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