Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Our flight home

Last look at Tobago

Landing in Trinidad one last time

We stayed at the Holiday Inn the night of September 29 to take an early flight from Piarco Airport on the 30th, Elder Ross's birthday.

Going to the Piarco Airport from The Holiday Inn

One last look at Trinidad

Islands we spotted as we flew toward the US.

United States soil! We are approaching Houston.

Waiting for our flight from Houston to Salt Lake City. Flying first class allowed us to wait the 7 and one half hours in a nice lounge area upstairs at the airport.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Our replacements

The Leishman's have arrived in Tobago from Guyana. They came on the 28th. We were able to show them around and orient them to the island. We thought we were going to get them a few months ago but the were sent to Guyana instead. They are delighted to finally be here.

Our last picture with Elder Ackerman and Elder Jensen. The Leishman's will enjoy working with them.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Our last Sunday in Tobago

The Williams family. Ian came for our last Sunday
Some of the members of the Tobago Branch.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Last visit to the Jones' home

We had dinner with Lydia and Samuel and sat on the deck and watched the sun go down over Scarborough and the rest of Tobago. They had a neighbor visiting too.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Esther Moore

Eddison and Esther

Esther lost her mother about 9 years ago. She was going through a tough time. While she was in the hospital she prayed, “What do I do?” and she heard a voice say, “I’ve been waiting for you to say that.” She didn’t realize the source until much later. A friend of hers had invited her to attend church several times but she had always turned her down. She decided that she would go to church and surprise her friend. The missionaries contacted her and she accepted the gospel and was baptized 5 August 2001. It was very easy for Esther to accept the gospel as it answered a lot of her concerns, especially about repentance and forgiveness. Esther knew there had to be more than just a heaven and a hell. She became a very active member of the branch and served in each of the organizations.

She moved to Tobago over two years ago and the branch wasn’t in existence then. She met Eddison and they became a couple. We arrived a year ago and contacted her. She had promised herself that she wouldn’t ever turn the missionaries away, since they had special meaning to her. We have visited her at least every month. She introduced us to Eddison on our second visit so that we would know why she felt she couldn’t come to church. We explained her options. Elder Ross has given her a couple of blessings for health and comfort. We gave her a Book of Mormon because she left hers in Trinidad. She has enjoyed the Liahona’s and article we found for her. She has promised to attend church, but never quite made it until last week. I called to tell her that we would be here only two more Sundays. She said she had to go to Trinidad and would be back on Monday. She said she would be here next week. She and Eddison walked in just after the opening hymn started. She wanted to surprise us.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Perez Estrado

Two elders walking through Couva in white shirts and ties and sometimes in their P day clothes were observed by Perez, but he didn’t know who they were or why they were there. A non-member friend offered him a Book of Mormon and told him a little about the church. Perez leafed through it and gave it back. His friend thought he would be interested in the Book of Mormon because Perez liked to read the Bible and he was interested in reading different versions of the Bible. The man thought it was a Mormon Bible.

Perez read a book of Bible stories when he was six and at the age of eight, he read the entire Bible from cover to cover. He searched different Bibles hoping to find one that seemed complete. He knew that doctrine wasn’t complete, for example, heaven and hell. There were no details about heaven. Also, he felt the church should be named after Christ. He attended different churches and they always wanted him to get baptized, but he didn’t feel right about any of them.

At the age of five he was adopted, but he didn’t have a happy home life. By the age of 14 he was more or less on his own most of the time after he recovered from a life threatening illness. By 18 he was gambling, drinking, smoking and doing drugs. He lived with a woman and they had three children each a year apart. He even ended up in prison for a short time.

Perez was twenty-four when he saw a commercial on late night TV where a little girl ran into her father’s arms. The commercial was sponsored by the church, and it made an impression on him.

At age 33 he checked himself into drug rehab. He read the Bible a lot through all this. He would pray, and then open his Bible for an answer. In rehab, he had a dream while lying on his bed and looking out a high window at the moon. It was like looking at a TV. He saw four pictures: 1. Christ in the manger, 2. Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, 3. Jesus on the cross, and 4. Jesus with open arms, possibly the second coming. He opened the window and looked at the moon and saw three ships in the moon. He felt like it portrayed a journey for someone, somewhat soon.

