February 23, 2014

Jamaica Kingston Mission
This week we were able to meet with Pres. Bonilla of the Constant Spring Branch and discuss our Self-Reliance Project.   It is something that we have been working on but have had to put aside for a little while so we could pursue other projects.  This one is something that, if done properly, will help the members bring themselves up and out of poverty. People can give you all the help and suggestions in the world; but if YOU think of something that you would really care about and have a commitment to, it is going to be something you are more likely to succeed at.  This program is priesthood driven and Branch administered with help from the church only if needed.  It is hard to explain in a nutshell but the idea is to help the members find what they have an interest and a talent in…something they are capable of achieving and helping them find a path to success in achieving their goals.  He is looking at the Lords Storehouse within his branch for solutions for his financially struggling members.   Pres. Bonilla is a marvelous Branch President who really understands the role of the Priesthood as a guiding light in the lives of his sons and daughters.  He has already outlined four projects that will help some of his members who are struggling financially. Also it will help those who would have a harder time with traditional employment due to health or age issues.  Like I said he is a marvelous man.
We made a trip out to Yallahs and purchased more materials for the chicken coops out there.  This little branch is one that we really fell in love with.  They have been experiencing a growth spurt and are averaging between 45-60 people attending.  This is a pretty great thing since some of the people have to stand as they don’t have chairs for more than about 45 or so.  It really is an amazing thing to see when they start running out of chairs. First the missionaries give up their seats and then the priesthood starts to stand and give up their seats.  The children start sitting 2 to a chair…We just sit and marvel at the love that this little branch exhibits for each other.  The “Chicken Council”, as they call themselves; has been meeting twice a week to build all the chicken coops. They should have them all completed by the end of this week coming.  We have pre-ordered the laying hens and they should be ready for delivery in May and the broiler chicks can be delivered very soon now. It is wonderful to see how service truly builds love and unity in a branch.
 Plus we got to go for a walk on the beach last Saturday!! That is our De-Stressing Technique.  There is something about the ocean waves that just has a calming effect on both of us.
 It is amazing to think that a desert plant can survive in such a humid environment but here they are…just of the shoreline on the sandy beach…
 The Halls have been assigned to the Ocho Rios Branch and the Port Antonio Branch as well.  We will miss going to the Ocho Rios Branch. Pres. Lester has become one of our favorite people.  He is a single parent raising his 15 year old son; he has significant health issues, and a branch president with only one counselor to assist him.  He is a very resourceful man who finds a way to accomplish his goals without asking for financial aid from anyone. He raises a garden, has fruit trees and has started his own chicken project all by himself. He had a cook shop but when he fell and injured his knee in October he was not able to stand and do the cooking so he had to give up the cook shop.

We had the Halls stay overnight with us again as it was our monthly FHE with the Mission President.  It is always a good time when all the Senior Missionaries get together.  We got to know the Halls a little better and the Senior Sisters Wege and Kinghorn gave a lesson on ‘following the spirit and holding on to the Iron rod’…or in our case it was the PVC Rod! What great fun it was to blindfold the Presidents children and have someone be the Holy Ghost whispering in their ear, telling them where to go and where to turn; then to have all the ‘noisy people’ talking and trying to lead them astray.  Great object lesson!
We also had a Bi-Monthly Skype session with our Humanitarian Manager and the other Humanitarian Missionaries in the Caribbean. It is good to have a regular connection with others who are doing similar things.  It helps to hear from them. We were supposed to have our annual training next month but it has been put on hold…we are struggling with our Humanitarian Missionaries going home and no one to replace them.  It really hurts what we are trying to accomplish when there is no one to carry the torch so to speak after we leave the mission field. Sooo if you know anyone who wants an exciting, challenge filled adventure, with blessings you can’t number, just give us a call and we can have our Mission President give you a personal call and invitation to Jamaica!

As usual the weeks are flying by and the work is progressing. The Lord is blessing us in so many ways we can’t number them.  We have good days and bad days but the Blessings always outweigh anything we could ever complain about.  Our health has been good, we have been kept safe and out of harm’s way, we have been guided by the Spirit to do things, or say things or guided to places that has been beneficial to others. Our testimonies have grown and our Love for each other and the Lord increases daily. Our appreciation of family and friends also has also grown so much. Your love and support means the world and more to us.  We could not be here without you all…Stay true to the faith, help each other, support each other in all righteous endeavors, and know that we love you…
Mom and Dad
E/S Murdock