Sunday, November 23, 2008

Proposition 8 - Taking a Stand for Truth & Righteousness

Fundamental Beliefs of Mormonism (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, 1978)

Friday, October 17, 2008

October 15th 2008 Group Bids Farewell

It came quickly. They arrived, they played a large part in each one of the major milestones achieved by the mission since 2006 and now they are home. (Elders Lebaron, Richards, Kahaialii, Kell, and Dinge) Missing from the group was Elder Hyde who has extended for 30 days.

Note that the dinner was a Canadian Thanksgiving-type celebration for the departing elders. Not that there were any Canadians in the group, but it was a good excuse to eat turkey.

Now, Elder Kahaialii being Hawaiian demonstrated how to load a plate.

What a great spirit this group had about them. They will be missed.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Remember Liat?

Liat has many, many nicknames. One of them is "Leave in any time." Are their planes well-looked after.

The title of this shot might well be: "Hurrah for Israel! We landed!"

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Farewell - September 4th Group

This morning we bid farewell to the last of three installments in the September 3rd Transfer group of departing elders. First, we said our goodbyes to Elder Dumouchel in Sint Maarten. He had to go home early to enroll in school mid-August. Second, we hosted Elders Kaspers and Robinson on August 18th in Trinidad. They too had to rush home for school. Lastly, we hosted Elders Snider, Walker, Lucero and Davis. They actually had quite fun trying to be unique about their departing photo. It seems as though the July 23rd group made quite an impression with their posing as if for a men's fashion magazine. Their contribution was a "staged" reenactment of a district meeting led by Elder Snider. True to form, Elder Davis was the "enforcer," as the group remembered what he was like 2 years ago in the MTC.

This band of brothers was in the mission for every major milestone accomplished since the barrier of 100 baptisms was first broken during the White Christmas of December 2006. Each time a group leaves, the mission is once again reminded of what an impact such powerful men have had upon the West Indies. September 4th is such a minder as has been each group who returned home.

Do Missionaries Remember?

As I said goodbye at the crack of dawn to the June transfer group, the white van pulled over to the side of the road a few doors down from the house and each elder yelled out the window with one arm raised high in the air "Hurrah for Israel."

This morning at 5:30 a.m. I said goodbye to yet another group of new return missionaries. This time it was in three installments due to the start of school. First we had a farewell dinner and discussion with Elder Dumouchel in St. Maarten, then we hosted Elders Robinson and Kaspers mid-August in the mission home. All three elders had to get back in school. The final installment of goodbyes included Elders Snider, Lucero, Davis and Walker. It was painful to see them go as it is each time a group leaves. But the payday came as I walked back in the mission home and found a thank you note from the group with the words "it would not have done for me to not have been here."

Do they remember? Yes!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

So Long to the July 23rd Transfer Group

Do you remember when you returned home? Do you remember that nice dinner on china, followed by a candid discussion about all those "thorny issues" you listed on the white board? This particular group asked more dating questions than previous groups. Shown left to right are: Elders Heslop, Swain, Webb, Clark, Boom and Slade. They had fun pretending they were posing for some men's model magazine. This was the second day they wore their suits, the first being the day they arrived in the mission home.

This unique group is the first group we actually welcomed into the mission home after our arrival in late June of 2006.

Footnote: Elder Boom was engaged the Wednesday following his departure to a young lady in Provo, whom he had met twice before his mission.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Canje Wild Fire

On the third Saturday in May, two elders on their third transfer in the mission who were companions (Elders Westover and Jones) baptized 17 people in Rose Hall. Two years ago, this was considered a very difficult area for baptisms. Today, average Sacrament meeting attendance is over 100 members. What an incredible memory for the these elders who were trained by Elders Mundy and Dayton, who are their zone leaders and helped them immensely in preparing these people for baptism. (The baptisms resulted in a series of referals from a 14 year old girl. As a result two families were baptized.)

"Who Will Ascend The Hill of the Lord?"

Answer: He that hath clean hands and a pure heart. (Psalms 24:3-4) Pictured here are the zone leaders of the West Indies Mission in June of 2008. They have just climbed a mountain behind St. Benedict Monestery outside of Tuna Puna in Trinidad. The baptism goals set by the missionaries in each of the zones totals 272 for June. (This is how the mission sets a baptism objective - by totaling the companionship goals for the mission).

Working out the Wiggles

Last Monday, June 9, the Trinidad North Zone met the President and his wife for sunrise at Maracas Beach. Here they pose for group photo after a game of soccer.

'See You in a Year:' June 2008 Departing Elders

This is the group of missionaries who met President and Sister Robison in the MTC. Three are French elders (Elders Hansen, Bezzant, and Hooson). Also pictured are Elders Palmer, Jenkins, Johnston (Suriname), Balling, Gibby, Burton, Atwood and Nielsen. All of these names match the photo from left to right. As was the case with those who preceded them, they will be greatly missed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Hurrah for Israel!

When did it all start?

