I woke up this morning to find for once the weather guessers got it right – 4-5 inches of snow had fallen over night. This is only the second snow storm we have been in since we got home. The other one was while we were traveling in Wyoming on the way home from Jim.
The other exciting thing that happened this morning was that we got an e-mail from President Mann and a couple of booklets about the mission.
For future references our mailing address will be: P.O. Box 1741, Wandsbeck 3631, South Africa. That is for all letters and packages
The mission address for express shipping is: 8 Windsor Ave., Westville 3630, South Africa
He include some advice about what to expect when first arriving and what we need to bring with us. One of the interesting suggestions is that we bring an extra change of clothes in our carry on because luggage is often delayed a day or two. One of the encouraging comments in the letter was the suggestion to get to know Africa. Which suggests that we will have some time to explore the country while we serve.
He also mentioned that Elder Bednar was recently in Durban and stated that it was not a sacrifice for seniors to serve missions. We of course agree completely with that and have written it often in letters and our journal. We gained much more than we gave while serving in Indonesia. (Also I did not have to shovel snow as I did this morning while there.)
The mission booklet included information of the Mission Objective, what we would be doing and some handy hints. Another booklet was about the culture. It mainly dealt with the Zulu culture and it seems like we will need to learn at least some Zulu. Hopefully it will be easier for us than Indonesian.
In less than 5 weeks we will enter the MTC and in about 6 we should be on our way to South Africa. That is exciting.
14 December 2008 – Sunday
At about 8:00 am this morning we got a call from President Mann telling us that he just got our papers. He asked if we would be willing to have a change in assignments from the office to the field. We told him we would be happy to serve wherever he and the Lord thought we were most needed.
We had a nice discussion about the mission, the weather and the conditions we would find. He said that we would find first world conditions in a third world country. Good health care, good food, and good water. He also said that we did not need to take pills for malaria because they do not have a problem. He mentioned that they have been trying to get that information taken out of the instructions to new missionaries for 10 years without any success. He said that the weather was not as hot and humid in the interior as it is in Durban or elsewhere along the coast. I am hoping we will be is some town like Ladysmith but we will be happy to serve anywhere.
If he is able to get the missionary department to understand that we will not be serving in the office, we should only be in the MTC for a week. Which means we should be in the mission by the 27th or 28th. President Mann said if we get there by then we will be in time for a couples conference. That would be great because we could get to meet all the couples who are serving there. President Mann said that when we get there, he will have 11 couples.
This morning we had a short meeting with President Jackson so I could be released from my HP calling. I mentioned to the President that there were 11 couples in the Durban mission and he said that in the three years he was serving in Brazil, he had no couples.
07 December 2008
We had a great evening talking to the Nielsen brothers about their missions. David Nielsen went to Indonesia and was there for about 4 months at the start of our mission. Chad Nielsen went to the Durban mission and got home in July. Bob and his family joined us for dinner so they could hear about our mission. It was good to have Shane sitting there hearing about how much the young men enjoyed their missions and their desire to go back and visit.
We spent the first part of the evening, before dinner, talking to David about Indonesia and the missionaries and members we knew. He told us about where he served and who he served with. It was great to be reminded of the wonderful people of Indonesia and all the things we experienced there.
After a nice dinner we asked Chad lots of questions about our new mission area and what we will do as office missionaries. He told us that I will probably be in charge of the mission fleet of 46 vehicles and Mary will be doing the billing and taking care of the missionary apartments.
He said that while there are some dangers in South Africa, if we are careful and follow some rules we will be fine. He said we will have a nice apartment and a car to drive. Since I will be in charge of the cars, we should have a nice one. As he spoke I hoped that we would have time to work with inactives – I feel that is one of the reasons we are going there.
Because of our calling we will be traveling all over the mission so we should be able to see a lot of the country.
We are both excited about having this opportunity to serve in South Africa. What a blessing it is to be able to serve a mission and help God’s kingdom grow.
05 December 2008
As far as I can remember today was only the second time in my life that I have been fingerprinted. The first time was when we got our identification papers in Indonesia. Being fingerprinted is one of those things I do not believe most law biding citizens ever think about – at least not about their own being taken.
As an aside, I just thought about all the times on TV the villians are caught because they leave behind a ‘partial print’ which is enough to identify them. I guess now that my prints are in the system they will be able to match mine if they ever need to.
Provo provides fingerprint service four nights a week and it costs $10 for two sets. During the day we found that Orem does not charge their residents anything for the service but non-residents have to pay $30. There are also places where you can get it done free – such as going to the county jail down in Spanish Fork.
The other thing we got done today was to have our medical forms signed by the doctor. Now all we need to do is send our fingerprints, application and $18 each to West Virginia and hopefully get back a clean FBI report. It should be interesting to read what the FBI actually says about us.
It is hard to believe in just about 5 weeks we will go into the MTC! I am sure the time will rush by.
04 December 2008 –
The mail brought us a letter from the travel department with visa information. Everything seemed about the same as what we needed for Indonesia until we got to the part that said we need to submit a FBI report. This includes having our fingerprints taken at our local police department and sending them off to Virginia where I guess they will check that we are not members of any terrorist groups or things like that. It will be interesting to read what the FBI has to say about us.
One thing that you get when you go on a mission – especially a foreign mission – is a lot of shots. So we decided to go the the public health service and make sure that we had everything we needed for South Africa. It turned out that what you need for South Africa is what you need for Indonesia so we were current and only needed our flu shots. The mission information did mention that we would start on anti-malaria pills a couple of weeks before we go but they will give those to us at the MTC.
We checked about any language training and the MTC said that the only language that was taught to any missionaries going to Africa is French. We do not think that we will be going anywhere where French is needed so we do not have the stress of trying to learn a language while we get ready.
The Lord has already blessed us by giving us access to some folks who have or are serving in South Africa. We should be able to get most of our questions answered so we will be prepared to serve as soon as we get there. We are looking forward to information from President Mann about what we will be doing, living, etc.
The bishopric announced our call in the meetings so we got a lot of congratulations.
One of the returned Indonesian missionaries who got our e-mail about our call, wrote to say that his brother just got back from a mission to Durban and served for 8 months in the mission office. I wrote back and asked him to either give us his brother’s phone number or have him contact us. We should be able to get a lot of good information from him.
It really feels good to know where and when we are going so we can make plans. I have started a list of things we need to do before we go. I am afraid it will get longer before it gets shorter.