(I'm still trying to learn how to blog - so this is out of order, sorry!)
So now I'm here! and I'm still excited! but still not quite sure where I fit yet....I've done my first two days at the West Indies Mission Office but not the duties I expected - as it was just announced that the mission is splitting in July 2016 and lots of organization and cleaning up of old files has to be done in preparation. Currently there are 3 official languages spoken in the mission - Dutch, English and French - but I also sorted some missionary tags today that were printed in Creole and Portuguese.
Come July, one part of the mission will become the Barbados Bridgetown Mission and the other, the Trinidad Port of Spain Mission.
I'm finding the local people here a bit guarded (as my local, 20 year old companion described it) and a little reticent; but when I talk to them first, I find they're curious about where our church is and what we're doing. We have taken "travel" so far - which means taxi's and maxi's (mini-vans)- as so far I'm scared to drive on the "wrong" (ie, left or British) side of the road. (Maybe because here the lines on the road are just a suggestion not a "commandment"?) Sister Daviana Atkins, my young companion, is used to "travel" but she's not used to this area, as her home is not in this part of the city; so neither of us realized taxi's were unavailable on Sundays here. We waited at the normal stop for quite a while in the heat on Sunday til I was beginning to worry we'd either be late for church or I'd broil like a lobster, or both. (We'd started out 1.5 hours early and thought we had allowed lots of time; we'd taken "travel" to the TrinCity Mall on Saturday, which is further away, and it went smoothly).
It reminded me of the faithful young adults in Red Deer and how inconvenient the Sunday bus routes/times were for them!
Finally a man in a car honked at us (which means "get in, you can get a ride here") and we walked over to see him. Turns out he was an employee at the gas station right by the little shopping plaza where the mission office is located. He was at work but said he'd drive us to the maxi (mini-van = bigger bus stop/more popular route). While he drove I asked about his family. He said he'd seen the missionaries come and go (at least I think that's what he said - the accent here sounds almost Irish sometimes, and if people speak fast I miss lots). When we got out and I offered to pay him, as is customary even if it's not a formal licensed taxi, he refused; he wanted to help us because we were church workers. I was touched by his gesture of kindness to (rather naive) strangers.
(p.s- they don't understand MY accent here either! so I try to speak slowly....fortunately Sister Atkins is used to American elders/sisters so we can communicate ok. I just love the sweet sound of my name in the local dialect - "Sistah Millah" - it sounds so musical).
I just finished reading the mission newsletter today. There are many baptisms here (some in the ocean!) Many people here are humble and looking for purpose in their lives.