"And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." D&C 84:88

Friday, January 31, 2014

Reaquainting with the Lekgoati's

This is a fun story.  Elder Lekgoati (pronounced La-quat-te) is the grandson of the Branch President in the Soweto Branch when we lived in South Africa.  Sister Thomas and I worked with President Lekgoati when we were the Stake Young Men's and Young Women's President in the Johannesburg Stake some 30 years ago.  We attended the Soweto Branch as part of our stake assignments and for Branch Conferences.

When we attended we would travel to Soweto but the Branch met at a School just off the Western Bypass next to the Coal Fired Power Plant. I am not sure if I could find this school again if I tried.  It was at a Soweto Branch Conference while the Branch Choir was singing "How Great Thou Art" that our Heavenly Father reached down and touched my heart giving comfort and solace to my soul following a heart wrenching loss.  I will never forget the feelings I had as our Savior put his loving arms around me and as peace began to re-enter my soul. I will give gratitude forever to the members of that choir for the wonderful harmonized voices singing "How Great Thou Art" in that humble Branch Conference.

President Lekgoati was a wonderful example of God fearing man who was interested in doing “much good”.  He was always interested in the youth of his Branch. It is thrilling to be in the mission field serving with his grandson.  What a blessing and a pleasure to reacquaint ourselves with his family in this way.

District Meeting and Lunch at Nando's

Today we had our district meetings and I asked the District Leaders if I could have a few minutes.  I took the opportunity to speak to the Elders on D&C 121 and our need as Priesthood holders to act using persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and through love in all circumstances.  Even and especially in times of conflict.  This guidance is of particular importance in light of all trials that the Prophet Joseph Smith faced at the time.  Given the history and the background surrounding the events when this counsel was given and when we realize that it is unlikely that we will be unlawfully imprisoned, starved and poisoned, we should be able to follow this guidance and carry ourselves with the dignity that the Priesthood requires.  They received this message well.

They are a wonderful group of missionaries and it is a thrill to serve with them.  In the center picture, is from left to right, Elders Ramat, Slabbert, Madsen, Sister and Elder Thomas, and Elders Ellingson, Lawson and Lekgoati.  (More on Elder Lekgoati later.)  After the District meeting, we then joined the Elders for lunch at Nando’s.  I should let my daughters know that Nando’s is still as good as they can remember, in fact, it might be better than they can remember.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Glueing the Table and Trimming the Apple Tree at Sister Chipo's

Today we had an active day and accomplished great deal.  First we went for a walk and purchase more power for the Elders in B2.  Then we went over to the mall so mom could have her eyes checked and we also went to Game to purchased a washing machine and transported it over to the elder’s flat in the back seat of the car.  Their old one had given up the ghost.  We were able to get this installed but I do need to go back and change the piping so it will sit against the wall better. (one more thing on the list for me to do).  Then we went out to Sada and the Elders helped me find a couple of the families that I have been assigned to Home Teach.  Finally we went over to Sister Chipo’s to glue the table and chairs.  I still need to work on the chairs but we did get the table done.  When we finished she wanted some help trimming back an apple tree.  It was fun but resulted in my first blister in the mission field.  Mom and Sister Chipo raked up the ground when we were done.  Some of the neighbor hood kids helped clean up so they could cash in on some of the apples that came out of the tree. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Toxic Food Night with the Elders - Not so Toxic Tonight!

The Elder Lawson invited us over for Toxic Food night. (the Elders cook throwing everything together in order to cook their remaining food prior to a transfer).  That fell through because the members found out Elder Lawson was being transferred and did a good job of feeding him.  We ended up just having mom’s desert.  The pictures shows Elder Kintu and Elder Smith who also work in Sada.  Also shown is Elder Ndovu and Elder Larson.  Elder Larson ended up getting transferred from one area in Queenstown to another.  He moved from one flat to another about 30 meters away.  Must be one of the shortest transfers ever.  All in all a nice evening with the elders.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Sunday Baptism at Sada

We had a baptism today.  Actually there were three of them.  Elder Smith arrived in the mission field only a few days ago and had the opportunity to baptize one of the Young Women.  The font was cold but the day was warm.  I taught the Priesthood using Elder Urchdorf’s talk titled “Come Join with Us”.  Mom taught the Young Women on the Holy Ghost.  Following Church, Mom came through in a pinch today making the Baptismal Program from nothing because the printer was broken.  She is a champ.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dinner at the Valli's with all the Elders

