Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ever Changing

Today was Elder and Sister Miles last day in the mission and what a day it was! In the normal routine of the office we have groups of young missionaries leaving and coming in every six weeks. A lot of what we do is to prepare for this time. Today we had two missionaries come in not at the normal rotation time. Both of them had been awaiting visas and when the visas were granted they came. We also had a missionary released from the hospital and it was leadership conference. To make the day more interesting Elder X who is from Cambodia had to leave items behind because his luggage weighed too much, so he needed to get towels, sheets, toiletry items, shoes and exersice clothes. He came in early in the morning, shortly after five. Elder Y coming from American Samoa was supposed to get in at one thirty. Leadership counsel was over so President and Sister Henderson went to pick him up, but couldn't find him. It turned out he missed his connecting flight in Sydney because he couldn't figure out how to get a complimentary shuttle to a different terminal and ended up walking a long distance, poor guy. We were a little frantic in the process. He came with no luggage because when he started off on the first leg of his journey he got to the airport so late that he got on the flight, but his luggage did not. It will come on Saturday. So we have two missionaries who both need items. Elder and Sister Miles were already donating most of Elder Miles white shirts and his ties to the mission, so Elder Y got some of those along with a couple pairs of garments other missionaries had ordered (but were the wrong size) so we had them in the office. Elder and Sister Miles took Elder X shopping for what he needed, while we manned the office. Many of our missionaries come with very little. We get a lot from Tonga, the Philippines, Asia and the surrounding islands. We realise what a struggle it is for some of these men and women who have so little to come serve a mission. We have had missionaries come with basically the clothes on their backs. When missionaries leave they can donate usable items and the missionaries who come with nothing can often "shop" the mission home. 
Elder X from Cambodia has a remarkable story. When the Khmer Rouge was slaughtering people in Cambodia, the UN sent in a peace keeping force. Elder X's mother met his father who was a peace keeping soldier from Africa. When he went back to Africa she was pregnant. She had the baby, he was so dark skinned that she left him under a tree to die. His grandmother heard about it and went and got him, he was in bad shape but lived. The grandmother raised him until he was about ten, she then became impoverished, couldn't support him and sent him to an orphanage along with a half sister. When he lived with his grandmother, his aunts and uncles treated him badly. Because of his skin color they wouldn't let him eat with them and they physically abused him. The woman who runs the orphanage is LDS. Through the years she taught him the gospel.  He had to wait until he was 18 and then he was baptised. He is twenty now. He has a beautiful testimony, he is sweet, kind, humble and soft spoken with a wonderful spirit. He will be a fantastic missionary! It strengthens our testimonies to hear what some of these young people go through to serve The Lord.
So, missionaries leave and others come but we are really going to miss Elder and Sister Miles! We are so grateful for their patience and friendship. We have had some great times together and are thankful for all they have taught us and shown us and the great example they are of Christ like love.

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