Great Day in Guyana

“Great Day in Guyana,” New Era, May 2009, 26–30

Great Day in Guyana

It’s a great day in the morning—and all day long—now that seminary starts it off for these teens at the top of South America.

How do you get your day off to a great start? Teenage Latter-day Saints in Georgetown, Guyana, will tell you the answer is easy—go to seminary. Many of them have participated in home-study seminary before, but the Church has grown rapidly in this country at the top of South America, and now there are enough youth and teachers to hold early-morning seminary every weekday before school.

Start with Seminary

Visit the seminary class at the Prashad Nagar meetinghouse, and even though it’s early, the room is full, and the students are listening. Xiann Kippins, 16, enjoys the class a lot, in part because her mother is the teacher.

“In seminary, we fill our hearts and minds with good thoughts,” Xiann explains. “We learn about gospel principles and doctrines, and we see our Church friends every morning, too. My mother and I talk about the things we study together. I have also seen the examples of my older brother and sister, who went to seminary and who are both now on full-time missions.”

Shelly and Telesha Seenaraine agree that starting the day with seminary means starting the day off right. “It helps me to begin on a good note,” says 14-year-old Shelly, “and it prepares me to make correct choices as I deal with whatever the day holds.” Telesha, 15, says seminary is a daily reminder “that the Lord will bless us and keep us safe as long as we are doing what’s right.”

And Simeon Lovell, 14, and Milena Embleton, 15, say that now that they are used to coming to seminary every morning, the day just wouldn’t be complete without it.

For the Strength of Michael

In addition to the strength they find in seminary, youth in Guyana fortify themselves from other sources as well. For example, 16-year-old Michael Ramgobin of the Demerara Branch says that For the Strength of Youth is a great help to him.

“Everyone should have this,” he says, holding up his copy of the pamphlet. “It really helps you make decisions that are right.” He recommends reading it over and over again, “because it seems like every time you do, you find something new to help you.”

The only member of the Church in his family, Michael says family members support his membership because they see such a difference in him since he became a Latter-day Saint. “I feel a lot more confident as I keep learning more and more about the gospel,” Michael says. He particularly enjoys listening to general conference and attending youth conferences. “I feel I have become part of something real.”

What else has strengthened Michael in the year since he joined the Church? “Reading the scriptures. As you read, the Holy Ghost helps you see things you didn’t see before. Then with the faith you have in Jesus Christ, you find your way. That’s why my testimony keeps building every day.”

The youth in the branch help each other, too. “We share our concerns and encourage each other,” Michael says. In fact, he feels similar encouragement from everyone in the branch, and was particularly impressed when some of the missionaries presented him with a white shirt and tie.

“When I walked into church the next Sunday, everyone said, ‘Wow, you look like a real missionary.’ I feel a difference when I’m dressed that way.” A full-time mission sounds exciting, he says. It would be a good way to continue the great day that dawned when he joined the Church.

Mark This Callender

Every day is busy for Clint Callender, another member of the Garden Park Branch. But being busy keeps him happy. The 17-year-old did so well on his exams that he is now teaching information technology at the Tutorial High School. He was recently sustained as district clerk, a calling that matches well with his interest in computers and his plans to study computer science at a university next year. He is also busy with Aaronic Priesthood and Mutual activities, seminary, basketball, friends, and simply living the gospel day by day.

“I’m trying to be a light to my family and to other people,” Clint says. For example, he encourages his family to pray and to hold family home evening. And with friends, he says, “I try to get them to take a look at what they’re doing, to see what is right and what is wrong, to guide them if they want help.” He also talks with friends about the Church’s humanitarian efforts worldwide. “I tell them that in disasters, we provide food and clothing.” And, he says, smiling, “We offer prayers, too.”

Clint says his personal prayers lift his spirit. “It’s wonderful to know that you can kneel down and speak directly to Heavenly Father sincerely, and you will receive an answer, not always right away, but eventually. Prayer helps you to be much closer to Heavenly Father. Just keep the channel open all of the time.”

He looks to the future with hope. “When I’m 19, I see myself serving a full-time mission,” he says. “That’s another way to be an example.” He believes that someday there will be a temple in Guyana.

“Families will go there to be sealed, and I hope my family will be one of them,” Clint says. “A temple in Guyana means many more Guyanese will be Latter-day Saints. The temple brings a feeling of peace and reverence, and I think all of Guyana will be blessed.” What a great day that will be!

Patience in Patentia

In a smaller town on the outskirts of Georgetown, a place called Patentia, 16-year-old Nikita Kubeer pauses for a moment during her school day to count her blessings. It’s something she does regularly, because it makes her feel good.

“I have a lot to be grateful for,” Nikita says, and she lists many of the things you might think of—family, friends, food, shelter, and especially her testimony of the restored gospel. “The gospel means the most to me when I take what I study and use it in my life,” she says. “Living the gospel has taught me that the Lord will bless us if we are patient, keep the commandments, and trust in His promises. I am particularly grateful to the Savior for what He has done for us.”

With a list of blessings to count and an attitude of gratitude, Nikita, like the other Latter-day Saint youth in Guyana, knows that every day can be a great day when you trust in the Lord.

Photographs by the author

In Georgetown (below), the classroom is full and the seminary students are listening. In the nearby town of Patentia, Nikita Kubeer (right) takes a break outside her school’s snack bar and talks about the positive influence of her sisters, including Diane (upper right).

Surrounded by her seminary class (above), Sister Kippins says getting up early to study the gospel is a joy. Michael Ramgobin (below right) rejoices that he is “part of something real,” and Clint Callender (above right) serves as a district clerk.

Learning the gospel together helps Michael Meredith and Selwin Lovell (above) follow in the footsteps of Dellon Murray (right), who says seminary is great preparation for a lifetime of service.