Today was "transfer day" in the mission. Every six weeks, some of the missionaries depart for home, new ones arrive in the mission from the MTC located on the same campus as the mission office, and some that have been serving for various lengths of time are transferred to other areas, hence the term "transfer day." On this day, there are four elders who will be homeward bound - one from Germany, one from Capetown South Africa and two from Idaho. The mission received seven new missionaries from the MTC. They come from Chile, Italy, Salt Lake City, Sweden, and American Samoa.
Here is the format of transfer day:
-The elders that will be going home went to the MTC and accompanied the new elders to the meeting place on campus. This was held in the board room of the Church Education System offices on campus
-The departing and new elders joined with President and Sister Dunn and the two elders who are assistants to the president. A welcome was extended by Sister Dunn and President Dunn and the new elders were given time to ask virtually any question to the departing elders
-Breakfast was served to all in attendance. Today's menu was quiche, breakfast cake, fruit and juice
-Two training sessions were conducted for the new elders, covering such things as keeping the apartments (flats) clean, knowing what type of over-the-counter medication to buy for minor ailments that may arise, money management, mission vehicles, mobile phones and flats inspections and maintenance. While these were underway, President Dunn conducted a personal interview with each of the new elders, one-at-a-time
-One game of volleyball was played; the departing elders and a few additional versus the new elders. The new elders came out victorious
-All missionaries assembled in the meetinghouse chapel on the campus. As we sang the opening hymn "Ye Elders of Israel," I was deeply touched by the strength of the voices coming from that congregation of missionaries. The chapel was nearly full. At times I could barely voice the words of the hymn, owing to emotion. After the hymn and the prayer, each of the new elders shared his testimony. It was so fascinating to hear some of them struggle to use English. There are seasoned elders in the mission who likewise arrived with a similar challenge and as they approach their time to be released, their English-speaking capability has improved dramatically. Today, a new elder who knew very little English and is French-speaking had a particularly difficult time expressing his testimony. He offered humorous comments and there was much laughter as a result, but he was able to share the essence of his testimony. We all could laugh with him, but we did not laugh at him. He had such a good attitude about his challenge. Following those testimonies, the new companionship assignments were announced. Afterward, Sister Dunn and President Dunn spoke. As the meeting drew to a conclusion, the departing elders bore their testimonies. The closing song was the South Africa Johannesburg Mission Song, sung by all. This song was written by a missionary several years ago and it too is a touching song - as our elders sang it, I could sense the brotherhood between these missionaries. We will eventually post the words of the mission song.
-The proceedings of the day drew to a close. The new elders and their trainers, and the rest of the elders with their new companions departed...ever so slowly. They had final business to accomplish at the mission office and they spent a long time visiting with their friends whom they had not seen for a while. I observed how they expressed love one to another as members of the mission family.
To close this post, I wish to express that this day was very special to me for several reasons. Above all, it was special because I felt the Spirit of our Father in Heaven during our meeting in the chapel. I was given witness that to successfully conduct the affairs of a mission so large in boundaries, to have such close unity of so many people who are serving in the mission, to see lives change for good among the missionaries and those they teach, we must be and are guided and sustained by a Father who loves us immeasurably. This really is His work and it absolutely cannot and will not fail. I am grateful that Sister Allred and I were privileged to experience the events of this day.
Finally, these young elders are a source of inspiration to me. They are the ones in the trenches who are very tolerant of sometimes less-than-pleasant living conditions, who press on in spite of challenges and who stay focused on sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ - they are my heroes.
Sister Allred will soon post photos of today's events.