"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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Elders play a game Soccer against the YM/Elders of Sada - Final Score 4-2 for the Elders

We helped organize a soccer game between the Sada Ward YM against the Queenstown Missionaries and a fellowshipper that the missionaries brought along so there would be a full team of 11. 

We arranged with the Bishop that we could use some of the Young Men's ward budget to purchase some drink and food for after the game.  Sister Thomas and Wendy helped organized all this and we brought it out to Sada.

The event started slowly because the Sada Elders had not made all the arrangements with the other missionaries and when we got to the field we were told that we needed to go to the Whittlesea Municipality and pay the R70 to book the field.  The Elders got to the field 1 1/2 hours after the original start time. 

The lower left picture is of our Bishop who left school early to get to the field on time only to discover that it was delayed by two hours.  The conclusion is that the next time we need to do better planning particularly when we have involved the ward or branches.  When the missionaries are involved, we need the activity to be well planned and to start on time. 

Actually, there were some Elders with some very good soccer skills and you could tell that they had played a great deal in their youth.  Surprisingly, Elders from the United States played along with those from England and South Africa.  Of course, there were some who played a bit of a cross between American grid iron and basketball.  Soccer is a very different skill set.  All of the Elders, either very good or not, are just a bit out on timing.  You could see passes were leading just a bit to much or that players were half of a step slower right now.

Wendy Visits us in Queenstown

Wendy came into Queenstown today so she could get her last shots.  As of today, she has all these vaccinations behind her.  Once done, she came back to our apartment and helped sister Thomas prepare the hot dogs and buns.  While they were busy, I went to get some ice to keep the drinks cold.  We then drove out to Sada so we could be there in support to the soccer game between the Missionaries and the YM of the Sada Ward.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Elder Smith Gets his first glass of Chocolate Milk while in the Mission Field

While we were out in Sada today we were at the Church helping out.   Sister Thomas and I did our part to clean the building as well as worked on some Home Teaching records and membership records.   While we were there, Elders Palelei and Smith dropped by to change following a service project they had just completed.  While they were at the church we invited them over for some cookies when they return to Queenstown for the night.  They came by around 8:30. 

They used our computer to look something up for a member of the ward and then enjoyed some cookies and chocolate milk.  We realized when they were done that this was the first glass of Chocolate Milk Elder Smith has had since he left home.  It brought a big smile to his face.  Elder Palelei is looking a bit longingly at Elder Smith's glass but I can assure you he has already had a big glass of Chocolate Milk.

SIster Thomas Shares her Chocolate Chip Cookies with the Temple Preperation Class

Sister Thomas passes out some homemade chocolate chip cookies to those attending the last Temple Preparation class that is being taught today at the church.  These sisters are excited because they are going to their first Temple Recommend interview on Sunday with President Bell.  They have to travel to the Ilinge Chapel for the interview because he will be there for the branch conference.

I am lucky to have Sister Thomas as a companion because she thinks about and prepares for these small little acts of service that touch people hearts.

Sister Xabilie is teaching Sister Menze, Wendy Miselo and Thembakazi Skepe.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Putting up the map and Sister Thomas' cookies get the best of Elder Olsen

We went over to Elder Ramat and Elder Pennington's flat when they got home along with the Assistants, (Elders Olsen and Madsen) who were doing split offs with them today.  It is nice to have them come for a visit and it is special to get Elder Madsen back for a visit. 

We purchased the double sided tape so we could hang their new map on the wall.

While there, Sister Thomas passed out some home made cookies.  These happened to be oatmeal and raisins.  This my mother's secret recipe which Sister Thomas has improved over time.  They are good cookies, more like a good quick meal.

You can see Elder Olsen savoring the last two he was given.  It is not the most becoming picture of Elder Olsen but in his defense he had been out working all day and was hungry.  Sister Thomas' cookies will do that to you.

Sister Thomas discusses where Canti's live, who are members that we have visited for family home evening on a couple of occasions in the past.

Our Two Districs after District Meeting along with the Presidents AP's

A picture of our two districts in Queenstown along with the President’s Assistances who were visiting so they could work with Elders Ramat and Pennington.  Sister Thomas took a picture with our jackets off showing us as a hard Working Zone.  The District Meeting message was about working effectively with Ward Leaders and Elder Ndlovu also focused on how the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood will help us if we magnify our callings.

Those in the picture from left to right, regardless of wether they are in the front or back row: Elders Madsen, Thomas, Dale, Palelei, Ngobeni, Smith, Lekgoati, Lawson, Ndlovu, Shongwe, Hendersen, Ramat and Pennington.

Of course you can feel Sister Thomas who is behind the camera encouraging the Elders to smile.

New Area Maps for Elders Ramat and Pennington

We are finally able to deliver the Elders their map of Mlungisi.  Elders Ramat and Pennington are pleased with the outcome.  I will need to get some double sided tape so we can get it up on the wall.  We will do that later today following District Meeting.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Practicing for the Young Women's New Beginnings Activity

Today we worked in the morning on getting the Elders new map laminated and we were able to drop.  We are still learning where and how to get some things done.  To run down a laminator, I went to three different stores.  We found one today.  In the meantime Sister Thomas “practiced” painting with one set of the hearts that the Young Women will use at the New Beginnings activity. 

Then we went out to Sada and visited with Sister Chipo so I could finish fixing her chairs and Sister Thomas and Sister Chipo could finish planning the Young Women’s activity. 

