Last week, we experienced our first transfer. We were at the office early for the new missionaries coming from MTC, which adjoins the mission office. There were ten new missionaries, nine from various parts of Africa and one from the USA. After greeting them, we went to the adjoining stake center for the first of many meetings of the day. It was a quick orientation to the mission – each of the senior missionaries took a little time to acquaint them with various aspects of the mission and President and Sister Poulsen gave them a spiritual pep-talk. The Spirit was strong and I was touched by the eagerness of these young men to begin working.
We call them young elders but even so some of these elders are not so young. It seems that many of the missionaries coming from Africa are already in their mid twenties. One Elder when introducing himself at transfer meeting told that he had been teaching physics four years in his country before deciding to serve a mission. One elder from Cape Town is a chartered accountant, equivalent to a CPA in the United States. I’m sure they all have similar stories. I’m finding as I am writing letters to parents/contact persons that many of their parents are both deceased or many parents are not members of the church. It is not uncommon for the contact person to be the Branch President or Bishop or a grandmother. (gfh)
As the day progressed, we had lunch with the new missionaries and their trainers and then on to the transfer meeting. This meeting is quite large, all who are affected by transfers as well as the new missionaries and departing missionaries were there, probably about 120 in all. Each of the new missionaries (including the Henrichsens) were able to give a short intro of themselves and a testimony. President Poulsen then assigned each of them to their trainer and companion. Then the departing missionaries were given a chance to speak .
The departing missionaries included some who were not going home, but were being transferred to the Durban Mission. It seems that our mission had grown to the point that we had twice the number of missionaries as did Durban. The decision was made to take two of our zones and make them part of the other mission. So now we only operate in two countries instead of three. It was a bittersweet experience for all – realizing that we have been succeeding in our work but saying goodbye to 26 elders and 2 missionary couples.
I was impressed throughout the day with the power of the Spirit as we met with the missionaries. The Lord is indeed in charge of the work here. He has chosen a great man, President Poulsen, to be his leader here in this part of South Africa and Botswana. I am continually amazed at his ability to listen to those around him, make decisions, and go forward in a quiet confident way to do the Lord’s work. I am also amazed at his stamina. His schedule is amazingly full and I doubt that he ever gets a full night’s sleep, yet he goes on not showing the least sign of strain or fatigue.
The capper of the day was when the missionaries stood and sang the mission song. The power of scores of young men was evident as they raised their voices in joy and humility. My body is no longer young, but my spirit soared with youthful fervor as we listened to them.
It is good for us to be here!!!