Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Haven

We go here on Tuesday mornings from 9:30-noon and help in the wood shop. It is open only on Monday and Tuesday mornings because that is the time the instructor can be there. We didn't want to take pictures of the students without permission from the principal. I suspect she then would need permission from the parents. The regs for special education look very much like ours in the US. We have been invited to the big annual meeting on Saturday at 4 pm. They expect about 70 people.

We sanded most of these along with 2 students. They really turned out nice!

I wore brown pants the first day and came home with white pants from the dust from sanding the hangers.

Birds and Flowers

Wonderful plants are found in the Grafton Bird Sanctuary. We love walking through the forest on the well groomed paths.

Behind me is a stand of bamboo. Dad is right by it. We have wondered if it grows like the Chinese bamboo.

The Grafton Bird Sanctuary is full of birds, obviously, but they are hard to get close to for pictures. These birds are turkey looking and the guide says they are a relative. During mating they fluff up their tails and then really look like a turkey. You can see the doves eating beside them to get a sense of how big they are.

The flowers were pretty at Arnos Vale because it is heavily forested and they are in the shade. I expected to see a lot more flowers on the island but they don't do well in the direct sunlight. This was also true of Trinidad.

We visited Arnos Vale to check out a snorkeling area and saw these birds. We have become fascinated by the birds here. They are so small; it is hard to get good pictures with my little camera. The hummingbird is the state bird. A hummingbird is sitting next to the yellow bird that are often called sugar birds as they get the nectar like the hummingbirds. These birds were all around the veranda and weren't intimadated by our presence.

We saw these birds at Rovanel's Resort when we were checking it out for Michelle.

Early Christmas

Christmas comes early in Trinidad and Tobago. They start decorating Nov 1st, since they don't do Thanksgiving.

We had a branch pot luck a couple of weeks ago. Dad had prepared a Book of Mormon jeopardy. We never got around to playing because they got out the Christmas tree Sister Conk had left and spent the time decorating it and the church. They put the tree in the chapel at the end of the evening and several decorations as well. The missionaries didn't know how to tell them we couldn't do that. We let it go and they went to talk to the President after we read the handbook. They took it better than expected. Christmas is a really big deal here. School lets out Dec 5 and resumes after Christmas.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Today was our smallest Primary ever! We had 5 children (one was a visitor), the smallest previously was 8 and the most 12. Dad and I trade off being Primary President and teacher. You can see the adult class behind dad in the next room (the chapel). We had 18 in attendance today. It was a beautiful sunny day, so rain wasn't the excuse. Attending every week isn't a priority. Our most faithful family lives the farthest away. We were missing a speaker (for the first time) and no one showed up for seminary prior to the block (also a first). Hopefully, we will have a better turn out for the mission president fireside on Thanksgiving evening.
We have invited the elders for Thanksgiving dinner at 2:00 pm then we will go to the fireside at 6 pm. I will spend Wednesday trying to bake, etc. I still haven't found yeast for the rolls!

Our apartment

This is my favorite rooster that hangs out in our neighborhood.

We like our 700 sq foot apartment. It has AC in the living room that cools the house and is our refuge from the heat. Our living room and kitchen are one long room with the front door by the refrigerator. We have two bedrooms, both with queen sized beds. The washer and dryer are built into the kitchen counters. We don't use the dryer, since it doesn't dry very well even on 140 minutes. We hang the clothes on the patio outside the living room doors, where I took the picture of the butterfly on the banana tree below.

Angelo, our landlord, and Kevin, his assistant built all our cabinets, bookcase, end tables and wardrobes in the bedrooms. There are 4 apartments in our building, ours was the last to be finished.

We have seen some pretty butterflies, but this is unusual! Great camouflage.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mail in the West Indies

This morning dad received a phone call from a man claiming to be a Fed Ex deliveryman. We had a package, but he was unable to deliver it because his car was in the repair shop. We would get it soon. Dad gave him directions to the house and told him we would be at The Happy Haven School doing service from 9-12. Dad asked if he could leave it on the door step or with our landlord. No, it had to be signed for. About 11:30 am he called and said he was almost to The Happy Haven School. Dad met him and signed for it. He had his wife and child in the backseat of an old Nissan.

