March 10, 2013

Two Humanitarian Missionaries in Jamaica.
This week involved lots of work with the Church’s Wheelchair Initiative.This program involves the Church sending shipping containers full of wheelchairs to our Major Wheelchair Partner Food For the Poor (FFP).Then there are several wheelchair sub-partners who work with people that are mobility impaired. The sub-partners assess a person’s need for a wheelchair, get them a chair from FFP, then adjusts the chair to fit the person.The chair adjustment is critical, if not done right, the chair owner can get very serious pressure sores.We found that some wheelchair recipients have not been fitted to their chair.So we are visiting these partners and getting commitments from them to do proper fittings. It will take us several weeks to visit all sub-partners as they are scattered across the Island.

Tracy Anderson is the Church Wheelchair Monitor.She is the one who checks with the wheelchair recipients to see that they have been properly fitted and adjusted to their new chair. She is a marvelous young lady. We get to spend a lot of time with Tracy and have gotten to know her well. She is a returned missionary and newlywed too. Tracy is always happy and a positive person. She and her husband Rondell are exceptional members.Rondell is in the Spanish Town (includes the Kingston area) District Presidency. They live in a very small house that has a Living room/bedroom/Kitchen, and bathroom.Rondell is studying Engineering and has another year to graduate.If the church had a branch full of couples like these people, we would have a Temple here.We are having a local wood carver make us a small statue of a Jamaican woman holding a baby out of Iron wood, and we have used Tracy as a model.We took her picture (with permission of course), side view and profile, to Mitey Gully where Dillion Gabbidon will do the carving.He is an extremely talented artist.The church helped him get his carving tools. Mitey Gully is a place in Old Harbour where they take young men off the street and into their compound and give them some training and guidance.Dillion now has about 6-8 young men who are carving and earning a living instead of begging on the streets.He did a bust of Joseph Smith from a picture that is stunning to see.
 One of our wheelchair partners is Mustard Seeds Communities.They take in children with disabilities or aids who have been abandoned or who have no family.Mustard Seed provides a place where they can live.Mrs. Williams is loved by the children and many would run (those who could) across the compound to get a hug or just hold her hand.This young man peddled his hand powered chart over to get his hug
 Look at the young man on the right front what a haunting look.Now imagine living with no family, in a wheelchair, in a compound. We found our wheelchair sub-partner organizations have great dedicated people who truly want to help those who can’t help themselves.The service they provide is invaluable and we are proud the Church is able to help them help others.They do all they can but there is no replacement for a good family.
Typical childrens dorm room found in many chartiable organizations.It is better than where many families here live.

 This is Gungo Beans or “Peas”. They grow wild. One day we met an old lady out in the country taking the beans out of the pod preparing them for dinner. I made a comment about her cooking and that I bet it would be good. She pulled a funny toothless face and said no, no, you no like this is poor mans food. Rich man no like. Later I learned Gungo Beans are really called the poor mans dinner, they have a kind of bitter tast. HowerverTracy likes them and she is growing them in her garden. Tracy and Rondell are the typical “starving college students”. Meaning they make the best of what they have.
Today we attended Boulevard Branch here in Kingston. We had some information to share with the Branch President Hamilton about a project we are working on. His branch will do a service project to coinside with our Humanitarian Service (HS) Project. We do a service project with every HS Project that gets approved. It helps the church become known for one of the things we do best…serve our fellow man. Dad and I are still doing well. We took a P-Day and went with the Larsens to the beach to hunt for shells. Sister Larsen expressed an interest in going to look for Conch shells. She found many to choose from. We parked at the Fort Rocky Ruins on the south east shore of the island, by the airport . It is the ruins of an old English Fort that has not been restored. We enjoyed an hours worth of walking and headed back to the apartment and back to work. We are sending our love and prayers to you all back home and encourage you to ‘Hold to the Rod’. Stay true and faithful so you can have the blessings the Lord would give you. He desires us all to be happy and has provided for each of us, if we will only be true and faithful.
Love you all

