Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dear Future West Indies Sister Missionaries:

Note: parts of this were originally included here, but I didn't want that entry to become too long. Ergo, here you go.

I've written, re-wrote, and re-conceptualized this entry several times, attempting to find the best presentation for this information.  With each rewrite, the contents have grown more convoluted, with little, incomprehensible fragments sticking out of the seams.  What has brought on my inability to formulate coherent writing?

It's a combination of two things:
1) I wasn't quite sure what I want to come out of this and
2) I found out that I'm basically the first resource.

Let's follow the un-traditional route and begin with #2.  A few weeks after receiving my call, I began to do some research about the mission.  I found information from many different sources - mutual friends, websites, current mission blogs, facebook groups, and past blogs.  This information has been invaluable for my preparation.  However, I couldn't find the crucial thing I hoped for - a returned sister missionary who could give me advice.  It began to get a little strange - it was like sisters in the mission didn't exist.  After some semi-extensive digging, I found out why I couldn't find anyone.  Sisters have only been in my mission since 2009, and the first set went home to Guyana a few months ago.  The sisters currently there are from Guyana, Trinidad, and Haiti.

So, unless someone else has started a mission blog for sister missionaries in the West Indies, this is the first.  And this leads us back to #1 - one could argue that these pre-mission posts are just for me and the friends who happen to read them.  However, that's not entirely true - someday, perhaps in the very near future, a sister with a call to the West Indies may be looking for information, and she might come across this blog.  Knowing this has definitely impacted why I've spent so much time on this entry.  I want to compile everything I've found thus far so that future sisters don't have to lurk 'round the internet like I did.  I cut out most of the explanation I had for my friends who aren't Mormon.  So, future-you, if you're reading this entry because you have a call to the West Indies, I hope I've presented the following information adequately and it answers some of your questions.  I've just decided to list and/or talk about things in no particular order.

1) Here is my mission's location:

Or, in words ('cause that map is TINY): St. Martin, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.  Barbados chilled out with one of the Puerto Rican missions for a bit, but returned to the West Indies in 2009.

2) Every mission in the Church has an LDS Church News page (somehow, I did not know this), which gives the history of the Church in that country/mission.  From reading the six country pages, here's what I figured out: the West Indies is quite religiously diverse!  I could have the opportunity to teach in predominantly Methodist, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Christian, Hindu, or Muslim regions (depending upon where I serve).

3) Missionaries can be called to serve English, French, or Dutch speaking missions.  However, there are 31 languages (supposedly) spoken throughout the mission.

4) Some mission blogs I've found:

There are more out there, but these are the most recently updated.

5) There is a facebook group for the West Indies Mission where people go to reconnect or post their calls.

6) Here is a conglomerate of random advice I've received:
-Beds have mosquito netting and fans.
-Purchase microfiber towels if possible.
-Mail can take anywhere from two weeks to a month.
-Journals by Covenant Communications have hidden spirals, saving their binding from being ruined by the humidity.
-The wiring is the same as in the United States, so it's fine to bring a camera with a rechargeable battery.
-Every missionary apartment supposedly has a washer, but not a dryer.

Sometimes, I like to pull up my mission on google maps and just look at it :)  

I've got about six weeks until I enter the MTC.  Where did all the time go?!  With the Lord's help, I know I'll make it there in one piece.