Elder Huffaker

Elder Huffaker

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas ... Round 2

This week and getting ready for Christmas has been hectic. More so than any other time, or at least so it feels.

As part of being branch clerk, I get to take the deposit to the bank each week. Well someone decided to close the banks in Jamaica at the most ridiculous time of the day. 2:30 p.m.! It has nothing to do with Christmas either, this is for any other Monday through Thursday in the year. So when I went to take care of the deposit on Tuesday, we left Yallahs and reached the bank in Morant Bay at what time?... 2:30 p.m.! The doors are LOCKED! You cannot come in at closing time. I was more than miffed about the matter. I basically wasted $240 JD for nothing. So Elder Snelson and I had to go back on Wednesday. GRRRR

Then most of the week was spent getting ready for our branch Christmas social for Thursday night. Elder Snelson and I pretty much spent Thursday running around getting every last thing that was not acquired during the week. The social was well attended and went fine on Thursday, but getting ready for it was a big pain.

Friday was our Christmas party for missionaries... see photos. There was singing and skits. Pres. Hendricks made the comment that if Pres. Uchtdorf can talk about the Grinch in the Christmas devotional, we can watch it. So we watched the cartoon version and also Mr. Krueger's Christmas. I got a kick that Jimmy Stewart has a cat named George.

Saturday being Christmas was spent with joy and bliss. Getting to talk to family was so nice! Wish some of you could have been there.


Elder Huffaker

Hustle and Bustle

(Brandon's letter from December 20, 2010)

Even though it's Christmas and it doesn't affect us too much as far as getting presents, dinner supplies, etc.; it doesn't change the fact that us missionaries are always on the move.

First off, After emailing on Tuesday last week, Elder Snelson and I went back over to the Meddows yard and worked some more on the pile. We are now halfway through the pile! While going through this pile, we found forty-leggers. These things are deadly if they bite. We found a couple of them and they were killed on sight. Not the biggest ones I've seen, but enough to do some damage. The other thing we found were snakes. I don't know what kind of snakes they were, but they were silver, pink and brown in color. It was kinda a glossy color at that.

Wednesday after district meeting, the zone leaders took Elder Brough and I out to Morant Bay while Elder Snelson stayed in Yallahs with Elder Toutai. While there in Morant Bay we picked up some supplies from a building supply store for a member. It was kinda weird. There wasn't really an order to things and I'm surprised I got through. We had sheets of zinc and lumber going from the tailgate to the cab (on top) it was a sight to see and I had no camera. It was an adventure when we went to take the supplies to the members home. We tried to take the upper road, only to find out that the wall had collapsed at one part. So we had to back up (no space to reverse) and take the lower road. We were stoked that we made it backing up.

Friday was another rain dumping day. Thankfully we were inside when it started and it stopped long enough for us to get out the door and start down the road before it began again. It was kinda miserable Friday just to get wet and dry repeatedly.

Lastly, I dunno if I talked about this last week or not, but Elder Brough and I along with our companions sing the twelve days of christmas, adding one day for each day. Yesterday was seven swans a swimming and today we will add 8 maids a milkin'!

The pics are of Yallahs from the hillside overlooking it. I tried to get a closeup of our house, but there are a lot of trees in the way.

Merry Christmas
Elder Huffaker

12 Days of Christmas

(Brandon's letter from December 14, 2010)

It's getting closer, it's true! In fact Elder Brough and I are singing one more line of the song to each other for every day that we get closer.

Not included in the song is about missionaries in Jamaica! This week we had a service project at the Meddow's house. There is this "pile" in the back yard. They share the house with a couple other tenants, and one of the tenants made this pile! The pile is composed of: decomposing garbage, dirt and rocks. Well the landlord isn't the happiest. So we were asked to come move the pile. The rocks get pushed off to the side, the dirt goes in a ditch around a tree and the garbage.... well it gets raked up for burning. It was quite unexpected to find the rocks, but the dirt and the garbage I expected. I thought it was gonna be easy until I found the rocks.

Wednesday we had zone meeting. This was also part of getting ready for the Christmas party we missionaries have. Each zone is asked to perform a skit. Well, we got one. Our skit is to start off doing a "Christmas can-can" we'll then stop in the middle of it and change to the Haka! I made the mistake of calling it a Samoan Slap Dance. NO! NO! NO! Elder Toutai is a Tongan.

After we practiced the Haka for a while. The Flakes and the Herberts, senior couples, fed us a lunch of waffles and oranges. Oranges aren't always orange down here. They also have green skins!

Hoping for a baptism this week.

Elder Huffaker

What Week?

(Brandon's letter from December 6, 2010)

Since last week, different things have been happening.

