"And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." D&C 84:88

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hair Cuts, Baptism and delivering a letter for the Fowers

Sister Thomas gives more hair cuts this morning and then we attend a baptism at the Mdantsane First Ward.  Elder Carniletto and Elder Faitau were the Elder baptizing today.

You can also see Elder Mchunu speaking to Sister Thomas while we waited for the baptism to begin.  We also meet with Lihle who is the Ward mission leader and delivered a letter to him from the Elder and Sister Fower.  He was very happy to hear from from them as they were he serving in East London when he joined the Church and departed into the mission field.

Sister Thomas pointed out that the bottom hinge on one of the doors leading into the Baptismal room had come loose.  At the end of the baptism I take the time to fix this hinge.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Roaches and Hair Cuts

This evening after the Elders return home from working we came to their flat to give haircuts.  There are 8 elders who stay here in two different apartments.  One apartment has a roach problem and we have supplied the Elders some bug bombs which they and discharged today.  We have had to do this once before and we are now taking the upper hand.  However even after this second bombing there were still a quit a few roaches on the floor of the kitchen.  While I worked with the Elders on cleaning out the kitchen Sister Thomas cut hair out in the sidewalk. 

In upper left Elder Moffett, Si’ufanua and Freitas all received hair cuts.  You can see Elder Mmusi, Elder Thomas and Elder Moffett working on cleaning up the floor of all the roaches.

Lunch with the Mdantsane Zone after District Meetings

We picked up the post this morning at the airport and then picked up both cars we had dropped off the day before.  They are now ready for the coming transfers next week.  We then attended the Mdantsane District meeting at the Mdantsane 1st ward building.  The MD Zone Leaders invited us to go to lunch with the Zone following district meeting. Lunch was at a wonderful butcher/restaurant in Mdantsane.  When you arrive you go to the butcher and pick the meat you want and the go outside and they braai it up for you.  It was a wonderful cultural experience and the meat and roost bread with exceptional seasoning were cooked right on the grill.  I am very glad we accepted the invitation.

Beginning with Sister Thomas going to her left around the table is Elders Radebe, Ngobeni, Mukonda, Moliki, Manqane, Faitua, Carniletto and Mchunu.  A wonderful group of missionaries.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Vehicle Repairs and Flat Inspections

We had an early start this morning.  We had to get up at 5:00 so we could get two of the vehicles to Meyers Motors to get them checked in by 7:15.  We had to take two trips from the church to downtown East London to get both vehicles to the dealership.  We ended up meeting Elders Mchunu and Manqane who were dropping their car off for a serivce and we gave them a ride home.

Then we went from flat to flat inspecting and fixing things for the Elders.  All the flats were in fairly good conditions.  It is a constant reminder process for them to get everything clean and to keep it that way.  In upper right after we have changed filters, hung a mirror and fixed the drain hose to their washer, Elders Stratton and Wells collect cleaning supplies and some cookies from Sister Thomas.

There is a picture of Elder Thomas and Elders Johnson and Shabalala showing the curtain rod we had to re-hang. In the lower left Elders Thayne and Matini give a thumbs up after the inspection at their flat.  Finally, Elder Carniletto and Elder Faitau show where their car was rear-ended this last week.  They have reported it to the police and to the office.  We will have to get this approved to get fixed by the insurance company.  Last, but not least, Elder Thomas gets to install a new toilet seat at the Jesmondene boarding.

Sister Thomas is as beautiful as ever.  What a wonderful companion! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Elder Best comes to East London to get Some Ingrown Toe Nails Operated on

This morning we have the Mthatha Elders down to East London so Elder Best could get surgery done on some ingrown toenails.  We (Sister Thomas) made scones and fruit salad as a brunch for when they arrived.

Elders Martey and Banda were going to work with Elder Pitsoane & Monyo and Elder Castro was going to work with the East London Zone Leaders for the couple of hours while they were in town.  We took Elder Best to the doctor to get both of his big toes operated on.

I managed to get a picture as they were all heading out the door.  It is hard to see all of them clearly but from left to right (across the picture) are:

Elder Monyo, Best, Stratton, Banda, Pitsoane Martey, Castro and Wells.

