"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

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Last Primary Presidency Meeting

We spent the morning out at Sada. I was completing a review of the Ward Missionary payments and also entered some death dates that I have received back from the members who were assigned to make contact with the families.

Sister Thomas once again met with the Primary Presidency as they had their Presidency Meeting. She helped them plan for the upcoming primary activity.  I stepped into this meeting to take a picture and caught the mock sadness of the sisters as they realize that this is the last meeting Sister Thomas will be able to attend.  Sister Menze (president), and her counselors, Sister Skepe and Sister Marawu will do a great job because they have strong testimonies and a great love for the Primary children.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Cake, Wood Glue, and Fixing the Elders Couch

On Friday evening at 8:00 we went over to the Elders’ flat to fix their broken couch.  When the big Australian, Elder Tennant, came to visit for Zone Conference he stayed at C2 flat and when he sat down on the couch, it simply broke apart under his weight.  It will take some serious glue and screws to fix this up. We went there so the Elders could help me reassemble and glue the couch back together. 

When I requested their help, the Elders were very willing to help but also concluded that “wood glue dries better if it is applied while eating cookies”.  I explained this to Sister Thomas so she made a Hummingbird cake which the Elders said this was her best one yet.

Glueing the couch back together with the Elders was a good experience but it was interesting to see some Elders with a drill in their hands for the first time.  We did get the couch together and it will live to see another day.  We will have to wait for when Elder Tennant comes back for a visit to see just how good our repair job has been.

Our District Meetings with the New Missionaries in our Zone

District Meetings were held today and the training was on Accountability and Stewardship.  We attended both District meetings because one of them begins at 10:30 and the other at 11:30.  The Ilingi/Sada District meets an hour later because the District Leader, Elder Ah-Fua, is training a new missionary, Elder Matini, who is from Samoa.  We did get a picture of each district following the meetings.

In the top picture you can see from left to right: Elders Manda, Shabalala, Potter, Cathemer, Murphy, Pennington.  This district is giving it’s full conviction to the teachings presented in Preach my Gospel.  In the defense of Elder Potter, the District Leader, who has on only a white shirt (you are required to wear a suit to District Meeting), he left his suit coat in the boot (trunk) of his car and it got substantially wet when they washed the car before the meeting.  He apologized in District Meeting.  Hopefully, it will dry out okay.

In the bottom picture is: Elders Matini, Afh-Fua, Chaparadza and Labrum.  It seems Elder Labrum is seeing a vision about what the future holds and he claims it is bright.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

An early Morning walk along the beach

On the last morning that we spend with the Boyces, we spent the early morning going for a walk along the beach and checking out some of the stores that the Boyces recommended.  We met with the Boyce's to go over some final items at 10:30.

We were done with the handover from the Boyces at around noon and returned to Queenstown to begin preparing for the move next week.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

At the East London Airport meeting the Elders that fly in from Cape Town

The last stop is back at the airport at 3:25 when the flight arrives from Cape Town.  There were about 14 missionaries arriving today so the airport is crowded with Elders.  We again run into missionaries that we have served with.  It is a joy to be around them.

Elder and Sister Boyce have a number of handouts to give the elders. They include:   apples, vitamin C and Disperin packets, hand sanitizer, cheese rolls and cookies.

The Elders hang around and socialize a bit . . . perhaps a bit to long!  They are also happy to see old friends.

Picking up and Delivering Elders at the Bus Terminal

The next stop on the journey is to pick up the arriving Elders at the Bus terminal.  This bus comes from Port Elisabeth to East London. 

About an hour later another bus departs going back to Port Elisabeth so you kind of hang out with the Elders until the bus departs.  You have to make sure all the Elders have their tickets.

There are also a large number of missionaries that come to collect the arriving Elders and to be there as they drop of Elders to depart on the bus.

Elders Departing at the East London Airport for the flight to Cape Town

Today is a training day for Elder and Sister Thomas.  We are going with E&S Boyce so we can see what they do on transfer days.  The first stop is getting to the airport early so that they can make sure all the missionaries get on the plane to Cape Town.  This involves coming with a scale so that they can weigh the bags prior to the Elders checking in.

