Saturday, June 22, 2013


I have not posted for two weeks!  This post is very short and there are not many pictures.  We have been very busy with some major transitions!  Last week we were planning the YM and YW camps all week and this week, after meeting with President and Sister Mehr, we have been asked to work on a mission wide Caribbean culture celebration designed to commemorate the date 25 years ago when Elder Ballard dedicated the West Indies to the building up of the kingdom of God.  President released us from some of the burdens we have been carrying; cars, and organizing all the food for zone and other conferences, to focus on more important things.  We have worked hard and are really excited about the inspiration we have received for this initiative.  Now that it is done, we await the approval to start rolling it out through wards and branches in the mission. 
 Seriously, can you believe how skinny this road is??  It looked more like a bike trail than a road! We were searching for a location, with the Stake Young Women's President, to hold YW's camp this year.  Imagine driving down it and having cars pass you on the right with another car coming towards three cars abreast on this puddle of asphalt!
We were in Couva for Father's Day.  The Relief Society provided all Fathers with a surprise lunch.  We later heard from most of our kids calling on Skype to chat with their Dad.
 We passed this home and I had to go back and take a picture because it is so representative of one of the things I LOVE about this culture!  The people may be living in abject poverty, but their clothes are ALWAYS clean, pressed and neat.  It amazes me because I see what they have to wash their clothes in!
 We were able to go to Yerette, the number 1 tourist site in Trinidad, with the Brown's and the Mehr's to check it out for the upcoming senior conference. It is a couple's home turned into an art gallery for hummingbird photos, a porch filled with hummingbird feeders and an excellent presentation about these exotic and amazing birds. For example, the Hummingbird is the only bird that can fly straight up and dive straight down as well as fly backwards! There are thirteen varieties in Trinidad and people come from all over the world to view them here.  I bought some of his stunning photographs to be framed at home and hung at the cabin! 
 When we left for our mission, our Stake President set us apart and in those blessings told us that we would develop new talents on our mission.  We are so sad that the Brown's will be leaving us in a week.  With all the ways they have blessed this mission, they are leaving a big hole!  One of Sister Brown's many contributions has been a computer generated record of each of the young missionaries as they come into the field and go home with honor. It features favorite pictures of their mission, reflections, testimony and changes experienced while in the field. She has trained me to take over this responsibility and teaching this old dog new tricks has not been easy.  I have learned photo shop in the process and a bunch of other computer tricks.  Elder Monson has figured out how to imbed videos in our presentations.  Wow, our kids are going to be sooooo impressed!

 Elder and Sister Gubler have been handling the apartments in the mission since they arrived.  They have been inspecting them to make sure they are up to standard and moving new additional items needed in young missionary apartments.  In the midst of moving several items into missionary apartments, they received a call from a woman and she requested that they come and move them to a new apartment so the Gublers were arranging the time, place and details of her move and they were like, wait a minute, who are you, again?  .............She was not a member of the church!!  She thought she was calling a moving company!  It was the wrong number!
 We met Sister Singh in Guyana in the LaGrange branch. We had walked into the branch and the branch President asked us to be the speakers!  This has happened several times in our mission now and we are getting comfortable with trusting the Spirit to provide for us in the very moment the things He would want us to say.  After the meeting, Sister Singh came up to speak with us and shared her testimony.  She was Hindu, and her whole life she had prayed to all the thousands of Gods that they worship and she told us she had never felt anything in that process.  She was always obedient though, and never thought she was supposed to feel anything as she prayed.  When the missionaries knocked on her door and subsequently taught her about the plan of salvation and specifically about the pre-existence; being in the literal family of God the Father as a spirit child before this mortal life, she pondered in private  whether it could possibly be true that she was a literal child of God, that He had spiritually begotten her and that all perople on the earth are in the family of God.  She said that thought sunk deep into her heart and she wanted to find out if God was really her Father and if he was really there.  She said she knelt down to speak to her Father and as she began the prayer she felt an immediate presence right next to her. She didn't open her eyes, but the sense of someone right next to her was very powerful.  She was overwhelmed with emotion, with a sense of being loved and a feeling that she had a personal relationship with her Father in Heaven; that He could hear the words she was speaking and that He loved her.  She said from that day, she threw away all the God statues in her room and committed to be baptized. She has been a member of the church for twenty years, raised her family in the church and her husband was the previous branch president.  I had to record her testimony as I felt the Spirit confirm the truth in her words.  We are so blessed to be here!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Senior Missionary outing to the turtles!

