Monday, September 30, 2013

Wise observations

Please read this blog.  He says it better than I can, and I agree 100%.  It fits very nicely with Elder Holland's April 2013 talk.  kp

Friday, September 27, 2013


Last Sunday I played the opening song for sacrament meeting because the branch organist was late getting to the church. Gaye led the singing, too, because the chorister had the same problem.  Then Gaye had to speak in the meeting, too. This is actually one of the stronger branches in the islands. Sigh.
Sometimes Plans Get Changed. Sigh
The Gospel Principles class instructor did not show up because he had car problems and had no way to get to church.  I taught the lesson with 1 minute’s warning.  It was actually a very good lesson.  At least I learned a lot.  Sigh.
We have a few young men, and older men, too, who are being prepared to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.  A special conference was called for this coming Sunday afternoon so the names of those brethren, and others in the islands of the mission, could have their names presented for ratification of the body of the priesthood. Now it is looking like only Br Allen from Nevis will be presented, at least from this branch. So we are starting over with the preparation lessons because those young and older men are not ready. Sometimes one or more do not show up for church, so the lesson is missed and we have to backtrack.  Sigh.
It is not uncommon to have about 1/3 of the total attendance arrive during or after the sacrament is administered.  I don’t know how to get people to show more respect for others and get here on time.  It is a problem throughout the Caribbean, and I suspect we are not the only place on the planet.  In my mind it is a matter or respect for others,  for the Lord, and for self.  Sometimes things come up and being a little late can’t be helped.  Most times, though, it is simply making a plan for the day and following it.  Our own family had that discussion many times as we were racing to get to church on time. The trip to the Kimberly Stake Center was 8 minutes long, so when we were leaving home at five minutes to start time I would frustratingly pronounce that we were late.  I would be corrected that we were not late because it was still 3 minutes to 0900, even though we still had 5 minutes of driving time. Sigh.
Tonight is Branch Family Fun Night.  Once a month the whole branch gets together for an activity.  Although we have been here for almost 4 months, this is the first one we have been able to attend. The first one was the day after we were sent to Nevis and the most recent one was held the day before we returned from outer darkness back to St Kitts.  No problem. Sigh.

Can you see me rolling my eyes?  Sigh.  I love these sweet people anyway.  Big Sigh.

One of the mango trees at the church was mangled--I mean pruned, with a machette. Sigh

Thursday, September 26, 2013


This is a little off the subject. Alaska is a long way from the Caribbean in many ways. We lived up there for three years from 1978-1981.  Kendra and Spencer were born there. Now Juli and Shon and their family are there.  Greg and his family just left for Japan.  Those are all separate stories.  But Juli just sent this story to me.  I thought I would just pass it along. When we were up there we learned that a moose is the most dangerous animal in the woods.  A cow with calves is more dangerous than a bull in rut.  Anyway, here is Juli's story.

Emily ran in this track meet last year and she babysits the Novokoviches. Only in Alaska!  (Or maybe Newfoundland.)

Aggressive moose shot near middle-school race at Kincaid Park

Friday, September 20, 2013

Zimbabwe Stake Youth Camp

I am posting something I received from some friends in Zimbabwe, where I served as  missionary in 1967-68.  I hope this inspires you.  It certainly inspires me.  Remember that Zimbabwe is one of the poorest countries in Africa, mainly because of how the Marxist government has mismanaged the economy there.  Even so, these youth appear to be thriving in the Gospel.  Can this be repeated in other places?  I hope so.  Ken

Check out the video links embedded in the blog.

We hear so many reports of sad and scary things going on in the world – all the beautiful and good things are not reported as frequently.  We hear so much about bad people making bad choices and doing bad things, however I have a fervent testimony that there are wonderful people making wonderful choices and doing wonderful things.
This year’s Harare, Zimbabwe - ‘For The Strength of You’ Camp held at Prince Edward School was an amazing reflection of some of these ‘wonderful things’.  People from near and far, rich and poor, black and white, companies and individuals, old and young, celebrities and everybody!  We all came together in an effort to strengthen and teach 800 twelve – eighteen year olds.  What a blessing this camp was, not just for the Youth, but for all those who had the opportunity to help, uplift, guide and serve.  Whether it was cleaning dormitories and toilets or peeling potatoes, or mentoring or teaching or simply being together – it was beautiful to watch our community unite in such a positive way, for such a great cause.

