Referrals in missionary work is somewhat like referrals when someone is looking for employment. I think that missionary referrals is a lot more fun, and challenging at the same time because it requires speaking to people when it is so much easier not to. I am in the office most of the time during the week, while my companion goes quite often because of shopping for supplies, matters to attend to at the Area Office, and the bank. President Judd has challenged us as an office couple to still be involved in finding those that are interested in learning about the church. I don't feel that I have that opportunity as much, but Saturday we had what was a unique experience for us. We have Elder and Sister Pack coming in September(I probably have already mentioned them) that will be serving as Perpetual Education missionaries. We volunteered to buy items that they will need for their apartment and we decided to get started doing that yesterday. Through the course of a few hours and three different shopping places, we had three referrals. They were two young men and one young women and they basically came up to us. It is hard to put into words how it actually happened, but when we prayed specifically that morning for just such experiences, then I know that we were in the right place at the right time. We will be passing these referrals to the missionaries who will be contacting them. In fact, we gave one of them yesterday because the one young man only had Sundays off from work and wanted to be contacted by Sunday evening. This reminds me that a week ago Saturday we were grocery shopping and had a similar experience. I was looking to see if I could find something in the way of an air freshener, that was not a spray type, when a worker was just there in front of me and a conversation started. I gave Richard's name to Elder Bagazwaga and he contacted him and then reported that he was grateful as Richard was most receptive. I do keep tract of all the referrals I give to the missionaries and often I find a baptism has taken place. I do remove names often also because of no real interest, but even finding one, out of any number of referrals, is definitely worth it. I think it might be compared to when someone gets 'hooked' on Family History work; simply exciting!
I have started the process of making all the arrangements for missionaries going home in September. I haven't even got the August missionaries in the air yet but these arrangements have to be made 2 to 3 months before the actual departure. I had some unique challenges this time with the African missionaries. As I look back on the last few days, I saw even more how the Lord's hand is in His
work, even in getting missionaries home safely from their missions. I contact the missionaries to see what airport will be closest to their home and who their Priesthood leader is to contact about their coming release. Sister Obeten, serving from Calabar Nigeria, gave me a former bishop email address and phone number and also ask that her aunty Mercy be contacted to make a place available for her to stay as Sister Obeten is the only member of her family. I was anxious to get a reply from the email I sent to her bishop, so after a day I decided to call him and was met most pleasantly by him. He will assist in contacting the aunt for me and will be the one I send Sister Obeten's itinerary to. He expressed gratitude for our concern for this Sister. Elder Belay and Elder Onen are serving from the Uganda Kampala Mission and the mission president is just new to his calling. President Chatfield was not sure how all of this was to be handled when I emailed him. Elder Belay lives in Ethiopia (Uganda Kampala Mission is over this country) in a place called Hawassa and Elder Onen lives in Uganda in a place called Gulu. With a lot emailing to find out how and who would be releasing these missionaries once they arrived in their perspective countries, I now know that Elder and Sister Wall of the Uganda Kampala Mission will be picking up Elder Onen, see that he is released by President Chatfield, and then drive him the rest of the way to Gulu. Elder Belay will fly to Addis Ababa and will be met by a counselor in the Kampala Mission who will release him and then drive him to Hawassa which is a distance of about 4 hours. I feel very responsible for getting these missionaries to their home various homes, so I was very relieved to have all of this settled. There is more details in the finding of all of this information, but too much to explain. I just know that the Lord blessed a simple missionary from Nevada, who had to learn to like computers in the first place, and then helped her to connect all the missing links to find the necessary information. It was a great experience and I am sure there will be more to come.
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)