We have frozen this blog as a historical, yet informational view at what life is like in the West Indies Mission for all those called to serve. This blog was designed for the families and friends of those missionaries serving in the West Indies Mission from July 2006 to July 2009. Every six weeks, photos taken at zone conference as well as a new slide show including every person baptized were posted on the blog. All of the slide shows are also available on our You Tube channel. The current West Indies Mission blog can be found here. Posts on our missionary experience can be found here and earlier. And finally, if you are a returned missionary who served in the West Indies, there is a current blog for you. Click here or visit westindiesrm@blogspot.com

Thursday, October 13, 2016

OBHR Lessons from the Caribbean

Robison and his wife presided over the Ghana Missionary Training Center, helping missionaries learn to teach the gospel in French and English from 2014-16.

When two young missionaries lost the trail while hiking La Soufière, a volcano on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, Reid Robison had to act quickly. After receiving the news that the two young men had gone missing, Robison, then president of the West Indies Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, immediately flew to Martinique from mission headquarters in Trinidad and brought in twenty additional missionaries from surrounding islands in the mission to help search alongside the local police force.
For three days, headlines such as “Where are the Lost Boys?” splattered the local papers and nightly news. Robison drilled his strategy to the searchers: “Pray, then go.” It worked. Days later, the missing missionaries turned up deep in the marshy forest of the island.
“It was the first time anyone had ever survived being lost in that area of the jungle,” Robison remembers.

Robison embraces one of the recovered missionaries that had been lost in the Martinique jungle.

In addition to the miracle of finding the lost missionaries, Robison’s tenure as a mission president included countless opportunities to use his organizational behavior (OB) background. Robison holds an MBA from Northwestern University and a PhD in educational leadership from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Though his time among the people and culture of the West Indies stands in stark contrast to his business background as a manager and executive at OC Tanner, Robison cherishes the memories. Spice stands in Grenada, cutlasses in Barbados, and bokits, the traditional fried sandwich of Guadeloupe, stitch together the bright fabric of the Caribbean, where Robison and his wife supervised 186 missionaries of the West Indies Mission from 2006-09.
Though Robison may seem like a classic Wasatch Front grandfather, his experiences in OB far surpass those of a typical classroom education. In addition to his time in the Caribbean, Robison served as president of the Ghana Missionary Training Center from 2014-16.
Presiding over a mission or an MTC is “really a workshop in leadership,” Robison says. “You’re training missionaries to be leaders, and you’re training new members in the developing church to be leaders.”
Robison, his wife, and West Indies missionaries at the mission home in Trinidad.

Today, Robison, now a BYU OBHR professor, applies the lessons in sociology, psychology, communication, and management he learned during his years of missionary service abroad to his curriculum at the Marriott School.
He believes in the value of appreciating and understanding diverse cultures, and he teaches students to “listen to understand” when they work in organizations. He shares with students how he and his wife went to the Caribbean and Ghana thinking, “There is so much we can do to teach and to educate the people there,” but came back “blown away by how much they had taught us.” Robison hopes students will see how much they can learn from any person in an organization.
In addition to teaching classes, Robison develops social innovation projects in his new role as relationship manager for the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance. He finds partners in the US and Africa to build Ballard Center education and trade programs in underdeveloped areas, including those where he once served. He is currently working to establish a program for students to receive credit for higher education classes that will be held in church buildings across many third-world countries.


Today, Robison works with the Ballard Center on development projects in underprivileged countries.
“We work to enrich the lives of people in underprivileged countries,” Robison says. “It’s along the lines of, ‘How are we going to teach them how to fish?’”
Apart from their 4.5 years abroad, Robison and his wife, Diane, have lived in Provo for the past 18 years. Of their 18 grandchildren, 13 live within two miles of the Robisons’ home, where the family gathers each Sunday.
“I love cheering them on in whatever they do,” Robison says.
The Robisons also have one granddaughter serving as a missionary in Paris, where Robison first served a mission at age 19.
“French is the language of heaven,” Robison says.

