Tomorrow we will say goodbye to our beloved President and Sister Holm. Over the past nearly 10 months, we have come to appreciate those who are called to be mission presidents for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! As I told President a few weeks ago, I've always prayed for the missionaries, but now I pray for their leaders (their Presidents) as well. What a calling they have! What responsibility!
When President and Sister Holm came to the mission three years ago, there were 132 missionaries in the mission. They are leaving tomorrow with 283 missionaries. Over the past 3 years, they have worked with 690 missionaries.
I have great respect for men who are called to preside over the missions of the church. I have sent 5 sons into the mission field. I knew they all had mission presidents. I met one of them (maybe two more - one in Riverside, CA and one in Fukoka, Japan) but I can't clearly remember meeting them. We met our youngest son's mission president in Moscow, Russia because he and his wife invited us to dinner at the mission home when we went to Russia to pick Danny up at the end of his mission. He was the only president I knew that had a young family. He and his wife had, if I recall, 5 children, and the oldest was probably not yet a teenager. Most mission presidents nowadays are called when they are retired, or just about to retire.
President are called to serve for three years. They are not paid, but they live in the mission home, drive a mission vehicle and are given a stipend for living expenses. They also have help maintaining the mission home. When the Holms came to South Carolina, they were told that they could have someone come and help Sister Holm. She was asked if she wanted someone who could cook or someone who would clean. She chose someone who could cook. Sister Contini has been here for 12 years - cooking for 4 mission presidents. She doesn't cook for the Holms, but she does meals for the missionaries when they have leadership training meetings (all day meetings), Sister Specialized Training Meetings, Senior Training Meetings etc. She also provides meals for incoming missionaries and departing missionaries who come to the mission and leave from the mission in groups. I think the largest group of in-coming missionaries came last June. There were 27 of them! Sister Contini is a wonderful cook! During President Holm's tenure, he gained 12 pounds, and he blamed Sister Contini for all 12. Over the past few months, he has been cutting back and is now down to his pre-mission weight - only 4 pounds heavier than he was when he left his mission in Raleigh NC when he was 21-year-old.
Many men who are called as mission presidents are independently wealthy, but certainly not all! Some are retired attorneys or doctors. Some have been owners or on the boards of large companies. Some have been teachers. They are called from all walks of life to preside over the missions of the church, which now number 405 world-wide.
Jack's cousin, Kent Arrington, is currently president of the Chile Concepcion Mission. That's where my parents served their first mission in 1985-86. Kent is there with his wife Michelle. They came in July of 2013 and will be there for two more years.
I went to Mormon.org and searched "mission presidents" and came up with personal profiles of a lot of those who have served or are presently serving. It is a huge responsibility. They are certainly guided and directed by the Spirit in their work! Of this I bear testimony!!!