Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Derek's Visit

Wednesday 24 July 2013

We have just had a wonderful week with Derek.  He is so easy to be around and just pleasant in every way. 

It started in rather a hectic manner.  We had to pick him up at the airport at 10:50.  We got there in plenty of time and he got there on time but we all forgot that he needed to have an address here to give at emigration.  So we waited and waited and finally there was a PA announcement asking us to go to the information window.  When they got our address they released him and he was able to leave the airport.

We then headed back to downtown Kingston to pick up some missionaries to take to transfers in Spanish Town. We called the Kingston Elders and they talked us to their house.  We were to pick up 2 elders here but they kept coming out of the house.  The Zone leaders were there and another truck companionship and so in the end we took only one elder and all his luggage fortunately fit in the trucks since he was only moving to Portmore.  

We headed for Portmore and there we were to get two elders.  We had to wait a few minutes so Bob and Elder Jones walked over to the Tastee Pattie place and got patties for everyone.  They were good and thankfully Derek liked them since he was hungry and slightly concerned about a little stomach virus he may have brought from home with him.  We still did not need to take luggage so we were in good shape.  We headed to Spanish Town.

All the missionaries were just sitting around visiting and waiting for Pres Brown to finish with interviews in Kingston so we took Derek on a little ride through Spanish Town.  Not my favorite town but it actually was pretty interesting.  We got back about the time Pres Brown, the APs and all the new missionaries arrived.  They were setting up a lunch for just this group so all the other missionaries went up to the Pizza Hut in Spanish Town (Sister Larsen’s favorite place).  We went in and I introduced Derek and Pres Brown and they exchanged a couple of words and then we left and got out of the way.  

Missionary Transfer day--15 new missionaries. Pres Brown and Bob trying to help organize.

We were sitting in the foyer and Pres Brown came out with a plate of fruit and sat down on the floor next to Bob and visited with Derek.  They seemed to enjoy each other.  Pretty soon Pres Brown had his arm over Bob’s knee and was lounging on him.  We visited for about 10 minutes before he had to leave.  When the missionaries came back we were able to leave because we were not transporting any new missionaries.  So we took ours back to Portmore and we were through.  We had to meet the Wrights because they were going to use our car since they had family coming to visit. (they had more people than we did and that is why they got the bigger car.) We were all tired so we came home and Bob fixed oatmeal for supper.

The next day we drove out to Port Royal and showed Derek the fort and even drove through the tiny city.  I actually learned more history because Derek had done a little studying and shared more details we did not learn before.  On the way home we stopped and walked on the beach for a few minutes looking for Conch Shells but only found a couple of small ones.  Others have found some of the big beautiful ones but we did not really know where to look.

Port Royal where the Pirates used to rule until the earthquake swallowed up 2/3 of the town.

 Derek on the beach but not many shells.

We were going to Old Harbour and see the Colbeck Castle but we chose to go eat at Wendy’s first.  We called Murdocks and asked if they were not going anywhere if we could use their truck to travel up north.  Wrights drive a small regular car which feels too small and fragile on these roads.  I was also concerned about possible rain and did not want to be in a small car when the rain water could come up to the running board on the truck.  Anyway we went from Wendy’s to the Murdocks and exchanged cars which was very nice of them.  They also gave us a bit of interesting news we had not heard and have not yet heard of officially.  They were told by their “boss” in DR that they were going to be taking over for us when we leave.  Strange.

We drove to Old Harbour and it was beginning to get a little late so we just got out and looked around the Castle for about half an hour or so and then headed back home.  We ate dinner at home that night—nothing to write home about.

The next day we got up and drove to Ocho Rios.  This is one of our favorite drives along the pretty little river, over Rossiter Mountain, through this little farm-like country and then through Fern Gully into Ocho Rios.  We went directly to Mystic Mountain where we road the gondola up to the top.  It is about a 10-15 minute ride and really is beautiful with the view of the ocean below and being among the tops of the beautiful trees with a cool breeze helping to keep us cool.  We watched a short performance and then went to the restaurant and had a nice lunch with a beautiful view where we also watched the children play in the water slide and pool.  --Lots of local people there.  It was starting to look like it might rain and we did not want to be on the open gondola if it did so we started down.

View of the water from the level of our rooms.  We snorkeled in the water at the far left of the picture.

 Our rooms were on the far right Bob and I were up and Derek was down.  Beautiful pool.

 Bob and Derek on the lovely grounds of the Hibiscus Hotel.

