"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

Teaching with Elder Prisbrey and Branch

The President and I went out teaching with the Elders.  We visited a Member who had just gone through a bit of a tough time.  The family just had some money stolen and a cell phone.  We taught them together and then we broke into two different groups and then met back with them to have a family home evening with one of the ward members.  While we were waiting at the ward members a couple of young men from the ward walked by so I took a Picture of them with Elder Prisbrey and Branch.

Sunday Church with President and Sister Merrill

Sunday during church we spoke along with President and Sister Merrill.  We then help the President take the members (during the third hour as it was a fifth Sunday.)  We studied the three talks Power in the Priesthood (Elder Andersen-Nov. 2013, The Gospel Culture (Elder Oaks-Mar. 2012, and More Diligent and Concerned at Home (Elder Bednar-Nov. 2009) along with the Proclamation on the Families.

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

Lunch with the Missionaries, President and Sister Merrill in Port Alfred

This morning we picked up President and Sister Merrill to drive to Port Alfred.  As we were getting ready to depart, we followed up with the Elders who had transferred to the mission from Sierra Leone and Liberia.  We had delivered them their new MSF cards at Zone Conference.  We were called by them yesterday when they did not get any money in their MSF accounts.  We had asked them to check again at the Bank this morning.  There was still no money.  
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

Zone Conference Picture

This is the group that attended to Zone Conference.  Pictured is the combination of the East London Zone, Mdantsane Zone and Queenstown Zones.

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.

Lunch at Zone Conference

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.

President Merrill and Elder and Sister Cook share a few monents

President Merrill and Elder and Sister Cook sit while the Elders begin to fill in around them for the picture. Some direction is given and some lighter moments are shared between Elder and Sister Cook as we wait for the Elders to get settled down.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dinner with President Merrill and Elder Cook and the Senior Couples

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.

Helping the Stapley's at the Standard Bank

The Stapley’s drove down to East London to get some errands done today.  We went and helped them at Telkom to get the internet line move into their name and also Sister Thomas helped them at the bank to get their internet banking set up.  We also took them to several stores where they could purchase some items that are not always available in Queenstown.

Early Morning walk along the Estuary along the Gonubie River

We were up for an early morning along the beach at Gonubie.  The tide was out so we walked up the estuary.  I found a sinker that a fisherman lost at some point in time and the ocean had disgorged it on the beach.  There is a picture showing Sister Thomas at the end of the island that is uncovered at low tied.  It is a beautiful spot.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hair Cut and Boarding inspection in King Williams Town

This morning we drove up to King Williams Town to visit with Elders Cossey and Ramsey.  Elder Cossey had asked for a haircut and we needed to work on their bathroom.  They needed a new mirror and to fix up the leg of a stand that they had in their bathroom.  I did that while Sister Thomas cut Elder Cossey’s hair.

This is showing the finished product out in the drive way as we were about to depart.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Visit to Cove Rock

We went to pick up the mail at the airport and we chose to drive home a different way.  This took us near the site called Cove Rock.  We were in a hurry so we did not stop this time.  We will have to come back and check it out another time.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hair Cuts and New Mops

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.

Early Golf Game

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

Dad's Birthday

Today would have been my Dad's 86th birthday.  I have thought of him much throughout the course of the day.  Perhaps this is because I am away from my family on this first birthday following his death.  This picture shows a successful day at my Dad’s favorite fishing spot in Southern Utah.   I hope our family remains committed to our annual outing there.  That place will help us maintain Dad’s love of family and his love of the outdoors. 

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

Dinner with the East London and Mdantsane Zone Leaders

We had the two sets of Zone Leaders come over tonight so we could discuss how the Transfer day went.  The day did not go as smoothly as we would have liked with Elders arriving late where planes were almost missed etc.  However as we spoke to the Zone Leaders it is clear that they did more preparation than we thought.  They had either spoken or texted each elder telling them where they needed to be and when.  We were pleased when I heard that.  What they could do better is to sit down and consider the logistics of what needed to take place. 

