Saturday 24 March 2013
This has been a very busy couple of weeks and we are not done yet. Since my last entry we have been to the Kingston Branch to do PEF Fireside, to Montego Bay for a Job Seminar, and to Port Antonio and Ocho Rios for PEF Firesides. We have pretty much traveled to both ends of the island in these two weeks as Port Antonio is pretty close to the North East end and Montego Bay is pretty much in the North west end of the island. Fortunately the highway on the north beach is a good one, but the only way to get there is up over the mountains. The mountains are where the roads are the worst. In between all this travel we also had our District Relief Society Meeting, one dinner out with the Senior Missionaries, a meeting with the Murdocks which turned into a dinner party with them and the Evans and us, an appointment with the orthodontist and another with the little gal I am meeting with, and a very long conversation with one of our PEF participants who I am trying to help get on track. Other than those things life has been just nothing but fun!
Our firesides are going very well. We show a video about the announcement and plan of the Perpetual Education Fund featuring Pres Hinckley and then we explain all they have to do if they think they would like to apply for a loan. We have had quite a large number in attendance at our firesides but out of those we will probably have 6-10 people who actually make application. But it is really fun to meet them all and be able to bear our testimonies about the program and how it came as a revelation to a Prophet of God.
These are two of the Bonilla girls. She just returned from El Salvador where she went home to to have her 5th little girl. Dad (below) is a counselor to Pres Singh of the Constant Spring Branch. He is a PEF participant from El Salvador.
Last Saturday was the RS Conference and I have to say when Jamaican women get together they do have fun. The woman who was the MC is a woman I have worked with quite a bit as she is a PEF participant. She is a school teacher and a very sharp woman not only in her dress but everything about her. Every time I have talked to her she has spoken very proper English but I tell you I cracked up watching her carry on totally in Patois (this is the language they speak at home and only among themselves—not really understandable for us.) and keeping those women all but rolling in the aisles. She is a very natural comedian and apparently there is no one else who MCs like she does so she is very popular. I thoroughly enjoyed it even though I could not understand 3 out of 20 words.
This is the cultural hall and there is a folding door separating the Chapel area. They just hung curtains in front of the podium area and used the whole space and it was pretty well full.
This is Sister Wright from Spanish Town. She is lovely. Tall and thin and a good Sunday School teacher.
This is Janet Benjamin, the RS President in Kingston Branch and her friend Sister Smikle.
This is the woman who surprised me so much. Her name is Raia Richards. A very classy lady with a great ability to entertain.
It was fun to see many of the women from the district and be able to visit with them. All the Senior Sister Missionaries went together and about the time they took a break for dinner we slipped out and met our husbands at the Chinese restaurant down the street. It is fun to visit with the other missionaries and this was one of the more enjoyable evenings of visiting.
Sunday morning we were up and on the road by 6:00 on our way to Montego Bay. It is not really a long drive but we still had to get up over the mountains and there by 10:00. When we got in down town where the Chapel is located our GPS could not identify exactly where we needed to be so we ended up driving around in a circle through busy narrow streets 3 times. Finally we called Pres Lee and he told us it was next to the Trinity Church so ask someone. So we stopped this young man and asked him. He gave us directions (one street over from where we had been circling.) and we drove right to it. As we drove up Pres Lee came running (literally) out to greet us. As we were getting out of the car the young man we had asked directions from walked into the parking lot. He was in a white shirt and tie and I had suspected when we stopped him but didn’t ask. He said “why didn’t you ask where the LDS Church was?” Silly us…
I teased the girl in the middle about being 15 but she is actually one of the leaders and one of our PEF participants Tricia Wint Allen. Her husband, also a PEF participant, is a councilor to the Branch Pres.
This is the other half of the Young Women's group in the branch.
Trica Allen and Tonnie Brown, of the Brown Family in Constant Spring, she is studying Law in MoBay staying with the RS Pres.
I did not get this woman's name but the man is Pres Lee the Branch President.
We enjoyed our visit to MoBay. The Branch was good and pretty well attended. Good Sacrament Meeting talks by 3 young people who did very well. The Sunday School lesson was taught impromptu by the Relief Society President and she did well under the circumstances and the RS lesson was good as well. We had about 12 people at our Job Seminar and that went well. Good participation and enthusiasm for what we are doing. We went to our hotel and I got the mini resumes all finished that evening as we had to meet the Elders the next day at noon to go and inspect their apartment. We met two of the Elders at the church and drove them to the apartment. It is interesting to see where the missionaries live and how they live. (Not quite the same as Senior Missionaries.) They had given us their excuses on Sunday why their apartment was “untidy” well it was much more than that and I had to give them a real lecture about the difference between untidy and unclean and disorganized. Three of them took it pretty well but one—the spokesman—didn't like it very well.
This is Willbert Buchannan II, he taught the Priesthood class that Bob was so impressed with. As we were visiting with him on Monday he told us he has only been a member of the Church for a year. Bob was amazed!
