I have hit upon a new form of scripture study (for me) that I really am enjoying. As I read the RS lesson (I love Pres Snow's teachings) or as I read a conference talk I mark passages that strike me. Then I go back and read it again paragraph by paragraph and go to every scripture noted and make notes in my scriptures--often inserting quotes from the talk or lesson. It really has helped me learn to apply the scriptures to my life better and I appreciate them a lot more. Seeing how someone has used it to illustrate a point helps me recognize how it applies to my life.
Another thing I have done that I really enjoy and feel I benefit from is reading an especially good talk by Elder Holland or Elder Bednar or some other favorite and then going back and taking notes on it or sort of abridging it, extracting the parts that strike me the most and then inserting the condensed version as notes in my scriptures and/or filing it in a special file. It is so easy to listen to a good talk and say wow that was good and then forget the message completely (at least it is for me) This way I not only read it but pour over it to extract my notes.
Yesterday while at the mission office Pres Brown went out and got some mangos off the trees that hang over the parking lot. We used to pick them up off the ground and take them home until I got tired of pealing them. But Bob still picks them up occasionally. Well Pres Brown brought them in and he and Amba, his secretary (whose hair I have shown a couple of times in my blog) started eating them. They just pealed them with their teeth and made very little mess—unlike I make with a knife. So I watched them and finally said something. They were appalled that I used a knife to peel mangos. Then we started talking about the hairy stuff you get in your teeth from mangos and they said there are several different kinds, not all of which are hairy. Then Amba said she was going to let us in on a Jamaican secret--there are some that have worms but Jamaicans love their mangoes so much they eat them anyway they just eat them in the dark. Latoya Williams came out of her office and Amba, wanting to verify her story asked her to tell us how Jamaicans eat Mangoes. Latoya sat down on the step and demonstrated taking a big bowl between your knees and pealing them with her teeth and eating a bunch of mangoes. Well Amba was not satisfied so she went and got Pres Medley, the District President who has his office there as well. He came in and she asked him to tell us how Jamaicans eat mangoes. He pretty much did the same thing that Latoya said and then Amba said what if they have worms and quick as a wink and with a straight face and a shrug of the shoulder he said “O, we just eat them in the dark.” I cracked up! It is obviously true. They eat the mangoes in the dark so they won’t see the worms, but they will not give up their mangoes because they have worms.
So I came home and tried pealing a mango with my teeth—IT WORKS! I still don’t like the hair in my teeth though. Tonight I pealed one for Bob with my teeth and didn’t have any trouble with the hair until I took a bite out of the fruit. I did not get any from pealing it.
This tiny little girl probably around 2 is pealing mangos with her teeth.
Her mommy is paying careful attention to what Bob is teaching but this baby is serious about her mangos!
Well, so now I am a piano teacher. Yes, it is true I gave someone a piano lesson--my little friend Kerry. I am trying to find things for her to do during the day besides sit around the house and walk around the neighborhood where she could get into trouble. I got her a journal in which she has written 3 pages. I got her coloring books one of which she did in almost monochromatic color. I talked to her aunt and found that she has a keyboard, so I took a keyboard and the Church’s music course and thought I would try to see if she has any natural ability since she loves to sing so much—she often sings to me when we meet. Anyway, I probably did everything wrong but I fear there is really no natural ability there. But she loved the idea of playing so I think I will pursue it a little longer and perhaps teach her a couple of little songs instead of trying to teach her notes and fingers.
Last night I was listening to Bob counsel one of our PEF participants over the phone. He was really involved in a serious situation and was giving good counsel as well as listening to her concerns. It caused me to think about another sidelight of our mission here—maybe not unpredictable but still sort of different. I too am pretty involved in counseling with one of our participants. We have exchanged phone calls as well as many emails. She is pretty alone in her struggles and has found a friend in me that she does not have in her branch.
A young man who recently experienced a heart breaking divorce called me for recommendations for some good young women for him to get acquainted with. I often talk to women who are alone and would like to be married but there are few men available for these good women. Even at institute class there are more young women than men. I understand there are people who are interested in each other but I do not see them dating—not sure what that looks like here.
