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Saturday, May 25, 2013

One Month

This week, we hit our one month mark in the Mission field.  I can't believe that we've been in Trinidad for one month.  Time certainly flies by fast.  We were busy this past week helping a Senior Couple find an apartment and closing out another apartment.  Elder and Sister Reese just entered the Mission field Saturday evening.  They are from Las Vegas and are retired school administrators.  President Mehr wanted them to live down south in a city called San Fernando.  They will eventually be in charge of the apartments when we got to Suriname.  It is difficult to find apartments for Senior Couples, plus Elder Gubler and I have only been to San Fernando two times.  With the help from a former Bishop from the San Fernando Ward, we were able to find them an apartment on Monday.  I feel the Lord really blessed us that day.  It was the first one they looked at and they really liked the location and the apartment.  It was completely furnished and next to a big shopping center which included a mall.  The neighborhood was upscale and safe.  Plus, the apartment fit in their budget.  We felt so blessed that day.

On Tuesday, we were able to close out a senior couple's apartment who went home and move items down to the Reese's.  It went really well.  Elder Gubler called us the property managers and movers of the mission.  It was so funny, the other day Elder Gubler received a call from a woman who asked if he could move her that afternoon.  He had to think for a minute before he realized that he didn't know her and she had dialed the wrong number.  

On a scary note, I got my hair cut and colored last week.  I had received a small trim from a beautician in the shopping center where the mission office is at before that.  I wasn't too impressed with it, but finally after searching for another beauty shop and not being able to find one, I decided to give her another try.  I was desperate that day.  They don't make appointments in Trinidad.  You walk in and wait in line.  She was in the process of cutting a gentleman's hair and another gentleman was waiting.  Another beautician walked in and I thought to myself that I should give her a try.  Big mistake!  I told her what I wanted and she turned the chair away from the mirror and cut away.  I tried to turn the chair around, but she wouldn't let me.  The color turned out all right, but the cut was too short on the sides and very uneven.  Elder Gubler saw me and went and complained to the hairdresser that this was not acceptable.  The older lady tried to fix it the best she could.  Now I know why all the senior sisters grow their hair out or cut it themselves.  Sister Monson said she would cut it from now on.   All I know is a friend by the name of Donna would never last down here with the hairdressers. 

Last Saturday on our preparation day we went to a beautiful beach called Maracas Bay.  It's the prettiest part of Trinidad that I have seen so far.  The drive there was a bit treacherous with narrow windy roads up and down a beautiful green covered mountain passage.  Elder Gubler drove the van with seven senior missionaries.  He did very well and we all felt safe with him driving.  He does very well with the driving over here.  A couple of months ago, one of the young missionaries had an accident with a Porsche on that road.  It totaled both vehicles, but luckily no one was hurt.  We ate the famous bake and shark, which is a piece of battered shark, deep fat fried, on a piece of bread which is a lot like fry bread.  They had different condiments to put on the sandwich.  The fish tasted good.  We enjoyed that afternoon visiting with the other Senior couples on the beach.

I feel very blessed to part of this great work.  We enjoy the members, missionaries and the people here in Trinidad.  It's a beautiful island and they have made us feel very welcome.

Maracas Bay

Saturday, May 18, 2013

An afternoon with the Missionaries

Elder Gubler and I spent a few hours with two Elders in our District, Elder Warner and Elder Leany.  We enjoy spending time with them because they are such sweet humble young men.  Elder Warner is on his last month in the Mission field.  He spent the last 22 months serving in Suriname in which he spoke Dutch.  In fact when we met him, he was having a hard time speaking English after speaking Dutch for so long.  He's my inspiration.  When we're with him, he's been helping us with our Dutch.  He's from Mesa, Arizona and is a fine missionary.  Elder Leany is from Utah and has been out for four months and is another wonderful missionary.

Our first visit was to an inactive family.  We met with Faith Matthews who is 20 years old.  She and her mother are both members of the Church, but her mother has stopped coming the last couple of months.  Faith comes every once in awhile with her young daughter.  Elder Warner gave a wonderful lesson out of Alma in the Book of Mormon.  He talked about how Moroni was busy preparing his army for battle.  He compared that to our life and how we should prepare ourselves for the 2nd coming of Christ and if we are prepared we should not fear.  We were all able to bear our testimonies of the Gospel and committed Faith to come to church on Sunday and to bring her mother.  

We then went to an investigator's home, Christopher, who lived nearby.  It's interested how they approach people's homes here.  Most of the homes have locked gates.  Instead of knocking on doors, they yell and say something like tap tap, is anybody home.  They are not allowed to go on a person's property without permission.  They told us of an Elder who had one foot on somebody's property and the property owner threatened to call the Police.   Christopher was not at home.