First off, Our district meeting was a companionship short. The zone leaders went to zone leader council, so we it was a little quieter in district meeting, but I think it was still a good district meeting. The Flakes, who is the senior couple in our district, gave us missionaries 150 dollars credit at a local members shop. So I bought a huge pineapple and I'll show you how we eat them down here! Then, I got a phone call from Elder Daniels. He's the branch president, in case you forgot. He asked me to call home! WHAT!!! Call Home! you gotta be kidding me. Well it was on church business. I need a fax from my bank back home for a bank down here. It's turned out to be a real hassle.

Then, about two months ago, I mentioned one of our members that grows orchids and gave us some. Well she gave us more and then I saw that some of them weren't growing in pots at all! They were growing in coconut husks! So I had to get a picture of that. How often do you see plants growing in plants?
Finally, today we had a zone basketball in Portmore. That's why I'm emailing so late today. But we had a good time.

Merry Christmas
Elder Huffaker


(Brandon's letter from November 29, 2010)

So this week has had it's ups and downs. I won't share with you the downs so much as I will the ups.

First off, I saw Elder McGrath, well I guess Bro. McGrath, last p-day. I couldn't believe it. I've never seen a missionary return so soon to Jamaica after their mission. He went home about the first week of October (basically when I was transferred with Elder Jarman). I was so astounded to see him, but it was really cool.

Then, have you ever been asked a question that just makes you go.... what?, why......? Well, if not, just wait till you get 3 separate individuals who come up to you and ask, "What deoderant are you wearing?" Lemme tell ya, you probably have the look of like a deer in the headlights. It wasn't men asking me either. So you really gotta wonder, which side of the breeze are you standing on. Well, at least I know I've got the right brand.

Then we had the zoneleaders over on Wednesday. We travelled around in their truck, which was a nice break from biking everywhere. We did pass the ocean and Elder Emery said, "I gotta get some pictures of this." So I got some too.

Love Elder Huffaker

P.S. the butterfly landed on me!

Monday, December 13, 2010


(Brandon's letter from November 22, 2010)

Well, I don't really know what to tell you this week because not much really happened.

First off, Elder Jarman left Wednesday morning. The Assistants came and picked him up and dropped off my next trainee. While we were waiting, it was dumping rain. So Elder Jarman and I had a little fun. Then we decided it would be funny if my new trainee saw me in a wheel chair sitting out on the veranda thinking I was incapacitated. So when Elder Snelson showed up he had this look on his face like "this is my companion?" It was really cool. I didn't keep the charade for very long.

I'm still the district leader for Yallahs and Boulevard Elders. Just enjoy the pics from last week and this week!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What a WEEK!

This week, we've had our share of excitement and activities.

First off, Elder Jarman played a local board game called Ludi (lou - dee) with a few Jamaicans. Ludi is a game for up to four players. We've played it and thought we were pretty darn good. So we challenged a couple of Jamaicans to a game. They are friends of a member here. We made a deal. We win they come to church, they win, we give em a small pack of cookies. Let's just say the game didn't turn out in our favor. It was a very close game though.

Wednesday we had our second district meeting EVER this transfer. We played a game of Fly-up afterwards. It was pretty fun. I then went on a tradeoff with one of the Boulevard Elders, Elder Brough. Elder Ostberg stayed in Yallahs with Elder Jarman. I had a great time with Elder Brough. This included a reuniting with a very sorely missed "friend" (see pics). I couldn't believe it. Over 18 months and I finally got a taste of Dr. Pepper! I was so stoked that Elder Ostberg was so nice. Then I saw... their tower. Now I wonder if he really was being nice.

Yesterday, Sunday, I was sustained as the local branch clerk as well. Now I have a calling here, so I figured I must be staying for transfers, which are this week. It didn't surprise me too much, other than, I'm a missionary and we get moved around. However, I've been acting as the branch clerk since I arrived.

Then, we got our transfer calls last night. I will be staying in Yallahs, but not with Elder Jarman. I have been asked to train a new missionary, again. I couldn't believe it! Elder Jarman is being sent to Sav la Mar! I know he's gonna have a good time there. Elder Brough, who is in my district, is also training. That's 2 out of the 3 new missionaries coming.

From Marilyn: Apparently Brandon could not get his photos uploaded; we'll watch for them next week!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Well, as I'm sure you are all aware. We had a tropical storm/hurricane. So last Monday was prepping for the storm and getting all our supplies. AND WE WAIT.

Wednesday I went into Kingston for a leadership meeting with Pres. Hendricks and the Assistants. It was pretty good, except for the fact that I pretty much sat there all day. Elder Jarman went to Portmore for the day. When I finally got Elder Jarman back and reached Yallahs, it was 7:30 at night, and we left out at 5:00 in the morning. LONG DAY!

