"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

Friday, October 31, 2014

Meeting at the New Boarding to Unload the Truck

The Stapleys were a wonderful help to us today.  They had to rent a pickup truck in Queenstown and cleaned out the furniture that we used in an old boarding.  They brought it down to East London so we could use it in the new boarding.  We had the Zone Leaders meet us at the boarding after work on Saturday evening so we could move it in the furniture that the Stapleys brought down to east London. 

This shows Elder Stapley, Elders Judd, Mchunu, Ebong and Carniletto who were able to meet us at the new boarding on the way home from their areas.  We unloaded the truck into one room and then made arrangements for the Zone Leaders to get the other members of their Zone to come back and help us in the morning.

Walking on the Beach with the Stapleys on a Calm Evening

Elder and Sister Stapley come for a visit overnight to help move furniture from Queenstown down to East London.  They made it here early enough that we went on a evening stroll along the beach before dinner.  The evening was warm and not to humid with no wind.  It was a very pleasant walk along the beach.  Sister Stapley really enjoyed it because she grew up a stone’s throw from the ocean.

We asked everyone we walked by if they got the memo about coming to the beach dressed up this evening.  People were wondering who would actually come for a walk in white shirts and ties with the ladies in dresses.  Elder Stapley and I did feel just a bit funny with our slacks rolled up as we walked on the beach.

It was a very enjoyable evening with the Stapley’s.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Flat Inspections in East London

We were a busy couple today.  We began by dropping off a vehicle from Mthatha that needed to be serviced.  That was at 7:30.  Sister Thomas picked me up from there and we began a morning of inspecting the Elders flats and their cars.  Actually, these Elders had very clean apartments and the things that Sister Thomas highlighted were corrected right on the spot.  The vehicles were in good shape and were fairly clean due the the Washing and Waxing events we have had over the past couple of weeks.

We then met with the new landlord and he signed the lease agreement and we paid him the deposit for the new house we are renting for the Elders who work in Mdantsane.  This will save the Elders about 20 kilometers per day as the drive to and from their area. 

Later that evening we met up with Elders Judd and Mchunu in Mdantsane to teach a family home evening to a couple who had recently joined the church.  They were worried about their sons and hopefully we provided some guidance and comfort of spirit.  The Elders shared powerful examples of how their parents and impacted their lives.  Elder Mchunu told of coming in late at night finding his mother on her knees in his room in vocal prayer for her son.  Quoting from the Parable of the Prodigal Son, he said he “Came to Himself” in that moment as he stood outside his room.  He then cleaned up his life and came on a mission.  Elder Judd told a story of having to call his dad after an accident and of feeling the love of a parent when his father’s first question was not about the damage to the car, but one of concern, “Are you all right.”  He said he will always remember that his Dad loves him and was more concerned about him than the car.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Boarding Inspections and Weavers

We drove to and finished the inspections at King William’s Town.  The Elders did a good job of getting the boarding cleaned to a better standard.  We had to purchase a new small oven as theirs has given up the ghost.  We assigned Elder Cossey (on the right) and Elder Chapman to get the bikes fixed up so they would be ready if the President chose to bring another companionship into the area. 

I need to follow up on a new tap for the Elders that will work better with the water filtration systems.

On the way home we came across this tree that the Weavers were busy working on.  Several males were  building away and several of their mates were giving their opinion on the type and condition of their new home.  I love these birds and the males continued  with patience.  He never gives up and simply flies away and starts over when the going gets tough.  We could all learn from better relationship skills and what it takes to make a marriage work.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Breakfast with the Mthatha Elders

We received an assignment from President Merrill to go to Mthatha and take Elder Taylor from East London back to his area.  We drove up on Monday afternoon and met with the Branch President and Brother Boateng on Monday afternoon and then met with the Elders on Tuesday morning.  After we met with the Elders at their boarding, we took them out to breakfast.  It is still funny how long it takes Elders to make a choice at a restaurant.  Elders Jenner, Taylor and  Stegelmeier are no exception.  We actually went to Wimpy’s, something we vowed never to do 25 years ago.  We didn’t eat as we had eaten breakfast at the B&B.

