Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Normally we would be trying to decide which one of our Kids family’s we were going be with on Christmas morning. We will miss all of our family, and mostly we will miss watching our grand kids opening their presents. That’s the fun part of Christmas. Remember meeting at Grandma Murdock’s and having chili on Christmas day. We should start some new traditions of our own.
Well this is not going to become a tradition that will last but it is the best we can do for now. We had a meeting with the Branch President in Santa Cruz. Well Christmas in a town called Santa something. We did some Humanitarian training. Then we told him we had brought some supplies with us including some toys. Wow, his eyes lit up and he said “Toys”? There you go getting ahead of yourself again, nothing in Jamaica is what we expect. He said they have some young children in his branch and he wanted to start a nursery but they did not have any toys for the nursery. He said he had been praying for some way to get toys for the nursery. We went out to the truck and after I gave him some toys he skipped back into the church and sang “I have some toys, we have a nursery!” over and over again. I love this job.
Looks a little like the Star of David don’t you think? Santa Cruz is a six hour drive away so we stayed at Treasure Beach. A little beach mostly visited by locals. Our room was 50 yards from the beach. We had the beach all to ourselves so we swam and walked on the beach and took pictures. The first time we really got to relax since coming to Jamaica.
We hope that you take a moment to relax and ponder the meaning of Christmas. The ocean has a way of making time stand still for a while. Christmas here is very different. There is not the hustle and bustle of shopping, or advertising here. Most people shop for the day, not the week or month. Having enough to eat today is what they focus on. Members here cook meals for shut-ins or neighbors who are less fortunate than themselves. And that is saying something… Presents under the tree are a luxury most can’t afford. They forward the feeling of Christmas in how they spend their lives in service to their fellow man. May we all seek the Christ Child this Christmas Season.
No I don’t know what it is maybe you can tell me. We didn’t dare touch the spines… but we have seen the delicate shell on the beach, minus the spines of course.
Next we went to the Mission Christmas Party. All the missionaries were there except a few who were on other Islands. We had Christmas Pizza not Grandmas chili but different than what we expected. Poor pizza delivery man was on a motorcycle and had to make four trips.
After dinner President Hendricks handed out presents from home to the young Missionaries. Everyone got a present except one lone Elder. He was looking kind of sad. So I snuck up and told President Hendricks about the young man. They scrambled around and found a box from a far sighted parent of one of the Elders marked “Other Elders”. Inside was several extra presents for “just in case”. Our just in case got three presents. Father Heaven looks out for all his Missionaries.
Have a Merry Christmas
We love you 
Elder and Sister Murdock

December 14, 2012

Dear Family and Friends:
This week our letter is a little sooner than normal. We have planned a trip to Santa Cruz and will not be home till late Sunday night. We thought we should write early instead of late. This past week we have been busy with the Salvation Army. They are one of our Partner Organizations. Their Captain is Derrick Mitchell. He is a really great man who does a lot of work. I think we have talked about him before but he really is a wonderful Champion for the poor people here in Jamaica. We were able to help him with several of the care facilities he helps here.
We have also been back to Spanish Town several times doing inventory at the Container we have most of our Kits and things in. We now have a better knowledge of what is in there and how we will manage the supplies there. We are doing follow ups on the food projects the Schafermeyers and the Whiteheads started. Most of them are completed now but SLC needs a report on how they are doing. It was the first project of this type and size the church has done so they are anxious to see how they are developing. We are happy to report that more that what was initially thought are succeeding and growing. It will be a wonderful program to recommend to the church for further projects in other countries around the world.
We also had some work done on our truck. It was pretty overdue. There is a Senior Couple the Mission President has asked to take charge of keeping the mission fleet up and running smoothly. They are the Larsen’s, another great couple here. When they were asked to do the oil changes on the fleet they had 16 of the 20 vehicles well overdue for service. As of today Elder Larsen said that they have 12 done already. It won’t be long before they will have everyone back on schedule. He is the one who carves the nativities out of Coconut shells and another local wood for the people. They do Member Leadership Service here for the Kingston and Boulevard Branches. They are really busy. She also cuts hair for any of the missionaries who ask.
The pictures are of the University of the West Indies C.H.A.R.E.S Department. It stands for the Community Hospital Aids Research Education and Support. It is located in a small building at the back of the University of West Indies Campus. We helped with Christmas packages which were placed in black plastic bags so no one would know what was it them. So the patients would not peak. The black bags lessened the chance that someone would see what was in them and try to steel them from the patients while they were walking home. The Christmas bags(presents) included a bar of soap, hand towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, and comb which were provided by our Church. They also got a drink, can of meat, some rice, and some tea. This was likely the only thing they will get for Christmas. About sixty people came to the Christmas Party, men, women, and children with AIDS. The C.H.A.R.E.S Department also provided a lunch. We helped serve lunch, District President Medley got in on the tail end of the serving and he said it was vicious! He was teasing of course. Everyone was having a nice time. Everyone wanted more. I don’t think most of them got to eat a good meal very often. There was enough for everyone with some left over, Mom even eat chicken foot soup, with real chicken feet. She insists it was a chicken neck. They were so happy to be served a meal, get a small bag of groceries and a little gift for the children. We did not take pictures of the people there they really don’t want everyone to know they have AIDS. If other people know they have AIDS, they tend to stay away because they are afraid they might get it too.

