Thursday, August 29, 2013

Allen Passports

We decided to give the Allen family a gift for Br Allen being ordained an elder.  That ordination has not happened yet, but the interviews are completed and the formality of presenting his name is all that remains before the ordination will take place.  We will be back on St Kitts but we plan on coming back here when that takes place.  I am sure angels will be rejoicing with us.

Our gift is to take them around to the offices and pay the fees for their new passports.  The cost of the passport has quadrupled in the past couple of years.  They both had old passports which are are now expired, so while we have the vehicle here we have wanted to help them get around to the various offices in town to get the applications completed.  Wow, what an ordeal!

Last Friday we spent the whole afternoon driving them to the government Office of Island Administration, to the police station, the bureau of vital statistics to get a certified copy of birth certificates, to the post office to purchase the stamps that would be used by the government office, etc.  None of these offices are near each other.  In fact they are a mile apart in some cases.  Sister Allen could not find her most recent old passport, so the office said they would need to go to some attorney to have some document drawn up to certify something. I, being a minister, wrote on the back of the photos we had to take them to get that the photo was a true likeness of the person it said it is representing.  They would not take the word of the person holding the photo up next to his/her face, but they would take the word of a minister they had never met.

So the plan was to take them Monday morning to the office of the attorney to get the legal stuff that they needed.  We drove all around town getting what they needed, but they still needed to go to another office for some certification, on a different day.  No problem.  Today we spent the whole morning doing the same thing.  We had to go between the attorney and the Island Services office three times (they are a mile apart from each other) before we finally got it right.  We would get what they told us and then they would tell us that something was missing and we had to go back and get it right.  Three times!  Bureaucrats are the same all over the world.  These sweet people could not have done it without our help.  They live 5 miles away, they do not have a vehicle, they do not have the money to pay a taxi to take them to the various offices, and they cannot physically walk very far.  Sister Allen has arthritis, a bad knee, a bad ankle, diabetes, and she gets tired quickly.  Br Allen is 64.

Anyway, we got it done, so now they just need to wait for two weeks and then go in person to pick them up.  They will need a ride to get that done, but we will not be here.  They will figure it out.  Or we might be able to come back and finish the job.  We want to come back one time during the week and hold a branch social with all the people we have grown to know and love here.  It is amazing how fast we can grow to love one another when we serve one another.

We are now house-mates with two wonderful young elders.  They arrived in St Kitts on Wednesday, so we took the truck over to pick them up and get their bikes and bags brought over to Nevis. This apartment has two bedrooms, one with twin beds that we have pushed together for our king-size bed and a double bed in the other room.  The twins are now separated and the elders are using the larger room for their quarters. We could have moved into the apartment over on St Kitts, but the senior couple there are not leaving until Saturday afternoon.  We would rather share the apartment with the young elders than with them, so we are staying here for a few days.  Besides, we get to take them around the island to meet the members and contacts here and help them get settled.  They will be riding bikes, but that does not phase them in the slightest.  Elder Durfee is only 6 weeks from going home.  Elder Rasmussen has been here from the MTC in the Dominican Republic for two days, as green as they come.  

Both are really sharp young men.  They like each other, they are workers, they are fit and active, they do not complain, they want to learn and to serve, they are thankful and respectful, they clean up their dishes and make their beds, and they want to be here.  Elder Rasmussen has had a little music training so he has started practicing the keyboard in preparation for playing the music for Sunday.  They will hold one set of meetings at the apartment on Sunday morning, then they will climb on their bikes and ride the 5 miles up the hill (uphill all the way) to the Allen’s home where they will hold another set of meetings.  Then they will ride back home.  And they are excited to be doing it.  We are so honored and blessed to be around these young men.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Moving Again

St Thomas Anglican Church, 1700's. The oldest grave is about 1649.
We have really enjoyed some of the local fruits, in addition to the mangoes, which are now all gone.
Local starfruit and avacados

Sugar Apple.  Yummm!

Local bananas.  Juicy, not dry.

Bread Fruit

Jack, Jill, and Nanny

Fishing from the dock, Nevis

Last week we had a visit from our new mission president. 
 Philander Knox Smartt III is an attorney from Alabama.  He is 43 years old, has two young daughters and lovely wife whom we have not yet met, and has enormous amounts of energy.  He was so frustrated with trying to work with the LIAT airline dysfunctionality after trying for three weeks to get on a flight to St Kitts, that he has sent for his airplane.  He said he will now be able to leave San Juan after breakfast, travel to any of the islands, and be back to the office for lunch.  LIAT would win anybody’s contest for most dysfunctional airline on the planet. Even flying space-A with the military would be more predictable.

