Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Celebration travels continue/ YSA activities and such

Since the last post we have had St. Martin, St. Vincent and Grenada Celebration visits.  We have loved visiting the faithful people in all the areas of the mission and introducing them to Celebration! Few things have been more gratifying than to see them get really excited about it - about sharing the Gospel with friends and neighbors by involving them in singing, dancing, and creating things that are "virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy!"  Whether it is just one or two, or a roomful of people at a fireside - when they catch the vision and possibilities, and see themselves participating, it is exciting! This is an entire month post, so just peruse a little of it at a time - it is way too long for one sitting....sorry!  I have no time to blog anymore!
 First, though, when we return to Trinidad, it is crazy busy to get done all we need to before we leave again.  We had been hard at work at our computers and looked out our window to see this!  Only in Trinidad could I look out my window and see an unfamiliar "worker" man just taking a nap on the top of our patio fence!  He eventually woke up and moved on.
 Here's another unique Trinidad  sight - one needs 640 Trinidad pennies to make one US dollar - so you can see why they become part of the street!
 A major holiday in Trinidad- Davali!  This is our landlord that lives next to "Blue Heaven."  He was lighting the lights in front of our apartment.................
 And in front of his house............... 
They were all along the streets and all the houses!  There were fireworks all over the country. Ramdial explained the meaning to us as we went out to walk and see all the Hindu houses lit up, the families dressed in their finest clothes, handing out gifts to passersby.  He said that it is literally the darkest night of the year in Trinidad and the lights/fireworks signify that light can overcome any darkness and even the darkest night.  We got three baggies of fruit, cake and candies as we walked the neighborhood watching the fireworks all over the city. It was lovely!
 A Dad and his two sons were lighting these fireworks in their yard.
We are thrilled that at our yearly YSA planning meeting (the second one since we've been on our mission- amazing!) we had reps from almost every unit in the Stake.  They came up with a new mission statement for 2014 and decided on the purpose for every activity for each month of the year! Planning with a purpose was a foreign concept last year!  This year they knew exactly where to begin. They have come so far since we got here a year ago.
 I was so excited to tell them that I brought ketchup (to drown everything in) and hot sauce!  I'm on to what they love now.
Driving home in the pouring rain, we HAD to take this classic picture!
We had a farewell dinner in Trinidad for the Thompsons (they are off to replace the Wrights in St. Martin) on Monday.  We were freezing - can you tell?  That same week on Friday we met them again in St. Martin for our celebration visit.
Wow!  This place is made for tourists!
The Thompsons are on the left, replacing the Wrights going home in a few weeks.  We spent the day together seeing the sights.
The main street through town - a beautiful tourist shopping area.
Tourists! - something we NEVER see in Trinidad!
We went with the Wrights and Thompsons to see a famous fort with a breathtaking view of the city.  They introduced us to this spike-bearing cotton-lace tree.  Soooo unusual!
 It was huge and on the road up to the fort.
At the top of the hill, at the fort, overlooking the harbor.  You can see why it was a great idea to protect the country from high on top of this hill, with cannons pointed out to the sea, all around.
The view from high on the hill of the bustling city center and outdoor market.
The other side
Pondering the verities of life or "I just can't wait to be king!"
In case of an invasion
 The view of the fort from the bottom of the hill! We wandered through the outdoor market and then went to one of the 10 most popular beaches in the entire world!
 This is for my grandchildren - the most interesting thing at the open market was the red snapper!  Did you know... when they die, they open their mouths and yell, "UH-OH!"
Admittedly, the water was gorgeous; the sand like velvet, but the astounding thing about this beach was that planes flew in right over the beach - so close you felt the sand sting your face from the really big jets!
 This sign was just across the street from the beach - the story goes that some tourists have actually hung onto the fence and the jet stream lifts their legs and body into the air while they hang on with their hands to the top.  They now have cops there so no crazy person tries it - seriously.....we were just across the street on the beach when a huge jet took off and I  thought I would loose my footing for a moment!  You have to close your eyes to keep the sand out and your hair is pelted with sand!  Crazy, but really cool!  Everybody sits there checking their watches with an airline schedule in-hand  waiting for the moments!
 Here's one coming in - this has to be where all the airline Caribbean pictures come from!  Look at the guy on the beach - he wasn't even a plant - he was legit!
