"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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 12, 2013 - Sunset over Queenstown

Sunset over the westward mountains with Queenstown at our backs.  We had just finished teaching a Young Women who desperately wants to be baptized but has taken the decision to wait until her mother is willing enter the waters of Baptism.

Letter from Elder and Sister Thomas to family on 11/1102013:

"Dear Family,

Hard to believe we have been on mission for a full month and 4 weeks of that have been in South Africa.  First, I am including a couple of paragraphs from an email to Luke.

"We have been asked to help a ward that is about 30 minutes away from where we live.  They are struggling a bit as a ward.  Yesterday we went with the two Elders (missionaries) assigned to that ward on teaching appointments.  We had a lesson with a girl of 16 who had just joined the church.  She is just starting to do year-end exams, so she hasn't been at church for a couple of weeks as she has been studying.  She is also struggling to read the scriptures.  She didn't grow up reading the Book of Mormon, so she has a hard time understanding "scripture" language. You are lucky to have been taught to understand the scriptures since you were Leah's age.  We had a good discussion with her about that.  We taught the lesson sitting on a little bench outside the house.  Grandpa and the Elders sat on the ground so Sinase and her grandmother and I could sit on the bench.  The wind was blowing and we sitting under an apricot tree outside their very humble home.  It was really being in Africa!

Later that evening we went about 30 minutes on a dirt road up into the hills to a member family.  Their daughter has just turned in her papers to go on a mission.  We will be excited to see where she is called to serve.  I had made a pumpkin pie (from a butternut squash but it tasted like pumpkin) and taken it to her family.  After the family home evening, they brought us out a plate of rice, a piece of chicken and a sort of unspicy salsa mixture.  It was very good and very welcomed as it was after 8 p.m."

This week we have been involved in some interesting discussions as we have accompanied the Elders.  We sat in our first "Chastity" discussion to a 21 year man.  He had already had part of the lesson in the Gospel Essentials class, so we mostly got to discuss the promises associated with the law of chastity.  Then a couple of days later, we did the same lesson with a less active member and his fiancé who is being taught the lessons.  He had already told her what the discussion was going to be about before we came.  They have been living together and are supposed to get married in November of next year.  They both committed to living the law of chastity until then.  She wants to be baptized soon.  He is a Melchizedek Priesthood holder and has some steps he has to go through.  She is from Cuba and they want to honeymoon in Cuba and have a big wedding.  They do have the temple as their goal.  We are wondering how we could suggest that they have a smaller civil wedding now and then go on the big honeymoon after their temple sealing.  Don't know how they can keep their commitment for a whole year while they are living in the same house.

Later that evening we went on a first appointment to an investigator.  It was to a man who had come to church the Sunday before all on his own.  He wanted the Elders to come and tell about their church in his home so his wife could be there.  The wife, her friend, his sister and another lady were there.  It started off a bit tense when he stated that God was the same no matter what church you went to so it didn't really matter what church you were a member of.  The Elders started off with the Restoration of the Gospel lesson and by the end everyone was really into it.  He was worried because he had heard at church that if you know the truth you need to tell others about it because if you don't their blood is upon you.  He wasn't sure he could handle that burden or if he even wanted it.  We assured him that it is our obligation to "warn our neighbor" but they have their agency in deciding what they will do.  As long as we do our part, Heavenly Father is happy with us.  The sister lives about 4 hours away where there is not a branch of the church.  I had just put some pass-along cards in dad's shirt pocket before we left, so we gave them each one.  They can SMS the number with their name and address and someone will deliver the "Joy to the World" dvd to them.  Nice first appointment and they invited the Elders back.  This man really has the Light of Christ in him.

Then on Sunday we went with the Zone Leaders on a couple of appointments.  The first one was to a man we had been to once before.  Elders have been visiting him for a few months now.  He wants to be baptized but wants to do it just before he dies so he will be clean when he meets God.  We were there to teach him the Word of Wisdom lesson.  When we got into his house, he told us that his wife had served him with divorce papers on Friday and as he went into town that afternoon to hire a lawyer, he saw his wife with another man.  He was so angry he wanted to go get petrol and throw it on their house and burn her up in it.  Fortunately, because of the truths he has been taught in the last little while, he did not do that.  But he was in pain and sorrowing over the situation.  Dad handled the discussion talking about how we all have trials that seem so hard that we are sure we can't get through them.  He told a little about our trial in losing Chaz.  The Elder Spencer read in D&C 122 where Joseph Smith is in prison and the Lord tells him of all the trials that he might have to go through and how they don't really compare with what Christ went through.  I was amazed at how quickly the discussion was changed from W.O.W. to what this man needed to hear.