Then we met up with the Bishop and worked on the list of things that need to be fixed at the Church.  We also helped him complete the claim process for some church expenses and we printed out the new missionary application forms that the Area Office just sent out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Emergency Trip to Mthatha - Flooded Carpet

We received a message to call the Elders in Mthatha this morning.  When we called we learned that they lost their water supply pressure for some reason yesterday.  The main water supply was down.  They went out to work and when they returned home in the evening they discovered that they had left a tap open and the main water supply had been turned back on.  This resulted in a flooded house by the time they returned home. 

They needed some help with getting the water out of the bedrooms where the carpet was flooded.  Sister Thomas and I tried to get them help but the only companies that could clean the carpets would have to come up from East London.  We decided it would be cheaper to take up a wet/dry vacuum and help them out.  So we drove up and helped them suck the water up with the Wet/Dry Vacuum.  We drove back the same day.  The Elders will bring the Wet/Dry back when they come for Zone Interviews in two weeks.

That is Elder Mkwezalamba and Elder Trepanier with Sister Thomas.  Actually, one of the most enjoyable responsibilities we have is in helping the Elders out in their time of need.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wendy and Thembakazi came to Queenstown and a New Map for Elders Ramat and Pennington

Wendy and Thembakazi came into Queenstown so Wendy could receive a tetnus shot which is required for her mission.  Thembakazi came in to get some help with a letter she wanted to write in hopes of getting approved for a loan from the Perpetual Education Fund to complete some studies. 

Last night the Elders Lekgoati and Hendersen hit a dip in the road and their car is now making a noise.  I had an initial look underneath and then we went to Toyota, the panel beaters, then HiQ and found that it is a bent exhaust that was rubbing against the frame of the car.  However, you could only see this rub if the car was loaded up in a certain way.  It difficult thing to find.  HiQ will fix tomorrow.

Elders Ramat and Pennington have needed a new map for their area and we finally found where we could purchase one.  The old one was lost and was outdated.  We will now try to get this laminated.

We went to Lunch with Wendy and Thembakazi at Nando’s.  We also went to a feed store so we could get some medicine for their small calf.  It has a case of flat worm (something like tape worm) and was looking a bit frail.  We will see if it works.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Elder Ramat Comes for a Hair Cut

Elder Ramat came over for a hair cut today.  Elders Shongwe and Lawson came over along with Elder Pennington to say hello and spend some time with us while Sister Thomas cut Elder Ramat’s hair.  They also wanted to view and copy the Zone Report from the last Zone Conference which I had videoed. 

Elder Ramat is experimenting with Sister Thomas this morning to see if she can effectively cut his hair.  He is keeping a close watch of the process with his iPod.  In the end, the haircut looked very good.

While we were visiting, Elder Lawson told me a sad story his mother had related to him in her email he had read this morning.  The sad news?  Elder Lawson’s picture was not on our Mission Blog this last week.  He told us that it felt like his mother was close to tears because his picture did not get posted and was wondering what was wrong. 

I had to catch a picture of the very sad face of Elder Lawson as he told me about this story from his mother.  Sister Lawson here is your son telling us his story.  You have to love him and his English sense of humor.

You can see Elder’s Shongwe, Pennington and Lawson enjoying the Zone Report which I was showing on our TV.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lunch at the Miselo's Home with the Elders

Once the chairs were finished we had lunch.  Afterward we took some pictures out in front of the Miselo’s home.  Elders Palelei and Smith are shown along with Sechaba in lower right.  In the upper right along the back row are Elder Palelei, Sister Thomas, Lisakhanya, Sister Miselo, Wendy, Elder Smith and Sphenathi.  In front are Cobani with Sechaba and the little guy in the yellow shirt is Alizwa.  Wendy tries one of my tripod shots while in the kitchen and it works out fairly well.  

On the way home Sister Thomas said that perhaps this is what a Sunday should normally feel like.  We both taught lessons at Church, provided the message of the fireside, I helped the Bishop do the tithing while Mom and Sister Miselo went and visited Awongiwe at the hospital.  The Elders went along as well.  While there, the Elders found out a different member was at the hospital and were asked to provide a blessing.  The Elders were also able to be introduced to another member of the Church as well who they will now go and visit.  We then visited the Miselo’s home and finished a small service project and had lunch with this joyous family.  At this point, as we head home we are tired and have a 1 1/2 hour and drive.  It is a nice peaceful drive home and the “tired” feels nice as well.

We Finish our Service Project of Fixing the Chairs

We finished our service project to fix some chairs with the help of the Elders.  We had to finish putting in some leg supports and then screwing the pads back on the chairs.  They were done in time for the Elders to use them for lunch while sitting at the table. 

Missionary Fireside Cupcakes

As explained yesterday, Sister Thomas spent most of her Saturday morning in the kitchen baking 12 dozen cupcakes for the Missionary Fireside that was held today after Church.  I failed to take a picture of her baking yesterday morning or of Elder Palelei & Elder Smith who came over to our apartment last night and helped Sister Thomas spread the icing on all 12 dozen.  Actually, I was surprised as they had quite the delicate touch as they spread the icing.  This is the Elders helping Sister Thomas pass them out following the fireside.  Everyone thought Sister Thomas’ cupcakes were worth the wait.

We (all the missionaries) taught the fireside on “Enduring to the End”.  We showed an excerpt from a talk by President Uchtdorf on “Enduring to the End,” all of the October 2012 talk by Elder Holland titled “The Great Commandment” and a Mormon Channel video titled “You have done it unto me” with discussions in-between on what it means to endure to the end.    It was a powerful message on the love we should have for the Savior.  “Peter, do you love me?”  As a result of our love for the Savor, while we serve and as we magnifying our callings, we should feel as if enduring to the end is not work or drudgery but an act love.  “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mercy Errand to Help the Elders with a Flat on the Car and a Flat Spare Tire

Today we received the following text’s from our Elders in Sada.

