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, January 29, 2009

Visiting in Vieux Fort, St Lucia

Tuesday my husband and I spent some time in Vieux Fort, St Lucia with Elder and Sister Williamson. They organized interviews for President Robison and took me out on visits.

My first stop was to see Bernardine and her son Glaceson. Sister Williamson helps Glaceson with his reading.

Next we visited the Clovis family who is preparing for baptism. They also have a son who wants literacy training. Sister Williamson does great work with the boys.

We finished with a visit to one more family preparing for marriage and baptism.

By the end of the evening we saw families preparing for baptism, new members planning temple sealings, and men progressing in the priesthood. The Williamsons have done a great work and will leave behind a wonderful legacy when they complete their mission and return home next month.

Island Zone Conference - January

We had our first zone conference in the new huge chapel addition in the Castries St Lucia building. You can't begin to see all the space - but 120 chairs fit in with loads of leftover room.

Here is the powerful group of island missionaries plus future missionary Shannon

There are quite a few new faces in the islands. You see, we have sixteen elders going home April 1st. President Robison does not like to have elders finish their mission as zone leaders - he likes them to end training new elders or serving in the field. So he sent a whole bunch of these great and experienced missionaries to the islands to set them on Fire!

Also, the Martinique elders came to join us. They usually go to Guadeloupe but there is a terrible strike going on there right now and no one can get in -including us. We were supposed to have a zone conference there tomorrow but that will be postponed until the strike is settled. All the missionaries are fine, but their work is limited right now.

We had a wonderful Island zone conference. The elders are ready to go out and get it done.

Here they are - island by island

Martinique plus two

Elders Maihota, Vogel, Procter, Temarono (heading to Guyana today to serve as a zone leader), Terea, and Garret (in front - now serving in St Lucia)

St Vincent plus one

Elders Fox, Williamson, Lubberink, Rosales (used to be in St Vincent but is now in St Lucia - thus the odd number of elders), Sarager, and the Hattons

St Lucia

Elders Hymas, Rosales, Nestegard, Clark, Williamson, Garret, and Sisters Hymas and Willamson

Lonely Grenada - the Woods (missionary couple) couldn't make it to conference

Elders Hamilton and Stebbing

Today's visitors

Shannon and his mother, Adrianna

All those couples

Hymus, Williamson, Hatton, and us

The Williamson family
- finishing their mission in a few weeks

to lunch

Here is a fun story.

Sister Adrianna (member for 2 years) helped set up today's lunch.

She said, "I learned how to cook from Sister Sherwood (previous couple) and it was great."

"Then I learned how NOT to cook from Sister Hymas (current missionary couple) and that is even better! No sweating, no washing dishes."

Lunch today was from Subway and it was delicious.

Adrianna also said she didn't think she could possibly like the new couple after growing so close to the Sherwoods - but that changed very quickly. Now she loves them both!

Couples make such a difference in this mission and the blessings go both ways - couples who serve go home changed forever and their families receive special blessings and care from above.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Success Stories - Jan 26

I have been adding Success Stories from the missionaries to my mission website every few days. They are a constant source of inspiration to me. In an attempt to simplify, I am going to put a selection of them here on the blog each week instead.

What are Success Stories?

Here is the background

President Robison asks the missionaries to share success stories in their weekly email reports. The elders know that their emails to the president are confidential but that the success stories will be shared. The stories are forwarded to me and to the Assistants who then compile a few of them and send them back out to each companionship.

We have seen that as the Elders review their own experiences to compose and send success stories they begin to see more clearly the hand of the Lord in their lives. As they read those of their brothers they see His hand in this mission. This helps all of us remember and feel gratitude.

President Eyring spoke about this process in October 2007 General Conference

“I would ponder this question: Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today? As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.”

