"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, September 30, 2014
After we picked up the van, we had a meeting with the East London Stake Presidency. I needed to report back on the actions that I was taking with each ward. While in the meeting we received a call from Elder Capozzoli who had just hit a pot hole along the side of the road and blew out two tires.
We ended up having to drive out to Mdantsane to collect the spare tire from the other Toyoto and then clear back to “Sunrise-by-the-Sea” to help rescue the Elders. We caught a picture of Elder Capozzoli and Elder Malpage putting on the extra spare tire that we brought them.
We are trying something new tomorrow for transfer day. We are renting a van in order to pick up the Elders who are being transferred at the church. Then we will take them to the airport or bus station and return those that we are picking up. The van costs Rand 1300 for the day plus gas and any extra kilometers. However, I believe that this might be close to the same cost as all the Elders driving to and from the airport and bus station. It is a grand experiment, we will see how it goes.
After all that noise, we went out to Dinner with the Stapleys. It was very late by the time we had the elders taken care of so we went to the hotel and had a “Pub” dinner in Gonubie. It was good food and by the time we were done eating they were ready to close the place and lock the doors. As we were about to turn off to our house, we realized that we had left the keys to the house in our car which we had parked at the church because we didn’t want to leave the van in the parking lot overnight. It was a long drive at 11 pm, in the rain, to the church and back. The Stapleys were good sports about it all as they were stuck with us because they were staying with us overnight at our house!
Monday, September 29, 2014
We had to drive up to Grahamstown this morning to complete a temple recommend interview for a sister. It was urgent because the branch is on the way to the Temple on Wednesday morning.
It rained on us all the way over and all the way back. We were able to spend some time with the Chases and had lunch with them at the Spur.
On the drive home we noticed this break in the clouds where we could see the Fish River as it makes its way to the coast. We had to stop and turn around and go back to take the picture. It was a calming view in the midst of the storm.
I just received an update on the exchange rate for October. Thanks to President and Sister Thomas, it was discovered that the exchange rate sent out by church headquarters last week was incorrect, see the corrected rate below and the attached files;
SOUTH AFRICA ZAR
01 Oct 2014
ZAR/USD - 11.1340 USD/ZAR - 0.0898149
Please discard the earlier emails for our October Exchange Rate.
South Africa Cape Town Mission
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Elder Strauss & Elders Martey and Elder Ndlovu & Elder Mashago from the Mdantsane 2nd Ward District have developed a wonderful friendship as they have served together. They somehow decided and then found some ties that all matched. We had to get a picture of a District that truly loved each other. Next week Elder Strauss is on his way home and Elder Mashego is being transferred from the area where he was trained. Perhaps it is lucky that we will only see these four ties together once.
Sister Thomas was looking particularly fine today and I caught this picture as she was patiently waiting at the end of the block of meetings for the baptism to begin.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Elder and Sister Thomas get our picture taken at the Baptism. We were enjoying being there with everyone as pictures are taken and someone took our camera and took a picture of us together. Not bad looking if I do say so myself.
We attended the baptism in the Mdantsane First Ward today. It was a good experience to see 7 people enter into the waters of baptism. The talks were good and the message was sweet. Sister Thomas played the piano for the service.
One baptism of a little girl was a very real challenge for the father. The girl was extremely afraid of the water and this caring father was struggling with the commitment it takes to put a scared daughter down in the water. After about four attempts, Bishop Jada stood and went up next to the font and simply instructed the father in the living words of a wise bishop. He simply instructed the father, "Baptize your Child". It was all the instruction that was needed.
The Father then took the courage to place his daughter under the water. We all felt like clapping when she was finally baptized successfully.
I was given to opportunity to express my love for Elder Tippetts who trained me in the mission field and of my love for Elder Gines who I trained while serving in the Heights area of Houston Texas.
We challenged these Training Elders to lead by example and with obedience.
Friday, September 26, 2014
This morning we had breakfast with the Blatter’s who had stayed over night with us and then drove to the Church for the Career Development Workshop for three of our missionaries that are departing next week to go home. We had Elders Murphy and Capazzoli from Utah and Elder Strauss from Pretoria who were going to attend.
Elder and Sister Blatter do an outstanding job of providing this direction and the Elders are so grateful that they have been given just a touch of what will be needed as they begin to develop their careers. You can see Elder Blatter teaching in the class room and over lunch.
Because this training goes on for about 6 hours we provide Lunch about have way through. Sister Thomas made Enchilada Casserole. The Elders had a couple of plates full. We, along with the Blatter we sat back and watched as they consumed more than we thought possible.