We were all invited to attend a dinner at Brother and Sister Valli.  Brother Valli is a member of the High Counsel in the Stake.  The evening started with a prayer and Sister Thomas was asked to provide a spiritual thought.  One of the highlights of the evening was Elder Elingson’s dolphin dance.  The food was very good and Sister Vale did a good job of providing enough for 10 hungry missionaries.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Teaching with the Queenstown Elders

Today we had the opportunity to go teaching with Elders Ramat and Erickson.  We went to several appointments that were a bust.  However we were able to teach one investigator in the home of her sister and a group of Inactive Sisters.  The Elders showed them the October 2013 Conference talk by President Uchtdorf titled “Come, Join with Us”.  It was an inspired chose.  We taught the Joseph Smith story and explained about and gave a Book of Mormon to an investigator in the home of her sister.  She gave a commitment to read and pray. 

We then switched to Elders Slabbert and Elder Ellingson.  We taught several different people with this companionship and also met with a Counselor in the Bishopric of the Queenstown Ward and his family and taught them about Faith.  We concluded with the final lesson with Daryll & Lianet's and Elder Slabbert chose to shown them the talk Brad Wilcox gave at a BYU Devotional in 2011 titled “His Grace Is Sufficient”.  He had asked us to down load it on Sister Thomas’ iPad so we could show it to them.  It was a very good lesson which I really felt Daryll needed to hear.  In fact that talk is beneficial for everyone to hear.

All in all a very good afternoon and evening spent teaching with some dedicated and inspired missionaries.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

We had a Hot Dog Braai in Honor of Elder Steele

We received news on the upcoming transfers.  Elder Steele is leaving so we purchase some mustard from him and other condiments because he would have had to leave them behind.  He had to leave on Sunday night so that his Companion could catch a plane on Monday morning.  We were sad to see Elder Steele go but in his honor we held a Hot Dog Braai and used the American Mustard and Ketchup we purchased from him.  We all enjoyed it, as we toasted our Hot Dogs to Elder Steele.  We were sorry he missed out.  Thanks to Elder Steele for sharing his Christmas Joy with those that remained behind.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sister Thomas Visits with Aso Xalabile

After the Relief Society meeting Mom takes the time to sit and have a chat with Aso Xalabile, the Bishops daughter.  Aso had to wait at the church until her mom was done teaching institute class. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Nelson Mandela Poster

We found a Nelson Mandela poster that had not been taken down following his funeral.  These unique posters were put up in celebration between his death and funeral.  We went out after we returned from Mthatha and took it down.  I am not sure that this was like the”thief in the night” but it did feel like we were out in the dark collecting something that we could get in trouble for.  Perhaps not, because I and sure all the posters that have been collected are those that you could get to without a ladder.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Our Visit to Mthatha

We spent this morning inspecting the elders apartment.  We had to purchase a fan, bath mats, garden hose, fix the vacuum and mom cut two of the elders hair.  It was a busy day and a half.  We went to the district meeting and then bought lunch for the elders at McDonald's.  The we went and purchased the elders power and were off on our way back to Queenstown.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Home Teching to the Miselo Family at the small Village of Sibonile.

We went to the Miselo Family tonight for Family Home Evening.  I was able to provide the lesson as taught by President Uchtdorf on the best time to plant a tree.  We had a good evening and I collected all the family members names and birth dates so I can make sure that the records are correct.  It was a good evening way up in the hills at the remote village named Sibonile.  Don’t be fooled by the pictures inside of the house, it is bright orange and the outside is bright pink.  You can tell the house from any other in the village. In the upper right hand picture Sister Thomas is visiting with Wendy Miselo about teaching in Primary on Sunday.  Wendy's Mission Papers are in Salt Lake City being reviewed.  She should know where she is being called in the next 3 to 4 weeks.

Elder Steele Carries the Fire Wood

A short Email that we sent to the Steele Family

Last night we drove up to a small village to visit a member family.  Their oldest daughter has turned in her papers and is waiting for her mission call.  Sister Thomas and I have been assigned to be their home teachers.  We were not sure where they lived so we persuaded the Elders to allow us to follow them there.

After driving for 30 minutes out into the African countryside we came to the village.  As we approached the village we saw a typical African scene where a woman was carrying firewood on her head and she was headed back into the village.

As I looked upon the scene, appreciating it for what it was, the Elders' car in front of us suddenly pulled to the side of the road and stopped.  Elder Steele, who was driving, was out with a bound and proceeded down the hillside to the woman offering to help her carry the wood.  It was an act of pure charity.  I took a couple of pictures as the story developed and wanted to share them with you.

