"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
Sunday, August 31, 2014
After church we went to the Wheeler’s for lunch and then we all split up. Sister Wheeler, Sister Merrill and Sister Thomas went with President Wheeler to give the Sacrament to Sister Edith Baris. President Merrill and President Thomas met up with the Elders and we went to teach some people that the Elders were working with. It was a special experience. It was a good experience for all and in the end we hope that we helped as we ministered to those we visited.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
I called Elder Petersen and found that the money will only be deposited beginning next month. We then visited each Elder and deliver their monthly MSF prior to leaving East London. As a result, we departed a bit late.
We then drove to Port Alfred and as we arrived we called the Elders and had them meet up with us at the Port Alfred Spur. The restaurant is right at the end of the pier. I took our family in 1999 to this Spur when we visited with Alan Martin at his time share.
This lunch had to take the place of the “Welcome” dinner for Elder Branch. When he arrived on his mission a week ago his plane arrived late into South Africa so the President went to the airport to meet with him. They had a “welcome” interview and then be boarded his next flight so he could get to East London and then on to Port Alfred for his first assignment.
You can see Elder and Sister Thomas with the “Port” behind us. At lunch are Elder Branch, Sister Thomas, Sister Merrill, President Merrill and Elder Prisbrey.
Friday, August 29, 2014
Pictured beginning on the top row from left to Right.
Elders Shabalala, Jenner, Hale, Judd, Creech, Du Plessis, Malpage, Matini, Prisbrey, Black, Branch, Swasina, Strauss, Ebong
Second Row: Loomis, Sanders, Cossey, Martey, Ndlovu, Chaparadza, Arthur, Kaufusi, Capozzoli, Murphy, Smith, LaFond, Wells
Third Row: Moliki, Crowell, Grant, Manqane, Mongalo, Mmusi, Ramsey, Stegelmeier, Trepaneir, Bradley, Mashego, Woodward, Pulu
Front Row: Elder Ah-Fua, E&S Stapley, E&S Thomas, President & Sister Merrill, Elder & Sister Cook, E&S Chase, E&S Wheeler, Elder Whitworth
The Training was done by President Merrill for 1 hour where he reviewed the vision for the mission and those three items that where highlighted by the Zone Leaders that the mission needed to work on correcting.
Elder Cook taught on the principle of being truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He described and sought scriptural references from the Elders that described what a Natural Man is, what a Saint is and what are some examples in the scriptures that describe this change and a Saint as described in Mosiah 3:19.
Then he pointed out that each lesson in Preach My Gospel is directed toward helping people understand that they need to know, feel and do as we teach them.
Finally, he pointed out that our goal should be to help Establish the Church. This is described in Preach My Gospel as “The Church is established as people who have testimonies are baptized and confirmed, keep their covenants, prepare actively to go to the temple, and help strengthen the ward or branch.” We need to have the vision of our investigators entering into a process where their goal is to enter the Temple.
Under Sister Thomas’ direction and with the support of the Senior Couples, the dinner went off without a hitch. The Elders were served with a large baked potato, chile, cheese, sour cream, onions and other toppings along with a bread roll. Along with that was a large plate of tossed salad. Then a wonderful cookie square and ice-cream. All the Sisters were involved in providing different portions of the meal. The Senior Elders were there in the back ground helping serve it up.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
The Senior Couples met for dinner with President Merrill and President and Sister Cook. It was a nice dinner in what they call the Fish bowl at the JB Steak and Rib. Sister Merrill had to excuse herself as she was feeling under the weather.
It was fun to take some time to visit with President and Sister Cook. They are a warm and engaging couple who have already spent 3 years in Africa and will spend one more year here while Elder Cook serves as the President of the South East Africa Area.
It is hard to get a good picture of a long table in a dark restaurant. Pictured from the left side around the table:
Sister Wheeler, Elder Wheeler, President Merrill, Elder Chase, Sister Chase, Sister Stapley, Elder Stapley, Elder Cook, Sister Cook, Elder Thomas’ empty chair, and Sister Thomas.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
This is showing the finished product out in the drive way as we were about to depart.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014
We went to the boarding of the Elders at Jesmondine to fix some light fixtures and to cut some hair. While we were there, Elder Cossey and Ramsey came by to pick up a mop and a mirror for their bathroom that Sister Thomas had purchased for them. Elder Cossey does not like the implications of a new mop.
Sister Thomas cut Elders Creech and Bradley’s hair today. Elder Creech’s companion, Elder Ebong was all dressed and ready to go to work. He is teaching himself how to play the guitar. He was serenading Sister Thomas and the Elders as Sister Thomas cut their hair.
