Saturday, January 11, 2014

Guyana/Berbise/Lindon Celebration visits

When we arrived in Guyana, we did some souvenir shopping in Georgetown and then went out to dinner with our dear senior missionaries.  The next day we drove to Berbise, and the Carters had arranged a fireside to which 6 units came with virtually every unit represented.  It was a phenomenal effort by the senior missionaries and a great fireside, filled to capacity.  The next day we got up early and went with the Buetlers to Lindon for church, a baptism, and a celebration fireside.
Some houses along the way…...
 The adorable Primary in Lindon - that's a very big group… exciting for twenty years from now!
This is an amazing youth class.  We were asked to teach them and had an opportunity to try and get this  courageous group of young pioneers to see the foundation they are laying for the future!

 This was where our friends, the Summers, served their mission and did such a wonderful job.  We will never forget them and a few of the things they said.  Nearing the end of their mission, we asked them how they felt about what they had been able to accomplish.  Elder Summers answered, totally serious faced, "Well, when we arrived, we had a chapel and six missionaries………now that our mission is winding down, all the missionaries have been kicked out, and the chapel was burned down."  Which goes to show, never judge your efforts on the outside!  We do what we do to be obedient and serve the Lord - the rest is up to Him.  In the long run…."no unhallowed hand can stop this work…….."
 A view of Lindon on the drive after church to go visit some members…...
 Several families live right along the river.  Here we were visiting under the house.
 Going along the riverbank to another home.  
On the Demerara river, we visited with a wonderful young man preparing for a mission.
 Here he is in front of his home with his younger brother……..
 He showed us his kitchen and the tomatoes they had grown in the garden.
 Part of the garden behind the house…..
 The new house behind which they have been building and hope to complete in the next year…...
 One of the six children out in front……...
 The water in the river is brown!  I talked to his mom, genuinely perplexed about how she is able to get all her laundry sooooo clean washing them with a bar of soap in the river!  She explained that I must hit them hard, back and forth with the soap……..
 Pull this picture bigger and you can see her washing, sitting on the edge of the boat with the clothes at the end of the dock.  An amazing family, a faithful young man who hopes to one day baptize the rest of his family...
Some of the other homes on the block.
 We then went to an area of town and waited for this young woman on the far left to meet up with us for her baptism.  While we were waiting, we decided to place some Books of Mormon.  I was able to street contact with some young people from the Branch.  The young man I was with did a great job and was very courageous as he told the story of the first vision.  The young man we were speaking with was very receptive and wanted to read the Book of Mormon.  We got his contact information and gave it to the missionaries.  It was great missionary preparation experience for a young man who will be able to submit his papers in just a year.  When the young woman who was to be baptized arrived, she was dressed in her police uniform.  She is in the police force and only has Sunday morning off work.  She told us how very blessed she was to be able to come to church.  She is standing, in this picture, next to the branch President, Troy, who is in his twenties.  He has only been a member two years, but when the Summers left, he was the most faithful and committed member in Lindon, and the Lord's chosen to lead this wonderful group of Saints.  He had only been a member a year, however, when he was called.
 He didn't have a jumpsuit that was big enough to pull up over his shoulders, so he just wore the bottom of one, tried to sort of tuck the top in, and wore his white shirt on the top.  One just makes-do in these countries…...
 A beautiful, warm day and our small group of 10 people felt the Spirit as one, before and during the baptism.  On our mission, each baptism is such a sweet event, attended by the Spirit, every time.
 We drove back to Georgetown and this is a fairly remarkable view of the coastline from the window of our hotel.
 Then it was home to Trinidad and up at 5:00 am to make sweet rolls for district meeting.  Once every transfer, we inspect each of the missionaries apartments.  The competition is fierce because the prize is a plate of sweet rolls.  Each missionary gets one for trying hard, but the winner, and the "most improved," this time, got a plate full.
Two days later we were on a plane to Suriname, next to these Elders.  I just had to take this picture.  It is sooooooo great!  You know when the stewardess tells everyone to take out their safety card and read the instructions and not one soul on the plane even thinks for one nano second of picking up the thing - I glanced over and saw every one of the Elders traveling with us studying the safety instructions as she blathered on.  I almost busted out laughing, and then I felt like crying because, seriously, they were not even thinking this was funny. They just have been trained to be TOTALLY obedient by the wonderful mission president they have; it was just asked of them and they were obedient.  Classic missionary picture and another great memory I will always have of working with the valiant and exactly obedient missionaries in the West Indies mission.
 The missionaries met us at the airport, late at night and gave us a ride to our hotel.  It is a crazy trip.  You arrive at the hotel at 3:00 am, and you leave at 3:00 am.  They give you a sack breakfast to travel with.  The next day we got our first taste of Suriname and we could quickly see the Dutch influence.  We have NEVER seen flower stands in Trinidad!
 An old fort on the government buildings grounds.  
 Overlooking the harbor
 The dark brown river…...
 Extreme poverty
 One recently finished, mighty bridge over the river that has helped things significantly.
 A local, very modest Hindu temple.