We ended up staying in a hotel called the Hibiscus rather than our favorite Rooms On The Beach.  This place is up on a cliff over the water but it is also the place where some of the hotels bring their guests to snorkel.  We checked in and cooled down and then drove to the Ruins on the Falls for dinner only to find it is closed for 2 months.  We went in and looked at the falls in the middle of the restaurant but there was a wedding party going on in the other room so we slipped out quickly.  We went on out to Scotchies out of town where the Hendricks had taken all of us last month.  Derek really enjoyed the Jerk Pork and Pumpkin rice (out of rice and peas).

This is one of the big fire places where they are cooking the chicken and pork.  The fire is under the logs and the meat is laying on the logs covered with large sheets of corrugated aluminum (zinc--the same thing they make fences and roofs with).  I think the back wall is solid metal making the whole room an oven.  We ate outside

 The whole chicken is taken off the logs and and chopped with a cleaver on this cutting block


Derek got a taste of the true Jamaican Friday night music fest.  We had very loud music from the neighborhood all night long until after 4:00 in the morning!  I don’t know how we got any sleep at all but we all seemed to.

The next day we went downtown to the market to buy Bob another white shirt (this is the second one we have purchased in Ocho Rios because he has forgotten his) and to show Derek the church.  We had called Pres Lester to see if we could come visit him so Derek could see the result of our roofing project and he was very gracious about it.  We arranged to meet later but when we went to see the chapel we discovered the door unlocked and Pres Lester and Peter in there doing the weekly cleaning so we all chipped in and were finished in about half an hour.  (The heat made it feel more like 2 hours!) We made arrangements with him and left to buy some groceries for our Sunday travel the next day.  (we looked at every isle of the store—lingering at the freezer displays—because we were trying to cool off!) 

We took our groceries back to our rooms and then went snorkeling for an hour or so.  The water was slightly rough so the swimming was a little more tiring and we did not end up going out as far as the Sandals Boat had let their guests out at.  So we saw some yellow striped fish and some blue fish and has a nice swim.  We rested for a while then met Pres Lester and Peter and drove them out to their house.  As we were leaving the store where he had us stop to get feed for his chickens we had the closest call we have had so far of getting hit.  I almost pulled out right in front of an oncoming car.  We showed Derek the roof project and Pres Lester’s plants and his chickens and then said good-bye and went back down the mountain.  We did not stay long because it was getting dark and I did not want to drive that road in the dark.

We had dinner at Mamma Marley’s.  It is a famous Jamaica  restaurant and it turned out to be very good.  Derek had Aikee and Salt Fish which is one of the very traditional dishes here.  I have eaten it also—home made, but it is a little too fishy for my taste.  I pretty much stick with my jerk Chicken and rice and peas.  We enjoyed the meal.

Sunday we were off early to Montego Bay where we went to church and Derek got to experience the Jamaican Sunday School class where people talk out whenever they want and one woman told a man to be quiet because she was not through talking, and even the branch president told her to sit down and let the teacher teach and she told him basically to keep quiet as well.  It was really funny—no animosity—just an interesting cultural habit we could never get used to!

We did out Employment Fireside during the third hour and it went very well—we felt good about the reception as well as our presentation.  I heard the branch president calling out to others as we were all stacking the chairs—“I am mentoring one already and might do another who else wants to be a mentor?”  That was one of the things we were teaching.  He is a very idiosyncratic man and very likable.  We drove straight home from MoBay.—lots of driving that day so we were tired.

Monday we got up and headed up Blue mountain following our GPS up to Holy Well.  We did not feel confident about our direction so we asked a couple of people and they said we were right but after about a mile on very rough, unmaintained roads, that were like no road at all we decided it might be best to turn around and go back.  We missed the nice little hike at the top but we got to see the beautiful scenery so it was not a total loss.  We stopped and talked to a lady on the way down and she said we were going to Holy Well but there is a better way to get there.  It would have meant going clear to the bottom and starting again so we called it good.  

 View of Kingston from high up in the Blue Mountains--the tallest in Jamaica.

We decided to go to Devon House park and walk around.  Somehow we ended up taking a tour of the Devon House, which was really lovely and enjoyable.  I feared I had forced Derek but he assured us he likes that sort of thing.  We got certificates for ice cream (famous Devon House ice cream) with our tour so rather than get ice cream right away we decided to eat at the Grog Restaurant there next to the house—as a matter of fact it looks like it could have been the carriage house.  This ended up being our favorite meal all week.  Derek had Aikee and Salt Fish again and I had Curry Chicken stuffed with Callaloo which is sort of like Jamaican spinach, and Bob had Jerk Pork which he said was wonderful on a bed of Callaloo which he also loved.  Then we went and had our ice cream.