 This picture is from the restaurant right on the beach.  There is a short-wave radio played for all to hear the pilots communicating with the control tower as they come in.  Elder Wright is a pilot and he was translating their pilot lingo for us!
 The food was decent too - what an experience!
 After the plane beach, we went to where the cruise ships come in and the pirate ship used in Pirates of the Carribbean floats, and is now privately owned; gorgeous flowers on the roadside where we stopped for water.
 ahhhhhhhh the temperature was delicious!
 This map on the tourist street,(by the cruise ships) was a perfect rendering to understand how St. Martin (French) is also St. Maartan (Dutch).  Both sides speak English, also.  We only have one branch on the Dutch side.
 Elder Monson actually found Johnny Depp and asked if he would pose with him for posterity! What a nice guy- puttin on the ole pirate costume and all!  We have no idea where that other guy came from!
 This is the ship Johnny sailed in on!
 His footsteps in the sand.............
The day ended on that glorious beach.
 The next day we attended the branch and it was the Primary presentation.  Soooo awesome and it made us miss all our grandchildren and wish we could see them doing their parts in primaries all over the US.  Our celebration fireside was held the third hour of church and was very well received.  They have so much strength in St. Martin because of all the medical students and families.  Take note, children who want to go to medical school!  St. Martin is a great place to be for a few years!
 The Primary president helping the kids with their parts.
 All the beautiful children in their "special program" finest!
 A young medical student and family sang a song we'd never heard about building an eternal family.  Sooo inspiring! 
 A very impressive Sunday School class of awesome kids who all want to participate in Celebration and had a fabulous teacher. After the block we had the Celebration meeting with the entire branch and then met with a very engaged and impressive committee who will make sure it happens. It was a very productive meeting; they will have a great show!
The planes have been jam-packed as we travel to all the "beautiful" tourist destination islands!  This was how many people continued on with us as we returned to Trinidad!!  We returned home to have three intense days of preparing for a YSA activity that was to be held on the very day we returned from St. Vincent. 
 We also went home to transfers, for which I teach a new missionary cooking class.  The main thrust for every class is, "eat vegetables!"  So I thought I should include a picture of the (every six weeks) roasted vegetables from which we make omelets, veggy chili and veggy enchiladas.  That is also the crush time to complete the journaling for missionaries "returning home with honor" and the new missionaries, "called to serve."  This is a program in this mission where the missionaries record their testimonies, what they hope to learn and accomplish etc. when they first enter the mission and then prior to leaving they email me pictures and express things they have learned and their testimonies again.  The growth and change is significant.  President reviews with them at their final interview both of those documents and a copy is sent home with them to keep.  I have loved this assignment as it gives me a glimpse into their hearts.  They also share one of their most spiritual experiences on their mission and at times, while editing and typing those, I have felt privileged to feel the power of the Spirit working in their lives. Then we were on to Saint Vincent.
The view outside our hotel
Our morning walk on the beach
The view from the open restaurant at the hotel
The rolling hills of St. Vincent
Driving into the moutains
The local bus
Gorgeous views
We reached the beach
With the Birds on the black beach.  They were such kind tour guides.
Swingin in the trees. This mission is really fun some days!
Walking into Black Point Tunnel constructed around 1815 using slave labor. It is a 360 ft tunnel through hard volcanic rock at a cost of five thousand pounds.  The tunnel was constructed to enable quicker transport of sugar from the sugar cane factory to the warf on the Byron side of the tunnel.  This facillitated rapid loading of the vessels.  The wharf had a crane to assist with the placing of the hogsheads of sugar. 
The tunnel had bats hanging from the ceiling
Coming out the other end to the sea
Right on the edge, looking back.
Imagine slaves cutting through this rock by hand
We met a wonderful groundskeeper on the property where the tunnel is located. Look at the giant tool he calls his "tree-climber."  He cut down a coconut to share with us.
Feeling like my life was threatened, I quickly took charge of the situation and subdued my attackers after wrestling his cutlass away from him!
In exchange for his life, he demonstrated how to really use a cutlass.  Everyone here has one, they walk down the street with them.
With just a few precise whacks, the coconut was opened perfectly.
It was very refreshing!  This was a taste of the green coconuts.
He showed us how to use a piece of coconut as a spoon to scoop out the coconut jelly.  They love it, we thought it was yucky.
Then he cut down a ripe coconut and with a few perfect taps in the right place, he had it peeled for us to eat right out of the shell. It was delicious!