The Miracles surrounding these camps have always been a highlight and this year was no different.  It is always wondrous to be a witness as the path is cleared before us.  People are kind and selfless, and consider it a privilege to be a part of this project that in itself is a miracle.  Once again our venue was fully booked and the dates we had selected were possible election dates, but we had prayed and had been told to ‘Be Still’. People thought we were crazy not to have an alternate plan.  Of course everyone was surprised (except us) when different dates were confirmed for the election. 
The winter weather warmed up 2 days before camp and cooled down again shortly after, that was a Miracle as we had close to freezing point during last year’s camp.

The injuries at camp were minor and all the Youth were safe.  Some of the celebrities we invited to participate had previous engagements, however we had been inspired to ask them and kept them in our plans even though they had said they could not make it – their events were delayed or cancelled and all were able to attend!  One of the National Soccer Stars said “I’ll know better next time you ask, I will know God is on your side and my other plans will get cancelled!”

Shortly before camp when preparations were at their peak – some young volunteers from Germany arrived – they had been scheduled to assist on a project in a rural area, however with the pending elections they were not allowed to travel there.  In the group was a young LDS couple, they had heard my sister speak in Germany earlier in the year and had our contact details. They called out of the blue and offered their services.  Needless to say this was a blessing both for them and for us.  We were able to find them accommodation and keep them safe during a very sensitive period in Zimbabwe and they were able to pack and sort for our camp – God’s timing is always perfect!  We also received the great blessing of several American volunteers who sacrificed their time and money to travel and be with us for the duration of camp.  The Youth felt so loved and special!  What a Miracle it was for us to be able to share our faith and beliefs with so many who participated in our camp.

The goal of this camp, as it always has been, is to teach our Youth that ‘It doesn’t matter where you start – it is where you finish’ and the very simple concept that ‘Good Choice = Good Life – Bad Choice = Bad Life’.  We strive to help them gain a testimony of Jesus Christ and to understand that if He is the foundation on which they build their lives, that they will be able to achieve anything.  We believe that through God and with education, exposure and empowerment we can enable them to live their lives more fully and with greater opportunities.

After registering on the first day and settling into our dormitories, we held the Opening Ceremony.  With months of planning behind us we finally had all the Youth together and had their full attention – now it was up to us to make an impact in their lives.  Thankfully we had the help of some amazing people to make that difference.  Several local celebrities attended the camp at different times as surprise highlights for the Youth.  The main reason for their involvement was to convey the idea that they are important – important people gave up their time to come and serve and make a difference in their lives.  Many of the celebrities we invited had an inspiring story to share, testifying to the Youth that with hard work and faith in God you can attain your potential and fulfill your dreams.  The ‘Monomatapa Soccer Club’ and the Zimbabwe Womens National Soccer Team – ‘The Mighty Warriors’ came to the Opening Ceremony as a surprise for the Youth. When they entered the hall – the sound was deafening – the Youth could not believe they were there!  When we explained that they would be attending and conducting various activities throughout the camp – the Youth went crazy!  What a highlight.
The circumstances in which these Youth live are incredibly difficult.  Many are unable to attend school as they cannot afford the fees.  Many in attendance exist in abject poverty, so the gifts they received were overwhelming.  Due to the generosity of many we were able to provide each Youth with a hygiene kit (Soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, a comb & sanitary pads for the Girls), a school kit (books, pencils, pens, eraser, sharpener, scissors, ruler, crayons), 2 pairs of underwear and 2 pairs of socks, Scriptures, Candy, books, pictures and Inspirational handouts with the Mutual Theme for 2013 ‘Stand Ye in Holy Places’ etc.  The Youth were spoilt and they felt it!  Incredibly there is always enough for everyone and this has been made evident by the fact that we were able to pack for the Youth from some of the Mission Branches who were unable to attend. We have also packed for the Bulawayo and Marimba ‘Youth Camps’ and we are currently packing for a Young Women Camp to be held in Beira, Mozambique.  Those of you that have contributed have no idea how far your kindness has and will continue to reach!  THANK YOU!
In past years we have held a Talent Show, however we felt this excluded many of our Youth and their talents as it focuses primarily on Performing Arts.  So this year we invited the Youth to participate in a Visual Arts contest.  They submitted their pieces in advance, which gave us time to curate and judge prior to the start of camp.  The pieces were on display throughout the event and it made them feel really special to have their art up for all their peers to see!  Similarly we felt those Youth with sporting talents have been unable to shine in past years, so the program after lunch on the first day was focused on sports. We had some accomplished volunteers (Who have represented Zimbabwe in their respective sports) who ran workshops and were able to identify some of the amazing sporting talent we have amongst our Youth.  The workshops that were held were, Rugby, Soccer, Cricket, Basketball and Athletics.  The sports prize giving confirmed how important it was for the Youth to have a sporting platform from which they could ‘shine’.  These workshops also provided valuable exposure for those with promise, it could mean a scholarship, sponsorship or schooling. 

