Saturday, January 29, 2011

Finally, a word from Jamaica

Signs of the Times  are, at this point, cautionary.  Please decide for yourself which one of these should be your priority and take heed.  DON'T EVER SAY YOU HAVEN'T BEEN WARNED.


We have, this month, had some rather extraordinary experiences.  On the 10th we gave our PEF Fireside to the senior couples that meet for Family Home Evening (that, actually, was NOT extraordinary) but it gave the others to know that we do more than just drive between Mandeville and Kingston.  That day the Schaefermeyers, Flakes, Herberts and us drove down to Port Royal, found a water taxi - a very old boat with a skilled driver -and motored out into the bay to a tiny island called Lime Cay.

We had a wonderful day playing in the water, snorkeling, picnicing and just visiting and having fun.  By the time our boatman came back for us there was a fair wind blowing causing 4 - 6 foot swells.  He was very skilled but we did softly sing "Master, the Tempest Is Raging" .  I loved every minute.  I wish the Keep Lime Cay clean sign had been posted right next to the old , rusty refrigerator/boat floating on the edge of the beach. 

A couple of days later the Schaifermeyers came to stay with us and invited us to go out with them to the Junction area to inspect several locations where people had applied to have a Food Initiative project.  Let me quickly explain the Food Initiative.  The Church always (until now) partners with other agencies (Salvation Army, Catholic Services, Food For the Poor, etc) to do humanitarian services.   This project in Jamaica has been designed to help and encourage   people to provide for themselves.  They can choose between raising gardens (up to a quarter acre), pigs, chickens, goats or bees.  They must have the space necessary,  take a government training course for their particular project, agree to help others with their projects when needed and learn how to make their project self-sustaining.  It is a huge undertaking, but could reap huge rewards for those who participate and, in the end, for millions of people around the world if it is successful.  One does not have to be a church member to participate and the church furnished whatever is needed to get started except the land. 

We were honored to go and met some very nice people who are anxious to get started.  We also met a lovely donkey and some hours old baby goats.  At one point I had the feeling that we might be the first white people to have gone to that particular location.  Some of the roads were just trails but Elder S. is a fearless navigator.  It is an amazing undertaking and we are thrilled to be watching it unfold.  Jack was soooo hoping to be able to build some chicken coops, but our involvement will be (we think) more of doing some checking and encouraging.  Whatever the Schaifermeyers ask us to do.

The last amazing event was the visit of our friends, Diane and Stan Brewer.  On our way to the airport in Montego Bay our supervisor, Bro. Brown, called to confer with Jack and started the conversation by apologizing for interrupting our "vacation".  He is a darling and he and our boss in the DR encourage us to take time to experience the island with whoever comes to visit us.  We had several relaxing days on the beach in Negril with beautiful sunsets, a trip down to Treasure Beach for pizza and a little shell gathering, a trip into Spanish Town for the memorial service for Elder Walker and then into Kingston for lunch with Kevin Brown and the sister missionaries.  We  are grateful for their wonderful friendship and the lift we got from having them here.

Just a word about Elder Walker.  I think I can safely say that as a group - the Jamaican missionaries - we were shocked and so sad about his death, but feel that was Heavenly Father's plan for him.  He was an obedient and effective missionary and well loved and respected by all who knew him.  He was the first person from the Sav Branch to go all the way from primary to missionary.  President Hendricks said he was sure Elder Walker was as surprized as everyone else at this new assignment but also pleased. 

President and Sister Hendricks have been the leaders we needed at a time such as this and we are so grateful.  We are grateful for our testimonies and for your love.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy New Year

Since it seems we are always addressing the challenges in Jamaica I wanted to give a positive report.  Today is Saturday January 8th and we have just returned from our monthly visit to seminary and institute classses in two of our assigned branches.  On Thursday evening we had our inservice training meeting in Savannah La Mar and the teachers from Negril branch came over to meet with us.  Then we stayed Friday night in Negril and spent Saturday morning walking on the beach (for those of you in foggy, smoggy, cold Utah)  Oftentimes as one looks at what impact we are actually making is gets discouraging as it is hard to measure.  However, on Friday night I visited the seminary class in Montego Bay.  When Fran and I arrived on our mission last May we were assigned 7 branches to be involved with the seminary and institute program. Four branches did not have seminary and one branch did not have institute.   Montego Bay was one of the branches without a seminary class and it was very rewarding and spiritually uplifting to be among eight students in attendance out of the eleven registered.  It was fun to hear them do their scripture mastery repeating by memory several key scriptures.  Their teacher really cares for them and they can tell it.  After class I told Fran how happy I was that we were able to make a difference by getting that class started. What a shame it would have been for those youth to be missing out on this experience.   Neighborhood update:  I am still walking 5 mornings a week and have placed another three Books of Mormon and am hopeful that I will soon be able to get the missionaries an apointment with at least one family.  Had a nice discussion with a Jehovah's Witness this past week  and told her to pray about our discussion and come back and I would have a Book of Mormon for her.  Our first visitiors Stan and Diane Brewer are coming the 20th and we are very excited about their visit.  We are happy to serve here and miss all of you.  Keep the pictures and video's coming.    Jack.
P S Thanks for the Christmas cards, pictures etc.