What a crazy week. It was transfer week, and we had over 100 missionaries moving from one place to another! We had some missionaries going home, 15 new missionaries coming, and the rest were just normal transfers from one part of the mission to another. It had to be one of the largest “mutations” we have seen since coming to the Congo…and all the ‘dominoes’ had to fall the right way for it to come off!
And to cap it off, President McMullin put Terri in charge of all the transfers! She was ‘General Terri’ for two weeks as she not only had to map-out the move of each missionary (each missionary had specific travel plans: for example, to go from Luputa to Lubumbashi they have to take two transports, stay overnight, take a plane, stay overnight, then take another transport to their new area). Once each missionary’s specific travel was planned, money had to be sent, tickets purchased, schedules developed to provide rides to and from airports, to and from apartments, to and from bus stations, etc. She also had to make sure no missionary was left alone, or misplaced, or sent to the wrong area, etc. (we have seen Elders scheduled to live in apartments with sister missionaries!).
Each day every missionary and couple was given our marching orders as to where to go and what to do (go pick-up missionaries at the airport, and then go to the bus station, move missionaries here or there, etc.). Amazingly, everything went smoothly and (to the best of our knowledge) no missionary was lost…
The only real glitch was when the airlines lost the bags of about 8 elders coming from Mbuji Mayi to Lubumbashi. The problem came as several Elders had to turn around and fly out, or travel out to areas outside Lubumbashi—without their luggage. Plans had to be changed, but at least two elders had to travel to their area without their luggage as their tickets could not be changed. We then arranged to have the luggage sent later in the week, when it finally arrived.
On top of all that chaos, we all participated in two days of new missionary training. The new missionaries have a series of tasks when they arrive at the mission home: pictures taken, passports checked, email accounts started, medical exam, interview with President McMullin, etc. They also have a full day of being taught by various people about the mission: how to use their phone to get money from M-Pesa (how they get their monthly allotment), what to do when they are sick, how to order supplies, etc. Each day 30 missionaries (the 15 new missionaries and their new training companions) came to the Mission Home for training and then returned to their area, or to Golf (our dormitory).
We were all worn-out by the end of the week. And, of course, we still had to do our normal mission jobs! Emanuel and I opened two more apartments (one actually has running water IN the house, and good electricity!), and will open two more next week. Sister Anthony is learning the financial side of the mission (she is taking over from Brother Wright, who is leaving in two weeks). I won’t say she is over her head (she does a good job), but she is up to her neck! There is a lot to learn and little time to learn it.
Just as when the Eastman’s left, we all have to pick-up extra work when the Wrights leave.
We will have several new senior couples coming to the mission, but most will be assigned to other things (not office staff). The Neeley’s came last week and were shipped-off to Bujumbura to help in the transition of the Cahoons, who are leaving soon. The Van Wagoners come in April to do humanitarian work, and there is a local couple being sent to Bujumbura (at which time the Neeley’s will return and work on a special assignment to aid people here to prepare to go to the Temple –there will soon be a temple in the Congo (in Kinshasa)).
Due to the influx of couples, we had to find and lease another ‘compound’ near the mission home. We decided to lease a house and two apartments (the same place the Wright’s live now, just the whole complex). It will give us flexibility as couples come and go from the mission. The owners are moving to Canada, so the house will be available. The other apartment opens-up in September.
In two weeks is Mission Leadership Counsel, where all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders in the Mission come for training. The Wrights leave us, and there is lots of travel. We keep thinking we will have a short break where things will slow down, but no such luck! Terri still has the 24/7 job of mission medical, and we are often called out late at night or on weekends for sick missionaries.
The work is hard, but fulfilling, and the time goes very fast. The Congo is a great place for a mission: the need is great and there are so many ways to make a difference in the lives of the people you are serving.
Next week we try to get back to normal. We have two apartments to open and move elders into, and then one more the next week. We have to fix-up the home and apartment in the new couples complex, we have a new apartment opening in Mbuji Mayi the first of April, and we are starting 4 water projects (installing wells or water tanks in apartments for the missionaries) and 2-3 solar projects (so the missionaries will have light and power).
And so it goes!