Tuesday, April 30, 2013

One more catch- up!

This is the last of the catch-up posts to get current from our insane last few weeks!  Random this and that about our various assignments!
 Pretty beautiful view of the Port of Spain coastlineWe've been seeing it more frequently driving there for car repair quotes, bike repair visits, apartment inspections and specialty American food items to feed 75 people at mission events.
 Unfortunately, this site is right next to the one you just saw.  This is someone's home.
 This family of seven children came to the ward we visited last Sunday.  Four of these girls came to YW and one other investigator.  So Young Women's class had ALL INVESTIGATORS and NO members.  That was a new one!  Our lesson was on the Plan of Salvation.  They told me their ages and two were 13.  When I asked if they were twins, the answer was, no, just different mothers, same father.  They said the missionaries are teaching them, but the parents are not interested!  The spirit was very strong as we addressed  their questions.  These people are hungry for truth and light!  Days like this one convince me that we are needed on this mission! 
 I have no idea what this means!  These signs are all over and the only association I have with this word is on a cruise ship when you meet before they sail and go over the safety stuff!!
 Here's another typical sight in the middle of the road.  A guy with a paint brush and a can of paint painting lines on the road by hand!
 I had to include this picture!  This is Madeo and his grandaughter, ARIA!! He is my favorite fresh produce stand guy!  For the last General Authority visit for which we had to make lunch for 75 people with the help of the other senior missionaries, he delivered all the fresh produce to our apartment!  He is amazing and we have a grand daughter with the same name as hers!  She actually spells it ARYA, but pronounces it the same......well, with a Trini accent!
 Recently, our landlord came and warned us that the water was going to be turned off all day to allow for some plumbing work that needed to be done so we filled up our YSA coolers to reserve some hand-washing water.  Here's the real color of the unfiltered water! Makes us really thankful for our filter!
 Here we are at the gate of the church for our YSA activity.  It was pouring rain and we had to go pick up a YSA in a different town before arriving.  The activity started at 4:00 pm.  The gate is still locked.  We were still waiting and look at the time on our clock inside the car!  We waited for 15 minutes more before the person with the key arrived and we could go in and set up for the activity!  Patience, that is one of the great blessings learned on this mission!  The activity was a bon-fire!  With a real fire!  Notice the rain on the windshield.  It had poured all day long.  We expected about 10 people to show and were shocked when 40 came!  It was the bon-fire!  None of them had ever done it before in their lives!  They loved it!
 We started the activity breaking into small groups and performing Book of Mormon skits.  They worked on them and then presented to the group. We facilitated discussion about the principle taught afterward. 
 Nephi's brothers beating him up!
 Laban drunk and unconscious on the floor.
 King Lamoni being administered CPR to try and revive him!
 After the skits, the young adults all carried their chairs out to the parking lot for the bon-fire!
 They had never roasted hot dogs or marshmallows and thought it was sooo funny! They had only seen it in movies!
 You can see it was still raining, but they didn't care!  It is drizzly, warm rain.
 They don't sell Graham crackers in this country, so when I described somores to one of the YSA reps she brought wheat crackers.  We brought the chocolate and the marshmallows.  They loved it!  One of the young adults asked me why Americans call them somores.  When I told her because once you taste one, you want some more, she laughed so loud!!
 We had a testimony meeting after they finished eating.  So sweet to hear their grateful faith for the blessings of the gospel in their lives.  I wish every young adult in America could understand what these young people sacrifice and must change to become members of the church!
 This young man has only been a member for a few weeks and is such a great person.  He is so happy and thankful that he has a new family made up of other young adults that support him in his righteous desires. 

I had to include this story.  This was shared by one of the senior missionaries we work with for his devotional.  He shared a letter written to him from a member in our mission relating their efforts to be sealed in the temple as a family.  Names have been removed.

