Wednesday, February 27, 2013


27 February, 2013

Ten days is too long to go between blogs.  A lot has happened since the last entry, but there has not been a lot of time to write.  I’ll start with the weather.  Things are really dry around here.  When we first arrived we noticed a lot of cactus-type plants everywhere.  We wondered why they seemed to get along so well.  It is because things are dry here.  When it rains it really comes down hard, but that only lasts a few minutes.
Cruise ship through the rain

Then the sun comes out and the humidity goes up.  Right now the hillsides are rather brown and dormant because of the combination of dry and hot.  It is winter in the northern hemisphere, so I suppose the flora are taking this opportunity to rest and rebuild before the spring and summer hit.

Joshua, Jurmaine, Kelvin, Kendrew
We had a major event this past weekend.  Four young men in our little branch were ordained elders.  Two of them are going on missions soon, the third will be a little later, and the oldest is finishing his chemo for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  The four have variously been called as a counselor in the branch presidency, counselor in the elders’ quorum presidency, secretary to the EQ, and branch clerk.  I have the role of training them, sort of like a stake high counselor would do with new ward officers.  In my other life I served as a ward clerk for 5 years.  I enjoyed that calling tremendously and I became quite familiar with the Church’s MLS software.  Now I am using that experience to help train the new clerk.  It is nice to see the leadership spots all filled now.  The Tortola Branch is in the best shape it has been in for a long time.  That is mainly because we have faithful tithe-paying priesthood holders who are rising to the needs.  Change is inevitable and always challenging.  Now there are more to help with the changes.

It is interesting to see how the program works out here.  We have two young men out on missions.  They will come back and get married.  One of them is probably going to marry the young woman in the branch who served a mission in the Philippines.  The other will have to find his own.  One of the women in the branch told us about how she and her husband got together.  They are from Guyana, where Suan was raised in the Church.  She said she could see that there were not enough eligible young men in the Church, so she picked out one to train.  She got him into the Church and she keeps him active.  He is a good man, one of the counsellors in the elders’ quorum presidency, and they have a very active little 3-year old daughter. They went to the temple in October and had their marriage sealed.  Suan is the seminary teacher and she is a terrific role model for the youth in the branch.  She would be one of the leaders in any ward in the Church.  So would her husband.
Goats outside our apartment
Neighborhood WiFi Zone
So things are moving along.  We have a couple of young people who have made some bad decisions and have become enslaved to some things that need to be changed.  I have been given the assignment to help them through the Church version of the Twelve Step Program.  Our friends Elder and Sister Peterson are trying to get a group started on St Thomas.  George has a master’s degree in social work and has had tremendous experience with the 12 step program.  I have a copy of the manual and Elder Peterson as an advisor.

This program is inspired.  As I have read it I realize that is really simply a program to help people repent and change.  I think every one of us ought to at least read through the steps.  The first step is to admit there is a problem, and that I, the owner, am helpless to make the change without help from a higher power.  In the LDS program that higher power is the Savior and his Atonement. I think every one of would benefit from admitting that we are incapable of becoming free from the power of Satan and the destructive practices we engage in without help from Jesus.  Are we addicted?  Well we sure seem to make the same mistakes a lot of times, and we sure seem to enjoy wallowing in the mire of sin.  Even Paul and Nephi lamented that they were entrapped “in the sins which so easily do beset me” and their “wretched” state because of the destructive effect of sin.  They both expressed hopelessness without the release that comes from repenting and receiving forgiveness from the Savior.  I believe the greatest gift we as missionaries can offer to our friends in and out of the Church is the hope and freedom that come from following the five points of the Doctrine of Christ identified in 2 Nephi 31.

So here are the 12 steps:
  1. Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions (sins) and that your life has become unmanageable.
  2. Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.
  3. Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.
  4. Make a searching and fearless written moral inventory of yourself.
  5. Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs.
  6. Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.
  7. Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.
  8. Make a written list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them.
  9. Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed.
  10. Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it.
  11. Seek through prayer and meditation to know the Lord’s will and to have the power to carry it out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, share this message with others and practice these principles in all you do.

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