December 3, 2012
I do not think it is not just missionaries who have prayers answered, but let me tell you about last night and today. We had supper with the YFTM last night and had a nice conversation with them. (They love mom’s cooking, as well they should. It was the best roast beef I have ever had.) They are good boys, excellent missionaries. Elder Ivie coached me on how to approach people about the Gospel. My mission 100 years ago was in a completely different era and I am finding it necessary to unlearn a lot of things and learn some new ones. So after our visit Elder Ivie said to pray every day for a missionary experience and you will have some. This morning I prayed specifically that we would have a missionary experience.
We first met with the YFTM for our weekly business meeting. Our district leader led a very good discussion about teaching for understanding and how to ask the right questions. We will try to apply those teachings and we will be better missionaries as we do it. The meeting lasted about an hour. Then we let the elders use our computers at the church to write their emails home. The church has wi-fi so it all works out great. We gave them until noon to do what they needed to do. Meanwhile, last night I received a phone call from Elder Hansen. He and his wife are living on a 40 foot long catamaran and they are on a mission down here. They go to different islands to photograph church records for the Church Family History Department. They set up a contract with the different churches, then set up the very sophisticated photographic equipment, make the digital photos and send them to the Family History Department of the Church, and give the churches a copy of their records. They are from New Jersey but they have a daughter living on St Thomas so they call that their home port and they have been living on their boat for about 10 years. They have a really interesting story to tell. Anyway, Elder Hansen called me to tell me that they would be in Tortola today and wondered if we could help them with some transportation issues. Of course we want to do all we can.
Before our district meeting we took the old truck in to have the oil changed. It is parked outside our apartment for now so we are responsible for the maintenance. There are unfulfilled promises that it will be sold, but bureaucrats move slowly, even in the Church. The oil change was scheduled a while ago. I drove the old 2008 truck to town and mom drove the new one. We took it to the car store for the service and then had our business meeting. We had to be in town until the truck was serviced anyway, so we went to immigration and became official residents of BVI, expiring May 1, 2013. Then we picked up the electric bill that I paid last week (another long story) and went back to the chapel to eat the lunch we packed because we knew we would be staying a long time. In walked some interesting looking characters with name tags like ours, but they were dressed very casually, like they had been living on a boat or something. Elder Hansen was wearing a Spanish missionary tag and Sister Hansen wore an English Family History tag. We visited for a few minutes while they told us what they are doing and what they needed help with. They wanted to take us to lunch because we would be driving them around, so we gave our lunch to the elders and we left with the Hansen’s.
They took us to an Indian place that serves roti. Really it comes from Guyana, where many of the BVI inhabitants, and even members of the Church, originally come from. It is sort of like a big tortilla with curried meat or potatoes or other veggies and very good chutney, a green salad, and a Sprite. I had the chicken, mom had the duck, Br Hansen had the shrimp, and Sister Hansen had a veggie. We will definitely be going back there to eat again. Then we drove around to get a new motor for their dingy, drove them to the place where they anchored their boat for the next couple of days, and they took us out to their boat. Mom almost fell into the ocean getting into the boat (another story) but we made it safe and sound. We sat on the boat for an hour or so just visiting about what they are doing, their history, our families, etc. It was interesting. The boat is quite wide because of the dual hulls of the catamaran, but it is still sort of like living in a small RV. They have everything they need, but it is rather Spartan in many ways. They brought us back to the dock and we went to pick up the truck and drove home.
The interesting missionary moments came in the most natural way, but it was not a coincidence. When we were leaving the lunch place I gave a smile and warm greeting to a lady sitting at one of the tables we passed. She smiled and said her daughter is a member of the Church. The daughter lives in Guyana but when she came to visit in October she went to church at our building. Then she pulled out her phone and in a moment had her daughter on the line. I spoke with her, she asked about some of the members of the branch, I told her I wanted to invite her mom to come to church, and we said good-by. I invited the lady to come to the Christmas social on Saturday and to services on Sunday. She said she would try to come, and I think she will try.
When we went with the Hansen’s to pick up the new dingy motor we also went looking for a hat for my bald pate. Elder Hansen said if I were in the Dominican Republic the medical advisor person there would insist that I wear a hat any time I go outside. I would love to comply with that, and Kim is sending a couple of baseball hats to us, but I can’t find one that feels good and looks acceptable with my uniform. So the three of us, minus Elder Hansen, went to some shops looking for hats. We did not find a suitable one, but in the process we went into a bakery to ask directions. The fellow there was very friendly and told us where to look for some hats. Then he introduced himself as Tyler Dawson. I perked right up. I have been wanting to meet him because he is a member of the branch and comes from South Africa. I figured we would have a lot to talk about to get it rolling. He told me he is a member of the branch, served a mission in South Africa, and is planning on coming to the social on Saturday afternoon. Was that random? This is happening too many times to be random. We will now be stopping in at his bakery a couple of times per week just to maintain contact with him, and to purchase some baked goods. He has a few kids, too, but I don’t know anything about his wife.
Then on the way home I passed a familiar face on the sidewalk who called out my name. It was Orlando, baptized in October and one of our piano students. He is planning on going on a mission as soon as he can, but he has to be in the Church at least one year. So I pulled over and Orlando and another boy his age hopped in. They told me where to go and where to turn and we reached the mountain goat trail where I would get into 4WD, but then he said he would walk the last bit. I said, “I will see you on...” and the other boy answered, “Wednesday”. Who is he, I asked myself, and then asked Orlando? This is Shamiel. He was also baptized about a month ago and has been really keen on being involved in the Church but his mother’s pastor told her this is the church of the devil and we baptize dead people and other nonsense, so she has forbidden him to come. I think he still has the warmth of testimony in his heart and when he is able to get on his own some oxygen will start the fire going again.
So I testify that prayers are heard and responded to. This was not just coincidental or accidental today, just as the “chance” meeting we had with the member on Virgin Gorda last Thursday was not random. I don’t have all the answers to questions related to prayers, but I do to this one.