Friday, December 21, 2012

Building the Church

Building Project  December 20, 2012

President Alvarado gave me an assignment when he was here last week.  He said he wants a building site for a chapel in Tortola, and he wants it now. He has been trying to get some action for 6 months.  He looked out the window and identified three sites he would buy today.  I told him I will get the information.

The first place he pointed out is an old derelict building across the street from where we now meet.  It would be torn down of course and a nice chapel would be built there.  The original instructions given to our predecessors a few months ago asked for a building lot on level ground of 1.5-2.0 acres size.  This lot is 100 x 65 feet!  President feels the visibility of the location makes up for the small size.  For a building to work on that site would take some creative design.  We would need parking space and enough floor space to meet the needs of the branch for many years, including growth to what President sees as 300-400 members.  Okay, I will work on that one.

The other two spots are presently parking areas.  One is paved and is committed to a government building.  The other is where we park right next to our present location.  It is full of huge potholes.  I mean VW Beetles would get lost in some of them.  We do fine because we have 4WD.  We have not needed a snorkel yet.  Anyway, that lot is also committed to another project and is not available.

Road Town Tortola is an interesting place.  We get a cruise ship or two every day here now.  They look big as they slowly move past our apartment, but when they are docked in town they are huge!  
Cruise Ships Tortola
The passengers debark and spend the day walking around town looking at the small shops, and riding in large open taxis on the few roads on the island.  The visitors get quite a thrill as they are driven up the very steep hills to the top of the ridge.  Of course the view is spectacular once they get there.

There is no level ground available that is in town (another requirement) and of reasonable cost..  The main part of Road Town sits on land that has been reclaimed from the sea.  The main work was done in the 1970’s.  The government (Queen Elizabeth) owns all the land and it is not for sale.  It can be leased for 100 year blocks of time, but it is not for sale.  The price of the leases are governed by supply and demand.  Since most of the island is very steep hills the level ground is rare and very expensive.  Finding 2 acres that is not already occupied is really not possible.  President doesn’t want to hear that.  

Maritha took us out of town to the West End to look at some land.  It is also reclaimed and is actually an old garbage dump/incinerator location.  It is also right next door to a large Baptist church.  It is 2-3 miles from town center and would pose a problem for many of the branch members, present and future, to get to.  Keep looking.

She took us to the top of the second highest hill on the island. 
View from Hope Hill
 The view is commanding, but access would be really challenging.  She showed us a nice lot at the top of the ridge just above town.  There is adequate land there and it is actually quite level, but access would be a problem for the members. 
4WD Road to member's house
 Keep looking.

We looked at a site about 2 miles out of town towards the East End, where we live.  It is right next to the nicest school on the island.  The problem is that it is a 6.5 acre piece right on the water.  It could be divided up, but the owner wants to sell it as one piece.  He needs a lot of money quickly because he is in financial difficulties.  It is out of the reclaimed area so it could actually be purchased-for $5 Million.  No, I think that is outside our budget.  Keep looking.

There are actually two places that would work.  They are close to town and are owned by important families on the island.  One would be leased for 200 years but is not for sale.  It is in a commercial development, but the Church site would be at the edge of the development.  Maybe, but the Church likes to own land, not owe for land.  A lease would be payments for ever.  That is probably not what we want, although the decision is made a lot higher up than by us missionaries.

The other place, and by far the most suitable, is on 7 acres owned by a well-landed family.  This is the one we are really interested in.  The problem is that the family has close ties with the Anglican Church.  It is owned by the family, so the family will have to make a decision as a group.  Land is a big indication of prestige and importance here.  In addition, there is some concern that the family might not want to sell their land to the Mormon Church, competition to their Anglican heritage.  I have written up a description of what the proposed building would be like, including a photo of a typical Phase 1 chapel. 
Phase 1 Chapel
 We have submitted a brief statement of our family-centered doctrine and practices.  We have indicated that the proposed building would actually be used for community activities as well as our regular church services.  So now we need to pray fervently that the Lord will soften their hearts and agree to sell a bit of the land to us for our building.  We invite you all to join with us in petitioning the Lord for those blessings.

One of the members of the branch is Tyler Dawson.  He was born in BVI but moved to South Africa where he was raised.  He served a mission there, became a qualified baker, and returned with his wife and three boys to Tortola, where he has established a bakery.  
Tyler Dawson in his Bakery
We happened upon his shop by accident shortly after we arrived here.  I had heard about him from our elders but had not met him, so when we stumbled into his bakery to ask directions it was like finding a long-lost friend.  We have been back several times for baked goods.  His bread is terrific, and he bakes all the other goodies one would expect in a bakery, too.  We sometimes go there for a sandwich.  We buy a loaf of bread once or twice per week.  He is busy with his bakery and his wife is not active in the Church at the moment, so we have not seen him at meetings since we got here.  That is one of the reasons we go to his shop every few days.  Tyler is a good guy and has the capability of making huge contributions to the stability of the branch.  I hope we can influence him to become more active in Church happenings and to get his sons involved.  Without his active involvement they will grow up without the blessings of Church activity in their lives.

Christmas is a fun time around here, but far less commercialized than up North.  Businesses are open on December 24 to late afternoon.  December 26 is Boxing Day, a legal holiday in the UK.  New Year’s Day is a holiday, but New Year’s Eve is just another business day.  There are decorations up on many businesses and both the traffic circles are filled with Christmas lights. Christmas music is played loudly outside many businesses.  Most of it is rather raucous and lively in beat and background, not at all like what I listen to, but that is okay.  People clean their houses and often paint them a whole different color. Interesting.  The elders plan on working, with phone calls to home thrown in.  I think we might go to the beach.

I have a lot more to say but I think these blogs are too long, so I will stop.  We actually have a TV in our apartment, so I started to watch the BYU-SDSU game last night. 
Rhode Island Red Rooster
 It did not start until 9 pm here, it was boring, so I went to bed after the half.  Who won?

Harvesting Coconuts

Merry Christmas!  Celebrate the potential peace available to the inhabitants of this confused world through the life, teachings, and example of Jesus Christ.  That is what all of this is about.

That’s it for now.  Ken


  1. I don't know who won either. I fell asleep! The game started at 4 here though. I threw a birthday party for Shon (surprise! He's 40!) and we started watching the game after that, at 11 pm! He won't tell me who won, saying it is my civic duty to watch and find out for myself. :-)

  2. Merry Christmas, friends. Thank you for your kind words this past week. Thank you also for the good work you are doing on your mission. We hope you have a wonderful holiday. Margaret

    PS If I ever make it there I am going to stop in and get some of that bread from Tyler's bakery!