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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Our Christmas in the Mission Field!

Many people have asked what it's like to celebrate Christmas out in the mission field.  Well let me tell you, this Christmas was a "memorable one", that's for sure.  Christmas Eve was spent putting on a party for the Missionaries in St. Lucia. We held it at the Church in Castries Tuesday afternoon.  The day started at 1:00, with the Missionaries making Christmas cards to give to their investigators while they visited them on Christmas day.  The Mission President and his wife held a special Devotional for the whole Mission over the internet. Afterwards, Elder Gubler took the Elders and Sisters over to Sister Marius to sing Christmas carols.  She is a member of the Castries branch and is bed ridden.  I told her we would bring all the missionaries over to sing to her, and she was so excited.  We invited a single Sister, Andreya Nicholson, who is from the U.S. over here teaching music in an after school program.  She and I stayed behind to put the finishing touches on dinner.  After dinner, the missionaries were permitted to watch a movie.  A torrential rainstorm had started, but I didn't realize how bad it was until we took Andreya home. Up towards her apartment, as Elder Gubler drove, the front end of the car started to disappear in the the water.  Realizing that we were driving into deep water, Elder Gubler stopped and started to back out.  The cars behind him were slow to let us back.  It was dark and hard to see with the rain.  Luckily, we found another way to her apartment and were able to get her home.

We returned to church  and told the Elders and Sisters that it was treacherous outside and that we needed to end the party.   It was decided that the two Elders and two Sisters from Vieux Fort would spend the night, the sisters with us and the Elders with a set of Elders who lived below the Church.  Elder Gubler asked Elder Larson who had driving privileges to take the truck with the other Elders to their apartment up North while we had the car with the Sisters.  It was difficult distinguishing the road with the other terrain as there was so much water.  We were half way home when we got a call from the Elders saying they had ran the truck into a deep ditch.  We quickly turned around and went back to the Church. The mishap happened down the road from the Church, so the Elders in the truck walked back to the Church.  After not being able to find anyone to pull out the truck, it was decided to have all eight Elders stay in the apartment below the Church.  We found out later that they all went downtown Castries helping push stuck vehicles and carrying people across flooded streets. 

We then proceeded with the Sisters back to our apartment.  On the way we went through deep water where a bridge was flooded and was so nervous about stalling the car as there were a number of cars stalled.  Then we encountered another bridge which was flooded and nobody was moving.  We thought about heading back to the Church but was stuck between the two bridges that were flooded.  We could not go North or South.  I called a member to ask if there was another way around, but there was not.  The power was out and it was completely dark.

We decided to go to a resort to see if we could spend the night there, but they were not able to accommodate us as they were also having major problems with flooding.  So we came to the conclusion that we would maybe have to spend the night in the car.  It was late and after a couple of hours, we decided to try the bridge again leading to our apartment.  Thankfully, it was open.  We arrived at our apartment at 11:00 p.m. and no power.  But we were so thankful to be home and to have the Sisters safe that we didn't care.  After a restless night and busy morning, we returned back to the Church to deal with the truck.  It looked like it was almost tipped over in the deep gully.  The night before it was half submerged in water. We were so thankful the Elders didn't tip it over.  Elder Gubler decided to try and get it out with 4 wheel drive.  With the help of the Elders pushing and Elder Gubler's expertise driving, he was able to get it out.  That was such a big relief, especially to Elder Larson who ran it into the ditch.  Four of the Elders from Castries decided to stay at the Church, so they could skype home.  The Sisters drove the truck to Vieux Fort, while we took two Elders to the Morne and the other two Elders to Vieux Fort.  On the way, we saw the devastation of mud slides and flooding.  The roads were covered in mud and homes and yards were full of mud and water.   We were heartsick after seeing the damage that was done. We traveled about 40 miles when we found that part of the road had been destroyed.  There was a big traffic jam and many waiting for them to fix a pass through. The Elders and Sisters didn't reach Vieux Fort until about 4:00 p.m.  Twenty four hours later, we were able to have a somewhat peaceful Christmas evening.  

The days after the storm, Elder Gubler worked with Church Headquarters in Salt Lake, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Trinidad, and Florida to get relief supplies delivered to St. Lucia.  There are currently 2000 hygiene kits on the way and money was supplied to purchase drinking water.  He has been working with the government who will help deliver these supplies.  We also want to coordinate with the Church the delivery of other items, such as clothing and blankets.  The humanitarian efforts of the Church are big.  I'm so thankful to be a member of this Church who helps so many countries around the world in times of disasters.  The Missionaries have also been giving service to others in need.  Many of the people went days without water.  The Vieux Fort Missionaries went a whole week without water.  Luckily, they had emergency water that they stored.  We thought that we would have to pull them out of Vieux Fort, but the water was turned on New Years Day.

This Christmas has been very memorable and rewarding.  We're thankful that we were here to assist the Missionaries and also help St. Lucia.  I have included a link showing the devastion of the storm.
  
http://www.nationnews.com/articles/view/five-dead-in-st-lucia/

I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas and wishing you all a wonderful safe New Year.



Mission truck, thankfully, Elder Gubler
drove it out.  We were so afraid it was
going to tip over.



Driving through mud on the way to Vieux
Fort, Christmas Day.


Damage in Vieux Fort.


Damage to road to Vieux Fort



Picture from news article, we saw
several vehicles in strange places.


More damage


A lot of mud!


More damage



Christmas Eve party


Missionaries listening to devotional on
computer.


Andreya Nicholson


Zone Conference in St. Vincent


Zone Conference


The Sisters at Zone Conference


Telly's baptism


Telly's baptism


Sylvia's baptism


Sylvia's baptism.

2 comments:

  1. I was excited to come across your blog and see a couple of pictures of my son Elder Pierson :)

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  2. Lori Pierson just told me about your blog and I'm so happy to have been told about it. My son Elder Bingham is currently serving on St. Lucia. It was nice to see the pictures you took and to know that you are taking care of the missionaries on St. Lucia. Thank you.

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