Elders Palelei & Smith: “We have a flat tire in Whittlesea.”

Elder Thomas: “Hoping your spare is OK?”

Elders Palelei & Smith: “Elder Palelei is getting it checked right now.”

Elders Palelei & Smith: “ The Spare is not OK”

At this point I called the Elders.  What actually happened is that they had a flat tire and the spare was flat so they drove to the Petrol Station.  In doing that, they ruined the flat tire on the car.  I chastised the elders for driving on a flat tire, but luckily it is old so it is not a big loss.

Elder Palelei suggested that we call the Ilinge Elders and see if we could arrange to borrow their spare tire because they have the same make of car.  It was a good suggestion. Luckily, when I called them they were still at their boarding and we arranged to borrow their spare tire.  We picked up this tire and drove out to Sada on a bit of a mercy mission.  It was a sad group of Elders and fellowshippers when we got there.  As I looked at the other tires on the car, we will need to get this car in on Monday to get four new new tires in any case.

Hopefully, we can get through the weekend with both cars without an additional flat tire.  The moral of the story is to keep your spare tires repaired and pumped up.  After all, that is what they are for.

You can see Elders Palelei and Smith along with their fellowshipers for the day Sechaba and Sihle.

Fixing the chain on Elder's Ramat and Pennington bike and a new head light

I received a call from the Elders Ramat and Pennington requesting some help to fix their bike.  Their chain broke yesterday while the other missionaries had their bikes.  I went to look at the chain yesterday and told Elders Shongwe and Lawson to have them take the bike to the shop first thing on Saturday.  This message was not relayed to the biking Elders.  I took Elders Ramat and Pennington to the bike shop and purchased a new master link.  They help us thread the chain back on the bike and put in the master link at the bike shop. (R15.00)

While there I discovered that one of the head lights had been stolen over two weeks ago.  I ask Elder Pennington if, as a new missionary, he was comfortable with breaking the rules?  He exclaimed that he was not!  I asked Elder Ramat if after being on a mission for 16 months if he was now getting used to breaking the rules.  He exclaimed "No!"  So I asked them how they reconcile their attitudes with the fact the they have been driving without lights for two weeks? 

They hung their heads in repentant shame.  I bought them a new light and asked them to call me quickly if they have a problem in the future.  I also gave hugs afterward to "show greater love".  (See D&C 121)  You can see Elder Pennington pointing to his companion Elder Ramat and Elder Ramat pointing to the newly installed front light.

While I was doing this, Sister Thomas was home baking 12 dozen cupcakes for the missionary fireside to be held after church on Sunday.  Sorry no pictures of that.  We will have to get some pictures of the finished product tomorrow at the fireside.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sister Thomas Gives Piano Lessons

We were out in Sada today helping the Bishop with some issues in the MLS System.  We worked together at the computer while Sister Thomas was cleaning in the kitchen.  At one point Sister Thomas brought in the kitchen rubbish bin and showed the bottom of it to the Bishop.  The Aaronic priesthood had been cleaning up the sacrament using the bin without a plastic bag in it and “stuff” had accumulated on the bottom of the bin. I knew we were all in trouble when she came in the door.  The Bishop and the Aaronic priesthood were busted.  Don’t worry this happens to me at home once in a while.  The Bishop agreed and said he would speak to the youth.

While working in the system I helped the Bishop find one member who was in the ward list but who’s family name was listed incorrectly.  It will be a joy to be able to tell her that, “she that was lost has been found”.  We also had to record some expenses which the Ward had spent during the month.

We got a call from the Elders in Queenstown asking for help because their bikes had broken.  We came home to help them and Elder Thomas went out to teach a lesson with Elders Shongwe and Lawson while Sister Thomas finished preparing for Piano lessons. 

Sister Thomas helps out with piano lessons.  You can see Siseko and Liyema being put through their lessons. This is going well and there is a group that really wants to learn how to play but without a key board at home it is not possible for them to advance when they only play at the church when Sister Thomas is watching them. 

They need to be able to practice once a day, just as everyone else has who has learned how to play the piano and suffered through those early morning practice sessions.

When we were done we went to look at the bike.  The chain had broken.  It does not happen very often but the chain is very worn from rubbing when it came off the gears and rubbed against the spokes.  The biking Elders will need to get it fixed first thing in the morning.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Service Project at the Miselo's

Today we had a busy morning running down where we could purchase a map of Mlungisi for Elders Ramat and Pennington.  Once that was done we then drove up to the Sibonile Village which is past Sada on a dirt road for about a 30 minute drive.  We went to do a small service project for the Miselo Family.  We also went so Sister Thomas could go through the list of items that Wendy needs to have completed so she is fully prepared to report to her mission in May.

I glued some chairs from a dining room set that had worked loose through simple use over time.  While I did this, Sister Thomas and Wendy sat out in the warm sun and went through the documents.  You can see the clear blue African sky over their shoulders.  It was a wonderful beautiful warm but not hot day.  While we were at the Miselo’s, we found out that Awongiwe had her baby this week.

Once we were done at the Miselo’s we went to the church where we met up with Elders Palelei and Smith.  Sister Thomas dropped me off at the church and then she went to the Whittlesea Spar to get some food stuffs for Awongiwe.  They apparently don’t give them very much to eat while in hospital. 