March 3, 2013

Dear Family and Friends:
This week has found us working like crazy getting ready for some new Project Presentations. Dad has been developing a power point that we can use, that has been really helpful in explaining what will be expected when we start. The new Food Initiative will only include: Chickens, broiler and layer, and Gardens. They will be carried out by the Branch Presidency and a Welfare Specialist/Project Manager. They will be doing all the initial planning, building of the coops and the buying and delivery of the chickens. Hopefully this will cut down the amount of running around we do as missionaries. We are starting a new Food Initiative soon so we are taking our presentation to the Non District Branches as well as continuing with some new projects to be done in the District Branches. The District Branches have already been doing the projects in their areas so they just need to be informed of the changes for any projects going forward from now, but for the Non District Branches (6 in all), this is a new program. We had an Elder in the Portmore Branch, Rondell Anderson, draw up a new portable coop design and presented it to District President Medley and then to Mission President Hendricks. Both
approved it and then it was on to the Area Welfare Specialist who approved as well. We had the portable coop designed so that people who live on rented property could be able to take advantage of the new food initiative. It had been decided that only those who owned their property could continue to be a part of the projects, but with so many people not able to own their property, there had to be a way to help those who needed the help the most. We are hoping that the portable coops will be an answer to
prayer for them. Our first presentation was to the Spanish Town District Branch Presidents.
We spent today (Sunday March 3), in the Yallahs Branch. This was the 4th time we have gone to Yallahs. It is beginning to feel like home to us. Because we travel, we don't have an assigned branch to go to, so to get to be in one branch four times in 3 months is a treat for us. The Yallas branch struggles with Priesthood representation. Dad told them in January that he really wanted to do the projects with them but without Priesthood to administer the projects it probably was not possible. That was all he needed to say...Those good and faithful Relief Society sisters said not to worry, they would see that the priesthood would be there and would be able to administer the projects...and that they DID know how to use a hammer themselves! We have been hearing reports that they are living up to their word. They have been working with the priesthood in their branch ever since and now they have more priesthood members attending and returning to activity. It has been a miracle for them. When we went
there today they confirmed 2 new members, both will receive the priesthood soon. There has been a real missionary spirit here. The presentation in Yallahs went well. They have questions but the members are coming up with the solutions themselves, and so the work moves forward.
As many of you already know we will be getting a new Mission President in July. It will be Kevin Brown. He currently is heading the CES Program here in Jamaica. He is a most wonderfully gifted man and loved by all. We are so excited to be able to work with him. He is the First Jamaican to be called to such a high position. We see this as a giant step forward for the Island of Jamaica.
The pictures this week are of our meeting with the members of the Yallahs branch. The first picture is at the chapel during our presentation of the food initiative.
The next one is of the newly baptized members Brother’s Williams.They are father in the foreground and son in the background.They were confirmed today and will be ordained to the Priesthood next Sunday.They were baptized in the Mediterranean Sea. They were concerned about alligators…apparently there are some near to this area but they inhabit a swampy spot a few miles away.The swells were coming in hard and fast and just about took out Elder Barker who was the missionary was doing the baptizing!To hear him tell the story it got really exciting between the alligators and the ocean swells.All of them lived to tell the tale another day.Elder Barker is from England and speaks with a proper English accent and stands about 5 ft. 5in.His companion Elder Burrell is from Gunnison. Today is both of the Elders birthday.One of the members baked them a cake and brought it to church to give it to them…It being fast Sunday they dutifully waited to sample it till this evening.The last one is of the little Yallahs Chapel.Dad and I remain healthy and happy in our work. This month we have three family birthdays, a baptism, and a wedding that we will not be home for. Our hearts and love go to them on their special days and know that we will be there in spirit. We would love to be there with you but the Lord needs us here for now. When we do see you, you can expect a ton on hugs and many that you will wish we were gone on another mission!!! We were excited to hear of Jeff and Beverly Nielsen, Doug and Marsha, and Jean and Johnny Johnson's mission calls. It is so exciting to know our ward is sending out Senior Missionaries as well as the younger ones. Congratulations!! You're going to love working for the Lord!!They tell us the pay is not great but the benefits are out of thisworld!!


