Sunday, March 20, 2016

March 14-18, 2016 - Week after Transfers

March 14, 2016 - This morning we had a surprise Birthday Breakfast for Sister Cook. Sister Vance made her special eggs.  We also had brown sugar muffins, fresh pineapple, and peaches (canned--not fresh), and juice.  We lit a candle in her muffin and sang Happy Birthday to her.
Sister Vance

Sister Cook

Sister Cook receiving our vase of flowers from Sister Nancy Peterson

Sisters Vance, Peterson "A", Peterson "B", and  Cook (the birthday girl)

You would think that after transfers there is nothing to do for a while--but that is not true. Today I got the 12 arrival letters ready for the President's signature, along with their individual picture with President and Sister Thomas. We have been using an old Epson printer that does an amazing job with the 4 x 6 pictures. However, ever since the tech men came to install our new computers, the Epson hasn't worked.  So, I put four pictures on a page, then printed it on card stock. We don't have any full pages of photo paper.

The photo goes in an small photo size envelope along with a letter to the family. Then that is placed in a letter size envelope address to the Bishop or Branch President. There is a note inside asking the Priesthood leader to get the letter to the family. Many of these missionaries are the only member in their family, or some of them have both parents deceased. By sending it to the family of the Elder or Sister, the local Priesthood leader will know of the relative to give it to. It also gives them a reason to be able to visit the family if they are not members.

The family is encouraged to send letters to their missionary through the POUCH. This way there will also be contact because the family will need to get the letter to one of the missionaries in their area, who in turn will get it to the Kinshasa Mission (or the mission in the country where they live) and then the letter will eventually get back here to the missionary.

Addresses are also pretty tricky here in the Congo. There is no regular mail service. Just since we arrived, starting with the January transfer, arrival letters have been sent. It goes through the church POUCH system. So, it may take a while before the actual letter gets to the family.

President Thomas has been stressing to them that they should follow the world-wide missionary rule of only calling home at Christmas and Mother's Day, or with special permission.  He has had the new missionaries actually call their home to let the family know they arrived safely to us from the MTC in Ghana.

At Family Home Evening Sister Vance gave the lesson. President Thomas shared in English what he had said  yesterday during Conference. He was talking about feeling inferior to other people. He told the African Saints that the are not inferior to anyone. They have the Gospel and Temple blessings available to them too.  He is looking to the day that there will be a Temple here in Lubumbashi. It will be so good to have a Temple in Kinshasa. The people will not have to have a passport to go to the Temple. That is a huge expense here. Passports for all in the family. Then the flight to Johannesburg, meals, somewhere to stay, etc. The church has an assistance program to hep purchase their passports. Then they can apply for assistance to attend the Temple one time.

Sister Cook made an amazing lemon layer cake, 4 thin layers, with yummy lemon flavored whipped cream between the layers. Sister Vance was born on September 13 (same as Ron) so we were also celebrating their half-birthday, since Sister Vance will be going home before September.

Tuesday, - I have been given the assignment to look at new missionary applications when they arrive in our office.  Elder Draper spent time training me on what to look for. There is a checklist to see if everything has been submitted: passport copy, birth certificate, police clearance, school certification, institute classes completed, Melchizedek Priesthood ordination, etc. in addition to checking the medical areas to see if all of it has been filled out properly. If something is missing, I email their District President who gets in touch with the missionary to send us the necessary information.

It is set up on an Excel spreadsheet with their names and where they are from, a space where I can note any missing information, the date I emailed asking for it, the reply, the date the file is scanned and sent on to the area presidency in South Africa before it is forwarded on to Salt Lake for the Brethren to make the call.

The actual call is delivered to us through POUCH, then we either have one of our missionaries who is going to that particular area where the prospective missionary lives, take it up, or we send it through a courier service up to Mbuji-Mayi or Mwene Ditu, etc.  During the transfer last week, two mission calls were sent  up with missionaries being transferred to the town where the prospective missionary lives.

A man came to our gate wanting to sell some masks. Joseph, one of our guards brought the masks in for us to see.
Sister Vance trying on a mask

Sister Vance

Sister Peterson

Sister Peterson
Elder Peterson went out to visit the Luano project with President Thomas to see how it is coming along.

Wednesday - Another phase is prospective missionaries need a passport. So a request is sent to the Area for assistance in paying for the passport. Each missionary donates as much money as they can provide, then we put in a request for assistance for the balance. The area overlooked two of our requests in recent weeks, so this week I have been going through our paper files and checking old emails to track down those requests. Elder Draper had been handling this, so I was trying to figure things out.

There was  one missionary whose application for his mission call was sent here last August. Some information was missing and it took until the end of November before it was sent to South Africa. But he was still missing a passport. The only response we got from his Priesthood leader was that he had applied for his passport. As I was looking through the request for assistance for a missionary passport I saw his name among papers showing he had paid his sacrifice money toward a passport. I couldn't find the paper I needed to connect it all. As far as I could seen, several people had not received approval for assistance.  It was very frustrating.

Thursday - Working on some other problems that took all day and still weren't resolved. I brought over our laptop and downloaded the printer driver for the Epson printer that won't print pictures. It took 2 hours to download the driver.  Later in the afternoon I tried printing a couple of passport pictures. IT WORKED!! I took a little bit of time to print a couple of pictures of the cabin to go on a bulletin board here in the office that has all the family pictures on it. While I was finishing that Ron went home and put together a delicious chicken soup with potatoes, carrots, beans, corn, broccoli, and onions.

Friday - March 18 - Love these sunrises on our walks

A gate at one of the properties in our neighborhood

 I finally found the old email and made the connection for the missionary assistance forms. It had been sent with some other missionary information and it was overlooked at the Area offices. I called Sister Walton and she was able to get it approved today and moved on to the next step.

There were several things this week that had been on my to-do list, that had bits and pieces out of my control. This afternoon, with the help of others, I was able to cross them off the list. Finally feel like something was accomplished to the end.

We invited the two Sisters, and Elder and Sister Peterson to come have leftover soup. Sister Vance brought leftover enchilada casserole. Sister Peterson made a salad to go with it. All the leftovers made a great meal for us. We then went to the sisters' house, made popcorn and watched a movie.

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