We see some missionaries that we have worked with in the Queenstown Zone at the airport either as they depart or as they come to drop off a companion who is being transferred.  We run into Elder Grant and Elder Smith who both worked in Sada.  Elder Potter tries to get a picture of a “fake hug” from Sister Thomas.  Elder Palelei is on his way home.  The last thing he said to Sister Thomas as he walked away was, “Sorry for the microwave thing”.  That is another story but it is mentioned here so we will not forget it.

Elder and Sister Boyce provide a granolal bar and an apple for the elders in the airport. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dinner with E&S Boyce and our Zone Leaders

Today we traveled down to East London to meet with the Boyce's.  Our goal is to have a bit of a hand over  period so they can show us where the Elders live and gives us greater understanding for what they do.  We are interested to begin to understand all of their responsibilities.

When we arrived, we met at the Boyce's and then went to dinner.  They had promised the Zones Leaders from Queenstown that they would take them out to dinner.

Elder Potters Easter Package finally arrives today

Today Elder Potter is a happy missionary.  Or in the words of the Elders “a great deal of Joy always arrives when a package is delivered”.  Elder Potter has been looking for this package to arrive for a long time.  It is actually an Easter package that just arrived now.

I checked on it last week and, unfortunately, it was accidentally sorted incorrectly by the post office and went from Cape Town to East London, (so far so good) then to Mthatha (a large detour) then back to East London and on to Queenstown.  The good news is that it arrived intact.

Sister Thomas went to pick up the post. When she arrived back at our flat and called Elder Potter and told him the package came,  it did not take long for the Elders to show up knocking at our door.  This particular package was sent from that secret someone back home.  The smile or “Joy” it brought was written all over Elder Potter’s face.

The Elders come by to weigh their bags and say goodbye

The Elders began arriving this morning in order to get their luggage weighed so that we will know that they are under weight when checking in at the airport.  Of course, this is less important when they are departing on the bus.

We will lose Elder Henderson in upper right on the left and Elder Shongwe on the left in lower left.  Elder Potter and Elder Cathemer in upper left and Elder Pennington on the couch to the Sister Thomas’ left in bottom right will stay in the Zone.

We are grateful to these Elders and we hope to see them again when they might be transferred back into the area.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Elder Henderson Comes for a Hair Cut

Elder Henderson broke down today and had Sister Thomas cut his hair.  It was a big deal for him to let Sister Thomas give him what is most likely his last hair cut in the mission field.  Sister Thomas is a star when it comes to haircuts and she does an awesome job. 

In the back ground you can see the Elder’s mattress covers on the back of the couch.  She had collected these so she could wash them and get them returned so that they will be clean when the new Elders arrive at the boardings at the end of transfers on Wednesday of this week. 

Fixing the Basketball Backboard and a Game with the Elders

Today we inspected the Elders’ Flats.  There were a couple of very clean flats and one that needed some more work.  We will follow-up on that one after the transfers are completed. 

Today our big project was to fix the basketball standard at the church as a service project and for the Elders P-day entertainment.   I went this morning and purchased the wood and then had the hardware company cut it to size.  The Elders brought their extension cords so we could reach with the drill out to the basketball standard.  The finished product looked fairly good.

We tested the backboard out with a rousing couple of games of basketball.  I can almost keep up with these young men if I mostly play next to the basket.  I did score my share of points and the Elders appreciated that an “old guy” can be a good teammate.  I may suffer for the 1 1/2 hour game tomorrow with a lot of sore muscles! 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Final Testimonies of Elders Shongwe and Palelei and Dinner at the Thomas'

We have invited the Queenstown Elders over tonight so that we could hear the departing testimonies of Elder Shongwe and Elder Palelei.  They would normally be given the opportunity to do this in a Zone Conference but the timing did not work out for them.

It was the thoughtfulness of the Zone Leaders, Elder Henderson and Elder Murphy along with Elder Ah-fua (Elder Palelei’s son) who came up with this plan.  Sister Thomas made a large pot of stew and bread rolls so that we could feed all of them.  You can see them appreciating the meal.

The Elders’ final testimony was very special.  I wish that the parents of these missionaries could have been in the background so that they could hear these powerful testimonies.  We wish these two Elders well as they depart this coming Wednesday to spend a day at the Mission Home and then fly home on Thursday.  We are grateful for their influence in our lives.

Elder's Palelei & Labrum Clean the Font with the help of Sechaba The Ward Mission Leader

We have a baptism tomorrow so we helped the Elders clean the old dirty water from the baptismal font.  You can see Elder Labrum, Elder Palelei and Sechaba (the Ward Mission Leader), with their pants rolled up as they bucket out the font one bucket at a time.

