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, July 25, 2016

The Hills Are Alive

I won't even try to explain the pictures Rob sent this week. Do missionaries sleep in their clothes? Are slingshots allowed? Better not to ask. Here are his emails from today: "Things here are good. We have a set a baptismal date with an 18-year-old kid here who seems really promising! I'm hoping everything goes well, but if there's one thing I've learned about this kind of thing it is that anything can go wrong in the last week. haha ;) But the tripanionship is doing good. We're all doing fairly well! Fun guys to serve with. This area has been quite the struggle though... lots of heckling, everyone and their mother seems like they have something negative to say to us. :/ But the work continues. lol. We hiked Mt. Soufriere today. I think thats how u spell it... It was INTENSE, way too much hiking for me. haha. But I'm pretty out of shape so that makes sense. lol. It's a active voclano on St. Vincent! Pretty cool! The hike was insane though! lol. It was like a constant uphill for like 3 miles it felt like. :P But worth it when we got to the top! It was nice and cold and had such a cool view! So our investigator with a baptism date came to church, FOR THE SECOND TIME! Woot! lol He hadn't been before I got here. I think he likes having someone to talk to about computers and stuff cuz whenever we are there we talk a litt bit about overclocking his phone processor and rooting his phone and stuff. haha But anyways, he plays pokemon go and apparently you can make like poke stands? Something like that. So I was like, "DUDE, you should make a poke stand at the church! And put a comment that says 'best place to catch pokemon is from 9-12 upstairs on Sundays.' That way people will come to church!" haha. I thought it was a pretty genius idea. :P Who says video games are no good? ;) Anyways, this investigator seems really solid. His name is Jevoni and he didn't wanna get baptized without his mom being there, so I told him to call his mom and tell her he would get baptized on the 13th to see if she'd make it. He kept his commitment and called her and she said that she would try to make it but if she couldn't that he should get baptized without her (tender mercies). So he's agreed to get baptized wth or without her there. But ya, we have a few solid people. Other than that the work is slow, no one has been able to baptize in quite a while, so I'm hoping to change that. Did I mention how self sufficient the branch here is!? O my goodness, it's amazing! In Gouyave I had to give a talk and teach like every week, along with plan activities, teach FHE, all that jazz. But here everyone in the presidency is a returned missionary, along with some other people. It's sooooo awesome. Like the gospel principles teacher knows more doctrine that I do! haha. It's so cool! Lots of negativity from the locals in our area but still pretty good for the time being. Guess I shouldn't complain too much. The heat is out of control too. haha. BUT we have A/C in our apartment. :D BLESSING! I'm still not over that, if you can't tell. Thanks for everything you do for me. I am thankful to have supportive parents. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't! So thanks again. Love you guys! Hope all is well! cya soon! haha."
At the top of Mt. Soufriere. Looks amazing!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Rob in Vincy with Glasses