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.

Elder Judd's Birthday

This morning we had planned on attending one of the Mdantsane District meetings so we could celebrate Elder Judd’s birthday.  This morning early the Mdantsane Zone Leaders called and said they could not find a key to the Mdantsane First Ward building where they normally hold the district meetings for their Zone.  As a result, they had to change to the Amalinda Chapel.  No big problem except that several of the East London District Meetings are held there as well.

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

We welcome Elder Malpage into East London

Sister Thomas meets Elder Malpage for the first time in the mission field as he steps off the bus in East London.  The last time we were well acquainted with Elder Malpage was when he was five years old in the Sandton Ward.  How the time has passed. 

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

Settling the Stapleys into Queenstown

Today we spent the day introducing the Stapley’s to the Elders, the Elders’ flats and the town of Queenstown.  We visited the three flats of the Elders in Queenstown and then took them around to see all the hardware and fabric stores, restaurants, land surverys, banks, bicycle shop, post office box, and several stores as Sister Thomas helped them understand the difference between coriander and  cilantro, tomato sauce and tomato puree and ketchup and tomato paste, 

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

Attending Church with the Stapleys at Sada

We attended the Sada ward today so we had an early departure from East London.  The Stapley’s met us and we departed with them following us to their new area.  It was such a blessing to be back among the ward members.  When Sister Thomas and I first attended this ward there were, if I remember correctly, 43 in attendance in sacrament meeting.  Today there were over 110.  What a wonderful change has taken place.  Of course, the Bishop, with a loving slap on my back told me it finally started coming right after we left for East London!

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

Helping hands at the Zoo

We were able to go to the Zoo at 8:00 this morning and help out with the Mormon Helping Hands activity at the Zoo.  There were many different projects.  The one we are working on was helping sand and then varnish some picnic tables that the Zoo uses when school classes come for a visit to the Zoo.  There were about 10 tables. Sanding them left Sister Thomas and I a bit stiff in some places where we have not worked for a while.  The end result look really good and this will leave a lasting impression.  It was a good project and it was fun to help East London 2nd and 3rd Wards with it.

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

A Loose Bed Leg and A Hair Cut

When we finished dinner we had to go and give Elder Loomis a haircut.  While we were there visiting it came to light that Elder Shabalala had a problem where one of the legs of his bed was very loose.  It became clear that, on occasions, this loose leg might reach up and hold Elder Shabalala in his bed in the morning for a few minutes past 6:30.  As a result, I brought out my tools and wood glue and we glued this leg of the bed in very solid.  I showed him that it is now impossible for this leg to reach out and grab him so he will not have any problem rising at 6:30.  This is Elder Shabalala pointing to the loose leg that had such mysterious power over him as his companion, Elder Mongalo, looks on rubbing his chin not quite knowing how to take this sad story from Elder Shabalala.  Both are good Elders striving to do Heavenly Father’s work.

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”.

Dinner out with the Blatters

The Blatters are in town to do some career development training with the Elders who are going home at the end of this transfer.  We went to pick the BLatters up for dinner and I took this evening picture of East London just as the last bit of sun was setting.  We had a wonderful dinner together as we reacquainted ourselves and discussed common problems we face.

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

Fixing a Toilet and Elder Crowell's Dog Bite

We had to go to visit the Elders in the morning before they left their flat so I could fix the toilet.  It was not too bad because all I had to do was replace a broken toilet seat.  I did make the Elders go in a clean the toilet first.  You would have thought I had asked them to do the impossible.  That was the most fun part of the job - teaching them how to clean a toilet.

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.

