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