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, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving Feast

Thanks to Omari for messaging these great pictures!

Rob sounds upbeat and positive this week. Maybe it was the turkey. Here are his notes on their Thanksgiving week in St. Vincent: "Heyyy! So the Thanksgiving feast was a blast! We had turkey, stuffing, yams, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and rolls! Haha. It was... well, stressful. Haha. But also a lot of fun to be able to feed everyone a nice meal. I understand now how stressful getting meals like that together can be, though. My hat goes off to ya! We had the zone leaders help us with most of the stuff like the turkey and the stuffing, but I made this yam casserole that was amazing! Haha. I made it with sweet potatoes though. Which is the same thing as yam? I don't know. It wasn't orange, so I wasn't too sure. Got your recipes just in time. It was enough to feed everyone. The sisters brought pies and the other elders brought rolls and mashed potatoes. I don't think a lot of the members understood what Thanksgiving is about, because I got a lot of 'gimme more!' and 'I'm still hungry' from people who weren't invited and just kinda showed up. Lol. At least they seemed to enjoy the food they got. But Omari came and really enjoyed it. He's started to read the Book of Mormon a little more, so that's nice! Hope he'll get something from it. Casley did not make it, unfortunately. But I'm doing well! Lots of fun this week, maybe too much. Haha. That's cool to hear about the family's turnout for Thanksgiving. Sounds like you guys had a lot of mouths to feed. Too bad Wes didn't make it.
Thanks again for the package! It will be put to good use! O, man, life in the tropics is fantastic! The weather last night was surprisingly cold! Sooooo nice, especially since we had to walk up Great House last night (a pretty lengthy hill). Rain is sometimes little drizzles, sometimes big two-minute rain followed by a scorching heat! Haha. And other times the rain will last all day. But all in all it's better than COMPLETE sunshine! The work is going well! But no, we haven't implemented the 'Light the World' as of yet! We need to get some cards to hand out. I think that would make things much easier. Tell Nana thanks for the letter! That was good encouragement to keep the journal going, which has... been slacking as usual. >.< Sorry. I'm really bad at that. I'm stoked to be a part of this work, but at the same time I'm really excited to be at the end of it. Hope all is well on the home front. Thank you so much for everything! Enjoy the week and tell Nana I miss and love her. O! And Bax too! Thank you for all the love. It means the world to me! I'll keep on 'going and doing' as Dad says. Haha! And maybe one day I can come back home and relax. Love you guys. Take care!"

Monday, November 21, 2016

Twenty gone, Four to go

Thanks to Elder Jones for the quadra-selfie. Rob is still waiting for a replacement camera to arrive, so in the meantime we are most grateful to get any photos from the field. This week marks Rob's twentieth month in the Caribbean, which means he has four more to go. Not that anyone is counting. Here are his emails from this week: "Haha, 20 months!?... that's it? Haha. Just kidding. The time is going by just as it should! Ya, I mean, I just hope we can see a little more success in Campden Park before I leave. Assuming of course that I do leave. lol. Omari is doing pretty well! He came out to church on Sunday, so that was cool to see him there. We're hoping to see more out of him as far as reading and such. LaVerne however did not come to church, but I get a good feeling about her progressing in the near future! And ya, Casley is awesome, he has such a strong testimony! Haha. Ya know, when you spend 9 months in Barbados getting in nothing but heated discussions on the Bible it tends to help you learn your scriptures.  :P And I hope the same applies to schoolwork at home :O I wanna crank it out asap. haha. Thanks again for sending the package. That was wayyyyy too nice of you guys to send me ANOTHER camera -____- I have the worst luck :/ I'm glad Nana is doing better and is adjusting. That puts my soul at ease a bit. All thanks to Bax of course. haha. I also really hope things continue to turn around for Nana and she becomes little more comfortable at home. It's good she has the caregiver there.  I'm sure experience with this kind of thing goes a LONG way. But she will continue to be in my prayers day and night. And with Baxter's love I don't know how anyone in that whole house can complain! He's such a good boy!!!  The picture of that box you sent me [see photo below] is pretty funny, although I don't think I've ever had a Suzy Q before. And yes, we are planning on doing a Thanksgiving dinner for the missionaries in the district :P Hope all will turn out well, considering I'm not much of a chef >.> haha. We'll see. As far as moving forward we're gonna do our best to further the work here and make it an easy transition for the next missionaries that come out. Just know I love you guys and I'll be home soon! Tell Bax I miss and love him too!!!!! :( 
PS: I'll be sure to hook Michelangelo [Rob's pet turtle] up with some lettuce. I have a good pic of us eating sandwich meat together. haha. He's a good turtle. I'll get pictures for you later. Sorry, we didn't bring the card reader :/. Thanks for everything!"

Thanks to the Moehles for this box of goodies - which we did not forward to Rob.  Suzy Q's seem to have returned "'cause Rob's been missing her." Funny, none of us realized she had left. I guess she is not a Twinkie.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Staying in Vincy!

