There are several unrelated strange occurrences that sprang up this week on our mission, so hang on for the ride.
Ok, bad guys, watch out! I am keeping this street safe, while we get this tire changed!!
We had the opportunity to go visiting families with the Andrus's before they left to return home to Saint George. Luckily Elder Andrus was driving when he hit a whole tire in the road. Luckily, he hit the edge of it and didn't roll the car or crash into the cars speeding past us on both sides! Since he owns Andrus Trucking in Saint George, he knows how to handle tough driving situations. We all felt very grateful we were safe. The driver behind us drove on top of the tire and took out the oil pan and really damaged his car.
Because Carnival is Monday and Tuesday, traffic has been insane!
Elder Monson was driving 130 kilometers an hour on the freeway, well, sort of a freeway. The speed limit is 80 kilometers an hour and people were flying by doing at least double the speed limit. He had to move to the slow lane!! Guidelines, just guidelines!
This is the "poster" seen everywhere to try to get people to slow down! No tickets, just mashed cars sitting there on multiple corners. Every once in a while we see a new one appear. Cuts down on having to haul them away, I guess!
The flat tire night, we were able to visit a family where there is a great YM who is a pretty amazing Cricket player! His Dad is the manager of this team. He is playing 5 levels above his age. This is a men's team; late twenties and early thirties....and Emelio! It was really fun to watch him!
It is kind of like baseball, but a very different bat and they swing it low instead of high and run back and forth on one long strip instead of around bases. Seemed like it was more efficient to me, except that it lasts for days!!
This tree was down at the Savannah where Emelio was playing Cricket. What a tree! At the base to the right you can see the huge roots above the ground!
Today, fast Sunday, February 2012, I was so happy to see Mary (name changed) again. She is a YSA that came to our stake fireside last week in San Fernando and has been meeting with the missionaries. We spent quite a bit of time together at the fireside. She lives very close to the Chaguanas Branch. We gave her a ride home afterward, and the missionaries actually live just a short distance down the street from her home. She hugged me and said she was getting baptized next Saturday and wanted us to come. We went to the rest of our church meetings together and afterward sat in a classroom and limed. She told me her story, and I must record it here to remember forever. She said that she never knew her father, and her stepfather is a cruel man and has beaten her all her life. Her mother has not protected her from him, so she hasn’t felt loved from her, either. However, from as far back in her life as she can remember, she knew God, talked to him, and knew he loved her. She remembered as a very little child trying to go to sleep and talking out loud to her “Daddy in Heaven.” Her step father would yell at her to shut up, that no one was listening to her. She said she always knew that he did, describing three prayers where she specifically heard his voice! At 16, talking to God after a severe beaten, she prayed, “Daddy, take my life, or I need to take it so I can come back to you.” She ran out of the house and was bitten by a scorpion on her ankle. Her life was very nearly taken, but when she recovered her mom and stepfather were a little better. At 17, she couldn’t take the abuse anymore, again went outside, and called out to Heaven, “Daddy, why did you send me to a family where I am not loved? I cannot live here anymore! She heard a voice say, “I love you. You wanted to come, you chose to come! You have a purpose in your life.” A very distant relative whom she now calls Auntie was walking nearby and yelled over to her, “What are you talking about, Mary? Who are you talking to about no one loving you? You may come and live with me.” She did and lived there several years finally feeling safe. At her Auntie’s home she found an evangelical church and spent most of her time there. Thinking her family could be healed if they accepted Jesus, she told them to come to a surprise. She took them to her church where they had a powerful preacher testifying of Christ and inviting people to come up and be baptized, if they felt the Holy Spirit. She was thrilled when they did! They all went up to be baptized! She explained, “now I understand that they did not have the true priesthood and authority from God, but then I hoped it would change our family.”
She shared the second time she heard God’s voice. A young man in her congregation had cancer and was told that he had six months to live. The man came to Mary because he knew that she had a special relationship with God and would fast and pray for him to be healed. Mary explained that he had to believe that God could heal him, he had to have even a little bit of faith, but that little bit had to KNOW that Jesus had the power to heal him. If he had that, she would do it. He assured her he did, and so she fasted for seven days. During the day, she would eat no food and drink no water. At night she would drink water. After the seventh day she sat by herself on the floor with her legs crossed, hands upraised resting on her knees and supplicated the Lord in prayer. She prayed for an hour asking the Lord to heal her friend, accepting her fast as an earnest request for intervention in the young man’s behalf. She heard God reply, “He will be healed according to his faith.” The next day he was going to the Drs. for further testing and called Mary afterwards crying and exclaiming so much she could not hear him. When she could finally understand, he said the Dr. had no idea what had happened, but the cancer was completely gone!
