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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Final Post

This will be my final post.  I have been lax writing on my blog, wow, over a month since I wrote last.  I can't believe we only have two weeks left on our Mission.  Time has gone by so quickly.  We are anxious to get home and see our family and friends.  We will miss those we have grown to love so much here in St Lucia, but at the same time excited to see our family back home. 

The past month has been interesting.  I came down with the dreaded Chickagunya (Mosquito borne virus) which wasn't fun at all.  It is an epidemic here in St. Lucia.  Our numbers have been down at Church because of it and many of our missionaries on this Island have gotten it.  The symptoms are fever, rash, swollen ankles and feet, and sore joints. I am still suffering from the sore joints.  It feels like I've got arthritis. Many say that could last up to a year, which I certainly hope not.  But, I didn't die and I guess my Mission wouldn't be complete unless I got it.

The Community After School Project finally was approved.  This is a humanitarian project that was submitted awhile back which the Church will provide supplies for about 14 different after school programs throughout St. Lucia.  Elder and Sister Moore, the Humanitarian Couple, came over to St. Lucia and went on a shopping spree purchasing supplies, such as notebooks, crayons, pencils, pens, craft supplies, laptops, and DVD players for the Community After School Project which will impact over 700 kids in St. Lucia.  We spent over $14,000 EC dollars.  We attended a Ceremony honoring those who donated to this project. The St. Lucian Government were very thankful for all the Church donated. Every little bit helps as far as bringing the Church out of obscurity on this Island.  There are so many lies and falsehoods about the Church that is rampant in the Caribbean.  Many of the members say they are confronted many times from others with false accusations about the Church. It's another testimony to me that this Church is true, otherwise Satan would leave us alone.

We attended our last Zone Conference last week.  It was a combined meeting with three Islands, St. Lucia, Barbados, and Grenada.  Elder and Sister Zivic, a member of the First Council of the Seventy and 1st Counselor in the Area Presidency came and spoke to us.  They are from Argentina and such a sweet humble couple.  We enjoyed their remarks and all were strengthened by the spirit that was there.  It was great visiting with former Missionaries that we knew and also gave us a chance to say goodbye.  Before the Zone Conference, we had transfers and got three new Missionaries here in St. Lucia.  Two left which makes an odd number of Elders, so there is a threesome, until Elder Orton receives his Visa to Suriname. It was great to get Elder Reise, whom we served with in Suriname.  This is his last transfer with him going home next transfer.  He is a great Elder from South Africa and was also excited to see us again.  We have grown to love all the Missionaries that we have served with.  They are a great bunch of young men and women, who sacrifice their time and much more to serve the Lord.

The Branch is doing great.  Elder Jean Marl Joseph leaves on his Mission to Atlanta in a couple of weeks.  He finally got his US Visa and we're waiting on his airline tickets.  Sister Joseph's daughter, Sharlyne, will be returning home from her Mission to the West Indies in October.  She is currently serving in Trinidad and will be a real strength to the Branch.  That makes five Missionaries that have been called from the Vieux Fort Branch.  Sister Kimberly Hyden, who is with the Peace Corps from Wisconsin, is a new member of the Branch.  She was put to work immediately in the Primary and is a huge asset to the Branch.  She is over here as a school teacher teaching literacy.  I suggested that we start a literacy class at the Branch after she settles in which she was very open to and the members were very excited about.  I feel this will be a great Missionary tool, as this is a big problem over here.  Our Relief Society is doing great.  They all wanted to have a monthly Enrichment Meeting which I helped with the first two and they took over and planned the last one we had.  It was a great success and all who came enjoyed themselves.  I complimented the Relief Society President and she said is felt so good to finally serve in her calling in the Relief Society.  She worked with Sister Sherba who was called to be the Enrichment Leader and they organized it themselves.  This was lacking in the Branch when we came and we have been working with the auxiliaries to help them understand their callings and what they have to do to fulfill them.  I'm happy with the progress that we have made and hope that it will continue after we leave.

There isn't a Senior Couple as of yet to take our place.  President Mehr plans on having Elder and Sister Turner who are serving in Martinique come over every few weeks to help with the Branch.  He will act as the Branch President with his counselor, Brother Hippolyte, and the Missionaries taking over when he isn't there.  Hopefully this will only be for a few months until they get another Senior Couple in.  There isn't a local member that is able to be a Branch President.  We hope and pray that will change over time.