This is what happens when Rob doesn't send pictures. I publish a picture from another week that may not show him in the best light. However, there is good news from Vincy this week. Read on for details: "Vincy is pretty darn good! I get to stay with Jones in Campden Park for another 6 weeks! Haha. Longest time I've ever served in an area. Pretty crazy but cool at the same time. They want me to be a district leader again, and we got some really cool missionaries coming in! Fun stuff! Omari is doing okay. I tried to set a baptismal date with him but he wants to pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true before moving forward, so hopefully that comes through soon. Casley is a super star! He wants to preach the gospel to all the people in Great House (his area he lives in). I kinda shared with you before but we are teaching his family too and I could see them accepting it all very soon. We had an "eternigator" at church on Sunday (eternal investigator). Lol. She's been taking the lessons for a LONG time. Her name is Laverne. I feel like I have been making some huge progress with her, though! Answering the tough questions and getting down to the knitty gritty with the Bible as a reference. It's been productive. I was, however, surprised to see her at church because a few weeks ago she invited her sister to a lesson and they seemed very anti. But I did tell her I was staying and she seemed very pleased. Her exact words were, "You never know. I might get baptized one of these days." Haha. Her main concern is that she has already been baptized in another church, so I talked to her about Acts 19:1-6 and how even Biblical people were re-baptized. Also shared a bit about authority with her and used Hebrews 5:6-7 with her and kind of explained that if Christ Himself couldn't give Himself the authority, what makes us think we can? That seemed to stick with her more, so we'll see what happens. Everything here is going great, though. I'm thinking we'll be baptizing this transfer, but we'll see. Casley is going to come teaching with us much more frequently this week and hopefully we can find some sweet new investigators! Other than that, LOTS of rain these past few days here in St. Vincent, and I'm sure most of the Caribbean. Lots of landslides and lots of flooding! It's been crazy! but we've been staying safe. My prayers go out to Nana. I really hope everything calms down. I can only imagine, I get accustomed to living in an area for 18 weeks and am bummed out when I have to leave. I can't imagine getting accustomed to a place for 50+ years, and then move without the right mind set of what's going on. Must be frustrating for her. Hopefully she can be at peace. I'll continue to pray for Nana and hope she can kind of forget about all the other things and just settle, ya know? Sorry for the short email this week. Love you guys! Take care!"

Monday, November 7, 2016

There might be a turtle....

Rob sent these pictures, courtesy of Elder Jones - whose camera still works. Their friend and investigator Omari took them on a hike this week, from Vermont to Layou (see map below). Here are his notes from St. Vincent: "Things are going pretty well! Just hanging in there, ya know? Transfers are coming up here fairly soon, so that'll be cool. I've never stayed in an area more than three transfers, so I'm assuming I'll be shipped off. But I guess you never know! Sometimes I wonder about transfers, but then I remember there is no 'oops' with God, and if you're put somewhere, no matter where it is, there is a reason for it. This week Omari took us on a 14-mile hike! It was great. I may or may not have accepted a baby turtle as a gift from Omari. Named him Michelangelo. Not exactly sure how I'm going to smuggle that to the states. Lol. And Casley is so awesome! We actually got a chance to teach him and his family (like 8 people) about the restoration of the gospel. We'll have another opportunity to share it with them tomorrow as well. I'm thinking since the kids are young that we could watch the restoration video with them this time. Maybe even the Dad will sit in this time. We'll see. Thanks for the encouragement! I really do appreciate it. I  hope time will fly. I feel like every returned missionary says they 'miss the mission.' I wonder if that'll be the same for me. Sometimes I really doubt it. But then again, I never thought I'd see myself saying 'I miss the gym,' which I do on a regular basis. So who knows? Lately I've been having this attitude of like, 'man, God's just gonna do whatever it is He wants to do, so I'm just gonna sit back and let it happen.' I did however get kind of a reality check on Sunday when I got invited to help teach the youth. The teacher was talking about the Brother of Jared building the barges, and she emphasized how much the Brother of Jared tried his all before asking and relying on the Lord. I found it interesting because, according to my previous theory, if we were just to 'leave it all to God' and not try to change anything, then what really would be our purpose of living on earth? I know it seems kinda simple, but the moral of the story is: we have to try our best, there are no shortcuts or in other words, we can't be mocking God. Anyways, that's what's been on my mind lately. Lol. Seems kinda simple and dumb, but I learned something from it! Also, thinking about the Holy Ghost: that is the only thing that is important, whether it's teaching, talks, lessons, anything and everything relies on the Holy Ghost being present. As far as college, Utah State sounds like they have a good program, and Nate recommended it to me. I still feel terrible about the camera! We have an electrical engineer in the branch who I'm actually pretty cool with, and I gave it to him to see if he could repair it. He said that when I gave it to him it still had a lot of water in it and a few burn marks (probably from the short) but he'll get it back to me next time I see him. Hopefully it's in working condition, but I still don't know yet. Getting close to four months left. Pretty exciting! I'm really excited for Mexican food. Carne asada fries... I've been missing that a lot! I'm trying to stay focused on the work, that's really the only thing that speeds up the time, you know? I hope all is well back home. Miss you guys! Love you!"