Our last visit was to Brother Michael Garcia.  He has been a member for 20 years and has knee problems and it is hard for him to get around.  What a sweet humble man who comes from very humble circumstances.  He lives in a wood shack with a cement floor.  He enjoys gardening and the Elders showed us all the work that they had done on his property.  They had raked leaves and planted a small vegetable garden.  He has a very strong testimony and the spirit was so strong.  It brought tears to both Elder Gubler and I.  They gave a wonderful lesson on the Savior's teachings out of the Book of Mormon when he visited the people on the American Continent.  It was on doing good deeds in secret, praying in secret, and fasting in secret and how God will bless thee openly.  He was so thankful for our visit.  They were also able to gain an investigator, Peter, Brother Garcia's friend.

It was a great couple of hours that we spent with the missionaries.  It lifted our spirits and taught us some valuable lessons.  Even though Brother Garcia had nothing, he actually had everything and that was membership in the Savior's Church and a strong testimony.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings hope that there is something wonderful and marvelous to work towards in the hereafter than what we have in this life.  I'm so thankful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It brings so much peace and joy into my life. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mission Office

The Mission Office is where the work is done to keep the West Indies Mission running smoothly.  It is where all the finances, travel, immigration, housing, cars, health issues, and problems are handled.  There are currently six seniors working in the office including Elder Gubler and I.  It has been very frustrating lately because the only copier in the office has broken down.  This copier was used for a printer and was old and worn out.  Elder Gubler persuaded them to purchase a new copier which is taking 1 1/2 weeks to get it in.  Sister Ray, who is over mission travel and immigration, said she might as well go on vacation without a printer.  There are only three decent computers which are used by Elder Black (the finance secretary), Sister Black (reception and general office), and Sister Ray (travel and immigration).  Elder and Sister Black's computers both have printers, but the others use the copier as a printer.  The rest of the computers are ancient and inadequate to do the work.  We have had to bring our own computer into the office.  We brought a small portable printer to use for our individual use which we have been using quite a bit.  But, we're getting through it and the work continues.  

Elder and Sister Monson who are over the young adults and youth of the mission are helping out temporarily with the cars.  The Church own many cars which the missionaries use for their work.  Not all missionaries have a car, some use bikes.  Elder Monson says he averages at least an accident a week.  I can see why, as the traffic is horrendous as are the roads in Trinidad.  We are driving a Toyota Corolla which by its condition have been in several accidents.  But it runs and has air conditioning.  Luckily, with the expert driving of Elder Gubler,  we have been able to avoid several accidents. 

Elder and Sister Linton who have been over finance and general office work are transferring to Tobago.  Tobago is a separate island next to Trinidad and the same country, that's why it is called Trinidad Tobago.  It is a much smaller island.  There are two sets of missionaries and a senior couple there and one branch.  They are replacing the Blacks while the Blacks are replacing them.  The biggest job in the Mission Office is the financial secretary.   Since there are ten countries and different currencies, it is a very difficult and stressful job.  He is often seen pulling his hair out because of the complexity of this job.  Elder Gubler is very thankful that we are going to Suriname and that he doesn't have to do it.  But, we still have to learn Dutch which we are working hard at.  Unfortunately, our senior brains do not work as well as they use to.   

Another stressful job is travel and immigration.  Sister Ray, a single sister, handles all the travel which is by airline to the different countries.  She spends thousands of dollars each week purchasing airline tickets for travel.  We've had a couple of funny stories with missionaries and flights.  A Elder who was returning home from his mission got to the airport and couldn't find his passport.  He frantically called Sister Ray who ran to the office to see if his passport was in the safe.  He called back later saying he found it in the bottom of his bag.  By then he had missed his flight home.  Another missionary who had just arrived in the Mission was assigned to Guyana.  He was given a packet with all his travel documents.  He must not have looked in it, because he went to an airline and purchased his own ticket.  The Mission had to reimburse him for that ticket plus had lost money on the other ticket that was not used.  She also takes care of applying for visas.  Some of the countries are very hard to work with.  They often give the missionaries a hard time as they go through passport control even when they have all their papers.  All of the countries are very slow issuing visas.  Some of the countries have a limit on the number of missionaries they will allow into their country.  I feel it is Satan trying to stop the work.  There have been miracles happen all the time.  It is a lot of work to comply with all the different rules and regulations of each country.  Sister Ray said that when she first started learning her job, she would go in the other room and just bawl, thinking that she couldn't handle it.  I've been very impressed with her.  She has only been out for about three months and really knows her stuff.  She is constantly meeting with representatives from the different countries making sure the Mission is following the laws of each of these countries. 

Sister Sanner, a single Senior who lived with Sister Ray, had to go home because of health problems.  She was a nurse and helped the missionaries with their health problems.  They had a miracle happen a couple of weeks ago.  An Elder who was riding a bike crashed into a Maxi, which is a small transportation bus.  He slid underneath the Maxi and his leg was run over by a wheel.  He doesn't recall, but the bike's main frame acted as a shield and protected his leg from serious injury.  The Lord protects his missionaries. 

Elder Brown is the auditor for the whole Mission.  He travels to each of the wards and branches and audits their financial records.  Sister Brown helps him and also works in the Office when she is available.  