Elder Palelei & Shongwe's Funeral

The Bishop and his family wanted to give Elder Palelei a going away celebration.  Elder Palelei will be going home next week.  We are grateful to have had him in the Sada area for over 2 1/2 months.  He has been a large blessing in the lives of the members.  The ward will miss his valuable service.

Sister Thomas and I will miss his work ethic and his total commitment to serve out his mission to the end.  He has been a wonderful example of taking hold of the plow and working until the field is completed even when your hands might be full of blisters.  I hope we can finish as strongly as he has.

Picking up and delivering the Post

Today we picked up two packages that had arrived.  One had a bunch of mail and the other was a package for Elder Cathemer.  Elder Cathemer called and asked it the packages had arrived and I told him yes.  It was a world record time for the Elders to get from their flat to ours.  You can tell by the smile on the face of Elder Cathemer, who received his “Mothers Day” package, just how pleased he is.  We were not sure and still aren’t sure why an Elder should get a package for Mother’s Day.  Nice touch Mom! 

Elders Potter and Ah-Fua came and collected all the mail for their respective Districts.  They were also pleased to receive personal mail as well.  A happy day!!!

Friday, May 23, 2014

District Meeting and Lunch with the Elders at Mthatha

Today we spent the morning inspecting the Elders flats in Mthatha and fixing a few things that needed to be sorted out.  While Sister Thomas did the flat inspection I worked on fixing the showers in both the bathrooms.  In one case, the head of the shower was plugged and needed to be replaced and there was no shower attachment on the wall for the hand held shower.  In the other shower, the attachment was coming off the wall and the mounting screws needed to be replaced.  There was also one electrical plug that was not working and needed to be replaced in one of the bedrooms.

Sister Thomas spent time inspecting and because we are so far away she made the Elders address those items that needed to be addressed while we were there.  When we left the flat were in good order.

We attended District Meeting and Elder DeCarvalho led a worthwhile discussion on the Inviting, Committing and Following Up.  After District Meeting we took the Elders out to eat at Mike’s Kitchen.  While we were at lunch we discovered Elder DeCarvalho’s mother had looked at our blog and had never seen a close up picture of her son.  So Sister DeCarvalho this picture is for you.  You can see him with his companion Elder Tennant who is from Melbourne, Australia.  We also challenged him to take that first big bite of his burger for the picture.

When we arrived in Mthatha on Thursday afternoon, we were able to go teach with the Elders.  We went to one home with Elder DeCarvalho and Elder Tennant to teach a follow-up lesson for someone who had just been baptized and then a lesson on the Plan of Salvation to a new investigator.  The Elders teaching was exceptional and Sister Thomas and I were fortunate that we could be there and share our testimonies.  It was one of those lesson taught outside in the late afternoon warmth of the South African sun while sitting on buckets!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Traveling to Mthatha and a Tired Dinner

This morning we went to the church and made sure that the Elders Shongwe and Palelei had opened the church and all the preparations were done so that Elder and Sister Blatter could teach the Elders the career development workshop.  Then we had to take some medicine, sprite, soup and crackers over the Elder Labrum.  He has had a bit of a stomach bug and we are trying to help him get through it as quickly as possible.

Then we traveled from Queenstown to Mthatha so that we could teach with the Elders in Mthattha today and then inspect the Elders’ accommodation and attend district meeting tomorrow.

It is late and we did not get any lunch so we stopped at Nando's tonight.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Service Project at Sister Marawu's and the Church

Today, with the missionaries help, we are fixing sister Marawu's front gate. Elders Palelei and Labrum helped shore up the gate posts and then we moved the hinge up slightly.  The gate now opens and closes with ease.  You can see Sister Marawu by her front gate pleased with the outcome. 

The Elders came back to the Church to change following their service project.  They had teaching arranged all afternoon.

I had some time at the church while we were waiting for the second day of the Career Development Training.  I changed back into my white shirt and tie but then got stuck into fixing the door to the men’s toilet so that it opens and closes without getting stuck.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Career Workshop at Sada

Today we helped out at the Sada Ward where Elder and Sister Blatter presented a career workshop to several ward members who had signed up to come.  Sister Thomas prepared a quick lunch of peanut and jam sandwiches.  Perhaps everyone was extra hungry because they all enjoyed them including myself.  Elder Thomas worked on ward's computer in order to sort out some issues that were raised at the Stake Executive SecretaryTraining last Sunday.

