Friday, November 1, 2013

"Celebration" travels begin!

 One of the flyers from our presentation for "CELEBRATION", the mission-wide program that Pres. Mehr asked us to put together and take to all the youth and young single adults throughout the 10 countries, eight islands, eight currencies, and three languages of the West Indies Mission.  The power point presentation has four music, three dance, six visual arts, and two cooking arts slides with embedded music and video.  This was a computer challenge and small miracle with the above graphics carried throughout!  We were led to a wonderful YSA in Trinidad that helped us create flyers, invitations, and posters that can be sent digitally and edited in the various locations; all of the above had to be prepared in Dutch, French and English!  We felt the inspiration of the Lord as we went to him with President Mehr's vision and tried to give it structure and form.  What a blessing it has been to feel the inspiration flow and see the impact this will have for those who participate.
 The familiar LIAT airline; beginning our travels through the Carribbean!  LIAT, we were told, stands for.... leave island any time.....except on-time! We were on our way to Saint Lucia, an hour away, and  flew for four hours to Grenada, Barbados, St. Vincent and then, finally, into St. Lucia.  Go figure??
 The beautiful hotel, Auberge Seraphine.  Elder and Sister Gartz, the senior missionary couple on the island, kindly picked us up.  Look at the quaint lily pond!
  From the front of the hotel, looking out to the Ocean.
  Stunning white birds covering the trees.
 A closer look at one independent bird.
 A close-up of the beautiful pink pond lillies.
  Down the road from the hotel, we saw a cruise ship in the bay and found the restaurant, Coal Pot,  we  loved in St. Lucia two years ago at Christmas.
  Walking down to meet the Gartz to go visit some members before having our fireside that night.
 Stopped at a beautiful overlook and we actually saw..................................... tourists!  That is a sight NEVER seen in Trinidad!
Lunch with the Gartz at our fondly remembered delicious restaurant right on the water!
 Don't ya love the fish-shaped plates?
With Elder and Sister Gartz, we were able to meet and visit with Sister Marius, a member of the church in St. Lucia.  She is bedridden, has diabetes, and heart problems.  We had such a sweet visit with her.  She told us about her baptism; her children, (the missionaries), carried her out of her house on a stretcher, took her to the ocean, carried her into the waves (eight of them) and when a large wave came, held the stretcher down. She cried as she shared that she had never let any of the "Jehovah Wickedness," (her fond reference) in or anyone else, but when the Elders came, she told her housekeeper to let them come in.  She didn't know why, but felt certain they had to come talk to her.  What difference does one confined-to-her-bed new member of the church make? Ten people were baptized because of her shared testimony in the first year after her baptism.  Two of her caretakers, her neighbor, her sister and six others that live near her. She told us she lived in the US for thirty years, but returned to Trinidad, her place of birth, to die because she had a friend who died in the US and it was very expensive to transport her body back to St. Lucia. So she decided it wise to move here while she still could.  What an impact she has had!  She was given a calling to teach the youth.  They would come to her home, and she would teach them from her bed.  The elders come and visit her everyday and prepare the sacrament for her on Sundays.  It was a privilege to meet her! What an example for all of us hesitant to share the glorious news of the Gospel.
We went to the church and met with the members in the St. Lucia branch.  They were very excited about participating in Celebration.  It was a great first meeting!
Back on the plane, we returned to Trinidad for the YSA monthly activity the next day. The theme was strengthening families, and the plan was to have a FHE to pattern in their homes. Many of the YSAs are the only members in their families and have never seen an FHE.  The standards of the Church are sooooo foreign to what they have seen and experienced. 
We started out with a "get to know you activity."  Everyone was given three starburst candies to start.  They were instructed to ask questions about movies, books or careers with the intent to get the person across from them to say the words, "NO, or YES."  If they said either, they had to hand over one of their candies.  After a few minutes, one line stands up and moves down a few people to mix it up.  We had three switches.  They had a really good time, lots of laughs and one guy actually ended up with 12 candies!  We decided he should go into politics!
 The Stake President and his wife taught the lesson on a few paragraphs of the proclamation on the Family.  They did a great job!
