Sunday, April 10, 2016

January 2016 - The Call To Serve

Elder and Sister Call

We think we may have been bitten by the "missionary bug" in Ghana, for not many months after returning home, we began thinking of our next mission.  It did not take long before papers were submitted and the wait for "the call" began. Though we love being with family, the "Call To Serve" rang deep in our hearts.

While visiting our eldest son, Jeremy, and his family in Guam for Christmas, the "call" came.  We opened it in January when we returned to Boise, Idaho to learn we had been called back to Africa.  However, this time we were assigned to labor in the Republic of Congo Brazzaville Mission in the Cameroon Mission Region.  Our primary assignment is to labor as member and leader support missionaries.

Opening the "call"

We felt pretty comfortable about our assignment until we learned that the language mostly spoken in Cameroon is French. We were told we could "get by" without knowing any French, but since we felt we didn't want to just "get by" we began doing all we could to learn French.  We purchased some on-line classes and were also told of a former French teacher who was willing to help us.  We began meeting with her a few times a week. 

Our French teacher, Norma Jean Sears. 

We did all we could do in Boise, then learned of immersion language classes taught at the MTC.  Since we had already been "trained" as senior missionaries less than three years previously, we were allowed to waive the regular MTC experience and enrolled in some French immersion classes.  Our day consisted of personal study time and also studying with volunteer French speakers.  It was wonderful and we learned a lot.  However, that is NOT saying we now speak French, we are just better than when we arrived at the senior language training center.

The Amanda Knight Hall

This wonderful, old building used to be the language training center for all the junior missionaries.  In fact, a mission president learning Russian while we were there, had spent time in the same building as a junior missionary learning German.

Though we had classes in the Amanda Knight building, we still ate with all the other missionaries in the "regular" MTC.  The MTC is a fairly large building with some great pictures on the wall.  One of those pictures depicts an experience that happened in the life of my great, great grandfather Heber C. Kimball.

Joseph Smith had called Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young on a mission to England.  It was actually Heber C. Kimballs second mission to England.  As the time came for their departure, both Heber and Brigham were sick.  Not only were they sick, but Heber's family was also sick.  When the wagon came to pick him up, he left his wife in bed, too sick to get up.  As they drove down the road, Heber turned to Brigham and said, "This is pretty hard isn't it".  Brigham agreed, and then Heber said, "Let's give them a cheer".  So the two of them stood up in the wagon and called out, "Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah for Israel".  Heber's wife, Vilate, got up from her bed, and with her children came to the door and wished them well and waved them goodbye. 

There was one day at the language training center that I got rather discouraged, even to the point of tears.  As I prayed that night, this story of Heber C. came to my mind.   I said to the Lord, "If my great great grandfather can serve a mission under those can I."  With greater determination, I went forward.  

I want to include one more picture.  This is a picture of some of our children and grandchildren, the ones who live close by.  We have three other families, with 13 grandchildren who live further away. This was our last "party" together before our departure. I dearly love them and all my other children and grandchildren.  It is not easy to leave them.  I had an acquaintance ask why we were serving another mission and how we could leave our grandchildren. I suppose the first reason is that Elder Call and I both felt, independently, that the Lord would like us to serve another mission.
The other reason we are serving a mission is because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, it is the only true church on the face of the earth today.  It is the same church that Christ organized when he was on the earth and also has apostles and prophets.  God lives today and has power to grant blessings to His children.  When we were preparing for our mission, I decided to study one of my favorite books of scripture, the Doctrine and Covenants.  As I was reading, I came to Section 100 which is a revelation to Joseph and Sidney Rigdon who left their families to serve a mission in New York.  The section begins: "Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my friends Sidney and Joseph, your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power."

As I read that verse, the Spirit whispered to me that those same words applied to me and my family.  Does that make it easy to leave the greatest family in the world....No....but I have the assurance from the Lord that He is watching over them.  :)

Elder Call and I leave tomorrow morning, the next blog will be written in Douala, Cameroon.