Friday we were torn because there was a baptism we wanted to go to, Institute class which I especially hate to miss and a going-away party for the Larsens in the Kingston Branch. I sent Bob to the baptism and went to institute class. While they were reviewing a little I slipped down stairs for the baptism. I’m glad I did, Pres Hendricks was speaking about the Holy Ghost to this little 8 year old. He said, “You know I am going home to Texas in a few weeks and the sun shines a lot there just like here. So one morning you are going to wake up and the sun is going to be shining in your bedroom window. That same morning I am going to wake up and the sun is going to be shining in my bedroom window. So where do you think the sun is really shining in Jamaica or in Texas”. He said, “That is how the Holy Ghost is. He can be lots of places at the same time because he is a Spirit”. I thought that was a really good analogy and explanation for a kid.
Right after that talk I ran back upstairs to institute class; Pres Brown was just starting a discussion of the temple and getting a temple recommend. I arrived just in time to whip mine out to help him illustrate his point. He was trying to help them understand how important it is to go to the temple but he was also trying to illustrate how important it is to be worthy of a temple recommend no matter how far you live away from the temple. I feared he was coming on a little strong so I interjected that you do not have to be perfect to go to the temple you need to be trying to be as good as you can be.
Interestingly Bob hit upon this same topic today when he spoke in the Santa Cruz Branch. He tried to help people understand that being worthy of a temple recommend is a major step towards returning to the presence of Heavenly Father. He did a really nice job and if I say so myself, I did a pretty good job too.
The Branch President asked us to speak about 5 minutes before the meeting. I thought it was just a brief testimony which often happens, but no, we were the program. Fortunately we had arrived early at the church so I started reading the introduction to the Book of Mormon in preparation for reading it again this year. (I just finished reading it in Spanish for the second time—fun.) I used the intro as a basis for a talk and testimony about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s call to be a Prophet and the Restoration of the Priesthood on the earth.
Back to Friday night—After the baptism Bob came up to institute class and Pres Brown was just getting started in the next discussion so we slipped out and went to Kingston to the Larsen’s party. It was very nice to see them honored. They are great people and have had a real impact on many people in all three branches in Kingston—to say nothing of the other missionaries. They will really be missed.
At the party each Auxiliary took part and sang songs. It is amazing how they love to perform and are so unselfconscious about it—even when they are not very good. Bob and I talked about it and decided they are very childlike—meaning the adults as well as the children.
They don't quite get the idea of line up and look at the audience--especially when there is a microphone to be attended to!
I guess even if they line up the microphone is still an issue.
The young man in the background is one of Sis Larsen's prize keyboard students. He is 14 and has now been called as the music specialist in the branch because he is the main organist for meetings each week.The young man in the blue is his brother and the one in the red is the branch president.
Audience? What audience? We got a mic and that's what matters!
Elder and Sister Larsen's teary farewell.--Love them.
I thought the refreshments at the Larsen's farewell were interesting. The white triangle is a corn beef sandwich, the dark brown is Tato Puddin, (made from sweet potatoes) the orangey brown is a festival (fried bread) and the fish are fish! (garnished with hot peppers and shredded carrots. I ate everything but the fish--which I did actually try.
Just as we finished our Job Seminar in Santa Curz today it began to rain so hard we could not even hear Bob speak. By the time we left about 20 minutes later the street was running like a river about 6-10 inches deep. I got frustrated with Bob as he was trying to take care so I would not get wet. He went to the car to get the umbrella and got soaked and did not seem very concerned about getting soaked! I expressed my exasperation at him getting soaked in the presence of the Branch Pres.—I was not angry but I can still see the look of surprise in his face to hear my exasperation. (I called him later and explained I was not angry only concerned about Bob getting so wet while he was trying to make it so I would not get wet.) Anyway, I got paper towel from the bathroom and took off my shoes and waded in ankle deep water to the car. I had Bob take off his shirt and we turned the air conditioner in the car to a little higher temperature and dried off the best we could with paper towel and took off.
It was slow traveling for the first 10 miles as the rain was so hard and the puddles were so deep the water would splash up onto our windshield. But it wasn’t long before it was pretty clear and it stopped raining. So most of the trip home was uneventful, though we did have to locate a man on the side of the road near Mandeville to pick up a wheel barrow to bring back for Pres Singh—fortunately just as we saw him he spotted us and started waving his arms so we knew we had found each other.
I just want to mention another little miracle from being on this mission. Bob sold his California condo! He has been renting and leasing it and was about to sign a long term lease when his agent emailed and said don’t do anything till you talk to me. He called her and she said she had a buyer—for a decent price and for cash. So we are happy even though we spent considerable time this last week at the US Embassy getting signatures notarized and at the mission office faxing and faxing.