Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Melvin is hoping that his mother will be next. She and her husband are still meeting with us and need to attend two more sacrament meetings. They have a 4 year old son, Michael, who is delightful and very bright.
Melvin, 25, is a chef. He went to Italy for a year of training. He will be leaving soon for Canada to be a chef on an oil rig for three years. He plans to make enough money to open a restaurant in Tobago when he returns. He wants to find a wife he can take to the temple. Perhaps he can do this while he is in Alberta.
The sad part is that he wont be here to help build our branch as he will be a stong priesthood holder and future leader in the church.
Sunday he will confirmed and given the gift of the Holy Ghost and have the Aaronic priesthood confired upon him by Elder Ross.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Today we met with a woman we will call Jane. One of our elders asked her to tell us a little about herself. She did. For over 20 minutes she poured out her heart about how hard her life had been and how many bad choices in her life had made it even harder. Time and again I wanted to stop her and say, “Can’t you see how that choice led you to more misery?” But I held my tongue.
Though hastily married only once to a man she later discovered was gay, she has given birth to eight children, fathered by different men. All of the children are now wards of the state and she is living with a man she refers to as her fiancé, but he refuses to marry her.
Jane lives in a tiny room in a pieced together house. She has no money and no prospects. Her life has been filled with alcohol, drugs, and selfish men. Yet when she saw the young missionaries walking down the street, she felt impressed to call to them and speak to them. They invited her to church and she came.
Today we gave her a Book of Mormon and explained briefly its origin. I think our elders were somewhat “shell-shocked” by the story of her life. She didn’t spare many details.
Why am I sharing this story with you? Three reasons: First, the Lord never gives up on us, even people lost in serious sin. Second, by listening to Jane, I gained a deeper appreciation for my family and how the gospel has been a guide and beacon to help us to escape the many terrible traps of Satan. And third, for those willing to accept it, the atonement is powerful enough to redeem even the most lost of Heavenly Father’s children.
Will we be able to help Jane to receive the blessings of the gospel in spite of her sins and mistakes? Only time will tell. Will we try? Of course. That’s why we are here on a mission!
My testimony and appreciation of the gospel of Jesus Christ is strengthened every day because it is true!
Monday, March 9, 2009
We are so blessed to be serving a mission in Tobago. The people here are friendly, loving and kind. They have deep spiritual roots and feel the spirit easily, and have visions, even those not living a very good life. Much of the island seems to be Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) with some Spiritual Baptist thrown in and we can’t forget the Rastafarians. The SDA have churches, hospitals and schools throughout the island. Many believe our message is true, but aren’t committed to change for the long haul.
We have another couple; the Leishman’s (the lady in red) coming to Tobago. With the formation of the Port of Spain, Trinidad Stake, several couples are moving to different locations. The Leishman’s have been robbed twice and been in three automobile accidents (unhurt). They are concerned that several people have been killed in their neighborhood. They should be a valuable addition to our branch and the missionary efforts in our area.
We have found that the Lord has protected us wherever we go. We have been the recipient of many tender mercies on the highway, especially while we were in Trinidad. The other day, dad walked in front of a big truck, but because he listened to my warning, he missed getting creamed.
We are so grateful for the support of our children at home. We feel their prayers in our behalf. They are always in our prayers as well. The gospel is true and it is rolling forth. Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer. We are on His errand.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
We went teaching with the elders three times this week to see Andjua ( 16) and Tedeca (14). Their mother doesn’t want them to be baptized. The girls have been attending church fairly regularly for over a month. They both attended a few times before they started receiving the lessons because we are trying to find potential priesthood holders, not just teenage girls. They started attending seminary this week from 4:30 to 5:30 pm, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They plan to attend seminary at 9:00-9:45 am on Sunday as well. They have difficulty understanding what they read. Andjua said she didn’t understand the reading assignment given by the missionaries. The girls all stayed after seminary while we read 1 Nephi 4 to find out what happened to Laban. She was so proud of herself when she gave the right answer Thursday evening when we went teaching with the elders. She was even able to describe the sword.
