Sunday, July 14, 2013

What's Up Doc?

Okay, it has been a long time since I put anything here.  There are several reasons but you won't get any of them.  Here is what has been happening.

We were just settling into our apartment on St Kitts.  
St Kitts Apartment
I had lots of Monarch larvae (caterpillars) in various stages of development, including one that had just emerged from the chrysalis to reveal one of the ultimate miracles of the universe filled with ultimate miracles--a magnificent Monarch butterfly.

We had learned where in the apartment we could get the best reception to connect to the Internet.  
Nevis Apartment

St Kitts Bedroom

Our landlady was the branch Relief Society president and connecting to her wi-fi network was one of the benefits of living in that apartment.  We had been gathering up ripe mangoes from the trees at the church.

Priesthood Meeting is held under the Mango Tree of Life

(I looked it up and found that the plural can be either mangoes or mangos) at the church from the tree of life, one of two mango trees that produce the best tasting mangos on the planet.  I am not exaggerating one bit.  Most mangoes have lots of stringy fibers that get stuck in the teeth (which does have the benefit of encouraging immediate use of dental floss).  None of those in these mangoes, though.  They are so sweet and juicy that it is impossible to eat one without it simply running off my chin.  And I don’t even care.  The yellow spots on my shirt come out with straight Clorox, too, so the only remaining problem is the big spot on my tie.  I call it my survival tie because I could soak it in water and survive for another couple of days.

We had moved the furniture around in the apartment, bought a table to use as our desk, were getting comfortable to driving a right-hand steering wheel on the left side of the road, as opposed to the American left-hand steering vehicles on the left side of the road in Tortola, and we had begun to find our way around the windy roads of Basseterre, St Kitts.  We knew which grocery stores had the Fraites $7 bread (the best) and which had the best bananas.  We knew where the potholes were in the road, differentiating the inconvenient ones from the front-end suspension rearranging ones, and we had even found the only Subway sandwich shop we had seen in months, as well as some other nice places to eat.  We should have known.  2 Nephi 28:24.

The phone call from Elder Tower began innocently enough.  He is the counsellor in the mission presidency who sort of supervises the senior couples in the islands.  He is really just a yes-man for the mission president.  We need someone who will stand up for us, but that probably won’t happen.  Niceties were exchanged for a minute and he then said that we were being moved to Nevis.  

Nevis!  That is a small island next door to St Kitts, part of the same federation.  “The apartment over there is not too bad!” was all I could get from him.  Our young elders were going there for the coming Sunday meeting with the 2 or 3 members there, so we asked them to get some photos for us.  (Probably should have just gone over cold.)  When would we be going?  Oh, as soon as the Mangum’s arrive from St Croix, in a couple of days at the beginning of the next week. It turned out that Elder and Sister Mangum, from Pleasant Grove Utah and even older than we are and having more difficulty getting around than we are, took two days to get to St Kitts.  They had to stay the night on St Maartin because their flights were so messed up that they missed the only connection to St Kitts, but that is another story.

We were also told that we would be taking the truck from the young elders.  We really did feel bad about that.  They were just moved into their new apartment during our first week on St Kitts.  Now they would be riding bikes or walking.  Walking, because they only have one functioning bike.  They were really good about it, though.  That is one thing we have really grown to appreciate--the contact we have with these marvelous young people who have answered the call of the prophet to come out and preach the Gospel under rather trying circumstances.  
Truck and Apt (with the open door)

So we loaded our bags into the truck, a 2011 Toyota Hilux turbo diesel with 4 doors and 4WD, silver in color, short bed--a really nice little truck--and headed down the peninsula to the Sea Bridge ferry terminal that takes vehicles between St Kitts and Nevis.  (I have shared my frustration with matters vehicular before.  Just know that the frustration continues.)

Finding the apartment was a little challenging because we had never been to Nevis before.  We did have a couple of descriptions left by previous missionaries, so we tried to find the reference points from which we could locate the apartment building.  We never did find them.  After searching around for 30 minutes, driving  six or seven times past the same group of people standing in the small town square who were looking at these two pale-faces with increasing humor, we called the previous senior elder who kept us on the line and gave us turn by turn directions until we arrived.  It didn’t look all that impressive, I must admit.

The apartment is used as a meeting place for the very small group of LDS members on Nevis.  There are some other families who live out a few miles who do not have vehicles, so they do not come in to the church meetings.  We have been FORBIDDEN to give any of them rides, so the members all have to find their own way to the meeting place.  Do we live in the church or are we holding church in our apartment?  Who knows!
Nevis Apt/Chapel

The apartment/chapel Nevis

My best description of the apartment is that it is like a 28-foot camper trailer with a couple of nice slide-outs.  The windows were covered by a single panel of 19th century curtain material.  There is a small kitchen area with a small gas stove, a small sink, very little storage or counter space, a big dinner table with 6 chairs, some really uncomfortable, cheap furniture to sit on, a bathroom with a shower and a sink and a comode that had a toilet seat that didn’t fit (which I replaced the first day), 

and two bedrooms with air conditioning.  One bedroom has a small double bed.  

The other has two twin beds that the elders would sleep on when they would come over to Nevis once a month to hold sacrament meeting.  We pushed the two beds together to make a king-size bed.

We have sheets that fit, too, so that part is decent.  In fact, I like it this way because when Gaye moves during her sleep it does not make my side of the bed bounce.  And vice versa.  

We have upgraded it to a Motel 6 Suite.  I think we can live here for a few weeks.  Now if someone will just tell us how long we might be here, at the end of the earth.  After going without an internet connection for more than a week we paid to have it installed.  That was way too long being out of connection to our kids and other things we like to connect to.  How did I do it as a young missionary in South Africa a hundred years ago?  We were not allowed (because it was practically impossible) to call home for the whole 2 1/2 years I was there.  Letters took a week to travel between Idaho and wherever I was stationed at the time, and longer when a transfer was taking place.  I have become soft, yes I have.

So here we are.  The first Sunday we had 8 people in our living room for sacrament meeting and Sunday school.  Four of them were the Persaud family from St Kitts who were assigned to come and visit us.  We had become close to them during our temple trip back in April, so it was great to have them visit us. 

The second Sunday we had just two local sisters at our fast and testimony meeting.  
Precious is from Nigeria and is a RN working here.  She was raised in the Church in Nigeria.
Precious and Amparo
Amparo is from Dominican Republic and has a hair salon in Charlestown, Nevis.  She understands English quite well but is not really comfortable speaking it.  When it was her turn to bear her testimony she wanted to pass but I urged her to do it in Spanish, which she did.  We all understood what she was saying.

On our third Sunday, July 14, 2013, we had Precious and Francesca, another sister from DR.  There was also a man who had been invited by Precious.  She is a great missionary!  Small group, but we get great comfort from knowing that where 2 or 3 are gathered in the Lord's name, there the Spirit will be also.

That’s it for now.

1 comment:

  1. So, did you mean to label the pictures at the beginning of the post as Nevis or St. Kitts? I'm kind of confused. Did you have the butterflies in St. Kitts? I'm guessing that all of the pictures at the beginning are actually St. Kitts (but labeled Nevis) and the last ones are of Nevis.

    I'm glad you are there doing what needs to be done in one little corner of the world. It will be over before you know it! I'm sure my Dad who works in the garden until he can barely stand up at night will be an awesome missionary for little Nevis! We love you and miss you!