Thursday, December 22, 2016
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Dear Family and Friends
We have just returned from a wonderful few days with Nic and his family in Curacao. We spent time laughing, crying, hugging and kissing. It was good to see the final family that has not been able to visit the mission until now. We spent most of the time in the sand and sun enjoying the beautiful turquoise water and playing with Luke and Paige. One day went went to Port Marie where Nic and Heather went on a dive with our senior couple, the Scott's while we snorkeled with the kids closer to the shore. We went to the Sea Aquarium and fed sharks, flamingos, and turtles. The touch tank was a hit as usual and who wouldn't want to kiss a dolphin. Luke wrote a book about Jonah the frog, that I am sure will be a best seller and Paige is growing up to be a beautiful mermaid. It was a treat to have just three days of a little down time to enjoy being with family. It was sad to see them go but we are very grateful they came.
We were also able to accomplish some mission responsibilities as we spoke in church and Dad had interviews and leadership training for the ABC Island District. We have come back to Trinidad for four days and are off again this afternoon for the beginning of our Zone Conference loop. At times it would be nice to sleep just a few more days in the bed at the mission home as it feels so good and we obviously can accomplish more when what we need doesn't have to be crammed in a suitcase that is falling apart.
We still face immense immigration struggles for entry into Trinidad and would appreciate your prayers. What started with 64 missionaries in Trinidad is now down to 36. We have 32 waiting on some governmental desk wrapped in bureaucratic red tape that we hope will someday be able to enter. In the meantime, they are serving stateside or have been sent to Guyana or the ABC Islands....even if they don't speak Spanish or Papiamento. The gift of tongues however is real and one of our English speaking sisters who arrived in Aruba 2 weeks ago, asked if she could just begin her 18 months over again with this completely different culture and people.
Stand in holy places and know you are in our prayers and hearts every minute of every day!
We love you very much,
Trini and Dad
Dear Family and Friends,We just returned from Zone Meetings and a Multi-Branch Conference in Berbice, Guyana. We have 6 branches of the church there, that are spread out across the countryside. They vary as much as 2-4 hours from the capital of Georgetown. It is always exciting to travel the road to Berbice and try to avoid hitting cows, pigs, goats, chickens, donkeys and people. This trip there were also sugar cane fields being burned that filled the sky with smoke, as the crop is being prepared for harvest.The conference was amazing. Over 200 people came to the Sunday Session and packed into the only church owned building in this area. The theme of the conference was "Love at Home." I told the members that my son Jon, used to say "There is beauty all around, when there's no one home!" It made them laugh.The building was very hot, humid and full of the spirit. All of the participants on the program showed up and delivered their assignments beautifully. That was a miracle! We met with missionaries and members and dad conducted interviews that had people lined up down the hall and into the foyer.The faces of the children tug at my heart. They are so reverent and beautiful to watch as they worship. I pray that they have food to eat when they get home. Life here is hard and "enduring to the end" is a difficult concept when you are "enduring day to day."There is a young woman named Rianna who is going on a mission in November to England. Her mother was recently diagnosed with a tumor on her spine that has paralyzed her movement from the waist down at this point. We petitioned the Area Presidency for help with her surgical costs and just heard that it was approved. We are hoping that the removal of the tumor will give her the use of her legs again so she can operate the little shop she has outside her home. Rihanna has moved her mission date back a transfer to be able to help her with her recovery and physical therapy. We are so grateful for the generosity of the church. The family had raised some funds and a donation campaign was also helpful but the church made up the balance. It is amazing to know only a fraction of what the church must do across the world to help others. This gospel is truly the epitome of charity.We are grateful to play a part in the Savior's plan and bear testimony that He lives and loves each one of us. As we try to serve Him with all our heart, might, mind and strength, we are mindful of each of you and want you to know that your prayers sustain us as we do "hard things!"We love you,Trini and Dad
Monday, October 3, 2016
Dear Family and Friends,
It was another week in Caribbean paradise. We have been in the ABC islands conducting zone meetings and are now back in Trinidad doing the same. While we were in the ABC islands we took a few hours to tour the island of Bonaire. A wonderful member family on the island is in tourism and offers a three hour tour...a three hour tour. His name isn't Gilligan but he and his wife have a wonderful story. He is from Aruba and because of the islands reciprocity to the Netherlands, those students holding a stellar grade point average, are able to attend the university in the Netherlands for free. While in the Netherlands going to school, he met a blue-eyed blond Dutch girl in his Samba class. They fell in love and were married. His grandmother lived on Bonaire and promised them some of her land if they would take care of her in her advancing age. One day after work, he came home followed by two missionaries. His wife said," Why are they here?" He answered "They are thirsty. I told them we would listen but we aren't interested." At the time the mission was about to close its doors in Bonaire, because there were no worthy Melchizedek priesthood holders on the horizon to sustain to be branch president. They listened once and twice and within two months they were baptized. As soon as he received the Melchizedek priesthood he was ordained the new branch president! They are an awesome family with two little boys and he is now the second counselor in the ABC Member District Presidency.
Anyway, we went on a four hour tour in their air conditioned van with our 4 missionaries that are serving on the island.