Then we had our "storm". Thursday was as quiet as all get out! I've never seen a place in Jamaica so quiet. We couldn't really teach anyone because they would lock themselves in their homes. This storm was supposed to hit Thursday morning, then Thursday afternoon, and then Friday morning. I'm sittin' here thinkin'.... what storm? It just drizzled a little and they got everyone worried about that. Well, I guess you can never really predict these things, better safe than sorry. But I'm still trying to figure out where the storm went.

Apparently it turned into a hurricane after it passed Jamaica and was on it's way to Haiti.

Friday was kinda interesting at our Friday night activity. We had two investigators that came (we had more than two but these two made it interesting) that also happen to be sisters. Well every game we played, I think they were out to get each other. Especially when it came to a water game. They just gave it! It was pretty funny to watch. AWWW Family love!

Please see photos:

Elder Huffaker

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tropical Storm Tomas

From Marilyn:
Just a quick update on the weather in Brandon's area for you.

Hurricane Tomas, which is downgraded to a tropical storm (up to 74 mph winds), but expected to gain intensity, ..... is starting to affect the eastern parishes (like counties) of Jamaica today. All small craft & fishing boats have been called back to safe harbor. Brandon is inYallahs, which is in St. Thomas parish, on the south eastern coast of the island. Schools and courts are closed tomorrow. High winds and heavy rain are expected tonight and tomorrow as the storm passes through. After seeing the damage in Kingston from Tropical Storm Nicole, we know that this storm has potential to bring a great deal of harm, not only to Jamaica, but also Haiti, the Bahamas, and the Turks & Caicos islands (the last two are also part of Brandon's mission). The mission office will instruct all the missionaries about where to be, and we know Brandon will be smart about hunkering down when necessary. Please keep him and the missionaries and people there in your thoughts and prayers. We hope Brandon can be a blessing to those where he is serving now.

It's a Wonderful Life

Well, I may not be in a black and white film that takes place at Christmas time, but being a missionary is great!

Tuesday, Elder Jarman and I had an adventure of putting up two and a half walls of a house. We used two 4 x 8 sheets of plywood, two hammers, a half lb bag of 2 in. nails, and 3 hand saws. This "little" adventure took all afternoon and left me with a blister. I remember that when it neared 5:30 p.m. all I wanted was to finish this and die! At first I kinda made light of it, but as we went along, it took its toll on me.
Wednesday we had a zone conference in Kingston. We had the area doctor, Elder Kilgore, visiting. He gave a little instruction on missionary health. He told us to drink more water. We need to be drinking 4 liters of water a day, I was at about 2. DOUBLE IT! So Thursday I did, and I've seen more bushes and walls in one day than I normally did in one week. This little fiasco is no good on my body that is used to a lower intake. So when we bussed on Saturday for a baptism (which I'll get to in a minute) I actually had to stop the bus so I could get off and go. Elder Jarman had to as well. We ended paying an extra $80 each. I'll pay an extra bit of cash as long as I don't have a wet spot on my pants by the time I arrive in Kingston.

Saturday was a baptism. Arleen Francis, who lives in Morant Bay, that we did the service project for on Tuesday, was baptized. Elder Jarman performed the ordinance. I think he was really nervous about it, because he kept asking me about it.

I'm sending pics of this week plus a few other pics I bummed off Elder Jarman.
Pictures include my white shirt after Tuesday's project, Friday Night Activity where we floured a member for his birthday, some red pea soup, our project on Tuesday, and the baptism.

I'll have to send the other pictures I got from Elder Jarman next week (red pea soup and the project)

Thursday, October 28, 2010


How do I describe this week..... I dunno, but it was good.

This week I taught my first district meeting as district leader. The Assistants decided to join us and even shared a little bit themselves. I went over "the challenging and testifying missionary" by Alvin Dyer. The Assistants said it was good except to get my district more involved next time. Oh well. After district meeting we went out to see one of the mission vehicles. They just switched over to Mitsubishi pickups. They look pretty good and still have that new car smell. mmmmmmmmmmmmm

After the district meeting, I went on a trade off with Elder Edwards, who is one of my zone leaders. He seemed very complacent while he was here in Yallahs with me. Elder Jarman went to Kingston with Elder Emery and rode in a car all the time. He misses the A/C and had quite the experience eating pig skin. I can't wait till he eats some mannish water. Not to mention he took one look at chicken foot and said, "NO!"