President Smartt has a very different philosophy about senior missionary couples and how we are to be treated and used in the mission.  Before, we were just considered to be missionaries like the younger models, so the transfers would come with a day’s notice, and nobody ever asked what we would like to get out of this missionary experience.  We were expected to do and report the things that the bean counters were asking from the YFTM (that means Young Full-Time Missionaries.)  We have kids who want to come and visit us, which is not only allowed but encouraged by the Brethren, but we could not tell anybody where we will be at Christmas time or any time in the future, for that matter, because the moves were not planned out more than a day. So the kids can’t purchase their tickets when there might be a discount available because they might buy a ticket for Nevis and we might be on Dominica or anywhere else.  Pres Smartt changed all that immediately.  He asked us where we would like to serve and what we would like to do!  We were amazed.  We told him that we will serve wherever he wants us, but that we would like to let our kids know where we will be.  He immediately said, “You need to be in St Thomas.  You will go there in early October.”  And presto! the uncertainty and panic and all those other negative emotions that we have been feeling for months all went away.  

Palms get old and the tops die out, like people

We also discussed what we would like to be doing on our mission.  We told him that we enjoy teaching the temple prep classes, the music lessons, working with the branch choir, and even teaching the Preach My Gospel lessons to investigators and new converts.  We have really enjoyed working with Br and Sister Allen to get them ready to go to the temple as soon as they can. None of these things go into any categories kept track of by the bean counters, however, so it looks like we have been doing nothing. He commended us for our attitude and for what we have accomplished with the Allen family and the other members here, but that we are being underutilized on Nevis.  So here is the plan for the rest of our mission.  (President Smartt said he likes to plan ahead at least 6-9 months.  When we arrived last November we were told that the president then would give us an assignment, but that he might change it the next day.  He felt that is how inspiration works.)
Two young elders are coming to Nevis tomorrow.  They will be living here in the chapel. (We have been holding church in our apartment.  I know that because we have been paying the rent.  They will be living in the church.  I know that because the Church will now pay the rent.) They will also be on bikes, which will quickly get them into shape or kill them off.  They will hold sacrament meeting and Sunday school here in town on Sunday morning, after which they will ride their bikes the five uphill miles to the Allen home where they will hold sacrament meeting and Sunday school with them.  That makes for a full and fulfilling Sunday schedule. If it rains that won’t be a problem because it will be warm water, so they will enjoy the cooling effects and they will dry off quickly.

Br Robert Allen.  How we love him!

We are going to St Kitts tomorrow to get the new elders and their bags and bikes, and bring them back to Nevis.  We will show them around the island for a couple of days, go to meet the members we have found, show them where to shop, show them areas to stay away from (more on that in a minute), and help them get grounded here.  One of the elders will be a Greenie, brand new from the MTC. They will both speak English and Spanish because we have three members of the group here who come from Dominican Republic and speak Spanish.  And they have many friends who will then become the next layer of investigators and members here.  These are such wonderful people!  We will really miss them.

Our plan is to move back to St Kitts as soon as Elder and Sister Mangum move out of the apartment there.  There was a cascade of events back in June that brought them to St Kitts and us to Nevis.  We questioned it then but we now see that the Lord often works even with unwilling missionaries to get the work done.  I am so grateful to our God for his patience and long-suffering.  I will try to be less resistant and head-strong in the future.  Nevis has been an awesome opportunity for us.  

The Mangums are a little older than we are and frankly in much more frail physical condition.  However, they go at the work each day and they don’t complain.  They were on St Croix and were really enjoying that assignment when they were suddenly uprooted and sent to St Kitts because another senior couple was being sent to St Croix, where there is a VA hospital that the other elder needed.  The flight to St Kitts was a horrible nightmare for the Mangums with long delays and missed flights and unplanned overnight stay on St Marten, so when they got here Sister Mangum made it clear that she was not about to move again unless it was a direct flight.  Period.  It was because of their physical limitations we were suddenly moved from St Kitts to Nevis so they could have the St Kitts senior apartment.  Two days later we had a new mission president.

