Monday, January 25, 2016

December 16th, 2015

Dear family and friends,

Probably the busiest week so far on the mission. It started in Curacao with a district meeting with the missionaries, followed by interviews with members.Then on to Bonaire for a Zone Meeting with the entire ABC island zone and missionaries.These are actually Iive video conferences so that all 16 missionaries are able to participate from each island. Mom taught with the sisters that night and I went with the elders to contact less active Melchizedek priesthood holders.  We helped one of the less active members install windows as we invited him to return to church. He promised that he and his family would come to church after we helped him install and caulk three or four windows. He also promised the elders dinner next month when his house is finished. 
Aruba was our next destination for three days. I had been contacted earlier in the week by Naomi Witcher who had been a sister missionary on Temple Square when grandpa and grandma served on Temple Square.She was on Aruba for the week and wanted us to meet her father who spoke Dutch and had not been to church for quite some time.He came to church on Sunday and he remembered grandpa and grandma and their visit to Aruba almost 20 years ago.In Aruba, talks in Sacrament meetings are generally given in Spanish or Papiamento but since Naomi's father spoke Dutch, I spoke in Dutch.He promised to come to church again next week.That night we held a video conference leadership meeting with the branch presidencies of the three ABC islands. They have never been trained before as to what their responsibilities are. Most of them have only been members for 3 or 4 years. They are very eager to learn and are grateful for the chance they have to serve.

After our tour wrapped up we were headed back to Trinidad to pick up 14 incoming missionaries. We beat them back to Trinidad by one hour and Mom quickly whipped up a midnight snack before the next day of training and orientation. After they were sent to their new companions the following day, we had two missionaries who were going home. Since there were only two, we decided to alter the normal day and take them on a Swamp tour. We saw a boa, some caimans, four eyed fish and the return of scarlet ibis, blue herons, and white  egrets to the mangrove at sunset. It was pretty fascinating. Then we took the missionaries to dinner and back to the mission home for a fireside and testimony meeting.  They actually just left their exit interviews with me and leave in the morning at 5:30 am. Mom is wiping the floor with her tears as saying goodbye to our missionaries is always hard!

Tomorrow evening we pick up our new senior couple that are from Norway and orient them as to their job description. It sure is good that we don't have any time on our hands...what would we do? It's hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner. You are in our thoughts and prayers and we realize that the best gift that we have in this life is our family!

Love Trini and Dad

December 8th, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

It's not beginning to look much like Christmas around here! Sipping hot chocolate, skiing the sloes, snuggling by the fire....NOT. Christmas in the Caribbean actually started in September. They love their holidays! Some homes are decorated with a few lights and wreaths. There are a handful that are pretty amazing and then we have Clark Griswold (AKA the mission president) who has to make sure that the mission home is illuminated both on the exterior and the interior. No gingerbread and anise cookies in the oven yet....but it is still early. We have thoroughly enjoyed having Marielle and McCrae here to visit this week. It will be hard to let them go tomorrow. This week we went to the zoo,a steel pan shop and out to dinner. Thank goodness we bought a little pool for the backyard because McCrae has been going from the pool to the bath to the pool to the bath.  He is coming home nice and tan for the snow and cold in Utah. It really has been pretty pleasant here lately. The humidity has been bearable and the temperature has been in the low 80's. We have been in Trinidad for the longest stay ever and will head out on Wednesday for the ABC islands. I have been on the lookout for a new nativity set but so far no luck. There obviously isn't much time for shopping and sightseeing. I just want to find something authentic to the country...not made in China. We hope you enjoyed Sinterklaas. It was fun to see some of your posts on Instagram. Enjoy the countdown to Christmas! 