We found out that Bonaire is trying to become the first green island in the Caribbean. They are number two in the world for off-shore diving and pride themselves on natural white sand beaches caused by erosion of the coral. You are not allowed to take shells or coral home with you as a souvenir. It is against the law. Dad didn't know that when he put some of the finger-like coral in his suitcase on our last trip to the island. We had a wonderful day learning the history of the island and seeing up close and personal why they take pride in their little island. There is a history of slavery as you will see in photos of slave huts that were used for sleeping Monday through Friday. Then they walked 5 hours to the town where their families were, before it was time to walk back so they could report at sunrise on Monday for work in the salt pan industry. These salt pans have flourished as an income for the island since the 1500's. The mountains of salt are loaded onto hoppers that go out to the ocean and then are deposited directly onto ships where they are taken to the US to be processed into everything from table salt to water softening pellets. Salt is 20% of Bonaire's economy today, the rest is tourism because of the diving industry. There are no chain hotels or restaurants. It is quiet and sleepy and has a great gelatto shop in the middle of its one block main street. The people are wonderful and speak Papiamento, Dutch, Spanish and English. We have one Papiamento/Spanish branch (30-40) and one small Dutch group (12) that meet in a rented home. They have amazing young people that are the future of the church. We are grateful to know these wonderful Saints and appreciate so much, their testimonies that strengthen ours.
We hope you enjoy some of the pictures of the tour!
We love and miss you all,
Trini and Dad
Dear Family and Friends,
Mission Leadership Council was held with all senior couples, zone leaders and sister training leaders throughout the entire mission. We flew everyone into Trinidad and devoted our day to becoming more effective Preach My Gospel Missionaries.
Chapter 10 is titled How Can I Improve My Teaching Skills. Dad taught the section How To Begin Teaching 176-177. When we were in the MTC, a story was told about this particular section that Dad related to all our missionaries.
President Packer was asleep one night and woke up with several things on his mind. He was on the committee that helped to submit and critique certain portions of Preach My Gospel, but this particular evening he could not go back to sleep. So, he took a pen and began to write down everything that was on his mind. Then he went back to bed.
The next day, he took the manuscript into the missionary department and told them about the experience and gave them a copy of every word as it came to him. They were happy to proof the submission and edit accordingly.
When the editing department returned the printed copy to Elder Packer, he read it and instructed them politely to revert to the original wording, as it had come "straight from God." His instruction was heeded and Chapter 10 remained as it has been received. Dad testified of the truthfulness of this section and encouraged each missionary to share with their investigators that "This is the most important message you will ever hear."
Then, I spoke about our opportunity as a mission to create a flag of faith, a title of truth and a banner of righteousness. I compared it to the Hindu flags that are planted in all of my neighbors yards, signifying prayers to specific deities and the blessings and protection they hope for, through their faith. It was a stimulating and collaborative effort to create our mission "Title of Liberty." I am transferring it to fabric and displaying it so all my neighbors know what we pray for and have faith in. Thank you for a great idea Moroni!
After that, we had all of the senior couples share a little about themselves, along with their testimony. You could have heard a pin drop. What a great source of strength and dedication to the Lord. It was moving for many to share that they were converts, had not served a mission as a young man or woman and what a privilege it was to be in the service of the Lord now. I think they may have been the highlight of the conference.
We are grateful for all of you and hope that you are enjoying a wonderful Fall!
We Love You,
Trini and Dad
Thursday, September 1, 2016
Dear Family and Friends,
Last week was spent in Suriname as we held Member District Conferences. Dad and I spoke regarding the theme "Love at Home." The highlight of the week though, was on Saturday evening as 8 converts were baptized at "The Waters of Suriname!" A family of 6 along with 2 single sisters joined the church. It was a wonderful service and all of them bore their testimonies at their own baptisms. It was so wonderful to see so many dressed in white on this special occasion.
Then we flew home to Trinidad to conduct transfers! It was crazy as usual. We had 12 arrive and 9 leave for home.
Immigration is still an issue as we had an elder stranded for a couple of days on Curacao until we could get him into Aruba with his companion. Thank heavens for our senior couple there. Now that all are safely gathered with their companions or back home with their families, we are preparing for a Member Leadership Conference with all of our senior couples and the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders.
We testify that only the Lord can make all of the pieces fit together in this mission. It never seems like we are going to get a handle on it and then it all works out. His hand is really in the work.....down to the very last detail.
We thought you might enjoy a candid shot of a goat herder, (High on a hill was a lonely goat herd...la di oh da, la di oh da, lay hee who) whose goats are in charge of mowing the cricket field a couple times a week. While Dad was taking the photo, I was waving at a little girl in her backyard pool. Hopefully they rinsed out the barrel before she hopped in! She was having a lot of fun cooling off and her Dad let us take her picture!
It's hard to believe everyone is back at school and the leaves are starting to change. We just finished the mango crop and even enjoyed a few avocados. The mosquitoes are still biting, the birds are still singing, the gospel is still true, and we love all of you!
Remember to count your blessings,
Trini and Dad
More pictures. This is why we were so busy last week after arriving home from Suriname. First the incoming missionaries and then the outgoing. Transfers come every 6 weeks. They take the whole week with flights from all of our countries, interviews, training, devotionals and lots of dinners at the mission home. But.... still having FUN!