I’m sure by now you’ve been wondering what happened to us or what we have been doing. Once we arrived at the MTC we learned that they had changed our assignment from “Member and Leader Support” to “Mission Office”.
We would be working in the mission office! How could that be me? I don’t even know how to use a computer!! I guess the joke is on me. I spent a week at the MTC getting familiar with computers. “Familiar” is not the right term, how about …. learning how to turn one on and sit in front of one for several hours. That better describes it.
Actually, I have been learning, The Lord truly is taking up the slack!
This mission has 180 missionaries and Paxton & I are in charge of all the cars (70) all the flats (apartments – 80), the medical issues, all the phones (80). We get phone calls all day and often in the middle of the night. This mission averages 5 vehicle accidents a month (most missionaries come from countries that drive on the “wrong side of the road” and the African missionaries have never driven a car. Most nighttime calls are for accidents and someone has to go to the hospital, you know the serious stuff. However, other calls are for “locked out of our flat”, “I don’t feel well”, “my companion is dying”….
The office work that leaves us very tired at the end of the day, is dealing with Landlords, paying bills, finding new flats (when leases are up) , inspecting cars and flats (Paxton adds bicycles). Opening new missionary areas which require flats, furnishings, a car and/or bikes also provides stress because we aren’t always given very much time to plan. Oh yes, we assist in moving out and into flats (we do get the missionaries in the area to help with this.)
Most nights we come home exhausted!! I’m sure it will get better as we get more familiar with our jobs and this beautiful country.
The mission office is located in Johannesburg which is a large modern city made up of lots and lots of small communities (Some very wealth and some very poor). South Africa fought it’s “civil war” in the 1980′s. Apartheid was ended in that year. Although the blacks were not slaves, they did not have equal rights. Today, everyone has equal rights, but not equal money or opportunity. The good news is that the African natives are flocking to the Church so the missionaries are busy, which keeps Sherry and I (Paxton at the keyboard now) very busy. They are a very kind and considerate people. Outside of the Church most of the native Africans we meet are “service people”, guards, deliveries, shop keepers, parking lot attendants, janitorial, etc. Tipping is very important, with many of these folks the tips they get are their only income. On garbage day, when we put our the trash, people will come up and go through the trash looking for recycle materials, by the time they leave there is not much for the garbage trucks to collect. You will find people on the streets everyday pushing large carts to the “recycler” and collect their daily wage. There are also numerous people at the intersections hawking various wares from trinkets to fruit and everything in between.
However, Satan is also raging so crime is very wide spread (This town at night reminds me of LA). The shops close around 6PM and the nights are dangerous. All the middle class communities have high (8 foot)fences with locked gates and most also have barbed wire or electric fences on top of the walls.
Although English is the official language, there are actually eleven accepted language so you will hear lots of conversations in public places that you can’t understand. The other day I stopped at a gas station to get directions to a Mall that I knew was in the neighborhood. There were five clerks at the cash registers and when I ask “I’m looking for Makros near the Clearwater Mall”, several individuals stopped to try to answer my question and finally the clerk in charge told me to “talk to attendant” pointing to a tall handsome African working a gas pump. I went and asked him the same question and he answered in perfect English, pointing to an intersection across the road “go up that ramp and watch for the Clearwater Mall on the left. Makros is across the street.
Makros is like Costco and the Clearwater Mall is huge and contains a 3D cimima, they just couldn’t understand my english.
One of the benefits of working in the office is that our area covers the entire mission. We are required to travel to all the areas and get to travel together. We are supplied a mission vehicle and reasonable expenses so travel and our jobs require it.
Well enough from us, drop us a line and let us know how you are doing.
Elder Paxton & Sister Sherry Oborn