Anyways, Friday Night Activity was a little different this week. I introduced the family game of States, except I used countries because 90% of Jamaicans only know 5 states: Texas, Florida, California, New York and New Jersey. I don't really know why these are the only 5 they know other than that's probably the only places where they go when they go to the states. Back to the game, they really had a blast with it and I think they will want to play in the future.

Saturday, we had a lot of service we were doing. First we helped clean the Meddow's shop (they're a family in the local branch), then we went and cleaned the church, then we went and purchased some plywood for another service project. Well, I'm sure most of you know the saying, "When you play with fire, you're gonna get burned." AFTER 21 YEARS, it finally bit me. While cleaning the Meddow's shop, we cleaned out their chest freezer. To speed up the process we lit some coal and put a pot of water on it to get it going. So to help the coal get started, I blew on it. Some little ember decided to pop out at my face. Got me right on my left eyelid. So then I squeeze my eye shut. No I've got burn marks on my upper and lower eye. Needless, to say, this didn't stop me and won't stop me in the future. Lesson learned, watch out for leaping embers!

Pictures include: the sky that just seemed to pop out from a painter's canvas, me kissing $2700 goodbye for the purchase of the plywood for one of the service projects, and our orchids are in bloom, except for one last white one.

Elder Huffaker

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another Week in Yallahs

I dunno about you, but when you're not Lance Armstrong and you ride your bicycle all over the hills. You get pretty tired. So tired, you can't stay awake in studies.

Anyways. Well, we had zone meeting last Thursday in Kingston. Well this is great an' all, but the last elders had a car and we don't really know how long it would take us to get there. So we left out at 8:00 for the 10:00 meeting. One bus to Kingston, another one through Kingston, plus walking time to the church building equals 10:40!?! We were really late. I think the bus we got on to go through Kingston took the scenic route. Not to mention it stopped every 2 minutes to let people on and off. grrrrr STOP RINGING THE BELL!!!

We also had the fun experience of making rice and peas. It's not my first time, but the gas ran out. So the rice and peas turned to mush. Elder Jarman ate it still, but I've got to make another batch for him.

Then we rode up the side of the mountain. It takes about an hour to go up and only 10 to come down. But I did slap the bull! :)

We also got to enjoy some local ice cream cake. It's more like a 2 inch layer of ice cream with cookie around the outside.

Lastly, they've been building up a levee for the river to help control flooding. This involves a bull dozer. So when we rode by last night and it was parked, we decided. Hey! WHY NOT?

~short, simple and to the point. PLUS picures are worth a thousand words. Here's seven thousand words~

Elder Huffaker

Friday, October 15, 2010

First Week on the Job

Well, week one is now finished as far as training Elder Jarman goes. We did have some interesting times this week. Thankfully we had a member here who was willing to show us around and get acquainted with the members and investigators. We've been climbing up hills and chopping yards.

Along with all of that we got flooded.... again! Well I wasn't in Portmore this time. Saturday night brought some heavy rains brought water pouring down the mountain side. Our entrance was blocked off and so we had to climb up the mountain and come around a different way to get home. We were drenched and Elder Jarman broke his bicycle crank. Not only did it break, but was lost. It fell into some water and we tried to find it, however it was dark and the water was all muddy. So with wet clothes comes..... ANOTHER MISSIONARY CLOTHING DRYING MOMENT. (was that too long?)

Before the rains hit us Saturday morning. We stopped by a recent convert who grows and sells orchids. She even lent us out two of them which we are keeping on our veranda. We've got a purple-white one and an all white one. The purple has had another bloom since the photo was taken, but still nothing from the white. The member said she's trying to collect all 43 different color varieties!

Yesterday, I had to take over conducting the branch. It was kinda formidable, but I managed. I also ended up teaching Sunday School and Priesthood class. One of the former missionaries here was the branch president, so since he's gone, I've basically been given the responsibilities. Pres. Hendricks should be here this Sunday to set apart a new branch president.

We also have a brand new senior couple attending the branch here. They're training to be the new office couple. They're the Daniels from Mesa Arizona. We figure that either Elder Daniels or I will be called as the next branch president.

The Daniels did want to go out and do some missionary work, so we went to Morant Bay to see an investigator. On the way back, I got these pics to go with. It was getting kinda dark so sorry if it's difficult to see. It's the ocean and this falls along the road.

Elder Huffaker

P.S. I received a phone call from the Assistants last week. I'm also the District Leader.

P.S. from Marilyn:

In case you were wondering, a Branch President is the leader of a local congregation. Since the Church is pretty small in Jamaica, there aren't wards (larger congregations), only branches -- which are smaller. Yallahs is just a little east of Kingston, on the southern coast. Morant Bay is a little further east, still on the coast.