President Smartt has brought in the elders who were serving in the islands and replaced them with sisters.  That was an inspired move, but the vehicle that the elders had been driving was given to the old couple being sent to Nevis (us), which left the sisters without wheels.  They tried to get the bikes the elders never rode fixed up, but when they tried to ride them they could not even reach the pedals!  So they have been walking everywhere.  Now they will have the RAV4 that Sister Mangum has been driving (Elder Mangum cannot drive), we will be over there with the Toyota Hilux 4WD, 4-door, turbo diesel truck that somebody decided was absolutely essential to the success of the missionary effort here. Thus, the elders on Nevis will be on bikes.  But President said he has no pity for them, and they will be fine.

We will be on St Kitts until October when we will be moved to St Thomas.  Around the beginning of the year, however, President will bring us into the office to manage the vehicle and housing department.  The couple handling those duties now will be going home at the end of 2013 so he will need us to help out there.  We will go and we will do our  very best.  It will be a hard job but it needs to be done and we can handle it.  

That is EC$, about $1.60US

We had a conversation with our friends the Petersons, with whom we were in the MTC and came out in November.  They are now in the mission office and they were telling us about the reverse culture shock they went through as they came back from the islands into the realm of Costco, Wendy’s, shopping malls, and such other modern necessities.  They were afraid to tell us about all those things because they didn’t want to make us feel bad.  I told George (Elder Peterson), “I am going to have a nap this afternoon, but enjoy Costco!”  Come January we will be there, too, well rested and ready to go to work for the 14-hour Monday-Saturday schedule of the mission office.  We can handle it.

Finally, a note about one of the physical features of Nevis.  There is an old hotel, built in the 1700’s, called the Bath Hotel. That building is now a government office building. 

Below the building is a stream bed that has hot water springs along its course.  
Bath Hotel/Government Building
Over the years individuals and the government have improved the pools with cement walls and even improved one spring with steps and a roof.  We have been there and thought it would be a good place to come and soak a little.  Gaye would probably get right in and I would stick in my big toe. 

Well, we went walking through that area one day last week on our daily 2-mile stroll and noticed a woman at the covered soaking tub, which is completely open to the world around it, wearing only a very brief bra top and even briefer bottom.  I mentioned that the water was too hot for me and she calmly told me it was not hot as she unhooked her bra, while talking to me, and proceeded to dip her hand into the water to give herself a bath.  I turned my back, but Gaye was on her way down to the water, so she carried on a conversation with the lady.  I briefly turned my head towards the tub and noticed that her bottom piece had also been removed.  No showmanship, no effort to flaunt anything, she was just there to take a bath.  Soap is not allowed, but that did not matter.

We left soon after that, and so did she.  She just got out, put her clothes back on, and walked away.  The next day we were visited by an LDS couple from St Thomas who we had met at the temple in DR in April, and who were at the 4 Seasons Resort on Nevis to celebrate their 40th anniversary.  We went to dinner with them on Friday night 

Wendy and Kim Lindquist, from Boise

and then picked them up for church Sunday morning.  After church we were showing them around the island and drove to the bath pools, only to see a couple of men stripped to their bronze birthday suits, taking a bath.  Okay, that is enough.  We will make sure the elders know that area is off limits.  By the way, Gaye now has no interest in soaking in any of those tubs.  Being the microbiologist she is, the idea of the various strains of strep that would be cultured in those pools has really turned that idea off.  I agree.

I’ll try to write more regularly.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nevis Branch Activity

Come, come ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear, but with Joy wend your way.
August 13, 2013 Tuesday, 1830 hrs, at the Church/apartment

Tonight was our first Nevis Group Activity Night function.  We met at the meeting place. 
Perla and her Mom
There were 12 people present including three not members of the church:  Elder and Sister Patterson, Br and Sister and Evanson Allen, Amparo and Perla Gumbs, Francisca Vasquez, Precious Edosomwan, two adult friends and one 4-month old baby girl. 
Gaye doing what she loves most
 Everyone brought food to share with each other.  We played dominoes
 and other group games that brought everybody into the action.  As I drove the Allen family back to their home, I asked if everyone had fun.  “Yes!” exclaimed Sister Allen. I think she was right.
When the Family gets together...
One of the most interesting things for the evening for us not of this area was some of the food dishes brought by Precious.  She said her people in Nigeria ate it often, and that the people here in the Caribbean also eat and enjoy it.  So I will try to describe what we had.
Even Brother Allen had fun
On Sunday after our meetings Precious asked if she could get a ride to the local abattoir  (slaughter house) on Monday.  I told her I could help but I didn’t know where that is.  Br Allen said he would show me when I took them back home.  It was just off the main road back to Gingerland.  So on Monday morning Gaye and I drove Precious out to the place.  I had asked Br Allen what it was that Precious had wanted.  He told me it would be a piece of cow skin.  I asked what she would do with it.  He said she would scrape the inside of the skin and remove the material there.  “It is very gooey,” he said.

