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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Crazy, Busy Weeks!

It has been crazy the past couple of weeks.  Transfers went smoothly and we're enjoying the new Missionaries that transferred here.  We had a wonderful Senior's Conference.  It was fun to see all the Senior Couples and to spend time in Trinidad.  That will be the last time we will be at a Senior's Conference and to see Trinidad again.  The last Senior's Conference we went to, we were one of the newer couples out and now we are one of the older couples.  All those who are going home in the next seven months bore their testimonies at the end of the conference.  We love President and Sister Mehr so much.  They each gave inspirational messages and ones that I really needed.  I have felt that I haven't been doing all that I should on this Mission and President Mehr spoke that the Savior knows our innermost desires and thoughts and that with our efforts will qualify us for Exaltation.  I love Missionary work, I've had some of the most spiritual times in my life, but yet some of the most difficult times as well.

Two weeks ago, Elder Gubler was made a Branch President down in Vieux Fort.  President Nicholas has been in for seven long years and was released.  We were hoping that it would be possible for him to serve longer, but it was time for him to go.  The Vieux Fort Branch has been struggling and we have our work cut out for us.  We still plan on living on the Northern part of the Island, Gros Islet, and commuting down to Vieux Fort, the Southern point of the Island, about three times a week.  A lot of our business concerning the Mission is in the area which we live. President Mehr came and released President Nicholas and called Elder Gubler.  We both bore our testimonies along with the Nicholas'.  President Mehr gave an excellent talk on asking questions.  One thing that I've learned on this Mission is to ask inspired questions when we're praying.  I'm not use to that, but it really makes sense. 

When we got home from Senior's Conference, the airline lost our luggage, the refrigerator went out in our apartment, plus other things happened that I don't want to get into.  We are certainly being tried and know that Satan is working hard to get us to leave.  This all happened on Friday before Elder Gubler was called as a Branch President.   We are excited for the challenge and know that we have a lot to do before our Mission ends.  We will certainly be busy.  Elder Gubler is worried about the drive back and forth, but I know the Lord will bless us.  The drive is grueling, hairpin turns, up and down Mountain passages and narrow roads.  Elder Gubler is an excellent driver and so far no accidents.  The Missionaries down in Vieux Fort are awesome and we're looking forward to spending more time with them.  In fact, they had a baptism on Saturday.  We will miss the Castries Branch as we have gotten close to a lot of the members. 

Elder Gubler has one Counselor, Brother Hippolyte.  He and his wife just started getting active this past year.  She was baptized in the United States working as a nanny for an LDS family and served a mission in Hawaii. She converted her husband when they were married. They have two darling daughters.  They are working towards going to the Temple this August.  The problem they face is that they live so far away from Vieux Fort.  They don't own a vehicle and have to rely on public transportation which is very limited on Sundays. But, Brother Hippolyte has a strong testimony and knows that the Lord will provide a way if they make the effort.  They often have to walk an hour into small villages looking for transportation.  He lost his business and home because of the bad economy and has had some real struggles financially. We took them home on Sunday and they do live a long distance near the Grande Piton, a dormant volcano.  We were nervous our van wouldn't make it on some of the roads leading up to their home, single narrow lane and pot filled roads. They live in a humble home without a lot of amenities.  She has to cook on a stove with only one burner.  Unfortunately, it is the opposite way of where we go home, which means we traveled all the way around the Island on Sunday.  It made for a very long day. We started at 8:00 and didn't get home until 5:00.  I know that the Lord will bless them for their efforts. We were both exhausted at the end of the day.

There was one point on our Mission that we thought we were going back to Suriname, because we had a visa and also we're familiar with the area and Elder Gubler can speak Dutah.  Elder and Sister Vanderbeek, the Senior Couple there,  left for home after the Senior Conference.  There are currently 20 Missionaries there, with two new Sisters.  We were asked to stay here because Elder Gubler was asked to be Branch President.  We are glad that we're still here.  This Mission is in need of Senior Couples.  President Mehr said that six couples are leaving in the next six months and he only has two coming to replace them.  I hope they have one for Saint Lucia, because they are certainly needed here.  So, this is a plea to all seniors who are able to serve a Mission to put your papers in and request the West Indies Mission.  There is a great need here as the Church is so new and is struggling.


Sister Surujbhan, Senior couple 
from Guyana, serving in Guyana
at Seniors Conference.


Angie's baptism


Shermina's baptism



Larry Marquis, baptized by his father.


Elders Morrison and Watson with
Corey


Pitons


President Mehr handing out insect
repellant for swamp tour


Senior Conference, waiting for swamp tour.


Cerroni Swamp


Black termite nest in tree.


Red Ibis


President Eclar from Guadalupe, 2nd Counselor
in Mission Presidency.


The Samaroo's and Richmonds


We had beautiful music with Sister Mehr singing, Sister
Smith on violin, and Elder Ray piano, "Savior, Redeemer
of My Soul"


Sister Kirton, left, from Guyana on a mini
mission awaiting her full time mission to Florida, 
with Terry and Sister Shelton at Terry's baptism.


Sister Taylor, sister trainer, Sister Kirton, Sister Shelton


Elders Woodruff, Fauchier, and Reyes at Terry's
Baptism all from Vieux Fort.