If you have been following my blog, you know this mission does NOT look like Hawaii.  However this P-day, we drove way to the Northern edge of the Island to Grand Riviere to see the turtles.  Last post about turtles was at a much closer location, Matura.  It was also outstanding and one of the most wondrous things to see of my life.  Our trip this time was an overnight, because it is a three hour drive one-way and one must stay up late at night to see the turtles.  So we stayed at the McHaven hotel as a group and traveled home the next day.  I wanted to preserve this experience because as for this island being a tourist is definitely NOT!  However, seeing and experiencing the turtles is something if you ever get a chance (maybe traveling home from Tobago or Barbados) you should take advantage and experience leatherback turtles for an evening!  It is amazing!
 We left Trinidad at 3:30 and arrived at Grand Riviere at 7:00 pm.  The road reminded me of the road to Hana in Maui.  I almost got sick, but luckily switched to the front seat and recovered.  The scenery was absolutely astounding as we drove along the ocean.  It is what you would imagine a Caribbean mission location would look like, but we never see!
 The sun just setting.
 Not a gold-star exchange property, but adequate, decent food, clean enough and very appreciated. We were starved when we got there!  Ingrid (the owner) had dinner ready for us, we had family home evening and then walked down to the beach around 9:30 pm.
 Here's the road straight down to the beach.
This is the road the baby (below) got lost wandering down Good thing she didn't make it to that chicken!
 We were so anxious to see a hatchling! Clearly confused about the direction it should be going to get back to the ocean, we picked it up and carried it to the beach and the water. 
 This tiny hatchling will in ten years in the open sea (if it survives) become the size of a dinner plate.  In twenty years, it will be a mature adult measuring five to six feet and weighing 600-800 lbs.  As an adult, Leatherbacks eat twice their body weight everyday preferring jellyfish.  We were surrounded with turtles! 300-400 turtles a night come to nest at Grand Riviere along a mile long stretch of beach.  It was so dark that none of the pictures turned out, but we were right in the middle of about ten nesting turtles.  I was holding up a back flipper to see the eggs dropping better, sitting on the ground, and suddenly there was sand and water being flipped and sprayed all over me! Another turtle had come up right behind me and started digging her nest!  We walked home at midnight and passed out since we usually go to bed at 9:30!
 The guide had told us that if you come back at 5:00 am there will still be some nesting turtles.  Elder Monson woke up and took the ipad so we could get some day-time pictures!
 Wow!  You can see her so much better! 
 He said in the light of day the beach looked like a battle-ground!  The work of all those turtles was astounding!  Some were laying their eggs on top of another nest, so there were eggs dug up on the surface for all the predators that came for the early morning devouring. Look for them all down the beach.
 The coordinating council trying to decide where to attack first.
Everything conspiring against the new babies and their one-in-a- hundred chance of survival.

The stunning view of the sun just coming up on the beach!
Notice the camera on top of the shell of this mother.  There were some documentary people there in the morning, and they wanted to track her yearly migration, so they attached a camera to her back.  Here she goes, after nesting, back to the sea.
I am really excited to see this documentary some day!
There was a second one he got to watch.  You can see here the last step in nesting.  With her powerful front flippers, she camouflages the area, throwing sand behind her as she works.  
Now she is on her way back to the Sea.
What an awe-inspiring experience, even spiritual.  These ancient reptiles survived the dinosaur age and are threatened with extinction now because of getting caught in fishing nets, eating ocean-garbage plastic bags that look like jellyfish, and falling to poachers.  Their fight for survival continues.  "All things witness there is a God."
 Leaving the turtle experience, we enjoyed some of the most beautiful ocean vistas yet seen on our mission - reminiscent of Hawaii!
Back to work!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds!

