Monday, February 8, 2016

January 31st, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

Sorry we are behind on the weekly letters! Things the past two weeks have been a whirlwind. We had to move up our transfer a few days to accommodate the arrival of Elder Renlund from the quorum of the twelve. Although we were thrilled to have him visit our mission, we found out that his assigned week was the week of you can imagine the craziness. We had the 9 outgoing missionaries come in first, to honor them and then they had to stay around Trinidad for a week waiting for their scheduled flights home, since they had already been booked. Because our missionaries are separated by water and languages, they never really get to meet each other, so it was fun for those missionaries from the ABC islands and Suriname to get to be with the missionaries in Trinidad.
Then we welcomed the 6 incoming, held a full day of  orientation and sent them off with their new companions. That same night, we headed to the airport bound for Guyana, so that we could be there in time to help with the arrival of Elder Renlund and his wife. We had a mission devotional the next day, followed by a member devotional at the cultural center. The center was air-conditioned and could hold more people than the church without air conditioning. So that was a great idea. We had about 500 in attendance and they were very grateful to be in the presence of an were we!  Elder Renlund shook hands with every one of the Saints that wanted to meet him following the meeting. So he shook hands with all 500!  They were all dressed in their Sunday best and most sacrificed greatly to afford transportation to the arena from outlying areas up to 3 hours away. The next morning, we flew back to Trinidad, to repeat the same schedule of events here. Our missionaries were on their best behavior and were very appreciative of the chance to meet Elder Renlund and his wife. We also had the pleasure of hosting Elder and Sister Martinez in our home for three extra days following the Renlund's departure. Elder Martinez and his wife accompanied Elder Renlund as the visiting seventy. While here, they had a special devotional with our missionaries, another with the senior couples and we are headed to church together tomorrow. Then they will head back to the DR on Monday morning. 
Preparing for an apostles visit has made us realize the blessings of the priesthood and the leadership we are so blessed to have in this church. Elder Renlund and his wife had been on the road for 10 days but always made time for the individual. It was a great lesson.
While we were in Guyana, we received a phone call from a sister in Canada who was born in Guyana. She had since joined the church and was worried about her brother who still lived in Guyana. His daughter was diagnosed with kidney failure and she wanted her niece to have a priesthood blessing. Her brother agreed and she was praying that  there were missionaries in the area that could fulfill the request. We called our zone leader in Guyana and he found out that the address of her brother was 2 hours away from the closest missionaries. He said that when he spoke to the man, he said that he had been waiting for the missionaries to come and bless his daughter. With permission they took the mission van to the river, crossed the river by boat, and then took transportation to the village where they met with the family. They blessed the little girl and then gave the family a Book of Mormon with their testimonies. It was something that we figured the Lord would make time to do and a great spiritual experience. Ministering to the one was really the theme of the past couple of weeks.
We are grateful for the blessings that are ours and appreciate everyday the little things that are so easy to take for granted. We love each of you and pray for your happiness.

Thank you for your support and love,
Trini and Dad

January 12th, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was spent hosting our Area President, Elder Devin Cornish, of the second quorum of the seventy. He arrived last Wednesday at the mission home and left on Friday evening. He came to enlighten us about all the topics that we had missed during the week of the Mission President's Seminar, due to Dad's eye surgery. While he was here, he also held a Mission Wide Leadership Conference on Friday with all our zone leaders and sister training leaders. It was wonderful and we all learned so much. He is a newborn specialist by career and was the Dean and the head of Pediatrics at Emery. He has spent the last 9 years serving in the Caribbean, governing church affairs and the 9 missions in the Caribbean area. 

Following the conference, we left for Guyana late Friday evening and we will be here until Wednesday. We have been attending zone meetings, interviewing missionaries, setting apart a first counselor in the mission presidency, and conducting leadership meetings with the branch presidents etc. There is never a dull moment. We drove the deadly road for two hours from Berbice back to Georgetown from 10-midnight and then the next morning left at 7am to drive 2 hours to church in the opposite direction. We attended a small branch in Linden, Guyana that is desperate need of missionaries. The members were so happy that we would attend their little branch. The town is located close to the interior of Guyana.

The Amerindian natives live not too far away from this city. On the way, we could see their grass huts through some of the more open rain forest areas. They are very self sufficient and basically live as their ancestors have for years. They are amazing at basketry. I hope to purchase one of their pieces of artwork. They are beautiful and the work is very time consuming since they are all woven by hand.

On the way back to Georgetown we saw families swimming in the spring fed swimming holes. They were cooling off and having lots of fun breaking the Sabbath:) The water is actually very clear even though it looks black. It is called black water because the leaves that line the bottom of the creek turn dark as they settle into the river bed.
The weeks go by quickly and are exhausting, but we are still standing and are grateful to be able to serve to the best of our ability. We thank all of you for what you have done to help Marielle and Conner with their move to Pennsylvania. Your love for each other is what keeps us going. Have a great week. Hug those grandkids for us!

Love, Trini and Dad

January 1st, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

We hope that you had a Happy New Year and are ready with those New Year's resolutions. It has been wonderful having Greg and Marissa with us for the holidays. Sadly, they left this morning and we are headed to Suriname later this afternoon. We enjoyed a few new places that we hadn't been to before and ate way too much food. We were adventurous with some roadside food stands and found some new delicacies to add to our favorites list. We were able to visit Maracus Falls...the largest single drop waterfall in Trinidad ..... Maracas Beach where we enjoyed bake and shark....and take a boat ride through the Caroni Swamp where the protected scarlet ibis makes it daily migration to and from the mangroves. One evening we went out on splits with four companionships of missionaries. Each of us chose to divide and conquer and had a spiritual evening spending time with families and individuals that are longing to learn more about the gospel. We were able to teach several lessons with our missionaries and enjoy their spirit as well as the opportunity to bear testimony  of the blessings that we have in our lives because of the restoration of the gospel. All in all, the holidays were great and it was special to have family here.

Thank you for your love and support of Conner and Marielle as they undertake this new adventure in their lives. It is wonderful to see your dedication to family and we are comforted in knowing that you are serving and caring for one another. There is nothing better than the promise we have to be an eternal family. How we love you kids! Continue to be there for each other through thick and thin. 

We are starting the New Year off right by having a general authority come to our mission the last week in January. The church just confirmed that it will be one of the new apostles, Elder Dale G. Renlund. It is the first time that an apostle will be visiting Guyana so we hope that the attendance will be standing room only. The problem will be the money needed to afford transportation from some of the outlying villages in the area. I wish life in Guyana wasn't so difficult. They are amazing people and so God fearing, but just to wonder where their next day's meal is coming from is sadly the norm for so many.

We are looking forward to a new year of serving the Lord and these incredible missionaries. We are mindful of the great support that you are to us every day and pray that the Lord's richest blessings will be with you and your families. May 2016 be a wonderful beginning to a great new year filled with much peace, love and happiness.
Our love to you all,

Trini and Dad