Rob is serving a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the West Indies. This blog will contain his letters home. He is doing a great work, and would love to hear from you!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Missionary parents all over the world look forward to hearing from their missionaries on Christmas Day. We were no different - and loved being able to Skype with Rob, ask him our thousands of questions and just listen to him talk about his new area, the work he is doing, and how his testimony is growing "every day." We also heard about how his brief employment in the pest control industry served him well in eradicating the cockroach infestation in his apartment, much to the relief of his companion. He said he's had a lot of crazy things happen, and often stops to think how amazing it is that he is out there in the Caribbean. But his most memorable experiences are his opportunities for service. He has learned that you have to love the people you teach, or you just can't teach with the Spirit. Sounds like he does, and he does. We are super proud of him. Here are Rob's emails from today: "It was great seeing you guys on Christmas - the best part of my Christmas too! St. Lucia is pretty good! Lots of hills. We've got a baptism coming up on the 9th of January, so hopefully things will go smoothly with that. If you could send some prayers my way as far as getting a more solid teaching pool that would be awesome. The people we teach are lowering in numbers which makes it fairly difficult to have a solid schedule :P Thanks! Elder Hardey and I saw these really cool mountains yesterday so we went "exploring" which was cool. We went on a hike around Castries and got to look at some really cool views and met some pretty sweet people! [In response to Roger's note on the return of Sister Oross:] That's crazy that Ashley Oross is already home. lol Seems like she just left! Tell her hello for me will ya? haha. Ya, I will probably miss this place when I finally leave. It was funny how much I realized how attached I was to the people of Barbados before I left. lol. Never thought I'd say that but I miss that place sometimes. I'm sure it'll be even harder leaving here, considering the people are so nice and the views are incredible! The rest of my Christmas went well, everyone brought a lot of food and we got fed by an investigator too which was really nice! haha. We watched a few Disney movies, like Tangled and Aladdin. lol. I had crazy flashbacks watching Aladdin, haven't seen that in forever but I remember watching it a lot as a kid. lol. Love you guys, hope all is well! Poor Baxter. He's so misunderstood."

Monday, December 21, 2015

Castries, St. Lucia

We received our first email from Rob in his new area, Castries, St. Lucia. He sounds great - enjoying the beautiful scenery and looking forward to our Skype on Christmas. I told him I'd been pronouncing St. Lucia incorrectly (Saint Loo-CHEE-ah) and asked for confirmation on the correct pronunciation (Saint LOO-sha). Here is his email: "Hey, it's called Castries, St. Lucia and it's freaking beautiful! Holy crap, this place is gorgeous. I never wanna leave. haha. Things here are great! Mostly the scenery and the people. Super cool environment to work in. I love it. So my companion is like super missionary, fresh off the boat, wants to, like, not sleep and just do missionary work. It's pretty exhausting, but it's good! I'm glad I'm with someone who is eager to serve, ya know? But ya, this place is MOUNTAINOUS! But it's SO cool. Like, people live ON the mountains in the middle of a forest! They are hard to get to cuz the hills are really steep, but once you get to a house they always have this amazing view. People here are a lot nicer as well. I'm thinking we're gonna be very successful here. I'm hoping Barbados was just the refiner's fire, you know? Haha. We'll see. It's pronounced Saint Loosha. haha. Can't blame you on that one, it's spelled weird. Kinda like how tire is spelled 'tyre' here. haha. Everything is good here, just trying to plug away and forget about time. Thank you so much for the Christmas package! Everyone got a good kick out of the platypus, considering it's my nickname in Barbados. I have a couple of people I served with in Barbados here in St. Lucia with me, so that's pretty cool! I'll get to teach my first district meeting here tomorrow, so wish me luck. Skype is all set up for Christmas. I'll be Skyping from the church. We're gonna have a Christmas get-together as well, so that should be cool. We share the video "A Savior is Born" a lot with people. We mainly have pass-along cards that direct people to the site, making it REALLY easy to get in contact with people. Although the branch here seems to be a lot smaller than the Christ Church Branch in Barbados, the few that are here seem to be very unified. I think a lot of the unification has to do with people being not as prideful like all the Bajans. haha. Good people, just very prideful. Anyways, miss you guys and hope all is well. Tell Baxter I miss him the most!! And that I'm pretty sure Matthew 5:14-16 refers to him and his gloriousness ;). Bahaha. O, Baxter, what a good dog."

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

St. Lucia

Rob is heading to St. Lucia today and will be serving in the capital city, Castries. Note: his snail mail address has changed. You can find the new address in the column to the right, under his picture. St. Lucia is similar in size to Barbados, but it is a volcanic island, with more dense rain forest and more mountainous terrain. Above is the flag of St. Lucia. The colors and symbols of the flag carry cultural, political and regional meanings. The blue field represents sky and sea. The black and white allude to the harmonious relationship between the two cultures that dominate the country. The yellow symbolizes the sunshine, as well as prosperity. The two triangles represent the Pitons, which are twin volcanic cones located in the southwest part of the island. These mountains, Gros Piton and Petit Piton, are a national symbol of Saint Lucia. One last picture from Barbados. Rasta Mon.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Leaving Barbados