I also took the time to fix the pull out drawer that holds the key board to the computer.  When you pulled it out it would fall off the runners.  I wonder if anyone will notice?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Welcome back Braai with the Missionaries

The Elders invited us to come to a Braai this evening.  Everyone brought their own meat and Sister Thomas brought along some homemade potato salad.  A couple of the Elders thought she brought back some potato salad from Costco.  She also brought along some chocolate chip cookies made from the new chocolate chips and the brown sugar she just brought back from the USA.

We also brought back the “prescription” that our dentist prescribed for Elder Ngobeni which we presented to him and had him read to all the other elders.  It was a fun experience.  Hopefully, we will have convinced Elder Ngobeni, as well as the rest of the Elders, to think twice about opening a bottle with their teeth.

It was wonderful to be back with and in association with the Elders and their infectious spirit.

Sister Thomas Recieves Another Birthday Package!

We go and check the Post Office Box this morning.  There is nothing new for the Elders but there is a birthday package from our daughter, Chelsea, for Sister Thomas’ Birthday.  It was a nice blouse Sister Thomas really liked.  We also went out to the Spur today because it was two for one burger day. That  was a nice lunch for a Monday.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Traveling back to the Mission Field

Sister Thomas and I would not want to take this trip again very soon.  We had dinner with our family in Salt Lake at Cafe Rio.  Then our trip started with a red eye flight that left Salt Lake City at 23:00 at night and flew overnight to New York.  In New York, Sister Thomas found a very comfortable chair to spend a couple of hours in.  After a layover of five, hours we boarded the 15 hour long flight to JHB.  A further layover in JHB and then the flight to East London and then a 2 hour drive to Queenstown.  Once we arrive at 2:00, we went directly to a Stake Auxiliary Training meeting for 1.5 hours.  We can tell we are aging a bit because this was more tiring than I seem to remember from all my traveling around the world.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Work Project with my Grandkids

After taking out all the walls and timber support in the guest cottage, I was thankful for the help of my grand kids to take all the nails and screws out of the wood so it could be recycled and used in the construction of the new walls.  It was a pleasure to be around them again and to be working with them on a project together.  Of course, there was some moaning but I am still happy that they are willing to work with me.  I cherish these times.  Perhaps, they will remember this with fondness someday in the future.

The view of the Corner Canyon Temple from our back yard is something I never get tired of.  You can see the Temple through the trees up on the bench.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Elder Ngobeni's Perscription from the Dentist

Our dentist checked out a tooth for me when we were in Salt Lake City.  While we were there, we told him the story of Elder Ngobeni trying to open a bottle of pop with his teeth.  I had a picture of the bottle cap that I had taken with my cell phone that I showed him.  Our dentist was shocked, so much so he wrote out a prescription for us to take back and give to Elder Ngobeni.  The "Prescription" is self-explanatory. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Fixing up the Guest Cottage

We are excited to have Erin moving back to Utah following three years in the Dominican Republic as an administrator at the Carol Morgan school.  We want her to be able to stay close to the family so we are doing a bit of work configuring the guest cottage.  This involved emptying all the items that were being stored in the cottage.  The last load in the truck also involved a bit of a joy ride for Elder Thomas in some desk chairs that needed to be moved as well. 

Then breaking down some dry walls, breaking up some old tile, removing old cabinets, adding heating and air conditioning, a small kitchenette and a new walk in closet.  I was only able to help with the demolition work.  My Son-in-Law, Jeff Cutrer, will have to help get it finished up.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mothers Day Dinner with Good Friends

Jeff and Val Cutrer invited us over for dinner on Mother's Day.  This was an enjoyable dinner along with all the Cutrer grandchildren (including my own).  The food was awesome and the company was very special.  Jeff reminded me that my Dad taught us a trick for how to tie a sheepshank and a clove hitch.  We taught it to our families in honor of my dad.