I asked what she would do with it.  He said she would mix it with spices and cook it to eat.  He said it was very good.  The conversation brought some vivid memories to the front of my mind.  

Dad told me of a time on his mission when he and his companion were invited over to the home of a family for dinner.  When he was served the bowl of stew that had been prepare he saw to his horror that the head of a chicken was right in the middle of the bowl, staring back at him.  He said he was trying to figure out how he was going to handle that situation when the sweet lady of the house said, “Oh, Elder Patterson, if you don’t mind, may I have that piece? It is my favorite!”  Dad said he smiled and said he didn’t mind.

When I was in Carletonville, West Rand, South Africa, one evening I stopped in to chat with the landlady and tell her that we would not be there for dinner that night.  She was busy scraping the inside of the skin removed from a sheep’s skull.  There in the sink was the naked skull, teeth, eyeballs, and all.  i asked what she had planned for dinner.  She said, “Skaap kop (sheep head).  But you don’t get any.  You were going to have spaghetti instead.”  I was thankful for her hospitality, and that we were eating with one of the member families in the branch.

So I was curious what Precious would bring to the potluck dinner.  
Precious. The smile is infectious.
She was a few minutes late, but she came loaded with goodies.  There was a salad made of breadfruit, spices, beans, and other stuff.  It looked like potato salad, and it tasted better.  
Breadfruit salad
The breadfruit is quite starchy but not as strongly as the potatoes.  It was very good.  She also brought a salad made of shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, and raisins.  It was also quite tasty.  This all went well with what others brought--beans and rice brought by Francisca, another salad, and the chicken that we brought.  We had also purchased a small charcoal grill that I was busy cooking the chicken on.  Amparo was the first to arrive and she quickly stepped in and cooked the chicken, smothering it in Bar-B-Que sauce.  
Amparo cooking on the back balcony
Perla brought a “box cake” she had prepared.  It was a little over done on the bottom of the cake but otherwise quite good.
Dessert time
Precious was really excited and proud to show us the special dish that she had brought.  When I asked her what it was she told me that was what I had taken her to the abattoir for.  She had two Tupperware containers with some brownish material smothered in a clear brown sauce. 
That's the cow's skin on the fork.
 I asked her what she called it.  She said it was called cow’s skin.  It looked like pieces of firm translucent gelatin about 2 X 3 inches by 3/8 inch thick.  She had brought half of what she had prepared for us, Sister Patterson and me.  The rest was for the others in attendance. I knew that I would not be able to eat all of that, and that Gaye would be lucky if she could get a piece of it to stay in her mouth. She had not seen it in the container.  

Precious stuck it in the microwave oven for a minute to heat it back up and told me I should have some.  I sliced a piece about 1/4 inch wide off the piece of stuff and popped it into my mouth.  It was very spicy and the texture was very smooth.  It was not slimy, but it was also not far removed from being slimy and gooey.  I got it down with no problem and gave a piece to Gaye.  She cautiously slid it into her mouth and sort of smiled and said it was interesting. Later she said she chewed it for a few seconds and she knew she would not be able to swallow it so she quietly slid into the bathroom and spit it into the garbage.  Nobody knew.  Precious said she prepared one of the containers for us.  I told her that was very thoughtful of her but that I would like to share it with everyone.  She agreed (whew!).

The other treat she prepared for us was a little more exotic. (No photo of this. Sorry.)  I noticed something that looked like some very small ribs, all white and curved and firm.  She said that is cow’s trachea.  The Nigerians like to eat it because it makes a noise when it is chewed.  Okay, this will take a little more effort on my part, and I am not sure Gaye can get through this.  Precious wanted me to take all eight rings of cartilage.  I must say that it looked exactly like cow’s trachea, firm and white and round.  It even had some of the major blood vessels still attached to it.  Again my generosity saved the day.  I told her that I didn’t feel right taking it all, but I would take one piece.  I cut one ring off and cut that into quarters, each piece being about 3/4 inch long, 1/4 inch thick.  Precious was right, it did make a lot of noise as I was chewing it. It really didn’t taste bad either, except that I knew what it was.  Gaye didn’t do as well.  She quickly and quietly went back into the bathroom and spit it out before she started dry heaving.  It is quite funny now when we talk about it.

