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

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurrah for Israel!

(post by President Robison)

You have seen the mission slide shows. What is the story behind the missionaries and new converts raising their arms in the air during pictures?

President and Sister Robison in Canje, Guyana, South America

The wife of one of the students in the Grenada branch commented on how she loved to see the West Indies missionaries and their converts in those slide shows saying "we did it!" as they came out of the water.

Early in our mission, I related the Brigham Young/Heber C. Kimball story in a zone conference and I started signing letters with Hurrah for Israel! at the bottom of the letter. Shortly thereafter, Elder Thomason and an elderly man raised their arms high above the head in the water on the island of Dominica and his companion captured the moment in a photo. At that instant, the mission logo was born. (A year later, Dominica was given to the Puerto Rico San Juan East Mission, but the image of that baptism stuck in our minds.)

Elder Thomason
From Hurrah

Hurrah for Israel became the mission theme as we strived to foster a band of brothers feeling. It was on letterhead, zone conference printed orders of service, and training handouts.

Here is the actual Hurrah for Israel story:

In the October 2004 General Conference entitled "What is a Quorum?", Elder L. Tom Perry related the Hurrah for Israel story: "We have a rich tradition of the work of the Twelve as we have traveled throughout the world proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. For example, it was on Sunday, the 4th of June of 1837, that the Prophet Joseph Smith approached Heber C. Kimball in the Kirtland Temple and whispered to him, saying, "Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me: 'Let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation' " (quoted in Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball [1945], 104).

The account of Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young leaving their homes for England certainly shows the sacrifice they were willing to make for the callings they had received. The account reads:

"September 14th, [1839], President Brigham Young left his home at Montrose to start on the mission to England. He was so sick that he was unable to go to the Mississippi [River], a distance of thirty rods, without assistance. After he had crossed the river he rode behind Israel Barlow on his horse to my house, where he continued sick until the 18th. He left his wife sick with a babe only three weeks old, and all his other children were sick and unable to wait upon each other. Not one soul of them was able to go to the well for a pail of water, and they were without a second suit to their backs, for the mob in Missouri had taken nearly all he had. On the 17th, Sister Mary Ann Young got a boy to carry her up in his wagon to my house, that she might nurse and comfort Brother Brigham" (quoted in Life of Heber C. Kimball, 265).

Heber C. Kimball's family were also ill. Charles Hubbard sent his boy with a team and wagon to help them on their way. Elder Kimball records: "It appeared to me as though my very inmost parts would melt within me at leaving my family in such a condition, as it were almost in the arms of death. I felt as though I could not endure it. I asked the teamster to stop, and said to Brother Brigham, 'This is pretty tough, isn't it; let's rise up and give them a cheer.' We arose, and swinging our hats three times over our heads, shouted: 'Hurrah, hurrah for Israel .' " Sister Young and Sister Kimball came to the door and waved a farewell which gave Brother Brigham and Brother Heber much comfort as they continued "without purse or scrip" towards England. (See Life of Heber C. Kimball, 265–66.)

A great reenactment of the experience was put on YouTube recently by the Church:

Preview of things to come (looking back)

At the time our oldest son, Justin, was getting ready to leave on his mission, the family gathered behind our home and sort of did a Hurrah for Israel, without knowing that is what we would later call it. Here is our gang over 12 years ago in Burlington, Ontario.

From Hurrah


1. When I first started using the phrase 'Hurrah for Israel," I put it in the title of an e-mail to our missionary couples. Elder and Sister Oddens, a delightful couple from the Netherlands who were serving in Suriname, took one look at the subject line of the e-mail and were shocked! They had never met me and wondered if I was making a political statement. You see that was the week Israel and Lebanon were struggling with each other - July 12, 2006. We had just arrived in the mission two weeks earlier. Looking back on this, both couples now see the humor in the misunderstanding about the e-mail. Who says timing is everything?

2. We travel alot. The planes we fly on from country to country are small. One of the airlines is called LIAT, which we are told means Leave In Any Time. Each time we land, in my mind I shout "Hurrah for Israel!" and off we go to work with the elders.

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