As part of the lesson, he had them break into three groups and do the human knot!  The first time they couldn't talk, the second they could, to see the difference communication makes!
 A sister in one of the units, who loves all things Latin, taught them how to dance Salsa and Merengue for the activity.  She did a great job!  Refreshments were funny because we brought orange soda, vanilla floats and rice krispy treats.  They were like, "what's this stuff?"  So un-Trini-like!  They liked it! Mikey liked it!!
Back on Leave Island Any Time, we headed to Barbados.
 We met with the committee.  They were awesome, fully supportive and had publicized broadly the fireside for the next night, with the help of the Olpins.  It made a difference!
In our hotel, there was only the bathroom to escape to when Elder Monson, as usual, awakened at 4:30 or 5:00 am with no-where to go!  Ever resourceful, he created a comfortable nest in the bathtub and settled down to play some serious Sudoku (level 4) until I woke up.  Ahhhh, so nice!!
We were thrilled with the turn-out!  President and Sister Mehr were with us - thus the draw.  The audience was engaged and excited to participate.  We love these people!
The next day we had a rare opportunity to have a p-day. We read all the travel brochures in our hotel and decided to go to the acclaimed best beach in Barbados, Crane beach! We saw many, many churches along the way.  This was the cutest!
Some interesting Barbados houses!
Three girls waiting at the bus stop.
We stopped at an old plantation house we came across.  Sunberry plantation house in Barbardos is 300 years old.  It is an old sugar cane plantation which once had 244 slaves working the fields with house slaves also.  It was a virtual museum of past decades and a former way of life.
It reminded me of Scarlett Ohara's plantation. It was fascinating to see all the old original furniture and artifacts.
The grounds, stables and slave quarters were amazing.  They hold weddings there now.
This tree is over a hundred years old on the property.  This pose is ageless!  Navy Seals watch out!
We finally got to the beach, and it is stunning - the color; aquamarine, my fav, is a feast for the eyes!
Crane beach lived up to its billing.  We had soooo much fun, soaking in the glorious rays; well, old person style, (in the shade.)
Sand crabs darted everywhere!  Soooooooo fast, skimming on top of the sand and down.
I loved these baby feet all by themselves in the sand.  It reminded me of my grandchildren and that I get to see those beloved toes in the sand in Hawaii in the not-too-distant future!  I'm trying not to  think about that too much.
 One of hundreds of sand crab holes.  I stood there and took about 35 pictures trying to catch him when he came up, immediately retreating, to show my grandchildren..................
Voila! Persistence paid off! Here he is.........look closely because he is the same color as the sand!
Looks like a calendar, huh! I just drink in the color of this water, oh, and that gorgeous man too!
The billowing surge around the path back to our car was whimsically magical.
After leaving the beach, we went to Andromeda Botanical Gardens.  Soooooooo beautiful!
Some snaileys for our grandchildren!  We found our way home - the island is 21 by 14 miles, and eventually, if you don't drive into the ocean, you can find your way back to the hotel! 
We got ready to go to a fabulous restaurant which we had heard about at church to finish off our day - Champers.  We walked in and, of course, you needed reservations.  The woman just in front of us in line was by herself.  The hostess took her name, and then they took her to her table.  When we asked to be seated, the hostess said that hers was the last table and we would have to wait for an hour to an hour and a half.  I asked her if I could go speak to the woman they had just seated at her table.  The hostess said, looking at me a little askance, "Well, ok"  So she showed me where her table was and I went up to this lady and asked her if she would like some company to dine with.  I told her that she had been given the last table and I knew she was eating alone, so I wondered if she would mind letting us join her.  She smiled and said, "Sure, I would be happy to have you join me."  So we had a very pleasant two-hour dinner with Anne, from Atlanta Georgia!  She saw our name tags so we were able to talk about our church and what we are doing living here.  She is Catholic, a wonderful woman and we were able to share a positive message and impression of members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Thank goodness for Mitt and Ann Romney!  Now there is a missionary couple!
Back at the airport in Trinidad, we were home again to prepare for the next Celebration adventure.