Water, Mountains, and Boats

Shipwrecked in Antigua: How a Trial Became a Blessing

When my family and I embarked on a journey to visit the Caribbean islands, we thought it would be smooth sailing. Little did we know what awaited us.

My family has adventurous tendencies that kept my childhood interesting. My parents had always wanted to live on a boat, and the timing became right when I was five years old. In a flurry of events, my father was laid off from work because of a large merger of companies, and this seemed like our opportunity. We rented out our house, sold half our belongings, leased the cars, and embarked on a voyage that has greatly influenced my life.

We sailed down to the Caribbean and island hopped. Although that sounds luxurious, the trip was loaded with completing assignments in homeschooling workbooks, fishing for dinner, and experiencing the occasional bout of seasickness. But it was also a treasured experience that brought our little family closer together.

"Our approach to trials [can] change frustrations and heartaches to blessings."

Photo by Sorasak

We had permission to hold our own sacrament meetings on Sunday afternoons when there were no churches to be found. I gave talks about the Word of Wisdom, each lasting a grand total of two minutes, as much as can be expected from any five-year-old. These moments were more memorable than any exquisite beach we visited or any snorkeling we could have done.

We had almost reached every island in the Caribbean when we arrived at Antigua. While we were having dinner on shore, we heard a deafening crash outside. A giant ferry had crashed into our boat! As our beloved home started to sink, so did our hearts. Because of the boat accident, we were literally shipwrecked on Antigua and couldn’t leave for over three months. The idea of reaching every island in the Caribbean was ruined.   

As the repairs on the boat dragged on, we debated flying home and not completing our journey throughout the Caribbean. Thank goodness we stayed, because during those three months we had valuable experiences we couldn’t have expected.

We regularly attended a tiny LDS branch, where we received church callings at the door. We embraced a culture, developed new friendships, and ate foreign food that we would have skipped if we had continued our journey. We learned and we grew—as a family and as individuals.

Following our shipwreck, we gave up the title of “passersby” and adopted a new title: “temporary residents.” We accepted the plans that our Heavenly Father had freshly drafted just for us, and we humbled ourselves to make the most out of the situation.

—Gillian Walch, Mormon Insights, contributor

feature image by daniel jalmarsson

Find more insights

To learn more about how trials can be blessings, read “Adversity and Prayer,” by H. Burke Peterson.

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