May 5, 2013

Well here’s another week “In Jamaica”
Well this has been another week filled with missionary work.  It is marvelous serving the Lord and his children. We started out this week by doing some clothing bundle distribution.  The picture below is at the Spanish Town Branch. Spanish Town 1st and 2nd branch Relief Society were our special helpers of the day…along with this enthusiastic brand new member.  I wish I could remember his name because he was so wonderful.  He lifted those HEAVY bundles and put them on his shoulders and carried them into the church for us.  It normally takes two men to lift them but this great guy did it all by himself.  He just kept saying ‘the gospel makes be so happy I just want to help everyone!!”  He was baptized last month.  We had six bundles to separate and these good sisters had it all done in an hour.  They were amazing.

The picture above is of dad and our new friend starting to take the bags out to the basement until the other branches can come and get theirs.  The six bundles went to four different branches.  This is just the beginning…the Priesthood received 40 bundles in all that will be distributed to the 19 branches here on the island.

Our meeting in Negril with President Henry (in the center) and his 1st counselor.  We talked to this the same Branch President before about the Food Projects if you remember he was so excited about being able to help the members of his branch lift themselves out of poverty.  Then we told him the coops were permanent structures and could only be built on property that was owned by the member. His response was very sad “first you tell me the Church has this great program to help my members who are the poorest of the poor, then, you tell me we can’t do the program”.  The poorest of the poor do not own any property.  
After some hard work we got approval from the Mission President, the Area Welfare Manager, and the people in SLC to use raised portable coops on property that is not owned by the members.  As we said these coops are portable and can be moved if the member moves.  They were so happy we came back to present a workable food initiative to them.  Dad was showing them the power point and answering their questions.  We will return and present it to their branch in about three weeks. 

Branch members at the Negril branch.  They meeting house is in an apartment building.  All the rooms around the Church are rented to families, so it can be interesting with all the family noises and smells (cooking breakfasts on Fast Sunday) that greet these members.  At the far back are the young elders.  In the back you can see one with his back to you and the top of the head of his companion.  They left before I could get to visit much with them.  They are so excited to serve in Negril.  We are getting the Yallahs Branch Food Initiative on the computer now so it can be approved and they can start building coops.  The Food Initiatives that we will be doing now only involve: laying or broiler chickens and gardens.

 A road we spent an hour driving on up over the mountain and back down the other side.  We got clear down the mountain and came to a road construction that completely blocked the road.  They are putting in a brand new four land bridge to connect this road to the main road.  There was no road closed sign…we had no choice but to back track all the way up and over the mountain to reach our destination  at Buff Bay.  You can see it is a one lane road. We were wondering why no one was coming up from the other direction.  We should have guessed there was a good reason why!! The reason we were on this road is that we were taking a member of the Ocho Rios Branch Presidency home after church.  It was on our way to Buff Bay so it was convenient for us to do so. The members travel who live in High Gate take a Taxi one and one half hours to come to church in Ocho Rios.  That is dedication!!  It costs about $1200.00 Jamaican Dollars  one way, to do this and that is a lot of money for these people.

Ocho Rios Branch President Lester’s mother’s house in Buff Bay.  She was where we were trying to go when we were going over the mountain through the High Gate area.  Her name is Eunice.  She is a very dear lady, and a devout Jehovah Witness.  She is very supportive of her son who is Branch President in Ocho Rios.  I told her, her son was a testament to her goodness and love in raising such a fine son.  She blushed and said that her sister helped her.  She is a very humble lady.  She loves to sew. She makes quilt tops and will sew a sheet to the bottom with no batting in the middle.  They don’t use quilts the way we do here. It is simply a pretty blanket.  To get to her house you have to climb up about 25 uneven steps.  Some of dirt and rock, and some of cement.  This was her mother’s house as well.  She planted all the flowers and shrubbery around her place.  It gives her peace.

President Lester’s mothers kitchen.  It is off to the far right side of her home and outside.
Also during the week we met with President Hendricks to keep him updated on what we are doing. We are getting more branches involved with the Food Initiative now so we will be traveling a lot getting them going.
Dad had tweaked the Power Point again to include more on the gardening section and the training for them.  We also went and checked on the tents in the Emergency Container.  They had been used by the Young Women for their YW Camp last year.  We needed to make sure all was in good repair and each tent bag had all the pieces parts together so they can be used as emergency shelters.  There was some minor repair work to be done and Sister Larsen (She and Elder Larsen helped with this little endeavor) graciously offered to repair them.  They are marvelous Senior Missionaries! They go home next month.  I know I will miss Sister Larsen very much.  She has become a very close and dear friend.
As last week was the end of the month we got our monthly report sent off.  It seems that time of the month is coming around more quickly now.  We feel we just get one of those reports done and it is time to do another one.
Two of our three air conditioners have been down for that last three weeks.  We did get the one fixed in the front room and are (or not so), patiently waiting to get the one in our bedroom fixed.  It is much better now that we have 2 working but it would be heavenly to have the last one fixed.
We finally got our new computer delivered.  The old one we were using for our Humanitarian Computer work has been dying a slow death.  It started by not receiving all our emails from the church and moved from there, to where it would just shut down while I was using it.  It has been pretty un-nerving to be typing along and loose everything and have to start over again.
Things are going great here.  This weekend we almost circumnavigated the whole island.   The only part we missed is a small section from Port Antonio to Yallahs.  One of these days we will take that route on our way to the other side of the island.  Jamaica is a beautiful place with many sweet and lovey people.  There is much that is not desirable, but every country has that.  It is our privilege to serve here and we are doing our best to be what The Lord wants us to be, and do what He want us to do.  I guess we are doing it one chicken coop and one garden at a time!  And each time it happens, another family is able to provide for themselves, what they haven’t been able to provide before.  To see the joy in their faces as they learn to become self-reliant is truly a blessing in our lives.
We want to say Congratulations to our Grandson Canyon Larsen on his exciting day this week.  He was baptized by his father Robert Larsen.  Great job both of you for choosing the right!!! We love you both…and the rest of our family as well.
Well I guess that is enough for now.  I am looking for a “Festival” recipe for next week.  They are really quite good.
Love to all
Mom and Dad   aka E/S Murdock