Thursday, October 31, 2013

West Indies September Newsletter

The full time missionaries were transferred out of Linden about a year ago during a period of political agitation and unrest.  Even without missionaries, the little branch of Linden has been steadily growing, attended by faithful members such as Troy Narine and his sister Mukeesh. These young children and other siblings and cousins, 
whose parents are not members, attend church each Sunday morning by crossing the river in a canoe, and then walking the remaining few kilometers to the rented church building.

Last month, President and Sister Mehr attended the church
service in Linden on September 22, and invited the members to fast the following week for people with whom they could share the gospel. President Mehr promised he would send missionaries the following Sunday to teach them if they would invite their friends to hear the gospel.  The next Sunday, the members brought 9 investigators to church, and Elder Richardson (who came down from the Diamond area) taught each of them that afternoon, with temporary missionary Brother Troy Narine as a companion, and set two baptismal dates for the 20th of October! Brother Narine also organized all the young men and took Elder Richardson with them to meet the less-actives in the branch. In addition, Brother Narine set up a service project for his non-member
parents on Friday, and Elder Richardson will come back for the service project and teach them with their son.

Miracles from the Fast

President Mehr was interviewing a branch president in Suriname. This faithful branch president immediately began
talking about the Law of the Fast. He had never fasted before. He told how the missionaries had come over and taught his family the Law of the Fast and invited them to fast with them. He had been struggling with a bit of contention in his family regarding how much time he was spending in his church calling. He said he felt such a powerful spirit come over him that he had never felt before, so he asked his counselors and his family to begin fasting with him. The fast brought to his home a great peace, and eliminated the contention with his wife. She is becoming more active in the branch. President Mehr asked him, ‘Will you be fasting again?’ He replied, ‘I will fast every month as the Church teaches until I am dead.’  

Georgetown St. Vincent
This group (connected to the Calliaqua Branch) has experienced tremendous growth over the past few months. It started with 5 active members, and had grown to an average attendance of 12 before the first fast. The week after the fast, the group had 41 attendees. For the month of September following the fast, an average of 28 people   attended Sacrament Meeting.

Also, a long time investigator Karen, while fasting for an answer as to whether or not she should be baptized into the
Church of Jesus Christ, received a confirming witness during testimony meeting, and was baptized along with her
daughter the week of General Conference. Another miracle occurred with the other set of elders there, who, during the
second fast, had an investigator stand and bear testimony, announcing that he would be moving up his baptismal date to the 12th of October after the Spirit testified of the truthfulness of the gospel during fast and testimony meeting.

Georgetown Area, Guyana
A week before the mission fast, these missionaries had a preparation fast to help them feel the spirit in more abundance. It was of great help, and they and the members had a wonderful fasting experience. The members who were invited to fast with the missionaries told them of their fasting experiences and how it helped them to grow in their testimonies. As a result, this area has experienced 6 baptisms in the last two weeks, and the attendance of the Branch has hit a high of 160 people at Sacrament meeting.

In two other areas in the Georgetown Area, Diamond and Demerara, have seen mighty miracles. Diamond saw their
attendance start to grow steadily, and were baptizing regularly as a result of real growth. Demerara was able to have a part member family refer them to their family members and those family members progressed and were baptized. The two Elders there have taught nothing but Member Referrals over the past 6 weeks, with referrals continually coming.

In the first fast, Elder Hatch went to 3 members (one less active, one recent convert, and one active family), and
asked them to fast to find a family to teach. He set up a time to come back in 3 weeks to teach families and all kept their
appointments and found families to teach. Two of the families are solid investigators and sincerely interested.

Tobago will be baptizing 3 out of 4 weeks. Over 40 people come to church on a consistent basis. A man walked into
Sacrament Meeting that Elder Linton described looking like a drunk man. He stood up in priesthood and said he wanted
to be baptized. Pres. Linton introduced him to the missionaries. Since that time, he has not had a drink. He will be baptized Oct 12th.

The elders were introduced to a part-member family by a member. The father was not receptive and would not join them. The missionaries fasted with the mother to help soften the father's heart. The next lesson, out of nowhere, he came out and sat with them! He willingly asked questions and paid full attention. They invited him to attend church services the next week and he gladly accepted the invitation. He came to both days of General Conference, and his family members are set for baptism this Saturday.

As a result of the fast, elders in Port of Spain have helped one couple get married to prepare for baptism, and
another couple to commit to marriage in order to be baptized. The sisters in Curepe worked with a less active couple who were living together but not married. They fasted to understand whether they should move out or get married in order to keep all commandments. They got married three months earlier than planned.