Later, I sent an email thanking Elder Collins for the magazines. He was shocked we had received them because he erroneously sent it Fed Ex and they don’t deliver to Tobago, which we already knew and were surprised it arrived in a Fed Ex envelope. Elder Collins had been trying to get the package back from Fed Ex to send it DHL. I guess they just gave it to some independent carrier to deliver.

We have received several boxes of items we have asked for such as manuals, new member kits, CD’s, forms, etc and they have been sent to us from various places like Salt Lake, Trinidad, and the Dominican Republic. The interesting part is that some of the boxes had President Ramkissoon’s address in Moriah, and some had our address on Signal Hill. The boxes have all been delivered to the elders in Scarborough. Once, the elders were in town and someone from the post office told them they had some boxes in the post office to be delivered and would they be home soon. Of course the elders headed home to receive them.

Two weeks ago I heard an insistent horn outside; horns are often used for communication here. I went outside and saw Janet Pierre, a member of our branch, on a motorbike delivering the mail. She subs for the regular person every Friday. She handed me my mail, but wouldn’t leave the landlord’s with me. While we were chatting, Celia our landlord came and got hers. The very next Friday, I heard the same insistent horn. Dad went out this time and got the mail and said hello to Janet. I wonder what happens to our mail if we aren’t here!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Janet's baptism

You might note grandpa's pants on suspenders on Elder Mundy. He thoroughly enjoyed wearing them!

Janet Pierre's baptism at Fort Granby on November 15, 2008, where her children were baptized. It was very overcast and the sea was rough, but not quite so bad in this bay. Janet selected the beach.

Elder Guy, Elder Mundy, ZL's from Trinidad, Elder Ross, Janet Pierre, Sister Ross, Elder Marshall, Elder Barton

Ellis children's baptism

Notice the reflections on the water! It was such a beautiful day for baptisms.

Elder Marshall and Elder Barton with Selina, Seth, Shequillia, Stefan Ellis and their mother, Janet Pierre. Of course, we must have the "Hurrah for Isreal!" by Shequillia, Selina and Seth.

The baptisms were held at Fort Granby on November 8, 2008 where Stefan's was held when we first came to Tobago.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Branch Conference

We had the first branch conference held in Tobago on November 9, 2008. The branch is about 18 months old. It started out when our branch president and his wife (Patrick and Pamela Ramkissoon) were baptized on April 1, 2007 by Elder Danzell (currently 2nd Counselor in District Presidency) and Elder Pooran. One other member attended with them and the elders in the member’s home in Mason Hall. The branch numbers have climbed to 32 as of the branch conference. We meet in a small rented building above the Green Grocer in Scarborough. We are currently looking for a bigger building because we had 40 in attendance for the conference and we are literally busting at the seams. We have a chapel area and 2 small classrooms with no doors between the 3 areas.

President and Sister Garcia

President Danzell

Side view of our building. The double doors go to the chapel and the single door to the class rooms.

View of the Atlantic from the porch of the chapel.


Port of Spain District President Ashton Garcia and his wife, Colleen, and President Danzell flew over from Trinidad for the occasion. We were delighted to see Colleen as we had become acquainted with her in the Arima branch where she taught our Sunday school class. We picked them up at the airport at 8:05 am Sunday morning and took them to our meetings that were from 10-12. We fed them lunch then took them to the airport to catch a 3:05 pm flight back to Trinidad.

President Ramkissoon, President Danzell and President Garcia were the speakers. President Danzell shared about the humble beginnings of our branch. President Garcia, an exceptional speaker, gave a moving talk that was well received by the members. The spirit was strong as they spoke.

Our branch is on the 2 hour plan because we are so small. Until very recently, a branch could be formed once there was an Aaronic priesthood holder who could function as branch president. The first hour is sacrament meeting and the second is Sunday school, one class for adults and one for everyone else. That means no Primary, no YM/YW, Priesthood or Relief Society, just the bare bones. We recently split the youth into primary age, taught by Elder and Sister Ross and a teenage group by Elder Marshall and Elder Barton who take turns. One of the branch members, Brother Estrado, teaches the adults. There are currently only 3 priesthood holders in the branch. We are not a legitimate branch under the new guidelines that require 5 priesthood holders to form a branch. However, we will be ordaining 2 more men to the priesthood on Sunday. We will have a 16 year old young man who can help with the sacrament.