We have already started to say our goodbyes to members of the Castries Branch.  We don't get to see them on Sundays at Church so we have been visiting them in their homes. Sylvia, a recent convert and someone I've gotten really close to, gave us a going away surprise party. The Elders from Castries all came with some of the members and her family.  She fixed us a nice meal and made us a cake.  It has been great seeing her grow in the Gospel.  I love Facebook, that way I can keep connected to many friends and Missionaries that we've met while we've been out.

I'm thankful for this opportunity to serve as Missionaries of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  It has been an honor to wear the Missionary badge and to be His representatives.  It has been difficult at times, but very rewarding as we have seen many accept the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I will miss that wonderful Spirit that comes with being a Missionary.  It has been an honor serving the members in St. Lucia as well as Trinidad and Suriname.  We were lucky to be able to serve in three different countries, as we met many wonderful members of the Church.  It was also a great honor to assist the Missionaries in their work.  I know the Church is True and so thankful for my membership in it.  I've developed some great habits while out on this Mission that I know I will continue when I return home. Tuesday, October 7 will be our arrival into Salt Lake City, UT. YEAH!

Francis Gustave, sister of Cecilia Hippolyte. 
She wakes up at 4:30 on Sundays hoping
to catch a ride to Church VF Branch.

The Hippolyte family. We have submitted an 
application for the Temple Patron Assistance so
they can go to the Temple and be sealed as a
family.  They are so excited for this. Firmus,
Cecilia, Ceara, and Firlice (VF Branch).

Sister Kimberly Hyden, a new addition to the
VF Branch. She is serving as a teacher in the Peace
Corps and will be here for two years.

Sister Esma Thomas (Relief Society President)

Vieux Fort Primary with Sister Francisca Joseph
and Sister Carin Cotter.

Nursery age children.

I told him to smile.

Firlice Hippolyte.

Sister Hyden with the older primary.

Working on a project.

Missionaries at a District Meeting

Elder Contrerras a Zone Leader from
Mexico City.

District Meeting, Elder Watson

Elder Brown was transferred to Guyana.

The Elders at the going away party.

B.J. Anthony

Sister Geneva and Janae, Grandmother and

Surprise Party

Our cake.

Sylvia clapping

Sisters at Zone Conference

Sister Bennion and Sister Smith

Elder Morrison, was able to see him again.
He served in St. Lucia, from Jamaica.

President and Sister Mehr and Elder and
Sister Zivic at the airport. President and
Sister Mehr are constantly on the go, they spend
many hours at the airport.

Vieux Fort Enrichment Meeting.

Sister Sherba showing Sister Baptiste how to

Anthony family, recent converts to the Church
in Castries.

Two of my favorite people, Celina and Brittany
mother and daughter.  I bet you can't tell who
is the mother and who is the daughter.

Brother Joe and Marie his wife.

Favorite game in St. Lucia is dominoes.

Nadia and her family

I jokingly told the Sisters as I left the Enrichment
Meeting that I expected to see their finished
project on Sunday. To my astonishment, they
completed their embroidery work.  How many times have I
gone to these meetings only to start a project and
come home and stashed it in the corner and it's
still there unfinished.  I love these Sisters.  Even
the Elders joined in while waiting for a meeting.

Elder Day and Elder Contrerras on Elder Day's
hump day.  He's half way done with his Mission
and burned one of his shirts to celebrate.

I finally had to throw away my beloved slippers.

Elder Juchau, he completed his Mission
the first week in September and returned
home to Seattle, Washington.

Our new Sisters, Sister Shirts and Sister Hodge.
Poor Sister Shirts had Chickagunya when this
picture was taken, bless her heart she came to
the meeting while being ill.  Sister Hodge had
it earlier.

The purple Church as it is known in Vieux Fort.
The Vieux Fort Church building.

Elder and Sister Moore and Urania Joseph
shopping for the Community After School

Ceremony for the After School Project. The
Minister of Social Transformation was
pictured with us and Brother Joe.

A school band was present to perform for us.

Mango Tree outside our apartment.

Avacado Tree, boy are they good.

Another avocado tree, this one with bigger
avocados, we have been really enjoying them. 

Lime tree outside our apartment.