If you have been praying for missionary opportunities, you will want to learn about this. You can pack a suitcase for an African missionary who may not be able to serve without your help. Instructions below.
When our daughter, Michaela, was in the MTC in Johannesburg, South Africa two months ago, we thought something was quite mysterious. Almost every other missionary with her was from Zimbabwe. Not only that, they seemed to know each other like high school friends who shared the same stories.
How did this happen that so many missionaries from Zimbabwe (or Zim as they like to call it) should be entering the mission field at once?
We found out just a few days later when we met three very high profile LDS professional golfers from the Ladies European Tour, Reeve Nield, Laurette Maritz and Cecilie Lundgreen who started a remarkable, nearly unprecedented project. Laurette is South Africa’s top women’s golfer, Cecilie is top-ranked from Norway and Reeve’s family has lived in Zimbabwe for several generations.
For some time Reeve had noticed how many fine young, missionary-age Latter-day Saints were in Zimbabwe who had no chance to go on missions no matter how keenly they desired it. The stumbling block was having the money to prepare themselves to go.
They are street vendors who hawk their wares and live day by day, giving a chunk of funds to their families to help sustain them. They are unemployed in a nation that has fallen on very hard economic times. Their clothing is too worn to look like a missionary. Even if they begin to put a little nest egg aside toward a mission, usually the funds get absorbed when someone in their family needs medicine or their parents fall on particularly hard times.
No getting around it. It is expensive to get medical and dental exams for mission papers, expensive to obtain a birth certificate in a nation where you weren’t given one at birth, expensive to get a passport, expensive to buy a suitcase, let alone fill it when you earn only two dollars a day.
Reeve said the Spirit told her, “Go find those kids here in Zimbabwe who want to go on a mission and can’t,” so she set up a meeting last 16 December in the Harare Chapel and invited the mission-age Latter-day Saints in her area to come. She expected 15 or 20 to show up, but was amazed to see 92 at the meeting.
“What a blessing it was,” she said “to feel their absolute joy, to feel that they might have a chance to go on a mission when they so badly wanted to be missionaries.”
With Cecilie and Laurette, Reeve met with the missionaries from that time forward every Tuesday and Friday for several months helping them to turn in their mission applications and prepare for their missions. The numbers swelled from 92 to more than 230 as the word spread that these faithful Latter-day Saints might be able to serve missions.
It was a complicated process that they very carefully tracked. Things that might be simple someplace else were more complex here. For instance, many only had a hand-written birth certificate and for that to become an electronic one cost money. Then, for that to become an official ID cost more money. With 220 prospective missionaries attending their class, even $10 apiece was prohibitive. They needed electronic birth certificates and ID to apply for passports, which in turn were also expensive. Dollars mounted at every turn.
Reeve and her friends had to be creative and they prayed hard for answers-and when things just seemed impossible they prayed again because they knew that God could give them answers and that he wanted these kids on missions.
For learning their blood types for the applications, the three golfers got an idea to have the youth volunteer to give blood at a local clinic. That way they could learn their blood type and get paid as well.
A church member who was a nurse came into one of their meetings to help with medical exams. Reeve’s father went to the head commissioner of police to ask for help getting the youth the international clearance they needed for their applications. Normally this cost $12 a piece, an exorbitant amount when you multiply by 220. Reeve’s told the police commissioner why he should help, “These youth are righteous. They are virtuous. They are honest. They finish school. They want to go serve the Lord. How many youth are you going to find like that? If you leave them out on the street, what will become of them? Whereas if you help, they will become the leaders of Zimbabwe.”
The police commissioner agreed to waive the fee and instead of taking the usual 10 days, they got their international clearances the next day.
Cecilie said, “These kids are just so diligent and true. They stand apart from all the other young people in Zimbabwe. One day one of the girls came to me in a panic because she had lost her ID and asked if she could borrow $10 to get another one. I gave it to her, and then about a week later she came back to return the $10 because she had found her ID. That kind of honesty is remarkable in a world where your family may be starving or at least destitute and every dollar matters. She could have just kept that money, and I would have never known. I love that about these kids. They are really bright lights.”
“These are just outstanding youth,” she said. “It is just so fun.” None of the three professional golfers are married and have children of their own. “These are our kids,” Cecilie said. I pulled out the picture (shown above) of our daughter in the Johannesburg MTC and she said, “There’s one of mine. And there’s one. And there’s one.”
