Monday, October 8, 2012

This is What We Do

Elder Randall hands a prospective missionary his mission call.  All of the mission calls for missionaries who leave from our mission come through the mission office and Elder Randall sees that they get to them.  He is responsible for processing all of their applications including making sure that everything is complete on the application before it goes to the Area Office.  Once the call arrives, he keeps a checklist of ten things that they must obtain before they can enter the MTC, including a resume, a copy of their call letter, a copy of their acceptance letter, 10 passport photos, a police clearance letter, passport, yellow fever immunization card, and others.  He also requests our helper in Ghana to make the travel arrangements for these missionaries, for those going home from our mission, and also tracks those who are returning to our mission, occasionally picking them up at the wharf.  It's a huge job to keep track of all of that.
This is the smallest denomination of bill in Sierra Leone.  It is worth about 25 cents.  It gets used a lot and so most of the ones we see are pretty dirty and used, but the bank gave me this package of 500 new ones one day when I replenished my cash working fund. 
This is typical of the money I get from the bank when I replenish my cash.
This is another one of the things that I do, on occasion. 
One of our assignments when we first arrived at the mission was to furnish a couple apartment for a new senior couple.  It was challenging because we were still so new ourselves.  This is the furniture we had made for the Schlehubers.  We even went to the fabric store to choose fabric.  We also had dining room furniture and bedroom furniture made as well.
We spent several months looking at apartments and homes to find this one for our new humanitarian couple, the Burns.  It is a beautiful new home, but the road to get to it is challenging, to say the least.
One of Elder Randall's most recent projects is to get prepaid electrical meters for the mission office and the chapel next door.  Each of these is loaded with an amount of electricity which is paid for in advance.  You can check the balance at any time and purchase more electricity.  We have had trouble with the electricity being disconnected because bills are not delivered in a timely way (they are not mailed, but hand delivered) and when either the chapel or the mission gets too far behind in the bills, the electricity for both is disconnected, and it is a long process for re-connection. 

Even with the prepaid meters, there are many days when there is not enough power for the city of Freetown, so we have two backup generators to provide power for the chapel, the mission office, and an apartment for 6-8 elders. Elder Randall keeps an eye on the two new generators we recently obtained to provide backup electricity.

Here I am working with a couple of the district leaders teaching them about how to record expenditures in their district funds.  I have nine district leaders who send me a text once a month with their expenditures in four different categories.  I put money in their bank accounts based on those figures to replenish their money so they can pay for diesel fuel for their generators, propane gas for cooking, dishes and cleaning supplies for their apartments, repairs on refrigerators, and medicine for sick missionaries.  It's amazing that young men can learn these basic accounting practices mostly with just a little coaching on the phone.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Some Helpers in the Mission

There are lots of assignments in a mission--some you would not expect.  Sister Roggia is always anxious to help our assistants, as they are her.  Elder Barth has some pliers keeping the hose on the water connection while Elder Appleby works to fill the jugs for our water cooler at the mission office.

Every apartment uses a three-stage filter (in this picture in the bottom right-hand corner) to make sure our water is safe.
Siaka helps with the maintenance of the grounds around the mission office.  He sweeps the whole compound with that broom in his hand.  He has planted a small garden on some vacant land behind the office.  There are many banana trees at the office and he makes sure to cut the bananas at just the right time.  We are so grateful for his help to make our mission office grounds beautiful.

Markus is the do-it-all man in our mission.  His official title is Mission Physical Facilities Supervisor (I think) but he does everything for us.  He runs errands, he looks for missionary apartments, he furnishes missionary apartments, he contracts for carpenters to make furniture, he delivers cooking gas to missionaries, he picks up people at the wharf who have come to Freetown, he pays bills, he monitors security, he drives guests all over the mission, he registers all our vehicles, he helps people get drivers licenses, he works with immigration on visas and residence permits, etc. etc.  His gentle optimistic spirit keeps things on an even keel in the office; he never seems stressed about anything.  Every mission president deserves a "Markus" in their mission.  We are so blessed to have him in our mission.

Monday, October 1, 2012

An Evening on the Beach with the Couples

We have a nice place to eat on the Lumley Beach in Freetown.  It is called China Town BBQ House.  The restaurant is across the street from the beach, but they have built a cabana on the beach where you can sit and eat.  The waitress carries your food across the road to serve you.  We took advantage of the time while the Gredings, a short-term humanitarian couple, were here, to have dinner together.  Gredings have been here for ten days training our new humanitarian couple, the Burns.  They have driven all over Freetown and Bo looking at well projects which the Church has constructed.  From left to right:  Burns, Lauritzens, Gredings, Elder Randall

  Every time we come, we comment on how much it rejuvenates us to be here.  This evening there was a gentle breeze blowing and the weather was perfect. 
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