These are three very special missionaries. We wish them well.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
We finished the Inspections and then went to the Church. We met up with both sets of Zone Leaders there. I had each Zone Leader drive one car and I drove the final one with Sister Thomas leading, we delivered all the vehicles to Meyers Motors today. I was going to get a picture but was busy because the President gave me a call as we were driving in single file. I spoke to the Elders about not getting into an accident this morning. They were all very responsible.
When this we done, Anthony took two of the missionaries and we took two back to the Church.
From there we went to lunch at the Shanghai Restaurant. I believe it will be the last time for Elders Murphy and Capazzoli. They have been here so often that the people managing the place made a special effort to say goodbye.
You can see pictured, Sister Thomas Elders Capazzoli, Murphy, Malpage and Judd. Some very fine missionaries who have learned how to be great church leaders. I am sure they will use more of this skill in the future.
Elders Strauss and Martey’s flat was excellent. It is the second time in a year that Sister Thomas has scored anyone a 10/10. This flat was simply spotless. Well done to Elders Strauss and Martey.
Beginning in upper right are Elders Strauss & Martey then in lower Right from right to left, Elders Mongalo, Loomis, Shabalala, then Elders Ndlovu and Mashego. We missed getting a picture of the Zone Leaders Elders Murphy & Judd. Their flat was so clean we did such a quick job of inspecting that I forgot to get the camera out.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
We just had the opportunity to spend some time with the Blatter’s when we were in Port Elizabeth. We had to drive over to complete a Baptismal interview that needed to be delegated upward. We had a delightful evening going out to dinner with both the Blatters and the Silkcocks.
The next morning we had a quick breakfast and then began the drive back to East London.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Elder Thomas sells the church vehicles to Anthony Glover of Meyers Motors in East London. I did not believe this would be part of our job description when we were called on our mission. I am not sure I will ever sell five cars all at one time to one dealer again in my life. However, this is much easier than trying to sell five different cars to five different members of the church. All in all, a good day to get this action item completed.
Now all that is left to do is to deliver the vehicles once the payment has been made.
Monday, September 22, 2014
While at the Doctor’s, we had the Elders take our picture. We also caught Elder Ndlovu on the operating bench waiting to get some stitches taken out of his eye brow. He injured himself when a handle to a hand held exerciser with elastic slipped from his hand and then hit him in the head. He is lucky he did not loose an eye.
Today we had to meet up with some of the Elders at the Doctor’s office. Elder Ndlovu had to get some stitches taken out of his eyebrow from an earlier accident and Elder Martey needed some X-rays taken of his knee and his hand from a bicycle accident.
While we were there, I sat them down and played a guessing game. These Elders are using one of the cars that has multiple dents in. I had them take it in to get a quote to get it fixed. I asked them to guess what the cost would be to get it fixed. The first guess was under R 10,000. It took them some time to get up to the quote of R 51,481.70.
I think that the pictures tells the story.
I think that the pictures tells the whole story.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
After Church we met with the Branch President and his PEC. We discussed the Mission's vision and then reviewed the principle of Keys for missionary work and the Keys for reactivation. We went through gathering of Israel as a hen gathers her chicks in. We also went through Jacob Chapter 5 and discussed how often the master and his servant sought to bring forth tame fruit. We challenged the branch to use the keys they have and then prayerfully give thought as to those less actives that they could assign the missionaries to help them with.
We will have to follow up with our missionaries on how the broach council does in this request.
This is Sister Thomas and me on our three hour drive back to East London.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
After lunch we came back to fix the font and begin filling it for the baptism which is scheduled to take place after Church. The font needed some cleaning and the bottom had to be straighten out.
I pitched in and helped the elders with this task. The plastic lining was not centered and it took a bit of muscle work to get it in the correct spot.
We began to fill the font and then went on several appointments. We came back about two hours later it was just over half full. We decided that we could fill the balance if we started the water when Church began it would be full enough.
When we arrived in on Sunday the font was empty. There are so many holes in the liner that we had to start all over. Luckily we had 3 hours to refill it.
We were given an assignment from the Queenstown Zone Leaders to provide the new missionary training while we were in Mthatha. We met with Elders Stegelmeier & Jenner and Elders Pulu & Taylor. The training was on the gospel of Jesus Christ and we did some role playing on the baptismal invitation. When completed, I interviewed the Elders to get some feedback. It was a pleasure to report back that they are on schedule and the companionship relationships are strong.
When we completed the training, we had a picture taken in front of the church next to the large Boganvilla that is growing in front of the church.
