|Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple|
Last week we had visitors from San Juan. President Alvarado announced about a week earlier that he was bringing 4 elders and 2 sisters to Tortola. There would also be sister Alvarado and Cari Anne, their lovely 17 year old daughter. They would present a Christmas Fireside of song and word and they wanted the chapel full of people. We put out the word to all the branch members to come and bring a friend. Then they told us they wanted to sing at hospital and old folks homes and anywhere else that would like to hear some Christmas carols. We made up a schedule. It was very tight but it would work.
The group would be arriving Thursday, December 13, from St Thomas, in the USVI, by ferry. That is a short ferry ride, but we had a tight schedule because the ferry would arrive at 12:30 and they were to sing at the old folks home at 1:00. So we made arrangements to transport the visitors to town in the three mission trucks on Tortola. It is sort of like the puzzle with the foxes, goats, and cabbages being ferried across the river. We couldn’t have elders or sisters alone with each other, but they were all safe with us old folks. We have three trucks so we figured it out to the smallest detail. There would be no empty seats but it would work. Then we received the itinerary of their travels. President and Sister Alvarado would arrive at the airport, at the very far eastern end of Tortola. The rest would arrive by ferry at the far western of the island. Now we have a problem because they would all be arriving at 12:30. We scrapped the plan and started over.
I called our branch president to enlist his help. He was glad to pitch in. His family is the backbone of the branch and they are called on to haul members who don’t have autos, they provide a lot of the food at the branch activities because people here don’t have much extra, and they do a million other things. Therefore, I had wanted to avoid calling on them to assist with the transportation. So Gaye would drive our truck to the airport while I took one truck (we still have the 2008 Toyota Tacoma that the new Tacoma replaced, but we have been promised it will soon be sold. Good. I am tired of washing it), and the Tortola elders would drive their truck to the ferry terminal where President Kalama would meet us to hustle everybody back to Road Town to the singing appointment. When the ferry pulled in we could see the Alvarado family, minus Cari Anne, on the boat. Okay, change #347. I called Gaye, who was waiting at the airport, and told her we would meet at the church in town. She smiled.
|Sister Alvarado, Right|
By the time they were cleared through customs and we rearranged our seating arrangement (cabbages and goats), we were too late for the nursing home. We went to the hospital where they would put on their program. They needed some apple juice for the singers’ throats. Okay, we found some. After the hospital we would be driving to the prison at the east end on top of the high ridge that runs the length of the island. It would take us 30 minutes to get there for our appointment to sing for the inmates at 3:00 pm. The time was 2:45 as we started to load into the vehicles. We arrived at the prison at 3:30 and still had to clear through security, so it was 3:45 when the YFTM’s started to sing. The program had to end at 4:00, so they compressed it. We left just after 4:00, to go to the church to set up a reading glasses clinic that was to go from 4-6 pm, followed by a quick light supper at 6. We needed to get it eaten and cleared up quickly or the members would arrive and think the food was for them, which it was not. We arrived at the church at 4:45 and someone made a decision to not hold the glasses clinic. That someone had not consulted with President Alvarado, so when he heard it was scrubbed he was concerned that our plans had been changed without asking us first. Hmmm. Let me think about that one for a minute. Nope, we were fine with the change.
The dinner started at 6:15 and we fed several branch members the chili and rice and salad. There was plenty to go around, too. Sort of like feeding the 5000. The program started at 7 and went well. Then the members and missionaries sat around visiting for a while, then we took them to where we had arranged for them to sleep. Of course that arrangement changed when we saw that Cari Anne had not been able to come, and that we needed to have the Alvarado’s to the airport by about 0730 Friday morning. That meant they would need to stay with us instead of us putting the three sisters up. We put two elders and two Alvarado’s into our two trucks and drove to our apartment. We have a second bedroom for occasions such as this, so the elders made beds from the couch cushions and everybody slept fine.
In the morning we took them all to the airport and left them there. The elders were on a flight a few hours later but they volunteered to stay there and study. We hustled back to town, about 8 miles, to pick up a load of sisters and luggage and return them to the airport. One of them had to leave at noon, but the others in the group were leaving at 2:20. They all wanted to sing for a lady they had met on the ferry so they did, making everybody late to the airport for Sister Harvey’s check-in time. She made it a few minutes before they closed the flight. No problem. Everything went perfectly smoothly. Gaye and I went home and had a nap.
That is what happened by the clock. Now I will tell you what happened by The Spirit. There was never a feeling of panic or even anger or frustration. Communication was obviously not very good but it all worked out fine. The people at the hospital loved the singing and the PR guy there wanted them to keep singing. He even asked if they could come back. When they went to sing Friday morning for the lady they met on the ferry she invited them to keep singing for her friends. Soon shop owners from up and down the block were stopping by to hear the missionaries sing. That is why we almost missed the flight. At the prison there were some of the inmates who were heckling and laughing, but there was one guy in the hall near where they were singing, whom I could see but whom most of the missionaries could not see, who sang along with every song they sang. They obviously touched him. “I was in prison and ye visited me” came to mind, and tears ran down my cheeks. President said he was quite uncomfortable going in there, but after I told him about the guy singing along he smiled and said he felt much better.