Monday, May 30, 2011

First Week In Aruba . . .

The plane ride down was good, I was with another missionary, and we flew down to an island called Saint Martin first, but they wouldn't let us off the plane there, so we just had to stay on the plane until it was ready to go again and fly on to the next island. Then we flew to Curacao, and the other missionary was staying there, that is his new area, so I flew to Aruba by myself!!!! It was on a tiny plane too!!! It only held like 12ish passengers!!! I could see the pilot of the plane the whole time, it was an open cockpit!!! I got here about 8 30 pm, and then I had to go through customs (they almost stopped me for bringing in some church folletos - we don't know what this word means yet, maybe pamphlets or books . . .), and I met up with the two other missionaries, Elder Hall, and Elder Lecheminant. Elder Lecheminant is my companion. He was an AP, and I'm going to send him home too, I'm getting good at that. Oh, by the way, this is really random, but you asked me a long time ago if I knew Elder Shattuck and Elder Garity, both good guys, I know them both. So, Elder Hall left on Wednesday morning, and now me and Elder Lecheminant are the only two elders on the whole island of Aruba!!!!! It's so sweet! We went on a bike ride this morning on the coast on the north shore, it was unreal!!!! But, I forgot my camera, so I will have to take pics next week. And I forgot to bring my camera cord with me to email. So now I can't send any pics this week, but next week I will.

Kartel and Kenya and their son got baptized on me and Elder Clase's last Saturday together!!! It was awesome, President Antivilo came too!!! Alex didn't show up, so he didn't get baptized, but that's alright, we were still very blessed! I think I was able to get a picture of that baptism. I'll have to send it next week. Not for sure why La Cienaga got whitewashed, but I'm so grateful for the opportunity to come out here!

We live on a part of the island called Tanki Leender. There are actually two branches of the Church here, one in the north part, and it's a Spanish branch (even though they have their own language in the islands, it's called Papiamento), and they have an English branch down in San Nicolas. It's way cool, from there you can see Venezuela some times. In fact, if Kyle served in the right mission in Venezuela, these islands were part of his mission. It looks like there are two missions in Venezuela, so I'm not sure which one Kyle served in.

We have District meeting with the two elders on Curacao There are only two missionaries there too. We have to have the meeting through a web cam. We may be the only missionaries in the world that get to have district meeting on a web cam! Funny enough, we actually have to leave the country every 90 days, so usually when President comes down he rotates which island he goes to and then we take turns flying into each other’s islands. Like one time we go to Curacao, and then next time the Curacao elders come here to Aruba. That way we leave the island and then we fly back again and we get 90 new days, its sweet!

Just so that you know too, the island Bonaire is also part of this mission, but there is only a senior couple on that island. They're actually from Phoenix!!! So there are only four missionaries (elders) total in the islands, two here, and two in Curacao. It is such a privilege to get the opportunity to serve here!

We do actually have air conditioning and an amazing house! We have so much stuff here! We usually only use the air conditioning at night, but it still rocks! (We heard through Elder McBride that Jeff might actually have air conditioning, and possibly a vehicle to get around in. So we asked him about all of that.)

It really is like Arizona with a beach here, there is cactus and prairie grass here. It is sweet!

Elder Lecheminant is really cool. He is way chill, and he will actually be finishing his mission next transfer, so I will send him home too just like Elder Clase. (I'm getting really good at being the companion of a missionary who is about to go home!). When I got here, there was still the other missionary before me here too, so we had a trio for a day, but he left on Wednesday morning. His name is Elder Hall. Elder Lecheminant only came here one transfer before me, so we're both trying to learn Papiamento, but he knows way more than I do.

This is crazy but we actually have two cars! Haha, go figure. What happened is that there was another set of missionaries on the island in the past, and they got pulled out, so now it's just us and we have their stuff, so there's an extra car. We usually only drive a certain one though, but it's sweet!

There's no Walmart here, but there is Pricemart, and it's like Costco, and there's supermarkets and everything, I'm loving it! So we can get most of what we need here.

If you want to write me a letter, it will probably work better just to ship it directly to here. Here is my address:

Tanki Leendert 277 B #10
Aruba, The Dutch Caribbean

It's still fine to send me a letter the old way, the only thing is that there's a chance I might not get it for six weeks or more, because I'm pretty sure that I will only get those letters when President brings them down with him once each transfer.

Wow, thanks so much Mom, I really appreciate that. (We emailed the mission home to ask about the best way to get packages to Jeff while he is serving in the islands. The Mission President’s wife emailed some info. to us and she included some sweet comments about Jeff so I passed those on to him.) I am so grateful for the unbelievable privilege that I have to serve here on Aruba. That little blond haired kid that heard the Beach Boys Song about Aruba never even dreamed of being a missionary here. I am unbelievably blessed here.

I got to give a talk yesterday in the English Branch down in San Nicolas, and there was a returned missionary there, with his wife, and there was a couple from San Antonio who is going to move here to work at the oil refinery. The company Valero has a refinery here. It is sweet! BTW, before I go, I just wanted to tell you that I saw a picture of Tennery Martineau here from when she came with her dad as the Mission President! (Tennery Martineau is a friend of Jeff’s from High School. She missed her Senior year at Highland because her dad was called as a Mission President and she went with her parents to the mission field. We admire her for doing that!)

I love you so much! I would love to write more, but my time's up, I love you!!!!

Elder DeSpain

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