So cool to watch the expert!  It looks sooooo easy with the back of a cutlass perfectly placed.
A recent storm washed a very old slave ship ashore.  This was the bow of the ship.
Standing in the middle
Cross bars of the ship
Love that black sand
This is the church group meeting house.  It is in the front room of the missionaries apartment.
Here they are - all great servants of the Lord
Visiting with a mother and her adorable baby
This is "bread fruit."  It grows on the trees and tastes exactly like potatoes.  We talked to a branch president who told us that growing up this was THE food they had to eat.  His single mother served this for breakfast, lunch and dinner from the trees.  It can be boiled, fried, au gratin, baked, mashed.  We had it scalloped and if I had not known better, I would have bet the ranch that it was a potato casserole. (Good thing we don't own a ranch!)
The fishermen bringing in their catch for the day to sell at the side of the road
Hauling it up to the street
Cleaning, filleting, and selling to people who come here daily
Not an easy way to make a living
Just like Harmon's, right?
We returned to Elder and Sister Bird's home to meet Sister Small.  She was born in the mountain village of South River, on the Caribbean Island of St. Vincent.  She was the youngest child of eight children.  When she was eight, she was abandoned and learned how to survive the best she could.  She lived with many different families.  She had a good friend who shared her lunch every day at school.  At the age of fourteen, she joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.  A year before she went on her mission to Canada, she met a French doctor and his wife.  They helped and loved her as their own daughter.  They were catholic, and supported her totally, including financing her LDS mission.  Her mother taught Ossie to sew, wash and clean when she was a very little girl.  She started sewing at five.  To cut fabric, she would use a knife, sharpened on a wet stone. When Sister Bird became friends with Ossie and knew about her sewing skills, she asked her one day if she had ever made a creche scene with Caribbean figures.  She was incredulous and responded, "You want me to make you a black Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus?"  "Yes, I do, and I believe if you did, many many people would buy them, and you could supplement your income and make your life much more comfortable."  Sister Bird brought some of her nativity sets to the senior conference and I loved them!  So I had to meet her and buy one when we went to St. Vincent.  Ossie is a remarkable woman with a warm heart and wry sense of humor.  I'm so thankful to know her.
Here we are with Ossie and her five children in front of her home (on the left.)
Sister Small doesn't have enough space in her home to make the nativity sets, so Sister Bird lets her work in their apartment.  Here is the assembly line for the new nativity sets.  Sister Bird has found an online business that sells nativity sets from around the world.  The man who runs it, does so to help  indigenous people all over the world, make a living, and does not charge them to advertise on his website.  There are good people in this world doing really wonderful things for people everywhere who struggle to survive.  It is very inspiring!
We met with members and friends in St. Vincent for the Celebration fireside and then afterward met with the committee who will be charged with making Celebration happen in their location.  Sister Small will be a big part of the success of Celebration.  One of the categories is sewing, so she can also showcase the beautiful work of her hands.
 The next morning we caught a flight back to Trinidad in time for the YSA activity the evening we got home.  The theme was "strengthen testimonies," and the committee decided on a game show format! It was a combination of  a bunch of games all pulled together into one to be played in a large group: Jeopardy, Minute To Win It, Pictionary, Family Feud, and The Price Is Right. 
 If you are interested in the details of this activity, go to wimysayouthresources.blogspot.com (our mission ysa/youth blog)

This picture illustrates one half of the room where we set up the game-board layout.
The other side of the room.  Family feud - 4 team leaders racing to ring the bell first
Family Feud - consulting together for the answer - see the big die on the left?
 Jeopardy - Has this team written the correct answer on their board?
Demonstrating one of the minute-to-win it games.
This guy can knock over some water bottles fast with head-panty-hose with weighted balls in the feet!
 Another minute-to-win-it challenge.  Cheering their blind-folded team member on!
One minute challenge to stack the cups to find the "one!"
 Putting on the armour of God in one minute
Giving out some family fued extra clues
 "Blow with thy wind" the fastest in one minute
 Shoot Samuel the Lamanite with the most arrows in a minute.
I cannot put our Grenada visit on this post too.  You have all probably given up long ago.  We had a great time with this activity and when we reviewed it at our next planning meeting, the assessment was that we actually met our purpose and they really DID learn more about the scriptures from playing these games than before they came..............................................

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