Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Being Missionaries is Hard Work

I would love to say things have been pretty quiet and that is why I have not got a lot to write about the last couple of weeks but the truth is things are quite intense and we have been very busy—not just busy but we have been working very hard.  Bob is especially good about working hard on some of the hard things we have to do so I try to keep us afloat with a lot of mundane tasks. 
As Bob says we have completed most of the easy work we have to do here particularly in PEF but I would say in Employment also.  That leaves the hard stuff.  That means working to get some of our more reluctant participants to start moving forward; it means trying to get people to use the automatic payment system instead of counting on having money when it is time to make a loan payment; it means getting people to use the deposit slip we have worked so hard to revise and hope will clear up all unidentified payments; it means getting branch presidents to cooperate with our requests, as they are the only way we have to physically get things and information to people; it means figuring out how to revise a loan so a participant can pay when they have not been paying because they don’t have the money to do it; it means working with people in the Area who haven’t quite caught up with Bob and his ability to solve problems.

We are also being swept up in some of the swirl of motion and emotion of a mission president preparing to leave and the new mission president preparing to take over.  I doubt this kind of thing happens very often but Pres Brown coming in already knows almost all Pres Hendricks knows and still knows he has a ton to not only learn in his weekly tutoring sessions but do in his current position to prepare for his replacement.  He knows his position will be different with PEF when he is the Mission President but he also knows the program has soared with us here and may suffer when we leave. (I say that in modest honesty.  It is not necessarily the Pugmires –just the fact that missionaries have been at work.) The changes will directly affect his replacement in that he will be LESS involved than Pres Brown has been, and he knows it, but at the same time he (Pres Brown) has to keep it going in this crucial time of year when many people are seeking new loans and need to take the seminar he teaches in order to be able to be considered for a loan.  We are really only peripherally involved with this but since we are so involved with the program and with Pres Brown we are feeling the stress and anxiety as well.

We are working very hard to clean up as many issues as we can before we leave and before we get a lot more participants.  They will come on our records about the time we leave—so who is going to take care of them?!  This is part of the stress of the whole situation.  There are, at this point NO, that is 0, senior couples scheduled to come to Jamaica within the foreseeable future.  We even tried to recruit the Smiths who have been here for 23 months and left yesterday.    We suggested they do what so many missionaries do in the SLC Family History—go home for a couple of months and come back.

In the meantime we are also totally involved in the Employment part of our mission—we have 5 more job seeker seminars to give in 5 more branches and then I think we are going to spend the last remaining time giving employment firesides.  That is our plan though we have not really discussed it with either mission president—I am positive both would approve anything we suggest.  We are very involved with the newly called Employment Specialists in the two Jamaica Districts and have also convinced the President he needs to call someone from the west end of the island to coordinate the dependent branches.  Interestingly we are now instructed to train these specialists—so much for keeping a low profile in Employment.  (To say nothing of the fact that I especially know nothing about employment!—and don’t want to.)

As part of what we have been doing in employment we have (Bob has) contacted all the branch and district presidents and made a record of all unemployed leaders in the district and branch leadership. (I created the forms for Bob to fill out.) We have trained two district specialists in this process, and have sent the reports to the Area Employment.  Bob has also taken all the mini resumes I have typed up from all our job seeker seminars and has put all the information on a spreadsheet and has created an amazing database with about 280 names—so far—of unemployed members.  This will be a HUGE asset to employment specialists and leaders as they really start to attack the problem of unemployment here in Jamaica.

We are dragging our feet a little on another assignment because we really don’t know how to do it but we are trying to gather information on emerging jobs in Jamaica and preferred courses and preferred schools for our members and PEF participants to get the training and education that will get them quickly into the work force.  There are several people working with us on this and I sure hope they know what they are doing because I DON”T.  We are going to have to act on this soon.
I hope this gives you a little idea of what we are doing and maybe gives a little excuse for not having some fun exciting pictures to display this time.  

But we have been to May Pen and Port Antonio with our seminars since I wrote last.  We had planned to stay in May Pen and type up the mini resumes on the Sunday we presented the workshop but there turned out to be about 31 to do and it would have taken too long so we got one of the people who comes into Kingston to agree to deliver the minis the next Sunday.  We did however stay in Port Antonio, which is considerably more difficult to get to.  

We left at 7:45 in the morning and headed up the mountain.  The first time we tried this on our own we immediately got on the wrong road.  This time it took us a little longer to find a wrong road but we found one!  It was so narrow and windy and steep with vast drop-offs at the edge of the road that Bob was actually frightened.  And the GPS had not a clue where we were.  Finally we had to resort to asking people along the road for directions.  I was reluctant to do that as we were obviously lost and I felt a little vulnerable to anyone who may wish to take advantage of us.  We chose individuals alone and eventually found the road we were supposed to have been on.  We arrived a little late at Sacrament meeting but were able to enjoy the bulk of the meeting, as well as Sunday School and RS/Priesthood meetings.

Interestingly, we were discussing in Relief Society the lesson from Pres Snow on Eternal Families and I had an opportunity to share my story of being 56 before I married for the first time and how important it was for me to wait for the right person than to marry for the sake of being married, and how I had absolute faith in what Pres Snow and other prophets have always taught about all blessings being available for all the faithful.  The women, about 20 of them where crammed in to a very small room not quite big enough for 15 chairs.  One woman came in and without a word started to wiggle her bum between two other women.  They didn't react in the least, just scooted over so she could sit on the crack between the two chairs.  She got up and left for a minute and when she returned though there was another empty chair but she wiggled down in her former spot.  

