Sunday, December 29, 2013
Attended services in the Wellington 2 Branch, and then traveled home by way of the mission office where I input more CDE's; this assignment never lets up as this mission continues to reap a very large harvest of converts. When we left the office I still had another 60+ to enter before the end of the cut-off date of January 10th; this is not even counting the CDE's that should be turned in tomorrow from the missionaries coming from Bo/Kenema for the Mission Leadership Council meeting.
Scott and I have been reading old Ensign issues of conference reports. I read the 70's, am now on the 80's and he has been reading the 90's. Last night we read one from the 90's and as I was looking ahead in that same conference, I found a talk by Vaughn J. Featherstone entitled, “Prisoner of Love” April, 1992 Ensign. 21 years ago, and the plea for senior couples to serve missions. I actually read the same plea from a conference talk in the 70's. Elder Featherstone's remarks really struck a chord with Scott and me as we read it. Just to quote:
“We are prisoners of love. Come, my beloved brethren (sisters). Let our generation do something great and noble, come join our ranks. Let us march by the thousands out into the vineyards to nurture, teach and bless the tender branches (so true in a mission consisting of more branches than wards). Let us protect and bless the fruit of the harvest. Let us gather the sheaves into the garners, away from the storm, safe from the whirlwind, a holy place where the storm cannot penetrate.”
“There has never been a greater need than now (21 years ago) for an army of mature couples to go out into every far corner of this earth and retain the fruit of the harvest.”
“There is a holy hand behind the divine purposes of God. We can be His 'instruments.”
“........As we come to the latter years of life, we come to a mature spiritual understanding. We have these next years to do something great, important and significant for God, our religion, our wives (husbands) and children. We ought to raise a new title, not a title of liberty, but of love – a banner that will remain long after we are gone.”
“Who knows, but what God will grant for us and ours what we do for others? Come, lift your banner high and march with us into the mission field in the spirit of love and caring.”
I needed this talk to rekindle the flame of commitment, service and consecration. I pray God will grant for Scott and me and ours what we do for others here in Sierra Leone!
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
New Year's Eve – our first and only 31st of December we will spend in Sierra Leone. We went out to dinner with the Burns and Ostlers; we came home through terrible traffic when we attempted to take a short cut by driving down the wrong side of the road with oncoming traffic, a very angry policeman diverted us into a parking lot. While another motorist in the same predicament was out of his car arguing with the officer, Scott backed up and out of the parking lot and we proceeded to where we came from, taking a much longer route home. I promptly laid on the couch, began reading, fell asleep and came to about 11:45 am. I don't even think I wished Scott a happy new year, and went to bed. Exciting times!
Last Mission Leadership Council was held today for the year, bringing in all zone leaders, sister trainers, and assistants from the entire mission. I believe it will be the last of its kind; the continued growth of the missionary force will warrant a council to be held in Bo/Kenema due to the logistics required to transport missionaries to Freetown.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Can't say that this past year has been uneventful with 8 of its months living in Sierra Leone as missionaries. Today was very eventful, fun, joyful, and emotional.
Richard Carlos and his family invited us to their home for a day of celebration, but on our way, we stopped in Grafton to deliver beds to the elders' apartment and transfer their water system from a hand pump to a switch with an adapter attached to the faucet; the Burns' were with us and needed to stop at the polio camp in Grafton because the Waterloo Zone was providing service by painting one of the buildings in the camp. I am so proud of our missionaries; I feel so blessed to serve with them. Our Grafton elders were there as well, so Scott and Elder Burns left us to “oversee” the painting while they attended to the bedding and water issues in the apartment.
I experience so many emotions when I visit one of these camps; first, such admiration for these people, dealing with their afflictions and how they survive and exist. I looked for the two little boys I met when first out on our mission and within the first week but could not find them anywhere. I then witnessed a scene that was heart wrenching – Rose, who seems to be the matriarch of the camp was holding a little boy in her arms, not much older than 6 months. She named him John. I asked Sister Burns if he was her son and she informed me he was delivered to the camp by someone who found him abandoned along the side of the road by a bridge......words can't describe what I felt for this little guy with Rose confined to a wheelchair doing her best to care for him because it was obvious he was sick. I asked Scott and Elder Burns to give him a blessing; there are no “homes” to enter where it ccould be more private, so while the missionaries were painting, women cooking, and kids all around, the little guy was annointed with oil and given a blessing. What more could we do, and what is the future for this little one?
We left the camp and traveled about 20 minutes to Waterloo and the Carlos family compound; very humble circumstances, but Richard is so hospitable and kind. Chairs were set all around outside his home and invited guests included neighbors, members of the branch, dignitaries from the community, the Burns and us. He had us all stand up and introduce ourselves; of course there was very loud music and of course there was dancing as well as a short program. It was just a wonderful place to be on New Year's day. Scott and I have danced so much in the last 8 months I won't be able to keep him away from Church dances when we get home. Apparently, my bunny hop is known throughout the East, because unbeknownst to me, Richard gets up and announces the last shared talent of the day – you guessed it. Some of the young women who attended the activity in Lungi earlier in the month prompted the announcement and joined with me once again. When finished, Richard thanked me for dancing the “body hop,” and it took a few moments to get through to him over the blaring of the music that it was the bunny hop. But, body hop isn't such a bad idea the way I look and all my motion.
While sitting around and talking, I saw some commotion with a little boy with his head under a bush and I see that he is pulling a rope that has a chicken attached. I am thinking he tied up the future meal for someone, but I am going to rescue it; I proceed over, get on my hands and knees and stick my head in the bush to find 2 chickens tied to the bush with the rope around one of their legs. So while the boy is pulling on the rope, I am telling him to stop and I am trying to untie the chickens! I was amazed at how they didn't peck me as I tried to free them but to no avail so I called over Sister Burns to help me...that didn't work and I gave up quite upset about the chickens. Scott is wondering what is wrong with me but I can't speak. In the meantime, Sister Burns comes back and we find out the chickens belong to the Carlos family, and if they don't tie them up, they will be stolen. There I am a guest at their home trying to free the little the feathered creatures!
The day ended on a very happy and joyful note.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
It is with deep sadness I record the news I received this morning on my walk with Rachelle. Elder and Sister Lauritzen, the office couple, were informed today that their 39 year old daughter passed away suddenly in her sleep. They were scheduled to go home the first week of April, but due to this event, they will be leaving next Tuesday after serving for 19 months. Wonderful, faithful, dedicated people; you don't expect something like this to happen while serving as a senior couple on a mission – “we should be exempt from such things by the mere fact we are on a mission, right?” Of course not, but it is still very difficult - though the Lauritzen's are taking it all in stride, as they wrap up 10 months in the mission office in 4 days as well as train 2 office elders to take over their responsibilities until such time as another senior couple come to Sierra Leone. This is not the way a senior couple wants to end their mission. Additionally, two weeks ago, Elder Lauritzen's brother lost his daughter suddenly to death.
Love to all!