After breakfast we drove back to East London.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lunch with the Queenstown Zone After the Car Wash

We had Hamburgers and Hotdogs, Potato Salad and other condiments.  Elder Thomas began to cook the hamburgers as the Elders were finishing the last vehicle.  The Elders thought that the lunch was outstanding and Elder Trepaneir is shown giving Sister Thomas a big Thumbs up from the Zone.

It is a bit difficult to see, but in going from front to back and left to right the Elders are: Elders Taylor, Trepaneir, Crowell, Bradley and Elder Thomas, then Elder Wells in his own row, then on the back row, Elders Matini, Shabalala, Ludvigson, Manqane, Malpage and Mmusi.

We had to be done today because we left to drive up to Mthatha to take Elder Taylor back so he could work in his area in a threesome with Elders Stegelmeier and Jenner.

East London Zone Come to Wash and Wax their Cars

The Elders from the East London Zone came to wash and wax their cars at our place this afternoon.  The cars really looked good when they were done.  During the car wash the wind was blowing very hard.  One of the Elder Crowell attempted to toss a washing rag to another Elder and it ended up in the top of a tree.  The Elders fetched a ladder and were successful in retrieving it (only with the help of TALL Elder Malpage).

You can see what the wind was doing if you give Sister Thomas’ hair a look.  It was blown all over the place as she helped the Elders with a last bit of buffing to removing the excess wax.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Special Stake Conference in East London

We had a special meeting today in the East London Stake.  Elder Hamilton from the second quorum of the Seventy came and spoke to the Stake.  Several members of the stake also spoke.  President Bell’s address was especially touching as he spoke about the importance of families, following Christ and being a light unto the world and making better efforts to be temple worthy.

Elder Hamilton spoke on being worthy to stand with the Savior and being worthy to eventually receive all that the Father hath.  He reminded us that the Plan of Salvation came first then the commandments were given. The Plan provides for a Savior and he bore a wonderful witness of the Savior and reminded us that we do what we do in the church because of our faith in our Heavenly Father and the Savior.

After the conference it looked like no one was assigned pick up the chairs.  So I spoke to the Elders and we put away all the chairs in short order.  This is a picture of the Elders as we got finished.  They are wonderful group.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

New Missionary Training

Today we had the 4 week training for the new missionaries.  This is scheduled for the new missionaries 4 weeks following their arrival in the mission.  It focused on teaching and inviting an investigator to be baptized.  Sister Thomas offered to have the Zone Leaders do this training in our home.  The new missionaries are Elders Dean, Hoffman and Ludvigson.

Shown in the picture from left to right is: Elders Crowell, Ludvigson, Mongalo, Dean, the Zone Leaders (Elders Mchunu, Wells, Malpage, Judd) and Elders Ndlovu and Hoffman.

Sister Thomas was in the back ground making some scones to go along with her strawberry jam she had just made.  That, along with some maple icing and the Elders were in Heaven or so they claimed.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Lunch Following District meeting

We attended district meetings and then agreed to go to lunch with the Elders at a Pakistan restaurant.  We were giving Elders Wells and Shabalala a ride because they were in an exchange and the Zone Leaders’ car was in for a service.  When we arrived at the restaurant, it was closed so that the owner could attend midday prayers. We waited patiently for it to reopen.

The food was good and the company was enjoyable.  After this, we took the Elders to pick up their car at the dealership and then we went teaching with Elder Manqane and Elder Malpage.  We taught three discussions. 

They were memorable because in one Elder Manqane asked a 17 year old girl to change into more modest clothes.  It was a brave thing, but the right thing to do.  When she came back into the room Elder Malpage expressed love and gratitude for what she did.  Sister Thomas explained that the Elders’ requested this because of the honor and respect they have for women. 

