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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What a year - 2008 in 2008!

and then some

The missionaries of the West Indies achieved their very lofty goal of baptizing 2008 people in 2008 - actually they surpassed it by baptizing 2012.

To put this wonderful achievement in context - the West Indies missionaries baptized 601 people in 2006 and 1027 in 2007

I have to admit that as we moved into the last week of December I started wondering how to console sad elders because they had a long ways to go this week. But miracles poured into the West Indies and today we watched those last few baptism reports come in to the office.

The assistants set up this interactive Google doc so we could input baptisms are they came in

We were going to have a quiet New Year's Eve with our family (who leave tomorrow morning) but we decided, instead, to open up the mission home to anyone who wanted to come celebrate

And they came!

Does that hat say 2008 in 2008?

Do you know about our rubber duckies? If not take a look here

Tonight we broke out our brand new Super Hero rubber duckies!

President Johnson, the Area President, congratulated the missionaries over the phone

Do couple missionaries (Elder Collins) miss their grandchildren? Yes, of course

But nights like this make it worthwhile

Monday, December 29, 2008

More Guyana Christmas

Sister Bullock keeps a wonderful blog of her experiences serving with Elder Bullock as couple missionaries in Canje Guyana. You can see the Canje Christmas fun by going to her blog here

Success Stories

If you are a follower of this blog, I hope you occasionally read the mission success stories. I keep them on my mission website here so they will be all together.

Each week the missionaries write an email letter to President Robison. He asks them to comment on their family, area, companion, testimony, and include a success story (FACTS). The letters are strictly confidential but the elders know he will copy the success story and send it to the assistants (and to me) who select a few and send them out to the entire mission each week.

President Robison started Success Stories early in our mission and I think it has helped all of us serving in the West Indies see the hand of the Lord more clearly in the work we do. Also, I know the elders love to read about the success of their 'brothers'. This fosters a feeling of unity in our very spread out mission.

Here is an amazing Success Story that Elders Risenmay and Damm told me last week and then wrote up for President Robison

Success Story - So Friday we are contacting people like we always do in between appointments and we meet a guy named Harris. We tell him the usual "we help people prepare to be baptized" he said "Yeah, I've been reading my scriptures about how I need to not put off being baptized because I don't know how long I will have before I die." So by this time we're pretty impressed and we talk to him about how Joseph Smith was called to be the prophet. We set an appointment for 1/2 hour later. We go by and we start the lesson and talk about how Adam was the first prophet, he said "Really? It doesn't say anything about that in the Bible but that makes sense" so we keep talking about Adam and he said "Sorry to cut you off but I have a question for you, what is with this dry spell without prophets since the apostles died?" By this time we are totally amazed. We tell him hold on a second and we will answer the question and we start talking about Jesus Christ and yet again he asks "So what happened with the prophets?" So we decide to answer his question. We teach him about how Joseph Smith was called to be the prophet to bring things back and talk about how he can know by the Holy Ghost or by good feelings. He says to us "I am feeling something that I have never felt before, It's like a peace. Like I don't know why I have ever worried about anything before." This whole time he is just looking at his feet and his body wondering what is going on. We show him John 14:26 and he reads "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the father will send in my name". Immediately after he said that a dove flew through his front door, hit the light, and flew out the back door. He pointed up and said "A dove" and looked down and finished the scripture. I told him the sign of the Holy Ghost was the dove. He kept thanking us and raising his hands like hurrah for Israel because he was so excited. After the closing prayer I showed him a picture of the temple on my planner and told him how he could live with his family after this life through temple sealings. He told us just a few days ago his wife asked him if they would live as husband and wife after they died. He proceeded to tell us how he prayed "That when the truth came that God would send it to my home. Now it's here!" He kept thanking us over and over for the truth. As we were walking out the door Elder Damm put his Book of Mormon down and Harris picked it up and said "I need one of these! I saw a commercial for one a while ago and I have been looking ever since!" Does the Lord prepare people? Yes, yes He does.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas in Georgetown, Guyana

This is from Sister Evans, serving with her husband as couple missionaries in Georgetown, Guyana:

Christmas Eve morning was really special. Our humanitarian couple had
told of this "drop-off" house—where parents that can't take care of
their children leave them!! We talked to our zone leaders and decided
that this would be our Christmas service project. We loaded the elders
in the van and went to this house. They had decided that we would
keep the true meaning of Christmas as the theme of our little program.
We have an elder that is quite "portly" so he made a wonderful Santa.
He was the narrator for the Bible readings and then we sang the
Christmas carols that go with that part of the story of the birth of
the Savior. We gave them copies of and we sang "I am a Child of God"
as the last song. This is something that they really need to know as
they have been displaced from their homes. There were 32 children in
the home ages 8-18—boys and girls. They have received some wonderful
training at the home as far as manners are concerned. I had made
some sugar cookies, rice krispie treats and chocolate chip cookies
that we served to them. Then after "Santa" handed out the gifts, the
elders took a few minutes and visited with them. We gave the home
some soccer balls and cricket sets. The director was very grateful
for them. Then she had appointed a young man—probably about 16 yrs
old—to offer the "thank you" for the group. He was well spoken and
then sang us a couple of songs. We enjoyed our visit and the service
we had given.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Trinidad Zone Conference

December 23 was the day

Our son was visiting with his nice camera lens

So we caught these shots for you

and....yes I asked Santa for that lens for Christmas

Caroling in Trinidad

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Christmas in the mission field is a special experience as we are all immersed in the work of the Lord. The Elders are working incredibly hard to bring souls to Christ in gratitude for his birth and sacrifice. This is bringing true joy into their lives.

