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 fiancé 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.