President and Sister Packer Say Good-bye to Africa
President Gary L. Packer, Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Mission
"We can't say that we will not return to Africa. We have spent nearly six years here. Africa is now part of us and we hope that our presence has helped in some way to build ‘The Kingdom’ here."
President Gary L. and Sister Paula Packer say “’Till we meet again” to their many friends in Africa.
“We can't say that we will not return to Africa. We have spent nearly six years here. Africa is now part of us and we hope that our presence has helped in some way to build ‘The Kingdom’ here.”
On July 1, 2012 President and Sister Packer conclude their term as the first mission president and companion of the new Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Lubumbashi Mission, created in 2010. This new mission was formed from the eastern half of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa mission. The boundary line between the two missions runs North and South through the vast republic and adds the country of Burundi.
Growth in Lubumbashi Mission since 2010
President Packer continues, “We witnessed: the ranks of missionaries swell from 50 to 150 young and senior missionaries; our districts increase from two to three; our stakes from two to four; plus a dozen new branches and wards including three in Bujumbura, Burundi and nearby Uvira on the DRC side of Lake Tanganyika. What a blessing it was for us to witness the land dedicated by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Twelve. We love our missionaries and wonderful members.”
Sister Packer says of the Congolese, “They are so very humble, teachable, and faithful people. They smile quickly and love life despite their challenging living conditions. They are a beautiful people and a miracle to behold.”
President Packer adds, “It has been such a joy for us to serve these wonderful people, especially those who have and are embracing the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love the way they support their families, friends and fellow members. I love how they sing with such boldness the hymns of the restoration. I love their kinship with the Holy Spirit who reveals truth and light to them in profound dreams, visions, and personal revelation.”
The Packers have served three missions in Africa
The DRC Lubumbashi Mission is the third senior couple mission in Africa for the Packers. They served a two year mission beginning in 2006 as ordinance workers and French linguists in the Johannesburg Temple.
During that time, their daughter came to visit, then met and soon married John Bromburger from Cape Town. The Bromburgers moved to Utah, U.S.A. where they now reside. Their two young daughters were born during the Packer's second mission.
In 2008 the Packers were called to serve in the Africa Southeast Area Office in Johannesburg as real estate missionaries. That call included work in South Africa, Zambia, Madagascar and the DRC. Midway through their second mission, Elder and Sister Packer were called to serve as the executive and assistant secretary to the Area Presidency. In 2010 President and Sister Packer received a call to serve as mission president and companion of the new DRC Lubumbashi Mission.
While on this mission, the Packers missed the Bromburgers’ sealing in the Salt Lake Temple, births and baptisms of grandchildren and life events of their other children's families. Perhaps it is from these and other challenges that they coined a mission statement, “In the DR Congo Lubumbashi mission we can do difficult things”.