We made it up early this morning to play 9 holes of golf. We were going to play 18 but the “traveling old men” had the course booked so we could not get back on to play the back nine. That’s OK. We had a lot of other issues to work on with the Elders today. Haircuts and fixing light fixtures in Jesmondine.
Friday, August 22, 2014
On this day I would like to remind my family, but especially all my Dad’s grandkids, to remember if you are questioning your path forward, troubled by a decision or an action, all you need do is ask yourself, “What would Grandpa do?” If you pause for a moment and allow this reflection, you will find your Grandpa’s example and his actions will not lead you astray. Love to all. Uncle Mark
Sister Thomas had reviewed the flats and provided some guidance on which flats should have elders staying over as guests and which should not. Only two elders can stay over night in a boarding where there is only one bathroom. We felt like one of the problems is that two many stay at one boarding and even when they get up on time they don’t get up early enough so six or eight elders can get through the morning bathroom cycles.
We also took some time to discuss the options on how to improve and then counseled with the Elders about their personal obedience and the example it sets for all the Elders in their Zone. They fully excepted that it is up to them and they are the priesthood leaders and they need to act accordingly. I am please that President Merrill’s vision is beginning to take hold.
In the picture clockwise beginning with Sister Thomas is Elder Murphy, Judd, Malpage, Capozzoli. These are some of Heavenly Fathers finest. It is a wonderful process seeing how they become leaders in the mission as they allow the mantle of responsibility fall upon their shoulders. We dearly love them.
Sister Thomas and I looked at each other as we realized that we needed an additional cake. So our plans changed a bit this morning as we (I should say Sister Thomas) put together an additional cake. We just barely got to district meeting on time.
The district meetings were an excellent follow up on what is needed in the East London Stake. It was on making sure that the goals of the ward are understood and that the goals of the missionaries are aligned with these. I attended the MD 2nd Ward district meeting taught by Elder Strauss. It was a good discussion. Sister Thomas attended MD 1st Ward district which was taught by Elder Creech - also a good lesson.
Following district meetings, we joined together to sing “Happy Birthday” to Elder Judd. There are to many Elders in these picture to name them all. Of course, Elder Judd is the one blowing out the candles.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
A bit later this week over dinner we reminisced with Elder Malpage and told him our story of his parents. I am not sure this is 100 percent factual but this is the way I remember it happening. His mother moved into the Sandton Ward where I was the Bishop. She had recently returned from a mission. His father came up from Durban to visit and came to our ward for a while. When he saw Wendy Greyling for the first time he was dumb struck. I can remember asking him why he would not go over and ask her out. He stood there and just shock his head saying he did not have a chance because she was just so beautiful. He felt he would not have a chance to “get his foot in the door", to use an American expression. After a bit of encouragement from us and other ward members he did muster up his courage, he did ask her out, dating commenced and a temple marriage followed and now all these years later here we are in East London, in the mission field, as their son steps off the bus. It is a wonderful story. As I told this story to Elder Malpage, I wish you could have seen the smile on his face. It was priceless.
We saw Sister Malpage when we were in Johannesburg to go to the temple and we visited the Randburg Ward. She is still as beautiful as ever. I think Brother Malpage should still feel very lucky. In fact, he should feel like the second luckiest man alive. First place is reserved for me!
You can also see Elder Ndlovu and Elder Judd arriving as well.
Monday, August 18, 2014
We also were able to help them draw cash from the bank the first time and we taught them how to purchase power for the Elders. We had some lunch with them at the Spur and, while waiting for our food, we helped them put the numbers in their phone for the Mission President, Mission office and home, APs, and all the Elders of the Queenstown Zone.
We took them to Nonesi Mall and introduced them to the store, Game, where they will be going often to purchase supplies and other things.
The Stapley’s are a wonderful senior couple and have already embraced mission work. We are thankful that they are here and it is comforting that we can hand over what used to be our assignment knowing that the area of Queenstown and the Queenstown Zone of Elders are in good hands.
To the Stapley’s five daughters, thanks very much for your support and for sharing you parents and your children’s grandparents with us. You can’t really understand how valuable they are to the ward and the area until you have been here and attended church with the faithful saints in Africa. You should be proud of what your parents are doing.
One last picture letting Elder Labrum dictate the style of picture. He says pictures are more interesting when someone is caught looking at anything other than the camera lens. Elder Labrum, this picture is for you. It took a bit of convincing to get Sister Thomas and Elder Chaparadza to participate in the planed photo.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
There were some Stake Leaders at the Ward today because they came to call Bishop Xalabile two counselors (Brother Jaantjie and Brother Jabanga) and Brother Kevin Otieno, who has moved back to Sada, as the Elders Quorum President. What a blessing for the Bishop to have the extra help. The Stake leaders were there to also ordain two of the Prospective Elders that I trained to the office of Elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood.
