"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, April 29, 2014

New Area Maps for the Elders

We invited the Elders over tonight so that they could finish the maps we have put together for them.  I cut them down to A4 and had the laminated and then had the elders tape them back together so that they could fold them and have them in their cars.  I told them I expected better efficiency from them and an increase in baptisms.

This morning Sister Thomas finished the cookies that she had promised to make so the Elders also enjoyed some cookies and drink when we were done with the maps.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Family Home Evening at the Church for the Single Sisters and others

Tonight we were asked to provide a family home evening for the Single Sisters of the Ward at the Church.  This was sponsored by the Relief Society but it was opened up to a larger group.  In the end we had 45 attending.  The lesson we provided, which was lead by Sister Thomas  was on loving our Neighbors and we used the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

We also played a balloon game that Elders Palelei and illsLabrum brought and which was enjoyed by all.  The objective was to pop everyone else’s balloon while keeping yours from being popped.  The older group was very fun to watch.  Following this game we had refreshments.

Primary Presidency Meeting and fixing front doors.

Sister Thomas had a meeting with the Primary Presidency today.  Following the training that they had from Sister Boyce they are excited to get organized.  I spent some time working on the ward records.  I was finally able to move a sister and her brother to a ward in the Soweto Stake.  She was lost in the lost record file of the church.  It was a bit of a challenge but Brother Given Masetle from the area office helped me out. 

While Sister Thomas was in her meetings I took the front door off the hinges and filed about 1/4 of an inch off the bottom so it could open without hitting the floor and making a great deal of noise during meetings.  Sechaba also helped me with this and we also fixed the central latch so when the door closes it latches shut.  Now it opens and closes with ease.  Some WD-40 on all the hinges works wonders.

Installing the Water Filtration System

The mission has water filtration systems installed at all the Elders housing.  We were given one to install in our flat.  I finally have all the parts that are needed so I am installing this today.

Sister Thomas is happy that we can now stop purchasing bottled water.  I am thrilled because the ice in my drinks don’t taste funny any more.  You can see the finished installation on the right.  Not bad for Elder Thomas.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Birthday Package Arrives for Sister Thomas

Just outside the post office is a very happy Sister Thomas.  She received a small Birthday package from Amy Lawrence.  It included only those things that an American who has lived in South Africa once would know that Sister Thomas would be missing.  Chocolate Chips, etc.  But the special part was how Sister Thomas read and reread the short note from an old friend.  It was nice to watch. 

With a bit of a tear of gratitude I say thank you to Amy for thinking about my eternal companion and then put those thoughts into action.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Wendy's Fairwell Social - She Departs for the Mission field on May 1st

Wendy’s going away social was a wonderful thing to experience.  What touched my heart were the short messages from the primary.  You could see their love for their Primary Leader.  You can tell she has had a positive influence on them.  It was also nice to experience and see the love that Wendy’s family has for her.  We are grateful that Heavenly Father has allow our paths to cross with this young women.  With all our hearts, we hope that our paths will cross one more time so we can see what will become of Wendy.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Getting ready for Wendy's Farewell Social

This morning we had to divide our resources in order to be able to conquer.  I had to go out to Sada and help the Bishop with a survey that was going to be done at the Church.  He wanted my support during what turned out to be an actual survey of the site to define the boundary of the church’s property rather than an inspection of the building.  This was a lack of communication and, as a result, all we had to do was unlock the gate for the surveyors.

While at Sada, I went up to Sibonile to pick up Wendy so she could come to Queenstown to get her last shots.  While waiting, I spent some time with a couple of Wendy’s nephews and I also fixed their front door knob which only opened from the outside.