I really love these Senior Couples.  They are always so positive and uplifting.  I'm amazed at some of the things they sacrifice to be on a mission.  But as Sister Black said the other day, it is such a small sacrifice when you look at all of eternity.  Each weekday we begin our work at the Mission Office with a devotional.  It always seems that the spiritual thought is something that I need for that day.  The spirit is really working hard and helping all of us. 

We attended our first Fast and Testimony Meeting last Sunday at the Arima Branch.  I was so touched by the testimonies that were borne.  I was hoping to get up, but there was no time.  Elder Gubler jumped up at the last minute and gave a wonderful testimony.  The members of the branch are so loving and welcoming to us.  They are so appreciative that I am able to play for their sacrament meeting and Elder Gubler can play for Priesthood.  None of the buildings have a real piano, they all have an electric keyboard.  That is something that I will miss is a piano.  I'd like to mention some things that a member said in his testimony.  When he heard the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ from the missionaries, he thought how fantastic and wonderful it was.  He had never heard anything like it before.  But he didn't have to take the Missionary's word for it, he found out for himself that it was true by praying and reading The Book of Mormon.  I know that The Book of Mormon is true, because I've read it and I've prayed about it.  It is the keystone of the Church.  For if The Book of Mormon is true then all the rest is true.  It is a fantastic and wonderful message that the Lord speaks to us today through a Prophet of God, that the Priesthood authority to perform saving ordinances such as baptism has been restored and that there is additional scripture along with the Bible to help us know what is true and answers questions:  Where did I come from?  Why am I here? Where am I going when this life is over?   I'm so thankful to be here on this Mission and to be a part of this great work.  It is hard at times, but I know I'm doing the Lord's work.

You will have to excuse the look of my blog, I am having a very difficult time inserting pictures the way I want to.   I'm going to learn better how to blog.
Elder Black & Elder Linton
Elder & Sister Monson

Elder Brown

Sister Linton                

Sister Black & Sister Brown     

Elder & Sister Gubler
                    Sister Ray

Thursday, May 2, 2013


I'd like to talk about apartments on my blog today, since that is what our activities for the past week have been about.  Trinidad is quite modern.  It has quite a few American items, such as food products, restaurants, appliances, and etc.  It is a poor country as there are many that live in tin shacks with a dirt floor and no electricity or running water.  Our apartment is pretty nice and in a good area which is gated.  It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms and quite a large living room area.  It has all the modern appliances except for a dishwasher.  We feel very fortunate to be in this apartment, because we've heard of horror stories from the Senior Couples here.  There are two other couples in this apartment complex.  We do have to get use to small lizards, ants, humidity, dirty water, unsanitary conditions, and a different type of air conditioning.  Elder Gubler accidently stepped on a small lizard in our apartment and tore off it's tail.  He felt really bad.  We do have air conditioning, but they are wall units in each of the rooms.  We only use the air conditioner when we're in that room.

I invited the two couples that live in this complex over for Sunday dinner.  These two couples did so much to help us out when we got here that I wanted to do something special for them.  I decided to prepare crockpot chicken and potatoes.  I have very few kitchen items, just some necessary utensils and dishes.  For instance, I have one fry pan, a sauce pan, 4 plates, 4 bowls, 4 glasses, and minimal kitchen utensils.  It was rather difficult, because the crockpot didn't get hot enough to cook the meal in time and I had hurry and cook it in the two pans that I had.  I have to make sure that I use filtered water to wash and cook with.  I didn't have a table cloth or placemats.  But, the dinner was OK.  My guests understood my dilemma since they're the ones that stocked the kitchen.  I do miss my kitchen.

The assignment that we've been asked to do is to be in charge of the apartments.  Saturday, we inspected some of the apartments of one of the zones.  There are four zones in Trinidad.  We met the zone leaders at one of the Church buildings as we didn't know where they lived.  It is very hard to find addresses and your way around in Trinidad, because there is no rhyme or reason to the roads.  They are very narrow and a lot of one-way roads.  The zone leaders took us around to the Elder's apartments.  I must say, the missionaries live in dire circumstances sometimes.  One Elder was sleeping on an air mattress that had a leak and was using a curtain for a sheet.  Another Elder's bed frame slats kept falling to the floor anytime he moved during the night.  There was two collapsed bed frames and one torn up mattress.  The Elders and Sister did clean their apartments pretty good considering the conditions they were living in.  By the way, we did replace mattresses, bedframes and other numerous items.  Also, none of the apartments had air conditioning which would be hard considering the humidity and heat.  Elder Gubler asked an Elder who just arrived how he was doing and he said he was "hot".  I'm sure they will climatize.  The missionaries are great, they were so happy and excited to see us when we came.  They are full of the spirit, they work hard, they love and serve the people and they love the Lord.  Any parent would be proud to have them as a son or daughter.  I love the missionaries. 

I have included pictures of our apartment.  I'm so thankful to be here on this mission.  It is a privilege to serve the Lord.  What an honor to be His representative.  We are so blessed to live in America.