Sunday, August 25, 2013

Off to Bartica


The week started off pretty slow, with no bills to pay, but one of the elders got knocked off his bike and had a few bruises and one 1 inch cut to bandage (blessing from heaven) and we are still looking for an apartment for our diamond elders who have to move because the landlord has too much pornography sitting around next door.  We haven't found the perfect place yet.

On Thurday we attended an funeral for one of the members who has been faithful for many years.  She died of a stroke.  She was only 62, but has been in poor health for several months.  Sheesh, she was my age. People just die younger and more health problems here in Guyana.  

On Friday, after we took care of office business, we took a trip to Bartica to witness the marriage of two of our members in the Vreed en Hoop branch.  Bartica is on the Essequibo river, which is the 4th longest river in the world and it is to the west towards the Venezuela border. Most of the  people who live along the river do not have electricity so they buy generators for light and cook on gas stoves.  It is a simple life and a good one.  
To get to Bartica, we drove West for about an hour and then boarded a 20 passenger speed boat for another 1 hour drive in the water.  It rained for half the time, but it was a covered boat so we didn't get wet.  

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There hundreds of small Islands in the Essequibo river.  The couple choose to be married on a sandbar next to Parrot Island (named that because, at night, hundreds of parrots roost on the trees there). The sandbar is under water except during low tide. Then you can see if for about 3 hours.  They chose 4:00 pm to be married and the groom had set up a canopy and chairs and a table for refreshments. We arrived at 3:45 and the bride arrive at 4:15

The ceremony lasted about half an hour and they took pictures and served a meal after that.  We boarded our boat to leave at about 5:15 and noticed, as we were leaving, that the sandbar was quickly disappearing. By 6:00 pm, the sandbar was under water again.  That has to be the most unique wedding we have yet to attend.  It was really an enjoyable day.

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Singin' in the Rain

Dear Family,

This past week was supposed to be the beginning of the dry season, but as you can see by the photo, we continue to take our walks and get a downpour while we are walking.  And to think that Utah and Idaho are having problems with fire and drought. 

Our neighbors, the Beechers had their 40th wedding anniversary on Friday.  They spent the day working on an employment survey and talking to young people who are trying to get PEF loans and scholarships before school starts this next month. 

I couldn't help but contrast that with the 40th wedding anniversary which we enjoyed a year and a half ago which our children gave us as a gift.  We loved the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas concert and the dinner and the Anniversary Inn.  It was truly an unforgettable night, mostly because of the thoughtfulness of our children.  

Yesterday was kind of stressful.  We took off in a downpour to go to Diamond to find a new apartment for the elders there.  When we were only a block from our home, a truck pulled out of the driveway and ran into the side of our car, doing damage on the front fender and the two passenger doors.  We had to get the person's information and go to the police station to report the accident.  The police are supposed to come to the scene of the accident, but according to the other driver, they never seem to make it there.  We surely hope that the driver will pay for the damage which he promised he would.

After we looked at the apartment, we noticed a police escort for a whole group of motorcyclists.  The were having some sort of a rally. That reminded us of Becky's facebook page with the motorcycles up there in Sundance.  Then today, on the way to church, there was a section of the seawall road which was blocked off for bicycle racers. That seems to be a Sunday morning event in Guyana. I honestly don't know how they can ride in 85 degree weather for these races without having heat stroke.

We have our Chinese friend James, who is about to get baptized.  He plans to be baptized on my birthday, August 28th. We are excited for him.  He still really struggles with reading and understanding the Book of Mormon.  He says the the language style is such an old style in his Chinese translation, and he never had any religious upbringing before he came here, so it is really foreign to him.  He does have a strong belief in God and feels that he is loved.  He really accepts the Plan of Salvation lesson, that he lived with Heavenly Father before he was born and that he is being watched over and will return to his heavenly home after he leaves this earth.  It has been really enjoyable to teach him.

My last comment is concerning piano.  We have been really discouraged at times with the slow progress which our students are making because the refuse to practice, but this last week was great. Several of them are finally beginning to sight read and figure out how the music should be played without much help. We hope that during our last 4 months we can get them to the point where they are able to accompany the members in church.  