While at the church, we made the final preparations for the Fireside that the Bishop has asked us to prepare for and present this Sunday after Church.  I also took the time to update the Church Membership records for the new information that we have collected over the past week.

Once completed at the Church, we went to the hospital where Awongiwe was so we could see how she was doing and to see her new son.  What a beautiful little baby boy!  We left the small care package with her and offered our support.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

We Finally get to Meet up with Elder Taylor at Zone Conference

During this Zone conference we were able to catch up with Elder Taylor.  We had a home in Salt Lake City in the same ward as Elder Taylor prior to his mission call just over a year ago. 

You can see him with his Zone doing a Missionary version of the Hakka.  I am not sure his Mother would like his suit jacket tied around his waist but he had a small problem with his pants and was trying to stay modest.

We have a special fondness for Elder Taylor because of a connection to him through our Son-in-Law, Jeff Cutrer, who was his Young Men’s President in the Draper 10th ward. 

It was fun to sit back and watch this new generation of leaders with this group of young men as they prepared them to serve our Heavenly Father.  This young man is the outcome of a dedicated group of leaders who attended the Temple once a week with their young men and where they studied Preach My Gospel as the lesson manual for all Priests in the ward. 

It was also interesting to watch my grandsons as they looked up to Elder Taylor.  As with all Young Men President's, the young men in the ward were always in and out of the Cutrer's home.  I wonder if Elder Taylor knows how much his serving a mission means to my Grandsons?  I am grateful to him for helping set a missionary example for my grandkids.  May they follow in Elder Taylor's, as well as their father's footsteps, and someday serve a mission. 

Elder Taylor is an excellent missionary who is currently serving as  Zone Leader in Mdansane. Is there anyone with a more infectious smile?

Our Zone Conference in East London

Zone conference was most enjoyable.  We were taught about the importance of Prayer as a tool to make sure that the spirit accompanies us each day.  President and Sister Wood led a discussion on all the different elements in Lehi’s dream of the Tree of Life.  We also enjoyed a testimony meeting.

Elder and Sister Boyce, mostly Sister Boyce along with assignments to the other Senior Sisters (In middle right are Sisters Chase, Wheeler, Thomas and Boyce) provided lunch which we helped set up and serve to the Elders.  You can see the half chicken, corn and baked potato on Sister Thomas' plate. The lunch went over well. 
There is one picture of Elder Ellingson finishing off his sweet corn with his hand.  While his mother might not be to impressed he just completed a goal of eating the entire meal with his hands.  I am not sure why?

Sorry to everyone whom I cut out in the middle picture.  I really need to get a small tripod for this camera.

Zone Conference Picture - You can see everyone one

We borrow one of the pictures that Sister wood took of the group at Zone conference.  Now you can get a good look at all the Elders and couples who were in attendance.  To Sister Thomas’s left is the new Assistant to the President, Elder Madsen.  He served in the Queenstown Zone as our Zone Leader prior to his new calling as an Assistant.  A very worthy, diligent and thoughtful Missionary.

You can see Elder Taylor on the back row forth from the right with his wonderful smile.  You can also see Elders mingled throughout this picture who are serving in Queenstown or who have served with us.  It is nice to begin to know more and more of the Elders in our mission.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Final Preperations for Zone Conference

We practiced every evening to make sure that the Elders were prepared for their musical number for Zone Conference.  In the end they actually sounded really good.  All on key and a very appropriate musical number, “This is the Christ”.

We drove down to East London early on Monday so we could play golf and do some shopping prior to the one last practice with the Elders at 2:00.  They were excited to be fully prepared, particularly with a good special musical number so they could fulfill their assignment from President Wood.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Church and Rainbows on Sunday

Today we attended Church at Sada.  We arrived a few minutes early so wanted to get a picture taken with Sister Thomas.  She was making fun of my smiling technique and my very happy right eye that almost closes when I smile big. It is tough serving with a companion who knows about all your small little quirks and habits, be they good or bad. 

After Church we went home teaching and then drove back to Queenstown.  We arrived home to a hard rain storm and a wonderful rainbow.  It is difficult to get a picture of a rainbow that does it justice on film.  This one is no exception.  It was an awesome sight. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Elder and Sister Thomas help out with the Stake Young Men/Womens and Primatry Activity

Today we attended the "northern area" stake Young Men / Young Women and Primary activity day.  It began with a spiritual meeting which was taught by Brother Human. 

Then there were sport activities throughout the day.  The group was divided into teams and then the team rotated between different activity stations.  They cut out and glued together a temple from paper, they played Crab Soccer, they were blindfolded and had to find different color balls with help from their team mates, they had to use stars to make a raft to foot marbles and the had to balance some nuts and golf balls on top of each other.  Sister Thomas helped out with the Crab Soccer and Elder Thomas was in charge of the nut and golf ball stacking or “A Minute to Win It”. 

At the end of the day the Stake Young Mens President and Stake Young Women’s Presidents bought the youth together to have them express what they learned.  There was lunch provided as well as drinks and snacks.  A good day and a lot of work by the stake to help put the activity on.

Friday, March 14, 2014

District Meeting and Zone Conference Preperations

Today was District Meeting where Elder Ndlovu did a very good job training on the attributes of Christ.  He provided guidance on how to become more Christ-like. 

Following the District Meeting, the Zone Leaders brought both districts together to prepare for the singing assignments for Zone Conference next week.  The Zone has been assigned a musical number and the Zone Leaders (Elder Lekgoati) chose “This is the Christ”.  It is an excellent choice but it will require a bit of practice to get it right.  We will do that Saturday evening at 8:00 and Sunday evening at 9:00 at the Church and finally at 2:00 on Monday afternoon in East London when the Mthatha Elders arrive in East London for the Zone Conference which begins first thing on Tuesday morning.

