Sunday, June 30, 2013

Farewell to the Hendricks And Hastening the Lord's Work

Saturday 29 June 2013
We had a very pleasant week and half with Gabrielle Brown.  She was no trouble at all (except for my unavailable office space) and she was a pleasure to be around.  We took her to Wendy’s for dinner one evening and then again for lunch after school one day.  She says her parents don’t take them to fast food places very often but she said she enjoyed it.  We had to “take out” our lunch instead of “dining in” because she was concerned about her study time.  We also took her to the Choral concert at the University that I mentioned earlier.  She said she enjoyed it though she didn’t say much.  We enjoyed it just as much the second time as the first. We were going to take her with us when we went out to eat with the Hendricks for farewell dinner but her tummy was bothering her so she asked to stay home.  I was reluctant but figured she was pretty safe in our secure apartment.  She had a little problem on and off throughout the week I sure hope it was not all the snacks I supplied in her room which she consumed in private.

Last Saturday we took Gabby to Spanish Town where we attended the farewell for the Hendricks.  She was going from there to stay with her friend Amanda Lue (the Branch President’s daughter) so we never saw her till the end of the evening to say goodbye.  Sister Hendricks was not in attendance at this big event because she was in Miami with one of the APs who needed an emergency appendectomy while they were all traveling to some of the islands for Zone Conferences.  Thankfully the emergency occurred or at least was still manifesting itself while they were laying over in Miami or he would have had to have surgery in Jamaica or one of the other islands.  I guess Jamaica is actually okay but I sure would not want to do it.  Anyway Sister Hendricks and Elder Worley got an extra 3-4 days in Maimi.  She arrived home just before the dinner with the Senior Couples.

 Raia Richards and Pres Hendricks.  She is wearing a darling little dress made in the Jamaican plaid.

 A couple of acts by a couple of branches.

 A good crowd.  This is Pres Hendricks and Pres Medley, the Spanish Town District President.

The Jamaican Farwell for the Hendricks was really great!  It was very long because every branch in two districts (13 branches) did a skit/song—or three.  Two thirds of it was in Patois and the other third was difficult to hear but it really was a delightful evening.  The MC was the same woman who MCed the Women’s Conference a few months ago and she really is good.  She is very quick and funny; she mostly talked in Patois for the crowd but she really engaged Pres Hendricks who was sitting on the front row and got him involved.  He of course, is a really great sport and is not shy about making a fool of himself.  I know he was faking a lot because his hearing is worse than Bob’s but he can play along really well.  She got him to say ‘Yea Man’—after working on the proper accent—for almost everything she said which of course made him look silly most of the time.  She also picked on poor Elder Evans who is just the opposite of Pres Hendricks—He is totally uncomfortable with attention and being silly.  But he was a good sport too and everyone got a good laugh at his expense.  But Sister Raia Richards (one of our PEF participants) is a very talented MC.  (As a side note:  We visited her in the hospital on Thursday after the Saturday event because she had part of her colon removed because of rectal cancer.  You never would have known she had another thing on her mind when she was carrying on that Saturday.  She is hopeful everything will be okay after her surgery.)

  A couple more acts.

Sister Richards still harassing Elder Evans.

 The closing act.  After their dance under the black lights they turned around and on their backs it says: We  (Heart) U.  There is a young girl with white gloves in the middle after a little ballet type dancing and the two women on the sides are twirling white ribbons in the black light.

 This is President Piper, President of the Mandeville District who has just presented President Hendricks with several Jamaican gifts from all the people.  They ended this presentation with a big heart felt bear hug.  President Hendricks is very well loved by the Jamaican people.

On Sunday we did our last Job Seeker Seminar in Junction.  We thought it was going to be a very small group but it turned out to be about 10-15 in attendance and I made 10 mini resumes (bringing the total to about 350) so that was pretty good. We enjoyed doing these seminars and going to all the branches on the island but we are glad they are over.  The Wrights, who are assigned in Junction invited us to dinner and even encouraged us to E & R because we had to make it back to Spanish Town to first view the first ever Mission President’s Broadcast Seminar from SLC.  (Some saw the corner of Pres Brown but I missed it—but he was there along with several thousand young missionaries and 173 new Mission Presidents.)  And secondly we needed to pick up Gabby.  It really was a great seminar with lots of interesting use of media.  There is really a huge new emphasis on member missionary work and missionaries using social media to help invite others to come unto Christ.  It is an exciting time we live in.  There seems to be lots of energy among the Apostles and First Presidency and constant talk of the Lord hastening his work.  There is no doubt these are the latter days and God did promise he would hasten his work for the righteous’ sake.  I know from the Book of Mormon that the Church will never get really huge but it definitely is covering the earth already and as it grows it should be a huge benefit to those who embrace it with their whole hearts.  