Due to financial constraints in previous years we have only been able to host the youth for 1 or 2 nights.  This year we knew we needed to hold the camp for 3 nights, as we felt it was very important to introduce a ‘Family Home Evening’ night.  We did not know how we were going to afford it, but we have learned that when God asks you to do it, He will make a way. We knew it was supposed to happen, so we went ahead and planned it.  Of course the Lord sent His angels and delivered His miracles. Through the great kindness of specific people we were able to afford everything we needed for all three days!  Thank you!

That first night we had planned to hold FHE in 50 smaller groups around campfires outside, however as fate would have it ZESA (electricity suppliers) turned us off (this rarely happens at Prince Edward as it is in town near the hospitals).  The only light on campus was in the main hall which was connected to the generator.  Without announcement the Youth began gathering in the hall – they were drawn towards the light!  This was the perfect illustration that in the darkness of the world people are compelled towards the light of the Gospel.  We simply could not have the Youth wandering around in the dark, so we changed plans and gathered the entire group in the main hall supported by generator.  It was perfect!  The Spirit was so strong and the Youth learned from many about the importance of Standing in Holy Places, the pitch darkness outside was an illustrative contrast to the warm light inside ….an amazing lesson …..and the Youth got it!

The next morning was greeted with eager smiles and energetic bodies.  The boys kicked off the day with Tag Rugby and the girls with Zumba.  A hearty breakfast followed and then we launched straight into our workshops attending 5 before lunch and 5 after.  These were amazing and were conducted by strong people with incredible life experience. They were:
·        ‘Standards for Salvation’ (Bishop Robert Spencer)
·       ‘Decisions Determine Destiny’ (Taught by Mercy Mugadza & Terri Jensen SLC)
·       ‘Sexual Abuse’(Reeve, Laurette & Marshall -‘Childline’ Representative)
·       ‘Self Defense’ (Coach Smart - An International Judo expert)
·       ‘Called To Serve’ (Taught by the LDS Missionaries)
·       Soccer (Taught by Zimbabwe’s National Soccer Coach and current Members of the Zimbabwe Women’s Soccer Team, ‘The Mighty Warriors’)
·       Dance (Taught by Josh & Lyfstyle Dance Crew - International Dance Competitors)
·       Newspaper Fashion Show (Cecilie Lundgreen, Francesca Mudzimba & Cornelia Rautenbach)
·       Table Tennis (Taught by John Muringani - Head of National Table Tennis Association)
·       Choir (Sister Myers from Idaho)
·       Basketball (Elder Myers & Kim Holzer)
·       Rugby (Reg Nield & Alex Demblon)


Two years ago Tinotenda received a wheelchair kindly donated to us by LDS Charities. After MUCH use, we were VERY GRATEFUL to be able to give him a new one!
Each of these workshops was mentioned as a favourite by some of the Youth.  They were the perfect combination of fun and learning.  After a hearty dinner and a quick shower the Youth gathered for the Talent Show.  Celebrity guest judges lent real credibility to the event this year and as usual this proved to be a very popular activity, which stirred great responses from both participants and audience.  Of course noise was the prevailing theme as they cheered and celebrated one another’s talents and abilities.  They were joyful in both their participation and appreciation and the excitement was contagious.  We all went to sleep shattered but content!

Day 3…Another 5am early start with zumba (YW) and tag rugby(YM) followed by showers and breakfast.  Our 2 hour Youth Conference is always a highlight!  All of the Young Men had received a tie and we had tried to also give them white shirts. Unfortunately we did not have enough for all those Young Men who needed it. However we had managed to provide the Young Women with Sunday attire.  Incredible reverence, love and respect fills that room as the multimedia presentation of Christ, invites the Spirit and teaches our hearts.  We were so blessed to have a special message from Sister Bonnie Oscarson (Young Women General President) & Bishop Paul Oscarson, an absolute highlight for them to know that they thought of them and cared how they are.  This was a particularly poignant moment for the many non-members in attendance.  It is impossible not to gain or strengthen your testimony of Christ as music, videos and speakers bear witness of His majesty and grace.  Since the conclusion of camp it has been wonderful to hear of the many converts who were introduced to the Gospel of Jesus Christ through this Youth camp who have since been Baptized.
Several of the Youth who had been impacted by the Sexual Abuse workshop the day before had the opportunity to meet with a counselor throughout the day and those with physical concerns were able to receive medical attention. 