Trini and Dad

December 1st, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,   

      It's hard to believe that it is really December when we are having 85 degree days with blue cloud filled skies and afternoon rain showers. This past week has been spent at home in Trinidad celebrating Thanksgiving and enjoying our visit with Marielle,Conner and McCrae. They arrived last Tuesday evening and we enjoyed a happy reunion. Wednesday was spent at the grocery store and preparing food for our private Thanksgiving dinner with them. It was a very quiet Thanksgiving with the four of us since McCrae was sleeping. We were missing all of you and thinking about the turkey day that you were enjoying with each other. Dad did enjoy the Snowbird picture that you sent. It was the first time he had missed the traditional family Thanksgiving ski day in over 25 years! We did listen to the John Denver Christmas CD later that day as well.Yes, another family tradition!
 Friday we loaded up and headed to Maracas Beach on the north shore of Trinidad. It was Conner's birthday and evidently the word was out because it was like a private beach party complete with a massage on the beach for the birthday boy. McCrae had a lot of fun playing in the sand and the water. We all did, until we began scratching from sand bug bites......since some of us forgot to wear bug spray. We got home later that afternoon and Conner and Dad went to teach with the missionaries in Port of Spain. Conner thought the area was a "little sketchy" but nevertheless he and the two elders that he was with made a good contact with a woman who wondered "Why are you young men out at this time of the night in this area of town?
      Saturday we began preparing food for the Thanksgiving Dinner for our Trinidad Zone missionaries the following Monday. After church on Sunday we came home and continued getting ready for Monday's feast. We baked 8 pies, 4 batches of homemade rolls, 5 turkeys, 20 #lbs of potatoes, a roaster of gravy, a roaster of stuffing, yams, peas, corn pudding and cranberries! The 50 missionaries and senior couples arrived at 1:00pm the next day for lunch and a Thanksgiving program followed by pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Everyone helped clean up and by 6 we were ready for bed but could hardly move to get there. It was nice to have Marielle and Conner's help.Conner left early this morning and Marielle gets to stay another week.
       Dad returned today early from his meetings and unpacked his Christmas lights that he shipped over in June.We began playing Christmas music as he and McCrae tested the bulbs. Believe it or not there are a few over the top homes decorated with lights and characters. The "external illumination" process is just beginning so you may have to wait for the revealing until next week's posting. We hope you had a great holiday and are preparing to enjoy the Christmas season. Thank you for your pictures and videos of the kids and your family activities. We miss you...but are trying our best to take care of these great elders and sisters that have been entrusted to our care. Sinterklaas is coming this week. The 5th of December, so put your wooden shoes out!

Love Trini and Dad.

November 24th, 2015

Dear Family and friends,

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are so thankful for each of you and the love and support that you offer us while we are away serving the Lord. It is bittersweet to have the holidays upon us, when we remember our family traditions so far away from home. But we are being able to fill in the homesickness void for 100 missionaries as they are away from their families too. We are excited for Marielle, Conner and McCrae's arrival for Thanksgivng. Thank you for getting together to celebrate as a family in our absence. I'm sure it will be fabulous food and great company! We will be thinking of each of you and hoping to Skype sometime that day. I will be cooking for about 60 missionaries and senior couples that we will have over the following Monday on their pday for a Thanksgiving feast. I'm glad I have Marielle's help in this endeavor. Each 14-16 lb turkey was $48.00 dollars! I  bought 5...Holy Cow...I mean turkey. But I can't complain because a turkey that size in Guyana was $75.00!
All I know is the missionaries better appreciate turkey like they never have before!!!

It has been a busy week as we just got home from zone conferences in the ABC islands, interviews and member meetings. Dad set apart a new branch presidency in Curacao and was able to speak to the congregation in Dutch. We actually had a morning that we spent sightseeing a little when the conferences were over. Dad chased down Sinterklaas at a children's parade in Curacao and made sure to get some pepernoten. He was just like a little kid running over the floating bridge to get a picture of Sinterklaas surrounded by his Zwarte Piets ! It brought back a lot of memories of his mission in Holland. We found a couple of souveniers to put in the mission home while on our walk and then we met our four elders that serve there and took them to lunch. Then it was back to the airport and off to Trinidad.

We are thankful for the gospel and especially for the atonement that our Savior provided for each of us. Our gratitude for an eternal family has never been more profound. What a great season to count our many blessings. You are the greatest blessing we have. 

Love, Mom and Dad  Grammy and Papa