Elder And Sister Richard and Sharon Porter's Mission Site
TheOther Side of Our Missionary WorkDate: August 11, 2011
Companion: The other Missionary Porter, of course
Much has been shared about the heavy load that the upcoming choir performances have placed upon our time and focus especially on Sharon. I wanted to give you an update on the other side of our assignment here: The Roodepoort Institute.
To say that it has gone begging for attention is likely an understatement. Of course, we have continued to teach our 3 classes each week, and as we teach 90-minute classes the preparation takes a lot of time. We have fairly successfully managed to keep all of that going. But that is about all. The other things that SHOULD be happening are either not happening at all, or only in part. For example:
Make-up work: As always, some students have to do makeup work for classes missed to get credit. I sent it out long ago but have followed up not at all. But just wait til choir is over!
Recruitment: We ended one term, and began another with plans of reaching out to more of the YSA in our five stakes. The plans were very sound. But, as always when working with YSA leaders, follow up is the key and the key never turned. (I will say that the numbers enrolled held steady even went up a bit. But we are far below the outreach we should have made. Hard work first, then the grace of God. Hes allowing us right now to run that a bit in reverse.) But just wait til choir is over!
Attendance follow-up: One of the things we have felt the best about in our institute service, is staying in touch with those who are beginning to miss classes. This has been quite successful. But this term it has happened almost never. There is just no time. But just wait til choir is over!
Communication with priesthood leaders: At the request of our stake presidents, we have been sending monthly reports to all bishops and stake presidents, which give them the attendance and credit standing of their YSA by ward. The bishops have been SO helpful in talking with their members and encouraging them to do better. The last report we sent out was in May. But just wait til choir is over!
Council training: We have the same problem in our calling that every missionary couple has when one couple leaves and another comes on board, everything changes. In our case, we brought expertise in seminary and institute affairs that the couple we replaced did not have. If a couple like them replaces us, everything will go back to ground zero.
The answer to it in our thinking is to train up a student council who can have the knowledge of what to do and how to do it. That is accomplished by always having two or three on the council who are well-trained at whatever time a new couple comes. The couple then turns to the council and says, What do we do and how do we do it? and the council can show them. It does require that we never release all of the council at once, but rotate them through their service. There is a bit of a snag even in that, as within the next 2 weeks we lose 2 of our 4 council members (mission and marriage how do you feel badly about that?) and so we are reforming the council even before the end of our year.
The successful transition from couple to couple also requires that we meet with the council regularly and train them deeply. The details for that to happen are all in place, but there has been no time to do it at the level it MUST happen. There seems to be a general mindset among South Africans that if we have a good idea and just start to do something surely it will work out well because its a good idea. Our goal has been to train these young people that it such success requires and lot of thinking and planning way ahead. Because we have not been able to follow them as closely as we must, our activities are running on a last-minute how-do-we-pull-this-out? mode. But just wait til choir is over!
We know the Lord is blessing us to keep the institute program at least alive, and will continue to do so. Growth and stability will just have to wait til choir is over!
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