Following the singing practice the Elders began discussing the Zone Reports.  This was a fun experience to watch as there was a constant balance between the absurd and ridiculous to something funny but in tune with what Missionaries should present at a Zone Conference.

You can see the elders building ideas, then the suit jackets came off and the work began.  As the zone came together in spirit and thought as they agreed what they will present, they also came closer physically gathering around the table.  They ended with some practice for what was agreed with Elder Hendersen playing the guitar.

Sister Thomas spent this time practicing so she could play “This is the Christ” as she accompanies the Zone for their special musical number. 

Elder Thomas enjoyed watching the creative spirit that comes when a group of Elders come together to fulfill a given assignment.  It is also joy watching as the cultural differences are bought into the Elders’ creative spirit.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Skype Leadership Meeting call with Elders Lekgoati and Hendersen

Today we had the Mission Skype Leadership Call.  It is a call over the internet where all the Zone Leaders call in with all the Senior Couples and the “business” of the mission is discussed. 

We had the Zone Leaders, Elders Lekgoati and Hendersen, over for breakfast just before the meeting.  Sister Thomas cooked a welcome breakfast for the Elders who could not stop expressing their gratitude.  It is obvious that while Elders get dinner invitations, they almost never get invited to breakfast.  You can tell from the table they were excited.  They certainly went back and filled up their plates and then we had them finish off the hash browns and scrambled eggs.  They did not leave hungry.

We used our computer to call into the Skype call.  Today Driving Safety was discussed as well as a new forward goal setting plan was implemented as recommended by Elder Maynes during his visit.  Reading and study instructions were provided for the coming Zone Conference and the training topics for the district meetings covering the next month were provided.

Elders Lekgoati and Elder Hendersen are a powerful set of Zone Leaders who are always trying raise the level of performance of the missionaries as well as the spiritual level in the Zone.  That is Elder Hendersen unable to contain his joy over breakfast and Elder Lekgoati is also ready to dive in.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Home Teaching with the Elder's Palelei and Elder Smith to Home Teach the Miselo Family

Later we joined up with Elder Palelei and Elder Smith as we drove up to visit the Miselo’s up in the village.  I provided the Home Teaching message on Service and Eternal Life by President Eyring.  The Elders brought three young men with them who had been helping them fellowship.  It is hard to believe but it is getting closer and closer to when Sister Wendy will depart for her mission in Ghana.  Sister Thomas and I will be able to attend the Temple with her in Johannesburg in a couple of weeks from now.  You can see Wendy at lower right in the middle.  Also Bonga Mambu, who is getting ready to go on a mission, is in the lower right in the picture with the Elders.  He has the youngest child, Aliswa, on his lap.

The Broken Vacuum and Home Teaching

I tried to fix the Zone Leaders’ vacuum but in the end we needed to take it back so while Sister Thomas was shopping for groceries I stood in line at the customer service line to get it taken care of.  That is it at the back of the counter.  They are sending it in to be repaired.   It will take 21 days to get it fixed and returned.  We will see how that goes.

This afternoon Sister Thomas became my Home Teaching companion because my companion was tied up with school and was not available.  It is nice to home teach with my eternal companion in any case.  We visited Sister Ceke and Sister Trom.  It was a drive and then a walk down a country lane to get to Sister Ceke's house which is shown over Sister Thomas’ left shoulder.  We need to follow up because she needs some help with her yard.  We will speak to the Elders to see what we can arrange.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Breakfast and Companion Study with Elder Palelei and Elder Smith

We had Elder Palelei and Elder Smith over for breakfast and companionship study this morning.  The breakfast was awesome as Sister Thomas was trying out some Master Chief Australia items on the Elders.  I must say it was a wonderful breakfast.  We then had companionship study with the Elders so we could discuss some of the issues that we face together in Sada.  We are seeking to get the ward membership records corrected over the next couple of months.  We need to work with the members to search for and find some of our lost members.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Family Home Evening with the Qinisile's and Elders Ramat and Pennington

We went to teach a lesson to an investigator this evening with Elders Ramat and Elder Pennington.  The lesson was a family home evening at the Qinisile’s.  Brother Yonelani Qinisile is a member of the bishopric in the Queenstown ward.  Sister Qinisile’s sister, Odwa is the investigator who has a baptismal date set for this coming Sunday.  We sang an opening hymn, showed the video of the restoration and then each person had the opportunity provide a testimony of what impressed them. 

Then we played some cadence games.  You can see Elders Ramat and Pennington really concentrating on getting it right.  I will have to teach my family the President, President cadence game when we get home. 

It was Brother Qinisile’s birthday so we also had cake as well.  They have a tradition of pouring water on someone for their birthday and this was done about halfway through the evening by his Sister-in-law Odwa.  You can see his shirt is still wet in the upper left picture.  Sister Qinisile also provided us food as well. 

Sister Thomas took over their daughter and held her for most of the evening and did quite well during the games even with the baby on her lap. 

Odwa will make a strong member in the church and she certainly has strong family support around her.  We will watch her with interest as she grows in the gospel.

Sister Thomas Open the Barber Shop Today

Sister Thomas opened the barber shop today and three Elders showed up to get their hair cut.  Elders Smith, Pennington and Lawson all had their hair cut today.  Sister Thomas also served up some cookies and drink for the Elders.  The Zone Leaders also dropped by while the barber shop was opened just for some good company, cookies and drink while the hair cuts were being done.