After lunch we took our group picture which was followed by a rotation of 50 fun games.   This afternoon allows these Youth just to be kids and to play and laugh with abandon.  Of course many of the adults played like kids too!  During that evening we had the dance – in Africa all of life is music and we’ve definitely got some moves!  Everyone got dressed up and danced the night away, a rare treat for most of these Youth to be able to dance in a safe and moral environment.
Our final day started with a Sunrise Testimony Meeting.  Seated on the bleachers facing east, the Youth have the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings.  What an honour it is to provide this platform for these wonderful Souls!  They are strong, they are funny, they are resolute in their charge to Stand in Holy Places.  They love their Heavenly Father and their brother Jesus Christ, they believe in what they are doing and who they are becoming.  They are grateful to have found the truth. 
Breakfast followed and after breakfast we cleaned up both inside and outside the school, as part of the ‘Mormon Helping Hands’ initiative.

At our closing ceremony we were able to show a few ‘I am a Mormon’ videos for the benefit of the many investigators in attendance.  This was followed by a great message from our Stake President, President Albert Mutariswa.

As the camp drew to a close the youth sang:

 Noble Youth of every nation
We have heard the call
Born to lead this generation
We are standing tall
We are strong
And we are brave
We have the courage to obey
This is the time
We know the way
We believe in the difference we can make
(These are the days)
To hold up our light
Strengthen our brother
Help each other Home
(These are the days)
To live for what's right,
Stand as a witness,
Share the truth we know.
We will raise our voice
We will make the choice
To take our place with hearts of faith
These are the days!
We will be the hands of heaven,
Messengers of God.
Faithful to the gifts He's given
Holding to the rod.
We have hope
And we have faith
We believe that words can change
We rejoice
And celebrate
As we unite in the power of His name
(These are the days)
To hold up our light
Strengthen our brother
Help each other home
(These are the days)
To live for what's right,
Stand as a witness,
Share the truth we know.
We will raise our voice
We will make the choice
To take our place with hearts of faith
These are the days!
Guided by His endless grace
We're following his path
If we're faithful we've been promised all the Father has!
Hold up your light!
Hold up our light
Strengthen our brother
Help each other home
To live for what's right
Stand as a witness
Share the truth we know.
We will raise our voice
We will make the choice
To take our place with hearts of faith These are the days!
To take our place with hearts of faith, these are the days!

Followed by a montage of camp which the Youth LOVED watching! 

(very kindly made by Breanna & Brigham Duncan).
What an honor, what a privilege, what a Miracle to have had the chance to make a difference in their lives for these few short days! 
THANK-YOU for making it possible…we are changing their Lives, and they are changing the world!!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Confession

I have a confession about something that has nothing to do with this mission.  

I graduated from BYU with a degree in history.  I did not want a BS degree.  You know the line:  BS (referring to what one TV commentator called “warm, smelly stuff deposited by the male bovine the morning after eating a bale of hay”), MS (More of the Same), and PhD (Piled Higher and Deeper).  So I got a BA instead.  In fact, I would have taken a BS but I was closer to qualifying for the BA (Bachelor of Arts) than the BS (Bachelor of Science) because I had three semesters of French.  At least that is how things stacked up in 1973 when I was trying to get out of BYU honorably. 

I had been recently married to a bright and lovely woman who had been out of school for a couple of years with her own BS in Microbiology, and sheAs a freshman at Ricks was a working MT (Medical Technologist, not Technician) in a prestigious Utah hospital.  I was also under contract with the USA (United States Army) because of a circuitous journey through the USANG (US Army National Guard) and AROTC (Army Reserve Officers Training Corps) and acceptance into the prestigious HPSP (Health Professions Scholarship Program). I had followed that course, quite simply, to get out of the draft during the Vietnam Conflict.

When I was doing my undergraduate work I could not decide what to major in.  Before my mission I wanted to major in chemistry.  I had tested well in the physical sciences and I enjoyed the hands-on part of chemistry.  I took a literature class, the required English composition class, and a smattering of other subjects I thought would be interesting.  History always fit into that category.  It was interesting.  But then the mission came and I was in South Africa for the next 30 months.  April 1966 to October 1968 is still mostly blank in my mind as to what was going on in the world.