In the other lesson Elder Malpage asked the same question four times in order to get the answer that he was seeking.  He was able to follow-up with a baptismal question with the investigator committing to be baptized.  It was a spiritual experience and as the investigator gave the closing prayer, she broke down into tears as the spirit touched her heart.  It was a nice day of teaching.

District Meeting and Service Project

There is a special Stake Conference Meeting on Sunday at 10:30 where Elder Hamilton of the 70 will be speaking.  The members were busy cleaning the church and preparing for this meeting.  They asked the Elders to help out and set up the chairs.  Nothing better than having 12 Elders give a helping hand.

Sister Thomas was sitting out on the new bench reading her scriptures waiting for us.  One of the Elder laid down on the bench behind her.  You might be able to tell who this is by his shoes.  Any guesses???

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Inspecting Elder Cossey and Chapman's Boarding

We inspected the King Williams Town boarding of Elders Cossey and Chapman.  Generally this boarding was in good shape.  There were some items that needed to be cleaned up a bit because it looks like on the next transfer this boarding will have four elders.  I help them clean one section of the Kitchen cabinet top and one section of their small stove plates.  I challenged the Elders to raise the cleaning standards to this level.  They committed to get these clean to this standard.

While I was cleaning the kitchen, Sister Thomas gave Elder Cossey a haircut and once done we went out to Nando’s for a quick lunch.

On the way back to Gonubie we stopped to look at some second hand furniture shops to purchase some of the items we need for the new boarding.

Elder Malpage and Wells get a new stove

Elder Malpage called to let us know that his stove has begun to flip the circuit breakers in their apartment.  The top of the stove has also begun to rust and it is time to replace it with a new one.  They were pleased with the new appliance we brought.  Also, their washing machine has stopped pumping out the water and we had to haul that out to get fixed.

The best part of this story was Elder Malpage’s efforts.  When I unplugged and moved the old stove he went to the sink and retrieved a dishcloth.  He began cleaning the top of the table that was underneath the stove and the wall behind it.  As he cleaned, he even wiped down the picture frame on the wall.  Sister Thomas was shocked.  This was the first time in our 12 months on mission that an Elder did this cleaning of his on volition. In most cases and even with me, Sister Thomas has to ask for the floor or the wall to be cleaned after an appliance is moved. Having said that about Elder Malpage, Elder Wells is no slouch either.  He was there helping as well.

I must say along with Sister Thomas.  “Well done to Sister Malpage and Sister Wells.  Very well done indeed!” 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Making Strawberry Jam

Sister Thomas had been waiting very patiently for Strawberry’s to come on so she could make some Strawberry Jam.  This little project was completed today while Elder Thomas was working on some mission water filter change forms.  The Strawberry jam was wonderful.  In fact it was so good I twisted Sister Thomas’ arm and she then made some fresh rolls.  What an awesome snack.

Warped Floor and Fixing Bicycles

We meet with the Elders and the landlord at the flooded apartment.  We will have to get quotes to get the floor fixed up and the Landlord will begin this on Friday.  I will need to follow up to make sure this gets done.

You can see Elder Carniletto stepping over the place in the Carpet where the wood below the carpet has warped up as a result the wood swelling from all the water.  It will be a big job to get it fixed but we will have to get it done as a matter of urgency.

In upper left from right to left: Elder Carniletto, Trepaneir, Crowell, Sister Thomas, Elders Ludvigson, Ebong and Bradley.

Later we went to visit Elder Mmusi and Matini who ride bikes.  One of the bikes had some bad rear brakes which had not been working properly so we purchase some new brake pads and we put them on this morning and then adjust the cables which was fairly straight forward.

Sister Thomas checked out the Kitchen while we were there.  It might have been the cleanest kitchen we had seen in a long time.  Good on Elder Mmusi and Matini for keeping it clean.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Potato Salid, Veggies & Chips

We told the Elders we would help them with their cars and we would have a “bring and braai”.  This turned into a “we will pay you R20 per person and Elder and Sister Thomas purchased the food and the Elders reimbursed you”.  We have two hamburgers and one hotdog for each Elder along with a large portion of Potato Salad, a veggie tray and potato chips.  We also cooked up some boerewors that the Elders shared as a starter. Sister Thomas made peanut butter rice krispie treats for dessert and Elder Cossey made some Reece’s Pieces peanut butter cookies.

The Elders ate until they were filled and were turning down additional food.  As we were getting ready to eat, we took the picture in lower left.

From left to right around the circle: Elders Chapman, Mongalo, Dean, Ebong, Cossey, Zone Leaders (Elders Mchunu & Judd) and Elders Ndlovu, Martey, Moliki, Hoffman and Carniletto.

Mdantsane Zone Come to Wash their Cars

Today we invited the Mdantsane Zone over to our house to vacuum, wash and then wax their cars.  It was fun to have the Elders over in order to help then improve their care for their vehicles.  The missionaries are required to wash their cars every week but are instructed to wax the vehicles at lest twice per year.  In our mission this is done during the months when General Conferences are held. 

I was surprised but a majority of our Elders had not waxed a car before today.  This surprised me as I think back on my first car and how many times I washed and wax the VW Beetle.

As with any project, once the Elders understood the assignment and knew what to do, the vacuuming, washing and waxing was completed relatively quickly.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Attending Church in Port Alfred

While we attended the church meetings of the Port Alfred Branch I spoke for 5 minutes at church reinforcing the message that was given by the Relief Society President and the Elders Quorum on Visiting and Home Teaching.  I spoke on being the Saviors Hands (Sister Thomas’ suggestion).  Sister Thomas came prepared to teach the Young Women in Church today.

After Church we attended the baptism of three new members of the church. Elders Prisbrey and Branch are shown with the three that are to be baptized.  There was a luncheon following the baptism with some light sandwiches and a drink.  Sister Wheeler also brought some homemade brownies which Sister Thomas managed to get a few crumbs.  They went very fast.

After Church the Wheeler were kind enough to invite us to their home to feed us before we started the drive back to East London.  We had the opportunity to express our gratitude to the Wheelers for all they do for the branch.  They are such a wonderful example of service.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dinner with the Wheelers in Port Alfred

We travelled to Port Alfred today to complete a Melchizedek Priesthood worthiness interview.  We are staying overnight and will attend church, and attend a baptismal service, then drive back to East London on Sunday afternoon.

However, tonight we join with the Wheelers for dinner at the Pig and Whistle restaurant.  It is the oldest tavern on the eastern coast of South Africa.  It was established by the British as Africa was colonized by them.  It dates back to 1820.  It was a delightful dinner and was enjoyed by all.  The Wheelers are such a loving, kind gospel centered couple.  It is wonderful to associate with them on occasions such as this.

Chelsea's Birthday

It is Chelsea's Birthday today. But, anyone who knows her will most likely already know this little fact. We love her for her love of birthdays. Chelsea is our third daughter.  I am grateful that Heavenly Father loaned this precious little soul to Carolyn and me for a season. She is truly a wonderful daughter of Heavenly Father. This is Chelsea Ann Thomas on her first birthday and every 10 years thereafter (1980, 1990, 2000, 2010). We all love you Chelsea. Happy Birthday! We love you, Mom and Dad.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Purchasing Car Wax to do the Elders Vehicles

We went to the store to purchase some car wax for our “Wash, Wax and Braai” activity with the Mdantsane Zone on Monday.  The Elders are required to wax their cars twice per year and it is done in this mission during the months when we have General Conference.  I was trying to see if the car wax we were going to purchase was a paste or a liquid.  In the process I made a slight mess in the store.  Sister Thomas was laughing so hard that she had tears in her eyes but she managed to get a couple of pictures of the event.

She eventually went and pulled in two cleaners in the store to help me get cleaned up just a bit. 

Not one of my better or "cleaner" moments.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Miniture Golf with President and Sister Merrill

The President has a “free” morning as he is traveling to Queenstown today for the Zone Training and Interviews Meeting tomorrow.  That is if a Mission President’s morning is ever “free”. 