In the lower left picture you can see Elders Ramat, Pennington, Lawson, Henderson and Lekgoati siting on the couch.  At the time this picture was taken Elder Smith was in the barber’s chair but you can see him in the  lower right picture "face bombing" my picture as well.

A Typical Monday in the Mission Field

A typical Monday in the mission field.  I took a picture of some of the things I tried to get done today.  It was a mixed bag of items: Fixing the water filtration unit in the Zone Leaders Flat.  I also had to super glue one of the broken curtain supports and added some addition hooks in the curtains so it would hang correctly in the Zone Leaders flat.  This was on the “correction” list Sister Thomas highlighted during the flat inspection.  I filled up all the dish washing bottles in all the elders flats.

I then walked to the Standard Bank to do the Sada Ward Deposit because Sister Thomas was using the car.  I attempting to fix one of the Elders Vacuums but I was not successful.  I copied some of our pictures of the game drive and the Hangklip hike onto a pin drive for Elder Lawson.  I was in support as Sister Thomas cut the Elders hair.

Later in the evening after purchasing some food for breakfast because we are having Elders Palelei and Smith over for companion study and breakfast.  Finally, teaching along with Sister Thomas and Elders Ramat and Pennington at the Qinisile’s family home evening.

Oh yes, there was a game of golf mixed in-between all of this.  I shot a 82 today.  I am smiling on the golf course and Sister Thomas is frowning (or at least not smiling) because I turned on the camera and it made a noise while she was putting and she heard it.  Of course she missed the put.  However, in fairness I would be frowning too, I don’t want someone messing around during my back swing either.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Elder Luvoyo Bomela Returns from the Mission Field

We had a special interest in the home coming of Elder Luvoyo Bomela.  President Wood had received a letter from Elder Bomela prior to his return from Zimbabwe asking about the availability of the Missionary Pamphlets in Xhosa.  As a result, President Wood asked us to look in on Elder Bomela and make sure his transition from the mission field is successful.

We had the opportunity to attend his homecoming meeting with his family on Saturday.  This is actually a good way to do this as the family can all attend and it does not impact their ability to attend church as needed on Sunday. 

There was a short program where there were a couple of priesthood leaders who spoke on the ward’s gratitude for Elder Bomela serving with such distinction.  The Elder spoke to the group but kept this fairly short expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to serve.  I thought his remarks were perfect given the audience.  However, the joy of the event were the words of his mother.  The stories she shared about her son getting ready to leave and then being delayed because of no visa were a real treasure.  Then to hear her tell it, poor President Bell had his hands full of a tearful mother, who felt like throwing herself on the floor of the airport in a basket of tears.  She told of how she wanted sneak into Zimbabwe to bring her boy home when she heard of her son’s bicycle accident.  Again calmer heads prevailed and she did not go.  Finally, she had the opportunity to travel to Zimbabwe and when she sent an email to her son telling him she would be coming, her faithful missionary son told her he would not even greet her if she came for a visit.  After a few days of contemplation she decided not to go.

In this jumble of emotion it was a faithful Latter-day Saint Mother giving voice for what most all other mothers of the church feel as they find the strength to stand back and let their sons and daughters leave and head into the mission field.

Yes, President, we will watch and help in every way we can and we have delivered a copy of each of the teaching pamphlets to Brother Bomela in Xhosa as requested.  However, this mother and son are truly faithful and committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is a joy to behold.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Piano Lessons Taught at the Church

Sister Thomas teaches Piano Lessons today at 5:00.  Elder Lawson steps into the gap left by Elder Slabbert and did a good job of teaching count and rhythm to those in attendance.  Sister Thomas gave personal lessons to those who were more advanced.  Even Elder Lekgoati, who has taught himself how to play using the Church’s training manual, was given a lesson by Sister Thomas.  Actually, for someone self-taught, he was quite good and just needs some more practice time, something that he does not get much time to do in the mission field.  Perhaps we should leak this skill to the Mission President so that he could be called upon to use his new found talent.

Queenstown Zone Conference Today

Today was our Queenstown Zone conference.  The Zone Leaders taught us about the need to drive safe and keep our vehicles clean.  They report that the mission has already had 12 accidents for this year and 7 of them have been preventable.  They also taught the need to work in harmony with the ward leaders.

After Zone conference we went to Nandos for lunch.  Sister Thomas is losing my “Picture Taking Trust”.  She is going funky just a bit to often when I turn my head to be in the picture.  But how can you not love someone who would do that?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Feeding the Mthatha Elders before Zone Conference

We have Zone Conference tomorrow.  As a result the Mthatha Elders travelled down to Queenstown today so they could be here first thing in the morning.  This is about a three hour drive.  We like them to drive this road so that they arrive before it gets dark.  As a result they have some time between when they arrive here in Queenstown and when the Elders they are going to stay with get home from their respective areas.  We have decided that we would invite them over for dinner so we could feed them in our home and so the elders have place to go while they are waiting for the other elders to get home.

Clockwise in upper left you can see Elders Mkwezalamba, Carlson, de Carvalho and Trepanier along with Sister Thomas. 

Helping a Potential Future Missionary - Bonga Mambu

I spent the morning helping a potential future missionary apply for his passport and his initial check up with the dentist.  It took longer for the dentist to give him a check up than it did to deal with the people at home affairs to fill out the application for the passport.  Bonga Mambu will make a good missionary if he can get all his affairs in order.  He has an interview with the Bishop this weekend so he can report his progress.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Dinner Invitation that Grew as the Night Progressed

We invited the transferring Elders over for dinner tonight.  When the Elders are transferred they do not bring any food with them and so the new Elders coming into a boarding do not have any thing to eat.  They depend on their companion’s help to feed them until they can get to a store. 

