We welcomed through Skype our third grandchild born since we have been on our mission. (How did senior missionaries in the past ever survive without Skype?) Eli Parker Monson was born on February 7th. He is sooooo beautiful! Their perfect family now consists of two boys and two girls.
Proud Daddy with his second son. We did not get a picture of brave Mama who did all the work to bring this beautiful boy into our family. We now have 8 boys and 5 girls among our grandchildren.
New brothers just getting to know each other
Hello, my new baby brother - I'm your big sister! We were actually in Martinique on Celebration assignment when our newest grandchild joined our family.
This was the reaction to our Celebration introduction! We asked who was excited and willing to perform in Celebration. Since Martinique is French, everything was through a missionary interpreter. The French members are adorable! One sister, when we asked who does beautiful handiwork of all kinds, jumped up and tried to describe her talent in English. When we obviously did not understand, she went to the side of the room, grabbed a basket with a pot of artificial flowers in it, pulled them out and held up the basket, saying, "Papier - I make." After the meeting, she came up, and we asked about her paper baskets through a missionary. They are beautiful and we asked if we could buy one? She said that they are at her home, and she lives far away. We told her we would like to come, see, and buy her baskets. The missionaries offered to come with us to show us the way, so that evening we set out to find her home and workshop.
The sun was setting as we drove the hour drive to get to her home.
It was like going back in time to an old French village in the countryside. Here is the cemetery up ahead. We drove through St. Pierre, going higher and higher in the mountains. Parts of the area have houses that look as if Hansel and Gretel were locked inside. Others look as though we had happened upon Brigadoon, and they would begin to disappear before we departed. When we finally descended down the steep roller coaster which is the final street to her house, we were thinking, "Dang! We hope we can ascend this hill to get back out!"
The Catholic church in the distance is just before the very very steep descent to get to her house.
We asked to take a picture with our dear Sister when we got there, knowing it would be too dark afterward.
She actually lives with her sister, holding here one of the many beautiful baby blankets she makes. We bought this one for our new baby grandson - Eli. There were nine children in this Sister's family growing up. Her father left the family when she was eight, (with three younger siblings) and her Mother raised all nine children by herself. Most of them live just down or up or on the other side of this same street in Martinique; her extended family has been there for just over a hundred years.
This picture shows other family members that came down or up or across the street to meet the "mormon missionaries!" This dear sister is the only member of her extended family. Her daughter was baptized, but her son-in-law, on the far left, is a Catholic, and it was just easier, after her marriage, to attend the Catholic church at the top of the hill. She does take her mom to Church occassionally, which is why we were able to meet her at church today.
Here she is in her workshop at the side of her Sister's house. Her baskets are made out of phone books, newspapers, and other discarded paper she collects to add color and texture to her baskets.
The missionaries told us her story. She was married and lived in France. Life was good for a period of time and then things got bad really fast. Her husband tried to kill her. Things were very desperate in her life and she was praying to God for help. She said, "I need help, God. Please send me help." She heard someone call at her door and went to the peep hole and looked out. She saw the missionaries, invited them in and said, "You are from God." She took the discussions, joined the church and has been very faithful in keeping her covenants ever since. She attended the temple in London and received her endowment. For a time, things were better in her marriage, after she joined the church, but eventually things began to degenerate again to the point that she had to flee to Martinique for safety. Upon arriving, she had no idea where the Mormon church was in Martinique. When she found out, she had to walk with her baby on her back and three children under 8 at her side for an hour through the winding, mountainous roads down to St. Pierre where she could catch travel. Between walking from the mountains and travel, it took her two hours each way to go to Church. She did that faithfully until her kids grew up and it became too hard for her to walk that far. Now, she can only attend when her daughter will take her. She radiated joy to be able to attend Church. The missionaries said that is how she always is whenever she is able to come. She was so kind and loving to us.
These are the two beautiful baskets we bought from her. She tried to give us one as a gift. What a beautiful heart she has! What a courageous and valiant woman. We were thrilled to meet and visit with her.
She also designs dresses with paper and then her sister sews them from her designs.
She is the perfect example of everything we teach about the purpose of Celebration 2015! One of our central messages is that each of us, as children of the most creative beings in the universe, has inherited the innate desire to create, to leave the earth a little better than we found it, to fashion something lovely that will outlast the short period of our lives.
She also makes flowers out of discarded plastic bottles by cutting, painting and shaping them. I told her that her collection of plastic flowers reminds me of the ceiling in the Bellagio Hotel/ Las Vegas; covered with glass flowers designed in Italy. However, hers doesn't cost millions of dollars and has made of refuse a beautiful thing! Hers is much more practical and praiseworthy!
We had a wonderful meeting with the Celebration Committee while we were there. This is the view outside the window of our hotel.
This countryside village was so European reminiscent
A central gathering plaza
The local Catholic church, always open, with people coming in at all hours, to meditate and pray - why don't we do that? I like that idea.
Looks like a vacation destination on a postcard
Idyllic countryside animals just waiting to be painted
A friendly lost cow walking down the road, dragging her chain
Here's the Brigadoon inlet. I know my kids are saying, "What on earth is a Brigadoon?"
Beautiful ocean overlook
Hobbitville or Hansel and Gretel's cottage town
A French couple and their child on one of the beaches having a picnic
On our way home at Sunrise - Wow! We never see Cruise ships near Trinidad - Hmmmm, I wonder why?
Our dear friends, the Kotiah's, took us to see a Steel Pan final audition for those hoping to be selected as part of Carnival 2014 bands. This picture was taken at 8:00 pm. It was supposed to start at 7:00 pm.
It was worth the wait - it started at 8:30. The judges still had not arrived - but what a treat! The most professional steel pan band we have ever heard in our whole mission.
This was a shot of the people that came out to view the final judging. It was open to the public, but after being selected, people pay lots of money to get into the band competitions that happen at Carnival. Brother Kotiah is the official senior missionary protector. He takes us around and shows us all the good local things. He, his wife and family are faithful members of the Curepe ward. He also works fixing up the cars that get all busted up. She works for the Church as a S&I coordinator and administrative support to the area.
The day after Valentine's day, we were driving at 8:30 in the morning to pick up Brother Victor and his sound system in POS for the Stake preliminaries for Celebration. We turned the corner, driving on the left side (that's how one is supposed to drive here), and a woman from a side street backed out into the street, coming right at the passenger side of our car. Elder Monson honked three times. She heard the honk, and in her words, "I mashed the gas and I meant to mash the brakes." Yea, so here is the scene of the accident…………..
The back end of her car……...
The passenger side of ours. Right where I was sitting. I am so thankful that the many prayers we, our grandchildren, the patrons in the temple and many others offer to plead for protection for the missionaries are heard and answered. I was told by a neck-and-back specialist at 24 years old that if I were ever in an accident that jerked my neck really hard, I could be paralyzed. (I have always had 5th and 6th vertebrae problems) The impact jerked my head sideways, and then my temple crashed into the seatbelt attachment on the side of the car. My cheekbone, jaw, neck and shoulder were killing me. At first, I was really afraid that there was something seriously wrong, but after a priesthood blessing, tons of cold rice packs (those are amazing - I hope everyone has one or two) and resting in bed all the next day - I am fine and nothing serious happened. I am soooo thankful for those prayers and feel very blessed!