Monday, January 6, 2014

Grenada Celebration visit and the Nutmeg factory tour

Welcome back!  It's been awhile!  My computer, purchased four months before we left for our mission at Costco, disintegrated.  Yeah, seriously, back up your entire computer on an external hard drive today if you haven't already learned that hard lesson.  Anyway, I am starting over on a new computer with four months and a few days to go on our mission.  So.......this post is going to take forever to do and be ridiculously long......nevertheless, I will pursue this learning curve.... trudging up a new Apple computer path, (always been a PC person), it is a new year and I WILL NOT BE DETERRED from the task of recording our mission!
So you can tell by the abundance of pale faces in the next few photos that something drastically changed on my mission!  My daughter and her husband had a beautiful baby boy join their family and I went home for ten days to help (and, unfortunately, to fix the above referenced computer problem which happened three days before I went home) His name is Ezra Monson Ellison and he is perfect and beautiful!  I am grateful I was able to feel his gentle spirit and love him for a few days!  Ten, to be exact, before returning to my mission.  I also got to see how much his momma and daddy adore him - which was awesome!
My brave new momma-daughter and my granddaughter Rylynn, carefully cherishing Ezra.
Their two Christmas angels.  Dad's not too crazy about the one on the left, but he's a pretty sweet boy too and seems to be very gentle with Ezra.
While at Abigayle's, Rachel and her family came to meet their new cousin.  After being cooped up in the car from Saint George they needed a little break-dancing time too!
This little Dallas man was two months old when we left.  He absolutely could not figure out how I got out of that little computer box he usually talks to me on - through Skype!
Aunt Marianne came to help, also.  We had some great Christmas food and our tiny, brand-new-baby boy made my thoughts and emotions very aware of the helpless-perfect-infant-King, born to save us, whose birth we celebrated (in a quiet, newborn baby way).
 While there, my mother held her yearly Christmas dinner party for my extended family at the Lion House in Salt Lake City and I was able to attend.
My siblings and most of their families with some important people missing who couldn't make it.
The old guard.  My siblings, Barbara, WenDee and Julie with our mother, Alice.  It was a wonderful party and I got to see so many people I love after a very long time.  Soooo thankful!
On the way back to my mission our son, Benjamin, met me at the airport in Texas during my lay-over and we went nearby to grab a waffle so I could see his adorable, beloved children.  I have never, in person, seen this little one who was born right after we left.  Sooooo beautiful!
This is Reagan, the proud big sister!  Sooooo fun to see so many of our grandchildren!  The only thing that comforted me as I returned was that I know I will see them all again soon.  Four months is going to fly by!  We are sooo busy now, weeks fly by before we know it!
There - I caught a full face picture of this cherished little man.
 Thanksgiving dinner was held at the mission home for all the missionaries.  Sister Mehr called a caterer we frequently use and asked if they knew how to make a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner with all the trimmings; mashed potatoes, yams, dressing, vegetables, salad etc.  Of course, the answer was a resounding yes!  It was interesting!
 When Trini Thanksgiving was delivered, there were mashed potatoes - but NO GRAVY!  We had to  create gravy from a left-over roasted chicken carcass I found in the fridge, and some leftover roasted vegetables, lots of chicken broth and voila!......there was plenty and it tasted good!  I would not suggest you fly to Trinidad for Thanksgiving dinner, however.  I have to remind myself, for future years, how fun it was on my mission to see confusion from many many people about Sister Mehr and me looking so much alike.  I seriously had a man in one of the units tell me to "stop pranking him, he knew that I was Sister Mehr and please stop teasing him!" The truth is, we are the same height, both white, and both have the same curly hair.  Other than that, she is younger, skinnier, and I believe if we were in our own country, no one would confuse us.  That being said, it is fun because it CONSTANTLY happens - all around the mission.  She is wonderful and I love her,  and it is a great compliment, so I should just say, "ok, you're right, I am Sister Mehr!"  Something about that one article of faith that says...."We believe in being honest................makes that response a little difficult!
This is a classic picture!  We love President Mehr and Elder Gamiette so much.  Elder Gamiette was the mission president before President and Sister Mehr.  We have been able to work with him on our mission too, so we have been doubly blessed.  They BOTH had dessert BEFORE Thanksgiving dinner!  Well, .................I have described the Trini Thanksgiving dinner.................AND Sister Mehr made the cheery pie, so yeah, it makes sense.  President Mehr ALWAYS likes desert first!

Celebration visits continued in November and December up until a day before I left to go to Utah for our new baby.

