Sunday, June 15, 2008

Greetings from Johannesburg

Where did the month of May go? And now we are ½ way through June and still we have been negligent in updating our blog. I guess with all of the skyping that goes on, updating the blog loses its urgency. The problem with that is it is impossible to remember what we have shared with each phone call.

Last October we had a cash offer for the house which was reasonably good but we didn’t feel good about accepting it so we countered and lost it. We felt directed to put it back on the market for the beginning of June. We received a more favorable offer this time, confirming our decision not to sell last fall and reinforcing the importance of following the promptings of the spirit. We are reminded of the importance of not only receiving direction but of following it. We should be closing before the 15th of July. It has been a somewhat emotional decision to make and the finality of selling, what has been home for the past 28 years, could have clouded our judgment if we would have let it.

We have simply been so busy every day that the emotions have had little time to affect us. It is so wonderful being so immersed in the work of spreading the gospel across this great continent. We are aware of many of the miracles that take place day after day, week after week, in the lives of both the missionaries and faithful “pioneer saints” in Africa.

We were able to spend a couple of days with Kathy and Phillip last month while they were on their way home from Zambia. We had a special “family night” and invited the other missionary couples to hear Kathy and Phillip speak about their work in Zambia and the making of “The Worth of a Soul” painting. It has been a wonderful project. The Area President’s wife, Shanna Parmley, has had a portrait size print framed for her residence and has placed one in the Patron Housing for all those who come to visit the temple to see and enjoy. As it gains in popularity we also pray that Mothers Without Borders will also gain in popularity and notoriety.

The end of May we also enjoyed the visit of Elder Russell M Nelson and his wife. We had numerous occasions to meet and talk with them. They are truly amazing and inspired leaders. We received wonderful instruction and counsel from Elder Nelson during his visit but it was the ride in the van, back to the airport, that he “reached out and touched us” the most deeply. He shared with us the occasion of Dad’s impending heart transplant when he gave dad a blessing. I am so proud to be the son of Richard Headlee. As we parted at the airport it was with a firm and loving embrace (hug) that Elder Nelson expressed his gratitude for our service and dedication. He is truly a “special witness.”

We are constantly reminded how small this world really is, and it is getting smaller as we travel faster and as communications continue to improve.

We are so proud of our children and how they pull together and help each other, especially before, during and after Chris and Amy’s wedding. One of the greatest blessings, so far for us in serving a mission, is witnessing the strength and cooperation exhibited by our children and their wonderful spouses. We truly feel our lives are blessed by each one of them.

Chris & Amy

Headlee siblings at
wedding for Chris & Amy

We know that William and Tabatha are in good hands with regards to their wedding arrangements. I am confident they will receive more advice than they need and I know that this experience will bind us all even closer together. We have come to realize that sacrifice, for us at this time in our lives, is giving up the hugs and kisses of our children and grandchildren. It is not being able to witness our children enter into eternal covenants. It is missing the excitement generated at a grandchild’s birthday celebration. Hopefully, for Pam, it won’t be missing the birth of too many grandchildren. -Mike

Animals abound in all shapes and sizes and degree of life here in Africa!

The perspective of the Church as seen from an area office…

One of the most interesting aspects of working in an area office is getting a glimpse of the Church as it operates world wide.

Before we came here we were like ants working in a little ant hill. We knew there are other ant hills out there, but our world was basically confined to a small area. Seeing the church from an area is like flying in a plane and being able to see thousands of ant hills at one time and seeing how they interact with each other. Now we get to see the whole picture.

It is amazing to see all the aspects and functions, the leadership and the various “arms” of the church. We work with other area missionaries who have responsibilities with welfare, humanitarian, employment, public affairs, legal, medical, Perpetual Education Fund, Church Education System &, missionary training. We see shipments of relief supplies being sent to areas where the church doesn’t yet have a presence in remote areas. We see missionaries coming to the area office for medical assistance so they can continue their missions without problems. We see church members being trained in how to get jobs. We receive missionary recommendations from 15 countries around southern Africa. As we read these recommendations we know that many of these young people have attended four years of seminary. When we attend church here we hear the testimonies of sincere members of the church who believe as we do. In translating Patriarchal blessings we see 12 tribes represented on this continent.

We have met an African area authority who has twelve children and whose wife goes to a well each day for water and carries it back to her home, which has a dirt floor and no electricity or running water. He is the only area authority with no car. He works in an area of Africa which is exploding with new members….committed members who are poor, but who pay tithing and whose greatest dream is to make a once-in-a-lifetime to a temple. 2500 are worthy and waiting.

Elder Kola and Mike

We are living on a continent where there are rampant problems unlike anything we have ever been exposed to. We see disease, racial violence and crime “up close and personal.” The reality of what life is like for so many millions around the world is very sobering. It is amazing to see how so many survive amidst political terrorism, poverty, xenophobia and economic chaos. And yet they do survive. Most find some joy in their lives, even when they have lost loved ones to disease, even when they are hungry and even when they live under a cruel dictator’s rule. To balance all of the hardship that we see is an inspiring show of humility, dedication to be righteous and hope. Living around these good people makes us love Africa.

I visited the Baragwanath Hospital, the largest hospital in the world, with Sister Parmley and some of the area sisters to deliver little blankets and hats for the babies in the Ceserean ward.

Before we left on a mission we both shared a real sense of need for more missionary couples. Now that we are here and see all workings of the church in this continent we realize that this need is indeed critical. There are mission presidents everywhere that are begging for the talents and assistance that a couple could contribute. If you could interview the couples as they returned home after serving in Africa, you would know that their mission was a life-changing experience that they will treasure into the eternities.

So…our time is flying by as we serve in the Africa Southeast Area office. It is rewarding and enjoyable to help in some small way to move the good works of the Church forward as the Gospel grows in this part of the Kingdom. We appreciate the support and love we feel from friends and family at home. We want you all to come see this for yourselves! -Pam


dmclalin said...

You are doing a wonderful work! Bless you both. I also was wondering if Mike might be an old Redford Union HS friend of mine.

Dan McLalin Class of 1968

Las Vegas Hulet Family said...

My kids can't get enough of your pictures, especially the animals. Thanks for posting. We love and miss you!