That is a happy Elder Best following the surgery to his toes.  His big toes were still numb and he was all smiles.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fixing things at the Elders flats, water filters and Elder Faitau's Birthday

We got on the road early today and went to help repair several issues that needed attention at different flats.  We fixed curtains and installed a new mirror for Elder Mchunu and Elder Manqane.  We also supplied them some cleaning materials.

Then we went to fix the water filter and the toilet for the Elders at the Jesmondene flats.  We found them all in the parking lot as we departed to get to our next appointment.  Elder Ludvigson had his rope out showing his roping skills.  That is something you would expect to see from someone from Montana!

Later this evening at 8:30 we went and wished Elder Faitau happy birthday.  When we arrived at their boarding, the power was out due to load shedding.  So the birthday cake candles were all the light we had as we sang happy birthday.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Morning walk along the beach, Cortisone Shot and New Tires

We got up early and went for a walk along the beach.  Then we took Sister Thomas to the Orthopedic Surgeon to get a cortisone shot in her shoulder.  She was brave but was expecting two different shots. Luckily, the Doctor had combined them into one shot.  It was over before she was ready.  Such a very brave girl.  I did not get a picture of her a bit later after the shot because the doctor had her lie down because she was feeling dizzy.

Once that was done we took two of our vehicles in to get new tires.  We took the best tires off of two cars and put them on one vehicle and then had to purchase four tires for the other car.  This took over three hours of waiting around at Hi-Q because they were busy.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sister Thomas is a Bag Model

The Area Presidency has provided instruction that missionaries are not to use backpacks.  They have been instructed to get shoulder bags.  We went to the Chinese market store to see what they had.  We found two different bags which would certainly work at a cost effective price of R 90 and a nicer tougher one for R150. This is something that the mission could pay for and then collect from the elders.  We will send some pictures and the prices to the President Merrill.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Delivered Packages and District Meeting

We drove out to the airport and picked up the packages and then delivered them to the different Zone Leaders for delivery at District meetings.  We had numerous Elders getting packages today.  In fact we had Elders Chapman and his companion, Elder Ludvigson, get packages on the same day.  They were all smiles.

We attended two different East London District Meetings today.  Sister Thomas attended the 4th ward district and I attended the 3rd Ward district.  Both were good meetings.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Inspecting the Elders Flats

We have set up an "announced but not notified" flat inspection schedule with the missionaries.  We have told them we will continue to inspect flats on Thursdays between 10:00 and 12:00, however we will not notify them in advance of what flat we will be coming to inspect.  This means they need to be prepared every Thursday.  By doing this, we are hoping that they will consistently keep their flats cleaner over the transfer period.

We inspected four different boardings today and all were is good shape.  Shown are Elders Dean, Radebe, Ngobeni and Richards in the left photo and Elders Chapman, Pitsoane, Si’ufanua in front and Elder Freitas in back then Elders Monyo and Ludvigson.  Sister Thomas is shown with a wonderful smile on her face in both photo’s.  She loves baking cookies for the Elders and they are grateful for the small treat.  Who wouldn’t appreciate homemade cookies.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Attending a South Africe VS West Indies 50/50 Cricket Game

We took the opportunity to go to an International Cricket Game this afternoon.  South Africa was playing the West Indies at the Buffalo Park Cricket Grounds in East London.  As with all sporting events, parking was a bit of a challenge.  Once we were finally parked, we could not get over the fence to get to the front office to purchase tickets.  It took some time but Sister Thomas found a hole in the fence that we climbed through.   When we made it to the stadium, we found they did not sell tickets at the grounds.

We were about to give up when we found some scalpers and purchased two tickets.  We felt this was fairly secure but then found that the tickers would not work at the ticket gate.  We then waited in line with a number of others who had the same or similar problems.  A nice security lady helped us out and we made it in.  We were very surprised to find that you could not purchase tickets at the cricket stadium.  Now we know.

This was a wonderful, culturally rewarding experience.  A very diverse crowd attended and the joy of simply being there was enjoyed by all.  The people in front of us brought this sign.  The person held it up facing backward for about haft the time until he realized that the cameras could not read it backwards.  We liked where they added the D on BEHIND.