Picture taken as they landed in St. Vincent. Is it just me, or does it look like they are landing on a patch of grass?
Rob is happy to be in St. Vincent, in a "tripanionship." I asked him about the glasses, and he said he bought them in Grenada. His theory is that they make him look smarter, so contacting is easier with the glasses. Anything that works. Here are his notes from the field: "HEY, St. Vincent is good. I'm in a place called Campden Park! It's pretty cool. We have a LOT of hills and it's cool to serve around these elders. Yes, I said elders. Elder Anderson wasn't able to leave St. Vincent to his intended destination in St. Maarten quite yet because Carnival in St. Vincent JUST ended, so a bunch of people have to stay here and wait for their plane to take them. Right now I'm with Elder Jackson and Elder Anderson in a trimpanionship, as we call it. Lol. It's been fun. I think all elders should be in a tripanionship. It makes teaching easier AND it makes living together much more fun. So this week we had an investigator tell us she couldn't understand the concept of being able to repent in the spirit world. I tried to convey to her that it was no easy task and that repenting in the spirit world is NOT ideal. But she seems to think she can just live her life and repent after she dies and be fine. So I'm trying to think about what to say to her next time, cuz in the moment I was kinda like... well, I mean I guess. Lol. So we'll see. Funny story: We were going to a lesson and we got stopped by a crowd of Pentecostal missionaries (had no idea they even evangelized, but there ya go) and they wanted to have a prayer circle with us because they could tell we were depressed? haha. It was funny, they were like, 'God told me you are depressed.' So I said, 'Elder Jackson, are you depressed? Elder Anderson, how about you? Nope. We're good, thanks though.' ;) Lol. Anyways, we had a prayer circle and held hands and they told us they hope we become Christians some day -____- I was like, 'O my goodness! LOOK AT THE NAME TAG!' *face palm* How many times do we have to go over this before people start to understand? Anyways, kind of a funny story. It's really beautiful here! Also really hot. Haha. Reminds me of Barbados heat! Probably because it's around the same time of year I was in Barbados last year. Lots of rain, too, though! No one has been baptized here in a long time, but I plan on changing that just now ;)... hopefully. I see a lot of potential in a few of the investigators we have. But anyways, everything is great out here. I love it! Thanks for the encouragement, as always! GO PADRES! So stoked to hear they beat those stinking Giants, man! 'Bout time! Let's be real. The closing pitcher for the number one team in the division just so happens to catch his cleat and balk in the winning run on MORMON NIGHT!? I don't know, sounds like some kind of sign. haha! Love you guys, take care! Bless up, mon."
Camden Park looks like a suburb (?) of St. Vincent's capital city, Kingstown.

Monday, July 11, 2016

St. Vincent Bound

Rob will be heading from Grenada to St. Vincent this week, about 85 miles NNW as the crow flies. He expected a transfer, and is glad to be able to work on St. Vincent - but sad at leaving friends behind in Gouyave. Here are his notes: "Heyyyyyy, so transfer call came in yesterday and I'll be headed off to St. Vincent! Should be really cool. I hear my apartment has AC!!!! God answers prayers! haha. The airline we fly here is called Liat. The worst airline in the world, I'm pretty sure, ALWAYS late. We call it LIAT: Leave Island Any Time. haha. It's not scary though, they at least look professional. Kind of weird stepping on a plane with no hangar or anything. Like, you just walk outside to the plane and get on the plane stairs and up you go in the plane. My new companion is Elder Jackson. I actually left the MTC with him, though he wasn't in my district. This will be the first time in my mission that I won't be either with a district leader or a district leader myself. O.o weird! I also have some old friends on St. Vincent now so that'll be cool! Anyways, I'm excited to go but sad to leave. They aren't going to shut down Gouyave, so that's good! Glad to hear that. Gonna say a last few goodbyes to the members tomorrow at HEG so that'll be kinda sad, but I'm sure they won't miss me too much. Gave a talk the other day on families and the importance of families. Was told to give the talk the night before so I wrote it during sacrament meeting while blessing the sacrament and leading the music. bahaha. I actually thought it went really well though! Kinda sad, I don't know if you remember R., but he was the guy that used to come out teaching with us all the time and the guy who stole a bunch of money from Elder Dancan. But ya, he apparently stabbed and killed someone this week so he'll be doing a minimum of 10 years in prison, which is too bad. We're hoping that it sets him straight, but the hard part is that you can tell people look at the missionaries with disgust now. Just cuz these islands are very small and everyone talks, you know? We heard about it like an hour after it happened by some passerby on the street. But ya, you can tell it's pushed people away for the time being, which is everything the Gouyave group DOESN'T need. :/ But what can you do, right? The work continues. Anyways, I'm excited to go to St. Vincent, not only for the AC but also because it's the last island I wanted to visit in the mission! :D So my list of islands I wanted to visit will be complete! I'm almost at a year and a half. Crazy, right!? *cough* Not that I'm counting or anything. ;) haha. O, Padres. I feel like it's always a 'Maybe next year' team. O well... they are probably just waiting for me to come home is all. Thanks for being supportive and helping me have a positive attitude. I'm working at it slowly. I'm really just excited to come home and start school! haha. I don't know. Sounds weird and totally unlike me, but I am stoked! Tell Bax I miss him and I'll be home soon! Well, I gotta go, but thanks for the support as always. Ok, I'll talk to you next week from St. Vincent! Later!"
St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as seen from the air.
Pirates of the Caribbean, Curse of the Black Pearl and Dead Man's Chest, both filmed at Wallilabou Bay on St. Vincent.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"Thank you in behalf of America"