 A dutch cathedral next to a mosque and a Jewish synagogue
 Unbelievable rainstorm with water pouring from the sky and no where to go.  Suriname is below sea level.
 This is common for them as you can see by the nonchalant river walkers.
 A fancier Hindu temple
 Setting up for the celebration fireside.  Wow - one thing I will remember about the fireside is that the missionaries rode their bikes to get there and came in the door literally dripping water from their pant legs, soaked completely through to the skin - but happy and unaffected.  It is a familiar state for them.  We stood up and started giving the presentation, and about halfway through, I was walking around as I was talking and slipped on the puddles of water on the floor. Miracle of miracles, I was able to catch my fall before I completely "bonxed it" (their words for crashing) to the floor in a humilating heap.  My prayers were full of special gratitude that night.  I really can't believe I didn't fall!
 This house is right near the senior missionaries home.
 Here is the branch we went to for church and these darling girls ran up to greet us just as we opened the door.
 The Chapel.  Often when we travel, I play the piano for them.  Most places just use the demo players, but they enjoy having live music whenever possible.  So this is one piano I will not forget.  There were these random "SCREAM OUT" notes.  I don't know how else to describe them.  Just playing any measure or line of notes, with no rhyme or reason, one would belt out this high screech that by the end of the first verse made me a nervous wreck.  The district president came over and said he thought it was just that octave, so if I played higher it would not do it.  So I played an octave higher, and an octave lower, and the screeching notes continued.  I was having a heart attack trying to guess which notes were the culprits, leaving certain ones out - thinking they might be the broken ones.  Afterward, he said, "You did a beautiful job - is it the b flat and the f sharp????  Good grief!  I came home, called the physical facilities manager and said, "They need a new piano…BAD!!!!"
Here were the stalwart youth and their wonderful teacher who is preparing to go on a mission.
 Humble homes of Suriname
 The Elders that teach and serve the people of Suriname.  They speak Dutch, so this becomes a very tight group of missionaries who stay in Suriname their entire mission.  We were so privileged to be there when Elder Cornell completed his mission with honor.  They go through the same ritual whenever a missionary leaves.  Elder and Sister Vanderbeek, (who, oddly enough, we knew in Sandy 25 years ago!  They were in our ward and are wonderful people) run the show for the President there.  So we were able to share this experience.  They all come to the Vanderbeeks home for cake and ice cream and a message by Elder and Sister Vanderbeek.
 Then the departing missionary speaks to them and leaves his parting advice. 
 For his turn, Elder Cornell had them all come out in the sand out in front and wrote the phrase, "What is a prophet?"  Then he asked them all to answer that question and as they responded he wrote it in the sand with a stick.  Called of God - Receives revelation - Testimony of Christ - Servant of the Lord - Warns the people………
 Then he told the Elders that early on in his mission, another Elder taught him this principle.  He erased the word prophet in the starting phrase and replaced it with missionary.  He then said nothing for a few seconds and let the missionaries just read it anew with the changed application.  He said that when he realized his calling had the same properties and responsibilities that the prophet's have ( the spirit of prophecy is a testimony of Christ) his whole attitude about his mission changed.  It was a beautiful message and delivered with spirit and testimony.
 The Elders gather in a circle and sing a farewell song in Dutch with four verses.  It gets faster and faster - they go around in a circle and kick their legs up during the chorus.  It gets pretty loud and chanty but is so fun and a great send off for one of their own Dutch missionaries.  We were lucky to share it.
 A final group hug
 A farewell picture
 As we drove to the airport at 3:00 am we caught a blurry shot of the President's mansion.  Well, it was the middle of the night!
Loved playing peek-a-boo with this darling baby on the plane home
Our other zone champions!
Before leaving for home, we were invited to the Sangre Grande ward Christmas party, which was organized and performed exclusively by the youth and Young Single Adults.  
The missionaries did the twelve days of Christmas (Trini version) with hilarious dance steps.
The choir:  The young woman on the front row has already served a mini-mission and the young man behind her on the far right is preparing his papers right now to go.
The Christmas Play
Don't cha love the costumes?
The impromptu Elders Quorum choir (Elder being also interpreted as missionary!)
This was my absolute favorite part of the Christmas party - they announced - now we will have the Christmas dance!  So they turned on jazzy, trini Christmas music and EVERYBODY - all ages - got up and started dancing with each other, really getting into it!  It would so NOT happen in the US.  Too bad. There are certain things about this culture and these wonderful people that I will miss sooooo much.  One is how openly loving and genuine they are.  They hug and kiss you every time they see you.  I will miss that so much!  In Guyana, at the ward - people we had never seen came up and hugged and kissed us and told us they loved us - and we genuinely felt it - they were so happy to see their brothers and sisters in the gospel.  At home everyone is so…….hmmmm……restrained or something.  I don't know - but I know I will miss these people.  They also say, Good morning, or Good afternoon or Good day or Good night to every person they pass.  When they stand up in church they say, "Good morning," and everyone answers back, "Good morning."  It is so happy!
Children first for the dinner line…..
and home for the new baby visit (on an older post)

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing experience you are having! The pictures tell it all:)