I should have at least gotten a picture of the actual Devon House because it is so beautiful but these are a couple of things on display.  This is a baby bottle--pour milk in the big hole and baby drinks out of the small hole on top.

 This is a prayer chair.  It is about 14 inches high for kneeling and has a tall back with arm rests for resting one's elbows while praying.

 We ate outside in the shade.

We finished off our day by walking down to the Emancipation Park which is about half a mile from our house.  It is not the best walk to the park but the walk around the park is nice and there were lots of people there enjoying all the pleasures of a beautiful afternoon in a nice park.  As we were walking a young man came up and I could see he was going to talk to us and I vaguely recognized him but he called me by name and shook my hand and reminded me of his name which thankfully I remembered.  We have met him at institute class and he told us he just got baptized.  He was there helping to set up for an event that was to take place the next day.  We walked back home and made a light supper of the pastries we had purchased at Devon House Bakery.

This is the sort of bold but humble sculpture/fountain at the entrance of Emancipation Park.  Slaves were emancipated in 1838 in Jamaica and are a very large and important part of Jamaican history and culture.

 Part of the beautiful grounds of Emancipation Park.

Tuesday Derek was to fly out so we arranged with Tracy Anderson, the wheelchair coordinator for the church here, to meet us and take us to one of the local hospitals.  She was great.  I am so glad she came even though she had to take the bus and taxi from Portmore.  She said we could have done it on our own but it was so much better with a local to sort of shepherd us.  Actually Bob and I sat and waited while Derek and Tracy toured the hospital.  I was very pleased (and proud) that Derek was very complimentary of the hospital and not at all distracted by the things that may not have been standard at home.  

We came home and cooled off for a few minutes and got him off to the airport by 12:30.  I hated to see him go.  But I also realize we will be leaving ourselves in exactly nine weeks.  Tuesday evening Bob’s computer started acting very badly and at about the same time my iPad also started going crazy.  So Bob called Pres Lue, who has worked on his computer before and asked when he could look at it—we ended up driving to Spanish Town to take it to the Pearsons who will get it to Pres Lue.  We also went to the Apple store but of course the iPad would not show them the problem so I ended up bringing it home to watch myself rather than leaving it there for them to check every once in a while.  It did start acting up again this evening so I will take it in again in the morning.

Today we went to the mission office to give Murdocks back their truck and ended up having a meeting with Pres Britton on several new PEF loan applications.  We left there and went out to Sovereign Mall to get some more card-stock as we still have people who want me to make mini resumes for them.  As we got out of the Wrights car Bob noticed the back tire was almost flat so we drove out the other end of the parking lot to a shop we have gone to before and had a screw pulled out and plugged for $650+tip and then drove back into the parking lot to get our paper. 

A couple of unrelated pictures of interest:

 I did not take this picture but I love it.  Elder Wright took it of Patchrina Hudson, a young woman in the Junction Branch opening her mission call.  They actually drove up and delivered it to her.  Her family home has no electricity, they are fairly new converts, she is 19 and the Relief Society President in the Branch.  She reports to the DR MTC on Aug 13.  A great young woman.

This is Sean.  He works on the street.  He is a Little Person who uses crutches to get around.  He might be 4 feet tall at the top of his cap.  We have made friends with him as we wait at the stop light where he works.  He is a handsome young man who is very appreciative of what help we can give him, he even told us he loves us.  I am giving him a copy of this picture along with one of Bob and me and a couple of Church pictures. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

On the Starting Line With Our New, Anxious, Energetic, Mission President

Thursday 11 July 2013

It has been ages since I wrote and lots has happened.  Last week Bob got his braces off and a permanent retainer placed on the back of his teeth.  They look really nice and they should be pretty secure against breaking again.  The orthodontist took 2 hours and then we went to get his teeth cleaned and that took another 2 hours.—I got lots of reading done.  We thought we were going to go back to the orthodontist but we didn’t because they put the retainer on before the cleaning.  Anyway all that is taken care of now.

Monday we met with Pres Royce Britton, the new Institute Director.  We have met with him a few times about PEF and we of course know him pretty well as he is one of the Branch Presidents we have been most impressed with since we got here.  He is a very young man and looks even younger but he is very capable.  Not as high energy and as intense as Pres Brown, much more quiet and laid back but very efficient.  We enjoy working with him.  

President Royce Britton The new Institute Director

President Kevin Brown in his new Mission President office.

