Thanksgiving 2012

This week was another active one. We went to the U.S. Embassy and meet with a Navy Officer and started making plans for the U.S.N.S Comfort a medical ship that will be coming to Jamaica and helping people with medical problems. This project is going to be lots of work over the next several months. No pictures here we were searched and they took all electronic things at the gate.
We visited the University of The West indies Hospital’s special ward for people with aids no one lives here it is a treatment and counseling center. The Church donated some Hygiene kits (soap, towel, tooth brush, tooth paste, comb). The kits are needed as many of these people are no longer welcome in their homes and have to make do the best they can. The Hygiene Kits will be given out at Christmas as Christmas presents. Think about this, if we spent all day we can’t even begin to count all of our blessing.
We visit a new Branch or Branches ever week this week we visited with Linstead, May Pen, and Mandeville. See if the kids can find them on a map. We had meetings with District President Piper (like our Stake President), and two Branch Presidents (like our Bishops). We picked up District President Piper in May Pen then he rode with us to Mandeville. He is a great young man when he returned home from his Jamaican Mission in 2005 they made him Branch President, Counselor to the District President , Branch President again, and now District President. He spent the rest of the day with us while we were meeting with the Branch President and Branch Welfare Specialist, He was interviewing and having PPI with Priesthood Brethren. I thought it kind of strange that he spent the whole day with us because I know how busy Branch Presidents are. So you know me, I asked. The answer was so simple I would never have guessed. President Piper did not have a car (many people here do not have cars) so when we offered to take him, he was excited for the opportunity. Amazingly middle class in Jamaica is defined as a person who has cell phone and a car and there only a few. Now that is not to say there are not many cars on the road! You have to remember there are over 1 million people here in Kingston. Most who buy a car can’t afford to put fuel in it, but they have one, and that makes them middle class. So I asked him how he can be a District President of such a large area without a car. He said many people have asked him the same question, a lot of times he rides his bike some times he takes a taxi but mostly the Lord provides. His faith is great!
School kids
Also we met a Bro Gomez from Columbia. He came to Jamaica to teach a Genealogy Class. He was surprised to learn that most people here do not know who their Grandparents are. We just accidentally ran into Bro Gomez while at the quilting class. He said he needed a ride to May Pen to teach there last Sunday. We were going there on our way to Mandeville so he went with us. After we dropped off Pres. Piper we brought Bro Gomez back to our apartment and fed him dinner. Then took him to his hotel. We had to get up at 4:30 this morning to take him to the airport for his flight back home. He had already been to Port a Rico, Dominican Republic and Brazil so he was glad to be heading home. He is a Faithful Brother.
We had Thanksgiving with the other Senior Couples. Everyone provided a dish so we had plenty and enough for everyone to take a plate home from the leftovers. It was great to spend time with them. Sister Murdock also helped Sister Larsen with a quilting class. Because not very many have sewing machines. We did a small wall hanging that they hand stitched together. It was unusual for her to see the older sisters just learning to thread a needle. We are so fortunate in all the little things we take for granted.

Ok picture time Basic School children, and Thanksgiving dinner at the Mission Office with the other Senior Missionaries