In the meantime, Sister Thomas had to borrow a car from the Elders while they were at District Meeting (we had to excuse ourselves this week) so she could meet up with Sister Xalabile and began to purchase the food for Wendy’s going away party which is at the Church tomorrow.  Brother Badi was also in Queenstown and came and helped out as we carried all the groceries to the car.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Breakfast with Mike Perry, a Pleasant Surprise

Mike Perry had been traveling down to a snake park outside of East London to take some pictures of some snakes for the book he is writing.  On his way back through Queenstown, we were able to meet up for breakfast.  It was nice to be able to catch up again.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Celebrating Elder Henderson and Labrum's Birthday

It was Elder Henderson’s birthday today and it was Elder Labrum’s birthday yesterday but we only found out today.  A late birthday cake is better than no cake at all.

The Elders went in to use our scales to see how much weight they have put on or lost.  While there, they discover our bath mats with the cushion foam in them.  There was a struggle between the Elders and they tried to maintain space on the soft padding.  That is Elder Cathemer’s big grin as he tries to stay on the soft mat in front of our shower.  You can tell it turned really cold today with all the hats and sweaters.

That is Elder Labrum on the left and Elder Henderson on the right as we sing to them and as they cut the cakes.  Cake and ice cream is a good way to end the day.

Elders Palelei and Labrum discuss the new maps of their area that I purchased.  I will be getting these laminated so they can use them when they are driving around in the townships.

Washing Machine Repares and Home Teaching

A trip out to Sada and Sibonile to home teach the Trom’s and the Miselo’s.  We were also able to give Wendy her travel plans that we had received from the Area Office Travel Department.  Wendy is excited when she gets these plans because her mission and departure is now becoming more real.

While Home Teaching, I built a paper boat with rope and anchor.  The Lesson was on “A firmly Set Anchor” with that anchor being the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The kids enjoyed the lesson and I challenged them to remember what the Anchor meant throughout the month.

Sister Thomas took a picture of the Home Teacher trying to fix the washing machine.  After a bit to long, I determined that we had the wrong size drive belt.  I will have to get one slightly bigger and come back.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A New Oven for Elders Henderson and Murphy

Today we met up with the Boyce’s who drove up from East London to help us provide training to the new Primary Presidency at Sada.  We met them at the chapel after they followed these instructions that I texted to them.

Elder and Sister Boyce,
How brave are you?  Here are the directions to the church.

1. When leaving the Engen gas station turn right.

2. On the first road turn right.

3. Down this road Sada is on your left.

4. Turn left on the last paved road into Sada.

5. You will know your on the right road if you come to an unpainted speed bump about 400 yards up this road.

6. Follow the paved road and you will go through a concrete drainage ditch.  Go through it.

7. Continue on the paved road and turn left (on the paved road) just after the speed bump that everyone drives around.

8. Follow the paved road through another concrete drainage dip and turn right (on the paved road)

9. Turn left on the next road it is also a paved road.

10.  The church is 100 yards up on the right.

Good luck!

They found it following these directions.  Sadly, I did not get a picture of them while they were in Sada.

Later we delivered a new stove to Elders Henderson and Murphy.  Their stove had given up the ghost and while the oven part still worked, the large burner did not.  That is what they use most of the time.  (The Elders are not large “oven” users.)  They were thrilled to be back in business so they could cook their own food.  However, Sister Thomas made them wash the table and the wall behind the oven and then gave detailed instructions on how to keep it clean.  I am sure that the Elders next inspection will focus on the cleanliness of this new appliance.  Sometimes, I feel a bit sorry for the Elders with Sister Thomas around.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Family Home Evening with the Canti's and Elders Cathemer and Pennington

Elders Cathemer and Pennington invited us to come the the Canti’s for Family Home Evening.  We gave the lesson on “Ndingumntwana Ka Thixo” or “I am a Child of God”.  We showed Lambert the Sheepish Lion and then helped them understand who they are.  Sister Thomas gave them a handout that they could take home to color.  She challenged them to look in the mirror each morning when they are brushing their teeth and say out loud, “Ndingumntwana Ka Thixo”.  We were practicing saying this while they were waving their papers during this picture.

