Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Ten Top Things That Are Driving Me CRAZY

These are in no particular order and any one alone could probably push me over the edge.

1.  Days with no water - This is probably due to my paranoia/obsession on the topic of water.  I have always worried about a water shortage and could be in, on, or under the water 24-7.  It  IS our lifeline - or at least one of them.  The upside is that I have really surprized myself at how adaptable I didn't know I was.  I remember Lowell and Ann Benson telling us about Scott not having water often when he was serving in the Dominican Republic - my thought then was IMPOSSIBLE.  Now I would just say buck up and take your shower with the water stored in your Clorox bottle.  I'm pretty much a pro at that now.

2.  Smoke - Not cigarette smoke.  Almost no one in Jamaica smokes.  The smoke, which comes in many different flavors comes from bonfires - all the time - everywhere.  From huge fires burning sugar cane fields to across the street weed burning (usually when I have hung a fresh batch of laundry out) it really becomes annoying.  There don't seem to be any regulations and it seems to be as integral to Jamaican life as loudspeakers on top of cars and potholes.

3.  Clicking Ceiling Fans - Which Jack doesn't even hear.  It comes and goes, inexplicably, but when it's going you can hear it all the way outside.  One day I was hanging clothes and thought it was the landlady's washing machine banging out of balance.  No, just the ceiling fan in our office.

4.  Black Plastic Bags - Totally irrational, I know, but there you are.  Most stores use them and they are so dreadfully ugly and seem to have been designed to keep whatever you have purchased a big, black secret.

5.  Car Alarms - Put this in the same category as smoke.  OMNIPRESENT   You can't escape them - they are everywhere, all the time.

6.  HUMIDITY - This actually should have been at the TOP of the list and then listed as a subtitle line to every other listing.  It makes anything that is on the floor stick to it, it makes you stick to yourself, it makes your clothes wet just from sitting on the sofa, it makes your hair curley or straight - naturally opposite of what you want it to be, it grows mold on Jack's suit and makes closed cupboards and drawers stink, it makes all fruits and vegetables mildew and/or rot.  I hate to admit it, but it also makes your skin soft. Drat!!

7.  Rust - Our washer spews rust - mainly on nice white shirts and blouses, but has also generously peppered our best white sheets and pillow cases.  The white things can be soaked with lemon juice and put in the sun to dry which does a fairly good job of erasing the rust but I'm afraid to try that on the colored clothes because I think it will bleach out the color.  The landlady has committed to do something about it - we just don't know what or when.

8.  Microscopic black bugs - These breed and grow in thin air and then congregate on counters and walls pretty much everywhere in your house.  Usually they are enmasse but on my desk they race around one at a time which makes them harder to catch.  They are about the size of this dot . and move about in crazy circles at the speed of light.  The most maddening part is when they are on your arms or hands - especially when you are fixing food

9.  Cheap, Broken Umbrellas - On our first night in Mandeville we were in the drugstore picking up some essentials and saw these perfect umbrellas - perfect size, automatic pop-up, nice wooden handles, good price.  They lasted not quite four months.  The real tragedy here is we can find huge beach size, or tiny pocket size but nothing that will guarantee to disintegrate in less than four months. I defy you to make some sense of that.

10.  Waiting - Right now for a wonderful talk that Elaine Dalton gave at the churchwide CES training seminar a couple of weeks ago.  Our CES Co-ordinator for Jamaica, Kevin Brown, wanted to show it to our Seminary and Institute leaders at our island wide training meeting this Saturday and then have me lead a discussion on how we can use her message in S&I classes.  We check the internet two and three times a day but it is not yet available.  So we'll see what we can pull out of the hat at this late date.  Yagottaloveit.

To counter this rant and outweigh my negative vibes are the people we deal with almost every day.  Our wonderful mission president and his darling wife - The incomparable Kevin Brown, our boss, who is
possibly  the coolest person in Jamaica - Our really boss, Kent Rappleye, who is the coolest person in the Caribbean ,always so graciously complementary- Our friends, the other senior couples in the mission - The dedicated elders and sisters who keep us young - this is an example:  Last night we were driving home from Kingston with three elders.  Elder Mackey, who has been out about a month, told us he had decided to adjust very quickly to Jamaica so that he would have more missionary time.  Jamaican neighbors and strangers who smile, help, respond, joke, offer you a guinep or a pass into the traffic.