For a bit of history for those that do not know.  Jeff Cutrer is a lifelong friend that I grew up with so it was good to spend some time with him and his wife Valerie who was also a friend from my youth.  I am fortunate to have their son Jeff married to my oldest Daughter Trisha.  So this was a very close family/friend Mothers Day Dinner.  You can just make out the special red and clear goblets and plates that were given to the "Mothers" on this day.  This is one case where the word family and friends have blended into something like "friendmily".

Saturday, May 10, 2014

At the Cemetery

While funerals are never considered to be a happy or fun events, Grandpa Thomas’ funeral and grave site service was a peaceful and happy time for our family.  The process of the honor guard and the folding of the American flag help us appreciate the service my Dad rendered in the United States Navy just at the end of World War II.  Having all our family around and the fact that all my dad’s grand children had the opportunity to be pall bearers came because of his wonderful request. 

It was my sister Melanie's suggestion that we give everyone a helium filled balloon so they could let it go at the cemetery.  At first it seemed a strange thing to do when she first suggested it, but at the time it was a peaceful representation of the departure of my Dad.  I will eternally thank her for this suggestion.  I hope that my grandkids will remember this one thing if they remember nothing else about the funeral.  Colin Campbell's dedication of the grave site was special as he called for the ground to be hallowed and to be a place where family members can come to seek peace and solace.

Grandpa Thomas' Funeral

There was a short viewing just prior to the funeral where we held a family prayer.  I was asked to say this prayer which was a considerable honor for me.  One thing that I can remember asking for was that the family have no regrets with respect to their earthly experiences with Grandpa Thomas.  I prayed for all family members to “Let any regrets go” so they could keep and cherish the relationship developed and the memories of those special times they experienced with my Dad. 

All my Brothers and Sister spoke at the funeral.  We were limited to 5 minutes each which was a real challenge.  It seemed that each of my brothers and sisters shared a personal experience they had with Dad and when combined these experiences yielded a good description of the kind and loving person that my dad was.

The Bishop and Stake President also spoke and expressed thanks to the family for sharing Dad with the members of the ward and stake during the periods that he served.  Dad served as a Bishop for 5 years and then as a member of the Stake Presidency for 17 years then later as the Stake Patriarch.  He was well known and beloved by the members of the church in the area. 

I was pleased because at different times I saw all my grand kids go up to the casket and look longingly at their Great Grandfather.  You can see one of Trisha’s sons and her daughter (Chaz and Colbie) having a look and saying goodbye.  Byron and Melanie take a moment and give comfort to each other.  They carried a great deal of the burden of organizing the funeral and making the arrangements with the mortuary.  I am grateful to them.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Grandpa Thomas' Veiwing on May 9th

As I stood in the line at the viewing I came to realize the wonderful influence that my dad had on several generations that lived in the area. It is somewhat difficult to explain.  Dad was a bishop for five years and a member of the Sandy Utah Hillcrest Stake Presidency for 17 years. Many of those he worked with during that time came through expressing their gratitude for my Dad and his quiet commitment and example. More than one expressed thanks for his teachings and object lessons that came out of the "Brown Paper Bag".

You can see me standing between two of my younger bothers, Kelly on my left and Lindsay on my right along with my youngest sister, Cindy, on Lindsay's right.  Melanie and Byron are just outside the picture on Kelly’s left.  Lindsay had a definite advantage over me because he lived in the same ward as my Dad and was in the Bishopric of the ward when Dad was in the Stake Presidency.  If we would have given this a bit of thought, we should have put him on my right because he would have helped reminded of the names for those faces I recognized or partially recognized but could not remember their names.

Thomas Family Picture

We gathered together just prior to the viewing to get a family picture taken when we had so many of us together at one time.  The group represents the children, grand children and great grand children of William and Elise Thomas.  There were just a few who could not make it back for the funeral and we surely missed them.  At the time of my Dad's death there are 98 members of our family including in-laws which was a word my father chose never to use.  In that light there are 98 of us with three more on the way.  It is a wonderful legacy to William Brady Thomas and Elise Poor Thomas.  Two of Heavenly Fathers Best!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

We Visit Grandpa Thomas' Home

While we were in Salt Lake my daughters wanted to go together and visit Grandpa Thomas' house.  I still find peace and solitude when I visit our family home, which has been a center and go to place for so many years and so many family functions.  Dad and Mom moved our family to this house in the summer before I became a senior in high school (1971).  They had lived in the home for 43 years. You can still feel their influence as you enter and take a moment to contemplate their lives.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Grandson Recieves his Eagle Scout Award

While in Salt Lake City we had the opportunity to attend a Court of Honor where my Grandson JT Cutrer received his Eagle Scout award.  He gave a very good acceptance speech and was well prepared.  He took the time to give gratitude for his Grandpa Thomas who had been invited but had just passed away three days before so he was not able to be in attendance but he knew he was there in spirit.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Traveling Home to be with Family

It was rushed packing and making assignment to the Elders for some of our outstanding actions which needed to be taken care of over the next 10 days.