This is the Montego Bay Chapel it got a new coat of paint in preparation for the visit of General Authorities who were not able to enjoy it because of bad weather getting out of the US.
After we finished the inspection we took all four to lunch at a very swank Pizza Hut. I am not kidding. It was a very nice restaurant not a fast food pizza place. We had pizza and something called a Cinnamon Ring that was really good. Well this pretty much took up the middle of the day. Bob and I got back to the hotel and changed into beach clothes and went down to the beach. We did not go into the water just sat near it for a while and talked and then took a nice walk up on the street where all the shops are. It was a nice evening. We saw a big 5 mast sailing ship take off out of the harbor but of course I did not bring my camera as we were going to the beach.
The dining area at El Greco where we stayed in MoBay.
The view from the dining area at El Greco. We had to take an elevator 15 floors down to the street and beach.
We watched half a dozen airplanes come in to the right here every morning. The airport is not far away.
Tuesday we were going to go to the beach again but Bob got the idea we should use that time to test a new deposit slip for our PEF participants. So we drove down town and I let him off at the bank and I “drove around the block” --Very funny! We know it takes a long time at the bank so I found a place where I could just stop at the side of the street for a few minutes. It was really fun to watch life on the street. A huge truck (not quite a semi but close) pulled onto the street and parked on the right hand side facing oncoming traffic. There really was no room for a car let alone a truck it--was not a parking place. But no one thought anything of it and just maneuvered around it--even another truck squeezed by without a honk.
After a few minutes I noticed a man carrying something on his head. They do that quite a lot here but since I do all the driving I have never had an opportunity to get a picture of it. After a few more minutes I realized they were hauling from the truck to a store across the street. So I got out my camera and tried to get a picture. I say tried because the minute I decided that is what I was going to do that other truck went down the street blocking my view, then two men came out and stood behind the car I was parked perpendicular behind, I did not want them to see what I was doing so I had to put the camera down; when they left and I had a good chance a woman walked by and was right in front of my view again. So the pictures are not good but I got them. Then I went and picked Bob up at our pick up spot and we drove out of town towards Ocho Rios.
Here is the other truck that squeezed by.
Here is the woman who got in my way but you can see the man in blue off her right shoulder.
The man in green is carrying a big bag on his head. No one minds waiting as they carry their load across the street. It all works here in Jamaica!
We stopped in Ocho and then in Linstead and made deposits testing our new slips. Bob was pretty discouraged because they did not work. Even with instructions clearly highlighted the tellers would not put in the number that identifies the individual participant. This causes big problems because the Fund gets the money and does not know who to give the credit to. So when we got home we designed a new one with even bigger and more obvious instructions and a big red arrow.
(I told Ann, as I sat in the car waiting for Bob to come out of the different banks I felt like I was driving a get-away car.)
We got back at 4 and were supposed to meet at the Murdocks at 5:00 so we were going to grab a quick bite when she called and said she had dinner ready for us. We quickly ate the oatmeal Bob had already prepared and went to their house. Just as we were starting to eat the Evans called and so Sis Murdock invited them to join us. It was really fun—we really like the Evans. What was fun for me is that Sis Evans and I started talking about the Arizona State University Institute back in the early 60s and discovered we knew a lot of the same people and if either of us had been more outgoing back then we may have even known each other but we both were pretty shy back then. I need to talk to Marie because Sister Evans remembers Pam Sherwood Fuller very well. This is someone that Marie and Greg have run into on their mission in SLC. Pam married our good friend Byde Fuller.
Anyway we visited for a long time and then Evans left and we met with the Murdocks about the direction we both are going towards employment. They are Humanitarian and we are PEF Missionaries but we both are going to be doing more employment sorts of things in the future. We don’t really know what yet.
We had an orthodontist appointment for Bob the next morning and I had to run out and get a journal for the girl I am meeting with because I promised I would. So I dropped Bob off and ran to the store. After I met with Carrie, Bob wanted to try out our new and improved deposit slips so we went to several banks again with me driving the” get-away car”. At one point I headed the wrong way down a one way street but everyone (two lanes of several cars) waited patiently as I turned around. I love that about Jamaican drivers!
This deposit slip looks like it is going to work. Bob waits until everything is completed and then asks if they entered the serial number. (The one with the big red arrow to it—that was ignored when it had only a small red arrow to it.) He says they are offended when he asks. Bob is happy. He really has worked hard on this issue since we have been here I am glad things are finally looking better. If we can get this problem solved it will be a very big accomplishment for our mission.
Thursday I called this young man I had promised I would and talked for over an hour about his career and financial plans for his family. He is a smart young man and very talented but not focused and so has not settled into a good career yet and he has a family of three kids. I really like him and enjoy talking to him but I worry about him as well—I hope I can help him. Bob was getting concerned when I was talking so long because we had to drive to Port Antonio—a new destination for us on our own.
