(Left to right: President Robison, Elder Makuni, Sister Detere, and Elder Moyo)
Yesterday, we welcomed three more missionaries from Zimbabwe who were prepared to serve by 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.
As related September 5, 2014 in Meridian Magazine, here is their story: 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.”
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 want to help in this wonderful cause, check out their website on this link.