Mary went on vacation to Barbados and sat down next to a young man from Holland. He was crying and as they began to talk, she found that he had a son who had recently died. The child’s death had broken apart his marriage. They visited for the entire flight and soon thereafter, fell in love and lived together for five years. She truly loved him, and they were going to be married. At this point, she picked up her camera phone and I saw her beautiful baby daughter, pictures of the Father and the baby; one of her and the baby next to her sleeping. Tears flowed down her cheeks as she described her love for her beautiful baby girl. At three months old, Drs. discovered the baby had a life threatening heart problem. She described how the baby was in an intensive care incubator struggling to breathe, so she reached into the incubator lifting her head and chest. Her elevated position seemed to ease her suffering, so Mary began screaming for help. She was completely ignored; no one would help her. The Father had abandoned Mary before the baby was born saying he could not emotionally deal with another child, so she was alone. This was the third time she heard God’s voice as she prayed out loud, pleading for her baby’s life. She heard, “I am taking her home, let her come to me.” She needs to have a Father, and you were not married. Let her come to me.” When she heard His voice, she whispered, “Take her home.” The baby at this point was in a coma, but as soon as her mother said those words, she opened her eyes, raised both her hands, and died. Both of us cried as Mary said, “I want to be married when I have another baby. I know that is how God wants babies to come to earth.” As the missionaries came to her home and described a loving Heavenly Father that lived with us as spirit daughters and sons before we came to this earth, a Father that knows and loves each one of us, our needs, the desires of our hearts, and the pain we carry; she immediately recognized that the God they were describing was her Daddy, the Father she had known her entire life. She is being baptized next Saturday in the Ocean and is talking about immediately going on a mission! She is 27. I can hardly wait, having recognized her spirit as a dear sister I have always loved since we first talked. What a privilege it is to find her again!
Here's a food selection for the week! Trinidad candy bars! Have you ever tasted any of these?
Or how about these?
This is a picture at the mission home. President and Sister Mehr had the Trinidad senior couples to lunch for a going-away party for Elder and Sister Andrus and Sister Galbraith. They were great missionaries and will be sorely missed!
Here we all are. Well, I took the picture so you could see everybody.....else!I had to record this crazy medical journey I've been living the last week or two. Elder Monson and I had to apply for an additional multi-entry visa so that we can go to other islands in our mission. To accomplish that, we both had to get physicals, have chest x-rays and a bunch of other stuff. So when my x-ray came back, it had a small spot on the lower right lung. The radiologist indicated lung disease etc. and I could not get the exam passed to get the additional visa. We were in a quandary about what to do. I was perfectly well, no symptoms whatsoever. The mission nurse suggested we return for another x-ray in 2 weeks to see if it was a fluke, or an error. Why might we have thought of that? Check out where I had the physical, and specifically the x ray taken. This picture is the base of the x-ray machine.
Here is the same base a little farther away.
This is the x-ray machine with the wire hanging down the wall.
Another shot of the base. Nothing but the best in Trinidad!This may be where I end up! j/k Well, eventually we all will, but if this is my time, don't leave me here! I like our little spot we've picked out in Oakley, Utah up by our cabin much better! Seriously, it was an absolute miracle the way this was resolved. With our assignment, we have to Skype people all over the mission, and in fact, former senior missionaries. We had prayed earnestly for an answer to resolve this hurdle so we could get on with our assignment. While Skyping with a former sister missionary from St. George, she asked how soon we would be going to Guyana. I explained the hiccup we had run into, and she was very interested. She wanted to know if I had been sick in the last year before our mission. I told her about the pneumonia I had a year ago that lasted over a month. She heard the whole description and said, "I think you had Valley Fever, not pneumonia!" Both she and her daughter had had Valley Fever! Her daughter almost died with it, and this sister has a permanent spot on her lung the size of a dime. She told me it is all over Arizona, and the area where it is endemic reaches up to Southern Utah. We had never heard of it! After extensive research online, and a conversation with my awesome Doctor in Saint George, (during the middle of his work day, no less) I went back for a second x-ray which looked identical to the first, but this time I gave him the Mayo Clinic information about Valley Fever. He wrote down all about it; I mentioned I had talked with my Dr. in the US about this, and he then sent the info to the radiologist. Both of them passed off the visa exam! We have submitted the papers and now only have two weeks to wait! There was no way that conversation was a coincidence! My Dr. in St. George is reviewing the information and x-ray. There is a definitive biopsy of the spot that can be done to be sure of Valley Fever which may have to happen, depending on what he thinks. Things are finally rolling on our visa though, and we are very grateful.
Here is a familiar picture of the way people make a living right in front of their house.
Valentines's Day is coming up! Stop on the way home and shop!
Yikes, it is starting to rain!! Wait seven minutes and the sun returns.This is all we have seen of Carnival! The missionaries are all on lock-down basically today and Tuesday. It has been going on all weekend. The wards and branches had to close an hour early to get all the members home and safe before all the roads turned into mass bedlam and celebration of the flesh. You can see last year's carnival if you go to google and look up Carnival Trinidad 2012. Don't check it out when your children are around, and don't look too long or too carefully. You can get the idea in a second! You will understand why everything comes to a halt as the people fall into depravity right before Ash Wednesday! .
This is the family we have been teaching. This little girl, Dianah is 12! She had to stand by Elder Monson in the picture so you could get the correct perspective. She is tiny!
The baby really wants some of those chocolate covered rice crispy treats we brought!
Here we are with all the children in the family. I wish you could have seen them playing with my ipad! Pure rapture and amazement! Have a blessed week! We will! We miss you all, but are so thankful for the wonderful blessing of serving this mission in Trinidad/Tobago!