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A Look at Jamaica Today by James K. Ord III

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Mission History The Growth in the Jamaica Kingston Mission over the last two to three years has been exciting to say the least. The Growth in the Jamaica Kingston Mission over the last two to three years has been exciting to say the least. From an Rm's perspective it has been an absolute miracle. As Jamaican society begins to modernise and move closer to an American perspective, Missionaries that served in Jamaica in the early days would hardly recognise the island today. But despite the Growth Jamaica has had it problems and so have The Saints. Fortunately none of these problems has held back the work of the Lord in Jamaica. I recently sat down with an RM who served in Jamaica back in the late 80's. It was truly a humbling experience. To Imagine a Portmore with only 4 housing schemes, or a two lane Halfway Tree was beyond my comprehension, but when he began to say things like NO Burger King. My mind began to imagine, and I was led to an earnest investigation of Jamaica today Vs Jamaica ten years back. The first thing that I noticed in all of his picture was the change in the development of the island and so I would like to comment on just how much things have changed. In The Corporate area development programmes have brought new growth almost to a bursting point. Whereas a neighbourhood once had only a little shop, there are now more than 6, 7-11 style convenient stores armed with American style gas stations. Recently we've seen the invasion of fast food with 3 McD's a few Burger Kings, Wendy's, Pizza Hut, Domino's (both of which have delivery). We've also seen the invasion of Baskin Robins and Taco Bell. This has led greatly to the feel of a more American Jamaica. In fact stores like True Value Hardware and JC Penny Co. have made a splash in Halfway Tree causing local merchants to have a glitzier look if only for competition purposes. In taking a closer glance though Jamaican culture hasn't been totally underwritten. Although football has been pushing cricket aside for several years, Sabina Park was packed this spring for World Record Setting, Windies Cricket. In other areas The Chicago Bulls seem to be Jamaica's favorite basket ball team. Unless of course you are Mormon. Which brings me to the real reason I'm writing this. Of all the things I loved about my mission I would have to say that Jamaica's people are the #1, especially the members. The church's membership in Jamaica totals out at about 4,000, however that number can be quite deceiving. Because of the Jamaican Diaspora and inactivity the active membership is only at about 1,200-1,500. Also due to the lack of interest, in the church, shown by many men the numbers of active & worthy priesthood are only very slowly rising. But despite this trend the members seem to be just as faithful as ever. In looking at some of the pictures I would like to make some brief comments on several different parts of the island and how the membership is doing there. In Kingston as some of the old timers will recall there were some poor man's orchid trees planted in the chapel yard. Well today those trees shade the whole place making the Kingston chapel a variable Eden due to the efforts of Amos Chin & his merry band of Chinite YSA's. Also the membership has been growing adding new and valuable men to the Kingston, Blvd, and Constant Spring branches. There has even been talk of an eventual recreation of the Mona branch. In Portmore the chapel grounds are now covered in lush grass and there has been trees planted to make the place like Constant Spring bldg. The two branches have been combined for some time now and they. Are slowly growing with the baptism of a few priesthood. In the St. Thomas, the Yahallas branch was formed & is now the only unit in St. Thomas after the close of the Morant Bay area. Apparently this area is doing okay as I received reports about it only last week. In Spanish Town the Church has made moves to secure a rather large piece of land to hold a big Stake Centre and in time a temple. However the property acquisition has not yet taken place but we are very hopeful this will occur in a short time. But despite still meeting above a store, the Spanish Town Branch is doing quite well. In the Mandeville district work has begun on the second chapel in Mandeville. It's to be located in Hopeton. And in Mobay the Chapel in Barnett Over is being upgraded to a phase II bldg. Santa Cruz is looking a very hard place to keep a foothold but Blackriver is looking to be a promising place to keep church. In Savanna La Mar a chapel has been needed & it looks like they will have one before to long. As for other news I believe that that will have to wait until next month when well have more & more goodies to tell about Jamaica today. . . This Article by James K. Ord III James Served his mission in Jamaica 1997-1999