Our missionary force here will be doubled before we leave.  One of the interesting changes in all missions is the Leadership Council instead of a Zone Leaders Conf  with the Mission President and his assistants and Zone Leaders.  The Leadership Council includes Sister missionary leaders because there are so many more sister missionaries serving now.  We have several more here now than we had when we arrived.  We also are getting lots of new Jamaican missionaries.  They mostly serve here in Jamaica but we do have one going to Alabama and another to Dominican Republic-Spanish speaking.  We have three of our PEF girls now with calls here in Jamaica.

Monday was sort of the three month marker for us—meaning we have three months left on our mission so we needed to contact SLC to make arrangements for our travel home.  I thought it would take a while and that is why they needed three months but we heard back in a couple of days and have our plans all set to fly to NYC for a few days and take the train to Baltimore for a few days before going on home by Oct 2.  We are looking forward to seeing our family members in the east which will save us a trip later.  We are also looking forward to seeing the rest of the family as soon as we can when we get home.

Monday evening is when we had dinner with the Hendricks’.  It was nice but not like when we said goodbye to the Larsens and everyone got to go around and say how they felt about them.  I think he may have preferred it this way though— for a big FBI type,he has actually been quite emotional about leaving.

Wednesday Bob had an appointment with Dr Law.  We were hoping he would get his braces off but that is now scheduled for next week.  He will go get the braces off, go directly to his dentist and get his teeth cleaned and then back to the orthodontist to get a permanent retainer and get fitted for his removable retainer.  This really has been a blessing to get this done with relatively little trouble while we have been here in Jamaica.  We really like Dr Law, his Orthodontist and her staff.

I was delighted when the Browns called Saturday and said they had taken the time to go meet Marie in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building while they were in SLC.  I was pretty sure they would be too busy for that.  I got a kick, but was not surprised, to learn that Pres Brown tried to recruit them for the Jamaica Mission as soon as they are through with their Family History Mission in SLC.  One month after we leave the Wrights leave and that will leave only 3 couples in all of Jamaica.  That is really serious. Senior Missionaries are so valuable to mission presidents and the local people.  I feel very sorry for Pres Brown.

Today we did the first of our new employment firesides.  The presentation went okay except the projector did not work well.  But we had a really bad turnout because of a last minute change the Branch president had to make at the request of Pres Brown.  We are hopeful about future firesides.  We think it is a very valuable message and another important step up the huge mountain which is called Unemployment in Jamaica!

I have mentioned recently how much I have been enjoying my scripture study.  I am re-reading the Book of Mormon again for the umpteenth time and the third time in Spanish.  I am reading very carefully this time and taking notes and looking at footnotes and other references and gaining many new insights.  Surprisingly, reading in Spanish also causes new insights because I have to read that so slowly.  I have always had a testimony that the Book of Mormon was true scripture translated and brought about by the power of God exactly as Joseph Smith declared.  But I have had that testimony strengthened lately.  I have heard a couple of times recently something I do not remember hearing specifically before.  A quote from Joseph Smith where he said “I have never told you I was perfect, but the revelations and doctrines I have taught are.”(Or something to that effect.)  That is a powerful testimony to me. 