The last two pictures are of a Doctor Bird (humming bird). That is the official Bird of Jamaica. They are pretty small, about the size of a regular humming bird and pretty rare. When we were taking this picture we were at the Constant Springs Chapel waiting for someone to meet us there. He was sitting in a tree on the property. One of the members came out of the church after finishing a piano lesson (taught by Sis. Larsen) and was surprised to see the small bird. They don’t see them very often. The last picture is of a “Poor Man’s Orchid”. It is the flower on the tree that the Doctor Bird was sitting in.

Monthly Stats

November Humanitarian Report

Elder and Sister Murdock

This was our first month in here in Jamaica.  We spent a lot of time researching past projects and studying Humanitarian guidelines to better understand our role here.  We have also spent a lot of time researching Continuing promise 2013 and what will be needed when the medical ship U.S.N.S. Comfort arrives here in Jamaica.

November’s accomplishments include:

Hurricane Sandy

Met with Assistant to the President missionaries and organized them to find out the status of the missionaries and members.  All missionaries were found to be safe.  Some of the member’s homes sustained minor damage to their roofs, or had trees down that needed to be cleaned up.

We distributed tarps, chain saws.

We met with District President Medley about replacing and updating the emergency supplies used in Hurricane Sandy.  He suggested we get more supplies to be stored around the island at the church buildings.  It was difficult to get to Spanish Town (where our emergency supplies are stored) after the hurricane due to the flooding and most of the damage was here in Kingston.

The final report on the effects of Hurricane Sandy in Jamaica was submitted to Benny Lilly Area Welfare Manager.

Priced emergency supplies needed to replace or update our emergency equipment.

President Hendricks was worried Bro. Graham blind member who lives alone is on the east end of the island and had some damage to his roof from Hurricane Sandy.  He asked us to check up on him.  We found him with the help of the Yallahs missionaries, Elders Campbell and Christensen.  Brother Graham was in good health but he had no food in the house.  When he had food he was cooking on a charcoal stove where he puts charcoal in the bottom, and a pan on top to cook all his meals. He has a propane cook stove but someone keeps stealing his propane. One time while he was in the house when he heard a noise and asked who was there, but they never answered. When he went to cook his dinner, the propane was gone. He has had other things stolen while he is in the house. Since he is blind he can’t identify anyone or even know they are stealing from him. He had some roof damage from Hurricane Sandy. He needs to have some new Zinc placed on his roof along with new trusses which will be expensive to fix. 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 is not 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 since he is blind and knows his home and the area around it he can still do many things for himself.  If he moves, he will be helpless and so he 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 blocks the other way to get food. He was down to less than a gallon of water when we got there so we had young elders haul up 25 gallons of water 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. He lives on $4000 Jamaican dollars a month, that’s about $45 US dollars. One of the Missionaries we had with us is from Jamaica and when I said I did not see how he could by enough food to live on 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.  President Hendricks and the Missionaries will continue to work with Brother Graham.

Continuing Promise 2013 USNS Comfort

Medical ship USNS Comfort Medical Ship will arrive in Jamaica in Aug 2013

We were assigned to be the Local Country Contact people for the US Navy and Jamaican Ministry of Health for this initiative.

Met with Navy Deputy Chief Christopher Charley-Sales about what our role is, and what he needs help with when the USNS Comfort comes into Kingston.  He strongly suggested we not met with the Ministry of Health.  He would make that contact himself. He said he is a “one man show” for CP 2013 and would very much appreciate our help with some of the administrative duties including helping organize the people in lines, taking information from the people etc.

We met with President Piper and Medley about medical opportunities for members through “Continuing Promise 2013”.  We emphasized that our members will not be given preferential treatment from LDS Medical specialists on ship.  The Ministry of Health will select who will have the surgeries done aboard ship.