He had every reason to worry. We somehow got on the wrong road and drove a long way up the mountain before finding someone to tell us we were going the wrong way. Bob was very upset with his GPS because it could not even tell where we were let alone how to correct our error. He called the Larsens to borrow their GPS so we had to go all the way back down into town to find them where they were at lunch with the Wrights. Then we set off again an hour later. We were leaving early enough to inspect the Elders apartment so we were still in pretty good time. The road is pretty rough and very windy and narrow—lots of very sharp switch-backs. The north beach is a very pretty part of the island and the road is lots better than in the central and southern parts of the island. We met two of the four Elders and went to eat at their favorite place—good barbeque chicken and rice and peas. Then we went to the apartment they share with two other elders. It is a nice, good sized little house with 2 bedrooms, a large living room and small kitchen. They have no living room furniture but have strung lines for hanging clothes—very ingenious. Thankfully this apartment was very clean and orderly so I am able to give a good report.
We drove out beyond the city to see if we could find a hotel to stay in sometime but did not find it so came back for our fireside. We had a good turn out by about 15 minutes into our presentation. This is a pretty small branch and we only have about 3 participants there right now but it looks like we may have about 3 more. After the meeting a lovely woman came up and introduced herself to me. I liked her immediately. She is a participant in the Women’s Initiative the Church runs to help women in particular get educated for jobs. She is a math teacher just finishing up her degree, she also teaches Seminary in the branch.
By the time we were leaving it was about 7:30 and dark. Sister Rampasard, the Branch President’s wife told me if someone bumps my car do not stop to investigate just keep driving. Well that got my attention.
This is Elder Gill from Toronto and Elder Carter from Utah in front of the Port Antonio Church.
The Port Antonio Chapel.
The view from the Port Antonio Church.
The road is pretty nice all the way across the top of the island but it is windy and of course very dark most of the time. I am most concerned about hitting people as they walk along the roadway and that was a concern that night. Even between the little towns far from any visible civilization there were people walking on the roadway. There were also several big trucks which could not travel at normal speeds so we would get caught behind them, afraid to pass because we could not see which way the road turned up ahead. So it was about 2 ½ hours of tense night driving to Ocho Rios. Fortunately we knew where we were staying and were able to drive right to it.
We love this hotel which is right on the beach because this is what we have seen both times we have been here in Ocho Rios. There are lots of people in town then the ship is in--when it is not it is pretty quiet.
Friday morning we got up and walked down town after breakfast. Then we came back and sat in the sun for a couple of hours (about an hour too long). The weather was beautiful, very mild not terribly hot and a nice breeze most of the time. We went back and changed our clothes and walked back to the main part of town and a man named Jack pointed out a restaurant to eat at. (Fried chicken and rice and peas,) Somehow I had forgotten we had a fireside that evening so at some point I had to re-gear my thinking and give up the idea I had in my head of relaxing into the evening. Where in the world was my head??!!
This is an interesting statue in one of the shopping malls. This is quite typical of the Jamaican Art.
At about 4:30 Pres Lester (the Branch President in Ochy) called and invited us to come to visit his house. I have talked about Pres Lester and his house that got burned down and he has not had the money to completely rebuild but that he and his son still live in. He gave us directions and we took off. I could not believe I was as comfortable as I was wending our way through the crowded streets in an unfamiliar part of town. We had to call Pres Lester two or three times to get further directions and we also had to ask several people on the streets but everyone is very helpful and we finally found it. It is way up in the beautiful vine draped forest on a very rocky unpaved road. I could see it was a nice little house at one time but the roof is off of two of the main rooms now and he has had to repair part of the roof over the kitchen and the bedroom with used zinc of all sizes. He says it does not leak in the bedroom but it does in the kitchen. It was very dark as the windows have no glass and so have boards over them but it was clean and quite orderly. He and his son are very clean and neat all the time even though they have to heat their water to shower with. He actually has to buy his water because there is no water nearby and no electricity as far as we could tell.
He raises plants which he sells to companies and offices to decorate with, and he also has a pretty good chicken business both layers and broilers. There is a stone quarry down the road from him where he also works part time. We were very impressed with what he has made for his son and himself. They seem quite happy and relatively comfortable. After our fireside Bob said we would love to take them home but we could not drive over that road in the dark. The said he would not ask us to do that—so he took his normal mode of transport—a taxi. I cannot imagine a taxi lasting long traveling that road very often.
Our fireside started about 40 minutes late but we did have a couple of potential participants including a missionary who will be released in June. We also got to meet a participant who we have not been able to reach by phone. I actually thought she was avoiding us but now that we have met I hope she won’t in the future.
This morning we walked down town after breakfast and then just came back and packed up and headed home. The drive from Ocho is hard but it is quite beautiful most of the way. We were also able to get bananas in one of the Linstead roadside stands. We really have not had bananas in Kingston since the hurricane in Nov.
It is time for bed now but it is also time for the entertainment to begin down the street at our favorite club so I suspect we will not be going to sleep for quite a while as it sounds like the stereo is in my apartment with the volume turned up to the highest level! O well this is Jamaica. We go to Old Harbour tomorrow but that is only about an hour away I think. Hope the Larsens have the chapel in their GPS (which we still have) because we don’t.