Rob is leaving Barbados. Not the mission, just the island nation of Barbados. He will travel to St. Lucia this week and begin a new adventure in a new district. He's been saying good-bye to Bajan friends, and took pictures with some of them. Yay! Here are notes from today's email: "It'll be nice to get out of here, even though I didn't particularly want to go to St. Lucia. It sounds pretty touristy. But it'll be cool to have that experience. Everyone's been telling me all about St. Lucia and how people will feed me a lot and how there are a LOT of bananas out there. Apparently there are a lot of hills and the taxi drivers drive CRAZY like on the edge of the cliffs on the coast. haha. But I guess they know what they are doing, right? Maybe I will get my dangerous mission after all! ;) Just kidding. I'll be fine. Got the email from James Ellsworth. Sounds like he had it more rough that I do! But it's nice to hear from someone who's actually been through that, you know? Helps a lot. This week Tonya came to church again, along with Angela and her two kids, and Kira - a woman that Elder Kuru and I contacted when I first got here, who we teach every once in awhile. Haha. Never thought she would actually make it out to church, but she did! Pretty wild, eh? Anyways, I'm stoked that they made it. Been taking a lot of pictures with everyone before I leave the island. It's funny, cuz for the first few days I'm like, 'Ya, I'm stoked to get off this rock!' And now I'm like, 'Wait? I'm leaving? SHOOT!' bahaha. But o well, I knew it was going to come to an end sooner or later. Well, I'm excited for the Skype call on Christmas. Hopefully everything will go as planned! Love you guys. Take care. Talk to you next week!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Putting Things in Perspective

Rob seems to be doing lots better this week. Thanks to all who wrote him and/or remembered him in your prayers. His notes continue to amaze us. Here are his email messages from this morning: "Hey! Things are going well! Still struggling with a few things but I'm working on focusing on the things that are uplifting and making me happy. We have an investigator that has come to church for the past four Sundays, and she said that she is going to just keep coming. Only problem is she lives with her boyfriend, so she cannot progress any further until she either marries him or moves out. No further information about transfers so far, although EVERYONE in the zone is saying "If you don't get transferred I'm gonna be very surprised." Haha. Everyone thinks I'm going to be leaving, which is probably accurate considering I've been here longer than anyone in the mission. I'll let you know what happens with transfers next week. Wish me luck! The Christmas traditions here are way similar to back home. You should see Bridgetown at night! It is the coolest thing! So amazing-looking with all the lights up. I keep forgetting to take a picture when I'm down there at night. Next time I will though. Everyone's house is lit up and getting ready for the Christmas season. We didn't get to see the Christmas devotional just because it started at 9pm here, so the district is going to watch it this upcoming weekend. Sounds like it was a good one, though. haha. Ya, it's funny because Elder Sandbakken is always like, "It's so weird to think it's December right now!" [Elder S. is from Utah.] I'm like, "Nah man, this is normal for me." Lol. The weather is a bit more humid but I'm starting to get used to it and it feels just like home now. I'm probably going to shrivel up when I get home, from the dryness. Thank you for the fast. Much needed. I continue to pray for you guys every night as well. The mission really puts a lot of things in perspective, ya know? Like how important family is and how more than ever we need to stick together in one purpose. I don't know where it comes from. lol. Probably learning every day about eternal families finally hit home for me. But I'm grateful to be part of this one and to be uplifted by so much positivity by you guys. It honestly gets me through each and every day. Thanks for never giving up on me, when you easily could have. Thanks for everything. I really mean it. I hope being on a mission can bring blessing back to you so that I can at least repay you in some way for all the things you did/do/will do for me. That letter you sent me was spectacular, by the way! The one that talked about God clothing us in our times of need with the Spirit. Really uplifting. Thank you for that. It is so true, too. It ties back into what you were saying about Elder Bednar's talk. Like it seems so simple, but the more you think about it the more it gives you reason to keep pushing and striving to pay back the ultimate favor that He did for all of us - the Atonement. I don't think anyone will ever get to comprehend all that the Savior did for us that day, but gosh darnit, I've come a lot closer to getting it here than I ever had. It's so gnarly to think of that kind of sacrifice and how God's perfect plan was in effect and the mercy and grace we receive through all of that. Pretty awesome stuff. Hope you are all enjoying the Christmas season! Miss you guys and can't wait to come back home and share all these crazy experiences with you. O, Barbados! Anyways, merry Christmas."
Rob and his companion, with investigator.
Delivering Christmas gifts at the children's Cancer Society "ting."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Hangin' Tough

Rob had another tough week, but is committed to moving forward. He answered a couple of questions about what he might need for Christmas, and vented a little, but also sent this fun picture to his sister:
Must be hard finding your name on a Coke bottle in Barbados if you are not from around there. Here are a few of Rob's notes from today: "This week has been pretty rough. Sorry for another "Debbie Downer" letter, just know that your son is out here standing up for what he believes is the right thing. I've already decided that nothing will keep me from trying, and progressing the work. As long as I am praying and receive an answer that what I'm doing is good, I'm going to keep at it. I just saw one of the videos from REALLY good. It is nice to have those because we get little cards with that site on it letting us more effectively share the message in a somewhat new approach. Thanks for the support. I miss you guys a lot and I hope you guys are enjoying the Christmas festivities over there! Keep fighting the good fight :) One love. Haha!"
This is a picture Jana sent to Rob. It requires an explanation. Every year, one of Rob's favorite holiday traditions is hiding a piece of candy inside this moon box ornament. The idea is that when he opens it the next year, he wants to see how gross it has become. So of course, we opened it for him and wanted to send him our grossed-out response. Jana chronicled the event. When he received the photo, Rob was delighted to see the tradition continue and said the picture made his day. It must be pretty bad there, if a crusty, moldy piece of candy and two disgusted parents can make his day. The question now is: shall we leave the candy in there another two years? Ugh!