Food Initiative

We met with the District Presidents Medley and Piper to discuss existing food projects and to see if there is interest in doing more.  If there is, they will be considered for next year.

We made a list of the new requirements for food projects in 2013, and handed out follow up reports to the District and all Branch Presidents in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the food projects.

We met with the Senior Missionaries to have them help the Priesthood follow up on the Food Initiative projects in their areas.  They would take the Welfare specialists or a Priesthood member with them who did not have transportation to visit all the projects in their areas.

We visited the Spanish Town 2nd Branch 5 acre farm garden project with the Branch President Britton to determine the status of the project.  It was determined that the project would be closed.  It was located too far from where the members lived and they couldn’t afford to get there to grow their crops. The container that housed the tools for the project had been sold due to the fact that it had been broken into and the tools that were stolen multiple times. 

We took Feed out to 2 projects in Spanish Town to Masters and LowenBeech to complete their projects. Both are Broiler Chickens. 

Humanitarian Kits

Distributed 25 school kits and 5 hygiene kits to Sister Langley.  For the Walker Home for Children and Single mothers.

Distributed 80 hygiene kits to University of the West Indies Hospital C.H.A.R.E.S (the Aids wing)

Distributed 108 school kits and 40 hygiene kits to Joyce Brownkerr at the Kitson Women and children Shelter They are located in St. Catharine’s Parish


We met with Tracy Meddows Anderson our wheelchair specialist and discussed the wheelchair program and what her needs or suggestions were for the program.   She suggested some changes to the Wheelchair Assessment form.  We needed to make a place to mark if the Wheelchair had solid or inflatable wheels and who was coming to pick up the chair and their phone numbers are. That way Food for the Poor would be able to know where the chair actually went.

We met with Food for the Poor, Susan Moore and her Staff.  FFP is our local partner and wheelchair distributor.  The status of the wheelchair initiative here in Jamaica was discussed.  There are some chairs that are unaccounted for and they will send us an update on them.  It was indicated that they were given to hospitals for their use.

An E-mailed was sent to Brother Spencer in Salt Lake requesting a change on the wheel chair assessment forms to include a solid tires option.

Priesthood Involvement

We started to meet with Priesthood leaders to Discuss Humanitarian needs in their areas.  We also presented a short training in the Humanitarian policies and processes and encouraged them to take a leadership role in humanitarian projects.  In November we met with:

District President Medley and District President Piper

Branch Presidents Britton in Spanish Town 2nd , President Evans in Yallahs, and President Clark in Mandeville. 


President Medley suggested a Dunrobin Basic school Project request for 25 chairs and 2 tables.  Project has been submitted and is pending approval.
Pres Medley gave us a Dunrobin Primary school project for a new computer class room with air conditioners and computers. The Primary school was advised that we do not build buildings but if they can provide the room we will be able to reconsider other aspects of the project.

Missionary Activities

Handed out 2 Books of Mormon

Gave 2 referrals to the Missionaries

Other Activities

Helped Sister Larsen with her quilting Class for the Boulevard Branch Relief Society Activity
Toured Salvation Army’s Havendale Complex.