Dear Elder,

First of all let me thank you for all the help and support both my family and I received from the church to make a dream come true. Going to the temple sometimes seem for some like a walk to the park but for us it was a step on the moon. Unlike most elders I did not have the opportunity to go to the MTC or to the temple before my mission. I went after, at the conclusion of my mission. It just so happened that I was to be released on my birthday. It was the same day I got my endowment. It was a birthday gift from the Heavens. It was a great celebration. Angels attended and the Spirit was just everywhere. I remember sitting in the temple praying after I was endowed. I told my Father in Heaven that I was afraid to go home. I don't know what Suriname holds for me. What future do I have there I asked Him. Then in a sudden. A face came to my mind. It was the face of a young women. The Spirit said that she is waiting. The funny thing about this is that she never liked me before my mission but I came home. Can you imagine my joy to be able to sit with this same person, at the same spot in the same temple ten years after and being able to be sealed to her and our beautiful children for time and all eternity. I have not words to describe the joy and the happiness that the temple has given us.

Our entire world changed as we started to prepare to attend the temple seven years ago. Our house rent was too high so we couldn't save to go to the temple. We prayed about it and shared our concerns with my in-laws. They suggested we move in with them. We did that. We had bought a peace of land to build on but couldn't continue paying for it and if we decided to stop the payment we would lose all the down payment that we had made. We didn't care about the down payment because we wanted to go the temple more. I then had to quit my job because my boss did not want to pay me. I got another job the same day and started immediately. We had another peace of land we had gotten from the government. They said if we wanted to keep the land we would have to build something on it. My wife and talked about it and took our problem to the Lord. The Lord listened and then reply, you know what do. We let the land go. Then suddenly our daughter got sick with her eyes. We spent our saved money and two years going to different doctors almost every week, sometimes even twice a week. After much fasting and prayers she received a surgery on her eyes. She is still healing from that. Then one month before leaving for the temple they told us that our children can not go with us because they are not Surinamese and will not get a Surinamese passport. I went to the embassy of Guyana and applied for two passports. They came a week before our trip, then the embassy said our children are not allowed to travel with those passports unless I cross the border to Guyana and come back. We had to do so. On coming back from Guyana it was too late to travel to Paramaribo so we had to spent the night in Nickerie. We couldn't find any hotel or place to stay so we slept on the floor of a house and attended church the next day. When we came back our son got sick and needed a surgery. He had the surgery and we left for our temple trip.

If we had to do it all over again we would. We have learned so much and have grown so much closer because of these trials we had. We have felt how much our Father loves and cares for us. We had an amazing time at the temple. This is the only church that has the keys that could seal us as a family. I am so grateful to our Father in Heaven for the blessing of being a member of his church.

your brother in the gospel of Jesus Christ 


Monday, April 29, 2013

Stake Youth Conference

Oh my goodness!  I am soooo far behind!  We have been insanely busy!  This post is about stake youth conference! We also have been buried with temporary assignments to care for the missionaries in the NW zone of Trinidad, the cars in the mission and apartment concerns and inspections in our zone. I am also now responsible for planning, coordinating with other seniors and preparing food for the missionaries for zone conferences, special visitors etc. If anyone working with youth wants more specific instructions for the activities listed here, find thematwimysayouthresources.blogspot.com our mission blog for senior missionaries and youth leaders. 
 Friday April 12th was stake youth conference!  We started with sign-in.  Elder Monson was teaching juggling to the early arrivals!  They loved it!  The elders were a big help.We made juggling balls with marbles inside newspaper covered with duct tape. 
See the juggling balls? As soon as they signed in, they were juggling and getting "Stand in Holy Places and be not moved," youth conference shirts. As they gathered, we played soccer, some basketball, and 4-way tug of war. 
When all the youts (their way of saying it) had arrived, we started with a devotional by Peaches and Jason Byng, a young married  couple.  They were fantastic!
After the devotional, we introduced our ice-breaker.  
Dinner followed the dance and then youth were transported to member's homes for the night.
 The next morning started with breakfast, (they all have on their youth conference shirts today) then a devotional featuring testimonies from two outstanding youth; Cameron and Anastasia 
 Station #1 Crossing the filthy river
 We had them cross a raging river together.  The river represents the river of water which Nephi and Lehi beheld. It is described as “the fountain of filthy water which thy father saw; yea, even the river of which he spake; and the depths thereof are the depths of hell.” 
The Saints can accomplish any purpose of the Lord when fully united in righteousness."  Henry B. Eyring   A true friend is somebody who helps you get across the river safely.
 Starting over the first time!
 They loved this activity!
 After rafts washed away, and to make sure everyone was on the river before any could get off, they began carrying some to safety.
 Station #1 part two: We separated into even smaller groups for the Holy Place Sculpture.
 Group planning and discussion time
 Group presentation time
 Sacred scriptures
 The garden of Gethsemane
 The tree of life
 Pleased Holy place sculptors
 At an outdoor wooded area very nearby, we held station #2 Capture the flag