These are great people.  They are kind and loving and fun to be around.  They really enjoy playing dominoes and they would probably do it for hours without any problem.  I have only a double-six set.  If we could find a double-nine set we would really be popular.

We also played several Minute-to-win-it games.  Everybody got a big kick out of trying to stack 5 apples up.  When it looked like somebody was going to make it, someone else would throw something at the stack and it would fall.  Then everybody would laugh and laugh.
Stacking apples
The best game of the night was the one with several people sitting around the table with a cup, a straw, a pair of dice, and a bowl of Skittles.  
Sucking Skittles
We had a heck of a time finding a pair of dice, but we did it.  The object is to pick up Skittles by sucking on a straw
Rolling dice
while the next person is rolling the dice.  When a pair of anything is rolled, then everything shifts to the left and start again.  They loved eating the Skittles, too.

I saw a monkey while I was out walking.  
See the Green Vervet Monkey?
This is a really fun place, for the end of the earth.
Some donkeys on my morning walk

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Beautiful Sunday


Today we had a great sacrament meeting with 10 (TEN) (10%x100) people present!
Sister Sierra from Mexico, Sister Tapia from Chile
Two beautiful sister missionaries came over from St Kitts yesterday and stayed with us in the apartment.  I think I wondered before if we are living in the church or holding meetings in our apartment.  The answer is that we live in the church on Sundays but the rest of the week we hold meetings and gather for activities at our apartment.  Anyway, these two young ladies came over to help us.  Sister Sierra is the senior of the of the companionship and will be returning to Mexico in about 6 weeks.  Sister Tapia is only 1 month in the mission, coming from Chile.  Sister Sierra speaks English very well and Sister Tapia is catching on quickly. We have three members of our branch who speak Spanish, so we invited the sisters to come over and help us connect with our Spanish sisters.  It was a great success.
Three lovely lady missionaries-Sister Patterson, Sister Sierra, Sister Tapia
I will spare the details, but the powerful feeling of love and connection was felt by everyone present.  Sister Sierra commented, "This is a small group, but the Spirit is certainly strong here."  Yes, it certainly is.  Brother Allen is becoming more confident every Sunday as he conducts the meetings.  This is so cool!!!
Precious, Sister P, Amparo, Francisca, Perla (in front) taken Tuesday at Branch Activity Night
We had rain today like I have never seen before.  It was coming down in bucketfuls.  I went to help some of the members get through the gate into our yard and I was immediately drenched from my knees down, although the umbrella kept the top half quite dry.  Earlier in the morning Sister Allen called to see if they could get a ride to church because the bus would not be able to get up their street.  I wondered what the problem was but I hopped into the truck and drove up the hill to their home.  They live exactly 10 kilometers from our place.  As I turned off the main road to ascend the steep road I was amazed at the river that was coming down the road.  I did not have my camera so you won't get to see any pictures, but there were 6-inch rocks rolling along the road/streambed.  There was about a foot of water at one intersection.  Of course our trusty Toyota Hilux 4WD had no problem but it was amazing.  The window wipers were not keeping up, even on their highest setting.  Of course it stopped quite suddenly after I got the Allens back to the church for the meeting.

I hope you have had a wonderful Sunday.  We sure have.  The sisters have returned to St Kitts on the ferry.  We are expecting President Smartt to visit us on Nevis on Tuesday.  Who knows what will happen after that.

In closing I urge you to visit the Guatemala Smiles blog that is linked here.  Elder and Sister Call and the others who have been on their dental mission to Guatemala for the past two years tell some sweet stories of miracles that will bring tears to your eyes and joy to your hearts.  I just wish I could speak Spanish. I love the Guatemala people, too.

Sunset on Nevis from our apartment

Monday, August 5, 2013

Upcoming Temple Trip

Robert, Dorothy, and Evanson 
We don't have a lot to do here on Nevis, but we have really enjoyed getting to know the Allen family.  We have invited them to get ready to go to the temple this fall, and they have accepted the invitation.  We meet with them once or twice each week in addition to our Sunday meetings.  Br Allen has been called to be the Nevis family group leader.  He is a priest right now but will soon be ordained an elder.  Evanson is working on his mission papers and wants to leave as soon as he can get ready. A mission changes the lives of young people here more than almost any other event in their lives.  We are excited to help them prepare, and to have a goal for ourselves to go with them.  Being all alone here at the end of the known world is not too much to pay for the blessing of being able to work with these great people.  Gaye is teaching 4 piano students, too.  That and her famous brownies will get us into any less-active family's home.

