Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Big Changes in Trinidad this week

 So much has happened since my last blog post!  We are in our permanent apartment........ we actually believe we are on an Island, this was pretty much in doubt since we arrived a month ago in the dark of night and have seen tiny glimpses of water since and .........we have had amazing experiences to celebrate the birth of Christ!
Isn't that gleaming floor beautiful? We spent two days scrubbing paint, tile adhesive and dirt off the floor  with a dear senior sister friend who helped us.  We are so happy to be in a clean apartment.  Furniture will come from the mission home when they refurnish it in January. 

 Trinidad I AM (their Walmart) provided this cool cabinet that came in a box and our friend put it together! Elder Monson put the one on the left together.  The senior couples here have been so kind and helpful to us!
 We found that blue plastic counter extender cabinet at the (plastic store.)  That's what one sister calls the Walmart type store.
 The church bought this table from the previous owner.  Take note of the basin in the dining room.  I'm a fan of this Hindu custom!  I think I want to have one put in my dining room at home!  Guests to our home might think it a little weird, but I think it very practical!  Think how helpful that would be with little kids!
 Blue and yellow were my wedding colors a zillion years ago!  We are going backwards in time and I am really enjoying the blue and yellow all over again!

 Here's the second bedroom that we use as our office.  I got curtains made for privacy with the generous help of my neighbor Sister Brown's sewing machine. 
Blue kitchen, blue bathroom
We have ordered a bed but we have been sleeping on air mattresses for a week waiting for it!  We are thankful our fellow Elder and Sister had these we could borrow or it would have been a really long week.  We are expecting the bed today, hopefully!
 Meet Bhagwansingh's aka Home Depot.
 This is one of the saddest things!  There is trash EVERYWHERE! 
 Our p-day trip to the beach! Yes- it is an island!

 Sister Sanner and I were searching for shells for our grandchildren!

 These are the pictures you were expecting from our mission, right?
It really is beautiful.

 Very large birds on the beach!
A few of our feet loving the feel of the sand!  It sure doesn't feel or look like Christmas! Guess which are mine and Elder Monson's?
 Speaking of Christmas, this was anther branch's Christmas party.  Here's their version of the nativity play.
 The choir performing!  One of my three moo moo skirts.  When we got our first call to the Congo, I was told we could wear moo moos.  Not here. So I brought them, cut them off and now they are skirts in Trinidad.
 The Elders performing some kind of Hindu dance!
 All the members...everyone comes to the Christmas party!
 On our pday beach trip, we traveled a long distance (this Island is as big as Delaware) and saw some amazing things.  How would you like these cooked up as Escargot?  They were huge!  It would definitely move them from an appetizer to an Entree!!
 The sales lady playing with her food!

 The same snail lady. This was the first book of Mormon I placed for the day,  They were interested but could not read.  Illiteracy is a big problem here. After testifying to the truth of the book and reading the purpose from the cover page,  he said he would like to have it and promised he would take it to a person in his family that could read it to him. 

  This is a little architectural tour.  The houses look askance because they are put together as the people can afford materials, sometimes over years which account for the different structures, colors and textures. In previous posts, you saw the mansions of the very rich people in Valsayn where the mission office, home and office senior couples live.  Everyone else seems to be poor or very very poor.

 The grocery store entrance.
 Perfect picture of the covering of their heavy thick braids to cool off in the heat and humidity. 
This is the branch president of one of the branches.  His hair is beautiful.  It is hard to see here, but to the left of his tie is part of it.  It reaches almost to his waist.  He is a great man and has an adorable family.  I'd guess he's about 31.
 Look closely at what the man with the blue tshirt is holding.  A goat's head.  All the hanging bags sell parts of the goat, every imaginable part!
 This was the sign behind their stand.  They are muslim and this was the second book of mormon placement for me for our pday outing. The Halal means it has been prayed over. 
We talked about Christmas, Christ's birth, the actual date of his birth (they knew) and his divinity.  These people promised to read the Book of Mormon. 
 The story I want to share with you this week is very sacred to me.  The young woman on the right has become a special person to us.  We love her.  When she was 17, her parents and her brother were shot and killed.  She and several of the other YSA invited us to go with them caroling on Sunday night.  We went to less active members of the church and investigators.  It was my day to drive (Elder Monson and I trade off since the driving is so crazy, we have to practice frequently) and seriously as our three cars, there were about 13 of us, wound around (San Francisco reminiscent) skinny and precarious roads, we thought it would be our last day!  The evening touched my heart in a way that no other Christmas experience ever has. 
 Several missionaries joined up with us. We practiced at the church building with the hymn books, brought them along and loaded up into three cars. 

