Elder And Sister Richard and Sharon Porter's Mission Site
What do Senior couple do in Africa?Date: October 27, 2011
Companion: The other Missionary Porter, of course
What do senior missionaries serving in South Africa do?
Let me introduce you to some who are currently serving. We have the Stonehockers who are from Calgary. Canada. They are doing a YSA mission and what an incredible job they have done. Sister Stonehocker is an incredible amateur photographer and they have taken thousands of pictures of the YSA, conventions, the big 5, weddings, senior couples etc. They have also been in charge of getting a YSA center operational they are using a speed-space, (what we call portables) After 10 months of patience and long suffering, they should be able to open the center instead of having to use the church. They plan incredible activites for home evenings, social events and are now teaching a Missionary Prep class. The Stonehockers have been teaching these young poor blacks how to lead and find ways to earn money. Another thing they have done, is help a squatters camp rebuild with the help of the humanitarian missionaries at the Area Office. Apparently, someone in the camp was angry because another person stole a carpet and so she started a fire. Since the huts are made mostly of scraps of wood, tin and old metal signs, once the fire started, it was all they could do to get their meager possessions out. There was nothing left. Living there is illegal, but the local governments turn a blind eye and even gave them temporary shelter until they could rebuild. Stonehockers got the YSA involved in helping clean up and then collected a lot of clothes, pans, utensils, shovels, to help them. They even had the local fruit and veggie market donate food. One of the things they did was to get this group of people to organize and come up with a leader so that things were evenly disbursed. I have posted pictures of this camp no electricity; to create a new shack about $100 American. They wash their clothes in tubs after heating water over a fire. I think the surprising thing to me was to meet a young lady who had to move in with her aunt in a nicer home in one of the Townships because of her baby. While the aunt has said she could stay, she doesnt want to. She wants her independence.
Then we have the Piepgrasses and the Blakes. (Sister Piepgrass is my double cousin) They are serving a PEF (Perpetual Education Fund) mission. Their responsibility is to teach workshops for those seeking PEF funds for education; help them get the funding and then follow up. They have also been asked to teach Missionary Prep and The Gospel and the Productive life to help these young people after they are done. Sister Piepgrass has also been very involved with Girl Scouts here. There is a lot of travel involved for both of these couples, but they take on each new assignment with a smile and push forward.
The Mission office couples The Oborns and Leavitts (who just arrived), are soooo busy as were the Henrichsens and Watts who left last July (and we really miss them) They are in charge of finding flats for all the missionaries to live in (170 elders and sisters) not including seniors, furnishings, cars, finances, medical you name it. I would not want their job. It is so very busy but they do a great job staying upbeat and plugging away.
Of course you pretty much know about our assignment. We do have 4 days a week, where we put in 12-13 hours as we are not done until 9 10 PM. We actually use Mondays as a prep day as much as possible laundry, shopping (for food). Often we end up with extra firesides or workshops on Saturdays or Sundays. I do think that we have the easier assignment of everyone. The next month will be quite busy as we are doing an American Thanksgiving and have invited widows from the 6 wards that we work with. So far we have about 30 widows coming. We also have Institute graduation at the end of November. We are looking forward to December as the Institute classes & activities pretty much end by the middle of December until mid-January. So many go away for the Christmas break as it is full summer here. We will stay pretty busy getting ready for next year and recruiting young people.
There are a lot of other Senior couples working at the area office. Some are here for PEF, some for Humanitarian work, some for Public Affairs and some are serving temple missions. There is such a variety of needs. Several of us give music lessons to people who are willing to work hard and then help others. I spend Wednesday afternoons doing that and have one other student on Friday.
We do love the work. One thing we have all had to learn is to not do too much for the people here. When we do, two things happen. First, they come to expect it and second, they dont learn the skills they need to keep the work moving forward.
We have been so blessed in our work here. We see the hand of the Lord in everything we do here and know that He blesses our family at home. We love all of you. Go well with you!
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