Today we welcome 5 new Elders as we are sending 5 Elders home. The unique aspect of today is that only 3 were in the South Africa MTC Elder Downs, Elder Todd and Elder Swindelhurst
and 2 flew in later in the evening, () We will spotlight the three we got in the morning and then share more later in the post about our new Elders that flew in in the afternoon.
The unique part of this group is that all 5 are from North America and all 5 seem to be the same height and stature. We have 5 tall Elders joining us, in stature and maturity!!
Elders Downs, Swindelhurst and Todd arrived at 7 am, straight from 12 days at the South Africa MTC. We were impressed with their attentiveness and maturity right from the start.
We had a great Q and A with the departing missionaries. It is the most wonderful way for new missionaries to get the lay of the land. The Elders going home are like climbers that are on the top of the summit of a huge mountain. They are able to look back on the terrain they have climbed and realized the joy in the journey. The new Elders are like those that have been preparing for a very long time. Their final prep was the MTC. They have packed their bags, yet they are at the trailhead and looking up at the summit.
The questions asked ranged from how to deal with a companion that is not motivated, what food to avoid, how to take advantage of this 12 week training time. The departing Elders talked about the differences between serving in towns, townships, cities and villages. They shared honest experiences and it is so valuable for new Elders to hear from those that have been down the path. It is one of my favorite parts of the transfer day tradition we have started. They also shared that "Obedience" is the only way you can find true success in the mission. It doesn’t mean you will be perfect missionaries, but it is that you try to do your very best. Many of the Elders agreed that obedience is the greatest secret of success on a mission. Do your best and follow the Savior’s example.
Final question: "What is the best part of serving in Joburg?" Best weather, best areas to serve in, best diversity!! We agree!
Meet our new missionaries and their new companions, trainers, aka "Fathers" on the mission!
Elder Todd, currently from Lehi Utah, but has grown up in Washington State and Colorado. He loves music, participated in the marching bands and jazz bands. He also love’s photography and many hobbies and honors, including the bronze eagle palm Eagle Scout award.
Elder Christie is Elder Todd's new companion and trainer!
Later in the day, we had the privilege of picking up Elder Broadhead and Elder Heaps from the airport. We don't get to meet Elders coming off a flight due to the South Africa MTC. They both had issues with their visas which required them to stay in Utah until everything was resolved. We are glad to get them here.
Elder Broadhead is from St. George Utah. His visa was delayed, so he went to the Provo MTC instead of coming to South Africa. His trainer is Elder Martin from Switzerland. Elder Martin goes home in just 12 weeks, so this is his last assignment on his mission. What a great way to finish, by training a great new missionary to carry on the great work you have been engaged in.
Elder Heaps played soccer in high school. He had a hard time getting his visa and so he spent 2 months serving in Gilbert Arizona before he could get the go ahead to travel to South Africa. We are so happy to get him here.
Elder Flynn is also going home in November, and this opportunity to train Elder Heaps will be his last assignment. What a great way to finish a mission.
Orientation: New Elders have a lot of information to absorb. We tried to make it as interactive as we could and not very long. Below is some of the information we share with new Elders.
Sister Thompson shares the role she plays as the mission secretary. She has all of the pamphlets, publications and supplies for the mission. She is in charge of the passports, visas and travel itineraries. The church has so many great materials to share with others. It is fun to hand out all of the materials to new Elders so they can be aware right from the start of the many amazing resources. Sister Thompson takes orders each week from all the Elders and fills these orders and distributes weekly. It is a good sign that work is happening each week in the mission, to see that we are passing items out and getting these great materials out to investigators.
Sister Hansen takes care of supplies for the apartments and assists in getting what is needed for repairs and maintenance. "The spirit cannot reside with you if you do not have a clean home." Every week missionaries are to clean the stove, wipe the shower, remove the garbage. Preparation day is a day to do your laundry, clean the refrigerator, mop the kitchen and bathroom. Every time before transfers, Elders need to deep clean a flat so as to make it appealing to new Elders. Cleaning showers and bathrooms is just as essential as keeping the kitchen clean. Cleanliness is next to Godliness!!
Elder Hansen shared some realities of living in a flat in South Africa. He talked about losing electricity and different types of light bulbs. Do not take utilities here for granted. Without electricity you will not have hot water, lights, food, etc. Remember there are no such things as central heating or air conditioning here in South Africa. He shared his personal experience of running out of power in his flat. Landlords do not always come and help you out with your loss of power. We want you to be safe and secure. Rely on your companions. They know how to solve problems and fix items.
I (Sister Dunn) shared a variety of articles for motivation and inspiration. lso give them an orientation to physical well being. I give them the 10 commandments of health. As the mission mom, I also am responsible for the health of our missionaries. I like to think of myself as a “wellness coach” more than a nurse or medical adviser. The church has provided each mission with an area medical adviser. Dr. Bruce Barton is here serving as our expert doctor and is invaluable in evaluating and consulting on serious issues. I couldn’t do this job without his help and back-up. Together we are keeping on top of the health of our missionaries. I showed the missionaries all of the medications in their flats and reminded them the importance of knowing what is available and using it when necessary.
Elder Thompson shares about a topic that all men like…money and cars!!! He reminds the missionaries that 6 years after the church members arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young sent missionaries to South Africa. They had to travel overseas and over land in a manner that took up to 6 months to get here. However, once they were here they did a lot of walking. You wil do a lot of walking too. Your car has a limit on miles (kilometers) you can drive. Cameras take pictures and send speeding tickets by mail. If you get two tickets, you have your driving privileges suspended. Elder Thompson gives the new Elders their allotment cards. They get rand put on their allotment cards on the first of the month, They need to budget throughout the month. Nelson Mandela is pictured on every dollar bill. He is like the George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, JF Kennedy, and Barack Obama all wrapped in one. Coins have animals on them. Springbok is ta national symbol in South Africa like the Eagle is to America!…a springbok runs fast and jumps high. The national rugby team is called the Springboks. It is the symbol of South Africa.
Don’t think of a 100 rand note like $10. Here it is a lot of money!! Be conscious of the value of money. By most standards, you are very rich. Don’t take it lightly.
President Dunn has written a personal letter to each missionary. It identifies the trainer that has been selected and also the area they will serve in. He has the privilege of iterviewing each missionary before they leave after transfers. He presides over all of the meetings and gives great counsel and inspiration to all of the new Elders.
A final activity after the transfer meeting to relax for a moment before heading out with companions to new areas. A tradition has been started to have the departing Elders vs. the new Elders in a short volleyball game entitled "Called To Serve!" The departing Elders are reigning champs 2 to 0!