Sunday thoughts

The day to day work I do on my mission is rather mundane and hardly worth writing about. Don’t get me wrong—I understand that it is important work, necessary work, and work that must be done in order for missionary work in the Congo to go forward…but still, on a day to day basis, it is nothing to write home about.
For example, one day might be spent shopping: purchasing various items needed in the office (such as office supplies, equipment parts to keep machines going, etc.); or items needed in various apartments (such as chairs, beds, mattresses, hot plates, etc.); or items needed to fix things (locks, plumbing supplies, electrical supplies, etc.).
Another day might be spent investigating problems people are having. For example, this week Elder Wright, Emanuel, and I traveled to Likasi and Kanonga in a ‘fact finding’ trip. We wanted to find a solution to the water problem in one apartment in Likasi (they had no water on site, and were purchasing water—very expensive); and we wanted to find a place for the missionaries to live and work in Kakonda (we have been looking for a place for months, with no success).
Our trip was very successful: after further investigation we discovered a well the missionaries could use at the apartment in Likasi. Once we put a water tank there for storage, they should have all the water they need. And, we have decided to use an annex attached to the Kakonda Branch to put missionaries in. It needs a little work, but we should get them in place in about a month.
Another day might be spent fixing problems in apartments (leaking or broken plumbing, electrical problems, broken locks, etc.). For example, this week we finished installing 4 water tanks at apartments with water problems; fixed a few locks, took new mattresses to an apartment to replace old ones; fixed a couple of toilets; found a new apartment to rent in a new area, which will open in about a month (we have to find about #10 new apartments in the next 6-12 months), and then began looking for places to buy or have made all the furnishings for the new apartments.
Another day might be spent just moving people around. We often are assigned to pick people up at the airport or bus station, or drop them off; we spent a day moving furniture into a new apartment in Likasi, and another day moving missionaries into new apartments during transfers.
Another day might be spent just doing paperwork—keeping track of all the apartments, and all the items purchased for apartments; keeping track of ‘projects’ like the new water tanks, or the solar panel systems that we install in apartments that have no electricity; or fixing up apartments, or annexes to apartments; etc.
In-between all the running around, I often am off traveling with Terri as she cares for sick missionaries. We often travel to their apartments to care for sick missionaries, or travel to take them to the hospital, or to get medicine for them, etc. Occasionally we have to go out at night to aid sick missionaries (that is an interesting experience!). And, of course, since Terri often travels with Pres. McMullin around the mission to see and care for the missionaries, I travel with her (and while there act as a gofer for Pres. McMullin whenever he needs something done).
So, while I am kept very busy, and the work is important in order to keep the mission running smoothly, it is not much to write home about! How often can I describe how well my repair of a door lock or toilet went? Or how exciting it was to deliver a new mattress to an apartment? (well, the Elders were excited…) Or the thrill of driving a missionary from one apartment to another during transfer week?

On the other hand, Terri is being worked to death. She is ‘on call’ 24/7, and responds to hundreds of calls and texts every week from worried and/or sick missionaries who need her help. Most of the time it is nothing serious, but it still takes time and effort to hear the complaint, diagnose the problem, and give the missionary direction as to what to do. It might be simply going into the medical kit all missionaries have in their apartment and taking some over-the-counter medicine; or it might be having them go to a local clinic for further testing; or, in extreme cases, we might be going directly to the missionary to assess their situation and driving them to the hospital.
Terri often is in meetings with Pres. McMullin discussing the mental and physical health of the missionaries, and how to best utilize them and/or help them. In addition, she has to complete lots of paperwork and reports to the Church about the medical condition of each missionary, and any problems that have arisen.

For those who ponder going on missions, or wonder whether or not work in the office or other mission callings (or any calling in the church for that matter) are worth the time and effort and sacrifice to serve… I would just ask them to listen again to the words of the wonderful hymn: I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go
It may not be on the mountain height Or over the stormy sea, It may not be at the battle’s front My Lord will have need of me. But if, by a still, small voice he calls To paths that I do not know, I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine: I’ll go where you want me to go.
I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord, Over mountain or plain or sea; I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord; I’ll be what you want me to be.
Perhaps today there are loving words Which Jesus would have me speak; There may be now in the paths of sin Some wand’rer whom I should seek. O Savior, if thou wilt be my guide, Tho dark and rugged the way, My voice shall echo the message sweet: I’ll say what you want me to say.
I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord, Over mountain or plain or sea; I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord; I’ll be what you want me to be.
There’s surely somewhere a lowly place In earth’s harvest fields so wide Where I may labor through life’s short day For Jesus, the Crucified. So trusting my all to thy tender care, And knowing thou lovest me, I’ll do thy will with a heart sincere: I’ll be what you want me to be.
I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord, Over mountain or plain or sea; I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord; I’ll be what you want me to be.
The point, of course, is that it does not matter where one serves but how one serves. God chooses the calling, we simply choose to serve. And at the end of the day, no matter where we serve or what calling we received, if we serve faithfully, we will receive our ‘penny’ for pay: eternal life.
Are we so arrogant to assume that we would only serve in callings or position that we choose? Or that if we are called to something we think is below us (too boring or mundane or lacking public status), that we would decline to serve? It is a scary thought. If you are too proud to serve in a humble calling…would not that same pride prevent you from being worthy to enter the Kingdom? And isn’t the opposite true…would not the same act of humility in accepting a lowly calling or position assure your place in Heaven? Isn’t facing a test like that the whole point?
Just some thoughts on a Sunday in the Congo.

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