Our Job Seeking Seminar in Port Antonio

After I made my comment I sort of became the center of the conversation for a few minutes—I had not intended to but I was glad for the time to try to make such an important point for these women.  There are tons of faithful women in the Church here and very few men.  I really bore my testimony as fervently as I could that they needed to wait for the right opportunity, even if it means into the next life, otherwise there is too much chance of being taken down and off course towards the Celestial Kingdom.  A couple of people asked me some specific questions, but the discussion became very animated and energetic.  Their understanding of the doctrine seemed okay for the most part but then in the end an elderly woman vehemently asserted a position that I fear was her own regarding living with a man and having children and grandchildren and never even thinking about getting married.  She was very sincere and concerned and several people answered her with correct doctrine regarding marriage as a standard in the Church.  But I was a little concerned that she would even have such a question and be an active member of the Church.  Not that I judge her as bad in anyway only that I am surprised anyone who is active hasn't heard and learned differently. 

Two of our PEF participants in Port Antonio:  Fiona Blake and Terry-Ann Dixon.  Terry-Ann is the one I wrote about months ago.  We met her in Constant Spring and she helped Bob with his scriptures and acted as if I was her favorite aunt.  We talk quite a bit and I love her.

But after class a woman (who had been quite vocal in the class) told me about her impending marriage to a returned missionary who wanted to get married in the temple but didn't want to be sealed because something might happen to him as it did with his father when he got cancer and died.  I was stunned!  How had such a basic and important doctrine been so seriously misunderstood?  I don’t know if she represented her fiance correctly of if those were her misunderstandings but I quickly explained that that is the whole purpose of temple marriage so people can be sealed for eternity and not just in this life.  She had absolutely no knowledge of that idea and she has been a member for some time.  I still feel stunned and deeply concerned about the depth of knowledge and conversion of some of the people.  I think I sort of compare everyone to the standard of the students in the institute class we attend.  They have wonderful understanding and depth of conversion and conviction.

The institute kids role playing situations and applying scriptural lessons.

Anyway, because Port Antonio is so difficult to get to we decided we would stay there and type up the minis and prepare them and leave them there.  That was going to be okay because we had only about 12 participating in the workshop and then at the last minute 3 teen age girls came in and of course wanted mini resumes.  So I began as soon as I could get the computer away from Bob and while he finished up the presentation I started typing the mini resumes.  We stayed until almost 5:30 and decided to make the decision when we got to the junction whether we would drive to Ocho Rios 2 hours away on good roads or go ahead over the mountain for 2 hours and end up driving in the mountains in the dark.  We amazingly decided to go for it and save the extra trip the next day.  Thankfully most of the trip was in light to dusk and only the latter end was in the dark but we managed to stay on the right road and got home safely at 7:45 that evening.  12 hours!  Tired!

in our lives as much as he does the big things.  He loves us that is why! faulty which
Part of the reason we wanted to get home was because I had to make soup for FHE at the mission home Monday night and we had a 2:00 meeting with Pres Brown and a 3:00 meeting with the PEF committee.  Those went well—sort of related to all the things I wrote about at the first of this entry.  Our senior missionary FHE was a farewell dinner for the Smiths who are going home.  They were called as MLS missionaries but he told of how they had been prepared by their stake president for a Spanish speaking mission and were surprised by the call to Jamaica.  But then Pres Hendricks explained why he thought they were there.  He apparently saw on their forms that Elder Smith was a Patriarch.  So he called SLC and pled with them to make an exception and allow Elder Smith to be able to give Patriarchal Blessings while on his mission.  The exception was made and Elder Smith gave 250 blessings in the 23 months he was here.  The people feel tremendously blessed-- It really was a wonderful thing for Jamaica and the Jamaican Saints. 
The Larsens had some of their kids with them as they had been vacationing in Ocho and had hurried back for the FHE—It will be their turn next month.  The Hendricks’ also leave at the end of next month, then in August the Mortensens leave, the first of October we leave, and the Wrights leave in November.  That will leave the Evans, Murdocks, and Pearsons!  No more senior missionaries!  That will be very difficult on the mission.  Senior missionaries play a very special and important role in the branches here.

I took these pictures some time ago but they are so cute I wanted to include them even though they have nothing to do with the narrative.  I think I made this little girl cry but then I got her to calm down again but look at those big tears in her eyes.

I have to report one more important thing.  A miracle really--Though some will only laugh.  My iPad battery has been dying every day and my scripture program became extremely sluggish which made it more difficult to study the things I was studying.  So I asked at the video counter at Pricesmart (like Costco) and he told me of an Apple service center—which it turns out I knew exactly where it was.  I took it in and they ran some tests and said if it was the battery and servicing it would be $80000 JAM (about $80) because I said the warranty was run out.  Of course I was prepared to pay that no matter what (actually I would have to have had Bob pay for it).  So as we were logging it in and preparing for the service they discovered the warranty was actually good—for 6 more days!!  So I had to take it home to back everything up on the Cloud.  They took it to verify the battery is faulty which it is and now they have ordered me not a battery but a new (refurbished) (free) iPad (which will have a new warranty.)  Don’t you agree that is a miracle—Heavenly Father does care about the little things in our lives as much as he does the big things.  He loves us that’s why!

1 comment:

  1. Of course it is a miracle! You need your Ipad and Heavenly Father knows that. You see miracles every day in your travels, don't you? How many times have you been lost and then find your way?Your post was good as always. I'm sorry that you aren't getting more Sr. Missionaries. We only had 9 full times come here in May (including 2 young Elders). Don't know about June. There is great need all over the world for the Seniors.