Robison and his wife with the two missionaries that had been lost in Martinique.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Great Reunion

The fine West Indies returned missionaries gathered from Montana, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, California and all over Utah to Provo to be part of our 'homecoming' yesterday. They filled the chapel (stake center) and the entire overflow area. Our poor home ward didn't know what happened to them!

The young elders and couples were invited to come front and sing "Called to Serve" as the intermediate hymn. It was an unforgettable experience to hear close to 100 returned missionaries sing together!

We had a wonderful visit with the missionaries and friends before and after church.

It was just a little crowded, but very very fun

Our grandbaby twins found plenty of eager grandparents

(the Farrers)

This reminds me of the mission home - the elders always took off their shoes at the door - and they still do. What fine young men!

This is another reminder of mission life - President Robison and President Dunn (first counselor in the mission presidency during our first year and a half) used to spend many hours counseling together.

There was plenty of hugging and handshaking going on

(Sister Leavitt)

(Elder Atwood and Elder Leavitt)

My husband and I stationed ourselves at the front door so we could see everyone

(Elder Young)

We were surprised and excited to be able to meet quite a few families of elders currently serving in the West Indies

(the Findlays - I expect that his FOUR beautiful sisters keep him in line)

We loved meeting many of the newest members of the WIRM family - wives and fiancés. Here are two:

(the Crofts along with Elder Heslop who will be married to Jamie tomorrow!)

Here is what was really fun - most of the elders still look the same - happy, shiny faced and good

(Elder Jenkins)

(Elder Allen - who came all the way from California)

Les Francais!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What a special day!

My husband and I were invited to speak in Church today. A number of returned missionaries and others connected to the West Indies Mission contacted us about attending. We posted details on Facebook and opened our house before and after the church meetings. We were looking forward to seeing a few of our wonderful mission friends but we had no idea how many would come.

The day is now finished and I still have no idea how many people came by our house and to church (I should have counted!), but all I can say is that it was overwhelming - in a good way. The house was full of family, friends and missionaries, the streets were full of cars, and the chapel was overflowing with wonderful saints.

The highlight was when all the West Indies missionaries (elders and couples) were invited to come to the front of the chapel and sing "Called to Serve." What a moment! What power!

We were also privileged to hear briefly from Elder Craig Christensen of the Seventy, and Elder Neil L Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

What a day!

I didn't get too many pictures - I was too busy visiting with many many wonderful RMs (and some of their wives!) and at least 20 families of currently serving missionaries. I will try to collect a few pictures and share them soon.

Monday, July 6, 2009

It's busy at home!

I am beginning to think that mission life was calmer than home life - at least when home means organizing a house, weeding a poor neglected garden and celebrating a 4th of July weekend. I haven't even had time until today to sort through the pictures of our arrival home. I think things will settle down a little bit now.

So here we are - poor unsuspecting couple thinking we are coming home to rest

Greeted by this wonderful sight (minus a few photographers)

Check out the cool WIM t-shirts the kiddies were wearing

Who needs rest anyway?

Especially when there are kids like these just waiting to play!

Can you tell our family likes to take pictures?

It takes effort to get the perfect shot

Especially our son Jeremy (with daughter aboard) who is starting a photography business called Robison Photos

Now that things have settled down (at least for a few days) I plan to post some information on each West Indies Mission country. I have had quite a few requests for that sort of information.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Many friends have asked - so here are the details of our upcoming 'homecoming' talks.

We will be speaking at the Sherwood Hills Ward in Provo Utah at 1:00 pm on July 12th.. The building is located at 345 East 4525 North. That is in NE Provo.

We expect quite a few visitors and hope to chat with everyone. I worry a little about causing noise and congestion at the chapel and we will be attending all three hours of church. So, we are opening up our house before church from 10-12 and after church from 4:30 (ish) until 6:00 (or whenever we finish visiting). We will have some snacks on hand. If you need directions to our house, please email me at dfrweb@gmail.com

Thursday, July 2, 2009

At home


We are home - safe and happy.

I haven't had time to get most of the pictures organized and posted but here is a quick one.

Our airport greeting was fun. I had to laugh - Rachel, our 10 year old granddaughter looked at our car parked in the SLC airport garage and said, "Grandma, has your car been parked there since you left?"