A funny thing happened during this Family Home Evening.  I need to say that the Canti’s open their home to all the neighborhood children for Family Home Evening each week.  Only four of the kids in the room are Canti’s all the rest are neighbors.  During this experience I had a distinct impression of the future fruits of the Canti’s efforts.  I expressed gratitude to them for the work they were doing.

In the throng of kids you can see Elders Cathemer and Pennington on the couch.  It was again an enjoyable experience. 

Attending a Funeral in Sada for a Member from Mthatha

We attended the funeral in Shilo near Whittlesea that the Mthatha Elders came to attend today.  We met up with the leadership of the Mthatha Branch and then followed them to the home where the funeral was held.  There were a large number that attended the funeral and the services went about 3 hours. 

The group then walked to the cemetery for the dedication of the grave.  Elder DeCarvalho dedicated the grave and Elder Trepanier said the closing prayer.

You can see the back of Elder Tennant as we walk back to the family’s house from the Cemetery carrying a baby back to lighten a mother’s load.  Easy to pick him out in his white shirt.

After the Funeral we stopped at the local road side cafe to get the Elders some chips for their ride home.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mthatha Elders come for Dinner

The Elders from Mthatha drove down to Queenstown today so they could attend a funeral on Monday.  There is a family in Mthatha that are members.  They originally come from Sada.  They have a 10 year old son who died when he was hit bay a taxi.  His funeral is tomorrow in Whittlesea.

As a result, we had them over for dinner after their long drive.  Sister Thomas made a roast, mashed potatoes, carrots and onions.  Ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert.  I missed taking a picture of the Elders eating but I did get some content smiles following dinner as they relax with us just a bit before going to bunk up with the Queenstown elders for the night.

Shown is Sister Thomas, Elders DeCarvalho, Tennant, Trepanier and Erickson

Watching General Conference on Sunday

Today we watched two conference sessions, the Saturday afternoon and the Sunday morning sessions.  We will try to find time to watch the Sunday afternoon session as soon as we can arrange the time to do so.

Sister Thomas again brought some food and shared with the Elders and Brother Sechaba inbetween sessions.

Fairly remarkable is that we had a normal attendance watching conference as we normally have on Sunday which is now between 60 and 70.  It is a reflection of and shows the faith of the members in the ward.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Feeding Elders Palelei and Labrum from the trunk of our car

We watched the Women’s Session, the Priesthood Session and the Saturday Morning Session on Saturday.  It made for a long day.  Sister Thomas brought some sandwiches to share with the Elders.  You can see Elders Palelei and Labrum hovering around the make shift table in the trunk of our car.

She also made and bought out some Rice Crispy treats.  That made the members do a bit of a double take as it was the first time some of them had the little squares of Rice Crispy treats.  Sister Thomas is passing out one to Bother Badi in between sessions.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Totally new Group of Elders at District Meeting following the Transfer

We had our District Meetings today.  Sister Thomas joined the Queenstown District and I attended the Ilinge/Sada District meeting.  The training was focused on the training President Wood provide at the Zone Interview meeting. 

Our Zone is substantially different following the transfer as every companionship changed.  Shown in the picture from left to right are the following:

Elder Palelei, Ngobeni, Ah-Fua, Labrum, Sister Thomas, Henderson, Pennington, Murphy, Cathemer, Shongwe and Potter.

We all went to the mall.  Some went to KFC and the others went to Chesa Nyama to eat.  Sister Thomas and I then purchase some new shower curtains for the Elders in B2 and C2.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Transfer Day Stew for the Zone Leaders

On Transfer day Elder Henderson took Elder Lakgoati down to East London so he could catch a flight to Cape Town.  Elder Lakgoati is on his way home and we wish him well and Godspeed (*). 

Elder Henderson then picked up his new companion, Elder Murphy.  They traveled to Mthatha to visit the Elders and to complete a baptismal interview.  They returned this evening to Queenstown so we invited them over for their bowl of Sister Thomas’ stew.  We are please to have Elder Murphy back as a new Zone Leader, he was here in Queenstown and was just completing the training of a new missionary when we arrived.