After learning Afrikaans I knew I could handle another language.  I came back in the middle of a semester and quickly got into a sociology class.  Watching people was always fun and I found it intriguing to study human interaction. I was actually invited to join the Valhalla Folk Dancers at Ricks College, so every Tuesday and Thursday mornings we would practice at 0600.  I had no car, so I walked up the hill to the practices in the Kirkham Ballroom. That semester I was in the best physical shape of my entire life.  I explored dating, music, more history, more sociology, psychology, student government (VP of the sophomore class), intramural activities including badminton (I lasted one match, losing to the tournament champion in three straight sets), a full year of French, and even bowling.

A failed engagement was the major event of my sophomore year.  She was a great kid, and I was trying to be a great guy, but we did not make a great couple.  That is another story for another day.  I left Rexburg unattached.

The BYU experience was bigger than I ever imagined it could be.  The football and basketball games, the devotionals, the guest lecturers by world-renowned experts in many different fields, and more history classes, all left me with a yearning for more education.  I had seen some of the world on my mission and I wanted more. 

But what would I do to earn a living?  I enjoyed the entertainment value of my history classes. Who were the main characters on the stage for the events of Western civilization? I was challenged on every side by the science classes, especially organic and quant/qual chemistry, but what would I do to support a family?  I never had much extra money.  I had enough for my needs, but that was only if I skipped lunch. Pennies mattered.  I read for a blind student, and in the process I really learned to see.

Meanwhile, one of my roommates said he was going to dental school.  I decided to check into that, since nothing else brought much peace to my troubled heart, and I took the DAT with very little preparation.  (I did look at a couple of old tests, just to get an idea of what kind of questions were asked.)  I did quite well, actually, so I focused on that avenue.  The Army ROTC program won over Air Force ROTC, so I knew I would be wearing green.  I applied for school and was accepted to UW.  ROTC made me aware of a scholarship program, so I applied and was awarded a 4-year ride through dental school with all expenses paid and $400 per month to live on.  (We actually bought a house in Seattle during that time.) A degree was required to be commissioned an officer in the Army Reserve, but I was already accepted to dental school, so I would be commissioned as soon as I began class work at the UW. I decided that I would like to complete my degree even if I did not need it for dental school or for the military, so I took on the last two classes, historiography and a senior research project.  I found that I really enjoyed doing the research and the writing, but I was going into dentistry.

I have been a dentist for almost 40 years.  I have enjoyed the career, the military experience, the income that dentistry has been able to provide, a nice home, decent vehicles, seven great kids and meeting all the essential costs associated with raising a large family. Along the way, I have enjoyed reading and learning about academic things.  I have loved reading about the universe.  The photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope have been amazing to see and to think about. Contemplating the vast distances of space has brought the magnificent existence of God into my own daily reality, as has the equally amazing universe of atoms and elements. The very most enjoyable class in my whole academic career was astronomy at Ricks College, taught by Gordon Dixon. Truly, the universe speaks most forcefully for the existence and love of our God. The complexities of human interaction and the nuances of interpreting human history have no end. Most of the things that have been thrilling to me have had little direct connection to dentistry.  

Is that bad?  Is it even normal?  My passion has not been dentistry, even though I have spent millions and millions (sounds like Carl Sagan, doesn’t it?) of hours reading and listening to lectures to keep up with the profession. And I think I did a reasonable job of staying current.  Now I am retired from dental practice and I don’t even think much about it any more. However, I still feel a thrill to read about the research that is going on in archeological explorations in Guatemala, or an analysis of the meaning of some essay or poem.  I love to consider different languages and how such a variety of means of expression came to be.  I thrill to have an in depth discussion with my PhD-holding son about the methods and theories of effective and ineffective communication. I want to read a good biography of Alexander the Great.  I marvel in the loving way my children teach my grandchildren, including the seven children who have joined our family by marriage. I am in awe at the teaching ability of Jeffrey Holland.  And in all this exploring and sampling and drinking in the smorgasbord of mind-expanding exploration of the universes we live in, social and physical, I still feel a thrill that actually makes my heart beat a little stronger and a little faster. 