February 24, 2013

Hello Everyone
Wow lots of new changes are coming. Several of the Senior Missionaries here in Jamaica will be leaving soon. All of them will leave before we return home.
We have a New Mission President. President Brown is a Jamaican he has been over the Seminary and Institute Program here in Jamaica and he is a very Spiritual man. We love to hear him speak, he will be a good Mission President. He is the first Jamaican to be called as a Mission President. He will do this Island so much good. It seems the more a local culture takes the responsibility for the gospel, the more the gospel grows in that country. We are excited to see some of the changes.
With our humanitarian work, the church has given us some new direction that lets us help Members. This is very exciting. We can now address problems that have been screaming for attention. The new direction includes” Relieve suffering” and, “eliminate poverty”. Also “There should be no Poor among us”. It will be an extremely difficult task, impossible without the guidance from the Holy Ghost. We will be getting help from local Priesthood and a new committee to help us with the task. More about this later.
We got a whole day off!! No worries, no driving, just relax and have fun. The Senior Missionaries have decided to do a once a month “P Day” activity together. We are making a bucket list of things we want to do before we go home. So 14 of us pile into the mission van, and off we go. Usually there are 16 of us but we had one couple who could not attend this time. Saturday we went to Port Antonio and floated the Rio Grand River on Bamboo rafts. So here is the story.
Each raft made of bamboo (see picture bamboo raft), had a Captain (see picture Captain), with two people. We started at the Mediterranean Sea drove 45 min. up the mountain then floated for 2 ½ hours back down to the Sea. It was great fun. Along the way we passed through Beautiful Jungle land with Bamboo and all kinds of exotic plants and trees.
One of the first people me met along the way was a man with a Floating Bar (picture floating bar). He sold soda, water and cold beer from a Bamboo Raft. Another man waded out to sell us Coconuts. We saw two men washing a whole pile of dead chickens in the river. We also saw a women washing her cloths and drying them on the rocks while her daughter danced and sang on top of a nearby boulder.
There was a man (yes the person wearing a scarf on top of his head is a man, they wear a scarf or a towel to keep the sun off, it’s very hot here) leading his cow across the river. (See Picture cow crossing). We also saw a few men hunting fish with spear guns. One man had speared several.
We ran several small rapids and actually ran aground on one. We lost our Captain too! He fell overboard. Not to worry though it was shallow water. I have the video but don’t know how to send it. We have lots of videos that are fun to see so if anyone knows how we can send them let us know. The scenery was great (See picture Rio Grand) but no animals I really miss seeing deer, elk, coyotes and other critters the only two here are rats and mongoose.
We stopped at a shack along the river for lunch (see picture lunch time) there were so many of us they ran out of food so we shared one vegetarian lunch of rice and peas and vegetable called callalloo. It is like spinach.It was pretty good but not too filling!It was really a great day.We joked with the other couples that this was the ride down the river was smoothest ride they would get here sense the road are so bad.