 As I have been reading carefully this time I am even more convinced Joseph Smith could not have possibly written this book.  And neither could any other man.  Someone could have written a story like this but they never could have included all the obscure and vital details.  The greatest thing that convinces me is how I feel when I am studying.  I love it!  I feel excited, interested, and eager to learn more.  Sometimes I just feel the smile on my face and in my heart as my mind realizes the truth and wonder of something I have just read.
It is not just the Book of Mormon that is true either.  I have been studying about the nature of God and Jesus Christ.  Every once in a while I get a glimpse of Eternity.  I have seen some Hubble Space videos recently that just make my heart swell with the witness of the Holy Ghost that Eternity is real and we all are going to experience it—hopefully together.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Getting Ready For the Transition

Friday 21 June 2013

Monday we had a PEF meeting where we had invited guests from an organization called Heart Trust to come and tell us about their program.  They provide free and low cost training for people to help them get employment.  They are located all over the island and a lot of our members seem to be somewhat acquainted with the organization and a few have even received training but it seems to me there could be a whole lot more who could benefit.  I am not sure there is not some kind of stigma against it.   We will learn more later.  

Pres Hendricks and Pres Brown were involved in a meeting in another part of the island and it lasted much longer than they expected so they actually did not make it to the meeting so we rescheduled with them on Thursday.  When we did meet with them there was something in the atmosphere that made it one of the less enjoyable meetings for me.  There seemed to be some tension and miscommunications that did not really get resolved.  I can’t imagine why!  Pres Hendricks is feeling huge pressure to finish all he needs to and Pres Brown is feeling huge pressure trying to get his family and all his affairs in order to move and take over a huge responsibility.  Things will calm down to a less stressful environment soon.

 Bob won't be excited about this picture but I think it is cute because it shows the real Bob.  He is running on the patio in our building.  He runs up there because it is totally private and he can take off his shirt and get the sun.  That is what I love about this picture.  Notice the running area he is staying in.  He will not even turn in the shade.  I on the other hand keep my shirt on and stay in the shade.

Friday evening Latoya Williams, the assistant to the Facilities Manager who also works in the same building as the Mission Office invited us all to go to a choral concert at the University of The West Indies.  Apparently this group has a reputation around the world as a very good choral group.  The Pearsons decided not to go so there were only 6 of us so we could pick up the Evans and Murdocks on the way.  I realized later that this was because neither of these men drive in the dark if they can help it.  I don’t either if I can help it—it is horrible to try to see with lights shining in your eyes and knowing there are people who could be on the road at any time!

Anyway, it was an outstanding experience.  We all loved the music and the rhythm and the energy of the performance. They sang many songs in perfect unison or harmony or syncopated and a couple with only one word or phrase repeated over and over.  Their movements were simple but in total unison or perfectly synchronized.  The first half was about an hour and a half long and it was pretty formal.  The second half was a lot of different folk types of music from Jamaica and other islands.

Saturday Morning we had to pick up a couple people on our way to Spanish Town for another employment training workshop.  Sister Moodie is trying to teach the other Employment Specialists how to teach the Career workshop.  It was long and sort of tedious and I got tired and cranky. (I hope no one noticed however)  We stopped with another car load on the way home and got pizza.  That was fun to be with several young Jamaicans as they visited and talked together.

Sunday we had a nice day.  We went to the Constant Spring Branch and Bob blessed the baby of one of our PEF participants that we (he mostly) have become quite close to.  It was a very good Sacrament meeting with good speakers so all was good except that the baby cried all through the blessing so Bob didn’t feel he was able to concentrate on the spirit as much as he would have liked.

 Sade, Miguel, and Morani on his blessing day. 

I was not really looking forward to having Pres Brown’s 12 year old daughter stay with us while they go to Mission President’s training in SLC so I spent Monday and Tuesday sort of fussing about it.  When she came on Wednesday after noon all my stresses went away. (Except for the fact that she has taken over my office and study room.)  I have to use the living room which does not have air-conditioning for one thing and for another it is where the TV is and Bob likes to watch some TV some evenings—that means I have to be mobile.  Two out of the two nights now I have fallen asleep before he comes to bed which is not good because that means we do not read or pray together before we go to sleep. 

Today is the third day of the ten and we are going to take Gabbie (Gabrielle Brown) to Wendy’s for dinner and to a repeat of the concert we heard last weekend.  We think she will really enjoy it. 

 Gabbie Brown--a nice mixture of her mom and dad.  Darling girl.

We had Zone Conference today. We had forgotten about it and had taken Gabbie to school in our P-day clothes.  So we had to hurry home to change and hurry to the church.  I am so glad we did not miss it.  As it was we had to leave a little early to pick Gabbie up from school. (She is taking final exams and only goes to school half days. –that is why she is not staying with a friend.) Anyway, Pres Hendricks got pretty red faced and red eyed as we sang “Called to Serve”.   He remarked that that would be the last time he gets to sing that song with missionaries—“My missionaries.”