December 9, 2012

Dear Family ad friends:
The week has come and gone by usual. It is hard to believe it is really December. Here in Jamaica it is still 85 decrees with 70% humidity. I now you are all jealous of our wonderful weather. We have been out and about in Jamaica this week with trips to Spanish Town, Hopeton, Mandeville, Old Harbour, and May Pen. We have been checking up on the Food Projects that were started by the Schafermeyers and Whiteheads who preceded us here on this beautiful Island. Most of the projects are up and running and they are a great blessing the families here. They are providing food and an income for them to improve their living standards. I guess it is true that you can’t imagine the poverty until you see it. Daily we are approached by beggars for money. We offer them some food instead of cash and have only had two people take the food we offered. Most want the money but we can’t give them any. We don’t want to sustain their Gonja (marijuana) habit or their drinking. We do try to help out the local street vendors though. They will walk up and down the lanes of traffic selling their wares. One man has been called “mini Wal-Mart”, he usually has an odd assortment of things to purchase. Anything from bug zappers that look like a tennis racket, to steering wheel covers. Mostly he sells phone cords you plug into your car lighter to recharge your cell phones. These people are very resourceful. They try very hard to make a living any way they can. Also we have the window washers to get you at the major intersections. When the light is red they run up and down the lanes and wash your windows. They usually reach back to the 6th or 7th car before the light turns green again. Even if you say no they will wash and then try to guilt you into paying them anyway. Most are pretty good if you tell them no. But some are persistent. We had one young man who washed our windows last Sunday on our way to Portmore to attend church at the branch there. I told him no and he still washed our windshield. He was really persistent so I rolled down the window and explained to him it was the Sabbath and I could not pay him on the Sabbath and he backed off. On our way back home from church we were again stopped at the same stoplight and he came up again. Only this time he remembered us and made the other window washers leave us alone, explaining it was the Sabbath and we could not pay them. He was so good at getting the others to leave us alone I told him next time we came by I would have him wash our windows and would gladly pay him. He was so happy. He saw our name badges and said he was glad for Jesus in his life. I said I was glad too.
At this time of year our thoughts turn to you, our family and friends....not in a lonesome or “wish we were home” sort of way, but in a way that sends true joy to our souls for the love and support we feel from you. We get only a few letters, but we feel of your love and support daily. We acknowledge the hand of the Lord in all we do. There is not a day that goes by that we don’t feel his influence in our lives. We are so cared for and blessed in all that we do. Right down to finding our way around the island, feeling safe to go places, feeling we should go a certain direction, safety on the roads, which projects to pursue with which people. The friendships we have made here so quickly with the other missionaries has been a great blessing too. They are such wonderful people. Some are on their 6th mission. One Senior Missionary couple ran a 10 K last Saturday. He is 85 years old and she is 73. They are an awesome example of what you can do even though once you put your mid to it. I guess we could be home with the rest of you but where is the challenge in that? The Lord needs Senior Missionaries. They have a wealth of experience in the church that the world is crying for. We urge you to “go and do the things the Lord Commands”...well you know the primary song so I will get off my soap box now. But it is not scary, nor is it hard. It just needs to be done by those who are willing. I’m not saying it is easy either. But nothing worth doing is ever easy. It is just worth doing. I testify to you that it is the right thing for us and I know if you make the choice to serve you will feel the same as we do. We would be no other place than where the good Lord has seen fit to send us. The members here are trying so hard to live the gospel. They are so humble and so thankful for all the gospel has brought into their lives.
Hope you enjoy the pictures we sent this week
Our Love to All
Elder and Sister Murdock
Vicky's Bar
Light house


Well it’s been another busy week in Jamaica here some of the highlights. We visited Havendale Basic school with children ages 3-6. They are requesting some computers from the Church. This a Salvation Army School and we are working with Captain Mitchell. He is a good man dedicated to helping others. His idea for the computers is to let the school children learn basic computer skills during the day, in the afternoon local teenagers well be allowed to use the computers for school work and job searches. Later in the evening a group of senior citizens who volunteer at the Salvation Army will learn Internet, email, and computer skills. Captain Mitchell works full time for the Salvation Army and like us is not paid for his work there. He is given a home at the Salvation Army’s Havendale Compound and a car but has to work a second job to provide for his young family. We took some picture at the school. One little boy was crying so mom kneeled down to help. The little guy just through his arms around mom and wouldn’t let go. This Mission is great fun!
Thursday was our anniversary so we called Elder and Sister Smith and drove up in the mountains for a hike and picnic. Lots a beautiful country, we even got into some pine trees. The hike was different. With plants everywhere we walked through some tunnels that were not dirt tunnels but tree-plant tunnels. You can look at the pictures. It was 70 degrees with a cool breeze but we were still sweating.
Saturday was a service project with a big group of young men and young woman from Spanish Town Branch’s 1 & 2. They helped us reorganize the humanitarian supplies that have been housed in a 30 foot container. They were a great group of kids and worked really had in a lot of heat. The supplies are kept in a metal box from an old diesel trailer; it was like a big oven.
Most of the time we had only one adult leader but did not really need them because the kids were so well behaved and willing to work. I had one of the Young Women’s class president take charge and she did a good job. When I asked her what she wanted for lunch she said she had never done anything like this before and wanted me to help her decide on lunch. Well I am not much help, I just told her she was in charge and I would do whatever she wanted. She turned out to be a real leader because she called all the kids together and made them decide what they wanted. At the end of our visit we were able to help him out with some of our kits to help his schools. He has the Basic school, a blind school, and an elderly home that he assists with. Also we gave him some of the Hygiene Kits to take to the prison. The prisoners are not even given basic soap, towel, clothes, or any of the things we consider “normal” for being housed in a prison. They only get one meal a day and have to make deals for anything extra. Even in the hospitals you must provide your own bedding and food.
We were all glad when the job was done and it was Pizza time.
P.S. The greeting at the top is not another of my misspellings I am just trying out some of my Jamaican. See if you can guess what it means email us with your guess’s and we let you know next week. And you could even write and send us news from home!

Love to all Elder and Sis. Murdock, Mom and Dad, Friends and Family