Hoping Rob took pictures of his P-day trip to the river, just didn't have time to send them - but I've included a map to show where Victoria is in relation to Gouyave. Here are Rob's notes on his fabulous international Independence Day, and the work in Grenada: "Heyyyyy, so I finally got a working computer after getting switched between them, and now I got the slowest one with only 30 min. So I'll have to keep it brief! So we couldn't email yesterday mainly cuz we just didn't have time! lol President Wade (branch president) took us out to Victoria (our area) and we had a big BBQ next to this river where we dipped our toes in the water, ate hot dogs and threw the football (AMERICAN football ;)) around for a bit. It was a lot of fun! I was pretty drained by the end, as was everyone else. haha. This week we have 4 missionaries with birthdays on the island as well so that's kinda cool! It's crazy to think that the last 4th of July I was out on the mission in Barbados. At least I'll be home for my next one. It was funny, at the BBQ I was hanging out with Elder L. (Fiji), Elder Rumba (Philippines), Elders Lameta and Ropati (Samoa), Sister Kaitaua (Kidapest) [??Mom note: Kaitaua sounds like New Zealand - not sure where Kidapest is], and Sister Lometo (Marshall Islands). I was eating with all of them and they said, 'Happy America day." So I slowly raised my head up and looked around, took a bow, and told them 'Thank you in behalf of America.' bahaha. It was funny. You had to be there I think :P Our zone leaders think I'm for sure leaving Grenada next transfer, so I'm hoping I either go to St. Vincent (the last island I want to serve on that I haven't) or back to St Lucia. Something tells me I'm going back to St. Lucia, though. Hopefully I can go back to Castries. I love it there! But anyway, things here are ok, just plugging away at what we can. Trying to help out people who are in need. One of our members' brothers just killed his wife and then committed suicide, so she's been grieving this week. And I guess no one told the branch president about it, so he ended up blaming Sister Jenny (less active we've been working on) for not relaying the information? I don't know. We haven't been able to see Sister Jenny since the incident, which is really too bad cuz I'm afraid that'll push her away... The struggle is real in Gouyave and I could very easily see it being shut down, but we'll see I guess. The Zika virus is affecting missionaries everywhere, seems like more and more are getting sick. I just got out of a zone conference and they told us it is now officially a commandment to wear insect repellent. lol. Also at zone conference, we heard about how baptisms aren't the measure of the success of a missionary! Something cool I learned today is to not make excuses for the things you do wrong, and to not blame others, and you will see success. I think a lot of the time it's easy to make an excuse as to why you failed or why things didn't work out the way you wanted them to. But when we focus on our failures it leaves little room for success. Why focus on the negative? Why not just pick ourselves up and continue to do better? I don't know. Really stuck with me today. I'm gonna stop making excuses and blaming others for things that go wrong. But yeah, I'm just going to continue to try my best. My success is measured primarily between me and the Lord. Today I'm going on trade offs with Elder Kujanpaa cuz he's sick with Zika and Elder Rumba needs to get out of the house, so I guess I get to take it easy today. That's pretty much it on my end. I love you guys and appreciate everything you do for me! Thanks for the support. By next week I'll have my transfer call and I'll be able to let you know where it is I'm going! Bless up!"
Many thanks to Sister Wade, who sent these pictures of the hike to Tufton Hall Waterfall, near Victoria. According to Wikipedia, it is "the tallest waterfall in Grenada.... The only way to visit the waterfall is to hike for approximately 3 hours (each way) through technical and strenuous terrain. Guides from Victoria are available, usually carrying rope and cutlass." NOTE: I don't see any water in the pictures.
A Grenadian bus and a view of Victoria.