I hope to have time tomorrow to post some information about the new mission blog and details on our homecoming talks July 12th.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Senior Missionary Couples

(Elder and Sister Owens - Guyana)

Let me start by sharing a comment from this blog that delighted me:

"Today as we were watching the slideshow my 10 year old son said “I want to go on a couples mission to the West Indies.”

I don't know what that 10 year old saw or felt - but he got it right! Couple missions are special.

One of the key 'secrets' to success in the West Indies Mission has been the senior couple missionaries.

When I say success I refer to all aspects of missionary work:

Finding - they do it all the time as they go about their daily activities. Over and over again I have watched couples strike up conversations with someone in line, or next to them in a restaurant and invite them to hear more about the gospel.

(Elder Bullock - Guyana)

- the elders call them 'gray power' as they come to lessons and testify from years of experience about the blessing of living the gospel.

(Elder and Sister Naegle - Trinidad)

(Elder and Sister McGhie - Trinidad)

Baptizing - we had a weekend in the West Indies where almost every senior brother baptized. Investigators grow to love 'their' senior couples who friendship and teach them during the conversion process.

(Elder Wood - Grenada)

(Elder Sherwood - St Lucia)

(Elder White - Guyana)

(Elder Colling - Guadeloupe)

(Elder Hymas - St Lucia)

(Elder Larsen - Guyana)

(Elder Leishmann - Trinidad)

(Elder Hatton - St Vincent)

Retaining - a key responsibility (and joy) of senior couples is to find the 'lost sheep' and then love them back into activity. They also watch over new members and make sure they find friends in their new branches.

(Sister Lockhart - Guyana)

(Elder and Sister Collins - Trinidad)

Establishing the Church - in a mission made up of mostly districts mentoring, shadow leadership and training is desperately needed. Senior couples are able to drawn on their years of experience to strengthen branches. Senior sisters do a great work in helping their local sisters strengthen Relief Society, Primary and Young Women programs. They have learned that the auxiliary programs of the Utah Church cannot and do not need to be exactly replicated in the little branches so they work creatively to help organize the essentials and leave each branch stronger then they found it.

(Elder and Sister Langford - Guyana)

(Elder and Sister Platt - Guyana)

(Sister Stauffer - St Vincent)

(Sister Leavitt - Trinidad)

(Sister Hymas - St Lucia)

(Sister Bullock - Guyana)

Conducting the affairs of the mission - maybe not the most fun part of the work, but so essential in the success of the West Indies Mission. Senior couples are able to free up the elders to do what they do best - teach and baptize - by handling many finance, legal and health issues. They act as an extension of the mission office - particularly essential in a mission as spread out as the West Indies.

(Elder Collin - mission office in Trinidad)

(Elder Dunn - Guyana)

(Elder Palmer - training clerks in Trinidad)

(Elder Hymas - St Lucia)

Blessing the lives of elders - almost every missionary in the West Indies takes home a few extra sets of 'grandparents' who have watched over and counseled them during their service. The couples refer to these missionaries as 'our elders' and will stay connected to them all their lives. During the mission they keep an eye on health, apartment cleanliness, emotions (counseling many a homesick elder) and their progress in learning to be great missionaries.

(Elder Malmrose - Guadeloupe)

(Elder and Sister Leavitt - Trinidad)

(Elder Hymas - St Lucia)

(Leishmanns and Barnes - Trinidad)

(Elder and Sister Bullock - Guyana)

They also have a lot of fun and adventure!

(Elder and Sister Platt hunting alligators with Guyana elders in the middle of the night - really!)

(Sister Bullock - being pulled out of a Guyana trench where alligators live - really!)

(Elder and Sister Green competing in sports day - Trinidad)

(Elder and Sister Owens at District Meeting in Guyana)

(President Robison and Elder Wood - working hard in Grenada)

(Elder and Sister Platt - St Martin)

As we gathered with returned elders and couples during the past week I was able to see vividly the bonds of love that had developed during missionary service. There is something indescribably special about working side by side to bring souls to Christ. Age differences disappear and those connections become eternally embedded.

Here's a little peek: