Elder And Sister Richard and Sharon Porter's Mission Site
It's About TimeDate: December 27, 2011
Companion: The other Missionary Porter, of course
I figured the best approach for this letter is your basic shotgun too much has passed to give a blow-by-blow account of anything! So, here goes:
On the end of our first school year in South Africa
Scripture class on Thursdays
This is the night most of our students traditionally attend.
1st term (D&C 1-75): Our largest number enrolled was in this term, with a high a bit over 60 enrolled, and around 45-50 attending each week. Rich taught this class.
2nd term (D&C 76 - Declaration 2): Enrollment typically drops in this term, and ours did. We still had over 50 enrolled, and attendance dropped back to 35-40 or so each week still way ahead of previous years. Rich taught this class.
Summer term (Pearl of Great Price): This is only a 10-week term, which finished in the 2nd week of December. We had 40-something enrolled, with between 25 and 30 attending. This class hit an interesting run of lessons when we decided to discuss openly all the scriptures about the blacks being cursed and not able to hold the priesthood. Did THAT ever lead to discussion! We team-taught this class, because Sharon was free of the huge choir burden. It was so fun, we hope to team - teach most if not all of our classes next year
Tuesday night class
This is the night only a handful of students attend, and it was no different for us.
1st term (Presidents of the Church): There were about 5 or 6 who enrolled, and most came most of the time. Sharon taught this class. She is now the family expert on the prophets past and present!
2nd Term (The Gospel and a Productive Life): Again, about 5 or 6 who came, but they loved the class!
Summer term (Missionary Preparation): We had a peak of about 7 who enrolled, and faithfully came each week. We team-taught this one as well, and it was a blast. For the 1st 5 weeks we met in the library around a table, and talked about the principles of missionary work. When we hit the lessons about basic doctrine, we had each class member teach a part of each lesson. For these lessons we met in our classroom which has a couple of couches and soft chairs (its kind of a mini-lounge at the back of the classroom), because it was more a feeling of being in someones home. Whoever was teaching was the missionary, and they chose two to specifically teach, who served as their investigators. The class was unique in that we had 2 recently-returned missionaries take the class, so they added depth of experience. We also had 3 young men who had already received their calls in fact, one of them left on his mission with still 2 weeks to go in the class. A 2nd one left with 1 week to go, and the 3rd left the week after our final class. A 4th young man received his call during the class, and leaves in early March 2012. What a ride that was!
Wednesday night class
This was our young married adult class, which we team-taught all the way. No one has ever tried this before, and it has been an uphill battle. Our peak enrollment was 8, with 6 actually attending (that is 3 and 4 couples).
Term 1 we taught a course on Celestial marriage. 2nd term we taught a History of the Church course. And summer term we taught Teachings of the Living Prophets This is a GREAT course, and the students wanted to discuss a lot, so we moved very slowly, and actually ended the course with about half to go.
Our plans for next years classes:
Thursday nights (team-teach) Old Testament 1st and 2nd terms
Tuesday nights (rotate teaching) we are offering two classes, which we will alternate teaching. One will be a continuation of our missionary prep class, with some hold-overs and some new. The other class will be Doctrines of the Gospel.
Wednesday nights we continue our efforts to maintain and build on a strong base. One of our most faithful attenders and top recruiters is expecting their first child in February, so well face challenge here as well.
As far as the institute is concerned for next year, we are a starting a bit handicapped, as it were. We had 4 students serving on council as the year began, and ended with 2 (we lost one to overload and approaching marriage, and another to mission). Their replacements were to have been called, along with an additional two, in early November. Nothing has happened as yet. So we sort of limped our way out of 2011, with Sharon and me carrying most of the load in planning and pulling off activities, in addition to prepping for 3 classes every week. When you prepare to teach for 90 minutes, it is a LOT of preparation! And since most people in South Africa dont get back to real life until late in the 2nd week of January, we likely will be lucky to begin the new year with more than the 2 council members we have. So we are doing the work of the council (the 2 we have are away for the holidays) in trying to be ready for things to fire up again mid-January.
Sharon DID pull off the Thanksgiving Dinner in November and the 25 or so single folks who attended really loved the occasion. They were embarrassingly vocal about that! In all, with the students who were there to help out and act as hosts, we fed around 35 or 40 people. What did we learn? 1) NEVER DO THIS AGAIN! It is far too labor- and cost intensive. 2) When we say please slice the turkey we mean slice it off the bone; when folks in South Africa say that, they mean cut the various parts off the body. We therefore had whole legs, breasts, wings, etc. which made for difficult serving and eating. 3) People around the world LOVE Sharons rolls and pies!!!!
And, against all odds, we DID pull off a very successful graduation. We had nearly 100 people attend, which is unheard of. (Last year, including the students being honored and their priesthood leaders, we had a total of maybe 20.) This year set a wonderful precedent, and was enjoyed by all.
Thats all for now, because this is way too long. Over the next day or so, I will post again and finish what I started in terms of catch-up. Just know that we deeply love what we are doing, and have seen countless blessings from Heavenly Father to allow us to do as well as we have. Its a strange thing about missionary work: Time passes way too quickly and way too slowly!
|<<Previous Letter||Go back to letter index||Next Letter >>|