There is one where Elder Steel has taken the wood from her.  One where they are getting directions from her to her home and a final showing the path where they carried the wood.  This picture is somewhat deceiving.  The grade where either the women or Elder Steel had to carry the wood was over 30 degrees.  (The Village is on the side of hill) Finally, there is one of Elder Steele in the family's home we were going to visit with Sister Thomas.

I got out of our car and had the pleasure of watching this unfold.  This African Woman was someone's Mother or Grandmother.  I have always been trained to treat older women as if they were my mother.  This was drilled into me in my youth by my mother and father.  I still strive to do that today.  I had the opportunity to see this training come into action through your son.  I can tell by this one act alone about the training that Elder Steele has received from his Mother and Father.  If I can paraphrase the Book of Mormon.  "He did not doubt his parents knew it."

You should know that your son is a pleasure to be around.  He is a wonderful, faithful, obedient missionary that acts with compassion and love to those around him.  We are grateful to be able to serve with him while he is here in Queenstown.

Our love to all the Steele's (who from your son's accounts is at least 1/3 of Nephi)

Elder and Sister Thomas

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We Love the Mountains around Queenstown

Our vehicle is in the shop getting new brakes on the front and rear.  We went to teach a young male investigator with Elders Slabbert and Kupka.  The elders were kind enough to pick us up.  Unfortunately this appointment fell through but we convinced the Elders to take us to a place where we could take a picture of the town and the surrounding mountains.  This is Queenstown on a clear hot simmer day.   It was just over 40 degrees Celsius today.  Not for the faint hearted.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fixing the local Bicycles

When we got home from golfing the kids from the apartment complex brought their bike to me again.  This time the handle bars had come all the way off.  It was the bolt that goes down through the front fork.  I am sure that no one has ever tightened a bolt on the bike since it was new.  I went to tighten it but found I needed some allen wrenches.  I went and bought a set for USD 5.00 dollars and got it all tightened up.  I also replaced one of the brake levers which was broken as well.  Nice group of kids.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dad Cut his Finger Today, First Blood in the Mission Field

Dad had a small accident today and smashed a part of his ring finger on his right hand.  Unscrewing a fan and it slid down the shaft and pinched some skin off the fingerprint of his ring finger.  Not major issue but a pinched finger always hurts a bit.

Daryll and Lianet's Wedding

This morning we had the opportunity to attend Daryll and Lianet's wedding.  It was a small ceremony at the Department of Home Affairs in Queenstown.  It is one more step down the correct path.  Nice experience.  Then we went to their house to have some sparkling grape juice and some cake.  We are proud of their decision and the commitment they are making.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Zone Training and Interviews

Today was our Zone Training and Interviews.  We arrived at the Church at 8:00 AM to begin setting up.  All the food mom had cooked needed to be transferred to the Church along with all the necessary pots pans.  We also had to bring our TV and DVD player so it could be used by the Zone Leaders during the training. Then we had a last minute errand to pick up the rolls at the Spar and some plastic table clothes of the tables.  Mom’s Hawaiian Haystacks went down well.  We had to push the Elders to try the different combinations.  It was a good lunch and all the Elders were happy.  We had the opportunity to take President and Sister Woods out to dinner tin the evening.  We also brought them over so that they could see the apartment and all the furnishings.  They were pleased and Mom should be very proud of what she has accomplished in getting the flat all set up.  All in all a very good day.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Our Visit with Tinus and Ansie Strauss - A Happy Day

Today we got up early (5:00) and started to drive to Middleburg in the Eastern Cape.  It is about a three hour drive.  We arranged to meet Tinus Strauss and his Family who were traveling back from Mossel Bay to Johannesburg.  The breakfast was really good and the company was even better, like a day had not been skipped.   Good friends are like that and I consider Tinus as a South African Brother.  It was good to see him again.  Carolyn and I then drove to Cradock to deliver a DVD to a person who ordered it by SMS text.   It was an interesting experience dropping off the DVD.  The person was excited with our visit but did have some “out there” ideas.  She was going to share the DVD with some friends and give us a call if she wanted anymore information.  We made it back to Queenstown in one piece even though there was a great deal of road construction on the way and we had to stop at several road blocks by the flagmen.  At the road blocks we did some planing except for one stop which ended quickly.  The road was down to one lane for most of the way so you had to take turns. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Golfing on January 1st

We got up and went golfing on January 1st.  There was no one around and we had the course all to ourselves.  It was hot and we or I should say I did not play that good.  I think Mom beat me today.  While we were there we received a text that one of the Elders accidentally broke a window at their flat while trying to open a window.  We will have to go check that out later today.