November 19, 2012

Well another week has come and gone. Tomorrow we will have been in Jamaica for 1 whole month! it seems hard to believe that time is moving along at its fast pace..
This week we had a family home evening with the other senior couples with the Mission President and his sweet wife. He had been to a Mission Presidents Seminar mid October and he reported on what they discussed there. He said that every speaker spoke of different things but the underling thought that was expressed was that “The Lord is Hastening his Work”(D&C 88:73). The time is growing short for our world. We are at a turning point now and we must rise up to the challenge the Lord gives us or be left behind (read all of D&C section 88 to get the full picture). It was not a frightening thing to hear but exciting! Every time we get to spend time with this great President, he inspires us to try harder, do better, be more than we are. He does it with scriptures and love. What a spiritual giant.
Big Gun
We also met with our Wheelchair Monitor in Spanish Town. Her name is Remounah Meddows-Anderson but her Pet Name is Tracy. Here if you don’t care for your name or someone thinks you look like a different name you can pick a “pet name”. Remounah’s pet name is Tracy. We took her with us and went to visit “Food for the Poor”. They are an organization we work with here to help distribute the wheelchairs we get shipped in for the disabled. She is a delightful young lady with an infectious smile and a wonderful laugh. She has worked with Food for the Poor (FFP) for several years now and helped us get acquainted with the people in charge there. It really helps make the transition between missionaries if you have someone who knows the people already introduce you to the “new set of missionaries”. We ended up going back to Spanish Town to get some hygiene and school kits to help out some of the health centers and shelters for the single mothers. We are also working on a project to get some tables and chairs at a Basic School here. The school is for children ages 2-5. It is mostly unemployed single moms who take their children there. The children were so adorable. One little one looked at me and said “your white!” I looked at her and said “your’re brown and it is a beautiful color!” She just smiled so big and started to giggle.
Fort Bow
The attached pictures are from our trip to Port Royal, the Fort there has two points the were made to look like a bow of a ship. When the enemy came in to the harbor they saw what looked like the bow of an other ship so they did not expect a Fort with a 120 cannons. Port Royal was a pirate city and they bragged that it was the wickedest city in the world. Then along came an earthquake that sank the city to the bottom of the sea. Now they are the wettest city in the world. The tilted house happened as part of the earthquake. Some of the cannon emplacements dropped 20’.
The Elders at Port Royal
Fort Layout
Us at Port Royal

Tilted House
Fisherman boat

November 11, 2012

Dear Family and Friends
Life is good here I Jamaica!! We have been busy as usual. We spent a lot of time on the computer and getting things organized the way we are used to doing things. There is so much to learn about how the church wants the forms filled out for our projects. We have been going through the past paper work to get a better understanding of this and to get a feel for what has been happening here. We have some pretty big shoes to fill. the Shafermeyers and the Whiteheads who preceded us were very active, organized and talented. They had a great love of the people here and the members remember them with great love. The Shafermeyers are now on another mission in SLC putting together a history of Humanitarian Missions efforts around the world. The Whiteheads just left Jamaica and I am sure they are missing life here but glad to be home at the same time. That is the way it is for missionaries. They all love where they are and love home too. I know we feel the same being here. I guess the bet of both worlds would be to have your family go with you on a mission!! A senior mission for sure is a fantastic thing! There are challenges but that is where you grow. Without growth you are not progressing towards your Father in Heaven...
We Have traveled some this week. We made a trip to Spanish Town. It is about 40 miles away but it takes an hour if there is light traffic. We visited a 5 acre farm project. It was a Branch project that is not functioning as well as they hoped for. There is still one Brother who is farming his section. It is planted with Sorrel and Ginger Root. Sorrel is a plant they make into a drink and spice it with the ginger root. It is pretty good tasting. The ginger gives it a real kick. They grow the plant, pick the blossom, boil it with some sugar and ginger. It is said to be beneficial to the heart. You see bill boards here advertising the Sorrel Drink.
We also went to the far Eastern end of the Island to visit a blind member there. We took several picture along the way, The Blue Mountains, The Elders and us with the blind member, the sea, a sugar cane field, and a water fall. The other picture is of the blind members stove he puts charcoal in the bottom and a pan on top to cook all his meals. ( I know not to good of an idea indoors but that is what he has). He has a propane cook stove but someone keeps stealing his gas one time while he was in the house, he ask who was their but they never answered. When he looked the gas was gone. He has had other things stolen while he is in the house. Since he is blind can’t identify anyone. He has had some roof damage from Hurricane Sandy. He will need to have some new Zinc placed on his roof along with new trusses. Of course the trusses he has are 1x1’s. They don’t have to worry about snow loads on their roofs here! Our Mission President Hendricks asked us to see if he would move to an area that is not so isolated hopefully around family so they can look after him. We are all concerned that his home not be a safe place for him anymore. He has 10 children but only one is a member. He helps when he can but lives 3 hours away. Anyway our member still wants to stay in his own home. He knows his neighbors and how to get around the neighborhood. He only has to walk a block to get his water and a couple of block the other way to get food. He was down to less then a gallon of water when we got there so we had young elders (we took with us from Yallahs) haul 25 gallons for him. He is a special man. he is about 65 years old and can still do push ups. He can raise his whole body off the ground and clap his hands while doing them. Challenge to all the young people!!! Can you do that?? He lives on $4000 Jamaican dollars a month ( that’s about $45 US dollars 1 US dollar = 89 Jamaica dollars). One of the Missionaries we had with us is from Jamaica and when I said I did not see how he could even by food for that much, he replied simply, if you stick to the basics rice and beans that’s enough. Every day this place makes me count my blessings.
As usual we are doing well. We are adjusting to the humidity. The heat is not so much the problem, but combined with the humidity it is not what we are used to. Dad is doing better than I am. I sit either by the air conditioner or by the fan. The Lord has blessed us many times with our lives here. We are so fortunate to have the gospel in our lives

