile for the camera but he has a very energetic and bubbly personality.

Things are starting to shift and lean towards the new PEF/Employment program of the future.  We know it is coming but have been told to hold our course until it is introduced properly and in order.  Our turn is in the 4th quarter this year.  But a District Education /Employment Specialist was called a couple of weeks ago and we are starting to see some movement.  We do not know for sure how we will be involved yet.  The people called are actually a couple.  The first week we were here we went to the baptism of Brother Banhan, who had been a “Dry Mormon” for many years.  His baptism was a big event in the branch and district.  As a matter of fact I think because his wife had been baptized by the oldest pioneer in the Church in Jamaica 30 years ago and he had been baptized by that pioneer’s grandson, Elder Rasband and Elder Cornish,of the Seventy, made a special visit to their home when they were here last month.  Anyway, this good couple was called to be the Education/Employment specialists.  They are some of the few in the Church here who are actually financially sound as they own their own hardware/lumber business.  I have hopes of some district networking possibilities for jobs.

Tonight we go back to Portmore for our PEF fireside, tomorrow night we go to Kingston branch, Saturday we have the District Relief Society Event and on Sunday morning early we drive to Montego Bay for a Job Seminar.  We stay pretty busy.

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