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.