We had one of the strangest experiences ever this week!  We also had a wonderful YSA activity and another YSA baptism!
 So, once you think you are so old that nothing will surprise you anymore, the unthinkable happens, and you get attacked by a BIRD!!  Elder Monson was innocently taking in some of the items for our YSA activity, and this bird was way up in the sky preparing her kamikaze attack pinpointed for the back of Elder Monson's head!!!  It came dive bombing down and pecked his head in SIX different attacks!!  The first time he yelled, I could not figure out what was going on, then I grabbed the camera and missed it every time.  It would flap around his head and then soar way up high and then dive bomb for his head again!  Seriously!!
 Preparing for the next approach when Elder Monson was not looking. He picked up a rock and was ready to go to war!  I was like, "What would Jesus do?"  He was having none of that!  That bird's days were numbered!  He put the keyboard over his head, and we went into the building.  Later, we told the missionaries the bizarre story, and they said it attacked them multiple times too.  They said two baby birds had fallen out of her nest and died.  The babies had been disposed of, but ever since, she was going to find and kill whoever was responsible!  I guess she just thought that Elder Monson looked like the type....... a baby bird killah!?????  Freaky weird!
 We had a blast at the activity, and 62 YSA's came!  A new record!  Here they are playing the ice breaker; zip, zap, zop and group movement wave. Our purpose for the activity was developing talents.
 The missionaries helped us with sign-in.
 We moved the tables out on the lawn so dinner was outside.  Everybody loved that! 
 Karaoke was next on the agenda!  Some sang with just the mike and we had a piano and voice solo.
 Watching the singers, waiting their turn.
 Just liming, and laughing together.
 We had some dancing to the singers.
 Some duets with a lone dancer performing for the crowd.
 A surprise birthday cake and special song.
 A Michael Jackson surprise visit.
 A couple of group line dances that were a big hit!
 Lots of laughing when we goofed up!
 The next day one of the YSA's at the activity was  baptized.
 What a sweet ending to the weekend.  After the activity we had the opportunity to have a long conversation with the President of the Arima Branch. Remember a few posts back, he was the Savior in the Easter production of, The Savior of the World.   President Francique has only been a member for three years.  He is sitting on the far right of this picture.  He told us his story and I had to write it down.  He always felt that God had a purpose for him.  As a child he was hit by a car, fell through a house roof and was saved hanging by his face, a light pole went through his leg, and he was mauled by a dog.  Later, bullets were flying around him in a political coup, and he was unhurt.  He always felt that God was protecting him for some purpose.  He said as a Young Adult he was drinking and partying.  His wife gave him a DVD from the church about families and after watching it, he told her he wanted to read the Book of Mormon.  He read it, started studying the church, and more and more answers to his questions were revealed to him.  One day, the missionaries were passing and he called out, "Yo", and told them to come inside and teach him about the church. They answered his questions and told him they were going to do something they had never done before.  They asked him to be baptized in three days.  He told them he had to think about it, he prayed and nothing came, again, and no answer, then again, and in the morning, he heard a voice that said, "What are you waiting on; you are ready."  There was a big problem though.  He Knew the Book of Mormon was true, but could not stop drinking.  He got on his knees and asked Heavenly Father to take away his desire to drink.  In his words, "from that moment, I cleared out all my alcohol and actually began to feel sick whenever I smelled alcohol.  I was trying to decide whether to be baptized and talked to my Uncle who is a 7th day adventist.  He smiled and told me that he was happy that God had spoken to me, that the church preaches the scriptures and they believe in Jesus Christ, so I should get baptized.  The week I was baptized, I cried for the first time in 25 years, on my knees, asking my brother for forgiveness for the way I had treated him.  It took me fifteen minutes to say the words, "I love you," to him.  I felt like I was being strangled.  He said he had forgiven me years before.  I apologized to anyone I had ever wronged to clear my heart and soul.  The week after I was baptized, I was a branch missionary. Two months later, the ward mission leader, six months later ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood and made the Elders Quorum president." One year after he was baptized, President Francique was presiding as Branch President.  We are so inspired by him!
 Adoli right after her baptism, being hugged by another YSA.  She is awesome and will be such a strength in her branch.
We had to walk quietly and quickly past momma bird.  I feel sorry for her.  She needs some help!  Elder Monson is still looking for a good buy on a pellet gun!