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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mission Office

The Mission Office is where the work is done to keep the West Indies Mission running smoothly.  It is where all the finances, travel, immigration, housing, cars, health issues, and problems are handled.  There are currently six seniors working in the office including Elder Gubler and I.  It has been very frustrating lately because the only copier in the office has broken down.  This copier was used for a printer and was old and worn out.  Elder Gubler persuaded them to purchase a new copier which is taking 1 1/2 weeks to get it in.  Sister Ray, who is over mission travel and immigration, said she might as well go on vacation without a printer.  There are only three decent computers which are used by Elder Black (the finance secretary), Sister Black (reception and general office), and Sister Ray (travel and immigration).  Elder and Sister Black's computers both have printers, but the others use the copier as a printer.  The rest of the computers are ancient and inadequate to do the work.  We have had to bring our own computer into the office.  We brought a small portable printer to use for our individual use which we have been using quite a bit.  But, we're getting through it and the work continues.  

Elder and Sister Monson who are over the young adults and youth of the mission are helping out temporarily with the cars.  The Church own many cars which the missionaries use for their work.  Not all missionaries have a car, some use bikes.  Elder Monson says he averages at least an accident a week.  I can see why, as the traffic is horrendous as are the roads in Trinidad.  We are driving a Toyota Corolla which by its condition have been in several accidents.  But it runs and has air conditioning.  Luckily, with the expert driving of Elder Gubler,  we have been able to avoid several accidents. 

Elder and Sister Linton who have been over finance and general office work are transferring to Tobago.  Tobago is a separate island next to Trinidad and the same country, that's why it is called Trinidad Tobago.  It is a much smaller island.  There are two sets of missionaries and a senior couple there and one branch.  They are replacing the Blacks while the Blacks are replacing them.  The biggest job in the Mission Office is the financial secretary.   Since there are ten countries and different currencies, it is a very difficult and stressful job.  He is often seen pulling his hair out because of the complexity of this job.  Elder Gubler is very thankful that we are going to Suriname and that he doesn't have to do it.  But, we still have to learn Dutch which we are working hard at.  Unfortunately, our senior brains do not work as well as they use to.   

Another stressful job is travel and immigration.  Sister Ray, a single sister, handles all the travel which is by airline to the different countries.  She spends thousands of dollars each week purchasing airline tickets for travel.  We've had a couple of funny stories with missionaries and flights.  A Elder who was returning home from his mission got to the airport and couldn't find his passport.  He frantically called Sister Ray who ran to the office to see if his passport was in the safe.  He called back later saying he found it in the bottom of his bag.  By then he had missed his flight home.  Another missionary who had just arrived in the Mission was assigned to Guyana.  He was given a packet with all his travel documents.  He must not have looked in it, because he went to an airline and purchased his own ticket.  The Mission had to reimburse him for that ticket plus had lost money on the other ticket that was not used.  She also takes care of applying for visas.  Some of the countries are very hard to work with.  They often give the missionaries a hard time as they go through passport control even when they have all their papers.  All of the countries are very slow issuing visas.  Some of the countries have a limit on the number of missionaries they will allow into their country.  I feel it is Satan trying to stop the work.  There have been miracles happen all the time.  It is a lot of work to comply with all the different rules and regulations of each country.  Sister Ray said that when she first started learning her job, she would go in the other room and just bawl, thinking that she couldn't handle it.  I've been very impressed with her.  She has only been out for about three months and really knows her stuff.  She is constantly meeting with representatives from the different countries making sure the Mission is following the laws of each of these countries. 

Sister Sanner, a single Senior who lived with Sister Ray, had to go home because of health problems.  She was a nurse and helped the missionaries with their health problems.  They had a miracle happen a couple of weeks ago.  An Elder who was riding a bike crashed into a Maxi, which is a small transportation bus.  He slid underneath the Maxi and his leg was run over by a wheel.  He doesn't recall, but the bike's main frame acted as a shield and protected his leg from serious injury.  The Lord protects his missionaries. 

Elder Brown is the auditor for the whole Mission.  He travels to each of the wards and branches and audits their financial records.  Sister Brown helps him and also works in the Office when she is available.  

I really love these Senior Couples.  They are always so positive and uplifting.  I'm amazed at some of the things they sacrifice to be on a mission.  But as Sister Black said the other day, it is such a small sacrifice when you look at all of eternity.  Each weekday we begin our work at the Mission Office with a devotional.  It always seems that the spiritual thought is something that I need for that day.  The spirit is really working hard and helping all of us. 

We attended our first Fast and Testimony Meeting last Sunday at the Arima Branch.  I was so touched by the testimonies that were borne.  I was hoping to get up, but there was no time.  Elder Gubler jumped up at the last minute and gave a wonderful testimony.  The members of the branch are so loving and welcoming to us.  They are so appreciative that I am able to play for their sacrament meeting and Elder Gubler can play for Priesthood.  None of the buildings have a real piano, they all have an electric keyboard.  That is something that I will miss is a piano.  I'd like to mention some things that a member said in his testimony.  When he heard the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ from the missionaries, he thought how fantastic and wonderful it was.  He had never heard anything like it before.  But he didn't have to take the Missionary's word for it, he found out for himself that it was true by praying and reading The Book of Mormon.  I know that The Book of Mormon is true, because I've read it and I've prayed about it.  It is the keystone of the Church.  For if The Book of Mormon is true then all the rest is true.  It is a fantastic and wonderful message that the Lord speaks to us today through a Prophet of God, that the Priesthood authority to perform saving ordinances such as baptism has been restored and that there is additional scripture along with the Bible to help us know what is true and answers questions:  Where did I come from?  Why am I here? Where am I going when this life is over?   I'm so thankful to be here on this Mission and to be a part of this great work.  It is hard at times, but I know I'm doing the Lord's work.

You will have to excuse the look of my blog, I am having a very difficult time inserting pictures the way I want to.   I'm going to learn better how to blog.
Elder Black & Elder Linton
Elder & Sister Monson

Elder Brown

Sister Linton                

Sister Black & Sister Brown     

Elder & Sister Gubler
                    Sister Ray

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