Sister Thomas and I went to work on a bicycle with brake problems this morning and to pick up a set of driving approval papers from Elder Matini.

Once that was completed, we met up with President and Sister Merrill to have some lunch and we played 9 holes of “Adventure” miniature golf.  We also stopped to discuss a few issues as we waited for lunch to come.  I was able to set up his email account on his cell phone so he could check emails as he is traveling.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Elder Wells After a Day Providing Service in the Sun

We had to share this lovely picture of a tired Elder Wells.  He and Elder Malpage provided some service to a member today by helping them move and were outside for much of the time.  They came home a bit sunburnt but while Elder Wells was wearing sunglasses, he did not put on any sun screen.  He was a tired but still a loving Zone Leader this evening as we all sang happy birthday to his companion.

Elder Malpages Birthday Party

Today is not Elder Malpage’s actual birthday but we chose to celebrate it this evening because he is traveling with his companion to do exchanges in Grahamstown on Thursday.  We had the East London Zone and a few Elders from the Mdantsane Zone as well.  Sister Thomas did a good job of cutting a cake in 12 pieces.  Elder Thomas dished up the ice cream as fast as I could.

Sister Thomas asked Elder Malpage what kind of birthday cake his mother made for him as he was growing up and he could not remember any specific traditional cake.  He then asked for the Thomas family traditional cake, so Sister Thomas made my traditional German Chocolate bunt cake.

Delivering Post to Elder Cossey and Chapman

We were also able to deliver the post today and Elder Cossey received a package from home.  Elder Cossey and Elder Chapman are both pleased with what arrived in the package. (See Alma 56:27)

Sister Thomas fell in love with Elder Chapman.  This is what she pictures Brody looking like someday when he goes into the mission field.  Elder Chapman is a very happy Elder who consumes food as fast as it is put in front of him.  He is full of joy and has a wonderful amount of excess energy.  I will look forward to a picture of Sister Thomas with Brody in another 8 years to see just how close this is. 

Lunch at the Mdantsane Zone Conference

A happy group of Elders consuming the Enchilada Casserole at our lunch today.  You can see the happy face of Elder Ah-fua as he shows an empty plate.  Elder Chapman to his left is on this second plate as.  In fact, Elder Chapman also ate the second half of Elder Ah-fua’s plate.  There wasn’t much in the way of left overs today.  You can see the dessert set out which was brownies and ice cream courtesy of Sisters Chase and Wheeler who had made enough for both Zones.  

Mdantsane Zone Conference

This is the Mdantsane Zone.  Some Awesome Elders are in this group.  In fact, all of them are exceptional Elders who are fun to work with.

Back Row: Elders Ebong, Cossey, Chapman, Carniletto, Judd, Ndlovu and Dean
Middle Row: The AP’s (Elders Ah-fua & Manzini), President and Sister Merrill, Sister and President Thomas.
Front Row: Elders Mongalo, Mchunu, Martey, Hoffman and Moliki

Sister Thomas and a Load of Food and Dishes for the East London ZOne Meeting

Beginning the day at Zone Conference with a boot loaded with food and dishes.  Sister Thomas made Enchilada Casserole today along with Mexican Rice.  You can see them along with the water and dishes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Elders Prisbey and Branch are Assigned a New Vehicle

After Zone Conference, Elders Prisbrey and Branch get assigned a brand new vehicle to drive back to Port Alfred.  Their vehicle has a transmission problem and also a door that needs to be fixed so we decided to trade their vehicle so we could get it fixed here in East London.  Sister Thomas did the inspection of the new vehicle to review all scratches and dents .  Not anything to record on the new vehicle.  At least the condition of the car has been accepted by the Elders and signed for.   We can hold them accountable for the condition of the vehicle going forward.