Our testimonies, our love for each other and all of you.  Our gratitude for all the Lord has blesssed us with not the least of which is your love for us and your wonderful support.  Thank you for all you are and are doing to make this mission experience possible.  We are trying to make you proud of us.  Love, Frannie

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Neighborhood update 2

Just reviewed the blog and discovered it has been  a month since I reported on the neighboorhood walks. In the past month I have walked several times with James Chambers but only a couple times with Caspian Burton. When I met Caspain he said he and his wife Darcea were friends with a missionary couple sometime ago.  I asked our landlady who that couple was and she said the Srtiebels from Canada. Jackie (our landlady) gave me their email address and I contacted them and told that I had served my mission in Canada and was looking for any information about the neighbors they knew.  In response they advised that Caspian and Darcea Burton's grandson had been baptized into our church about 5 years ago. I have tried subsequently to get to meet him (Roger Burton) but have not been successful yet - but will as he is in the age group for institute. Another coincidence is that Brother Stribel and I were serving in the Wesrtern Canadian Mission at the same time 1959 & 1960. Small world. 

Now on to others we have become friendly with.  Marlin is a landscaper that lives on the walking route, accross the road I met Janet Ramsey who is Audrey's employer (Audrey is one of the ladies I meet walking to work in the morning that I gave a Book of Mormon to). Mrs Ramsey and I had a nice conversaton as she was working with the flowers in her yard and I found out that she also has a Book of Mormon and has welcomed me to bring Fran up to meet her. In addition have met 3 other families.

A couple weeks ago I saw Elder Heegan (the pentacostal minister) on his front porch. It was Monday morning so I asked him what his sermon was about yesterday.  He reponded it was about the Savior and repentance before the Savior comes again.  I told him we both agreed on the sermon and that some other things needed to happen also, that being the gathering of the ten tribes and the restoration of the church due to apostacy.  I really enjoy talking with him as he is such a genteel spirit.  Then on last Monday he was out in the yard so I stopped and visited again and told him about the Book of Mormon that it is a history of the peoples in north and south America fromm 600 BC to 400 AD. I also told him that the Savior had visited those people after his resurrection and acension and it contained the record of that event, to which he replied 'Oh it is another recored of Jesus Christ" - to which I affirmed him that he was correct.  He has agreed to accept a copy of the Book of Mormon and I will be delivering that this coming week.

 Then as luck would have it I met Mr Wilson out fixing his driveway gate.  That came about as he had his 4 passenger golf cart parked there and I suggested we should be playing golf instead of him working on his gate.  We talked for a few minutes and he said he is a member of the Manchester Club and we would go together. He is not going to be available uttil the week of the 23rd  so we will go then and I am sure I will meet more people to talk about the gospel then. About a month ago I did go to the Manchester Club which is the golf course in Mandeville. It was built in 1865 and has been in contiuous operation since.  Part of the rock wall that borders the road is still in tact.  Our chapel property actually borders the golf course.  Since it is a private course I went to ask if I could play there or not.  I met Janice who manages the counter and she said yes I could come as a guest.  I got the prices for green fees, club rental from her, and she also advised I would need a caddy and gave me the price for him. Caddy fees one thousand dollars Jamaican.  That is $11.50 US dollars. Not bad to have someone who knows the course and will carry your clubs for you.  I have played twice since then (first caddy Stanley and second caddy Affiele).  Janice told me she knew our church bordered the course and she likes Christians.  When it came time to pay her she gave me half price of what she had quoted.  A very nice lady.

Just a closing note and that is Fran and I have been busy with the PEF firesides and will have presented it in every branch in Jamaica by the end of September.  The goal was to complete every fireside during the month of July. But then this is Jamaica and No Problem Mon.... Next Saturday we will attend a one day training session for alll seminary and institute teachers in Jamaica and then prepare to assist as the school year begins. On the reconciliation for the Cash Not Applied fund I have now located 40% and hopefully will wrap up that project by the end of September or October.