Sister Thomas prepared a roast and potatoes in the Elders’ slow cooker for tomorrow. They just need to turn it on tonight to enjoy a wonderful lunch tomorrow after church.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Today the Mdantsane and the Elast London Zones has their Zone Training Meetings. Both were held at the Amalinda chapel with Elders Capozzoli and Malpage providing the training for the East London Zone and Elders Murphy and Judd for the Mdantsane Zone. Sister Thomas attended the Mdantsane Zone meeting and I attended the East London Zone Meeting. The training was on the next ugly baby which was Casualness in Dress, Casualness in Speech and Casualness on Preparation Day. Both sets of Zone Leaders did a good job on the training. Sister Thomas said something remarkable. She said Elder Murphy's and Elder Judd's training might have been better than the original training that took place in the Leadership Skype call. Quite a complement!
We joined the Elders at Nando's for lunch. Everyone of our daughters seeing a picture of us eating at Nando's are more than a little bit jealous.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Today is Elder Martey’s birthday. We arrange to meet at his flat at about 8:45 in the evening with the members of his Zone. Sister Thomas made what is called an Earthquake cake. It was a recipe that Sister Blatter gave us and we decided to try it out. It proved to be good and was enjoyed by the Elders along with some ice cream. Sister Thomas put on two green candles and two blue candles on the cake. This is a close and we could come to represent someone turning 22. When it came time to blow out the candles Elder Martey was taken back and did not really know what to do. He finally was able to blow them all out, but with a bit of trouble. All accused him of trying to get some extra girl friends.
When the cake and ice cream was over, we ask Elder Martey to share something about himself that no one else knows about. He told us of his early life of his father giving him to a lady to live with where he was abused. From the age of six or seven, he went to living in the streets for most of his young life. Then with tears in his eyes he thanked those for coming this evening as this was the first time in his life he had had anything close to a birthday party. He had never been wished happy birthday and had never had a birthday cake. At 22 this was the first one in his life.
I put my arm around him and told him to look around. He needed to know that he has a family around him. When he goes home there will be members who will become his life long friends. I thought of the Scripture “Now therefor ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and the house hold of God” (Eph 2:19). I explained to him that he who was once separate is now part of something larger, he need not feel or be alone again. Added to this family of Saints he will have his relationship with his Elder Brother which he can always rely on.
A very sobering evening and we left with love in our hearts for Elder Martey and for each other. I left knowing that I am peace with myself for any and all actions that I took with my daughters while they were growing up. I hope that they are as grateful to have me as their father as I am to have them as my daughters.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I thought this would be fun to share. As we were leaving the boarding of Elder Strauss and Elder Marty’s Flat we noticed this sign. It is wonderful thought and we should all review this question as we leave for our daily activities. Did we think to Pray?
However, I love this little note for what it says about young missionaries and what it does not say. I guess this is the “Guy” gene that is bred into all males.
No fancy flowers or boarders drawn to liven up the picture. No cute little exclamation marks. No bright colors to add to the sentiment of the message. No pictures of a little boy or little girl down in the corners of the paper shown in prayer. Forget the fact that it is actually a question, just drop the question mark and make it a command.
To top that all off, it is put up on the door not with some press stick on the back so it looks good. What is it stuck on with? Yes, that is right. It is being held up there with Duct Tape and not one but four pieces. That little sign will not come down any time soon.
I love the difference between men and a women, but deep down I am grateful for a partner in life and as a companion here in the mission field, for what thoughtful and compassionate service is brought and given as a result of the input of my wonderful wife. She is a real treasure.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
We invited the Zone Leaders over for breakfast. The condition for breakfast was to come 30 minutes early so they could vacuum out their cars. When they were done, we sat down for breakfast at 10:00 which was right on the time frame Sister Thomas had set. She prepared breakfast burritos made up of sausage, scrambled eggs, hash browns, grated cheese, and bean and corn salsa. Along with this there was a fruit salad and homemade, freshly baked cinnamon rolls. It look so good Sister Thomas requested a picture. The Elders said, “they have never eaten such colorful food”. Elder Capazzoli said he had never had colors taste so nice.
Our two sets of Zone Leaders in the upper right picture from left to right: Elders Judd, Capozzoli, Murphy and Malpage. Take a closer look at that table. The food is colorful. Those cooks on Master Chef would have been proud of Sister Thomas.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
It was behind this monument on a park bench where this interview took place. While it was out in a public place the spirit was with us. The pigeons were around our feet and it seemed as if we were all alone in the middle of the small park. The interview was a wonderful Priesthood experience for me.
