George has now been called to be the First Counselor in the Mission Presidency. Since there are no stakes in the mission, this means that whenever President Erickson (in Lusaka, Zambia) is unavailable, one of George's responsibilities is (1) interview prospective missionaries and other members for anything that would require a recommend and (2) to set apart anyone who needs that beyond his/her own branch leaders.
Last week we received word that a young man in Lilongwe needed an interview and signature for a temple recommend and patriarchal blessing, and to be set apart before entering the Johannesburg MTC. After a few calls back and forth, it was determined that the best way to accomplish this would be for the prospective elder to take the bus here to Blantyre from Lilongwe (5-6 hours by bus), be interviewed, set apart and spend the rest of the day and that night with local elders, and leave the next morning for South Africa.
We picked up the soon-to-be Elder Kapatamoyo at noon a few days later at the bus terminal. What an absolutely wonderful young man! His call was to the Uganda Kampala mission and this was the first time he had left Lilongwe. His smile was enormous when he saw us as he got off the bus and that smile never left his face!
After lunch at our apartment and interviews for going to the temple and a patriarchal blessing, we went to the Blantyre meetinghouse where we were joined by the Reynolds and the Merrills and Elders Doig and Kapande for the setting apart. We had a beautiful meeting with good feeling abounding.
Elder and Sister Reynolds knew him because he was one of their seminary teachers.
You couldn't but feel this was a very special young man and he would make a great missionary.
Then off he went, for an afternoon of missionary work with the elders.
We picked him up the next morning and took him to the Blantyre airport. I asked him how it was being a missionary for 16 hours. He loved it of course.
Here he is leaving the missionary apartment. He said it was the second night in a row that he was too excited to sleep!
The first time on an airplane....the first time to go to a big city......the first time beyond the borders of Malawi.
How excited he was with the future ahead! How excited we were for him for the future ahead! The Uganda Kampala mission will be very fortunate in a few weeks when he is added to their roster of missionaries. We see the African missionaries in our mission and marvel at their progress and leadership. When we send off young missionaries with the spirit that Elder Kapatamoyo has, we see the future bishops and stake presidents and then we know how the church in Africa will thrive in the years ahead.