February 17, 2013

Today we went to the Hopeton Branch for church. This is a great branch, one of the best well rounded we have seen with 50 to 60 people in Sacrament Meeting. Unlike a lot of branches, there were families, lots of Priesthood, and lots of Primary kids. It seems strange that families would be unusual, but sadly they are here in Jamaica. Many fathers do not even know where all their children live. This Branch has done it right, that usually means they have a good Branch President, and they do. There was one older man (younger than me) who was just walking by the church and decided to come in. Of course he was a non-member, but he stayed for all three meetings. In Priesthood we talked about Gifts of the Spirit and some of the talk included Blessing the Sick. After meeting he asked if he could get a blessing. One of the young Missionaries gave a touching blessing and the man was so overcome it took several minutes before he could stand and shake every ones hands. There was also another young man that came in late and set by me he was dressed in street clothes. I thought he was a non-member so we talked a little then after Sacrament meeting all the members came up and hugged him and said how glad they were to see him again. I found him between meetings standing outside so I asked what his story was. He said he has been a member for a long time but he had fallen away and not been to church for a long time. He said he had quit coming because of disobedience, and this was his first Sunday back. The members welcomed him with so much love he said he would be back again. Keep this in mind next time you see a stranger or inactive member attending church, even if they smell like smoke, welcome them and love them, that’s really what they need and what they are looking for. One young sister introduced us to two of her friends we were just baptized in December. She has another friend that she is working on. This little branch knows how to share what they have in the gospel. They are not afraid to share what brings them the greatest joy in their lives. We were impressed to have padded folding chairs to sit on. Priesthood to conduct the meeting, pass the sacrament, and, teach the Gospel Doctrine class….plus toilet paper too!!! We are so easily impressed these days.
Most of our time was spent doing computer work on two unfinished projects. The Havendale project a computer lab for the Salvation Army that will be used by children 4 to 7 during the day, teenagers in the afternoon and then a senior group called the Golden Agers in the evening. This project is done and ready to submit as soon as we get a couple of details pinned down. LDS youth from the local branch will put on a fireside for the Golden Age seniors. The other project is the Dunrobin Primary school. They are adding a shipping container to the old reading library (also a shipping container) to expand the library. Our part of the project will be two computers for the library and 2 air conditioners. LDS Youth from the local branch will paint the container (new library) for a service project.
We have emergency supplies in a shipping container behind the Spanish Town Church. We have purchased generators to provide power to the church buildings during and emergency where the buildings will be used for emergency shelters. The container contains emergency medical supplies, enough to set up a small hospital type operation. There are hygiene kits, blankets, clothing, water bottle filters, tarps, chainsaws and other emergency supplies. We spent a few mornings collecting serial numbers and engraving equipment inside the trailer. By noon each day we were done; the temperature outside was in the mid to low 90’s the temperature inside the trailer was chicken roasting and above.
Life goes on here and we move forward. Each day we are blessed by the Lord. It is hard to describe how we feel about our mission…I guess you will just have to serve to find out for yourselves. We can truthfully say that, there is nothing like it on earth. We talk about the Temple being the Lords University…I think this is similar to that. There is nothing like dedicating yourself, your time, your talents, even learning what your talents are, till you actually do it. I understand more about my husbands and my son’s feelings about their missions now. This truly is a higher level of spiritual education.
The pictures are:
1 The Dancing girls…they were our competition at the Health Fair last week. We had some Sunday Music playing at the church for our Health Fair, while across the street, they had some Reggae and Dancing in the street going on at 4 times the volume we had.
2 This is the Spanish Town District President Medley and his sweet wife. They and their committee worked so hard to make the Health Fair a success.
3 Next is Sister Salmons Chicken Project. You see the Branch Presidents wife, Sister Richardson in the yellow tee shirt, Sister Murdock, Sister Cullimore, President Richardson, Elder Murdock, and Sister Salmon with the white hat on.
4 Us at the Terra Nova Hotel. This is where we have the visiting authorities stay here in Kingston. A pretty nice place.
5 Next is a group picture of us with President Hendricks and Sister Hendricks and Sister and Elder Cullimore. This was after a dinner at Goucho’s .
6. The last picture is of the stair well at the Tropics View Hotel. We spent 2 night here with the Cullimores. It reminded my of the stairs in the Harry Potter movies. It was great fun