So here they are - January 26th Success Stories:

Elder Olsen - Guyana
Isn't it amazing how prepared the people of Guyana are?!? The Aunt of ***, one of our recent converts, is preparing to be baptized. She wants to wait until the grandkids are out of the house so there won't be any contention. Elder Ficklin and I taught her how the Holy Ghost will bring a greater peace into her home and how the family will be happier. She accepted that straight-up and accepted to pray about a baptism this weekend. We then asked her to pray about the Book of Mormon and she said that she already had. I asked her about it and what she said just about knocked me to the floor. She said that she had already prayed about it, and when she did she saw a really bright light above her, apparently coming from nowhere. Further, she explained that she felt really, really good and different. Holy Cannoli!!!! I LOVE GUYANA!!!!

Elder Lloyd - Guyana
The work is still progressing and will continue onward. We just had a baptism of a 78 year old woman named ***.
It was such a sweet experience. It took all two of E. Scott and myself to get her baptized but we finally got it done.
At first we tried to do it the normal way but she could not bend back far enough to get all the way under. Our next attempt we tried to have her bend straight forward but she couldn't go far enough that way either. We then had her sit in a chair but that did not work either as she still couldn't bend far enough forward to get under the water.
I ran to put on a jumpsuit and was changed in a matter of seconds. I then ran into the font and we finally got it done. How we did it was we had Elsa sit on my knee and then as E.Scott finished the prayer I removed my knee and we just kind of laid her down in the water.
The look on her face was so different as she came up out of that water and as we walked up the steps of the font together she yelled " THANK YOU JESUS, THANK YOU JESUS, THANK YOU JESUS FOR LETTING ME GET BAPTIZED!" It was so awesome and the spirit was so there.
It took her 70 long years before she was baptized with the power and authority of God but she did it she finally did it!

Elder Scott’s version
…. after she went under and came back out...there was a change in her face. she looked kinda suprised at the feeling, and like she wanted to say something. when we were walking her out of the font she was able to say what she wanted. i think it went something like this: "THANK YOU JESUS! THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME BE BAPTIZED!" so sweet. she said that she has always had back pain for the longest time, but that when she came out of the water it was gone. and it hasnt bothered her since. the Lord is so merciful and loving unto His children! and He has blessed *** so much since saturday.

Elder Harding - Suriname
This week my success didn't come from Nickerie but from seeing what happened from when I had worked in my old area Kwarasan. While at the Area Conference I was able to see all of the old converts that I had baptized or helped teach. The thing that just touched me was when I saw that every one of the 4 men that I taught and baptized were active and held the Melchezidek priesthood. It felt so good to see that and to talk with them and see the blessings that have come into their life. They were even trying to get me and my companion from Kwarasan, Elder Tholen, to come back so they could go work with us and do missionary work. It was a sweet experience.

Elder Procter - Guyana
this week we have been working with some great people. *** and ***. we had been given a referral from a member to go see potato. she was a hindu when we first talked to her so we decided that we would give here the challenge to read the book of mormon in 55 days hoping that would help her change. a few weeks past as we had been teaching her and she was reading like crazy 50, 100, 200, 300, 410! the day that she got to that 410 page she told us i want to be baptized and i know that this is true! the promise that is given to anyone that reads the book of morom is true! she knows and now is baptized!

E Shakespear - Suriname
This week, we have been working to improve contacts. WE have been working hard to get them every day for some time now. WE saw some blessings this past week. WE contacted a guy and set up a return appointment. He didn't live at the given address, so we talked to the people there. WE shared a lesson and set another appointment. After the lesson, an elderly lady piped up and told us that her daughter had a dream the night before that 2 guys would come and teach her, ask her to pray, and bring her to church. The daughter was not there at the time, but we are meeting with them tonight. That was a clear example of a proximity principle.