The next appointment was to a single mom with a seven year girl.  The lesson was The Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We had a good discussion on faith - led by me.  Elder Olyabo (from Uganda) has a way of surprising you and giving you the "eye" as he says you will explain something.  He had Dad teach about repentance.  This was the first time we were really teaching instead of just adding comments or a testimony.  As we got through the steps of repentance, the woman told us that she has a boyfriend and she knows it is wrong, but she has been out of job for a year and he is giving financial support to her and her daughter.  She says she has great faith in God, except she doesn't believe that things will be okay if she tells the boyfriend to go away.  She is worried that they will really suffer temporally.  So it came back to me to challenge her to build up her faith in God in all things and then take the leap of faith and make her repentance complete.  Such a sad situation because her daughter is old enough to know that this man is not her father.  Her father actually died.  The mom doesn't want her daughter to think this is okay.

After we came out from this discussion, I was wiped out emotionally and mentally.  Elder Olyabo said this happens all the time.  They must be led by the spirit because I don't know how they could possibly know where to go with the discussion except by listening to the spirit.

I attended Primary this week.  They are having their program in two weeks.  There are about four girls and ten boys.  The Primary President hasn't been to church in while so the young woman who is waiting for her mission call does all of Primary.  She is in the presidency.  After the lesson, which was mostly in Xhosa, she said that she didn't have a sharing time because the president had the outline.  I had downloaded it on my iPad on Saturday, so I pulled it up and she asked me to teach it.  It was "We are Thankful for Temporal Blessings".  So I had a couple of minutes and got it organized and it seemed to go well.  These kids understand English as well.  They sang the Articles of Faith song for all 12 by memory.  I am so impressed with their knowledge and eagerness to learn.  The other night at a FHE the sixteen year old son (a new Priesthood holder) conducted the meeting.  The Elders presented their message and the young man summarized it and added his comments and testimony at the end - without being asked or assigned to do it.

So for the fun, unmissionary part of the week, we finally decided on a lounge suite for the new flat and a mattress.  We have shopped and shopped and hope we have chosen the right things.  Today we got a dinnerware set and glasses - we already have the silverware.  We stopped by our new flat on Saturday and we are getting more excited about moving into it.  December 1st is still the date.  The contractor was there and verified that it will be done.  So we have scheduled the internet guys to come and the furniture to be delivered then.  We still have to get the refrigerator and microwave and all the linen and bathroom stuff, but that shouldn't be too hard as we have been looking a lot in the shops.

We went golfing today for the first time.  The course is really dry.  They don't really water anything except the greens.  It was a nice day and we were the only ones on the course.  We bought a cart from the shop at the course for about $90.  They are happy to let us share clubs.  Dad had an eagle 2 on a par 4 hole that was 300 yards.  He was on the edge of green and chipped it in.  He beat me by a stroke!  I didn't put sunblock on anything but my face and the back of my knees, arms and neck are pretty red.  I think we are going to really look forward to our P-day golf.

As we were playing, I noticed something was funny with one of my teeth.  It was actually a crown that had come loose.  So after we came home and changed, we went to a dental surgery we had seen one day on a walk this week.  In fact, Dad had said, "That's the dentist I want to go to if we need anything."  We didn't really expect to ever need his services.  He was very busy when we went there so they said they would call when things slowed down.  We went to find some panel beaters because one set of elders dinged their car.  Right across the street was the Tupperware warehouse.  So I went in and got a big bowl.  It was kind of a trauma because they want you to sign up to be a dealer to buy things.  I got one of the ladies in there who is a dealer to order it for me and then I paid for it and got it then.  The bowl is big - 10 liters.  I can now fit about 3 batches of dough in one bowl!  I have to make 12 dozen rolls for the tri-zone Christmas dinner, so the bowl will be great.  Anyway, I did get my crown re-cemented and it only cost R100 or $10.  What a deal.

We did our first boarding inspections and I was not as tough as Sis. Boyce (from East London) who was teaching me how to do it.  Only one flat out of the three passed with flying colors.  I am doing re-inspections tomorrow morning.  Hope they used their P-day wisely today.

Okay - that is about it from here.  Congratulations to the Cutrer boys on winning their championship games!!!  We love getting emails from all of you updating us on your lives.

Elder and Sister Thomas - aka: Mom and Dad

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