As a result, Sister Thomas made a big pot of stew today and we invited the Elders and their companions over to have dinner.  We thought that we would have 6 Elders over for dinner but the word got out and all 10 Elders showed up.  The Elders are always good at sniffing out some good home cooked food.  When they show up with their sweet smiles looking for food and what are you going to do?  It was a good thing Sister Thomas made a large pot. 

It was nice to have the new Elders in our home so we could get to know them just a little bit.  We look forward to working with them in the future months.

In the upper right picture you can see Elder Ramat and Pennington eating.  Also clockwise across the couches are Elder Paleli, Shongwe, Lekgoate, Smith, Lawson and Hendersen.  In the lower left picture Elders Ndlovu and Ngobeni are being served by a beautiful waitress.  They left a tip of promised blessings.  What more could you ask for?  

Washing the Mattress Covers and a good bye from Elder Slabbert

We walked over to the Elder’s flats this morning.  Sister Thomas wanted to pick up the mattress covers for the Elders that are being transferred so that we could get them washed and dried before the new Elders came back this evening.  We did that and found a couple of the mattress covers missing.  Some of our Elders forget what should remain in the boarding and what should go with them.  We will need to get that sorted out today.

Elders Ramat and Ndlovu have return from the training they had in Cape Town.  This training is for all missionaries who will be training new missionaries.  While we were at the elders boarding we were able to get a picture of them prior to the transfers later today.  Later in the day Elders Slabbert, Lawson and Lekgoati came by our flat to say good bye.  We took the opportunity to have one last picture with Elder Slabbert.  It is sad to see Elder Slabbert going but we are excited to meet the Elder that is returning with Elder Lawson later today.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Transfer Monday and Vetkoek

It is “Transfer Monday” evening.  All the Elders who are being transferred will be called at sometime during this day.  If you are becoming a new leader in the Mission (District Leader or Zone Leader), the Mission President will call you directly.  If not, you find out during the course of the day from either the AP's or your Zone Leaders.

We try to have the Elders over at the close of the day because this is our last time to see those that are being transferred.  They use all of Tuesday during the day and all their Tuesday evening saying goodbye to Members and Investigators and in most cases they leave on Wednesday of the week.  In some cases, when they have to fly somewhere early on Wednesday morning, they have to leave Queenstown on Tuesday afternoon and stay overnight in East London.

We have invited them over for scones tonight or in South African language, we are having them over for “Vetkoek”.  We will have them here for only about 30 minutes so that they can get home on time.  We found out that Elder Madson, Elder Kintu, Elder Slabbert, and Elder Kivley will be transferred.  While we will miss them, we are anxious to meet the new Elders who we will be working with over the next couple of months.  Also of note,  Elder Radabe is going home on this transfer.  We wish him well as he returns to Johannesburg.

While they were enjoying the Vetkoek Sister Thomas made, Elders Lekgoate and Elder Lawson were called by the AP’s and told who their new companions will be.  You can see them on the phone getting the information first hand rather than from the mission grapevine, which is prolific.

You can see in the center photo, Elders Lawsen, Slabbert, Ngobeni, Lekgoate, and Pennington in upper right and upper middle are Elders Kintu and Smith.

Our First Package from Home

When we got back from the hike we were able to go to the Post Office and pick up our first package which Chelsea had sent from home.  There were all kinds of goodies inside which ranged from Crystal Light to Hot Tamales and some vanilla and maple flavorings.  Mom thought that was a wonderful surprise because we are having the Elders over for scones tonight and the maple flavoring came just in time.  It was needed today!  How amazing is that!

As far as a financial summary, the following is noteworthy.  The content of the box cost Chelsea about USD 25.00.  The postage cost an additional USD 80.70 and the duty we paid when it arrived was R 35.00.  While the excitement about what arrived was real and we were thrilled with the surprises that were inside it seems that the cost is a bit more that what the thrill was worth.  UMMMMM, perhaps not?? 

The Hike up Hangklip - Elders that went on the hike

I wanted to have one picture of each person that went up on the mountain for our memories.  It was a delightful day on the mountain.  I wish I was able to reach out to the families of each of these elders and express our love for their sons.  We have been privileged to work with some of Heavenly Father’s finest.

On consecutive rows: Elder and Sister Thomas, Elder Lawson, Elder Slabbert, Elder Pennington in the middle with his Book of Mormon, Elder Ngobeni and Elder Lekgoati.  The picture of the Hangklip Mountain is a picture that I took from Queenstown a couple of months ago.  We made it up the mountain very close to the base of the cliff on the left had side of the mountain.

There is an additional story told in these pictures.  Half way up the mountain we discovered that Elder Pennington brought a Book of Mormon in the his bag.  He wanted to be prepared in case there was some quiet time to sit and read.  Such is the faith and commitment of a new missionary.  On the other hand, Elder Lekgoati our Zone Leader who is less than a transfer away from going home, brought nothing, claiming with outstretched arms, that everything he needs is in his head.  Such is the knowledge of a well trained Elder  (and one who did not want to carry anything on the hike).  We shared our water with him.