Deondre, 12, the only member in his family

Some 18th century structures right in Charlestown

Cultural Nevis

Cultural Nevis

For the past week we have had a large noisy culture festival here on Nevis called "Culturama".  In fact, I just found out that it is a huge holiday throughout the Caribbean. It has gone on all week but today and tomorrow businesses, banks, etc, are closed.  The purpose is to celebrate Emancipation Day, the day in 1834 that Great Britain freed all slaves in her territories.  Some have said that it was perhaps more motivated by economic reasons than moral reasons, but it happened.  The slaves had become expensive to maintain and the profit margin on the sugar trade was declining.  The Europeans gave the land to the slaves and left, leaving the freed Africans with the land and the problem of figuring out how to stay alive.  It took the US another 30 years and the bloodiest war in our history to effect the same social change.  Some learn quicker and earlier than others I guess.

The week has been marked by daily celebrations in the small town square down by the ferry terminal.  There have been musical presentations and speeches and poetry readings.  I thought (all by myself, actually) that it would be a good gift for Gaye to get some Chinese food to take home from the little place right above the town square. As I was waiting for my food to be prepared I saw a large group of teens and ‘tweens setting up a steel drum band right below me.  Thinking that would be a great Caribbean cultural event, I called Gaye (who stayed in the apartment) to see if she wanted to walk the 1/4 mile to town to share the lunch and the cultural enlightenment with me.  She came right down.
American sports teams have big following here.  Yankees is the most popular brand.
The first hour, as the kids were setting up their band, was a series of local poets, mostly women, who seemed to really enjoy the power a microphone in the hand gave them.  The first poem was entitled “Who Is Your Man?” and was a long and loud rant about the low performance of Caribbean men in things like staying home and caring for their families.  It really was pointed and actually hit one of the main social problems of this area right on the head.  Men need to step up and act like men, take up the role of provider and protector, and stop acting like drive-by sperm donors.  Women also have a role in correcting this huge social problem, she said.  In fact, the title was addressed to the women as a challenge for the women to take responsibility for their choice of the men in their lives.  The second poem, however, was entitled “Why Do You Kill Me?” and was a loud complaint of the Trayvon Martin situation.  It was a rant against violence and injustice, but it was racially focused. We have never felt unsafe, though.

There were three more “poets” who read their works, mostly of a similar political/social theme.  “I Am Woman!” was one. “They Will Figure It Out” was another.  Race is a huge topic and I won’t go there in this episode, but it is sometimes an excuse used by every segment of our society to try to take advantage of the other segments.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only answer that will ever work.  People need to hear it and accept it and live it.  There is no other way.

Finally after an hour of political ranting and raving the band got to play, and they were really cranking it out.  We could hear just fine from the balcony, but we finished our food and decided to go down on the street to be closer to the band. 

The bald guy is the leader of the band
It was fun to see the kids play and the audience get into the music, but boy was it LOUD!  
These kids will all need hearing aids in a few years!
Sorry, I don't know how to post a video.  
Taken with my iPhone from 150 feet.
There was also a clump of kids dressed in some sort of native costume that danced to African rhythms, moving right out into the street.  No problem.  There was a policeman there to stop the traffic as needed so the young people could safely perform.  That same band of kids came marching right past our apartment later in the afternoon.  As I stepped out to take a photo one of the marchers came right over with a box for a donation, and I happily contributed.

The people here are African in appearance and in many of their cultural remnants, but they are very different from Africans in many ways.  
Local License Plate
One of our mission leaders said he expected the locals to take in the Gospel like what happened in Central Africa 30 years ago.  In some ways, however, the similarities between the locals and the Nigerians for example end with the color of their skin.  They sometimes have as much in common as Idahoans and Germans.  They are all good people, though; children of the same Heavenly Father and recipients of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  That is the one thing, and the most important thing, that all inhabitants of this planet have in common with each other.  When we learn to acknowledge that common element, then all the differences will not matter at all.  That is what I am learning here, and it is a sweet lesson.

Stay tuned.

Almost noon.  At noon this week there was no shadow.

Some strange local fruit.

The vine is growing into and onto the van

No idea what this is, but it is pretty

Local star fruit and avocados