A Presidential Transfer
President and Sister Thomas (left) President and Sister McMullin (right) transfer the ‘keys’ of the mission (the President’s car)
Today was an interesting day for Terri and I. President and Sister McMullin left and President and Sister Thomas arrived. We were invited to share the entire process, simply due to the fact that we were assigned to drive them to the airport.
The McMullin’s had planned on leaving tomorrow (because the new mission president was arriving today!), but, true to the Congo, their flight got cancelled and they were fortunate to get an earlier flight—one day early. What this meant, however, was that the only time the two mission presidents could talk was when then met at the airport (one coming and one leaving!).
So after all the goodbyes were said we drove the McMullins to the airport. Justin had arranged for us to use a travel agency, and their guest waiting rooms, so that the two presidents could have some privacy. We arrived at the airport and went into the travel agency. They chose to sit outside in a little canvass cabana, and waited for the Thomas’ plane to arrive. The McMullins went into the airport to greet them as close to the gate as they could get, and brought them back to the agency guest area. Then the six of us (we offered to be excused, but were asked to stay) sat for about 4 hours as they talked about the mission and the transfer of power. President McMullin gave President Thomas a few files, and answered all the questions they could in the time they had.
About the time they seemed to be finishing up, it was time for the McMullins to board their plane to leave. We drove the Thomas’ to the mission home, gave them a tour, and then talked for a little while. It was clear they were tired, so we said goodnight.
Tomorrow we take President Monga and his family to the airport. He had been President McMullin’s counselor in the Mission, but was recently called to be the Mission President in the new Brazzaville mission. The rest of the week is dedicated to aiding the Thomas’ to get acquainted with the city and culture, etc., as they slowly try to get a feel for their new calling.
Here are a few memorable pictures of the McMullins:
First are foremost: who can ever forget the rough roads going to Luputa and Ngandajika
I was always impressed by President McMullin’s faith: he always knew we would get where we were going–we just had to be patient.
There were a lot of times when we were stuck in the middle of no-where that I was sure we would be spending the night in the bush…but somehow we always got through, and had a bed to sleep in at night!
They did a lot of waiting: flat tires, stuck cars, fallen trees, etc.
They did a lot of walking: here they are walking to dinner in Mwene Ditu
Their lives here were full of meetings of one kind or another. Here they are at a Zone Conference with their missionaries in Mwene Ditu
They ALWAYS had to speak in Church! Such as Ngandajika
Or Stake Conference in Katuba Stake, Lubumbashi
But most of their life here was dedicated to their missionaries. Like here in Luputa
Or here in Kananga
Here they are with the local Kananga Stake Leaders, and with President and Sister Cook of the Area Presidency, in Kananga
They were often guests of the tiny branch in Tshitenge, held in the bamboo grove
They did get to rub shoulders with many Church leaders– such as Elder Cook
Local leaders and men from South Africa and Kinshasa
General Authorities like the Area President
And even Elder Bednar came to call!
But after all was said and done, it was the missionaries that were their focus. Here we are at the opening of a new missionary apartment in Lusuku.
After a wonderful Stake Conference in Kananga
Dinner in the “upper room” of a restaurant in Mwene Ditu
And after some quiet one-on-one time with the elders (Luputa)
Or important meetings with local leaders (Tshitenge)
It was back to big conferences and talks to thousands (the Catholic Theater that was rented to hold Stake Conference in Kananga)
Speaking at Kananga Stake Conference
But it wasn’t ALL work, and no play! Everyone has to unstring their bow, put down their shovel, and unwind. Like Sister McMullin teaching piano lessons…
Or the President taking pictures of the children, and then showing it to them (one of the children’s favorite things was to see themselves in a picture!)
Or making a surprise birthday cake for a missionary
Or simply trying to have fun with the local children
The children could get overwhelming at times. President McMullin tried to give some children each a piece of candy…and almost didn’t make it out alive!
Here is Sister McMullin with the same problem…and she was handing out pamphlets about Jesus!
But it was soon back to work: here President McMullin is overseeing a ‘water project’. The elders in Luputa were getting water to take back to their apartment. They have no water at their apartment, so they have to walk about a block to the Stake Center.
But then it was finally time to pack-up and leave.
And no matter how hard the labor, no matter how difficult the sacrifice, the rewards come down to one thing: through their efforts the missionaries were able to be taught and trained, guided and instructed…and became productive. And the result? Souls that were saved, families (like the one shown above who ran a little hotel in Mwene Ditu) that came into the church. The McMullins changed lives. They changed the lives of hundreds of missionaries; they changed the lives of hundreds of local leaders, who will now serve the members better; they changed the lives of literally thousands of individuals and families who have accepted the gospel and have become the pioneers of the Congo! They made a difference.
Now…what about you? What are YOU doing with your life? Why aren’t you here, with us, serving the Lord in the mission field? Elder and Sister Thomas need help. Terri and I will be leaving soon. The Eastman’s are gone, the Wrights are gone…frankly, we are short-handed. Time to step-up and put your working boots back on: the field is ripe and ready to harvest, and we need help.
You know you want to! So just do it already!