One girl, Rovaughnia, who is not even a member is amazing.  It is as if she knows the songs before she even plays them.  She really has a gift.  I told her that she knew these hymns before she came to earth and that she is just remembering them.  I hope that she, more that any others, will keep going with her music. 

Well, we had better close for now.  We hope, Jacob that you made the move alright.  We pray that you will be able to get all the loose ends tied up before September.  Becky, do you get on skype in your new home?  We would love to see you there. To all the rest of you, thanks for your letters.  We miss the huckleberry fun and Esther, we enjoyed seeing Zachary and his crawling.  
Love, Mom and Dad

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Zone Conference

Dear Family,

We had zone conference on Monday.  We did not get any new direction for senior couples, but we enjoyed the counsel which we received along with the young elders.  
The mission president talked about three kinds of trials which we have in this world. The first is those we bring upon ourselves because we are disobedient.  The second is those which come just as a natural part of living, and the third is those which the Lord sends us to test our faithfulness.  He said that the third type are often the hardest because it test our faithfulness.

We had kind of a discouraging experience today in the Linden branch.  The branch president had to work, so his counselor took charge.  They asked us to speak at the meeting, along with the counselor's wife.  The Gospel Doctrine teacher was gone so they had a last minute teacher.  There were no primary teachers, only the President.  There were no youth Sunday School teachers, so the youth taught themselves. and the Relief Society was cancelled or shortened and no priesthood lesson would have been taught if Dad and organized them and started a discussion.  Oh Boy, we somehow need to help the leadership to know that if they don't organize the meetings, the people will quit coming entirely.  We thought that things were going better than that last month.

One fun thing that happened this week was that one of the temporary missionaries, brother Stewart, who has served 4 times on 6 week missions received his mission call.  We delivered it to him while he and his companion were out tracting on their bicycles.  He called us the next morning to let us know that he was going to Atlanta Georgia.  He is pretty excited to be leaving the country.  He will be a good missionary and he comes from a strong family.

Well, we don't have much else to tell you this week.  I've been a little bit sick with a fever, but it is getting better fast. It seems like we never get sick enough to keep us down for long.  

Becky, we hope that the move wasn't to hard for you.  Sorry we couldn't wish you a better birthday on that day, but of course, there was no chance to communicate.  Jacob, good luck moving to Cottonwood Heights this weekend. Just being a 15 minute drive from Deborah will be awesome for both of you. Esther, we loved the story and pictures of your family, and we love hearing from all of you.

Love, Mom and Dad

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Mission Call

Dear Family,
Since most of you have probably already watched the video of Uncle Rob and Aunt Brenda, opening their new mission call, this is for you, Amy.  They have been called to the Wellington, New Zealand Mission to serve as Family History Preservation Specialists in the city of Dunedin. It is in the southern part of New Zealand.  The area to the West of them is a large mountain range which goes all the way down the western coast of the island.
We looked up the church statistics of the area and there is a district with 6 branches of the church there, just like we have here in our area of Guyana.  I expect that they will do some member leader support there besides the Family History work.  It will certainly be a little diifferent than the mission to Washington DC because the church is not as strong there. 

Our week has been a good one.  We picked up the Mission President on Friday and are in the middle of district conference and zone conference this week-end.  One of the promises which our mission president made to the members here was that if they would keep the Sabbath day holy, live the law of the fast and pay fast offerings, they would be blessed financially and spiritually and not have the heavy burdens that they now carry.  

He also said that in the West Indies, only 1 percent of the members pay fast offerings, and in order to be considered a contributor, all you had to do was pay at least one penny during the year. That is so little to ask.  Yet the blessings promised by the Lord are so great.  I really believe that.  The spirit bore witness to me of how keeping those two commandments would help them live all the other commandments.  I know that our family has been greatly blessed materially by keeping the Sabbath day holy and paying our fast offerings to the Lord.

We continue to work with James, our Chinese friend.  He has made many friends in the branch and they greet him whenever he comes to church meetings.  He still struggles in his Book of Mormon reading.  He just doesn't understand the things he reads and so he isn't motivated to read and pray about the scriptures.  Dad wants to take him to help teach other Chinese people, but you can't teach things you don't have a testimony of.  Maybe he would get one though if he had to interpret for Dad as he taught.

Well,  Thanks so much for writing and visiting us on skype.  We love you all.  
Mom and Dad