East London Zone Conference

Today we had the East London Zone Training and Interviews.  The Zone Leaders did the training while President Merrill interviewed the Elders throughout the course of the day.  Sister Thomas made lunch which was Hawaiian Haystacks.  Sisters Wheeler and Chase made yummy brownies and ice cream for dessert.  We did not get a picture but the Elders really enjoyed the lunch.

President Merrill taught the Elders on the need to work hard to stay obedient.  As anyone strives to come closer to God, Satan will work harder to draw them away.  He also taught them to “Bounce their Eyes”.  We have decided to teach that to our grandsons someday.

Back Row: Elders Wells, Shabalala, Manqane, Branch, Matini, Manzini, Malpage, Prisbrey and Smith
Middle Row: S & E Wheeler, S & P Merrill, S & E Chase and S & E Thomas
Front Row: Elders Ludvigson, Crowell, Trepaneir, Ah-fua, Bradley, Mmusi and Woodward.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Senior Couples Dinner

We were able to go out to dinner with the other Senior Couples in the East London Zone and Pres. and Sister Merrill.  The Chases came in from Grahamstown and the Wheelers came in from Port Alfred for the Zone Training tomorrow.   

Happily, the dinner at the Shanghai Restaurant was a wonderful evening and the Senior Couples could discuss those issues that we are facing in the mission field.

Beginning clockwise from Sister Thomas, Sister and Elder Chase, Elder and Sister Wheeler, Sister and President Merrill and Elder Thomas.

Gonubie Beach at Exactly Low Tide

We looked up the tide table for today and decided to go down and take a walk at the beach at low tide.  That took place at 12:00 noon today.  It is amazing to see the difference between high and low tides.

Sister Thomas took a rest on a log that is normally surrounded by water at high tide.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Face Time with the Cutrers and we watch Chaz's open our Gift

We were able to FaceTime with the Cutrer family so we could watch as we give Chaz his birthday present.  He turned 13 yesterday.  We gave him the camera we had purchased for Mom and Dad Thomas a few years ago.  It is one of the things we chose from the estate especially for Chaz because he has always loved taking pictures.  Also some of my best memories of Chaz and my Dad together are of him walking hand in hand with his great Grandpa as we hiked a day in Zions canyon.

Church at Grahanstown and Lunch with the Chases

We attended Church in Grahamstown with President and Sister Merrill.  They spoke in Church and then we combined for the third hour so that we could discuss the three talks as instructed by Elder Bednar.  After Church we taught the members of the Branch Council the proper functioning of the Ward Council.  It was a busy day at Church.

After Church we were invited over to the Chases for lunch prior to driving back to East London.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

We fix Elder Manqane's Bed

We were out this morning so we took the piece of wood to Elders Manqane and Matini’s flat to fix Elder Manqane’s bed.  He was missing a support section for his bed so his mattress was sagging in one place.  We purchased the new piece of wood and came and installed it for him.

Once this was completed we drove to Grahamstown to meet up with President Merrill so we could look at a couple of buildings that are being considered for a new chapel site.  Then we met with the Branch Presidency so that the President could get to know them.  It was a fruitful meeting with a commitment to begin to try to stay in touch via a Skype call.  Good meeting and discussion.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Zone Meeting and Vehicle Inspections

We attended the Zone training Meetings of the Mdantsane and East London Zones today. The Zone leaders provided training and instruction on the times discussed during the Mission Leadership Council meeting this week.

Following that we inspected the vehicles.  You can see the group from both Zones following the meeting.  The missionaries are in upper left  from left to right as follows:

Elders Bradley, Martey, Mongalo, Moliki, Sister Thomas, Elders Mchunu, Dean, Ndlovu, Hoffman, Malpage, Crowell, Ludvigson, Carniletto, Trepaneir, Wells, Judd, Ebong.

You can see Sister Thomas dutifully filling out the inspection form with Elder Bradley and Malpage looking one.