You can tell I was just a bit tardy taking pictures because I only took pictures of the clean up.  Elder Murphy insisted that he be given an opportunity to wash the dishes.  It is obvious that he has been well trained by his mother!  Elder Henderson wanted to help but in our kitchen it is so small it is really a one man show.

So as the dishes were being done we discussed the Elders in the Zone and then the discussion drifted to those in the spirit world.  The Elders volunteered to use some personal study time on one of the topics and come back to us.  It was a good dinner and a valuable gospel discussion with the Zone Leaders.

(*) To wish someone Godspeed is to ask for God's blessings on his or her endeavor, most notably a long journey or a risky but potentially rewarding venture.  A good description for the rest of a returning missionary's life.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Elders arrive following the Transfers - Dinner at the Thomas'

As the new Elders who are being transferred arrive in Queenstown, we invite them over for our traditional dinner of Stew and Rolls.  After a very full day of traveling either from Queenstown down to East London and back or beginning early in the day to fly from Cape Town to East London and then the 2 1/2 hour drive up to Queenstown the Elders are a bit tired.  They are also hungry and the transferring elders have no food.

A quick meal and new introductions is a good way to start out the experience of working in the Queenstown area.  The new elders arriving in Queenstown are Elders Cathemer, Labrum, Potter, Ah-Fua and Elder Murphy, our new Zone Leader.

In lower middle and right are Elder Shongwe & Potter and Elder Cathemer and Pennington.  In upper left are Elders Palelei with his companion on his right, Elder Labrum and Elder Ah-Fua with Elder Ngobeni on his right.

Sister Thomas was refilling the elders bowls and providing extra rolls all evening.  The introductions were good.  It is a wonderful group of missionaries.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hair Cuts and Luggage Weighing

Elders Smith, Pennington and Lawson came by today to get hair cuts before they leave.  All the Elders who were flying came over to get their luggage weighed as well.  They are limited to 22 kilograms and the airline is a stickler on this so we check them prior to their departure.  This is where we say our goodbyes.  A sad but happy occasion as the Elders move on in the mission and in some cases in life as they depart to go home. 

Elder Ndlovu passes on his Father's Tie to Elder Ngbeni

There is a special tradition in the Cape Town mission.  An Elder who is a trainer passes on the tie that he received from the missionary that trained him to the missionary that he has trained.  Elder Ndlovu is being transferred to Cape Town so he takes this opportunity to pass on his tie to Elder Ngobeni.  The Elders refer to the training Elder as the Father and the Elder being trained as his Son.

Here Elder Ndlovu (The Father) passes on his tie to Elder Ngobeni (The Son).  There was a small piece of paper that was carried in the “pouch” at the bottom of the tie that tells the genealogical history of the Elders who passed this tie down. Those generations of Elders are shown in the lower left picture.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Scone Night as we Learn about the Elders being Transferred

It is Monday transfer eve.  It has become a tradition for us to invite the elders over for scones as we find out where everyone is being transferred and who will be coming to Queenstown.   Last time Sister Thomas ran out of scones so tonight she made a double batch.  It was fun to hear where the Elders are being transferred. 

The Elders shown are as follows:  Elders Lekgoati & Henderson, Elders Shongwe & Lawson, Elders Ramat & Penington, Elders Palelie & Smith and Elders Ndlovu & Ngobeni.

Elders Lekgoati, Lawson, Ramat, Smith and Ndlovu are being transferred.  We wish Elder Lekgoati well as he heads home and we pray for the continued success for the others as they move forward in new areas serving our Heavenly Father.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lunch with the Perry's

We are grateful for our relationship with the Perry family and we were able to join them for dinner at their home.  The Perry’s kids, Nicole and Gavin, along with their spouses and their kids were able to be there.  Mike and Debbie are some of Heavenly Fathers finest souls.  We count it a blessing and a privilege to call them friends.