I'm so grateful for the law of fast. Because of the fast, we found a new investigator who had a powerful experience
with the Spirit; another investigator decided to attend church and has come three times in a row, and a less active 
member is making progress on giving up smoking, and comes out to teach regularly with us. I like this law and I
know that it can help members and missionaries to find people to teach them.

Oistins, Barbados 
After our first fast, Branch President Alleyne gave us a referral to teach Roosevelt. We started teaching him and
gave him a baptismal date, but still Roosevelt wasn't sure if baptism was the right thing to do now. After our last fast, our district had a fireside where we had a presentation about the "17 Points of the True Church". Following the fireside, Brother Roosevelt received an answer that baptism is the right thing right now, and he was baptized on Sunday October 6th.

Christ Church, Barbados
We've been teaching Linda, a member referral. She decided to join the fast with a purpose of receiving an answer from the Spirit. That Sunday there was a lesson on tithing, which particularly touched Linda. She asked us, “When can I be baptized so that I can pay my tithing?" Linda will be baptized on October 28th.

San Fernando, Trinidad 
Sabrina is the daughter of less-active Brother Henry. As she was taught, Brother Henry expressed his desire for her to be baptized. After she was baptized, Brother Henry bore his testimony at her baptism. He attended Sacrament Meeting for the first time in 5 years, and was able to partake of the sacrament. The difference in his demeanor was obvious; he was so happy and full of the spirit, and had sincere desire to help strengthen his family. When it came again for the next fast, he was invited to participate. He agreed and fasted for his family to help them come back to the gospel and have them together again in unity. He even paid a generous fast offering.

Abymes, Guadeloupe
One missionary in our zone was especially concerned about member work. He felt he was not doing very well working with members. So he fasted with a few members in the branch for an increase in MRTs and also in member participation. To his great surprise, the second he ended his fast, members began coming to him to ask him when he and his companion could come by and visit them. He was astonished and immediately knew that the Lord has blessed him with willing members because he decided to sacrifice a bit for them by fasting.

Abymes, Guadeloupe 
After fasting with Sr. Luissaint, we decided to hold a council with her about the missionary goals she had set with us. We knew that God was waiting to bless us because of the fast, and we were determined to find out what it was that God had for us to do. After much discussion, she decided that she would invite all her friends to church to see if they were interested. To our surprise, she was able to bring a different friend to church EVERY week for the whole month. They all became investigators and are almost all progressing towards baptism.

St. Maarten Zone
This fast Sunday we invited members to fast for the Day of Service in November. The service day up until that point
hadn't had much planning. In the week following the fast, we were able to implement a plan for the Day of Service. A member has been assigned to carry out the preparation and organize the members, we have been able to establish relationships with multiple organizations throughout the island including The Red Cross, The Nature Foundation,
and some foster and old folks homes. We were able to get commitments from them to assist in projects now and also
in the future. We were also invited to give a devotional on the 20th Oct. for 40-50 youth at the Red Cross.

Cole Bay, St. Maarten 
Before the fast, we received a referral to teach a member’s sister, but the member wasn't very confident in the idea of
her being taught, so we didn’t start to teach her yet. Then we taught her the law of the fast. She brought her sister
to church and became more active in letting us come and teach her. After a few lessons, her sister was becoming more and more interested. We extended a baptism date for her to work towards. During gospel principles class last Sunday, a member bore powerful testimony of the influence of the priesthood in her life since she was baptized and confirmed. Our investigator then shared how she too had felt a difference in the church and the members, and confirmed her decision to be baptized and become a member.

Port of Spain, Trinidad 
The Montoute’s fifteen-year old son was baptized in August, and since then the rest of the family has been taught
consistently. The obstacle has been that the father of the family doesn’t particularly like the church, so he has been unwilling to give permission to his family members to be baptized. He almost didn't let his fifteen-year old son be baptized, but at the last minute gave his consent. After consistent teaching, the mother, Susan, eventually received permission from her husband to be baptized in December. The missionaries felt impressed, however, to invite her to be baptized in October instead. She said she would pray about it, and ask her husband. Immediately after she asked, he said he would be alright with it. However, Susan decided she wanted to be baptized even sooner, and she received permission from her husband. She was baptized on September 28th. They are now teaching her son Mosiah, who should be baptized next week

The sisters taught a woman about the law of the fast. While teaching her, she said, 'Well, no one really does that these days.' The sisters taught her that actually, people DO do that. They shared many fasting experiences from around the mission. This woman was quite touched and said, 'Wow you've inspired me to fast.'

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