In lower left Elder Dean, Martey, Ndlovu, Moliki, Hoffman, Sister Thomas and Mongalo view the inspection sheet for their new car.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Elder Malpage and Elder Wells come for Dinner

Elders Malpage & Wells come to review material for District Meetings on our computer and we offer them our dinner.  It was a strangely rewarding experience.  They called and asked to come over so they could check on some instructions to the District Leaders for the meeting tomorrow just as Sister Thomas was putting the finishing touches on our meal.  It was an awesome stir fry on rice.  As they were close to us, we decided to offer them some food in exchange for a spiritual message.

I only now understand how rewarding it was for those members of the Church in the Texas South Mission that invited me into their home for dinner and then sat back and watched us eat.  Perhaps it is true when they explained that they had already eaten or they wanted to wait until later to eat or, in fact, they would eat very little because the food they had available was what they used to feed me.  There is something gratifying seeing the Lord’s servants eating the food that you intended to eat yourself.

After the missionaries had left, Sister Thomas whipped up some Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches which was then “The crust was manna to my taste”.  I thank all those worldwide for feeding the missionaries and have given so much more that I have ever even contemplated as they have fed the missionaries.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Senior Couples Skype Call

As we were getting ready for the Senior Couples Skype, call we had a chorus of music from some Hardeedaw birds.  The meeting lasted almost 2 hours as the topics were discussed. Sister Thomas typed up the minutes and they were distributed to the Senior Couples.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mission Leadership Skype Call - Zone Leaders come for Breakfast

This morning we had the Zone Leaders over for breakfast followed by the Mission Leadership Skype.  The meeting was wonderful and with each meeting the Elders are learning how to counsel together. It is doing the Mission wonders as the Elders begin to recognize problems and then propose solutions that are based on principles backed up by scriptural doctrine.  Wonderful and very fulfilling to watch.  In the lower left: Sister Thomas, Elders Wells, Judd, Mchunu and Malpage.

Later in the evening Sister Thomas and I check out a potential restaurant that we want to invite the Senior Couples along with the President and Sister Merrill.  It is also a celebration of our one year anniversary on mission.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mashie Golf at the End of the Day

When we were done with the activities for a Monday we went and played a game of par 3 golf.  It is called mashy golf here in South Africa. 

An Adventurious Monday & Delivering Vehicles to Some Happy Elders

This Monday was an adventure.  We first had to drive up to deliver a vehicle to the Stapleys.  They had a missionary vehicle loose a rear rim and tire so the car will be in the shop for a week getting repaired.  I have never hear of this before.  Nothing was loose but all four lug nut bolts sheered off clean at the brake drum.  We had a vehicle we could loan to Queenstown so we drove half way to Queenstown where we met the Stapleys and we gave them the car.  We then drove back to East London.

While we traveling, we received an urgent call from Elder Trepaneir that their apartment was flooded due to a washing machine hose coming loose.  A few minutes later, we received a call that our final vehicle was being delivered down in East London.  We felt we were running in way to many directions at once. 

We ended up picking up the vehicle and then hiring a carpet cleaning company to come extract the water and clean the carpets.  As luck would have it, the new vehicle we picked up was going to the Elders of the EL 3rd ward (the flooded apartment).  So we turned over the new vehicle to them and drove the old one to the church to await its sale to the Chevy dealer.

During the course of this very busy day we delivered some of the new vehicles to some excited elders.  The happy driving companionships are:  Elders Ebong and Carniletto, Elders Ludvigson and Crowell.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Conference Sunday and delivering a New Car

We had a wonderful day watching live sessions of Conference.  During all those years that we lived in South Africa, we had to wait for the VHS tapes to arrive and watch about a following the General Conference.  Today we watched several sessions live, (all be it at very different times in our day) 

After the last session which ended at 8:00 pm on Sunday evening, we delivered one of the new vehicles to Elders Matini, Mmusi, Manqane and Shabalala.  It is a big responsibility that the Elders have as they use this asset of our Heavenly Father.

