Week of October 21-27, 2013
One of the interesting and somewhat challenging aspects of serving a CES mission is trying to figure out “Who is in charge?” We are missionaries and have a Mission President, our assignment is Seminaries and Institute [S&I] coordination and we have a Coordinator who directs that work and assignment. Then we have a Stake President who directs the work of the Kingdom in the stake we reside and work in. Each have very related and fully cooperative priorities and share some of the same resources including us.
Then there is also the Area authorities who coordinate and supervise the work of the Church in this area of the world. If one does not understand the fully integrated, cooperative and correlated work of each administrative support authorities, it could begin to look, sound and feel like a rather cumbersome bureaucracy.
Actually it is really a wonderful, somewhat overlapping management system of the Lord’s Kingdom and work in bringing souls to Christ and keeping those rescued souls secure in the sheepfold. Each of the heads of these various dimensions of church leadership and administration are wonderful men. They are men of sound judgement, spiritual maturity, inspired judgement, strong testimony and a clear vision to the work they have been called to do. That work is to direct the work of the Lord and his servants within their called stewardships.
Sister Cloward and I just happen to be in the center of these overlapping circles of leadership support and reporting. So, who is in charge of us anyway? This week I had a bit of a profound realization about this quandary. As with so many of my realizations that seem significant in the moment, looking back on the question and discovery leaves me with a feeling of “well, duhh” (sp?). Who has ever had to spell “da” or is it du or dugh? Anyway, here is the situation that brought the “ah ha” of who is really in charge of me (Sister Cloward may be an entirely different story). As she may comment on that herself.
So, we had a meeting with the Stake President and the Mission President on Tuesday. This was a meeting after our usual monthly Stake Presidency S&I coordination meeting that was a little earlier that evening. It was also after a very long and wonderful meeting with President Matswagothata (Stake President - remember? He’s the 32-year-old, very intelligent and clearly vision driven leader,) that had occurred on Monday at our flat. That was sort of the meeting before the meeting for he and I to get on the same page relative to preparing for the seminary graduation next month.
In this Tuesday evening meeting he, in coordination with the Mission President, requested that Sister Cloward and I work with the Molepololi Ward. We had met with those good people, about an hour’s drive southeast of us on Sunday. It was the next to last of the Units within the Stake for us to visit and meet with S&I teachers and Ward leaders since we arrived, we only had one more and that would occur the next Sunday in Kanye [kahn-yea]. That Branch is south of Molepololi and about the same distance away.
So here is the situation. When we first arrived, the first morning here in Gaborone (with only a few hrs of sleep over 2 days and 8 hrs ahead of UT time) we met with the Stake President and high counselor over the Youth programs of the Stake, a Brother Rwada. In that meeting Brother Khumbulani had told them that we were not to be assigned to a specific unit, as the MLS missionaries are. The reason is that we need to be traveling and visiting all the Units to keep up with the work of the Seminary and Institute teaching and record keeping. They understood and so did we - or so we thought we did. Now two of our leaders, both in real need for Senior support to the Unit and missionary effort in that town were asking us to take on that assignment. We clearly understood the need and the opportunity to apply our talents and love of the people to help strengthen the leadership, youth and missionary work of the Ward. Molepololi is a Ward that would soon to fall back to Branch status if more Priesthood Leadership and activity could not be accomplished.
This, like the call for Sister Cloward to help with the Stake music needs, was potentially a conflict with our primary CES mission assignment. What to do? Who is in charge? Who do we follow? How can we not turn down calls that we believe all had inspiration behind a bit of desperation?
Then, to make things a little more challenging, we drove to Johannesburg [a 6 hr drive SE of Gabs (Gaborone)] to the CES offices in South Africa for training with the CES couple who are serving in Limpopo (where we thought we were going). That was the next morning after the call to work with the Ward in Molepololi (hereafter just Moli), after a very interesting miracle during that night (another story we’ll share shortly). Then when I advised Bro. Khumbuloni [koom-bah-law-nee] of the call, he immediately reminded me that we needed to be free to travel and visit all the Units and not be connected to just one, like MLS missionaries. Uhh, a difficult position. Who is in charge anyway?
We understand his concern and directive. We also recognize a very critical need for leadership support in the Moli Ward and our potential value there as assigned by the Mission and Stake President. Humm, who is in charge of our efforts and service? Technically I believe it is Khumbuloni who directs our day-to-day labor priorities. The Mission President is responsible for our health, safety, security and support for missionary needs. The Stake President is not technically our Stake President, but his call for missionary help is in the face that we have only four couples in the mission. One, the Gublers who work tirelessly in the MIssion Office and manage the business affairs of the mission - flats, cars, bills, residency, phones, and about a bazillion other manucia items. They are also acting in an MLS role in a Branch about an hour south in away, Lobatse [Low-bought-say]. That is double duty for sure.
Then the Davis’ are more than five hours away in Francistown [north of Gabs] managing a Branch and two Groups as well as much of the younger missionary support needed there. The Abrahams were deported to South Africa, Mafikeng [3 hrs SE] (still in our Mission, but not in Botswana) and now Elder Abraham is dealing with heart problems - so we don’t know if they’ll be around to finish the rest of their tenure here.
That leaves a tremendous void in couple service leadership. Any of our Sr. friends reading this, please consider and let the spirit entice you to join us. The field may not be “white” here, but oh how is it ready for the harvest and so very in need of leadership and couple support.
So back to the question. Who is in charge of us? After some pondering and praying, the “duhh” left me a bit embarrassed at the question. Of course! WE are! We are in charge of our agency and our actions and as such, must stand accountable to… Oh yes, there it is again, to who? Well, to each of our stewardship supervisors. But here is the real “ah hah.” Who are they accountable to? Who “supervises and supports” them and ultimately becomes the determining counselor whom we follow? Of course, it is the Lord.
So we ask and take His directions in this situation and are discovering that, while we cannot be fulltime MLS (member leader support) missionaries, we can serve as much as we can in that capacity. We can get to know, love and counsel with the leaders and youth of that ward. We can help to anchor their faith and develop their understanding of management of the Ward in the Lord’s way.
So...we got up Sunday morning early and drove an hour and a half to the Kanye Branch and shared their Sacrament Primary Program meeting with them. My goodness, what a treat! It was without question the best Primary sacrament program I have ever witnessed in terms of preparation and delivery. What a treasure!
Then, after counseling with the Branch President and coordinating with the Seminary and Institute teachers, we jumped in the car and drove an hour triangularly in direction from how we came to Kanye to arrive at Moli just in time for Priesthood and Relief Society meetings. Priesthood meeting was about ordinance training for confirmation. I was glad to be there and add just a few things to help keep the order and focus doctrinally aligned.
After the meetings we met with the Institute and Seminary teachers and students and arranged for some additional activities in two weeks. Then we coordinated with the Bishop and learned of some of the major challenges he is facing. As all bishops, much of it is with the youth. We will give our efforts and talents as a resource to try to help him. Next week we will be there for all the services.
What we believe is that Lord’s servants who we seek to support are inspired and though it can feel like desperation, we believe it is inspiration that calls us to the work(s). So… we will go and do… for we know… He will make a way. That will be an ongoing adventure and juggling act that will bless us with growth, understanding, empathy and greater love for these dear saints and for each other.