Mike was our home teacher when we first moved to South Africa and he was a faithful home teacher whom our daughters came to love.  He spoke at my son’s funeral.  Debbie helped lead and guide our children through primary. 

I have to be careful here as I describe our families trip to Zimbabwe.  We went to Victoria falls, Lake Kariba, Harare, we saw  Cecile Rhodes’ grave, the great Zimbabwe Ruins, and several game farms.  It was a wonderful trip where we were also introduced into the world of raising crocodiles. 

Nicole described to us as we sat over dinner just how unfair it was when Mike and Debbie left her and Gavin at home, but all the Thomas girls got to go to Zimbabwe.  She told her Dad over dinner that she is still expecting her dad and mom to take her on a trip to Zimbabwe.  It would be a joy to join them on this “second” trip someday.

A Visit to the Fourways and North Riding Wards

We attend church on Sunday in the Fourways and North Riding wards.  In fact, both of the wards in the building were meeting at the same time to watch the General Conference.  I attended the Priesthood Session where I was extremely impressed with the talk given by Elder Oaks on the power and keys of the priesthood.

Later, we attended the other conference sessions.  In-between the sessions we were able to reconnect with our extended church family in South Africa.  It is a joy to see what were once young men and women who have become leaders in the church.

You can see some of the Hamiltons, Haskells, Youngs, Milnes, and De Cocks. Sister Mary, one of the first black members of the church in the area, is still there looking as young as ever. I wish we could have had the time to get a picture of all of them.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Visit with Tracy and Family

We also visited Tracy Judnick Jooste.  It was good to catch up with her and her husband and we visited their malamute dogs and their hogs who were very friendly.  It was nice for Sister Thomas to catch up with a special friend.  They had a good time together.

Lunch with the Martins

Lunch with Alan Martin and his family was special.  Dylan and his girl friend joined us and we were able to reminisce about old times at BME.  Curtis we missed you.  Alan is a good friend and we hope to stay close to them throughout our lives.

A Visit to Sandown High School

We dropped by Sandown High School and as luck would have it, they were having an open house.  We were greeted at the school by some of the teachers and were treated well.  We found our daughters’ pictures up on the wall for the triple honors they were awarded when in school.  You can see their pictures and names up on the wall.  We could not find the special wall where they had the award for the most beautiful and the most flirtatious because this is where Trisha and Chelsea’s pictures would be.  Sorry Trisha and Chelsea no luck here!  We stopped two of the schools current Prefect's to show the current uniforms.

We were able to spend some time with “Mr Desfontein” who was at the school when my daughters were attending.  He is now the Headmaster and he remembered Sister Thomas and as well as each of our daughters.  It was a happy reunion.

We told Mr Desfontein that our daughter, Erin, was in education and was a vice principal in the Dominican Republic at an international school.  She is a bit of an enforcer just like he was.  In fact, we told him that we sometimes we call her “Miss Desfontein”.  That bought a smile to his face.  I wonder what Erin will think when she hears that!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Visiting to Kirsten Rose Davids and her Children

We were able to Visit Kirsten Rose Davids and her two children.  Kirsten was an extra daughter while our kids were growing up and we still claim her as such.  It was wonderful to take the time to catch up and learn of her life.  She was so very excited to hear that Tara and her family might be coming out to South Africa to see us.   She wanted to know what she can do to help that happen.  Tara, I hope you are listening.

Visit to Rivonia on the way to the Temple

We were able to drive by some of the old sites in Rivonia while on the way to the Temple this morning.  We went to the Primary School that our four daughters attended.  That is a selfie of me looking down Rivonia Road next to my daughters primary school.

Then we made a stop at the Makro store.  I can’t rightly remember why we went there other than to shop because we just might find something that we need and can’t find in Queenstown.  I must record that this type of approach does not work when I take Sister Thomas to Home Depot.