On the right side of the monument, you can see Elder Silcock outside our car while he is waiting patiently to open the door for Sister Silcock while she is speaking to Sister Thomas who is sitting in our car. Sister Silcock and Sister Thomas were siting in our car while they were waiting for me to finish the interview.
The monument was paid for by a group in Britain. It is actually a drinking fountain for livestock. I guess it has been some time since it has been used for that purpose. The moment celebrates all the fallen animals that perished in the Anglo Boer war in 1899 - 1902. The script ion reads:
“The greatness of a nation consists not so much in the number of its people or the extent of its territory as in the extent and justice of its compassion.”
A nice thought and inspiration objective for any nation.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
We have come to love the Chases for their loving ability to carry forward doing good even in times of personal sorrow. They are wonderful examples to the branch and know and understand the both the Gospel of Jesus Christ but also how the church functions. They have been a wonderful influence on the Grahamstown Branch.
We are able to join them at Sister Chase’s favorite restaurant in Grahamstown. As is always the case, we enjoy some adult company for dinner.
We had to come to Grahamstown today to interview three different people. Two for callings in the branch and one for a temple recommend. When we were done, right next to the church, Sister Thomas found one of her favorite flower bushes. The Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow bush is very pretty but the fragrance that it gives off is wonderful. I have also begun to enjoy this bush and rank it right next to my personal favorite which is the Lilac bush. Sister Thomas is also a very lovely flower all by herself.
Friday, September 12, 2014
We called Elder Murphy to let him know we had received a package for him. He was in King Williams Towns doing training and exchanges. He called on his way home and asked if he could come and collect it. They would be getting here at about dinner time so we invited them for dinner. Elder Murphy was excited but way to serious about getting this package as is shown in the picture. However, he was pleased when he opened it up.
Elder Mashego is the most joy filled Elder in the mission field. He always has a smile on his face and is an eternal optimist. I hope this virtue remains with him. This morning he told Sister Thomas of a sore toe. Actually, it was the side of his foot just up from the ball of his foot. He got kicked when the Elders were playing soccer. Sister Thomas was inspecting but the wind was doing wonders with her hair blowing all around. To do the inspection of Elder Mashego’s foot she had to get her hair under control. It was a lighter moment.
The foot/toe will be fine. It is certainly bruised but not broken. We will have to watch it for improvement over the next week.
District Meetings were held at the Amalinda Chapel today. Sister Thomas had to inspect a bruised toe this morning. The wind was blowing her hair wildly as she did.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Elder Manqane has settled in and has begun to show his joyful personality. We first met him when he arrived Cape Town after his transfer form the Liberia mission. It is nice to have him in the mission field with us.
Sister Thomas has an extended conversation with the Elders on the necessity of keeping their flats clean. They also get cookies.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Sister Thomas cooked a wonderful breakfast that Elder Murphy proclaimed was his best breakfast in the mission field. I agree with him it was an awesome collection of bacon, hash browns, french toast casserole, fruit salad and juices.
The breakfast was a good idea because the Skype meeting went until 3:30. The Elders defined the next three Ugly Babies. They were, Casualness in Speech, Casualness in Dress and Casualness on Preparation Days. The Zone Leaders were tasked with taking this training out across the Mission.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Monday, September 8, 2014
That is JT in the upper left looking for a pass from his quarterback. Chaz in upper right seems to be looking for a way through the line and I can see he is just about ready for the shuffle step to break through. Brody in lower left looks like he is pausing as he waits for a hand off from his quarterback. Their dad in lower right runs back along the side lines. (You can tell it takes a bit of imagination as you look at the pictures, something I have plenty of)
Final scores were:
Brody: 15 - 0
Chaz: 34 - 6
JT: 18 - 0
We thank Trisha and Jeff for helping us stay connected. It is not quite the same as being there in person. The Text’s back and forth while the games are being played are fun to read.
Jeff: Chaz's game. Up 6-0
Jeff: 20-0 half. Chaz with a pick to set up a TD right before half.
Chelsea: Atta boy!!
Mark: We'll done. Is he playing line backer or corner or safety?
Jeff: He's playing safety
Jeff: End of 3
Jeff 34-0. Chaz at QB
Jeff: 34-6. Kick return for TD.
Jeff: JT's game. No score end of 1.
Jeff: JT up 6-0
Jeff: 12-0. End of 3
Mark: Thanks for keeping the scores coming. How's the weather?
Jeff: Gorgeous! Sunny and 81
Mark: Is it over yet?
Mark: Thanks! Brody is next? What time?