Youts must be vigilant in protecting the flag, just as we diligently protect our spiritual health and well-being from the temptations of the world.  We stand in a Holy Place as we become constant guardians of our virtue, integrity, honesty and purity from the wickedness of the evil one who desires that all become miserable as he is miserable. 

 The yout's in this culture have never heard of, let alone played, capture the flag.  They loved it and the location was perfect since they had plenty of trees and bushes to hide behind!
Our dear mission nurse and close friend, sister Sanner, ran the capture the flag station for us.  She was amazing and the youts loved this station.  One thing we can count on in this life is change.  Here she is just three days ago in the hospital and just over two weeks ago she was running around leading the charge in capture the flag.  She has been diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia and must go home.  We will miss her sooooo much!  Just to remind us of her tenacious character, she walked over to our apartment with her situation very unstable while we were getting in the car to go pick her up at the office and take her to the hospital!  She came here just two weeks before we did, so we believed we would have her companionship for our entire mission.  We are sad to have this change, but will always remember her fun laugh, competent professionalism and amazing spirit in the trials she has faced in her life.  We want to buy land near her in Kansas when we return so we will have some land in Missouri and won't have to walk so far when we are old.......er!
 The third and final station was gospel principle Skits, practicing in the morning and presented in the afternoon.  President and Sister Gould, the stake president and his wife, were facilitators for this group.  They did a fabulous job with the discussion points at the end of each skit.  The feedback the kids gave us for this station was that the youts had so much fun preparing, the performances were funny to see, and the discussion and application were spiritual and helpful to them.  Copies of each of the 6 skits are found at the blog site listed at the top of this post. 
 Waiting for the first performance to begin
 Elder Monson has had a hard day driving youts back and forth to capture the flag station!
 The show is on! The Family Law skit.
 The Built on Love skit where one builder builds his home on gospel principles and the other doesn't.
The house built with unsound character traits falls!
Little Missy and the Misfits skit
Pajama Jones skit.  This one, by popular demand, was performed twice!
You can see why!  They were quite the thespians!
Can you tell who the good guy is?  The bad guy???
Here is the whole group as we closed youth conference.  What a wonderful experience!  I had an opportunity that was amazing.  There was a beautiful young woman, 17 years old, brand new member of the church who came up to me and told me she was terrified and wanted to go home.  We had a long conversation during the dance.  She shared how her family of seven lives in one room.  Her Dad is a drug addict, her mom is an alcoholic, and every morning at 5:00 am her parents begin a daily battle throwing things at each other, cursing and screaming while the children huddle in terror.  This young woman joined the church because she felt the spirit confirm there is a better life, that Christ came to show a better way.  She decided to stay and ended up having a great experience at youth conference.  I am so humbled at the burdens these young people carry!!  My heart breaks for them, but I know that they can break the cycle of abuse and terror.  Only the Spirit and the Gospel of Jesus Christ can dispel the darkness in peoples lives.  The message of the gospel is one of hope, support and the triumph of the human spirit through Christ!  I feel so privileged to share this message with a world that desperately needs it!