Finally we stop for lunch at the London Pie Shop to have a pepper Steak pie.  Something special for Elder Thomas to enjoy.

Sister Thomas' Birthday

Today is Sister Thomas’ Birthday.  She received calls and text messages from so many people.  She was also able to FaceTime with our daughters thanks to Brother Milne letting us use his wireless internet.  One of the highlights was a call from Sister Wood and best of all was a call from the missionaries in our Zone who sang happy birthday at the top of their voices.  It brought a smile to her face.

Sister Thomas is now 59 years old.  I have been lucky to have her in my life for 39 of those years.  She is a blessing in my life, a true friend and eternal companion.  I am grateful to have her with me as we serve as a missionaries.  For all of you who are wondering what this experience might be like, you need to know it really can’t get much better than this.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Attending the Temple with the Members of the Sada Ward

We attended a special trip to the Temple with the members of the Sada Ward.  In the upper left picture are  Elder and Sister Thomas, Sister Wendy Miselo, Sister Noxolo Menze, Thembakazi Skepe and Sister and Bishop Xalabile.  Sister Wendy chooses to pose by the flowers which reminds me of my daughters. In fact, we just might have pictures of my daughters in this exact spot.

I cannot tell you how much joy I felt in my heart as these three sisters completed the session in the temple.  The smile on their faces and the joy in their eyes was a very special thing to be a part of. Perhaps it is more meaningful because I better understand the sacrifice they needed to make to get to the temple.  We are thankful that we were able to share this with them.

We also went to a session on Friday.  This was special because the officiator on that session, Brother Gae Isaiah Jokozela, was the first black missionary that I was able to help get ready to enter the mission field from the Sandton Ward.  He has returned form his mission and has then serve as a Bishop in the Church.  We had lost contact with him over the years.  This was a special experience for both Sister Thomas and I to be able to reconnect with him.

In the lower pictures Sister Thomas speaks to a couple of Elders serving in the Johannesburg Mission.  The stone brick is an actual piece of the Nauvoo Temple that was dug up when a University in the eastern US was investigating the foundation of the Nauvoo Temple site.  It was brought back to South Africa by a member and was then given to the Church’s building representative, Brother Smith, who was assigned the task of overseeing the building the temple.  Brother Smith was asked to find a place to use the stone on the temple grounds.  He chose to  place it in the brick wall on the temple grounds.  You can see the small stone in the wall between the legs of the two elders Sister Thomas was speaking with.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Our Trip to Johannesburg and Dinner with the Milnes

We had a wonderful trip to Johannesburg today.  The drive took about 7 1/2 hours.  Along the way we saw some Cosmos flowers which grow wild in South Africa and flower late in the year.

We went directly to the Temple to check at the Distribution Center on some items that had been ordered for the ward.  We ran into Elder Slabbert’s parents who were dropping off a package for us to take back to him.  Luckily, we were able to deliver the packaged directly to the Slabbert’s that Elder Slabbert gave us to take back to JHB.

Later that evening we were able to join the entire Milne family for dinner.   The Milne clan is shown in the lower right.  Their family is growing with new daughters-in-law and all the grand children.  It was nice to catch up with old friends like Rob and Judy but it is also wonderful to see the growth of their kids.  We feel lucky to have them in our lives.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Zone Interview Meeting in Queenstown

Today was our Zone Conference Interview meeting.  It is such a pleasure to be with all the Elders at these meetings.  We were able to spend yesterday evening with President and Sister Wood for a relaxing dinner.  It was nice to let them know how it is going and also to seek some guidance from both of them. President and Sister Wood are an inspiration to be around.

Sister Thomas’ lunch was a big hit with the Elders.  We had Mexican Rice and Enchiladas followed by Apple Crisp and Ice Cream.  The Elders went away with smiles on there faces and very full stomachs. 