A friend and volunteer at the rehab center gave Perez a leaflet about the church, and when he read it, his friend gave him a pamphlet of the Joseph Smith story. His friend said he felt like Perez was there to learn about this church of which he was a member even though he too struggled with drugs. His friend then gave him a Book of Mormon, which Perez able to put down until he had read it from cover to cover. Another friend told him that no one could make him happy. He had to create his own happiness.

The usual time in rehab was 90 days. Perez was beginning to feel imprisoned and wanted to get released. Amazingly, he was released in 40 days. He had to attend AA meetings every day for support. Some of the Couva branch members visited with him and answered his questions and he attended the branch. They asked him about his testimony. At church the missionaries asked if he would like the missionary discussions. Elder Neighbor and Elder Edstrom challenged him to quit smoking and within three weeks he was baptized on the 10 Aug 2002. He often went teaching with the elders because he knew all the people in the village (Couva).

In December 2006 he started finding his father’s other children. (His dad fathered children by several other women). He felt like this was his “ship’s journey” that he had seen in the moon a few year’s previous. He went to Tobago and met Alison Santana, his half-sister. He stayed with her for 2 weeks. When he went back to Trinidad he had a relapse with drugs and alcohol. Perez went to church off and on because of his testimony. He decided to go back to Tobago to get away from the drugs. Alison came to his aid again so he could “catch himself.” Through promptings he received, he started attending the Tobago branch that had recently been formed. Patrick Ramkissoon was put in as the branch president. Perez’ attendance wasn’t regular. Elder Jenkins said they might have to close the branch if the attendance didn’t increase. The branch needed him. He quit drinking and smoking and went teaching with the elders all through Calder Hall and Friendsfield areas.

Perez has a strong testimony of the gospel. He is wonderful teacher and he enjoys studying and reading. He recently baptized his two youngest children, Angelo and Janelle. They will live with him in Tobago. His oldest daughter, Shanelle chose to return to Trinidad and wasn’t baptized at this time. He has a good relationship with her and his example will help her make a good decision.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kay's Conversion

A Mormon ad came on TV and Kay saw that the Book of Mormon was called “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”. She was very interested and called the 800 number, which told her to call a 888 number so she gave up feeling she wouldn’t get anywhere. Instead, she prayed that she would get a Book of Mormon. A few weeks later, two White missionaries wandered into her yard (She lives in the bottom of a small valley where a few hills meet with several houses around her). The missionaries called in and visited with her about the Restoration and Joseph Smith. They came two times and she asked about the TV offer and they ignored her request or perhaps didn’t understand it. She didn’t answer when they came again, since she still didn’t have a Book of Mormon.

She prayed again that if the elders’ message was true that they or two other missionaries would visit her. They did not need to be the same two, but they would have to tell the same story. About 3 weeks later, Elder Guy and Elder Green came down to her house while she was sitting on the porch. She smiled to herself knowing they were an answer to her prayer. She didn’t tell them, however. Kay is very shy. They told her to pray to see if the things they were teaching were true. She already knew it was. She had read the Bible and felt there were parts missing. They invited her to church and she didn’t show up 5 times. At this time the church meetings were held in the Botanical Gardens. Satan was working hard on her. They finally gave her a Book of Mormon to read. She had failed to ask for one, even though she wanted it. They continued to drop by and lime (casual conversation) about the church. They asked if they came and walked to church with her, would she go. She said she would. That night she had a dream about dressing in white for church, but everything started getting darker and darker and she couldn’t see. She knew it was Satan. Two White people from a church close to her told her not to listen to the two White boys as Whites weren’t to be trusted. Yet, the missionaries told her to pray about the things they were teaching and to ask God if they were true or not. She decided to listen to the two White boys. She and her children were ready for church before the missionaries arrived. They attended three times. She just wasn’t comfortable with a baptism date until finally it fell almost on her birthday. She knew that was the right time because Heavenly Father had given her a special day for it. She and her daughters Janelle, Antonia, Nikita, and Natalie were baptized on July 19 and confirmed on her birthday July 20th. Her wedding anniversary is the 21st. These are now three special days in her life.

Her husband, Ian, stood in Sunday School a few months ago and said he knew the church was true, but he is yet to be baptized. He has promised to come to our last Sunday here in Tobago when we speak. He loves the missionaries because they care for his family. Someday, we hope they will be an eternal family.