Friday, February 26, 2016

To See an Apostle or The Journey of the Presidents - Carole's Post

There was a very special event on the calendar for the third week-end in February.  Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, accompanied by his wife Kathy, was going to be in Lusaka for a few days of training.  The Lusaka stake presidency, all district presidencies and all branch presidents of the Zambia Lusaka mission were invited to attend a training meeting on a Saturday morning.

Blantyre is the furthest outpost of the mission  In order to attend this meeting, it required a 4 1/2 hour drive to Lilongwe, then another nine hours to Lusaka and we had heard that the "highway" between those two cities had many detours because of construction.  But I don't think the leadership even thought about the difficulties.  They were just excited to be able to hear an apostle of the Lord.
President Chinyumba, a member of the mission presidency, rented a van, so that he could drive and take the eight "presidents" from Blantyre and pick up the additional "six" in Lilongwe on the way.

When our son Seth was here, he told us it was very confusing because we referred to so many "presidents".  On this day, calling everyone "President" was a mouthful.  I think we need to become a stake soon, so we can have fewer "presidents" and have "bishops" instead!
The first item to go in the van was a very large suitcase belonging to Elder Jena.  Since he is leaving the mission field to go back to South Africa next week, he had to get all of his luggage to Lusaka and that meant somehow one of his suitcases had to go by car (because of luggage restrictions on the local airlines).  That meant the spare tire had to go in the van, more like on someone's lap!

President Edward Matale, district president.

President Clement Chikapa, 1st counselor.
President Gabriel Chinomwe, 2nd counselor.

I gave them each a goody bag with a peanut butter sandwich, granola bar, chips, fruit, and cookies.  It was going to be a long trip!

President Banda of the Blantyre 1st branch.
President Leinhard Amos of the Ndirande branch.  He has served for about a year and is the longest serving branch president of the district.  When he was called, he had not even been a member of the church for a year!  President Joseph Banda (right) of the Zingwangwa branch.  He had been a branch president for a week! - just in time to make this great trip.
President Charles Tchongwe of the Blantyre 2nd branch, standing with Gabriel.  
They all said their good-byes and managed to crowd into the van.

Look at all those suit bags hanging up - so they will look sharp for the meeting.

No air-conditioning and a very hot day..

Off they went, spending the night in Lilongwe and getting up early the next morning to go on.  They really did fit six more "presidents" in the van!
When they came home, they left early in the morning and drove straight through, arriving home about 1 am.  
Everyone we have talked to has said it was a glorious meeting and worth every minute of that long drive.  Elder Carl B. Cook, the Africa Southeast Area President and his counselor, Elder Stanley Ellis, both spoke.  In case you are wondering why they are not "presidents", it is because they are members of the First Quorum of Seventies.  Also speaking were Elder Mdletshe, Area Seventy and President Leif Erickson, our mission president.  They were very specific in their training.  Elder Anderson was the final speaker and gave inspiring words to those Priesthood leaders.  They came home with renewed dedication to their callings, and felt the assurance that they were called of God. Elder Anderson made a point of talking to each one of them for a few minutes individually.
L to R  Front row:  Elder Cook (Area President), the Blantyre District Presidency (Chinomwe, Chikapa, Matale), Elder Anderson.  Back row:  Elder Ellis (Area Presidency). Pres. Amos (Ndirande), Pres. Erickson (Mission President), Pres. Tchongwe (Blantyre 2nd), Pres. Banda (Blantyre 1st), Pres. Chinyumba (Mission Presidency), Pres. Banda (Zingwangwa), Elder Mdletshe (Area Seventy)
They had big smiles when they left, and now we know that their spirits have been touched by the words they heard.