He gave an amazing talk about making the transition between leaders.  He related how when Pres Kimball was the President of the Church and not well enough to fully function Pres Hinckley was really the only member of the First Presidency who was physically able to lead.  Pres Benson was the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  When they would confer Pres Benson always deferred to Pres Hinckley as a member of the First Presidency even though he out ranked him in the Quorum of the Twelve.  However, the minute Pres Kimball passed away Pres Hinckley turned to Pres Benson and said what would you like me to do President.--Because he now was the presiding officer.  He then taught “If you want inspired leadership you have to follow the leader that the Lord inspires”.  He pointed out that the real Leader is the Savior and He does things in order.  He inspires and expects us to follow the designated and called leader.
President Hendricks then told his missionaries.  Friday night when Pres Brown comes home, the minute his foot touches the ground you turn your back to me and your face to Pres Brown.  Do not allow a single bump in the road as you make that transition.  He then encouraged them to accelerate the work during the transition--do not let it slack at all or wait to be told what to do by Pres Brown.

 This is Pres Hendricks and Pres Brown.  They really do have a wonderful relationship. 

He illustrated again using Moses and Joshua as an example.  When The Lord instructed Moses to turn over the leadership to Joshua the Lord sustained him.  He demonstrated this by stopping the flow of the flooding Jordan River the moment the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant set their feet in the water.  So they and the Children of Israel could cross to the other side on dry land—not muddy land but dry.  The people were convinced but Joshua challenged them—who are you going to follow the gods of the Ammorites or the God of Israel?  He didn’t say are you going to follow them or ME.  He taught who the Real Leader is.  The Prophet is only the designated earthly leader—who follows the true Leader--the Lord.
He said “As long as you don’t take your eye off the Master, you can “walk on water”—so to speak. This of course was referring to Peter walking on the water to the Master.

He taught an even more profound lesson a little later.  He talked about being sanctified and how we have to return to the temple to really become sanctified—which means more than clean and pure but set apart for a Holy Purpose.  Then he retold the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac.  He gave the background about when Abraham himself was almost made a human sacrifice.  He explained how Isaac had to have cooperated in the sacrifice.  And how Sarah also had to have been consulted and accepted the will of the Lord. And of course the Angel of the Lord stopped him before he actually killed his son that he loved so much.  “The Lord did not want Abraham’s son, he wanted Abraham’s heart!”  He needed to know how serious and devoted and humble and faithful Abraham (and Sarah) really was.  Abraham proved himself.
Then he talked about how when we go to the temple there are altars there also where we symbolically make our own sacrifices.  We have promised to give our all—but he “stops our hand” and requires only 10%. (for example).  He encouraged us never to take anything off the altar—to always be willing to give our all--to prove our faithfulness to the Lord always.  He said sometimes it is easier to “give” our life than to “live” our life for God.  Daily living is the hardest part of living our covenants.

It is hard to get the full impact of what he taught but I hope these few notes will help me to remember what he taught—to remember what I have promised (covenanted) and never try (or allow myself) to take back anything.

I wish I could remember and apply all the wonderful things I have learned and felt in my life.  I would be a much better person that is for sure!

We got a note today saying that our first Mission President, Alan Ahston has been called to be the President of the Provo Temple.  It just reminded me of what Pres Hendricks was saying about how missions, companions, trainers, Mission Presidents will forever be an important part of our lives.  He told about a 95 year old man who still calls him even though his father, who was this man’s Trainer, has been gone since 1990.  He still feels connected to his Trainer through his Trainer’s son.

One final little note.  The other day we were in the mission office.  There is an entry which has a door to the President’s office and another one into Sister Evans’ office.  I was talking to Sister Evans and Bob was sitting in the entry, Pres Hendricks door was open and he was working at his desk.  All of a sudden I heard his big loud voice boom out “Elder Pugmire, Don’t you ever die!  Do you hear me?”—I wonder how long we have to obey our mission president?—hopefully for a very long time after we get home!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Physically, Emotionally, Spiritually Active Times

Monday 10 June 2013

At the risk of having my motives misunderstood I am going to include an email I sent to a young woman with whom I have been corresponding.  I include this not for the benefit of any other possible reader but for my benefit—as a part of my journal.

