Here is a picture of our new District, since the recent transfers.
Left to right: Elder Whipple (District Leader), Monroe (new), Moux (Zone Leader), Ashcraft, Cox, Jones, Stevens, Sabin (Zone Leader), Terri, Sister Call, and Sister Provstgaard (new).
The Zone Leaders will be traveling to Barbados this week for training, and Jones and Cox will be traveling by ferry to Anguilla to get their passports stamped. As visitors, missionaries can stay on St Martin for six months at a time, but then have to leave and come back. This is quite common around the world. For example, while serving in the Congo, Terri and I were required to leave the country and return– we drove to Zambia, crossed the border, then came back, just to get stamped–proving we had left the country. We do the same here on St Martin. In most cases this come naturally–missionaries travel for transfers, training, Zone Conference, etc., and in the process, get their passports stamped (for example, Terri and I have traveled to Barbados, Martinique, and Guadeloupe during the time we have been on St Martin). However, occasionally a missionary stays in place 6 months and so has to leave the island. This is the case with Elder Jones. So they will take a ferry from St Martin to Anguilla, and back, and in the process leave the country and and return, getting their required stamp in their passport.
Each island in the mission is different. Some islands are getting more and more difficult to enter and leave. We have had cases were missionaries were rejected at the airport–they were refused entrance into the country–and had to return to where they had come from. Others sit in the airport for hours while we work out technical problems with their passports or visas to get them into the country. The Mission Office has their work cut out for them in this mission, as each island is a different country with different rules and customs and laws…that all have to be followed in order to move missionaries around during transfers. But we are all careful to abide by the laws of the countries in which we serve, understanding that we are guests in their country. We always want to be a benefit to the countries we serve, and never a burden.