February 11, 2013

The long long week.
Last Saturday we picked up the Cullimores. They are Welfare Project Supervisors for Wheelchair and Food Initiative projects throughout the whole world. We had a tight hard schedule for the whole week. The Cullimore’s arrived Saturday evening and later that night we had dinner with the other Senior couples.
Sunday we went to the Yallahs Branch for Church. We are starting some new food projects, gardens and chickens, with the Yallahs members.
Monday we meet with District President Medley, Salvation Army, where we starting computer lab and computer class project. We are also trying to start a new wheelchair major initiative with the Salvation Army. This is a project where Salvation Army will receive wheelchairs from our church and place them with mobility impaired people. You will learn more about this as it develops. Finally on Monday we met with our Mission President, President Hendricks.
Tuesday we met with Remounah Anderson our Wheelchair Specialist. Remounah monitors the wheelchair program in Jamaica, she coordinates with Food For the Poor who is a large Charity Organization who receives wheelchairs, clothing, kits and other supplies for our church. She also checks on people who receive wheelchairs and makes sure everything is ok. Then we met with Food For the Poor and toured their facility which is quite large and well organized. We also traveled to May Pen met with District President Piper and visited several Food Projects in the May Pen area.
Wednesday we drove to Mandeville and visited Projects there. Including one way up in the mountains so high our breaks got hot and stopped working. Not a good thing to happen in traffic. We pulled over and the breaks cooled and started to work again. We also drove to Hopeton where we visited more projects.
Thursday we were in Junction and Santa Cruz visiting more projects. Friday we drove home.
Saturday we attended the Spanish Town District Health Fair which was also a Humanitarian Project.
Well I am getting tired just writing about it. So let’s tell some stories and look at pictures.
First, since they have been asking we found a cute young Jamaican girl to bring home to Marcie or Megan. She even put on her biggest smile for the picture. See Picture: “Adopt me”.
The next picture is of a members home where we were visiting a project ( Chickens ). The bench out front was the shower, wash room, kitchen and laundry room. We see many like this but there are also some that have nicer homes.
The next picture is of Sister Murdock climbing back up the mountain after visiting a pig pen some ways below. We were in the mountains all morning. It was great, even if the mountains were covered with jungle. The lady who lived there was in her 60’s and she climbed those rock steps several time a day. It was probably 100 feet down from the road. She is an amazing lady. They will have to kill and butcher the pigs where they are and bring them up in quarters just to get them out! The jungle was so thick there you would never guess there was anything down there beyond the house. She also had a craft house where she made necklaces and did some sewing as well.
The four children in the next picture just wanted to have their picture taken. Then they would giggle when we showed them the picture of themselves and want us to take more pictures. They belonged to a member whose project we were visiting.
Roye is a young member who is an honor student and looking forward being a musician, artist, and engineer. He was studying for his GSAT tests. The school system is all based on testing. The better you do in the test the better school you can get into. This applies to all ages and grade levels from basic school age 3 to 5 to Universities. If you do not study and learn, you go to the worst schools where discipline and learning is not as good because the good teachers are recruited by the good schools. Roye knows because of his handicap he has to be extra smart in order to be able to get a job so he works hard, studies and reads. He is an amazing young man. He lives at least 4 or 5 miles from the chapel and pushes his wheelchair while his family walks the distance to church every week. Believe me the terrain he covers in that chair is unbelievable.
The last picture is of the Yallahs Branch chapel where Sister Murdock and Cullimore are waiting for the church to start. Eventually around 30 members showed up. Twelve of them were Priesthood members. Before, only 3 or 4 would come. We have been talking to them about starting some food projects in their Branch. They have been told the Priesthood had to supervise and be responsible for the projects and we did not think they had enough Priesthood members to get the job done. The sisters who are faithful and regularly attend church promised us they would make sure the Priesthood would be there and do their job. So far they are full filling their promise. Who says the world is run by men.
Well time to send this off…hope all is well at home and you are growing in the gospel.Stagnation is the death of testimony.Keep the Faith


February 3, 2013

Well this week has been slow work wise, but busy preparation wise. We have been actively getting ready for Bro and Sis Cullimore's visit. They are our supervisors from Salt Lake City Church Headquarters. They travel the world for The Church overseeing and helping with the Humanitarian Projects. They have been serving for 7 years now in this position and have been to 28 different countries. They are both 77 years old and the fastest moving people we have every met! They are simply wonderful and so much help to us. We went to the Yallahs Branch (a very small branch on the east end of the island), for church today, with about 30 people attending regularly. We had a very productive day with them today. We had them over for a traditional Jamaican dinner of Jerk Chicken with Rice and peas. They seemed to enjoy the afternoon with us. I have to admit my Jerk Chicken dinner went over well. Although I only used 3 of the Scotch Bonnet Peppers instead of the 6 it called for. But then we are only poor little white folk here, with tender tummies!!! Ha ha ha!
We did make several trips to Spanish Town and Old Harbour for supplies but they were a general bust...We were not able to get what we needed until the end of the week and then we still had most of our Tarps on back order. We were able to get the new locks for the Spanish Town Basement...same old scenario, too many keys floating out and about so we are getting new locks and starting over again.
We have been getting ready for the Health Fair Project here. I should say that we have been following the Priesthood around getting ready for the Health Fair. They have arranged for the Cancer Society of Jamaica to be there with their mobile van doing Mammograms and Pap Smears, Drs. are going to be there to administer free AIDS tests, and we will be doing Blood Pressure tests, Diabetes tests, Cholesterol testing, and handing out vitamins for children and adults to the first 1000 people to come. Pres. Medley, Sisters Langley and Mc Phearson have been working overtime to get things done. We have a media specialist, Sister Sinclair-Lym who has been doing some newspaper spots. We also have radio and News shows doing some reporting as well. The Health Fair committee has really done an excellent job. There will be lectures given on health issues and pharmaceutical companies handing out freebies as well. It is scheduled to be happening on Feb 9th. We will have the Cullimore's with us all this week and then we take them to Montego Bay the 8th to fly on to Tennessee to their next assignment. Then we will have to get home in a hurry to make it on time but it will be worth it.
My cousins Mark and Tamara Luthi will be in Montego Bay this week, but with the Cullimore's visit we will miss them as they are here at the same time. Oh well...maybe I can convince them to try again next year!! We met an Elder Burrell from Gunnison who is currently serving in the Yallahs Area. If anyone knows of his family, (Jan or Marie) please let them know he is doing well and loving his time here as a missionary. He is really doing a great job.
Sorry no pictures  :(