I was thinking about what you said about being a member of the Church being hard sometimes. The Church often attracts those who are poor in spirit. That is good for them because the gospel is very comforting and encouraging as well as up-lifting. It is life changing in that when the spirit witnesses of the truth a person feels the truth and is filled with desire to have all the gospel and the church promises, but it takes time to change lives with all our in-born attitudes and habits. 

I think we are all still in the changing process--even those of us who were born in the church and have been active all our long lives.  But in the meantime we are all also called upon to succor and support our brothers and sisters. This can be extremely difficult and discouraging because some are very "needy" and can drain our personal, spiritual and emotional resources--To the point sometimes that we become one of the "needy". Those who are in the habit of being needy usually cannot allow the strong to have times of need. And, they are not yet capable of meeting the needs of someone else. Some are so encumbered with their own needs and deficiencies that they do not even know how to lift another, or support someone in a trial, or encourage someone who is down. And if the person who is discouraged or needs support is the person who always gives the support to others the one who usually receives not only doesn't know what to do but their inability to help comes out in anger and frustration aimed at the one who now needs a little support. 

I don't know if all that makes sense. Not all people have the gift to be able to help others. Not all people allow the teachings of the Savior to change both their hearts and habits--I'm not talking about habits like smoking for example--I mean habits of selfishness, self-centeredness , down-troddenness (if that is a word). They are absorbed in their grief, pains, poverty--of mind and spirit (as well as poverty of worldly means).  

Those who do have the gift of helpfulness, charity, ability to allow the Savior's life and teachings to change their hearts and lives, and who are motivated by gospel teachings and the Spirit of Christ will always have limitless opportunities to serve others and limitless opportunities to grow from that service--especially when that service comes at a personal price. Every single one of God's children must grow from where they are and with the gifts they have been given, and with the trials mortality provides them. Some start at one level and others at another level (I do not mean this as a value statement) and ALL are precious to The Lord and therefore are (or should be) precious to us. 

I guess I have been thinking of your situation of always being the support and not having others to support you when you need it for a time yourself. I think that is your life--and probably always will be. I think that means even more dependence on The Lord. I think it could be considered your life trial--your test in mortality. 

I am saying this in an attempt to encourage you and not discourage. At some point, you are going to have to decide how you are going to live the rest or your life. Are you going to put your spirituality and service to others on hold until you find a husband?  Or are you going to live your life as perfectly as you can as a daughter of God, seeking opportunities to serve your family, your church, and your community as well as appropriate social involvement--Becoming self-reliant (economically and spiritually), productive, happy in spirit, a positive influence in the lives of others, a worthy and beloved daughter who will in the Father's time receive ALL He has promised.  --A WORTHY DAUGHTER WHO WILL, IN THE FATHER'S TIME, RECEIVE ALL HE HAS PROMISED. 

This does not mean giving up the idea of an earthly temple marriage--it means giving up the obsession of an earthly temple marriage. You are still young and your chances of a good temple marriage are still good. And even as you grow older if it is a long time coming you never give up. But you cannot obsess to the point that it keeps you from growing as a daughter of God. 

Eternity--eternal life is a reality. We will live for eons beyond this mortal life. But this short little period of mortality is infinitely important to our life in eternity. 

You live this life in the very best way you can with the opportunities you are given and that you take. And you live knowing the promises are true. God does not lie or make false promises and neither do his prophets!

I absolutely know these things are true principles and doctrine. 

We have been very busy the past several weeks.  One day we drove with Larsens to Old Harbour to see if their Nativity Carving was ready—it wasn't.  So we found the Elders house and gave them the pants she had mended for one of them.  One day I helped her clean in their apartment a little—mostly just to spend some more time with them.  We were invited with the other senior couples to a dinner party for the Larsens at the home of Sister Langley in the Constant Spring Branch.  She is the District Young Women President.  She and Sister Larsen became close at Girls Camp last year.  The District Relief Society President, Sister McPhearson co-hosted with Sister Langley and several other people including the District President and his wife, the Medleys helped with the cooking.  It was a very good Jamaican meal and the Langley’s home is beautiful and decorated with really outstanding Jamaican art work.

