April 14, 2013

Hello Everyone
Well we are writing this from Savanna la Mar, on the south west side of the beautiful Island of Jamaica.  We came here yesterday and will head home tomorrow.  We came to do a Food Initiative Presentation to the Branch here.  It is led by President Blake, an awesome man who has taught the members here the principle of service.  Most of all the comments after our presentation were about how they had the responsibility to help others in need and to help build each others projects and to help their neighbors.  Their whole focus was on helping each other.  It is their duty, it is what the Lord expects of them. It reminded me of the Book of Mormon stories about the kings and how when the people had a righteous king the people were righteous but when the king was unrighteous they were all led in that direction.  We all have the responsibility to be righteous leaders. Whatever our position may be, others are looking at us (and you too), they see our example and act accordingly.
In the morning we will be visiting two schools that Pres. Blake says needs some assistance.  Everywhere there is a need, our responsibility is to prayerfully choose those areas where the spirit guides us to help.  Sometimes the choice is obvious, other times it is harder to discern. We have learned the necessity of depending on the Lord to guide our choices and actions.
Much of this week has been getting ready for our visit from Bro. Lilly our Area Welfare Manager and his Assistant Bro. Acosta.  Bro Lilly has been serving in this capacity for five years and will be returning to SLC in June.  Bro. Acosta will take his place.  We will be taking them to visit Food For the Poor our major partner for the wheelchair Program .  FFP will receives about 500 wheelchairs from the Church this year then they distribute the chairs to 21 Sub-Partners.  The Sub-Partners assess mobility impaired people and get chairs to those with the greatest need.  After FFP we will visit Ocho Rios and Port Antonio discussing the Food Initiative Projects (chickens and gardens) for needy church members and needy Priesthood Leaders. We are starting new projects in Yallahs, Ocho Rio and Port Antonio, and finishing some others up in other places around Kingston.
These two little cuties attached themselves to us as soon as we pulled into the parking lot.  It was good to feel like grandparents again. The one on the left is 6 years old and the other is 4.
This first picture of Dad in the Savanna la Mar Branch starting our power point presentation for Member food projects.  This presentation takes about an hour to do then we have a question and answer afterwards.

This next picture is of some of the members here listening to dad.  We ended up with about 30-40 members in the meeting. More of the meeting below.

The little ones in this school picture are 4 years old.  We helped get them some tables and chairs in 3 of their class rooms.  The rooms are very crowded and when we first went there the children were sitting on the floor.  All the children in the schools here wear uniforms.  You can tell what school they go to by the color of their clothing.  All students must wear a clean pressed uniform with black socks and shoes.  They are to be clean and neat in their appearance.  Some schools don’t allow the little girls to wear the beds in their hair. But their hair must be neatly done with no dredlocks or big afro-styles.  It is usually on the older or poorer people who no longer go to school.  School is not required here so if your family is too poor to afford the tuition or uniforms, the parents may pull them out of school and put them to work.  Usually at a vending shop where they sell fruits or vegetables, or they may become one of the street vendors selling any odd assortment of commodities.  Or they become window washers…for the equivalent of about 30 cents they will wash your windows while you are stopped at the stop light.  The rest of them become beggars to try to get something to eat.
Life is hard here for them.  You see their smiles and fears in their eyes.  Some are more cared for at home and others you can see the real need of a two parent society.  It is our prayer to be of some assistance to some of these precious souls.  Aren’t we all beggars in the sight of God?  Looking for someone to give us assistance?
The good Lord has blessed us all.  Now with so much need in the world, let your hearts be drawn out in love to those in need.  Look to the church welfare principles to know what is best in the way of assistance.  We don’t just give a hand out, give a hand up.  Accept the call to do a little bit more, a little bit better, with a pure heart.  The handout is to be used in an emergency, the hand up requires more thought to how that is to be done.  The Lord has provided a way through proper welfare principles.  There is so much to learn so we are actually helping and not enabling them to continue on in idleness and poverty.
Take care and know that we love you all
Mom and Dad
E/S Murdock