June 1, 2014

Hello Again from Jamaica
We were all over the Island this week.  We visited Hope Gardens with Elder and Sister Mortensen and Sister Kinghorn.  The Gardens are only about a mile from our apartment but we have never had time to go until the other Missionaries talked us into it and it was great fun.  All through our mission I have been looking for a Jamaican parrot and never saw one but we saw some in Hope Gardens.  Sorry no pictures.
 Sister Murdock had to take a picture of me just had to prove we were really there.
 Then we went traveling to the other end of the Island.   Our first stop was in Savanna la Mar where we were working on a Hygiene project and a Food Initiative Project. They have some good leadership and members in the Branch.  The Food Initiative project is a lot of work; they are at the stage where each participant needs to find a market for their birds or eggs.  Then write an income expense budget to showing that their project will work and to show them how much of their revenue they have to set aside to pay the bills.  This all must be done before we can even request the project from the church. President Robinson is on the left. After the meet we drove to Negril and stayed with the Pearsons in their apartment by the Sea we were having so much fun we forgot to take pictures.
 The next day we went to Montego Bay to help them with their Food Initiative (chicken project).   Driving to the Church we went through the main part of town and it was crazy.  Cars, people busses, push carts, bicycles, and motorbikes all over the place, with no room for our truck, somehow we made it through.  But before leaving the Church we found another way around so we would not have to drive through that part of town again. The Montego Bay Branch is not quite as far along as Savanna la Mar but they are working hard as well.  
Today we went to church in Yallahs; it’s starting to feel like home.  It was Fast Sunday and testimony we really like to listen to all their testimonies.   The have great strength
Elder/President Beckford, pictured below, is taking his responsibility as Branch President very seriously and he is doing a good Job.  He conferred the Melchizedek priesthood on Brother Williams and ordained him an Elder.  Brother Williams is the one who organized the construction and helped build the chicken coops for the Food Production project in Yallahs.
There is much excitement as the organization of the first Jamaican Stake is next week. It seems the whole membership is buzzing about it. Elder Holland will come next weekend and conduct the interviews. Dad keeps teasing the leadership about what they will be doing after next week.  Each branch president he sees he tells them they will be the next Stake President.  Most realize he is just having fun with them and others want to hit him! They are all pretty nervous about being interviewed by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. We are just glad it isn’t us getting interviewed! These people have really worked hard this past year to raise the standard of living the gospel here so they can be worthy of the blessings of a Stake. We see so many smiles and joy in their hearts now. Each time we elevate our faith and practice what we know to be true, our joy increases.  We can find true and lasting joy and love when we live by Heavenly Fathers plan.  It is the only way. A wonderful part of being a missionary is seeing the change come into someone’s life as they embrace the gospel. People, who thought they were happy before the gospel entered their lives, realize the true joy that comes from living the gospel precepts.  We each have to become a convert at some point in our lives. Even if you were born and raised in the gospel, without your own conversion to it you are just floating along and the winds of the world can take you wherever they will. But if you plant your roots deep in gospel sod you will withstand the winds holding firm to the values and principles you know are true.  Seeking your own testimony is the way to your personal conversion. Keeping your testimony strong will sink your roots deeper where you will find spiritual nourishment.
Thanks for all your prayers, love and support. We truly need them. We have felt so blessed to count you as family and friends.  May the Lord keep you safe, and may you seek His guidance and help always…
Mom and Dad
E/S Murdock