E Findlay - Guyana
We had a family come to church Sunday that we have been working with since the beginning of last week. The mother was baptized in the SDA church and didn't feel that she needed to be baptized again. The miracle that took place was that by striving to have members there every visit it prompted her to come learn more by coming to church. I am grateful for the small and simple blessings from the Lord. Now this sister along with her family wants to be baptized and has a baptism date for the 7th of February. I know that when we are told to use members in our lessons its not for nothing. But it is bridging the gap that is between us as missionaries and our investigators and when that bridge is complete we see the conversion of many of our brother and sisters.

Elder Payne - Guyana
We had a blitz this week in our area. We each split up and prayed that we would find those who are prepared. we each split up and taught. and searched. Elder guy and Elder Hickenlooper found one of the most prepared people i have ever met. His name is ***. as they taught him he said that he just started crying and felt the spirit so strongly. He kept saying, "how come i have never heard of this Joseph Smith and it makes so much sense." i know many prayers were answered and that we have had many good things follow. the lord does hear our prayers and leads us to those who are yearning for the Gospel peace. The peace only God our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.

Elder Hickenlooper version
Success Story: Well we were led to someone that is just golden this week. When we had the Blitz me and Elder Guy went down on Charlyvile Side and after calling into a lot of houses with no success we walked down a street and called into a Small house. A man came out and invited us in and we sat down and he brought out two Diet Pepsi's to drink and had a big smile on his face. His name was *** and after we introduced our selves we taught him the first Lesson and after we told him about Joseph Smiths experience he began to weep. Not cry but sobbing, the spirit was so strong that Elder Guy invited him to be baptize and he said OH YES!!! He also testified that he knew we were here for a reason. He has since come to Area Conference and is preparing to be baptized on the 7th of January. I know that the lord prepares his children and all we have to do is find them.

Elder Fisher - Guyana
Last week Sunday night we contacted a referral named ***. It took a bit of searching. She is an older woman. We talked to her a few minutes and set a time to go back Monday night. When we went Monday night she was still responding to the spirit she felt the night before and felt really good about our message. She said she wasn't sure about preparing for baptism. We let Bro *** explain baptism, as many people have mis-conceptions about baptism and its purpose. After he talked about it she said, "yes, I'm getting the feelings and I think that I will be baptized. You said that there's a baptism on the 7th of February?" All week long she has been feeling great about our message and readily accepting everything we teach. She is such a sweet, humble woman. We traveled with her to church yesterday. It was a regional conference for the West Indies. She loved it, and is still looking forward to her baptism. The spirit is very strong in all the lessons that we teach her.

Elder Averett - Guyana
Success: On Friday we had gone to the church and cleaned the font to prepare for Saturday and we had put a member that live near the church in charge of making sure that the font was full. We decided to go and check it early Saturday morning anyway just to be safe. As we showed up the member had filled it but not full enough to do the baptisms. We checked the take that fills the font and found that there was only about 6 inches in the bottom of the take so we didn't have enough to do the job. I got discouraged and sat down to try and think of some other idea to fill the font or somewhere that we could go that would work for the baptism I was praying for something to happen. As we sat there I just had a feeling that everything would be alright but I had to do something so we decided to get the hose and hook it up and drain that last little bit of water out of the tank we looked for the hose and could not find it anywhere. We realized that the member that had filled it locked it in his house and on Saturday mornings he sells in the market so we stated to walk towards the market to find him so we could get the hose as we were walking back in the distance I could see a few small white fluffy clouds in the distance and again I said a silent prayer to myself asking the Lord to provide a way for this font to fill. The clouds got darker and darker as we walked up rain started to slightly fall and then it cut loose I got the hose from the member as Elder Jailall tried to put the down spout form the gutter into the tank he did and before I could hook up the hose and turn it on the font was full we turned the hose off rolled it up and put back the drain spout how it was as soon as we did the rain stopped and the sun came out the rest of the day this truly is the Lords work and he will provide.