Jeff: Starting now.
Chelsea: Awesome. 3 wins!
Mark: Tell all three well done.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Following attending Church with the Badi family at the Sada ward, we had to hustle to get over to Queenstown so we could meet with the Bishop and members of his PEC to review the Ward’s objectives to support the Stake split. We have four missionaries working in this ward meeting with us as well. It was a good review.
Then we drove to the Ilinge Ward and met with the Bishop, Ward clerk, Ward mission leader and the missionaries to complete this same assignment.
We drove back to Queenstown to have lunch with the Stapleys. This was an enjoyable lunch, especially since it was fast Sunday. They are such wonderful servants of our Heavenly Father. We were able to help them with their phone and also to help them with getting the Mission drop box on their computer as well. We also did a Skype call to make sure we could connect in preparation for the coming Mission Leadership Skype call this week.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Today was a busy day for us. In the morning Sister Thomas and I met to discuss and review those issues that I should bring up during the Presidency meeting with Elder Merrill and the APs. Then we reviewed where we thought some Elders could be placed in the future as the mission complement grows. The conference call was between 10:00 and 12:00. We reviewed the above issues and then all those issues that are to be covered on the Mission Leadership Skype Call. Busy morning.
Then we drove out to Mdantsane to meet with the Bishop of the Mdantsane 1st Ward to review the goals and objectives the ward has set to support the Stake splitting in November of 2015. This proved to be a fruitful meeting.
We had to rush back to the Church for the Stake Adult Meeting. It was this meeting that the President had to excuse himself and ask me to sit on the stand. I ended up being asked by Elder Ellis to field a question about how and what we say if we are speaking to someone considering a same sex marriage. I guess I did OK. Sister Thomas commented about how we should be treating each other in the gospel, considering our different cultures and backgrounds. She challenged everyone to “climb the the higher ground of the Gospel Culture” as Elder Bednar advised.
After the meeting we met up with the members who had driven down from Mthatha. There were a group of young men from Mthatha who had “Future Missionary” badges on. I was thrilled to see so many beginning to enter into a commitment. I pulled in Elder Trepaneir who served in Mthatha while we were in Queenstown for the picture. The Branch President, Obadia M. Mbilase, is to my left.
Friday, September 5, 2014
Today we went to the airport and picked up the post. There were four boxes there so we were excited for our missionaries. As we opened them, our happy hearts were somewhat disappointed because 3 of the boxes should have been sent to Port Elizabeth rather than East London.
We then went to our District Meeting where Sister Thomas joined the EL 3rd ward district meeting. Elder Thomas joined the MD 1st Ward district meeting. Elder Creech led this District meeting and the topic was on regaining our Missionary purpose. He led a good discussion about the need to be prepared to lead with the power Heavenly Father has promised we will have as missionaries if we are obedient missionaries. I also learned something about “Sharpness” See D&C 16 and the reference on sharpness.
Elder Trepaneir lead the other district meeting which was excellent as well.
We persuaded the Elders to huddle up for a picture following the District Meetings. They we all at the Amalinda Chapel because they could not get the keys to the Mdantsane building.
When we picked up the post, we had a package for Elder Murphy. It was nice to see his smile when we delivered his package. He had been expecting it for quite some time. He was on exchanges with Elder Creech.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
At 19:00 we met with the Bishop Wainwright of the East London 1st Ward along with Elders Capozzoli and Malpage to discuss how we can be aligned with the ward’s goals to support the split of the stake.
We also had the APs, Elders Whitworth and Ah-Fua, with us because they were doing exchanges with these Zone Leaders. After this meeting, we took these four Elders out to dinner at McDonald’s.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
This felt very much like what it would be to be a used car sales person.
Monday, September 1, 2014
We ran into several tortoises while golfing. They were all over the course. The day was beautiful and you can see the typical clear blue African winter sky out overhead. The company was a welcome. There are not that many times Sister Thomas will play golf with three Presidents all at the same time.
You could hear “good shot President” all over the golf course but most of those where for the other two Presidents as President Thomas did not bring his A game today. And there were a lot of “good shot Sister Thomas” especially after she sunk a 30 foot putt!
As I sit here writing this, I have suddenly realized that I owe President Merrill and President Wheeler some money. I took the total and divided it by three rather than dividing it by four. I read that as a complement to my thought process that Sister Thomas and I are really “One”. I will have to recalculate and get the money back to the Merrill’s and Wheelers.
450/3 = 150 and should have been R450/4 = R112.50 then R150 - R112.50 = R37.50. I will have to pay them back at another time.