For a one day international match of 50 overs, it was not very exciting.  It was almost an anticipation of not if the Proteas would win but when they would do it.  The West Indies scored 122 all out and then South Africa scored 124 for 1 to win by 9 Wickets.  It was a crushing win by South Africa.  Not too many times that an international limited overs cricket game begins at 1:30 and is all over by 6:30 in the evening.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Inspecting the Zone Leaders Flat - Apple Crumble

We went by the Zone Leaders boarding to install their January water filters.  We were surprised to find Elder Carniletto there.  He is on exchanges with Elder Mchunu.

We helped them install the filters and while I was doing this, Sister Thomas inspected the cleanliness of the boarding.  The inspection went well and Sister Thomas provided an Apple Crisp treat complete with whipped cream.  Elder Carniletto could not believe his good fortune.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Elder Ngobeni's Birthday Cake

Our Monday was more work than fun or pleasure.  I got up early and went on a 7 mile walk.  Then we washed the car and began collecting material that I will need when we go to visit Telkom.  Sister Thomas was busy baking a cake for Elder Ngobeni’s birthday.  Once that was done we went so Sister Thomas could get an x-ray and ultrasound of her shoulder completed.

Later that evening we took the cake to Elder Ngobeni and sang happy birthday to him and enjoyed a few minutes with them.  Then we departed for home in time for them to complete their responsibilities for the night.  Nice day spent working in the mission filed.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Package Finally Arrives for Elder Stratton

We visited two wards today.  The East London 1st and 2nd wards.  We went to the East London 1st ward Sacrament and Sunday School and then left a little bit early from classes so we could catch the Sacrament meeting in the 2nd Ward and the rest of this ward’s meetings.

It was a wonderful Sacrament meeting of expressing love for missionary work, expressing gratitude for the help of the members and expressing a plea to the members of the ward to get more involved with the Elders in doing missionary work.  They all spoke with the passion and dignity that you would expect from faithful missionaries.

Elder Matini spoke of our need to love God and serve him - we are the Lord’s hands.  Elder Shabalala spoke on missionary work, faith and the atonement. Elder Johnson spoke on being in the game and living by the rules (Elder Hollands talk) and finally Elder Thayne spoke on the need to know God and draw closer to him.  He referenced the staff with the serpent that Moses raised wherein the bitten Israelites only needed to look upon to live and in our day our need to face and look upon Jesus Christ to be saved.  Wonderful addresses.

While there we were able to finally get a package delivered to Elder Stratton.  He was out of town doing exchanges with Grahamstown when this arrived here in East London.  It was fun to finally get it to him today.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mdantsane Zone Training and Interviews

The Mdantsane Zone Training and Interview meeting was held on Saturday which was a bit different to our normal weekday meeting.  The Zone Leaders provided training to help the Elders focus on finding father led families to teach.

Today the Wheelers were here and Sister Wheeler was a big help to Sister Thomas as she prepared lunch.  We were somewhat lucky because the East London Zone conference was yesterday so we left the tables up with the table clothes on them.  Set up was a breeze.

The President’s training followed on from his focus since he arrived in the mission.  Obedience and helping the Elders develop faith in order to test the promises of God.  President and Sister Merrill began by sharing the experiences that the Elders have had across the mission as Heavenly Father has begun to bless them following their obedience, prayers, commitment and the trial of their faith.

About halfway through the afternoon training, we received a call from the East London 3rd Ward Elders who had locked their keys in the boot of their car while doing a service project.  We had to go get their spare key, which we store at out boarding and then go help them unlock the car.  Then as quick as we could, we drove back to the Church in time to lock the building.  President and Sister Merrill were there waiting for us when we returned.  Sister Merrill, like all good members was busy vacuuming the rooms we had used.  Such a good example!

Front Row:
ZL Elder Mchunu, Sister and Elder Wheeler, Sister and President Merrill, Sister and Elder Thomas, ZL Elder Manqane

Back Two Rows Left to Right:
Elder Cossey, Gurney, Moliki, Jenner, Richards, Hoffman, Carniletto, Dean, Faitau, Ngobeni, Rasmussen, Radebe and Weber.

If someone could help teach me how to get Elder Mchunu to smile I would be grateful.  One of Heavenly Fathers finest missionaries a wonderful Zone Leader who knows how to work and smile in real life.  However, for some reason he saves his serious side for pictures.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Taking Group Pictures is Some Times a Challange

I thought I would share this group of pictures.  It is a challenged to get all the Elders looking forward at the same time for a picture, but I continue to try. 

