Stranded

12-13 May 2016

We got a call about two “missionaries from Ghana” that were stranded at the Sydney airport after missing their onward flight.  The folks in the service centre office near the temple had been contacted.  Apparently these two elders had lost track of the time and not checked in for their next flight to Fiji.  They were stuck in Australia without valid visas.  Through some discussions between the immigration officers at the airport and the local folks in church travel at the service centre, short stay visas were obtained for them.  We were asked if someone could go to the airport and pick them up and keep them overnight and then bring them back the next day for their onward travel.  Sister Kinghorn and I agreed.

When we got to the airport we were not sure who we were going to meet.  Their names were Elder Langi and Elder Evagelia.  One is from Tonga and the other from Samoa.  They were traveling home at the end of their missions having served two years in Accra Ghana in West Africa.  They had started by going from Accra to Dubai and then on to Sydney.  That’s where they lost track of time and missed checking in for their continuing flight to Fiji.

They were both very tired but first we took them to the mission office so they could call their families about the change in their plans. We can call anywhere in the world with our office phones.

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We then took them home and fed them spaghetti (they ate a lot). It was a blessing Ilene had made a big batch of spaghetti sauce earlier in the week. I was surprised they also were very happy to have green salads and vegetables. They said fresh vegetables were very expensive in Ghana.

They slept in our extra bedroom and would probably have preferred staying with other young missionaries overnight.  But they were so tired they went to bed shortly after 8:00.  It was very interesting to hear about the pace of the work in Africa in their mission.  The amount of teaching they did was very high. They described how the people are very superstitious and it is difficult for them to give up traditional beliefs.

In the morning we again went to the office so they could call and clarify their arrival times with their families. On the left is Elder Langi showing the beautiful gift each missionary receives before leaving Ghana. On the right Elders Evagelia and Langi show off the Ghana flag.

While at the office they were both able to meet several of our missionaries as they were gathering for district meetings in the chapel at the mission office. They were excited to share their experiences and to speak Tongan and Samoan with missionaries from their countries. It was hard to get away for our drive to the airport, but we didn’t want another missed flight.

They were both very grateful, warmly thanking us for our help. Elder Evagelia emailed us a very kind thank you note.

It was another unexpected experience that helped us see again the world-wide nature of this work. We had never thought we would meet and help two Polynesian elders who had served their missions in Africa.  There are so many ways the members of the church are knit together by associations from all over the world and Heavenly Father loves all of His children.  We felt it was our pleasure to help them get home to their anxious families.

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