In the upper left hand picture you can see a group, including Sister Thomas, that the Zone is singing Happy Birthday too.  Also Elder De Carvelo and Elder Lawson who came to the mission at the same time declare with some surprise that they  have been in the mission field 14 months.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tabernical Choir Being Played on the Side Walk

This shop always has loud music playing here.  It always brings the spirit of Africa alive when I walk by.  I had to drop the car off to get new tires put on and as I walk by this time they had the Mormon Tabernacle Choir  singing "Come Come Ye Saints".  By the time I thought about it and started to record this video the song had changed to "God Be with you Till we Meet Again".

Our Grandchildren and our Click Day

Believe it or not we have been in the Mission Field for 6 months.  Today is our monthly click day as the Elders in our mission call it.  It is difficult to believe it has been that long.  This was brought into clarity this week as we had a grandson who had a birthday this last week. 

We share with you the pictures that our daughters took of us with our grandkids.  Tara took one as we departed the Regional Airport in Arkansas following our last visit with the Hammond family.   In the Salt Lake Airport, Trisha shared with us a picture as we said good by to the Cutrer’s on the day we left for the mission field.  We have come to the conclusion the we do miss our grandchildren.  

I would be remiss if I did not mention that we also love and miss our Daughters and our Son-in-Laws.  Boy, do we miss them all…….

As another birthday has come and gone it brings into clarity that we are separated from our family.  It was sad to have to wish him well over the phone.  Let us say it again in writing: Happy Birthday Brody.  We were able to send a card which we know arrived on time but we would have liked to be there in person.  We put some Rand in his birthday card in order to encourage the family to make the trip out to South Africa before we get done.  We hope that works!

I guess as these special events come and go and as our family begins to plan for our annual Lake Powell trip the separation become more real.  It has become a reality that we really are on a mission and that requires some sacrifice on our part.

While we miss them we remain thrilled to be here living in South Africa where we spent so much of our lives.  Sometimes it really does not feel like a mission. It feels like what we have done our whole lives.  Just more of those actions, all the time, every day.  It is a wonderful feeling to be tired at the end of a long day and it is a good kind tired to be!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Young Women's New Beginnings

Sister Thomas and Sister Chipo helped the Young Women with their New Beginnings function today.  Sister Thomas purchased some small hearts and we drilled holes in them. The girls painted each heart the color that represents each one of the Young Women’s Values and then they thread them on a ribbon and tied a small crystal on the bottom.  They look really good.

It was an enjoyable time and the girls really enjoyed themselves.  They were proud to have something that they can take home and hang in their rooms.  Well done to Sister Chipo and Sister Thomas for a successful activity.

After this function we stayed because it was the Melchizedek Priesthood who had the responsibility to clean the church this week.  Sister Thomas inspected and the Priesthood Brethren cleaned.

We Home Teach Sister Marawu - and Sister Thomas holds a Chicken

We went Home Teaching to the Marawu’s today.  We went to speak to Sister Marawu about the blessing of her daughter.  It was a delightful discussion which brought clarity and the promise of future blessings. 

While we were there, Sister Thomas was holding Sister Marawu’s daughter and the “Chicken Sales Person” showed up at the door.  I asked her if I could take a picture of her.  She had brought four chickens and the family purchased two.  While we were taking a picture of Sister Thomas holding the Chicken and Asanda, there was much laughter and delight.  Later we had to help the look for the other chicken who had taken refuge behind the couch.  It was a fun experience. 

Sister Marawu was called as a member of the Primary Presidency  on Sunday.  What a blessing she will be to the ward.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Missionary Movie Activity at the Church

Today the District Meeting training was on the different ways to find people to teach as instructed by Elder Maynes during his training.  We also discussed the need to focus on those that are seeking.

After district meeting we went out to Sada to do some home teaching and to meet with some members to discuss what they need to do so that some outstanding ordinance work can be completed for members of their families at some point in the future.

We are also trying to find the death dates for several members who have passed away.

