Thursday, February 4, 2010
HOW DO YOU LIKE SOUTH AFRICA? --gfh
We were told we wouldn’t have to speak a foreign language but something should have been said about “Listening in a foreign language” Yes, when people speak to us they speak English even at that there are many, many different languages spoken among the people and the accents are beautiful and difficult to filter out the English. One of my responsibilities is to take the referral phone calls that originate from “pass along cards” that someone, usually a missionary, has given out. I know I’m in trouble as soon as I hear the person on the other end of the line say “Allo”. I’ve heard of missionaries saying that the language they hear is not the language they were taught in the MTC. That is exactly how I feel. This is truly a matter of prayer for me. I figure if the missionaries who have to learn to speak a foreign language pray for help, I certainly fall into that category. For now I have Sister Gunther whom I am replacing. I struggle along for a while with the caller and then quite often I hand it over to her. She is going home in a week and has mastered the art of listening but once she’s gone I’ll be on my own except for divine intervention which I will sorely need.
Another one of my responsibilities is making sure the missionary’s visa is good for the duration of his mission. This is a real problem with almost all of our missionaries from countries other than the USA and South Africa. And about 80% of our missionaries fall in to the category. We have missionaries from the Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar,Congo,Germany, Australia, England,…well, anyway, you get the idea. Some missionaries even come into the mission with only a one month visa and have to have several extensions. This involves many steps: papers, appointments,fingerprints,signatures, etc for every time. So, that is my job. It’s a big responsibility because you know what will happen if one of our missionaries is in the country illegally. Yup.
Let’s see, what else do I do? I make all the travel arrangements for departing missionaries, send letters out to parents, stake presidents, bishops for things like new leadership positions for missionaries, departing, welcoming, etc. I’m pretty much in charge of all of the Presidents travel arrangements and communications, plus keeping all the records for the missionaries up todate . There ten, maybe more, districts/branches directly under the President and I see that all the info is current and communications go pretty much through me. Today I got a phone call from one of the District Presidents to whom I had sent information about the CES broadcast coming on Mar 7 being rebroadcast Mar14. The time was given MDTime and he wanted to know what time it would be here in South Africa. He didn’t want to calculate it and didn’t want his people to have to calculate it and asked me to do it and get it back to him and to be sure it was correct. AND in the future please be sure that that is already taken care of. I told him I’d be glad to. (I guess that's part of my job, too).
There seem to be a bazillion other things in my job description. It will be fun to read this in nine months and see how easy it seems from that perspective. Right now I’m praying for help and doing my best. When DiDi heard I was called to be the Mission President's Secretary, she said "WHO YOU, MOM?!! Yup, that's me.
The driving is coming great! Fun to get adjusted so it isn’t so stressful. We can actually chat now while we drive whereas when we first started out it was all serious and focused. We don’t even need to use our GPS, which we have renamed “GoGO” (which means Grandma in Zulu) all the time…well, we just mostly don’t use it around the mission home and office and close by areas. But still very grateful to have it!! One thing I’ve noticed is that not only does one stay to the left when driving but also when walking down hallways, etc. Well, I guess that makes sense.
We went to the SO Africa MTC today for a security meeting for all the new missionaries. There was talk about “smash & Grab” crimes showing videos of actual incidents. Seeing the thieves working in teams scoping out the cars and then smashing the window with a spark plug in their hand, grabbing the purse, camera or other item almost instantly and being gone. There’s no way to catch them. They hit at stop lights, which are called robots, and during busy traffic. There was talk of being careful about possible kidnapping, theft at ATMs, etc. One of our missionaries said that if he lived in South Africa he would live far away from Johannesburg because of the crime. Now, after having said all that I must tell you that we were told not to write home to our families about the crime or any dangerous incidents that we might find ourselves in. Our families are already praying for us and we mustn’t give them extra things to worry about. So don’t worry!
We are still in the mission home and have five star accommodations! We think we’ll be moving into a flat this weekend but that will only be for about a month until the one the president wants for us is available.