This is Sister McPhearson

Sister Langley, our hostess.

This is Pres Singh and his wife and daughter Sabrina.

 Pres and Sister Medley.  She is really into Family History.  She shared with me a huge history of her family that evening.  It was amazing.

 Sister Larsen and Sister Hendricks.  Darling picture of darling people.

On Friday, May 31 we had Elder Cornish and Elder Gamiant of the Seventy here visiting again and training in the two Districts that weekend.  On Friday we had a Mission Conference which was very good.  I especially loved Pres Hendricks talk about recognizing if we are being lead by the Spirit.  He basically said if we are obedient, if we are seeking to be lead, and if we are worthy then we are probably being lead by the Spirit.  He also said in very fervent terms, in times of doubt and you have to make a choice or judgment “Choose in favor of Faith”.   That is such an important thing because in the first place it keeps us in a spiritually safer path but in the second place it points out that Faith is a Choice! (Maybe Joshua was on to something…)

Elder Cornish is a great teacher and it is always fun to hear and learn from him.  Elder Gamiant has recently been released as the mission President in Guiana, where the Larsens and Evans served under him for a while.  He is a dynamic young man in his late 30s with a slight French accent.  His wife served her mission in Seattle so when we were talking to him about it he called her on the phone and handed the phone to me.  We had a nice little visit but I don’t think we made any real connections.  It was a cute experience though.

Elder Cornish visiting with some Elders.

 Elder Gamiant giving some special instruction to the Assistants to the President

After the Conference we went to lunch with the Mortensens which was fun because we have never really had a chance to get to know them at all well.  They are from Texas and will leave the first of August.  They are the ones who live up in Linstead with no warm water for showers.  They say they are used to it now and it is fine but I cannot quite get used to the idea.

That evening we had another conflict with Institute class and a keyboard recital for the Larsens.  We started in institute then ran down stairs for the recital.  It was really wonderful.  Not only was it a beautiful tribute to the Larsens but there were 20 people who played hymns that 18 months ago didn't know what a keyboard was.  It is such a blessing to the Church in this area to now have this many people who can play or will be able to play some day for the congregations.  There were at least 3 students of Sister Larsen’s students who performed and when they learned a little they began teaching their friends.  

Alexie Brown, age 17.

Shirlette Brown, age 21.  She has one student so far.

Shekiel Peart, agea 18.  Has his mission papers in.

Sister Hamilton, wife of Branch President in Boulevard.

Trudy Stater, Shekiel's student and Alexa Pinnock.

Sister Clarke's granddaughter and student. 

Sister Janet Benjamin, Relief Society President in Kingston Branch.

Sister Davis, of Boulevard Branch, one of Sister Larsen's special friends.

When we first came here Larsens lent us a keyboard that was not being used and she taught us her special chording for the left hand so Bob was anxious to play for her as well.   He actually got up there in front of all those people and played a piece for her.  He did a good job too.

Richard Thomas, age 14.  Sister Benjamin's son, recently called as Music Coordinator in Kingston Branch.

 Dana Lipscombe, organist for Boulevard branch.  She plays pretty well and has not really been a student of Sister Larsen but they have been a great support for her in her calling and in church.

 Sister Clarke, giving her tribute to the Larsens.  She is one of Sister Larsen's "sisters".  She cooked two Jamaican meals for two different sets of visitors of the Larsens' and served them in her home in Zinc Town.  Who could not love a person with that kind of smile.

Sister Medley was the host and one of the organizers of the evening.  She played as did her daughter who she is teaching.  

 Bobby is about 22 and waiting to hear about serving a mission.  He is a boxer and has done very well on the keyboard.

It was a really special event to be a part of.  Many tears were shed.  A couple of women wept because they are losing their “sister” in Sister Larsen—she feels the same about them.  The evening was ended by a young woman they have been mentoring who plays for the Boulevard Branch, she and her husband are magicians, so she did several really great tricks for us.

 Dana poking a spike through a balloon, I understand it.

We ran back up stairs and arrived in time to hear Pres Brown giving his farewell talk to his students.  He says he will return to that position after his mission but I don’t know what that means for Pres Britton who is taking his place.  Pres Brown expressed his great love for them and very strongly encouraged them to stick with their education goals and to “stay in Jamaica!” He is a strong patriot and really wants to build up not only the Church here but the country as well so he will never emigrate as so many do for better employment opportunities.  