Elder Slabbert Gets a Call from the Mission President

This was a special day and while we were on the hike, Elder Slabbert received a phone call from President Wood.  This call was received when we were on the way up the mountain.  There are not to many times that you get to take a picture of someone being called as a new District Leader in the South Africa Cape Town Mission, but that is what happened while we were on the mountain.  If I remember correctly, President Wood told Elder Slabbert that it was time that he elevated himself.  I am sure that was in reference to the mountain that we are on and also the new calling given to Elder Slabbert.  We will miss Elder Slabbert because he has been a joy to be around and a pleasure to teach with from time to time.

As a side note, you can tell just how steep the mountain is by the angle between Elder Slabbert and the mountain side.  He is standing vertically and the slope is up to the left.  What is that angle, something between 30 and 45 degrees?  

We Hike "Hangklip" with some of the Elders

I had made prior arrangement with the owner of the Farm that surrounds HangKlip Mountain for permission to walk across his farm so we could hike to the top of the famous mountain that you can see from all around Queenstown.  It is quite the hike and because of incumbent weather, we had to turn back just a couple of hundred vertical meters from the top. 

We were close enough to enjoy the cliffs that crown the top of the mountain.  The Elders were fun to hike with and the conversation was lively during the whole time.  Sister Thomas believes that in comparing the elders to our daughters, it seems that the elders scream just as loud when they get close to a spider just as our daughters do. 

Rocks thrown in the bushes just next to the elders causes them to jump just as high as my daughters.  Hiding along the path waiting in the bushes for them to walk by just to give them a bit of a scare was fun as well. 

It was more my objective to climb this mountain as much as the Elders and I am grateful that they were good sports and came along with me.

You would not have believed just how well Sister Thomas did hiking this mountain.  It was her encouragement that kept us all going.

Some explanation of the pictures:  The hike begins in the upper left and ends in the lower right.  In the third picture in the top row, the Elders are just a bit freaked out by the size of a South African Spider.  In the upper right we discover that Elder Pennington brought a Book of Mormon with him.  The middle left pictures gives an indication for just how steep it the hill side is.  The elders point to the City of Queenstown in the middle picture.  The cliff in background in the middle picture is about 100 meters high.  The rest of the pictures are of us descending to the car.  As always, Sister Thomas had cookies waiting back at the car for the Elders.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Elder Madsen Stops by to Say Goodbye - At least for now

Today we learned about the first of the transfers.  Elder Madsen has been called to be an Assistant to the President.  He will leave today to travel to East London so he can fly first thing on Monday morning to Cape Town for his new assignment.  We had the opportunity to have Elder Madsen and Elder Lekgoati over before they had to begin to travel down to East London.  Sister Thomas baked up some brownies for them to have as a going away snack.  We will miss Elder Madsen but we are excited for him as he undertakes his new assignment. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Face TIme with the Hammond Family

Later on Saturday night, we received a request from Tara to FaceTime with the Hammond Family.  It was a delight.  We were able to speak to each one of them for a few minutes as they brought us up to date with each of their lives.  We are very grateful for the technology that allows us to stay in close contact with our children.  We are also thrilled that our grandkids also want to stay in touch with us.  In fact, it was their youngest, Leah, who wanted to speak to “grandma” that prompted the call.

It is our deepest desire that each of our children and grandchildren are able to serve our Heavenly Father as full time missionaries at some point in their lives.  We pray that we are forging new paths, just like our pioneer ancestors of the past and that our children will chose to follow in the future. 

Of course, we also hope that our grandchildren will choose to be missionaries for our Heavenly Father some day soon.  Actually, it is not so far away, as Trisha will tell you, that the date is streaking toward her way too fast.  In less than five years JT will have the opportunity to serve our Heavenly Father as a full time missionary.

For those of you that don't know these lovely faces are clock wise from upper left: Tara and Leah, Jeff,  Kate, Will and Luke Hammond.  An awesome family.  Tara is our youngest daughter. 

Working in Sada for the Day and the Pig Roast

We went out to Sada today.  Due to other commitments and Stake Conference, it has been just over a week since we have been out with the Sada members.  While on our way from the Bishop’s, where we picked up the keys to the church, we came upon some neighbors preparing a pig to be roasted.  We stopped and spoke to them about preparations and how long it takes to cook it in the earthen pit.  Not to long - only 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  It was an interesting thing to see.  Let’s not tell my granddaughter Colbie about this one she would be heart broken because she loves pigs!

The rest of the day we were not a successful as we had hoped it would be.ccWe have been challenged to look closely at the ward list and try to find those that are lost.  Our first meeting was set for today but there was only one member of the ward Council that came.  It is rather challenging to identify those we need to go find without the support of the ward council.  We will have to regroup with the Bishop and define how to move forward.

Inspecting the Queenstown Elder's Flats. Sister Thomas puts them through the ringer!

This morning we spent our time inspecting the boardings of the eight Elders who board next to each other in Queenstown.  Actually, this was a pleasant surprise because we found the boardings at a high standard.  Sister Thomas did find some microwaves that needed cleaning both inside and out.  There were also some build up of “splash” marks where the item thrown in the garbage from across the kitchen has rebounded off the wall before going into the garbage can.  As Sister Thomas described this to the Elders, there were several smiles because her description of the event seemed to be close to the mark.

We had to fix a cupboard door and one of the vacuums and I took the time to change all the filters in the water filtration system getting the Elders up to date.  We now have the assurance that they have clean water which is free of dirt and micro bacteria.  The church has put very good filtration systems in each of the boardings.

The Elders had big smiles as Sister Thomas finished scoring their boardings.  In the left picture is Elder Ndlovu, Sister Thomas, Elder Kintu, Elder Smith and Elder Ngobeni.  In the right picture is Elder Pennington, Elder Lawson, Elder Slabbert, Sister Thomas and Elder Ramat.