Sister Baptiste with grandchildren from
Vieux Fort.



Nadia's family, she lost her home in a fire.


Sisters Shelton and King. Sister
King transferred to Suriname, 1st
Sister Missionary in Suriname.


Sister Shelton & King with Elder St. Rose.



Elder Juchau and Elder Smith. Not sure if
Elder Juchau liked the food.


Elders Fiame, Sorensen, Sister King, and Elder St. Rose all
transferred from area.



Monday, May 5, 2014

Celebration and Devastation

The weather in Saint Lucia is getting hotter and it is much dryer.  The beautiful green grass is now brown because of no rain.  The locals tell me that the rain should come soon and all are anxiously waiting.  The cruise ships have also slowed down because of the season.  

Much has happened this past month.  Saint Lucia's Celebration 2015 was held April 18 in Vieux Fort.  This event was the first of several celebrations commemorating 25 years since the Church has been in the West Indies.  We were proud of the two branches as they did everything on their own in putting on this event.  Sister Nicholas from Vieux Fort was extremely busy preparing food and getting the Church ready. There were over 100 people that came from Castries and Vieux Fort.  There were musical numbers, poems, instrumental, and speeches performed. They all did an excellent job. Sister Carter who was the first member baptized in Saint Lucia gave a brief history of the Church in Saint Lucia and bore her testimony.  There were strong testimonies borne that day of the truthfulness of the Gospel.  The Monsons and the Francoms, Senior Couples, were there to support the event. Elder and Sister Monson, the couple who showed us the ropes when we first came on our Mission will finish their mission next week.  The Francoms, a couple from Lindon, Utah will be taking their place.  It was fun spending time with them.  We took them down to Soufreire and several other places around the Island.  The Francoms are currently in Guyana and are jealous of us being on such a beautiful Island.  

On a sad note, we received a phone call early Friday morning from Nadia Louison, a member of the Castries Branch.  Her home and everything in it was completely destroyed by a fire. She is a single mother of five children, ages 13, 11, 9, 7, and 3.  We rushed right over and it was difficult to see that destroyed home.  Luckily, no one was home and all are safe.  The home was not insured and she lost everything.  She is unemployed at the moment and has no source of income.  Life in Saint Lucia is very difficult for these wonderful people.  There is high unemployment and most have to survive on little income.  The Government has little or no welfare.  It is also difficult as the family unit rarely has a mother and father.  Most are single mothers with children.  Her children's father committed suicide several years ago.  My heart breaks for Nadia and her children.  It will take years for them to overcome this devastation. I would like to seek help from all who are willing to donate anything to help her rebuild her life.  If you would like to donate, please mail or give all donations to Alan Gubler, 70 N Coleman, Tooele, UT. 84074. He will then get the money to us to give to Nadia.  She has been a member of the Church for three years and is very active.  We really enjoy her children and they are so well behaved and eager to learn the Gospel.  The home was a simple home made of plywood and tin roof, but it was shelter and a home for her and her children.

Transfers are this week and we are losing four of our Missionaries and gaining four new ones. We also have a Seniors Conference next week in Trinidad.  We had a baptism on Saturday and I feel that we helped with Dorothy in her decision to be baptized.  When I first met her, she told me that she wanted to join the Church, but couldn't give up her smoking.  She had smoked for 50 years.  I told her about Priesthood blessings and fasting.  She immediately asked the Elders for a blessing and we all fasted for her to give up smoking.  She was able to quit smoking and is so thankful to finally be a member of the Church.  Her son who was baptized a couple of months ago, was able to baptize her which was a special moment.  We have grown so close to the members here in Saint Lucia.  They are such wonderful people.  

President Nicholas from Vieux Fort was on the verge of resigning from being a Branch President.  There isn't any active Priesthood men in Vieux Fort that could take his place. Elder Gubler was very instrumental in counseling with him and encouraging him to stay as Branch President.  He does a wonderful job and has helped four young people go on Missions. We are so thankful that he will still be a Branch President.  Another tender mercy that convinced him to stay, was a former Bishop of his when he joined the Church 32 years ago in England came to Saint Lucia for a visit.  He was able to attend Church with him on Sunday and bore a very strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel.

We never know what may come from one day to the next with this Mission, but I love Missionary work and I know it is the Lord's work.  It is hard and is difficult being away from home, but I know we are a help in strengthening members and investigators.  The Church is true and all we ask people to do is read The Book of Mormon and pray about it.  I love to hear their testimonies and conversion stories.  God does hear and answer our prayers.



Elder & Sister Francom and me


Me and Sister Monson near the Pitons


Elder Gubler in front of waterfall


Enjoying a mineral spring


Celebration 2015


Devastating fire


We helped the Elders clean up,
messy job


The Elders enjoying a game of Uno while
waiting for a meeting


Two of my favorite people, B.J. and Bryana


O'Brian caught some lobsters and fish for the Elders
and cooked them on the fire


Sister Jannel Walter on the day she left
for her Mission in Santa Domingo, Dominican
Republic, tall girl in blue skirt, with President &
Sister Nicholas & two daughters and Tearya.



Dorothy at her baptism


The Anthony family