 Finally I have to report that I am now adjusted to the mission. I did not know what to expect as a Sr missionary couple and the transition to life in Jamaica was tough but I am now settled in and am going to just enjoy the mission experience.  Fran is smarter than me and she adjusted much faster.  Mentally I reflect often on President Hinkley who was always very positive and forward looking in his attitude and then the great talk by Elder Witrhlin "Come what may and love it". We miss and love all of you.   Jack.  a.k.a. Elder Andersen

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday nite after YSA

If you have read the title you probably don't have to read any further.  Friday nite overnite to Saturday with 90 18 to 30 (and there were a few 30 pluses) and you surely have some idea where this might be going.

Let me say that we actually have been working with the YSA Conference Committee since the first part of June.  Our first meeting was in Spanish Town on a Sunday when there was a tropical downpour.  The roofs of the church buildings are metal and when it rains that sound is deafening and of course makes it impossible to communicate in any other language than sign.  We did get started with our plans in spite of having to shout at each other.  The man who was leading the committee and his wife were wonderful to work with and also the young people who were on the committee. 

Jack and I both approached the actual time with MUCH anxiety - that dreaded unknown.  After we fell into bed last nite we each confessed that we were profoundly grateful for the whole experience.  Not the least ingredient of our gratitude was the bald fact that WE DID IT.  With the Lord's help.

Here are some random observations on the experience - not necessarily in order:

These beautiful Jamaican youth are so cheerful and fun loving and at the same time very deeply spiritual.  We had an impromtu testimony meeting because our class leaders had not yet arrived.  The young man sitting next to me asked if they had just announced that we would have an opportunity to bear our testimonies.  I said yes.  He was visably agitated until after the conducting brother had expressed his testimony and then he almost tripped over me to be the first one up.

The attendees spent all of Saturday in Sunday dress - note the white satin shirt and tie and the orange satin shirt.  They love to DRESS and were very concerned about being able to iron their clothes.  We had to promise that we would bring our iron and ironing board.

After everyone was registered we had a brief welcome.  Whoever was conducting asked if there was a volunteer to lead the singing.  This young man lept onto the stage and gave the most dramatic song leading I have ever witnessed.  Later we were chatting and he told me that he had learned to conduct by watching the Motab Choir.   He conducted all the rest of the group singing except the last hymn.  He also recited an obviously funny poem for the talent show but neither one of us really understood - which goes for most of the rest of the numbers on the talent show. 

Neither Jack nor I have made great strides in learning to love most Jamaican food but Jamaican-girl's-boarding-school-cafeteria food certainly didn't put another notch in our belts.  Every meal except breakfast is the obligatory rice and peas (peas are actually red beans) and some kind of meat.  Ours was accompanied by a tablespoon of coleslaw.    The coleslaw is usually very good . No fruits, almost no vegetables. 

Nothing is funner than watching a bunch of Jamaican young adults dancing.  The energy is off the charts.

Elder Hugo Martinez, an Area Authority Seventy attended and couldn't have been funnier, more gracious or have delivered a better message.  We all loved him. 

Ditto for our wonderful mission president, President Hendricks and his darling wife.  He rarely stops teasing but so obviously adores her and she just takes it all in with the cutest smile and a roll of her eyes - and then she will tell us what really happened.  They are a great advertisement for happily-ever-after even when the road is sometimes bumpy.  And so completely down to earth.  We all could listen to Pres. Hendricks speak for hours - it's always a learning feast. 

Our rooms were actually better than we had anticipated.  We were expecting to be on bunkbeds in the dorms with cold gang showers but Jack & I and the Cheesmans had private rooms - I had a matress on the floor, Jack got the bed.  That was determined by who has to get up the most times in the nite.  He won hands down.  The water was still cold but that was OK because it served nicely to bring my body temp down to just above normal - maybe 102 degrees.  The floor was a green plaid contact paper over cement - not matched and very torn but if one has flip-flops it doesn't matter.  The worst maybe was the toilet seat that fell off the edge to one side or the other while the cover rested on your back.  Clean anything is not really a priority.

I suppose every supervised event needs a drama queen.  We had ours.

There was an avocado tree behing our suite.  We picked a couple - hope we won't be poisened for stealing avocados.

The Cheesmans advised us to look for the huge Banyon tree just before we exited the property of the school.  The low "wall " you see is actually the tree root doubling back on itself.  I love tree trunks and roots.

After a VERY busy week we are sooooo looking forward to a week of 99 account and housekeeping.

To our family - hope you have a wonderful week at Alturas.  We love you all.  Fran