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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Life in Suriname

We've had an interesting couple of weeks, but we finally feel settled.  For the past couple of weeks, Suriname has had a Carifest that many countries have been involved with.  When we came here, we only had a week at the Marriott and were hoping we could find another temporary place to stay until a house was finished across from the other Senior Couple here. When we saw the house, we realized that this temporary place could take months to finish. Things are done really slow in these foreign countries and this house was nowhere near completion. We were hoping to occupy an Elder's apartment until the house was finished or until our mission was finished, but after looking at the apartment, we decided differently.  I knew as well as Elder Gubler that we would not be comfortable in that apartment.  That day we found a Real Estate Office and the agent had just gotten a listing for a small house for rent.  She hadn't even posted it on her website yet.  It was newly built and just perfect for us. It is the same price as what we were paying in Trinidad.  It's completely furnished and quite modern according to Suriname standard.  It has hot water to the shower, which is not normal, but there isn't any hot water in the other faucets (bathroom & kitchen).  It also has a washer, but no dryer.  It has a cute patio with a clothes line.  I don't mind not having a dryer except for towels.  It has three bedrooms, one bathroom, and a kitchen living room area.  It also has a single car garage.  It is conveniently located near the Temenga Branch and the mall and grocery store.  It is also near the Missionary Zone Leaders of the Zone we're over. The Real Estate Agent said that it was a miracle that we found this place, because rentals are very hard to come by in Suriname.  We knew that the Lord was watching over us.

Suriname is a little different than Trinidad.  There is not as much traffic and they drive more sane around here.  It's also not as busy or crowded as Trinidad.  I noticed also that the service you get in shops and restaurants is a lot better.  But, it doesn't have as many nice stores.  A lot of the stores are owned by the Chinese.  They call them supermarkts and they all carry about the same things which are cheap household items and food.  All items are much more expensive here.  I figure on some items I'm paying twice and sometimes three times as much as in the US.  Gas is also expensive at $6.00 a gallon.  We are currently driving a Church-owned-vehicle from Guyana.  Elder and Sister Vanderbeek, the Senior Couple here, traveled to Guyana a week ago and drove an extra vehicle back from there.  It is only a temporary car.  We have submitted a couple of bids for a pickup truck and will have to drive this temporary vehicle back to Guyana when we get our pickup.  

Most of the people speak English and we have been able to get by with speaking English. Elder Gubler is doing a lot better than I am with his Dutch.  The Church meetings are held in Dutch, but most of the members speak English to us.  Elder Gubler likes to practice his Dutch with the missionaries and the members.  

We have become familiar somewhat with the city and have been able to find our way around. Elder Gubler is an expert at directions and learns quickly where places are at.  We will spending the next little while inspecting Elder apartments and supplying them.  All the Elders ride bikes and the Vanderbeeks will take care of repairing of bicycles.  We found out that the bikes are always breaking down and need constant repair.  It sounds like it is difficult to find good bikes here.  The Missionaries are on bikes all day and ride them long distances.  The roads are not very good here and a lot of them are unpaved, so it is very hard on the bicycles.  As soon as we get our pickup truck, we will be taking care of bicycles in our Zone.

They call Suriname the Netherlands meets the Wild West.  There are old style Dutch buildings in the main part of the city along with old run down buildings that look like the wild west.  I will get pictures later.  There are six branches and one district in Suriname.  We have attended two of the branches and the members are all loving and very welcoming.  They are small and five of them meet in a rented place, where Temenga meets in a Church-owned-building.  It's amazing how you can attend church in different countries, but the spirit is still the same.  We had a family home evening with members of the Paramaribo Branch last night.  It was a very spiritual meeting.  Some of these members were some of the first members in Suriname.  They told of some real spiritual experiences they have had.  I have been very impressed with their strength and their testimonies.  I'm very thankful to be a part of this great work and look forward to serving the missionaries and members in Suriname.  We are very happy with our new home for the next 14 months.  

Our blue huis

Our temp vehicle

Neighbor's goats


Living room

Our bedroom, notice the bars on the 
windows, sometimes we feel like
we're in prison.

Wardrobe, they don't have closets

extra bedroom

laundry and bathroom area

bathroom area

Extra bedroom

Another view of kitchen

Patio, we have a lovely view of a used-car lot.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Well we finally made it to Suriname after almost four months in Trinidad.  We arrived late Wednesday night, early Thursday morning.  We found out that they didn't have an apartment for us, so we are having to stay in a hotel.  We have been very nervous, because we have to check out of our hotel on Friday and couldn't find another place to stay because of an Indian Festival they are having in Paramaribo.  We have been frantically trying to find an apartment, but everything is closed because of a four day weekend.  President and Sister Mehr are here in Suriname because of Zone Conference.  They suggested we stay in an Elder's apartment that just opened up and is very nice.  So we will be moving there on Monday.  We're hoping to make it our home for the next 14 months.

We attended Zone Conference on Friday and District Conference on Saturday and Sunday.  They have both been very spiritual days, but very tiring.  Elder and Sister Vanderbeek are a Senior Couple already here.  We will help them out by taking over a Zone of Elders.  Nine new Elders came to Suriname the same time we did.  There will be 28 Missionaries in Suriname.  They are all Elders and all of them ride bicycles. 

Suriname is a flat country and is hard to get around.  The people here speak Dutch, but many speak English.  Our first day at Church many of the members came up to us and spoke English.  They were impressed with Elder Gubler at how he spoke Dutch.  It is a difficult language and one we are still going to work very hard at.  President Mehr told us it would be all right to use English and if needed, get one of the members to translate for us.  He really wants us out here to help take care of the Missionaries. 

We had a sweet farewell with the Senior Couples in Trinidad.  We've made some wonderful friends there and will miss them.  It will take time to get use to this new country.  It is different than Trinidad, but I think I will grow to love it here.  Again, I'm thankful to be here.  
Elders in Arima, Trinidad that we were over

Zone Leaders that we were over

Baptism in Sangre Grande for Rhonda

Two more Elders we were over

The Sisters we were over, Rhonda, and The Monsons

Elder Gubler walking to the Mission Office, we did it each
weekday morning in Trinidad

A SWAT vehicle.  This is a company that provides security
protection in Trinidad.

Mission Office Sign

Elder Gubler at the Mission Office

Elder & Sister Ray at our farewell lunch

Elder & Sister Smith, the new couple.  He's a Doctor,
thank heavens.

Sister Ray

Elder & Sister Monson

Elder Ray  & Elder Gubler

Elder & Sister Ray, they took over the Browns.  Our
walking partners.

Zone Conference in Suriname

Elder's choir at Zone Conference

Chapel in Suriname where District Conference was held