Apr-07 10 This is what the baptism rate in Canje looked like one year ago
May-07 14
Jun-07 9
Jul-07 28
Aug-07 27
Sep-07 21
Oct-07 29
Nov-07 16
Dec-07 57
Jan-08 41
Feb-08 39
Mar-08 69
Apr-08 22 This is how many baptisms came out of Berbice and Canje last month. In District Conference on May 2nd, there were 383 people and the Canje chapel was bursting at the seams. Last October, the District had 400 members. Today they have almost 900 members.

So Long April 2008 Team

Elders Cornwell, Jest and Beck made the long voyage to the mission home for their farewell interviews, dinner, briefing, and devotional. Elder Beck's parents were able to attend the devotional. Note the new tooth Elder Cornwell picked up in Guyana. Seems he made friends with miners to travel frequently to the interior. From here on out any missionary returning home has only known the Robisons as their mission president couple.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Waters of Mormon

Last February, Zone Leader Council was held at Maracas Waterfall, just outside of Curepe. Together we learned about the Waters of Mormon and the 204 souls baptized by Alma. This became the quest for the mission at that zone conference. Previous highlight numbers we will all remember include: the White Christmas in December 2006 where over 100 we baptized (a first for the mission); a White Christmas in July 2007 where again over 100 were baptized; the pathway to 1000 in 2007 where over 175 were baptized in December 2007; and the most recent milestone: 218 baptisms in March of 2008.

You Never Know Who Will Be Baptized

Last December, Elders Arbizo and Webster street contacted a man named Judith Francis just before the end of their mission. They did not get a chance to teach him. Their replacements, Elders Boyd and Busson taught Brother Francis the lessons and became a bit frustrated that he would not commit to baptism. Then Elder Boyd's mission ended and Elder Busson was transferred to Guadeloupe. Two weeks ago, I met Brother Francis at the Church in Cole Bay. He was a bit tearful and said that he wanted to be baptized. I interviewed him for baptism and found him to be worthy. I invited him to be baptized right after Church that day. He said that he wanted to wait until May. I told him we would talk after Church and invited Elder Tevero from Tahiti to discuss Mosiah 18 with him and invite him to be baptized. At the end of Church, Brother Francis told me he wanted to be baptized right then. So, the entire French branch walked to the sea in Marigot from their new building, and witness the baptism. The branch president baptized Brother Francis and the witnesses were Elders Hooson and was their baptism and they had never met the man. (An interesting sidelight was that these two former zone leaders were transferred to St. Maarten to complete their missions with the challenge to find a place for the branch to meet in Marigot and to invite every member to come to Church. Their zone leaders were very concerned about their numbers and especially their lack of baptism dates for April, but the Lord provided and they had their April baptism.
One of the key lessons learned from this experience was the value of team work: imagine a contact by Elders Webster and Arbizo, a series of lessons taught by Elders Busson and Boyd, and the actual baptism taking place after these four elders had left and two different elders, Elders Hooson and Jest arrived. These baptisms are not ours. They are the Lord's.....and this is repeating itself over and over around the mission.

March 19,2008

Farewell to the March Group.....

Elder Nethercott, Ray, and Taylor made the trek into Trinidad to stay in the mission home at the conclusion of their mission. Elder Boyd was also part of this group, but remained in Guadeloupe to greet his parents who came to pick him him. (Elder Nethercott finished in St. Vincent, whereas Elders Ray and Taylor ended their service in Suriname

Friday, February 22, 2008

Doing It Right

‘Nothing is more important than marrying the right person, at the right time, in the right place, and by the right authority.’ This is a favorite quote of President Monson as he reflects on his own marriage to Frances and attributes the quote to Elder Bruce R. McConkie.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Farewell to the February 6th Group

It was Carnival in Trinidad! This made gathering together for one last farewell meeting very difficult. In fact, Elders McKibbin and Baksh returned home directly from Martinique and Guadeloupe respectively. Elder Morris and his parents set off for Kaietur Falls in Guyana, leaving the remaining six elders of the group to gather in the mission home for a farewell devotional and testimony meeting.

You remember the "informal questions" don't you? Here is what the February 6th transfer group asked:

- What kind of music is appropriate after the mission?
- How to get school loan or job
- How much money to make after the mission
- Where is the best place to find a wife?
- How do you make the transition back home?
- What is the best way to plan education, knowing the world has changed?
- Why go to St Lucia for a honeymoon and what is good to do there
- Rings – diamonds – how to do it?
- What should I get out of church every week?
- Tactful way to drop her
- How to use connections and get help
- How do you know if she is the right one?

We now have 84 returned missionaries since we arrived in the mission field 19 months ago. As we welcomed in 9 new elders this transfer, we realized they would all remain in the mission field for at least a half of a year after we complete our mission in July 2009.

December 28th Transfer - So Long Elders Arbizo and Webster

Elders Webster and Arbizo were allowed to travel home prior to Christmas in time to be with their families. They both concluded their missions on the French-side of St. Maarten.