When we walked into the office Pres Brown was sitting at his new desk.  He immediately came and gave us both big hugs.  He told us a little of his visit in Provo and SLC, especially his visit with Marie.  He told me very intently “Tell her my heart is set on her coming to Jamaica as our Office missionaries.”  I told him I doubted it could happen because of two things:  heat and dogs.  He was not dissuaded!  

I was standing at Sister Evans desk a few minutes later and he came out and spoke to her but put his arm around me.  I don’t know exactly what I said but I called him Darlin’.  Then quickly corrected myself and said I mean Pres Brown.  He looked at me intently and said don’t ever stop calling me Darlin’.  I don’t ever remember doing it before but I guess I won’t stop now.  He sort of thinks of me as a mother-type.

I sent out an email to all the senior couples suggesting we might do something for the 4th.  Boy do I miss Sister Larsen!  I don’t know if she had to go through what we did but we ended up with about 14 emails before it all got sorted out and we ended up at a nice place for dinner.  Several people wanted to go where the Patriarch Smiths had once suggested as one of the nicest places in Jamaica.  So Sister Pearson found it on line and had some sort of directions and we headed out in 3 cars—up Stony Hill.  (This is the hill Bob and I have been lost on twice before.)  Well we all got lost again!  Those roads are steep, windy, rough and narrow! But the mountain scenery is beautiful!  So after turning around and asking several people along the way we found it.  It is attached to a sort of botanical garden on a nice little river in the jungle.  It really was a lovely place to eat and the food was good as well.  It was definitely a leisurely dining experience.  I brought a red, white, and blue cake I found at Pricesmart so the dining staff cut and served it for us and that was nice.   

 Our 4th of July dinner out.

We did have to drive home in the dark down off the mountain but it wasn’t really bad.  I have become the designated driver.  It seems like we take a carload almost every time we do anything now.  I don’t really mind.  All the other sisters think I am super woman because I can drive these roads and don’t mind.
Saturday we spent most of the day in Spanish Town again with the Employment Specialists.  We had 9 people there that day!  Some were branch employment specialists and some were assistants.  I thought it was Bob’s idea but he said it was Sister Banhan’s for each employment specialist to get her/himself an assistant or two.  So several of them have done that already!  Just asked their friends or someone they thought would be a good helper to be their assistant employment specialist.  It really is great to have so many people now working on employment here in Jamaica when there were none at all 6 months after we arrived here.  And they are really enthusiastic. Most of them asked their branch president and were able to speak in Sacrament meeting a couple of weeks ago.  This week we were learning how to help people with self employment—a very interesting subject.  

 Sandra Moodie over on the far left teaching our self-employment workshop.

Sunday we did our second employment fireside.  This one really went well.  It was in Old Harbour which is a relatively small branch.  Since the Priesthood/Relief Society time was to be taken up with the Mission President’s Seminar we were given the Sunday School time to give our presentation so the whole branch was there.  It really went well, there was a good spirit and we felt people really heard our message—two messages really. The first part is dedicated to teaching 10 commandments for outstanding LDS employees, i.e. show up every day--be on time every day, take supervision positively, be healthy so you don’t miss work, be cooperative with employer and co-workers, honesty and integrity are a requirement! Etc.  Pretty basic things.  We have set these in a PowerPoint featuring a lot of the nature pictures I have taken around the island. The last few slides I talk about Mentoring.  That is encouraging those who are employed to act as a Mentor for someone who is seeking employment.  We would love it if this would take place in 2-3 incidents in a branch.  We will see.  People seem to agree with the idea but they are not very used to being intimate with each other as branch members.  For example, they do not go into each other’s homes. --Kind of hard to do home teaching and visiting teaching and not go into the homes.  Trust is a huge issue.  

This Monday we had our first PEF meeting with Pres Brown as the Chairman and Pres Britton as the Institute Director.  It was a high energy meeting and we did pretty well getting through the agenda.  The Wrights had to leave for about half an hour in the middle because the doctor called and that was the only time he could see Sister Wright.  She fell a couple of weeks ago and broke her shoulder.  So she is in a confinement sling.  It was good they went in to see the doctor as she has been taking her arm out to rest it sometimes and he did not want her to do that because of the stress it put on her shoulder.  So anyway we kept going—interruptions are not unusual for meetings around here.

While they were gone Pres Brown mentioned something he heard from the mission department in regards to Jamaica being a very dangerous place to serve so senior couples are afraid to come here.  We were upset that that reputation should be perpetuated in such an official way.  Pres Brown assigned us to do a survey of senior missionaries and see if we could help dispel that image. 