Elders Hale and Manda's Flat was Awesome

This was our inspection of the Zone Leaders flat.  It was simply awesome and caught Sister Thomas by surprise.  I had to stop and take a picture of the place, particularly the kitchen.  It was spotless and if you look at the cupboards behind Elders Hale and Manda you can see how orderly the spices were.  The front room is as good as we have ever seen it.  Well, done to Elders Hale and Manda.  This is what it means when we speak of leaders leading by example.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chocolate Honeycombe Cake with the Elders

There is a small cafe in Queenstown called the Mug and Bean.  Apparently the chief bakes a cake once a week and the elders wait until this cake is freshly made and then they rush over to purchase a piece before it runs out.  In is called a chocolate honeycomb cake.  They invited Sister Thomas and I to come along and have a piece.  Sister Thomas and I shared a piece which was as good as the Elders described but was a bit rich for my blood.

Hair Cuts for Elders Cathemer and Nielsen following flat Inspections

After we inspected the flat of Elders Cathemer and Nielsen, Sister Thomas committed to cut their hair.  She was able to do it outside in the warm sun so as to keep the inside of the apartment nice.  Actually, these were two of the best hair cuts Sister Thomas has given and both Elders looked great. 

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

We visit the Hogs back with Elders Slabbert and Ramsey

We went to the Hogsback Mountains today.  We drove to King William’s Town and inspected the Elders boarding this morning.  Then Elders Slabbert and Ramsey joined us for the preparation day activity.  We went to several of the sites and did two different hikes.  The first was to the Big Tree which is a Yellow Wood tree and is estimated to be over 800 years old.  It started growing before Christopher Columbus was born and the earth was still considered flat.  We also hiked to the Madona and Child Water Fall.  You can see the “Madona and her child” on the rock wall of the falls in the pictures.  Elder Slabbert wanted to go to the Labyrinth which at first was a bit of a disappointment but turned out to be a bit more fun as the Elders raced Sister Thomas to the middle.  Sister Thomas was clever and looked at the Labyrinth (she looked at the center and went backwards from there) before she started and beat the Elders by a long way.  They were running trying to catch up but it did not work out for Elders Slabbert and Ramsey.  It was fun.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Super Moon? Not so Super in East London!

After letting my family and all the East London Elders know about the “Super Moon” that would take place on Sunday Evening, I looked up only to see blackness from the storm that was moving in.  I took two pictures one of a dark sky of clouds and a second where there was a glimpse of the large moon through the clouds.  It was a but of an anti-climatic bust!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Another day of Flat Inspections. The Elders are getting better

A great deal of our missionary life is repetitive and, although it seems like we just did flat inspections, it is always fun to visit the elders.  After a few visits Sister Thomas is slowly raising the standards.  However, it does seem like we just did this. 

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

Traveling with four Elders back to East London

We flew back to East London with 4 Elders.  The Elders traveling with us are beginning on the left and going clockwise are:  Elder Manqane, Mmusi, Mongalo and Elder Shabalala.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Table Mountain from the front Steps of the Mission Office

We took a picture of the view of Table Mountain from the front door of the Mission Office.  This is the back side of the mountain and not the view that is normally taken.  All the cars are those that are getting sold because we had a number of new cars delivered to us.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lunch and Warmer Clothes for the Elders Transfering from Serria Leone and Liberia

Lunch and some warmer clothes for the Elders being transferred from Sierra Leone and Liberia.  It was interesting seeing them huddled in blankets due to the colder, damper climate in Cape Town.  They did not have any coats or long sleeved white shirts.  They were very grateful for the coats, jerseys and shirts and left smiling.  Actually, this mall is off limits to all missionaries so this was a special experience for these Elders.  We went here because Sister Thomas knew we would find all the stores we would need to look in.  (We looked in all of them!)  However, it was fun to shop with President Merrill.  He is defiantly a buyer not a shopper!  (My kind of Guy!)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Elder Strauss was a stand out helper at the Mission Home at Meal Time

Elder Strauss was a stand out helper in the kitchen.  He stayed the course and helped out to the bitter end.  Brother and Sister Strauss you have a simply awesome son!  We are able to work with him in East London where he is a Zone Leader.  It is coming close to his last transfer in the mission field and I personally hope he stays close.