cooking stove
Sea East of Morant Bay
Blue Mountain

Sugar Cane

November 4, 2012

We have been training with Bennie Lilly the Area Welfare Manager from Dominican Republic. He flew here and and has been training us everyday. We did pull him away from training to go to Spanish Town to deliver chicken feed called crumble. Crumble is fed to Broiler Chickens which are raised for food. These chickens are bred for meat and they have very large breast meat, so big the can not walk very good because they tip over. Look at the pictures and you can see what I mean. The chickens are part of a food project for member.s They are trained on how to build a chicken coop (many have never used tools before), they are also trained on how to raise the animals (feed and care for them), and how to market and manage their business. It sounds easy but it is a hard concept for them to save money so they can buy more chickens and more feed. They have so little money they want to use what they get from selling chickens to buy food for their family. Most have a good grasp of the project and are on their second or third batch of chickens (which they bought themselves) some have even expanded their pens so they can get and raise more animals.
Spanish Town is about one hour away from our Apartment. Naturally the GPS took us right down town through a street market that was so busy there was no room to even drive down the road. It was full of people buying and selling goods. Many Vendors put their goods (mostly fruit ) on a wooden cart that they push to the market. The carts are about 6 feet long and 3 feet wide with a steering wheel at the back so they can “steer” them down the roads. they are made of 2x4s frames with planks for the bottom bed. When they get to the market the carts become their store. All these carts are parked by the side of the road or in this case in the road so people can buy from the cart. We finally found a side road and were able to continue on to deliver feed to the members. Got to love the GPS! We were able to see a part of town that we wouldn’t have had we taken a more direct route.
The pictures marked Spanish Town Rowenbeech is in a very poor part of town. People live in zink ( corrigated steel ) homes with no electricity and no water but what they carry home. The members were so grateful for the Church’s help they must have thanked us many many times. He saved three jelly coconuts to give to us for helping. They were very proud of their coop and chickens and made sure we went back to see them and take pictures of the chickens. When we were done he went out into the road and stopped traffic so we could leave. Believe me that is no easy feat here. I could see him in the rear view mirror waving and telling us good by until I turned around the corner.
The other pictures marked are of Sister Masters, was a single older lady who was also proud of her chickens and coop. She will be ready to kill her chickens next week. She showed us the tree she would hang the chickens after they were killed. She has a business that will buy all the chickens she can supply.
We had Fast and Testimony meeting at the Constant Springs Branch. It was a wonderful meeting. Pres. Singh had to remind the people to keep their testimonies short and that he would touch them fs they went over 2 minutes. I thought it was pretty funny that he would say that but then the people started to get up. There wasn’t a single time when someone wasn’t waiting for someone else to finish so they could bear their testimony. These people are so sweet and their faith is so simple. Afterward when we were leaving we met Sister Davis. She called us earlier in the week and said that her neighbors who were not members had their house burn down taking the house next to it also. The houses belonged to a mother and her children. 12 people in all. I think the houses were about 12 feet square. Not much room by our standards. Anyway Sister Davis took them all into her house (also about the same size) with her family which consists of about 5 or 6 people. Sister Davis has a HUGE heart. She brought them to church today. She is quite the missionary! We were able to get them some clothing and emergency supplies to help in their crisis. The local Priesthood will take over now and help as best they can with the members helping/serving each other in that neighborhood.
What is wrong with the picture marked Spanish Town City fixing wires ( after hurricane Sandy ) ?
Next week we are on our own and have many new projects to start working on and many new people to meet.
 See you Next Week
Elder Murdock