You can see President Bell in the lower left picture as he leaves Church. He is a wonderful leader and has such a powerful vision for the Stake. Of course, you can see a bit of “where in the world is Waldo”, AKA Elder Labrum, in the background. You can also see Elder and Sister Stapley as well.
That is me with Aluve Skepe who certainly took a bit of time to warm-up to me when we first came to the Sada Ward, but now I do get a warm hug when I come to Church. Also, I was able to get a picture of Sister Wendy Miselo’s family at Church. I missed her mother who was still busy in the church.
The highlight of this church meeting was a discussion at the end of the services. We were able to hear a story as told by Sister Xalabile as she described her intense worry for her son with the Ebola virus breakout in Sierra Leone. Her son has been there just under a year. As she was riding in a taxi, she received a call from someone claiming to be her son which she did not believe that it was him. He was calling her from Johannesburg. Only when her son handed the phone to his new Mission President did she breakdown in tears of gratitude and joy and the relief of a loving mother. Then she reconfirmed her strong gratitude for the brethren and that they acted to make sure that her son and the rest of the missionaries were safe.
Her son told her of going to a members home where the member was sick and was in tears asking for a blessing and the missionary was specifically given instructions not to give any administrations. Her son describes being in tears with his hand folded firmly inside his folded arms from the far edge of the room giving a prayer and asking for a blessing for the member. This member later died of the Ebola virus. Heavenly Fathers leaders and a Mission President who acted on inspiration keep the missionaries safe and then evacuated them in time. At this point as Sister Xalabile told us the story she was in tears along with Sister Thomas and me. We were grateful to her for sharing this heart warming story.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Later on this day we picked up the Stapley’s at the airport. We had them over for a braai and then dropped them off at Amanda’s Bed and Breakfast for the evening.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
The other picture is Sister Thomas cutting Elder Loomis’ hair with his companion Elder Ramashaba looking on. That hand of Elder Ramashaba was covering a bit of facial hair that needed to get shaved before he went out in the morning. We were giving him a bit of a hard time about his “beard”.
Elder and Sister Blatter are wonderful examples of senior couples who are called and come a long way from home (They are from Montana where I believe they live close to “Captain Call”). They are making a difference in the lives of those whom they teach self reliance and career development - one training session at a time.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
While we were with there, Elder Crowell told us his experience bit by bit or I guess I could say “bite by bite” about getting bit by a dog. He is, in fact, a good story teller. Thankfully, he had called Sister Petersen last night and had already had a tetnus shot and had started the rabies vaccination series of injections.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
While we were there, we followed up on the training that was provided at the Mission Leadership Conference. We spoke to the Elders about their personal obedience and the need to be more fully aligned with what President Merrill is trying to achieve. They need to be worthy so that they can call down the powers of heaven to bless their lives and the lives of those they are teaching.
They made a commitment to be and become the type of missionaries that President Merrill can rely on.
During the haircuts they also described a cake and invited us to come along for a piece at the Mugg and Bean.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Saturday, August 9, 2014
We had made appointments with the missionaries of the East London Zone to inspect their flats today. We visited Elders Capozzoli and Strauss, and Elders Roeloffze, Bradley, Crowell and Moliki then Elders Creech and Ebong who are in the Mdantsane Zone but live in the flat next to the East London Elders.
The Flat Inspections went well with very little follow up needed.
Friday, August 8, 2014
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
You can see the list they created in the center picture.
I helped out in the kitchen. On one day in particular I can remember how I cleaned the counter tops clear around the kitchen after dinner. They were spotless and I felt good about my work. It was barely 1 hour later when Sister Merrill and Sister Thomas brought out the brownies and ice cream. I felt heart broken over my clean counter tops. I had to start all over again. Is this what it feels like when you’re the host?
(Sister Thomas says this is what it like everyday when you are the MOM!)
Hats off to Sisters Merrill and Sister Thomas. The food was awesome.
Back Row: President Merrill, Elders Van Zyl, Whitworth, Hale, Obonye, Hixon, Smith, Capozzoli and Murphy.
Middle Row: Elders Von Brugen, Gillespie, Ndlovu, Gertsen, Ramat, President Thomas
Front Row: Elders, Pebe, Strauss, Manda, Muange, Hlophe
Monday, August 4, 2014
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Friday, August 1, 2014
We went out to lunch with the Elders and while there I got on this conference call at the request of President Merrill to discuss the Elders in the mission. We finished after we arrived home. Sister Thomas took a couple of pictures of me at the desk. It reminded me of all the conference call meetings I have participated in globally while working.
It was a good experience to sit with the Mission President and the President’s APs and discuss the Elders in the mission and how and what we need to do to increase their potential.