At the Mission Leadership Conference

The Elders at the Mission Leadership Conference worked hard for two days.  The APs led them in a discussion called “When the baby’s ugly, it’s Ugly”.  They used this theme to define those areas in the mission where improvement is necessary.  The group defined the list and then the Zone Leaders chose the 10 most important for their Zones.  The group was brought back together and they chose the three most important for the mission to work on.  It was wonderful to watch them counsel together as leaders of the mission.

You can see the list they created in the center picture.

Continuous Food at the Mission Home

During the Leadership Meeting at the Mission Home there was a great deal of food consumed.  Sister Merrill and Sister Thomas were the main food providers.  It was breakfast, lunch and dinner for three days straight for 27 missionaries. 

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.

Members of the Mission Leadership

The Mission Leadership Conference was a huge success.  It was the first time the Elders had the opportunity to counsel with President Merrill.  I would provide some summary of the conference here but it is best if this is disseminated to the mission through the Zone Leaders.  Perhaps a good summary is the enlightenment that took place with the Zone Leaders as they strived to take on more ownership of some of the problems and common issues that they face as leaders.  Sister Thomas and I were grateful that we could be there to help out.

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

Catching up with Elder Van Zyl

We were grateful that we were able to catch up with Elder Van Zyl at the Leadership conference.  We knew his family when they lived in the same ward as us in Johannesburg.  They were a blessing in our lives and were a family that loved the Lord.  It is easy to see the good that Elder Van Zyl has been blessed with by having the parents that he has.  Unfortunately for us and fortunately for his family, Elder Van Zyl is on his way home at the end of this transfer.  We were grateful to at least be with him in one leadership meeting.  Good luck as you transfer home Elder Van Zyl.

Picking up the Elders at the Airport

We drove three vehicles to the airport to collect the Mission Leadership who flew in this morning.  About 20 minutes later the Elders transferring to our mission from Sierra Leone and Liberia arrived at the airport.  After connecting from Sierra Leone and Liberia to Accra in Ghana and then the flight to Johannesburg to Cape Town, it was a tried group of Elders who walked out of arrivals.  To top it off,  four of the five Elders had lost luggage.  It took two more days for it to arrive in Cape Town.

Breakfast with the Andersens as they pick up their son

We had the opportunity to have breakfast with the Andersens.  They have come to South Africa to pick up their son who was one of the Presidents APs.  He was an awesome missionary and we had the opportunity to work with him as he traveled to East London.  One evening we even had Elder Andersen and his companion stay in our boarding with us during a Zone Conference.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A visit to the Rhodes Memorial

Rhodes Memorial on Devil's Peak in Cape Town, South Africa, is a memorial to English-born South African politician Cecil John Rhodes. (Wikipedia)  We took the time to stop and visit this memorial.  Devil’s Peak is on the back side of Table Mountain.  It was a windy day but it was beautiful.

The Beach at Fish Hoek

After Church we drove down and spend a few minutes in the small town of Fish Hoek.  I managed to catch Sister Thomas enjoying the small joke I told her while taking pictures.  You can see the small beach behind us and the house on the far mountain next to the town.  It is actually a very nice place.

Church in Fish Hoek

Visiting the ward in Fish Hoek, we found some old friends in the mission.  Elders Welsh, Arthur on our right and Elders Lawson and Smith on our left.  Visiting Church in Fish Hoek also brought us in contact with old friends from Johannesburg.  One of our old Home Teachers, Brother Paul and Moria Turner live in the Fish Hoek Ward.  It was fun to see so many of our friends from South Africa.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Attending the Musical Oklahoma

When we arrived in Cape Town we were able to attend the musical production Oklahoma at the Theater in Cape Town.  It was a fun evening with Elder & Sister France and Elder & Sister Johnson along with some other members.  I have never seen Oklahoma before other than the movie version.  Sister Thomas and I found it enjoyable.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Participating in a Mission President Conference Call

Today we attended the East London 3rd ward district meeting.  I went as a request from President Bell.  I had a discussion about building trust with the members so that we as missionaries can be used effectively by them.

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.