 The first night we met with President Stewart and two other members of the committee.  It was a great beginning.  President Stewart is very talented.  He is 27 years old and is the branch president doing a wonderful job.  The church is growing in the West Indies through young adults choosing to turn from the standards of past generations, picking up the banner of the values of the church and going forward in faith.  
The 2nd night we traveled to a remote location and met with a very small group of valiant young adults who were excited to participate in Celebration.  Though they are so few in number, their spirits are strong and one day there will be a branch there.  On the way we went to the Nutmeg Factory and the Chocolate Factory.  The Chocolate Factory will be in the next post.  
The third night we met with the Smith's and several others that had traveled long distances to meet as a committee.  It was a wonderful meeting.  Afterwards, we met with a large number of people that attended a Celebration fireside arranged by President Sampson.  We are so inspired by the sacrifices and difficulty faced by these good people.  We are blessed to be able to know, love and work with them as they advance the Lord's work in their part of His vineyard.
GRENADA pictures.
 Saint Georges was very European looking/ a little different than our St. George!
 The Public Library
 The remains of a church on a hillside in Grenada.  Don't you want the story?
 The tourist waterfall.  Grenada is known for it's spices.  I bought a spice necklace on the way there.
 The local jumper / a tough job but someone has to do it!

 Just some of the beautiful sites in Grenada.  This is one of the three places in our mission that people should actually go to on a vacation!
 We had meetings every night but were free to explore the Island during the day.  We went to the Falls, the Nutmeg and Chocolate Factory.  This is the Nutmeg Factory on the left.  We are such nerds about factories!  We love them and these are two of the greatest we have seen!  The Chocolate has to be on the next post!
The nutmeg plant, which grows on trees in Grenada, naturally bursts open when it is ripe exposing a red nut in the inside.  The thin red film around the nutmeg is peeled off and preserved to make mace.  The nuts are roasted, bagged and dried.  The last three pictures are of the mace.
Everything is organic.  This is the first room after the small one with the pictures.  We had a tour guide, a local worker there, and us.  We went up the stairs......soooo excited!
 Here is one of the bags full of nuts after the red mace layer has been stripped off.
 The nuts are placed on these huge drying racks.  There was a giant room full of these racks, dated as you can see.  They dry for three months layered on these platforms seven layers high.  They must be rotated as they dry, every two hours, with rakes to keep them oxygenated so they do not mold.  
 WOW!  That tiny bottle of nutmeg on your shelf takes all this work!!
 After they complete the drying cycle, they are bagged again and moved to the cracking station.
 This is the cracking machine
 Our guide pulled a bag over and dumped some down the cracking/crushing  machine so we could see how it works.
 He was a really nice guy - the machine looks like my great great great grandpa made it out behind the shed.
 The state-of-the-art motor!
 The pulley shoot in the floor where you can see the sorting women below.  
These eight ladies sit on these stools all day with a little door-shoot straight ahead of them.  They open it to release some of the shells/nuts and work all day separating the shells from the nuts by hand.  The ladies get 43 EC dollars per day or US 15 dollars a day - less than two dollars an hour.  Men get paid a comparable amount for heavy lifting and working. 15 dollars a day, $3,900 per year.  
 You can see the little trap door they open and close here to manage the flow of nuts and shells.  The bags by their side are for nuts, fragments, shells. and nuts that didn't crack which must be sent back up by the pulley into the crusher again.
 Their hands just fly!  I struck up a conversation with one of the ladies and she invited me to try it.  They work so hard and fast because their output is weighed everyday and if they don't meet quota, they are fired and there are 20 people waiting for each treasured stool - it's a job and will feed their families!
 Oh my!  This was quite the experience.  I actually loved it.  Every teenager in America should work in a factory line for a few minutes.  It was sooooo fast, and soooooo monotonous and after eight hours - I would not be able to move - fingers or back!  No question.
 I loved the sweet ladies- the camaraderie, interdependence, and  conversation shared around that sorting table - something is lost in our "advanced" culture.
 After the sorting, the nuts are put into these strainers and submerged in water in a long row of sinks - again- by hand.  The ones that rise to the top are the lower quality - used for cosmetics and medicines.  The ones that sink to the bottom are the highest quality and are used for pure nutmeg.  
 This strainer is a size divider.  After they are water tested, they are put into this sieve and the ones that drop through, the smaller ones, are the most concentrated.  Another grading division.  They are then put on shelves and dried again!
The bags of nuts to be shipped all over the world.  Each bag is a hundred and forty two pounds and somewhere between a half and 2/3rds of a sack this size is used to produce an eleven pound bag of nutmeg spice.  
 The majority of the nuts, after drying, are shipped out, but a certain percentage is finely ground into nutmeg powder and sent as the spice that we use in our cakes and pies.  I hope we all appreciate them more after reading this post.  I'm  going to remember those ladies; the homes they live in and how hard they work!
The bagged nuts are marked for locations all over the world.  This table is used to stencil the receiving location on the huge bags with this bucket of paint.  
 Check out the locations on his board - brush in hand for the bucket to mark the burlap bags.
 The Stencils
 Supporting his family by stenciling bags for the nutmeg nuts that are sent out everyday.
 The gift shop on the way out of the factory.
The other side of the gift shop.   The next post will be the Chocolate Factory.

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