I had surgery to repair my collar bone towards the end of June 2002. There were office elders to take care of the duties there. I had to have a bone graft taken from my illiac crest and that burned for days. I was back at the office trying to make it look inviting and friendly for the new MP - I really hoped that he would be kind and caring! He arrived on July 3rd and the following day our son-in-law succumbed to the cancer. Once again I was in no real condition to travel with my right arm out of commission and my left wrist still very painful and also needing surgery.
I wanted to go home to support my daughter and grandchildren, but the words of the stake president kept repeating in my mind. "I counsel you, not to come home early from your mission, no matter what happens." I wanted so badly to be obedient. I wanted so badly not to have to make this choice. There was no choice; it had been made the minute he had uttered those words. Obedience is the first law of heaven; I will obey.
We went to a beach to say our own goodbyes to Mark. He had talked to our daughter about surfing out in the ocean during the nights when he was on pain meds, so it seemed like a fitting place to remember him. We sat on the sand with another missionary couple and discussed his wonderful qualities and the care and love that he had given to our daughter and grandchildren. It brought some measure of comfort to our aching hearts but I couldn't see her eyes; I couldn't hold her and let her feel my love and support. This is one of the things that I regret the most about being an obedient servant - obedient enough to abandon your own kids when they need you, and they, obedient enough to abandon that mother and grandmother later when she needs them. What kind of church has that kind of hold over its members?
About 6 weeks after surgery on my wrist, we were finally transferred from the office to Port Elizabeth.
The drive to Port Elizabeth was a wonderful break for us; something that we had needed months before. We went to the Cango Caves Zoo where I had the marvelous opportunity to pet a cheetah. Somehow I saw this as a healing moment; a touch of the surreal and new beginnings for us. We would be working with the people together as missionaries. I really looked forward to this new start and being away from the MP's gaze.
One week later the MP, on a flying visit announced to my husband and another male half of a couple, that they were to serve as branch presidents. My husband was to serve in a black township; places that we had been told previously to stay out of due to the dangers of armed robbery etc. I was totally shocked that the MP would do this to us. He knew what we had been through; knew how much pain I suffered especially in my back. The daily commute to the township took about 40+ minutes in the car. While my husband was busy being important (not something that he had asked for)there was no calling that had a name for me. I was just the branch president's wife. Most duties of a branch president require him to be alone with members of the ward and I didn't know what I would do while these meetings took place. I did what I should have been doing at home in Canada; I became a surrogate mother to all the young people in the branch. I plead for them to the higher up leaders to try to help them in sustainable ways. I emailed Jo'burg to try to get humanitarian farms or gardens going. I had no success at all. I sat for hours and waited for my husband to come out of meetings; all the while dreaming up jobs that I could do to feel that I was of some use.
One of the things that stands out in my mind is the sacrifices that the black people were/are required to make in order to be members of the church.
Next blog, the Perpetual Education Fund and other lies.