Elder Barton - Tobago
This week, we contacted what looked to be a family but turned out to be a past investigator named ***. When we met with her we found that she actually has already been to church already once before and has a Book of Mormon. YES! and after a few lessons, she has told us how she needed a comfort in her troubled life and she feels a big difference since we have met with her and she has been reading the Book of Mormon a lot. She wants to be baptized asap. God has blessed us again.

Elder Williamson (Joseph) - Guyana
We found *** our first day together, which was about three weeks ago. She, with her husband, lived the party life. Since we met her, she hasn't missed church, or a days reading in the Book of Mormon. She said that she can't remember the last time she attended church two consecutive times. Now she has attended three. She has changed tremendously in three weeks. She no longer uses indecent language, and now strictly obeys the word of wisdom. The greatest thing is her Grandma who is Catholic, was over at her house the other day when we were visiting. *** bore the sweetest testimony ever to her. She talked about the Plan of Salvation, and the restoration. The greatest part was when she said this, "When i read the restoration tract i didn't feel anything at all. I only read it because i wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon. When i read the Book of Mormon I felt power. everytime i read it i feel something special. I know the book is true."

Elder Moala - Guyana
Faith. Diligence. Patience. So there are 2 things that I've been praying to find, that prepared family, and the 2nd counselor to the district presidency, here in Canje. Well, Elder Green and Young had a couple of Investigators in our area who came to church and brought along their niece. Going to see them after church, we had a pretty long walk and so we just contacted every male we saw, thinking, this is the 2nd counselor. All of them were pretty bright and willing to come to church and be baptized. When we finally got to our appointment, the family was sweet. Just eating up everything we were sharing and was wanting to have everything. A gospel principles book, a Book of Mormon etc. Even accepted a baptism date. The family was cool, the men on the road were cool. brought through FAITH and DILIGENCE... Now we just have to have the PATIENCE to wait 2 weeks until they can enter into the waters of baptism.

Elder Parrish - Guyana
What a week. This Sunday was no short of a miracle. We had 67 people attending sacrament meeting a unprecedented record for attendance, 17 of which were investigators. The Lord is really preparing the people in Crabwood Creek. When I was looking through the Hurrah, I realized that it is evident that crabwood is no longer in, "gathering Israel" but is in "Establishing the Church." The members are really taking on responsibility, and miracles are happening, people are becoming converted. We had a wonderful opportunity to be with the suranime elders (elder Sorber, and elder Thoren), who helped us baptize this weekend.

Elder Packer - Guyana
wow - All I have to say is wow. We baptized 3 young men on the 10th, It was awesome. as a result, a members cousin got baptized, now this week 3 young men next door to a house of recent converts, across the street from the other and down the steet from some long time members, Deo Brian and shelton are being baptized this week end. President, replacing yourself is an understatement!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Running a Mission

I remember sitting with some graduate students at a table at BYU just after getting our mission call. One of them (an RM) said, "I would never want to lead a mission. That would by like three years of scout camp!"

I have often thought about how wrong he was. This is the sweetest work imaginable. We love seeing others receive the blessings of the gospel, watching branches grow strong, and most of all observing young men have the doctrines of the priesthood distill upon them as they learn their duty and serve the Lord with all their hearts.

On a lighter note, I thought it would be fun to share some of the challenges of leading a mission illustrated by pictures our children took last weekend of our five "mission blessing" baby boys.

These are all things President Robison has heard - brightened up just a little :)

"Look out world! I was the TRAVELING DISTRICT LEADER on the plane from the MTC and I know how to do missionary work."

"How much longer do I have to keep propping up Elder Smith?"

"President, do you think I am going bald?"

"We're tired, it's hot, people aren't nice to us. Do we really have to go out and work today?"

"When will I like my mission?"

"I miss my MOM!"

"I've had enough! I can't stand one more minute with Elder Smith. Transfer me today!"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Every Elder's Dream

Guyana is a large country.