That evening we went to the Mission Home to have our first Senior Couples/Brown Family FHE.  It was very nice.  Pres Brown could not sit down or even stand without his two littlest ones climbing all over him.  He gave a very short lesson on the degrees of glory and what we have to do to be with Heavenly Father again.  The little 4 year old, Jared gave some really cute answers and Dad handled them well.  The kids then went into the other room while Pres Brown laid out a very specific project for his senior missionaries!  His goal and determination is that every eligible young person in Jamaica will serve a mission.  He is not just thinking of missionary work but he is thinking of building the Church in Jamaica and lifting the whole country in the process!  He wants every young member between the ages of 17-23 identified and tracked in his/her progress towards serving a mission.  It really is amazing to think what could happen if that many young people had that opportunity and were well prepared and actually served.  He wants 300 young people prepared to serve.  He really is thinking big because he is already dealing with the issues and stresses of the increased number of missionaries in Jamaica.  But he is prepared and excited for it!  You can feel the energy just emanating from him—and Sister Brown is obviously his closest counselor on these issues at this time. 

Getting ready for Family Home Evening.  
Jared, Pres Brown, Leah, and Gabrielle.

 Jared giving the opening prayer.

Gabbie and Sister Brown listening to the lesson.

Jonathan listening to the lesson.

Jared listening to the lesson.

Leah and Daddy after the lesson.


 Jared prepared for the closing prayer.

So each senior couple was assigned from 1-3 branches to work with.  We did not get an assignment and I asked him about it and he said he thought we might be too busy with our PEF and Employment but I told him we had time during the week so he assigned us to Old Harbour.  That is really the best assignment as the new Branch President is a young man we met the first week or so we were here.  He was just waiting for his year anniversary as a member of the Church so he and his fiancĂ© could go to the temple to be sealed.  That was about 7-8 months ago.  He was called as a counselor to the Branch President soon after they returned from their temple trip.  And a month ago he was called as the Branch President.  We have been in that branch a couple of times and seen his outstanding potential so we are very happy to be working with him.  His wife is the RS president. –two 20-Somethings leading the branch!

The other thing Pres Brown had to lay on senior couples on Monday night was that we have to help with transfers—there are 15 new missionaries coming in this month.  Some of the missionaries who came in 6 weeks ago have to be trainers starting this transfer because there are not enough experienced missionaries to be trainers for all the new missionaries.  So there will be a big training for trainers in Spanish Town next Wednesday.  Some of the senior missionaries have to travel to some of the distant towns to pick up missionaries and bring them to the training and then take the new missionaries back to that location.  For example the Murdocks have to drive 2 hours up over the mountains to Port Antonio to pick up and bring back and then go again to take the new missionaries back up there.  They will stay up there rather than try to drive home again after dark.  

We have a pretty easy assignment except that Derek arrives that day.  So we will pick Derek up at the airport come back into town get the Kingston elders and their luggage, drive to Portmore about 20-30 minutes away and pick up 2 more elders and luggage and get them to Spanish Town by 1:00.  I think we will be a little late but I think Derek will enjoy being in the missionaries meetings and maybe (hopefully) won’t mind being crammed into the back seat of our car with 4 other young men and luggage.  We do the best we can do.

I am very excited about having Derek here—we will spend a little time up in Ocho Rios and take him to Montego Bay branch with us when we do our next employment fireside.

Last evening we had a nice dinner at the Langley’s in honor of the Browns.  I thought there might have been more local leaders there but it was the district President and his wife (the Medleys), the Singhs (Constant Spring branch president) the McPhersons, he is a counselor to the district president and she is district RS President, (Sister Langely is the district YW president).  A couple of women came a little later but we senior missionaries made up the rest of the party.  It was a lovely evening and the Langley’s home is really lovely.  We had a little devotional at the beginning of the evening including a lesson on following leaders by the Singh family, and a song by 4 of the ladies.  Then Sister Brown bore her testimony and then Pres Brown.  He shared a little about their experience in Utah.  He said Elder Perry set him apart and then Elder Zwick set Sister Brown apart as a missionary and wife of the President.  He and Elder Perry participated in her setting apart and Pres Brown said when they took their hands off her head Elder Perry turned to him and said, “You have a powerful wife.”  That really touched and impressed Pres Brown.  He has told me many times how much he loves and admires his wife but this was the frosting on the cake.  He bore a beautiful testimony about their call and their goals.  He is going to be a very strong and influential leader and mission president.

This is a cool picture I took of the Brown's reflection in the mirror.  

 Browns, Evans, Murdocks, and Sister Pearson at the beginning of the devotional before we had dinner.