Map of St. Vincent Island. Kingstown is the capital. Rob is serving in Campden Park, marked with a black X. This week's hike is marked with a red circle. Last week's adventure at the volcano is marked by a black arrow.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Rob vs. the Volcano

La Sourfriere ("The Sulfurer"), highest peak on St. Vincent, active volcano. 

Elders Sandbakken, Platt and Jones
Rob's P-day was yesterday, but we didn't receive an email from him until today. He explains why in his notes from St. Vincent: "Haha. Sorry for the late response! We got held up yesterday hiking La Soufriere. It was crazy! Haha. So I don't know if you remember last time we hiked it, but by the time I got to the top I was BUSHED (no pun intended - haha). But I didn't have the energy to go inside the crater. This time, however, I was the first one to the top and went down inside the crater! :O It was crazy! There is a rope to descend/ascend the inside of the volcano, and then Elder Sandbakken and I decided to hike the middle pile of rocks, too. Needless to say my legs are incredibly sore and I had a few very close calls with some boulders that collapsed on me >.>. Lol. Maybe we'll talk more about that when I get home, but all is well. We made it out safe and sound. Some bad news, however... on our way back up the side of the volcano we got hit with a HUGE rain storm. I tried to keep all my belongings as safe as I could by putting my backpack on backwards with everything inside, but after we got up I checked the camera to see if it was okay and it didn't turn on... I feel like crap. I'm so sorry :(((( That camera made life so much easier and I'm sure it wasn't cheap. I really am sorry about that.  I took the battery out and just got a mini screwdriver to take it apart and I'm gonna let it sit in rice for a week and try to get it working again. I'm just hoping I didn't short anything out by turning it on. I'll let you know how it went. Sorry again. Man, the atonement is such a crazy thing to grasp! Impossible, really, if you think about it. But when I reflect on it I kinda have to think about charity. Now, I know that seems simple, but lemme explain. The Father gave His Son to us for OUR benefit, right? AND, Christ did absolutely NOTHING for Himself, only for us and the Father. SO in essence the more we can do for others in helping them, the closer to God we are becoming. It's no wonder that when we exemplify ourselves through service (or charity) we have that good feeling inside us that nothing else can give us. God set the world up that way and the Holy Ghost is going to be cheering us on big time when we are headed in the ultimate correct direction. Now this is just a theory, but it's pretty fail safe, if you know what I mean. I don't know, just a thought. But to answer your questions, no, they don't celebrate Halloween here. Jevon said they look at it as demon worship. As for explanations of the pictures I sent [see below] we took out all those nails from a pile of pallets at a member's house so she can build a chicken coup! The chicken soup picture was a local soup I made for Independence Day (October 27). That is also why people were playing dominoes. The soup contains dasheen (kinda like a potato), ego, coconut dumplings, chicken, and a bunch of seasonings with coconut milk. The locals thought it was pretty cool that we made it, and actually it tasted pretty good! Omari is going to teach us how to make bread pudding next. Haha. So stay tuned! I don't think I ever want to eat food like this back home. Haha. I'm so sick of it. It's chicken and rice with lentils in the rice alllll the time. Haha. The picture of the chickens was taken at Omari's house, which is about 30 minutes from our house, in Vermont. We go there once a week to teach him, but this time we helped him with some of the farm work out there. He took us on a hike and we got to see his chickens and a bunch of land around his house. We found this bar in the middle of the jungle. Haha. It was like in the middle of nowhere and they had a little hammock next to the tables so I took it as a photo op. Haha. Regarding Casley's dad... we went to teach him, but Casley and his dad had just gotten in a big argument right before we got there. I think it's blown over now, so maybe we'll come back and try again today or tomorrow. Other news on Casley: he's getting his papers together to go back to Canada to see his family! Says he wants his daughter and wife to be baptized, so that'll be really cool!  Sorry, kinda scattering answering questions here. I hope Nana gets home safely and is able to just transition okay. She's been in my prayers for the last few weeks. Pretty cool about the Cubs! Weren't they the ones who had that like goat curse or something? Maybe the curse will be lifted??? And why on earth do the Chargers need a new stadium? Who are they sharing Qualcom with? O well. I hope they figure everything out. As far as school goes, Utah State sounds like my best option and if I had a choice right now I would want to go there over all the other schools, BUT, like you said, I don't know how doable that is, what with the needs of ACT scores and such.... Maybe you could find out the details and I could hash some stuff out so I can get right to work on it when I'm out in the free world ;). Haha. I don't think I'll be going to BYU Idaho, but it doesn't hurt to apply as a back-up, just in case. I feel really bad about this stupid camera. I'm gonna try and fix it as best I can. I'm really hoping I can get it to work again. I'm so sorry again about that. Thanks for the help with everything. Thanks for the support. I'm getting down to the last few months here, and I'll be home before ya know it. I will keep working hard and I'll see you soon! Love you guys, thanks! Take care!"

Playing dominoes on Independence Day
Elder Jones with Omri's chickens