Sadly, when we get into New York and call to check in with our family, we find that Dad has passed away while we were traveling over the ocean.  It was a heart stopping moment for me to realize that my father had passed away and our family Patriarch was gone.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Unfortunate News about my Dad from my Family at Home

It has been a long night of phone calls, emails, texts and some FaceTime as we discover that my Dad has been taken into the hospital.  When you get a call from your sister and they are discussing the coming decisions about respirators and when to turn them on and when to eventually turn them off you know it is a serious problem.  As I went through all these discussion I thought of this picture with my Dad at his special fishing spot in Southern Utah.  It has never been very real that I will live a portion of my life without my Dad's wonderful influence.

I was able to FaceTime with my Dad thanks to my daughters being at the hospital with their smart phones, wireless networks and the internet.  I was able to tell my Dad just how much I loved him and let him know that his example is a shining star for me.  Literally, he was an unmovable beacon on the hill.  I had the chance to tell him that much of what I am is because of his endless personal example on how to become a man, how to work, how to be a loving husband, father and committed priesthood holder.  I owe much of what I am to him.

I was able to see him and tell him this while on FaceTime and be able to see his reaction.  As was his life on earth and with his undying faith, the last words that he spoke to me were with absolute conviction.  He said simply; “I will see you in Heaven”.  I will hold these words as a special command from my father and will act accordingly so that his request will come to past.  I asked him to find my son and give him a hug for me and he said he would care for him until I arrived.  It was a feeling I will never forget and pray the special feelings I had then will not fade from my memory over time.

This morning I spoke to President Wood seeking his guidance on what we should do.  He gave us good guidance and we sought his permission to return home as quickly as we could.  This permission was granted by President Wood and was also approved by the Area President.  We are grateful.  Sister Thomas made travel plans and we began to drive to East London for the trip home.  We departed at 1:00 on Monday to catch the flights.  East London -  Johannesburg - New York - Salt Lake City.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Early Morning at Church

We went out early today so I could fix the “mud mat” as you come in the door of the church.  A piece of covering strip had come loose so I purchase some masonry nails to pound it back into the concrete floor.  There is always something to do at the church.  This needed to be completed because it was a tripping hazard.

I was grateful for the support of Elders Palelei and Labrum who met me at the Church early to get this little safety project completed prior to the arrival of the members of the ward. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Visit to an old Steam Engine

We went for a walk to the bank and the store first thing this morning.  On the way back we cut through the parking lot of the local casino/hotel and take a look at the old Steam Engine.  It is fun to look at these old pieces of equipment and what would have been cutting technology in it’s day.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Birthday Surprise arrives for Sister Thomas

We made it to the Post Office Box today and Carolyn received a package from Trisha.  She was excited as she opened it.  We immediately took this picture and sent an WhatsApp note to our family.  We will not go into just how old she is but she is still drop dead beautiful.

Our 39th Anniversary Dinner

On April 29th, 39 years ago I went to the Salt Lake Temple to be with Carolyn as she took out her endowments.  Two days later we were married in the Manti Temple.  In fact, that year so many years ago, May 2nd, was also on a Friday just like this year.  Many anniversaries have come and gone in those years.  I am lucky to have a companion who has stayed by my side through the thick and thin of life. 

Tonight on the way home from Sada, following a successful missionary sponsored activity, we stop at the Buffalo Spur for a small celebration dinner.  Sometimes the simple times you spend together mean the most and that was the case tonight.  Happy Anniversary Carolyn, I love you more today than ever before.  Thanks for becoming and being my best friend.

Zone Conference Traiing, Cookies and Car Inspections

Today was out Zone Conference Training.  Elders Henderson and Murphy took the group through all the instructions from the Mission Leadership Meeting that they attended last week.  It was a good example of team teaching as they traded off between themselves as they took the Zone through the material.  The main message was on the need to teach investigators how to pray and how to realize that they have received an answer.