To appreciate and understand an uplifting sculpture or painting, listening to or trying to perform a part in a great symphony, or even to appreciate the challenge of mastering the bagpipes still bring absolute joy into my life. I stand in awe at the beauty of what so many hard working and bright men and women have contributed to the expanding view of our universes. There seems to be no end, but rather, an exponential growth of opportunity for more of the same.  And I see the hand of God in all of it.

So here is the confession.  I am glad I will not be a dentist in the next life. But I have no regrets.

Molly Mormon

The Myth Lives On

The Girl in a Whirl
By “Dr. Sue” aka Vickie Gunther

Look at me, look at me, look at me now!
You could do what I do if you only knew how.
I study the scriptures one hour each day;
I bake, I upholster, I scrub, and I pray.

I always keep all the commandments completely;
I speak to my little ones gently and sweetly.
I help in their classrooms! I sew all they wear!
I drive them to practice! I cut all their hair!

I memorize names of the General Authorities;
I focus on things to be done by priorities.
I play the piano! I bless with my talents!
My toilets all sparkle! My checkbooks all balance!

Each week every child gets a one-on-one date;
I attend all my meetings (on time! Never late!)
I’m taking a class on the teachings of Paul,
But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all.

I track my bad habits ’til each is abolished;
Our t-shirts are ironed! My toenails are polished!
Our family home evenings are always delightful;
The lessons I give are both fun and insightful.

I do genealogy faithfully, too.                                                               
It’s easy to do all the things that I do!
I rise each day early, refreshed and awake;
I know all the names of each youth in my stake!

I read to my children! I help all my neighbors!
I bless the community, too, with my labors.
I exercise and I cook menus gourmet;
My visiting teaching is done the first day!

(I also go do it for someone who missed hers.
It’s the least I can do for my cherished ward sisters.)
I chart resolutions and check off each goal;
I seek each “lost lamb” on my Primary roll.

I can home-grown produce each summer and fall.
But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all.
I write in my journal! I sing in the choir!
Each day, I write “thank you’s” to those I admire.

My sons were all Eagles when they were fourteen!
My kids get straight A’s! And their bedrooms are clean!
I have a home business to help make some money;
I always look beautifully groomed for my honey.

I go to the temple at least once a week;
I change the car’s tires! I fix the sink’s leak!
I grind my own wheat and I bake all our bread;
I have all our meals planned out six months ahead.

I make sure I rotate our two-years’ supply;
My shopping for Christmas is done by July!
These things are not hard; It’s good if you do them;
You can if you try! Just set goals and pursue them!

It’s easy to do all the things that I do!
If you plan and work smart, you can do them all, too!
It’s easy!” she said, 
And then she dropped dead.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sister Missionaries

Future Missionaries Grant, Sam, Henry
Shortly after President Smartt arrived he replaced the elders on the islands with sisters.  
Lunch by the beach with President Smartt

When we visited with him on Nevis a month ago he said he would love to have more sisters.  I am learning what he means by that.  
Sister Sierra from Mexico, Sister Tapia from Chile

The elders here on St Kitts drove the truck until we were sent to Nevis and took the truck with us.  That left them with no means of transportation.  Sister Sierra is not quite 5 feet tall and of proportional weight.  Her first companion was from Idaho and much taller.  They were walking everywhere, but that only slowed them down in their physical locomotion, not in their desire to serve.  The elders would walk to the church and play basketball in the parking lot, hoping that some young men would come along and want to play and they would then have someone to teach.  Not the sisters.
Cottle Church built 1824 for owner's kids and slaves' kids to worship together.
The other senior couple here decided it was their duty to take the sisters to all their appointments, but the young ladies still walked a lot.  

The Idaho sister was moved back to PR and Sister Tapia came here straight off the plane from the MTC.  She is from Chile and the two young ladies got along, both being Spanish speakers. They worked hard, walking many miles each day.  They found lost members and began to teach them, and they made contacts and began to teach them.  Sister Tapia was transferred to PR and Sister Paredes from California, out about 7 months, took her place.  She is about the same physical size as Sister Sierra, and not a step behind her in spiritual and physical commitment to missionary duties.  They tried to fix the bikes but when they then attempted to ride them, they could not reach the pedals!  Back to walking.
Sister Sierra smiling for the camera
So now President Smartt has sent young elders to Nevis where they are riding the bikes many miles up and down big hills each day.  They are loving it, and the work is growing over there.  Meanwhile, the other senior couple has been moved to PR, so now the car is being driven by the sisters. They are so short that I can barely see them from outside the vehicle, but they are doing fine.

