Saturday, June 16, 2012

Elder and Sister Olson with President and Sister Von Stetten

We have already been here in Durban 7 weeks and things are going great. We have been learning so many things that need to be done here in the office. Here are some things that we do while serving here. I have been doing double duty here for several weeks, doing all the recording of baptisms and conformations, managing the medical needs for the missionaries and filing the claims for the Elders insurance. Overseeing all the missionary flats (apartments) and making sure that the Elders have the necessary items in their flats so they can function. Taking care of the leases, oh man what a JOB!! This sure does entail a lot of phone calling and organization. Definitely one thing I am not too good at but I am sure I will learn to be a little more patient and organized in this area.  I thought it was hard enough to keep up on just my place let alone 75 other places. But oh well I just have to remember who I am working for and whose help I am receiving. I plan the couple’s conferences and help with the Elders Zone and District conferences, providing them with snacks and lunches. Help with the new incoming Elders in orientation meetings and then help get them to their first new area. This job is called the recorders responsibilities. I am doing this for a few more weeks and then a new senior couple will arrive and I will train them to do this job. I am also training for the general secretary’s position, so when I get the new couple trained for the recorders position I will then take over as the general secretary for the mission. AWE!! This has been a little challenging to say the least, but it is all good and I am learning a lot but most of all I am learning to be patient with myself. I am also teaching Rory patience (as if I haven’t already taught him enough over the past 35 yearsJ). He has had to put me back together way to many times, and I am so glad that we DO NOT change companions every 6 weeks because I am so sure that he would jump all over that idea in a heartbeat J. He is so amazing and I am so glad that he is my companion. I won’t speak for him on that topic. He would probably say something different. But I love him to death he is the BEST!

The general secretary’s position is very demanding and at times quite overwhelming to say the least. I know I am going to need the Lord’s help a lot to make my job function like it is designed to function for sure. It still just impresses me every day how much it takes to run a mission and the time that goes into planning everything and what leaders do to take care of 155 missionaries and move the church forward at lightning speed. But that is exactly what missions do they move forward with lightning speed. Africa is so ready for the gospel and they are so prepared for the truth. They have amazing testimonies here and it makes me so grateful that we are able to serve here among some of the greatest people on the earth.

Rory takes care of all the cars in the field, making arrangements to have the repairs done and here on the coast he gives the new drivers, (Elders) the driving TEST! After his first training run with a new Elder driver he came back to the office and said, “I wish I had a driver’s education car that had a break and controls on the passenger’s side like they do there in the States.” He said it was a little stressful and he was glad to be back in control of the car. The Elders are not allowed to drive without having a driving course with a senior missionary.  The Elders have to be cleared to be able to drive according to the mission rules for this area. J He is also a head of all the phones and keeping the Elders stocked up on minutes. Here in South Africa you pay ahead for all your minutes. The Elders have a certain allotment of minutes given to them each month. When they have used up their allotment they have to call him and he OK’s for them to have more time, and he will load more minutes on their phones for them.  This happens quite often. He really likes what he does, he gets to associate with the Elders quite a bit of the time, and that is the fun part. He is also quite involved in the flats as well. The flats really take a lot of time and it is difficult for one person to do that task alone.

  We are keeping very busy and everyday it still just amazes us how much work and time is put into running a mission.  We love being on this side of the fence and being a part of the greatest work that will ever be done on earth. The Lords work is the greatest and we have been so blessed to have given the opportunity to come and serve here in South Africa. We love the people here they are the most amazing people ever. Our testimonies have truly been strengthened in the short time we have been here serving. We wish every one of you could see what we see and experience what we have experienced.  We are so blessed to have the gospel in our lives and to know how much our Heavenly Father loves us. To KNOW where we came from and to KNOW of a grand and glorious eternity that we all have the potential of having in the life to come.  We need to share that knowledge with everyone that does not have that knowledge. The gospel will change not only individual’s lives and families, but it will change countries.  South Africa is so ready for the gospel and there is just not enough priesthood authority here to keep up with the growth. It is so sad to see how desperately they want the truth and the sacrifices they make to come to church. Their circumstances are very humble and for them to come to church on Sundays they either walk, take a taxi, sometimes two separate taxis to get to the church. They do not have the money to pay for the taxi’s and therefore they just don’t make it most of the time. The members can live quite a distance from the church or from the meeting place and it is just too difficult for them to get there.  In order to get more buildings for them they have to have high activation. To get the activation up they need buildings that are closer to their townships. This is a real problem and the only way to solve it is to overload the places that they are meeting in and then it can be divided into two branches. Then the church will build another building closer to more of the members. But it is way too hard to make it to the meetings due to the transportation issues. Nonetheless they are so amazing and strong. Someday in the future they will have numerous buildings and they will all be able to go to church every Sunday without troubles. 
A beautiful foggy day in Africa

"We may be relatively small in number, but as members of this Church we can reach across these widening gaps. We know the power of Christ-centered service that brings together God's children regardless of thier spiritual or their economic statue."
                                           Elder M Russell Ballard, May 2012 Ensign

St. Mathew 24:14
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

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