We love and appreciate the fine sons you are sharing with us

Enjoy your holidays

Enjoy your phone calls!

Here is our Blogger 2008 Christmas card

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Football

The couples and elders around the mission are organizing a variety of Christmas activities. President Robison emphasized making it a special time focused on service. Of course, the highlight for every missionary will be his phone call home. They also get to watch one (approved) movie on Christmas day.

We are home in Trinidad for the holidays (family visiting) so we get to take part in the fun here. Today the zones challenged each other to a big football (soccer) match. I had my son's nice camera to catch the wild action

Elder Fox

Elders Cotton and Guy

Elder Cotton's feet?

Elder Guy taking out Elder Williamson - or is it the other way around?

They got plenty muddy - we've had loads of rain here

Elder Fox

They even recruited professional cheerleaders

Granddaughter Sylie

Sister Collins and Sister Meyers

FUN was had by all!

The Greens

British Elder Guy

Elder Hickenlooper

Elder Holmstead

Elder Palmer

Elder White (are those pi and infinity symbols on his face?)

Elder Barnes

Elder McDaniel and Endemann

The visiting Robison boys

So - this is what Christmas looks like in Trinidad - a bit different from the snowstorm I hear they are having right now in Utah, eh?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What a tour

"And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." D&C 84:88

This scripture came to mind as I looked back over our December zone conference tour. We had a series of small miracles that allowed us to get the work done. Here are a few of them.
  • Ferry blessings - Getting to Canje, Guyana is tough because we have to cross the Berbice river by ferry. It is also very very hot, crowded, and noisy so it wears me out. Lately only one ferry has been running so it can take hours to cross. But, we were able to walk right onto the ferry and leave within minutes both ways. On the way back from Canje we arrived after they closed the gates and they were even lifting up the planks to the boat. Somehow, the Assistants were able to get the gates opened and us on the boat. The couples, who cross constantly said they had never ever seen that happen. We were traveling to the second session of District Conference and if we hadn't made it, we would have been late.
  • Hotel Blessings - Because the hotel in Martinique was full, we were given a suite with a perfect zone conference meeting room
  • Flight blessings - Seats on airplanes became available, when there weren't any. We had no flight from Suriname to Guyana on the day before we were to fly - but a new flight was added at the very last minute. We got the last seats on the flight home from St Martin. Sister Collins worked miracles rerouting everyone to accommodate changes due to the Guadeloupe strike
  • Tour logistic blessings - We were able to slip into Guadeloupe between two major strikes. We did not know that we could get into Guadeloupe from Martinique until 8h30 p.m. on the night before the zone conference.
We were able to hold 7 zone conference, 2 sessions of district conference, 4 leadership training sessions, and 1 fireside in 6 different countries in just 13 days!

One more zone conference to go - Trinidad on December 23rd!

If it's Friday....

...it must be St Martin

and the end of our tour!

Normally the St Martin elders fly to Guadeloupe for zone conference but we canceled the flights because of the Guadeloupe gas strike that shut down the roads. But it worked out just fine because we usually end our tour in St Martin to catch a good, reasonably direct flght, back to Trinidad from the French islands. So we had another nice little zone conference with the Platts and Elders Pahio, Lines, Larson, and Nielsen

We drove to the French side of the island to check out a building that might work to rent for the French branch.

We had a little hitch-hiker

This beautiful beach is right across the street from the building. Wouldn't it make a nice baptismal font?

The Platts leave in a few weeks. We will miss them!

Isn't this the life?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thursday (Dec 11) in Guadeloupe

Another little miracle occurred so that the Guadeloupe zone conference could happen. We stayed an extra day in Martinique because of a gasoline strike in Guadeloupe that closed the roads. We planned to skip the Guadeloupe conference and fly straight to St Martin to at least meet with the four missionaries there but Wednesday night we got a call saying that it looked like the strike would be ending that night. Poor Sister Collins who handles travel in the office got a late night call requesting new flights. Just as that was being done we got another call saying the contract ending the strike wasn't actually signed yet - so did we still want to come? We decided to risk it, got the flights and flew in Thursday morning. Yes - the strike ended and we made it! But as we were walking out of the airport we saw a huge pile of luggage carts barricading the main door. We asked what it was and were told - "That is for the security strike that begins next week." We felt blessed to slip in and out between strikes. The elders had to scramble to get to the church but we were able to have our conference and it was amazing! There was a very special spirit among the French elders.

Look how happy they are!

Zone Leaders Elder Williams and Tycksen

Elders Kelly, Neff and Garotta

Elder and Sister Colling

Elders Biver, Ison, and Snow

Elder Julian and the Gamiettes (1st counselor in the mission presidency)

Elders Catherine, Roberts and Jones

Elders Macintosh and Wright with President Robison

Nice ties, eh?

The Guadeloupe Elders (with their mini version of the tree of life)