January 28, 2013

Hello again
The first part of the week was consumed in computer work and reports. Then we had a full day of meetings where we planned our next projects and discussed how to fix some old projects not quite working like we would like. We also prepared for our trip to the North West part of our likkle (Jamaican for Little when two tt come together in a word they replace the tt’s with KK’s) Island.
We also purchased some emergency supplies for the Island. Including generators and chain saws that we stored with our other emergency supplies located at the Spanish Town Branch.
Then we were off on a whirl wind trip to meet and help Branch Presidents. We told them about the Churches Humanitarian guidelines and asked if they wanted to participate in some of the food projects (Chickens, gardens, etc.) with their members. Our first stop was Mandeville where we met Elder and Sister Wright who are Institute and Perpetual Education Missionaries they were meeting the same Branch Presidents to help with PEF and train in-service classes to Seminary and Institute teachers. We followed the Wrights to Savanna La-Mar our first stop. The Branch Pres. a very down to earth man who got very excited about the animal and gardening projects. The next stop was Negril. The Branch Pres. there presided over a small branch with the Church on the upper floor of an apartment building. One door went into the Chapel the next door went to a private resident. When we explained the food projects he was very happy and excited to give the members of this very poor branch an opportunity to have jobs. His excitement was short lived when he learned the projects need to be on property owned by the participants. He explained the 95 percent of the members lived on Captured Land (this is land owned by the Government on which they lived without permission). This was one of the poorest Branch’s we had come across. We had brought a plan that raised his hopes but it was a plan that was not possible to do. Even though the Food projects are not possible in Negril we will keep trying until we find something, some other project that will help the members of Negril. I do not know what is to be done but we will keep trying until something is done. If we can‘t help the poorest of the poor then we have failed and failed badly.
We stayed in a motel in Negril that night. From the poorest of the poor to the tourist beaches of Negril the party capital of Jamaica. That’s quite a change in less than a mile. After the all day traveling and meetings we had about a half hour to spend walking along the beach. What a sight we were in Sunday clothes for mom and white shirt and tie for me just strolling along with the swim suites and bikinis. Everyone was starring and a couple of men tried to sell us gonga (marijuana) then laughed as we just walked by.
The next morning we drove to Montego Bay to meet with the Branch President and attend church. What a character the Branch President was. He got so excited about the Food project he could not stay in his chair. This man was all Jamaican and it took every bit of concentration we had to follow his excited and Fast Patois. He was very educated and owned his own business so he understood what it took to start and maintain a business. He was going to make sure the members who got projects would make them work. He so excited to give his members an opportunity to start their own business and lift themselves out of poverty that he proclaimed this was the greatest day of the last 42 years of his life. I fully expect he will start putting things together for the projects right away. President Lee also talked in Sacrament Meeting. It is common for the speaker in Jamaica to say Morning, Morning when beginning their talks and the audience replies Morning, Morning. But President Lee had the members shouting AMEN and laughing throughout his talk. There were two vacationing members one couple from Canada the other from Arizona, I know they could not understand most of the talk, because we were having a hard time following what he said. The other members understood and when they would laugh or yell amen the visitors would look around and wonder if they were in the right church.
We took some pictures along the way.Yamon Catamaran at Negril, Mom and sea Negril, Sunset Negril, Bamboo alley the trees along the road are all Bamboo, Donkey cart we often pass along the road in Kingston they use it to haul fruits and coconuts from the field to the street vendors