Tonight we are having a missionary function at the church where we are going to have a church related videos.  This was sponsored by the Elders and there was a nice turn out amongst the YM/YW and the Young Single Adults.  Elders Palelei and Smith are determined elders and are trying every thing that they can think of to reach people and to reactivate the members.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Zone Meeting Preperations and Mail

We spent the day in Queenstown completing various outstanding tasks.  I have been able to access the church's online capabilities so I can complete some of the required changes to the membership records.  This has been a big blessing compared to the drive out to Sada so I can use the computer at the ward building.

We also had to complete some urgent tax information and get it to our accountant so we could complete our taxes for last year. 

Sister Thomas was also busy beginning to prepare the meal for the Zone Training next Tuesday.  She  went shopping for the food and then cooked up some of the food in advance and froze it.  She is making enough enchiladas for 18 people, 14 of them will be our hungry Elders who will want at least two and perhaps three each. 42 just for the elders.  If we are lucky, there will be some leftovers that I can heat up later but I doubt it.

We also picked up there packages that arrived from the Mission Office and we delivered this post to some joyous Elders.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Elder Lekgoati's Birthday

Elder Lekgoati turns 23 today.  Sister Thomas baked him a red velvet cake and we invited the Elders over to share his birthday this evening at 9:00 PM for 30 minutes.  The invitation was sent out as a text.

It is interesting just how fast the text messages come back from the Elders confirming that they will be able to attend.  A sniff of cake and ice cream brings them running.

We sang happy birthday to Elder Lekgoati in both versions of the song.  Then Sister Thomas tried to get Elder Lekgoati to scream as he cut the cake.  His look tells just how crazy he thought this idea was.  Screaming is a thing our daughters picked up in South Africa as they were growing up.  Elder Lekgoati had never heard of it before.

Nice evening with Elder Shongwe suggesting that we have a kneeling prayer together where he was the voice.  It was an exceptional prayer seeking the spirit to be with everyone as we continue in our missionary efforts and an asked blessing for Elder Lekgoati to live a long and committed life.  It was simply wonderful.

Teaching with Elder Ndlovu and Ngobeni in Illinge

We had the opportunity to go to Ilinge today to teach with Elder Ndlovu and Elder Ngobeni.  We were able to go to three different appointments with them.  It was nice to be back teaching with them again. 

We were also able to stop by the Branch President’s home to say hello and introduce ourselves.  The branch president was not home but we met his wife who is also the Young Women’s president.  Sister Thomas had already met her at some of the Young Women’s Stake Training. 

Companionship Study with Elders Lawson and Elder Pennington

Last night we receive a text from Elder Ramat and Pennington.  It went as follows:                                                                                                                      

Elders: I know it is late notice, but would it be possible to have companionship study with you guys tomorrow?

E&S Thomas: Would 10:00 to 11:00 work for you?  What do we need to be prepared for?

Elders: That will work and what do you mean with the preparation?

E&S Thomas: What do you want to study?

Elders: Alma 7:23-24

E&S Thomas: Just a reminder that Sister Thomas will make you breakfast for you.  Come Hungry!

What pitched up at our door was not Elders Ramat and Pennington it was Elders Lawson and Pennington.  As they explained it to us, it was decided by the District Leader that they were going to do split offs today.  Elder Lawson was assigned to go with Elder Pennington and they thought it would be good to come and have some study time with us.  They grinned just a bit to wide when I asked them about this new unique way to get breakfast.

Actually, the study period was good and there is a great deal that we can seek to emulate in our personal lives from these two scriptures.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fixing my Shoe - Super Glueing my Fingers

I had to Super Glue my gym shoes because the tip of the shoe had started to come loose.  This is the first time I can remember when I have used super glue when I did not notice or feel some glue get between my fingers.  You can see the middle finger of my left hand still holding the tip of my shoe in place where it was drying while I work at getting my thumb and finger of my hand "unstuck".  Sister Thomas enjoyed my plight just a bit to much for my liking and she requested that these pictures be included in our dairy.  No this is not an April Fools story!