Missionary work has been limited mostly to areas close to Georgetown and Canje. The elders dream about someday going into the interior where there are villages of Amerindians. It seems like these sweet people are prepared and readily join the Church. Many of those who have joined the church have families living in the interior just waiting for a chance to be taught the Gospel

This week the mission got permission to take a preliminary step towards moving work into the interior. Starting next week, missionaries will be working two days a week in the large town of Lindon - about two hours south of Georgetown.

Members are excited!

Missionaries are excited!

President Robison has asked Elders Fillerup and Tupou to take this important assignment

Here is an excerpt from an email Sister Evans (couple missionary in Guyana) sent me tonight:

We wish you could have been here tonight. We invited the Johnson's (members who have family and friends in Linden) to come and meet Elder Tupou and Elder Fillerup and there was so so much electricity and excitment in the air!! They will drive to Linden with them and show them the routes and introduce them to their friends and family. They already have a list of 20-25 with phone numbers to start from!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Slideshow celebrating 2008!

In addition to the regular January slideshow (shared in the previous post), Elders Cottam (in the office) and Elder Mundy (assistant) and I put together a celebration slideshow to share during January zone conferences. It has a sampling of the 2012 baptisms (could NOT fit them all in) that took place in the West Indies last year.


*note - you can view full screen by clicking on the square icon in the lower right of the video window

Friday, January 23, 2009

January Slideshow - Joy!

A celebration of a Christmas of service and 2008+ baptisms in 2008!

There is a special 2008 celebration slideshow coming very soon with baptism pictures from the entire year.

*To play this full screen just click on the square icon in the lower right corner of the video screen.

**The video can be downloaded by going here (put your cursor on the movie and a menu will pop up with a "share" option)

"And We Go" - Peter Breinholt, EFY 1998
"Joy to Everyone this Christmas" - BYU - a free download here
*Thanks to the people at BYU who created a "Joy" slideshow. I used it for inspiration and for the text slides

Georgetown and Diamond, Guyana

Yesterday these great elders from Georgetown and Diamond zones gathered in the nice Diamond chapel for zone conference.

Don't they look great?

Couples - Langfords (CES), Handlys (new - Family History) , Larsens (proselyting), Whiteheads (new - humanitarian), and Evans (proselyting)

Assistants - Elders McDaniel and Mundy

This is exciting!

These are the prospective missionaries who attended zone conference

Jonathon Stephans
Gavindia Kumar Sookhoo (baptized one week)
Armando Green
Triston Murray (baptized three days)
Santa Kumar Pitamber - first member of his family to join the church (last May) followed by two brothers, sister and then mother
Johnny Welshman

The elders love Brother Chin's roti and curry lunch

Couples too!

Elder Lloyd (finishing his mission in a few weeks)

"Father" (Elder McNeal) and "son" (Elder Scott)

This belt belongs to Elder Trevor "Danger" Olsen (President Robison calls him Elder Danger)

Elder Olsen told us that his father gave him a new hymn book for his mission

He got it engraved "Trevor Danger Olsen"

His middle name is NOT Danger

His father asked why

Response: "Someday I want to be able to tell my grandchildren that my middle name is "Danger"!

Here he is - Elder Danger

Here are a few random pictures I shot while driving home from zone conference

Gorgeous old colonial building


"No Touts"?

"Black Eye"?

Children in their colorful school uniforms

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Canje and Berbice, Guyana

We traveled to Canje zone conference Tuesday over the brand new Berbice River bridge (after flying to Guyana from Suriname) .

So no more of ferry! (like this - can you find us? we are there)

When we arrived we found wonderful elders

and a cow

Our overall theme was teaching by the spirit. We talked about establishing the church, evaluating teaching, light, and the School of the Prophets.

It was a great conference.

Christopher Jordan has been serving a full-time 'mini' mission for five months. He enters the Dominican Republic MTC in a few weeks and will be the most experienced missionary to ever walk through those doors! Today, President Robison, assisted by Elder Jordan's missionary district, set him apart as a full time missionary.


One the way home we drove through