Pres Brown giving admonition.

Pres Brown and Pres Britton chatting with the Banhan girls.


A small part of the institute students Pres Brown has influenced.

Saturday we had another Employment Meeting in Spanish Town.  Bob left half way through to go to the Priesthood leadership meeting with Elder Cornish in the other part of the building.  Our little group was invited to have some of the lunch they had prepared for the leadership meeting so as soon as that was over we left instead of staying for the afternoon meeting.  We were exhausted.  I think we came home and had a nap!

Sunday we got up early and drove to Hopeton about 2 hours away.  They have a beautiful little chapel and the branch was much stronger than we suspected.  I figured out sometime later that they are just another Branch in the city of Mandeville.  I don’t know why that took me so long to figure out since I was surprised that they would have a chapel so close to the Mandeville chapel.  I thought it was a different town all together.  Not so.

Their meetings were very good and full of the spirit.  Then we had a good jobs seminar with about 10-15 people.  Afterward a woman asked us to give her and her kids a ride home.  It was awkward because the day before we were instructed in our mission conference that the mission vehicles were not to be used for hauling and giving rides.  We did it anyway because it was on our way and the Branch Pres would have to have made two trips for all the people.  It worked out fine.

We got home in time to make it to a fireside at the chapel with Elder Cornish.  When we arrived we found it was a youth fireside but we were not the only adults there—in fact all the senior missionaries were there and many other adults as well as children.  He had a little difficulty with his video but he left a very clear message of living the Church Standards especially around morality. (A very important message here in Jamaica.)

Monday we met with the Wrights and Murdocks about a program Murdocks want to begin to help eliminate poverty in Jamaica.  We are all for that but it is going to take a while to get such a program off the ground.  Bob came home and wrote up his proposal which incorporates what we are planning in terms of our next employment firesides.  He is a gifted thinker, planner, and fact organizer, he will be a great blessing to this group.

Afterward we went to the mission home for our farewell FHE for the Larsens.  We had a nice dinner—Pres barbequed some chicken and made some Texas beans and the rest of us brought things--then we had a nice, (emotional) farewell sharing time.  Larsens are very special people.  I felt like my comment sort of summed up what the others were saying.  They are rock solid good people--Totally dependable and ready to serve—no matter what.  She has a special knack for making everyone feel like they are her best friend.  They have been the organizers and the chauffeur for all of us—I hope we won’t fall apart without them.  It did not help the emotional level to remember that the Hendricks are the next to go in just 3 weeks.
Wednesday we met with Pres Brown and Pres Britton to talk about the new fireside we are creating around employment and a little about the program the Murdocks are proposing.  It was a good meeting but left me a little unsettled about their feelings--They want local leaders involved, which of course is a good idea but difficult to orchestrate.

 Thursday I was to help Sister Hendricks with a luncheon for the Leadership Council and the Walkers who are the Area Medical people visiting from DR.  I was to be there at 1:00 but then she called and needed the projector we are using so I had to make brownies and get over there as soon as possible.  It worked out just fine and we got in on the last little bit of the President’s training and then the medical presentation from Elder Walker.  We enjoyed a pizza lunch with the missionaries and Bob had the good fortune to be sitting next to Pres Hendricks while he entertained these young missionaries with stories of his FBI-cops and robber days.  He is a great story teller and loves to entertain.  He almost always has a twinkle in his eye when he is telling a story.  But when he is preaching the gospel he is very authoritative with no intent of entertaining.  He has an amazing grasp of the scriptures and the temple as he was a temple president just before coming to Jamaica. 

We left there and headed out for Ocho Rios.  All the other senior missionaries are coming for the weekend but we decided to take an extra day.  We got there in the evening rested, ate dinner there at the hotel, and then went to our room and pretty much went to bed.  Friday morning the others started arriving so we did not get as much time on the beach as Bob would have liked but we did swim with the Murdocks for a while until the others arrived then we went to Pres Hendricks favorite Jerk Shack a little west of Ocho Rios.  It was a fun evening.  