Last Sunday we saw a nice family of man, woman, and two boys sitting on the back row.  The sisters went over and sat by them.  The boys went to Primary and quickly learned the songs.  During the week the sisters invited us old folks to go with them to meet some of the members they have been working with, and to meet this investigator family who was there on Sunday.  We had a nice discussion with them.  The format of the investigator discussions goes like this:  

1. Visit and feel comfortable with the people.
2.  Sing a hymn together.  Sometimes the investigators try to sing along. Always the Spirit adds His voice.
3.  Open with prayer.  They are very effective in inviting and in getting the member or investigator to offer the prayer.  Tears are usually running down my cheeks by then.
4.  Lead a discussion following closely the lessons in Preach My Gospel.  Questions are effectively asked and the others open up with their feelings and observations. Important points of doctrine are taught, testimony is shared, and commitments are made.
5.  Closing prayer is offered by one of the family.
Sisters are like flowers among the stems
After a visit with the sisters to a less-active member who had some “issues” that she wanted to discuss, a discussion that covered the breadth of subjects from why is there race and what is the big deal with Joseph Smith, to which I responded in typical 5th-generation-Mormon high priest-know-it-all-and-you-should-listen-to-me confidence, which went nowhere, we left after a closing prayer.  Sister Sierra looked at me and smiled and said forcefully, “Elder Patterson, you should study Preach My Gospel, chapters 3 and 10!”  Those are “What to Teach” and “How Can I Increase My Teaching Effectiveness?”  Okay.  I am sufficiently humbled.  It has always been hard for me to keep it simple.

Yesterday we went to visit the Soundar family who were again at church services yesterday morning.  This time we were there to help him quit smoking.  He is moving ahead with everything else, but the weed still has a hold. The sisters came over to our apartment 2 hours before the appointment so we could get our act together on how we were going to present a stop-smoking program developed by two missionaries in Ireland in the mid-80’s.  We read the approach, we rehearsed our parts, we prayed, and we went to the family armed with the power of the Love of God, or Charity.  We followed the  usual format, singing Choose the Right.  Br Sundar called on Sister Patterson to open with prayer.

We presented the lesson we had rehearsed, except that the two little boys were a little rambunctious so I took them on my lap and kept them entertained with my iPhone games while the ladies presented the ideas, including getting all the necessary commitments from Br Sundar.  At one point the lesson calls on him to wad his pack of cigarettes up, which he did.  At the end of the lesson he prayed, and tears were running down his cheeks as he thanked God for the blessings of the Gospel coming into his family.  We then had a piece of a noodle confection that he had made especially for us.
We took the sisters to dinner at Blue Bombay 
Our job this week is to visit this family every day and reinforce them, especially him, as he makes the transition from smoker to non-smoker.  We will take some veggie sticks and lots of encouragement.  He will do it.  The baptism is scheduled for the end of the month.

But there is more to this story.  When we first arrived here she was at the apartment with the other senior couple because Sister Tapia had left for PR and Sister Paredes had not yet arrived.  She was sitting beside Sister Patterson and quietly said to her, “Can I have a hug.”  Gaye turned towards her and put out her arms and Sister Sierra melted into the embrace and sobbed her little heart out.  She was worried about her mom. Sister Sierra’ mother is dying from kidney failure in Mexico.  The doctors have done all they can and have sent her home.  President Smartt has been made aware of the situation and he has spoken with her father by telephone.  They do not want her to come home early (her mission will be finished the end of November), but to stay here and complete the work.  Both her parents served missions as young people.  She had permission to call her mother to see what is going on.  She spoke with her dad and mother for a total of 6 minutes.  She said her parents want her to stay here.  
Sister Galvis from Colombia, Sister Sierra from Mexico City, Sister Paredes from Los Angeles
I spoke with President Smartt and he said she has completed a wonderful mission and can go home a few weeks early, with an honorable release, to be with her mom before she passes on. He thinks she should do that, but he has left it up to Sister Sierra. To strengthen his suggestion he sent Sister Galvis, another LM from Colombia with whom Sister Sierra has developed a very close relationship, here to St. Kitts to talk with her.  (The new mission leadership council is made up of elders (AP) and sisters now, and she is here in that capacity.)  Sister Galvis returned to PR this morning after supporting and strengthening Sister Sierra.  Sister Parades gets along very well in Spanish, too, and they have had a lot of time together to work through this crisis.  Sister Sierra has not made up her mind yet.  She wants to read her emails this morning before she decides.  They will be here in a few minutes to use our computers for an hour or two.