We challenged then to treat it as if it was their own.  Something difficult for them to contemplate as they have not invested in something of this magnitude yet in their lives.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Delievery of New Cars takes Place Today

We received a call that our new missionary vehicles would be delivered today.  We arranged to meet the driver at the church and we unloaded them there.  Four new white Chevrolet Aveos.  The driver backed them off and we drove them up to the church parking lot.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Evening Walk along the Gonubie Beach

Nice walk down on the beach this evening there was a great deal of foam on the beach.  The crane was enjoying the evening at the beach as well.  We managed to get down to the beach close to low tide.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Thomas Family "Great Choosing"

This evening at 10:00 PM I participated with my family in what has been called the “Big Choosing”.  Byron had completed an inventory of Mom and Dads possession (which Trisha helped him type up) and the family had gathered at my parents  home in order to divide up these items between the family.  It was an enjoyable evening that went on for more than two hours.  I found the experience peaceful with no conflict with any of brother and sisters. 

We started the "choosing" with Cindy and then when up and down in order giving each brother and sister the opportunity to choose something.  Most of my brothers and sisters were choosing something that one of their sons or daughters might have wanted.  I was grateful that I was able to pick some of those items that were of interest to my daughters.

I am grateful to my brothers and sisters for the loving way this was done.  I am sure that our Parents looked down with love and gratitude in their hearts for the manner in which it was done.

Finally, I took the pictures above as the evening progressed.  I would like to come to the defense of Uncle Brad who was not taking the time to pick his nose.  His hand was just beginning to gesture to someone to the right of the picture and I just happened to take the picture at the "incorrect" moment.

Uncle Byron carried the phone around from room to room as he showed us what was being picked by my brothers and sisters.  Uncle Brad was very busy as he went from item to item with sticky notes labeling who chose what as things were being picked.  I asked my sisters, who were scurrying around to sit for a moment so I could take their picture.  These two are some of Heavenly Fathers finest.

Elder Pulu goes the the Doctor for his toe - AGAIN

Today we had Elder Pulu and his companion, Elder Taylor, drive down to East London from Mthatha in order to have his toe looked at.  Sister Thomas had found a Podiatrist for him to go to.  His toe, after all this time (three months), is not getting better.  The Doctor found that his ingrown toe nails had not been taken care of correctly and had grown back on both sides of his toe.  The Doctor removed them both.  His toe will be sore for a while.

We discovered Elder Taylor does not like to see the sight of blood.  He was getting close to dry heaving when we discussed the need to change the dressing every other day.  He is expressing himself about the whole thing in the picture.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Picking up the Elders who flew into East London

Finally, near the end of our day we were able to pick up the new missionaries at the airport and deliver them to the church.  We arrived a bit early compared to the meeting time we agreed with the Zone Leaders so we had some time getting to know the new Elders.  We had each of the new missionaries tell us a little bit about themselves.  They are thrilled to be here and are ready to go to work.

From left to right:  Sisters Thomas & Stapley, then Elders Mariner, Stapley, Mchunu (returning to be a MD Zone Leader), Chapman, Dean, Ludvigson, Hoffman.

Lunch with the Stapley's at the Shangha Restaurant

While we were picking up and delivering, the Stapleys were out doing some errands.  We managed to catch up with them for some lunch at the downtown Shanghai restaurant.

Elder and Sister Thomas have a quiet monent at the Bus Stop

Elder and Sister Thomas have a quiet 30 minutes waiting for the bus to arrive at the Windmill Station in East London.  It began as a clear warm day and while we were sitting here waiting for the bus, a squall blew in from over the ocean and we were chased back inside the building.  As luck would have it, the Elders unloaded their baggage from the bus in a down poor.  Just another normal day in the life of a transferring missionary.

Transfer Day Morning with the Van

We met all the Elders who are flying to Cape Town at the Church at 6:30 in the morning.  This worked out well.  There is a special feeling that we have each time we send a group of Elders through the security check point.  Some of them are on their way home while others are being transferred to Cape Town.  There is a possibility that they will not be coming back our way and we may not see a young man that we have grown to love.  Heart breaking and heart warming all at the same time.