Saturday we all got up and headed for Pres Lester’s house.  He is the branch President in Ocho Rios.  I have mentioned him before.  His house was burned down twice and he has not been able to get it repaired.  He and his son live in half of the house with a makeshift used zinc roof.  He has been working hard to get the walls up so the other half of the house could be roofed.  That was our project.  As it turned out there were about 20 helpers and only room for about 5.  Fortunately we had two carpenters who were young and could be up on the rafters and then Pres Medley, the District President was the task master who kept everyone else hopping.  Most of the women and several of the men sat and visited in the shade while a few others tried everything they could think of to help out.  Sister Pearson and I sort of tried to tidy up and hand things to workers.  Pres Hendricks handed up the zinc (after I separated the sheets because he could not do it with gloves on—but you do not want to handle zinc sheets without gloves.)  Bob supervised and made suggestions—some of which were attended to.  Even though we really did not get to help as we would have liked it was a good thing to be there to show our support for Pres Lester.  While others were working on his roof he was cooking chicken and rice and peas and coleslaw for all of us plus about 5 of his friends who were there as well.

 The workers reporting for duty.  Pres Lester in the dark blue in front.

This is the side of the house Pres Lester and Peter have been living in.

The bathroom he added especially for the convenience of the volunteers.  I think the white tub in the front may be the bathtub to be installed inside.

 This is the part that needed walls repaired before the roof could go on.

 Pres Medley really stretching to do a good job.

 Bazil McLean up top where he was most of the day, Pres Medley on the ladder, where he was most of the day, and Sister Vaciana, a branch member, on the floor when she would have rather been on the ladder or on the roof.

 We wanted to help so we finished rinsing the laundry and then hung it on the line.

President Lester in his kitchen.  He was in the kitchen most of the day.  Once I saw him come out and get a 24 inch square piece of zinc that looked as if it had been used to cook on or as a lid or something. He took it in the kitchen and put it on the floor and stepped on it before he used it for who knows what.  Another time I saw him come out and get a piece of cinder-block and take it into the kitchen.

 Cooking the rice and peas in the kitchen.

 Cooking the fresh chicken out behind the chicken coops.  Raising chicken is one of his businesses.

The 'would love to be' workers visiting in the shade. (Still very hot!)

Sister Pearson supervising the zinc installation and the workers:  Pres Medley and his sons, Patrick and Samuel

Resting in the shade of the zinc covered entry at the end of the project.   Sister Murdock, Bob and Sister Pearson.
The big black barrel is the water supply.  There is another one in the back by the bathroom. There is no water in the house. 

 Project completed.  Pres Lester will put a ceiling in and plaster the walls.  He took me into the kitchen where he has his ceiling materials stored.  Since he has some work to finish on the roof the workers asked if he wanted some boards left up there, but he said no because if they are seen from the road they will be stolen.  That is why he has his ceiling sheet material in the kitchen.

I should mention we followed the GPS to his house instead of going the way we knew.  It was a mistake.  There were three vehicles including ours—I was the tail end and they had to stop and wait for us one time because the road was so incredibly rough it was very hard driving so I fell behind a little.  There were huge rock lined trenches and ruts, at a couple of places there was barely a recognizable set of tire tracks to follow.  The passengers in the car literally had to hang on with both hands because they were being thrown about so much—I at least had the steering wheel to hang onto.  I cannot imagine any off road travel that would be a whole lot worse than what we were on.  At one point it was so steep I could not see the road—I was looking at clear blue sky! Then to top it off we made a wrong turn and had to turn around twice on a road barely wide enough to drive on. 

The other way to Pres Lester’s house was—before this adventure—perhaps the worst road we had been on to that point.  But when we took it out to get some extra supplies and pick up the missionaries it was an absolute piece of cake—“smooth sailing!”

That evening we washed our sweaty faces and walked across the street to a Chinese restaurant Pres Hendricks knew about.  It was a nice evening but we were ready for bed when we walked back.  Bob showered and fell asleep before I even got out of the shower—I did not wake him to get into bed.
We went to the Ocho Rios branch and swelled the ranks by 8 and had very nice meetings. Then we drove home with the only glitch being a short stretch in a terrific down pour.  Thankfully it was not long as we were on a very steep mountain road.  But we always enjoy the trip between Ocho Rios and Kingston.