I have tears in my eyes just thinking of what a blessing it has been for me to work with these sisters.  They have the power to call down the blessings of heaven as real as any person I have ever been around, man or woman.  My life will never be the same. 

A local lily

Milkweed Pods
Some Kind of Palm
Interesting Seed Pod

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Caribbean Weather

While at the church for Branch Council Tuesday evening, a heavy rain began to fall and continued for two hours.  The church has a metal roof, so when the intensity of the rain increased, so did the noise.  At times it was difficult to hear what the others were saying.  That was a tropical storm passing the island.  The storm was later given the name of Gabrielle.

I have been quite interested in weather patterns for some time.  Alaska has its patterns.  Southeastern Idaho has its patterns.  I always enjoyed hearing Mark Eubank talk about storm tracks and their effects on Salt Lake.  Here in the Caribbean it is no different.  The weather follows patterns, and those patterns make weather forecast possible.  When I was young we did not have satellites and computer predictions, so the weatherman was often sort of close, but also often quite wrong with weather forecasts.  Our bishop in Seattle, an orthodontist by then but earlier in his career a weatherman in the US Air Force, told us about a missed prediction he made in Alaska.  It was winter, so people would hang their moose or caribou outside to keep it frozen.  He predicted that the weather would continue to be cold, staying around -25F for the foreseeable future.  A chinook hit the next day and the  temperature went up to +40F for the next week.  He said people were really ticked with him for his missed forecast.  Everybody was cooking all their meat so it would not spoil.  Bishop Merrill said he still holds the record for magnitude of missed temperature forecast!

Check out this site.  It has lots of interactive capability so you can check what is happening in the weather anywhere on the planet. I have it bookmarked so I can go to see what is coming along the hurricane pipeline.  Right now there is a gentle breeze from the east, ALWAYS from the east, with temperatures about 85F, as it is every day.  Humidity is about 70-80%, as it is every day.  Enjoy the wonderful autumn in the Great Basin, my favorite season.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Back on St Kitts

Sometimes we must do hard things.  That is how we grow.

Sunday, September 1, 2013.  We are back on St Kitts.  We arrived yesterday by Sea Bridge, the vehicle ferry between Nevis and St Kitts.  We were actually hoping to get on the 1000 boat but we didn’t get to the terminal until well after 1030.  The boat was just approaching from St Kitts, and there was quite a line of cars ahead of us.
Waiting in line to get on the boat
A couple of young ladies in a bright purple car just drove right on past the line of cars and crowded into the line.  That sort of ticked me off, but we all made it on, just barely.  The 1000 boat left at 1130, right on time.
Leaving Nevis

One of many pelicans
The car in front of us had a couple of cute kids in the back seat.  The little girl would stick her head out the window and flirt with me. 
I loved it.  After we were on the ferry I pulled out my camera and asked her dad if I could take some pictures.  He smiled and said, “Sure.”  These are cute kids.  But all kids are cute, aren’t they?!

Meeting today was so different from what we have experienced for the past two months.  It was St Kitts Branch, of which the Nevis group is a part, but it seemed like a huge ward in comparison.  There were probably 50-60 people in attendance.  I actually ended up shuttling people around all day because Elder Card was here to conduct some mission business.  He is the counsellor to President Smartt who is assigned to the islands.  Then had had to do an audit of the branch.  Meanwhile President Gonzalez asked me to go get one family who was on their way to church but had car trouble.  In all I made 9 trips between our apartment and the church.  It is about 6-7 miles each way, so that is a lot of miles for one day.  No problem.  I am glad to be able to help.
Elder and Sister Card are on their third mission, but he also served a mission as a young man.  His wife is in Antigua because President Smartt is following the rules and requiring the couples to pay the fare of the wife if both travel.  This mission was the second highest travel spender in the whole church last year.  That has definitely changed, and it is good.  Anyway, Elder Card plays the fiddle, the Irish whistle (they served their second mission in Ireland), and a few other instruments, all self-taught.  He is also the uncle of Jolynn Shaw, married to Gaye’s nephew Stacey.  Small world.  we spent the day with Elder Card after the meetings and the audit were complete.  It really is fun to have someone to talk to besides each other. We have also become much closer, however, because of our Nevis experience.
Liverpool kids.  Folks are less active members.

Here are some photos of the area, and some of the cute kids in the car next to ours on the boat.

The largest, best tasting avocado I have ever experienced.

Some local flowers...and kids.

Bye, bye.