As mentioned, I teach seminary 3 afternoons. I have Janelle and Adelline who are enrolled and Tedeca and Andjua, who will soon be enrolled and Natalie, Adelline’s 13 yr old sister, and Antonia, Janelle’s 13 yr old sister. The girls are all friends and attend the same school near Roxborough at least 45 minutes away. Four of them can walk to the church but Tedeca and Andjua have to get transport. They live up the hill from us.
The Sunday seminary class is to accommodate Linda, who lives in Roxbough and can’t make the afternoon classes. Theresa and Stefan haven’t been attending either session. Theresa does do some homework, which counts as attendance.
We have been teaching Brenda once or twice a week for the past 3 weeks. She is an active 7th Day Adventist. Each time we think she isn’t interested, she surprises us. We are scheduled to visit her again on Wednesday. We plan to take Bertram, a 60 year old convert, with us. She gave us the OK.
She is also single and I think, never been married. Lesa described him to her and she smiled.
During Brenda’s second lesson, a friend Sharon dropped by in the middle of the lesson and just stayed while we finished. Elder Ross invited her to church Sunday and gave her one of our business cards. The elders had met her a few days before and she wasn’t interested. The next day she agreed to a lesson and she then showed them our card and told them about our lesson. At Brenda’s 3rd lesson, she dropped in for the beginning and then left to go to work 10 minutes before we finished. We have been to her home twice this week with the elders. The lessons haven’t been great because of the environment (noise, people coming and going). We met in a house with about 4 families with a common living room and kitchen the first time and on the steps outside the 2nd time. Sharon is also 7th Day and has recently lost her significant other who was shot while visiting in Trinidad. She is extremely quiet and hard to read. The other man who lives in the house and receiving the lessons with her says he will be at church on Sunday.
We met Brenda because Lesa and Curvis live with her as she is Curvis’s aunt. Curvis is inactive and not living the word of wisdom at the moment. Lesa has been coming for 3 weeks now and is on fire. She quit her job so she could attend church. She will teach Primary for the first time this week. We have been by her house 3-4 times this week to help with her Primary lesson, to take her stuff, etc. The elders dropped by and helped Curvis start framing a small shop where Lesa will sell the clothes she crochets and sews.
Elder Ross gave a few blessing in the past couple of weeks. Two people requested blessing of comfort and a couple were blessings for healing. One of the blessings for comfort was for a less active member we have been visiting since we arrived. She has a testimony, but is living with someone and she doesn’t feel good about attending church. She left her scriptures in Trinidad when she moved here a couple of years ago so we gave her a new Book of Mormon. We are hoping she will show up at church one of these days soon. She usually works on Sunday.
We try to visit as many of the branch members as we can during the week. We visited Lynda and she requested a lesson on tithing. We were so excited because she hasn’t been attending regularly at all since her baptism in January. We have taken our laptop and shared some conference talks with Bertram. He has no friends since he joined the church as all of his old friends drink. It has been hard for him to come up with things to do during the day besides his gardening.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
On Sunday, March 1, 2009, about 750 of the saints from Trinidad gathered at 9 am in the Cascadia Hotel Conference Center for the Purpose of Organizing the Port of Spain, Trinidad Stake. It is the creation of the first stake in the West Indies Mission. It was a glorious moment when we all stood and raised our right hand to the square to approve the creation of the first stake in the West Indies Mission (first English-speaking Stake in the Caribbean). Then each of the six branches stood one at a time and approved the bishopric for their new ward. Two branches will be in the stake and two branches will be outside the stake boundaries as is our branch in Tobago. We will remain as part of the mission.
Elder Neil L. Andersen, senior president of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Francisco J. Vinas, of the First Quorum of Seventy and currently the first counselor in the Caribbean Area Presidency were assigned to create the Port of Spain, Trinidad Stake.
We met the Freilou's in the Port of Spain Branch. He works for the American Embassy. They are expecting a baby and will go to Washington DC for a year before heading to Italy. Laura is 6.