East London Zone Training and Interviews

We attended the East London Zone Interviews and Training meeting today, which proved to be a spiritual feast for us as well as the missionaries.

Sister Thomas along with the help Sister Chase provided the lunch with was Million Dollar Spaghetti, Corn, Garlic Bread then for desert there were Sister Chase’s Heavenly Oat Bars with ice cream.  All I heard was “Awesome!”

Elder Wells and Stratton used their time to teach on the Atonement and Missionary work.  They presented a video with President Eyring and Elder Holland speaking to help missionaries better understand that while they might feel like missionary work is hard, there is one missionary who has walked the path they are walking.  Through his actual ministry and through the wonderful act of the Atonement, our Savior knows and understands.  We need to act with continued faith and perseverance until that Lord’s promises are clear.

We also had a wonderful dinner with President and Sister Merrill and President and Sister Wheeler in the evening.  We enjoyed getting the update about how the mission is doing from the President.

Front Row Left to Right
Assistant Elder Manzini, Sister & Elder Thomas, Sister & President Merrill, Sister & Elder Chase and Assistant Elder Lund.

Back two rows Left to Right
Elders Freitas, Si’ufanua, Matini, Ludvigson, Pahulu, Stratton, Johnson, Thayne, Chapman, Monyo, Shabalala, Mmusi, Smith, Pitsoane, Wells and  Elder Moffett.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Breakfast in Port Elizabeth, Flat Inspection, Fans and Dinner

This morning began in Port Elizabeth with a breakfast cooked up by Sister Lundberg.  She made a yummy blueberry coffee cake.  We then drove back to East London and managed to get one of the Elders’ flats inspected.  You can see Sister Thomas showing some cleaning skills to Elders Jenner, Hoffman, Mukonda and Moliki.

The afternoon was spent purchasing cleaning supplies for the Elders and also the balance of the food for the two upcoming Zone Trainings.

We invited the Chases, who came into East London for their last Zone Conference, for Dinner tonight.  They have fed us so many times after church when we were in Grahamstown that we wanted to repay their kindness in some way. 

We also invited Zone Leaders over so I could help them download the video that they want to use for the training they will provide at the Zone Training and Interviews meeting tomorrow.

These Elders needed a new fan so we purchased one for them today and I helped them assemble it so they could take it home after the dinner.

Dinner was delightful with the Chases and Elders Wells and Stratton.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Senior Couples Skype Call

Today we have the Senior Couples Skype call.  Several critical items were discussed and brought up for the group to review. They were:  review of the Mission Leaders Skype agenda items, boarding inspection standards, My Family booklets, phone/data bills, reporting key indicators,  and food supplies required for our emergency response plan.  Finally, we heard the testimonies of Elder & Sister Chase and Elder & Sister Blatter.  This was the last meeting they will attend with us. Next week they will depart the mission field at the end of well served missions.  We will surely miss them and are grateful for all they have accomplished.  I wonder if they are feeling like I am beginning to feel?  .......But there is still so much to do......

After the meeting, we closed up and got on our way to Port Elizabeth.  We received an assignment from President Merrill to drive there and complete a baptismal interview.

Once this was completed we managed to meet up with the Lundberg’s for dinner at the German Club. They graciously hosted us for the night as well.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dinner with the Assistants to the President and Elder Shabalala and Johnson

We gave Elder Manzini and Elder Lund a hard time about not being in Cape Town when we came to visit.  We had always promised them dinner when we came to visit.  Instead, we offered to take them out to dinner this evening.  They came along with the Elders they were on exchanges with today.  Elder Shabalala and Elder Johnson were able to come for dinner as well. 

