From Brent Leishman: My parents, three brothers, and I lived on St. John for two years (1975 - 1977) and attended church with Earl and Celia Keele on St. Thomas. My dad (Wes Leishman) was assigned to the U.S. National Park Service park on St. John and my brothers and I went to school with the local island children at Julius Sprauve Elementary on St. John.
I shall never forget each Sunday taking the fifteen minute car ride to the Caneel Bay Plantation dock and taking the thirty minute ride to Red Hook dock on St. Thomas. Brother Keele would pick us up in his soda pop delivery van which had no windows. We would ride in the van with the door somewhat tied open to keep us from overheating and take the one hour ride to the high point on the island where Earl lived with his wife and son. We would spend the day attending church and then have lunch and fellowship until we turned around and made the trip all over again. Church attendance was truly an all day event! We managed to also get together for events other than Sunday church that helped to cement relationships that are bound to make our reunions following our earth experience even sweeter and more priceless
We would sometimes ride with Aubrey Nelthrop [who was mentioned in the LDS-Gems history]. He had such a difficult time with the fact that he could not hold the priesthood as a black man. My dad, a white man, had asked the general authorities in Puerto Rico when the blacks would receive the priesthood. My dad was told at the time to remain faithful to his priesthood and soon the answer would come. Not many months hence the priesthood was a reality to all men in the church!
I can say without a doubt that I owe my membership and faith in the church today to the actions that faithful people like Earl and Celia Keele and my parents (Wesley and Elaine Leishman) took to attend church and remain faithful under such difficult circumstances.
I was told by my father that I (Brent Leishman) was the first young man to be ordained on St. Thomas when I was twelve years old. I have many fond memories today of my time as a boy on St. Thomas and St. John. The church was true then as it is now and I am teaching my children today the same principles that I learned on that island all those years ago. The Lord truly knows each of his children as he does each grain of sand on the seashore. Of course only my parents could know the challenge that such distances was to their faith. With only the memories of a child I remember only fun and good times. I hope that with all challenging experiences the good memories are all that remain in the forefront of the minds of those adults who shaped my future in the church and in society.
In my life I have been able to faithfully serve a mission to the England London Mission, marry in the Atlanta temple, earn a college education and help bring four children into the world. I doubt that all of this would have been possible without the challenges of my youth. I thank the Lord for all those who guided me through those years in the beautiful Virgin Islands.