Look closely at this picture.  Before we got here, one of the missionaries said this is the neighborhood they tract daily and to get ready because we are going straight up a mountain.  Notice the people going straight up toward the light at the top.  I was holding onto Elder Monson's belt buckle and it seriously reminded me of hiking straight up mountains at the cabin only in the dark with missionary shoes and a skirt on!
 Literally perched n the side of these mountains on stilts of raggedy planks of wood were shacks where families live.

 This house was much nicer than the first one.  This was the last house we visited on that hill.  The first house was so hard to get to and so slippery that I was sure I would slide down.  We reached the top and there was no door just a single light bulb in the middle of a tiny one room shack.  The mother, father and six children came out as we began singing to them.  The father walked over to the side and kind of squatted down in the dirt to listen.  The children, all barefoot on a dirt floor in the one little room that constituted their home, clustered around their mother just outside the opening to listen to us sing.  We sang the first Noel and then Silent Night.  The children and mother seemed to hang onto every note and for some reason, our voices seemed to blend better than the previous rendition.  As I watched the children smiling and so happy to hear the sacred words of hymns that celebrate His gift to the world, the scene of the birth of the Lord resonated in my heart with a poignant realization. The wisdom of God in having his Son be born in the most humble of circumstances made perfect sense suddenly and powerfully.  All of his children must be able to come to him, to find there understanding and hope.  The message of joy eternally, of infinite potential to feel his love regardless of our mortal experience, to be lifted daily by his atonement above the constraints of this life, hit me like a wave and I was grateful for Christmas in a way I had never before imagined.  How thankful I am for this experience.  That family experienced joy, hope and love in the message of Jesus Christ and for a moment, we all had the same experience, in spite of vast differences.  All are alike unto God.  God is no respecter of persons.  There is no shortage of his love!  There can be greater happiness in a one room shack clinging onto the side of a hill than in a lavish mansion in any number of cities in the United States.  It isn't the size of the room in your home but the room available in your heart that makes Christmas!

This is the family pet of Mary's children.  They caught it two nights ago on the side of the hill. 

  Merry Christmas ........until next week!


  1. That apartment looks like a huge upgrade from the last one! I noticed there are no bars covering the door and windows. Does that mean it is in a safer place or that it is a less safe apartment? I could spot your feet in that picture from a mile away. Dad has his foot long finger toes and you have your eternal nail polish color on:) That story was very sweet and a great reminder that even when we feel like we have nothing, compared to so many others around the world, we are very rich.

  2. Oh and one more thing, I couldn't help but laugh at the story and picture of the goat head. It made me think of that poor girl in Greece who was telling us that baby goat was on the menu for the day and we could not stop laughing!

  3. Do all the crooked houses make you feel like you have vertigo?

  4. That story made me cry. It reminded me of Christmas on my mission. This is why missionaries are so weird when they get home. The things that seemed to matter before seem so ridiculous in the context of these experiences. You have a beautiful eternal perspective about everything you see and everyone you meet. What a great way to celebrate the birth of our Savior. We love you. Merry Christmas!


  5. I was laughing/smiling as I read your blog this week! I hope you have a Merry Trinadad Christmas! I am at my oldest sons home for the holiday to celebrate the birth of his first son on Dec.20th. I do hope that you and Dwight have a wonderful missionary experience . You are two of my favorite people!