In the months they worked with their first group of prospective missionaries, the kids sat rapt and attentive at each meeting. No talking or lack of attention. They were glued to everything they were learning, rapt faces glued on the teacher to learn. They worked their way through Preach My Gospel. Reeve’s mother came and gave an etiquette lesson, material that was entirely new to most of them. They learned about patriarchal blessings. They saw movies including President Monson’s On the Lord’s Errand. They taught them how to fill out their genealogy charts.
Lots of people donated church books to the cause and the kids learned about the temple.
By the time they finished with the first group, they had 238 ready for missions with applications filled out-and then calls came to them from other parts of Zimbabwe and also Mozambique. Help us get our kids ready for missions.
This army of African missionaries will be the LDS army of leaders tomorrow.
When we heard this story, we wanted to be a part of it-and what’s great is that we can. Because Reeve, Laurette and Cecilie are pro-golfers, they got another ingenious idea-ask their sponsors to provide the large shipping cartons that they would ship to Zimbabwe for free. Reeve said the Spirit told her to be bold and ask for 10 cartons and then she asked for them to be delivered to Salt Lake City, Utah for packing. Surprisingly, their sponsors agreed.
So, you can pack a suitcase for a missionary or you can donate money to the cause. If you live in the Salt Lake area, you can help pack the cartons at the LDS Humanitarian Center or the Bishop’s Storehouse. Instructions are below, but first we want you to see the missionaries from Zimbabwe that Reeve, Laurette and Cecilie helped prepare in the video below. You’ll love their undaunted enthusiasm.
If you have trouble viewing this video go here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cpzIm20V0zY
They need all donations by September 29. for shipment. Here’s what a missionary needs in one large new or gently used suitcase.
2 suits, 8 shirts (4 long sleeve, 4 short sleeve), 2 belts, 8 socks, 6 ties, 2 pair of shoes (sturdy church & athletic), 2 dark V-neck sweaters, 4 dark pants, set of sheets, bath towel, hand towel, wash cloth 2 bars of soap, 4 toothbrushes and toothpaste, nail clippers, antiperspirant, Vaseline, first aid kit, sewing kit, scriptures (quads are wonderful), journal, marking pencils/pens, 4 pens, 4 pencils, shoe shine kit, shoulder bag (no backpacks).
5 modern, colorful outfits (please make our sisters look cute): blouses, skirts, dresses, jackets, vests, jumpers, suits. 2 pair of conservative/comfortable shoes, accessories (earrings, scarf, etc.) 2 bras, 3 pair underwear, set of sheets, bath towel, hand towel, wash cloth, 2 bars of soap, 4 toothbrushes and toothpaste, nail clippers, antiperspirant, Vaseline, first-aid kit, sewing kit, scriptures (quads are wonderful), journal, marking pencils/pens, 4 pens, 4 pencils, shoulder bag or purse (no backpacks).
Please pack tightly & attach a tag to the outside of the case stipulating the pant size, shirt size & shoe size (elder) or dress, blouse and skirt size (sister) and whether the scriptures are English or Portuguese (many Portuguese scriptures needed). Also include your e-mail address so the missionary who receives yhour suitcase might communicate “thank you’ who they are and where they are serving. A personal letter/pics from you would be wonderful, if you are able. Ziploc all hygiene items. The most desperately needed sizes are 26-32 size suits and 15-1/2-16” shirts for elders and small-medium for sisters. A partially filled suitcase is better than nothing!
You can deliver the suitcases you pack to the addresses below at the LDS Humanitarian Center or LDS Bishop’s warehouse. You are also invited to help pack the 10 containers that are going to Zimbabwe if you would like. For questions or if you are interested in making cash donations contact Lisa Thornton: [email protected], 801-556-8012 or Reeve Nield, [email protected] or Cecilie Lundgreen, [email protected]
We are coming close to our dropping off/packing time!
WE HAVE 10 CONTAINERS TO FILL THIS YEAR! Our sponsors will pay for two of the 40-foot containers. We have to have sponsors for the other 8 containers. We will do everything we can and hopefully others will jump in to help with the rest. We’ll keep you informed of more opportunities to come, including a golf fund raiser and a benefit dinner at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City. More info to come.
Time and location for soft goods/bailing items are:
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 29TH (7am 9:00pm)
LDS Humanitarian Center
1665 Bennett Road
Salt Lake City
Time and location for other items are:
SEPTEMBER 29TH (7AM 9PM)
FIRST PARK WAREHOUSE (Former Bishops Central Storehouse’ which is behind the new BCS’)
390 South 5200 West
Salt Lake City, Utah