Senior missionaries play a vital role in laying a firm Gospel foundation, especially in areas like Southeast Africa where the church is relatively new and growing so rapidly
"Missions everywhere need more couples. Their maturity and experience make them some of the best missionaries we have. Their special skills . . . enable them to train local leaders effectively, strenghen and reactivate members, and bring nonmembers to Christ." Elder M Russell Ballard
"As your circumstances allow, . . . make yourselves available for full-time missionary service. Both husband and wife will have a greater joy as they together serve our Father's children." President Thomas S. Monson
We spotlight below a few of the exceptional couples who strengthened us here in Uganda before returning home from their missions.
Elder Robert and Sister Nola Woods, from Weiser Idaho (remember the famous hymn, " 'Weiser' All Enlisted 'til the Conflict is O'er"). The Woods grow and process onions for stores as well as restaurant chains. On their way to the Mission Training Center nearly 3 years ago, they were caught in a blizzard - white-out. Their vehicle colliding with - and went under - a semi. Although Sister Woods was in critical condition and a coma for some time, they were both miraculously spared and healed, and were able to begin serving in Gulu within six months! What a blessing they were to the people in Gulu and to us while they were our mentors for several weeks.
Elder Karl and Sister Robin Beckle, from California, are Ugandan Humanitarian Missionaries. They have probably seen more of Uganda than anyone else, often traveling with the Minister of State and his entourage. Beneficiaries of their efforts and supplies provided by the church reach into the hundreds of thousands, including new bore holes and bore hole rehabilitation, water catchment systems, distribution lines, new latrines and washing stations, mosquito nets and blankets, wheelchairs, measles innoculations, and distribution of Atmit, a special fortified porridge reformulated at BYU that is literally saving the lives of thousands of starving infants in Uganda and other third world countries. They loved every minute of their diverse responsibilities.
Elder Dean and Sister Pam "Jr." Grundy, Seattle Washington, decided shortly after arriving to extend their mission to two years. They brought dynamic growth to the city of Lira, until 7 months ago when they became the Mission Office couple. Dean handled the huge array of financial matters and as Mission Secretary, Pam was responsible for all the administrative paperwork, including Mission President's travel, transfers, and departing missionaries. They worked closely with President and Sister Jackson on logistical matters throughout the mission as well planning for the multitude of mission functions. Dean's brother Bruce and his wife Pam "Sr." have been continuing the Grundy legacy in Lira. The latter Grundys are our closest neighbors (1 1/2 hours) and current mentors. We traveled with them on Chobe/Paraa safari and Nile River trip.
President Eric and Sister Kay Jackson, our beloved (former - as of today) Mission President and Mission Mom. The Jacksons have lived in Africa the past six years. Prior to the call to preside over this mission (the largest in Africa) , the Jacksons served as the Director of Public Affairs, ultimately for all of Africa. Every place we and other couples travel, the people - not of our faith - ask about President Jackson and express their love for him and his wife. President Jackson is CEO of a chain of Peterbilt dealers in the West. They reside in Utah.
At their farewell dinner last Friday in Kampala, I made great headway in building the Ugandan Chapter of the Alabama Alumni Association with two new inductees. President Jackson was selected as Vice-President and Sister Jackson was selected Sec-Treas. Please join me in extending a hearty welcome to these two wonderful members of our association. (Pres Jackson started to tell me where to stand during this picture...I had to remind him I was the President and he was only the Vice President...that I was now telling people where to stand and what to do.)
When we came back from Kampala last Saturday, this rooster was sitting on our front porch. He evidently had made the porch his home as there were droppings all over the place. He would get under our window at night as well as the elders' windows and crow starting around 4:00 am. When Isaac and Alfred came over to work (for their mission), I told them I'd pay them to catch the bird and throw it over the fence...you can see they met the challenge.
IsaacAlfred and Isaac left for full-time missions this week. We helped them get supplies here. He and Isaac caught the bus to Kampala together, shopped with the mission office staff for other necessities they still need. One flew to the Missionary Training Center in Johannesburg on Thursday and the other on Friday to Ghana MTC where they each spend just under 2 weeks learning how to become more effective missionaries. Isaac flies to Zambia and Alfred will stay in Ghana where they will serve two years before returning home to Gulu. We have been helping them get ready by giving them jobs to earn money. We were happy/sad when we took them to the bus station in Gulu Tues night as we will likely never see them again. We will return home to the states before they return to Gulu...this is the hard part of our mission...Saying goodbye to good, strong, honest, morally chaste young men who are full of testimony and a desire to serve others. When they return, they will form the foundation of the Church in Gulu and will serve as the springboard for future growth of the Church.
Monday Pam met with the Deputy Headmaster of Gulu Central High School who has been so kind and patient with one of the two missionaries mentioned above. Because of very difficult circumstances, he was behind on his school fees, over 1,000,000 shillings. Thanks to a benefactor in the states, Isaac was able to pay his debt before leaving on his mission thereby assuring he would receive his degree which will be of immense help to him when he returns from Zambia in 2 years. Pam and I went back to the school on Thursday to tour the premises and get a feel for what type service the Church, along with other religious and city officials might be able to render.
We also met with the Director of St Mary's Hospital - Lacor (pronounced Lachow) Monday to discuss with him what service we or the Church can offer him. He was very familiar with our Church and even knows where it is located. We asked him to discuss with his staff what needs they might have and we will get back with him next week for further meetings.
At St Mary's Hospital. There is no food at the hospital for patients so family and friends camp on the grounds to feed and help attend to their acquaintances who have been admitted. These folks stay on the grounds, day and night.
Mission statement of this Catholic-based hospital that was founded by a husband-wife doctor team from Ireland. Their daughter, also a doctor, continues with her parents' philanthropic efforts. Most of the people in this area are religious minded. Pam learned about the work at this hospital through members and also from a fund-raising rally (walking down the streets in Gulu) to help children from the region who come for cancer treatment. The director said noone gave much; most 100-200 shillings (4-8 cents, American), but they were pleased that they raised well over a million shillings. That's about $380.I awoke Wednesday morning feeling very anxious about what I don't know...but very disturbed by a terribly forboding feeling. As Pam and I began running errands through the day the anxiety grew worse until I could almost feel something terrible was coming our way. Finally, after much distress, I addressed the feelings head on. Can't say I'm happy about it but I took a picture of the cause of my woes, which you'll see below.
A day in the life....Thursday...met with Gulu Central Officials at 10:00 to tour their school grounds...will send pics later. I met with Church auditor and assisted some with membership audit of our Gulu Branch at 12:00. Then headed to Bardege Branch at 1:30 to do the same but instead left to pick up some pizza to eat during the audit but didn't make it back til the audit was complete. Pizza was good anyway. Left there at 3:00 to pick Pam up along with some food sun dryers two more of our prospective missionaries are making. Picked up Relief Society President and Elders Quorum President and two full-time missionaries to deliver the dryers to the orphanage we had visited the week previously. We also delivered some mosquito nets for the children to sleep under to help reduce the likelihood of contracting malaria. Yet another young child there had just gotten out of the hospital from a more serious bout with malaria.
Returned home at 4:45 to drop Pam off at a sister's home who needs encouragement. Picked Pam at 5:45 and headed to Institute. Following that, we had two of our prospective missionaries over for dinner and some scripture reading. We were tired that night.
This is it...this is what was making me feel sooooo out of sorts Wednesday morning...can you blame me?