We also took time to inspect the cars after Zone Conference.  That is why all the trunks are opened on the cars.  Two cars had flat spare tires and three needed to get their cars in for service.  I will need to follow up with the missionaries this week to make sure this gets done.

Sister Thomas baked some cookies as promised to the Elders and passed them out following the Zone Conference.  You can see the Elders lining up for their fair share.

I had a Good Samaritan moment as I walked to the Zone Conference this morning.  Please ask me about this experience someday.  I would love to share it with you.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Wendy Departs at the Airport in East London

We joined Wendy’s family at the airport as she was departing.  It was a special time for us to be with them.  Actually, the family left very early in the morning from Sada and drove down and spent time at Hemmingways Mall and also went to the beach and went for a swim.  They then came to the church and got changed in to Sunday clothes for the setting apart and the trip to the airport.

It was nice to see Wendy spend time with her brothers and sisters and mom as they said their good byes.  We certainly wished Wendy well and pray that she will be a faithful and obedient missionary.

We returned home I looked up the information on the Missionary Training Center in Accra.  I sent an email to the email address for the MTC asking them to let us know when Wendy arrives safety. I wanted to let Wendy’s mother know that she had arrived and was safely in the MTC in Ghana.  We did exchange several messages back and forth from the MTC President.  I thought I would record them here.

To the MTC
My wife and I are serving as a MLS Senior Couple in the South African Cape Town Mission.  We are serving in the Sada Ward where Sister Miselo attended prior to her entering the mission field. 

Sister Miselo's family actually lives in a small village up in the mountains just outside the small town of Wittlesea.  This is the first missionary to leave from the Miselo family and it is the first time Sister Miselo has traveled outside South Africa.

I was wondering if you could email me back and simply confirm Sister Miselo safe arrival? I will be driving up to her village over this weekend and I would like to let her mother know that all is well and that Sister Miselo has arrived in Ghana and is at the MTC.
Elder & Sister Thomas

Elder Thomas
The plane has landed but we have not seen any of the passengers come through immigration yet.  It is after 3:30 p.m. here.
President Robison

President Robison
Thanks for the feedback.  I was with her and saw her board the plane to Johannesburg from East London.  Hopefully, she is just coming through customs.  Please let me know some time tomorrow so I can let her Mom know.
Elder Thomas

Elder Thomas
Sister Miselo just made it through immigration and they have her with them in the van.  I will be interviewing her in one hour.  Is she endowed?  Please tell her mom she is fine and safely here.
Best wishes,
President Robison
Ghana MTC

President Robison
Yes, she is endowed.  We went with her to the Johannesburg Temple.  We also made sure she has all the necessary vaccinations except chicken pox because that was not available in South Africa.  You will immediately love her.  We certainly do.
Elder and Sister Thomas

Elder & Sister Thomas
We immediately loved her.  She is great.  Contagious smile and will serve well in the Ghana Kumasi Mission.  She said that she is happy to be here and feels at home already.  Please tell her mother that she arrived safely and is enjoying this.  She said her mother must have been worried.  Please tell her she loves her so much.  Please tell Awo, Siphenati, and Gcobani, Sihyle and Lisa she loves them too…the others are smaller and would not get this message.
President Robison

Surely we will pass this message along to her family.  Our hearts are a bit sore.  We might not see Wendy again because by the time she has completed an honorable mission Sister Thomas and I will have completed our mission and returned home.  We will hope that our paths cross in the future someday.
Our best regards
Elder and Sister Thomas

Wendy Miselo Gets Set Apart for her Mission

Wendy and the group made it to the Church on time.  President Bell interviewed Wendy and the we gathered in the Relief Society Room for the Setting Apart.  The family was there and I was grateful that President Bell asked the Bishop and I to join him as he set Wendy apart.  The blessing was awesome and Sister Miselo has a great deal to live up to. 

When President Bell finished, he shook Wendy’s hand and said that he looked forward to seeing her and shaking her hand again in 18 months and not one minute sooner.  It was said with love but also set the standard for what his expectations are.  President Bell is a wonderful Stake President and has a special love for the missionaries serving from the East London Stake.

Sister Miselo was all smiles and, of course, she had a great deal to be happy and proud of as she sees her daughter depart to serve our Heavenly Father in Ghana.