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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Leaving Suriname on a sad note!

Time has gone by quickly since I last wrote on my blog.  Much has happened during that time.  We left Suriname on a sad note.  Brother Enrique from the Paramaribo Branch lost his wife and daughter in an auto accident.  Their vehicle swerved off the road and flipped upside down in a swamp.  They both drowned.  He has one other daughter who is currently serving a mission in the Dominican Republic.  They are from Mexico.  Their funeral was held Monday, Oct 28.  Also, that same weekend, the Branch President's wife from the branch we were attending, took her own life.  She is survived by her husband and two young daughters. Her funeral was Wednesday, Oct. 30.  It was a very sad and difficult week.  The members of the Church were all in shock over what had happened.  I helped the Relief Society sisters dress the bodies of Sister Enrique and her daughter.  It is vastly different from the United States.  The bodies were not cleaned or embalmed.  They were just put in a refrigerator. They had both died from drowning so there wasn't any trauma to the bodies, thankfully.  But it was still difficult.  We had to also help place the bodies in the casket.  They were to be cremated as Brother Enrique wanted to take the bodies back to Mexico.

All that aside, we are finally on the Island of St. Lucia.  It is a beautiful mountainous Island. Everywhere you look is a picturesque scene.  Our apartment overlooks Rodney Bay, which is a popular tourist spot.  Each time we leave our apartment we see that gorgeous view.  Elder and Sister Gartz have been great. They are the Senior Couple we will be replacing.  We are becoming familiar with the area and the members of the Church.  St. Lucia has two branches, one in Castries which is on the Northwest side of the Island and the other in Vieux Fort, which is at the Southern tip of the Island.  The members have been very warm and welcoming.  We will enjoy our time in St. Lucia, but will miss Suriname as well.  There are currently 10 young missionaries in St. Lucia, with two being Sisters.  Cruise ships frequently stop at this Island as it is so beautiful.  There are many resorts and beautiful beaches.  I'm glad I brought my swimming suit.  Elder and Sister Gartz will be leaving December 7.  It will be good to have an Island all to ourselves to oversee.  The best part of this mission as I have said is getting to know and work with the Missionaries.  They are all the best.

Elder Gubler has had to get use to driving up and down steep narrow gaps (streets) to get to various places.  I can't believe some of the driveways to homes here, very steep and awkward to get into.   Parking is also a difficult thing as there is not any, especially in the city. According to the Gartz, Elder Gartz will drive in and park in a nonparking area and do his business, leaving Sister Gartz in the vehicle to drive around the block.  Right now, we are driving a brand new Mitsubishi Lancer which will be the Sister's vehicle when the Gartz' leave.  We will inherit an old pickup, with no air conditioning, which will be replaced by a 12 passenger van.  That will be fun to drive especially with these narrow streets.  But, Elder Gubler, who is an expert driver, will be up to the task.  They tell us the van is suppose to come in on the 1st of December, but it was actually suppose to be here in September.  So, who knows when it will be here.  The Gartz' are tough people, driving around a vehicle without air conditioning in this weather.  They drove us to Vieux Fort, which is a 1 1/2 hour drive, and I was exhausted without air conditioning.  We have offered to switch vehicles, but Elder Gartz doesn't want to drive a new vehicle.  

Our apartment is in a beautiful area.  It's not as nice as the apartment in Suriname, but adequate and less expensive.  We have hot water and a dryer, which I am happy about.  It is on the lower level of a huge home, where our landlord lives.  He is very nice and accommodating.  He even installed an air conditioner in the kitchen/living room area.  It has two bedrooms and one bathroom.  It is older apartment, but in fairly decent condition. We are happy with it and will stay here for the duration of our mission.  We will close the Gartz' apartment when they leave.  Their apartment was difficult to get to as the road was bad and parking was also difficult, especially with a van.  

Elder Gartz has been able to help me with some dental issues that I've been having throughout this mission.  He is a retired Dentist and has a portable dental unit with all the drills and equipment necessary to perform most dental procedures.  He does a lot of humanitarian work as a Dentist.  He holds a dental clinic once a week in which he sees patients, free of charge.  He and his wife have been to many places in the world doing humanitarian dental work.  They are both amazing people.  They are in their 70's, which you would never have guessed, and this is their second mission.  They served in Cambodia prior to this.  They are from New Mexico and will also be celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary next month.  It has been great working with them for the short time they have left.  

We are both thankful to be here on this mission and to be serving the Lord.  I'd like to say something about the two funerals we attended in Suriname.  The first funeral, the family was sealed together in the Temple.  The husband/father knows that he will be with his wife and daughter in the hereafter and for eternity.  There's a different feeling, a feeling of peace, of having this assurance.  The second family was not sealed.  Though, there is a possibility of that happening in the future.  The feeling at this funeral was one of sadness.  I'm so thankful for the Gospel and the blessing of the Temple.  I'm so thankful that I have the blessing of Temple marriage in my life.  I know that my family will be sealed to me throughout eternity, if I continue to live the Gospel.  What a glorious and beautiful plan this is of our Heavenly Father.  I know he lives and I'm so thankful for His Son, Jesus Christ, who has made all this possible, through his atoning sacrifice.  This is why we are on a mission to share the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our last P-Day outing with the Suriname Elders,
great Elders, we will miss them.

Our beautiful view outside our apartment of
Rodney Bay

Sister Gartz and two sisters from Barbados

I counted over 50 mosquito bites that I
got in Uitkijk, Suriname.  I sure hope I
don't get denque fever!

Uitkijk Branch Primary.

The two Van Dyke girls who lost their

Fresh Bananas

My first Ocean Baptism in St. Lucia,
  it was very special.

Largest wooden church building in the
world in Paramaribo, Suriname

Waterkant Street in Paramaribo (Dutch style

Elder Gubler

Paramaribo market

Enrique Family, Mother and youngest daughter were killed.  Other daughter
is currently serving a mission in the Dominican Republic.

Van Dyke Family, mother took her
own life.