Last week was spent in the Dominican Republic at the Mission Presidents Seminar. There were 7 other mission president's and their wives in attendance and we were presided over by the Caribbean Area presidency. We have a new President of the Area, President Walter Gonzalez, who used to be in the Presidency of the Seventy. It was nice to get to know him and understand his vision for the Caribbean Area. The Presidency had received instruction while they were in SLC, the week before conference, to pass along to us. All Area presidencies then take it to their specific regions of the world. A pretty organized way to disseminate information world-wide. The main focus was Preach the Gospel, Sabbath Day Observance, Self-Reliance and Temple and Family History.
It was great to be with other presidents and their wives and share some common mission concerns and discuss some possible remedies. One of the mission president's (James Nuckols) is good friends with Karla's sister and brother-in-law. It's a small world in the church.
We were able to go to the temple in Santo Domingo twice.When dad served as a bishop, he always taught the importance of Temple attendance and how you can feel the power both physically and spiritually. If you touch the temple, the temple will touch you! It was wonderful to be able to be in Lord's house.
The mission seminar was held at a beautiful resort with conference rooms about and hour a half outside of Santo Domingo. I think my favorite part of the seminar was when we had a breakout session with the wives. They asked 2 sisters to bear their testimonies. One sister was serving in Haiti. She related a story to us about a sister in her city who lost all 6 of her children and her husband in the earthquake a couple of years ago. She hadn't seen her for awhile and was worried about her. She said when I went to her branch and saw her, I began to cry. She told me "Sister Raphael, do not cry for me. If I did not know who my Savior was, then I would be beyond hope, but I know Him and He knows me. I could not have gone on living without the gospel." Needless to say, it was very moving and emotional for all of us.
We just got home yesterday and will leave for the last leg of our zone conferences tomorrow in Guyana and Suriname. We've had a lot to accomplish in 48 hours, but the Lord blesses us when it comes to His work.We are excited to wrap up our Zone Conferences this week and then get back just in time to greet another group of 8 incoming missionaries and say goodbye to 3 that are going home. We could not do this without your prayers and support and we are aware of that everyday. We are hoping that the hearts of immigration will soften so we can get our missionaries into Trinidad. We haven't had a missionary permit granted for Trinidad in almost 6 months, so feel free to offer an extra prayer.