November 10, 2014
That's right! I'm back in Martinique. Here's picture proof of me in front of Burger King at the airport.
Now, why am I here? Because I'm going to Trinidad for a Zone Leader conference about how the Church in the West Indies can achieve "Real Growth" on Tuesday and Wednesday. And because Elder Belnap and I live clear down in French Guiana, we have to take a bunch of flights to get there and back. But it's okay, because we get to fly Air France, which is pretty sweet. So we're in Martinique for the night. And then Trinidad on Tuesday and Wednesday night. And then Guadeloupe on Thursday night. And then we'll finally get back home to French Guiana on Friday night. It's a ridiculous amount of flights we have to take for a distance that isn't very far. But I'm not complaining.
Because I haven't done very good at explaining what's going on in French Guiana, I'm just going to answer some general questions.
1. The French Guiana Zone is 9 missionaries. 3 sisters, and 6 elders. We are the only Zone in the country.
2. The Cayenne branch is the only active branch of the LDS church in French Guiana. All of us missionaries are a part of this branch. There formerly were two other branches in the country, in different cities. But the other two branches died out for reasons that are unknown to me.
3. The other missionaries and areas. There are 4 areas, and they are all located in Cayenne, within 10 minutes drive of each other on the same main road of the city. So we are all very close.
Elder Lever and Savage are on bikes in Montjoly.
The 3 sisters are in a truck in the area of Matoury.
Elder Smith and Sackley are in the main dowtown area of Cayenne.
And Elder Belnap and I live and work in an area called Remire.
4. What does it look like here? I'll have to take some pictures and videos for you all... It's much different than Fort-de-France is on Martinique. There aren't houses stacked on houses and tiny little roads. The city is much more spread out and flat. The people don't live on the hills, but they just live in pockets of areas. It's hard to explain. I guess you would just have to experience it to understand what it's like. Maybe you could look it up on Google Street View.
5. What are the people like here? There are a lot more French white people, a lot more Chinese people, a TON of Brazilians, and a fair amount of Peruvians and Haitians. It's much more diverse. Lots of different cultures makes it a lot of fun! The people are much more calm and settled-down. They don't close themselves in their houses after 6:30 PM. I think the island life was just something different from anything else. It's more crowded and seems to make everything a little bit more intense. On the other hand, people in French Guiana are quite open to new ideas and change. Also, a lot more of them have methods of transportation.
RENATO, KIMBERLY, and JOHLBERT
Renato and his 9 y.o. daughter and 11ish y.o. son are doing great! They came to sacrament meeting and loved it! Kimberly translates us for us most of the time so that we can communicate with Renato. They went to the wrong church at first, but then they figured it out with the help of little Kimberly. She's so smart and so cute! It sounds like things are going much better for Renato now with work, so he'll probably be able to come to church more often. We have a recent convert named Jose that lives close by that we've started to integrate into our teaching and he loves it! Things are definitely moving in the right direction. The elders back in French Guiana are going to see them this week while we're "on vacation."
YOUTH IN THE BRANCH
The branch is doing great!! There were two more baptisms this last weekend for a 14 y.o. boy named Loïc (Elder Lever and Elder Savage) and a man in his 20s named Smith (Elder Sackley and Elder Smith.)
The branch is very young and lively. We have soccer activities every Wednesday and volleyball on Friday. Jefferson is integrating well with the other youth. The branch just started up an early-morning seminary program which is going GREAT! We are on our way to achieving great things in the branch!
Meïlynda (new spelling) didn't come to church sadly. She was at her mom's house over the weekend, so we couldn't get hold of her. We have to bring her back in!
Romario is moving slowly. He's an average 18 y.o. kid. We hit some road blocks as we have found that he doesn't really like the feeling of "being taught." So we're working around that and just being his friends. We're also using other members that are his age to help us teach him.
That's about it! I love you all! I gotta go!
Holding a cool lizard in our sweet kidnapper van. The lizards are bigger in French Guiana!
Eating water apples or love apples with Elder Belnap. They're super good. And there's a tree behind the church!