Breakfast pior to the Mission Leadership Skype Call

We have the pleasure of not only having the Zone Leaders with us this morning for the Mission Leadership Skype Call but the Assistants to the President joined us for breakfast and the meeting as well.  It is always such a pleasure to have these missionary leaders on our home.  Associating with them is one of the pleasures of missionary service.  We discussed the following:

1. Shoulder bags(how many Elders need them in your Zone, what do you suggest we do for those who can't afford them)
2. Permission form(teaching or baptizing children under the age of 18)
3. Traveling Assistants (Is it effective? Is it helping the mission?)
4. Flat inspections     
5. Music (What have you seen? What do we need to change)   
6. Missionary Activities (soccer or volleyball / should this be approved?)
7. Township curfew (is it safe)

This is Elder Manqane, Lund, Manzini, Mchunu, Stratton, Wells and Sister Thomas from left to right across the picture.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Morning for Nine Holes of Golf - Almost

We went to play golf this morning.  It was a disappointing day for Sister Thomas.  One swing of the club and she knew her shoulder would not let her play but being the trooper that she is, she walked around while I played 9 holes.  It was a wonderful morning.

The rest of Monday was spend preparing for the upcoming Mission Skype calls and for the East London and Mdantsane Zone Training and Interview meetings this coming Friday and Saturday.

We  also spent some time looking at the vehicles at the Church.  I will need to get some items fixed up over the next weeks so these vehicles can be used if needed.  Some new tires, a new battery and a check-up at Meyers Motors will need to be arranged.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Last Sunday Afternoon Dinner with Elder and Sister Chase

Once church was over, I had two Temple Recommend interviews and then Branch Council Training that Sister Thomas and I provided followed by a PPI with President Budaza.  A busy but very nice day at Church.

Once done, Elder & Sister Chase offered to provide us lunch.  It was with a bit of a sad heart that we realize that this will be the last time that we will get to visit Elder and Sister Chase in Grahamstown.  They will be going home a week from tomorrow.  Luckily, they are going to drive back to Cape Town so they will take a few days to see the sights as they drive along the Garden Route.  We certainly wish them well.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

King Williams Town Inspections and Dinner with Friends

On Saturday we drove to King Williams Town and inspected the boarding of Elders Cossey and Gurney.  We also dropped off a cake for Elder Cossey’s birthday. Then we drove over to Port Elizabeth to meet with the Lundbergs.   We went to orient the Lundbergs as to their new assignment in the PE area.  They recently transferred to PE from Knysna.  We also went to review and pick up the stock of spare water filters that they had stored in their garage.  I had to bring them some number three filters and pick up the stock they had so I could make up kits for the other areas.  No Pictures of this visit to Port Elizabeth.

When we were done, we drove to Grahamstown and met up with the Elder and Sister Chase and drove out to Sister Audrey Thomas’ farm to have a venison bar with her and her husband, Chris.  It was a nice evening.  A very enjoyable and very African evening. They live north from Grahamstown just a stone’s throw away from the Great Fish River.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Attending the Mdantsane District Meetings

Sister Thomas and I joined two of the Mdantsane District Meetings today.  We had some post that we picked up at the airport and then got a head start delivering the post to the various district meetings this morning.  Then we attended two districts in Mdantsane. There are new missionaries that are being trained in those districts so their meetings start one hour later.

I attended Elder Carniletto’s district meeting (MD1) and his training on the companionship of the Holy Ghost was one of the better district meetings I have attended.  Sister Thomas attended the MD2 district meeting.  Elder Radebe lead a discussion on how the Elders in his district can better budget their time so they can be on time in the mornings, nightly planning and getting to bed on time.  She loved that they even set a time for nightly district prayer (10:15 pm).  It was a great meeting.

From Left to right: Elders Richards, Dean, Sister Thomas, Elders Radebe, Jenner, Moliki, Ngobeni, Faitau, Carniletto, Hoffman and Mukonda.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

On our Way Back to East London

We are on our way home.  It has been a wonderful trip with our daughters and we certainly enjoyed the opportunity to see some of the sites of South Africa with them.

However, the three days we spent as a Mission Presidency was exceptional as we discussed issues that face both the missionaries and those issues that our Branches face.  A large part of the meeting was focused on the latter subject.

It was also nice to spend time with the Hogben’s again because of all the time I worked with him in the Bishopric so many years ago.

I have grown to love President Merrill for his simple understanding of the Gospel of Jesus and his desire to understand the principle that applies and the scripture that backs up the principle.  I know and understand his deep love for the Missionaries and just how much he wants them to succeed not only here in the mission field but also in life.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Monday evening Dinner with the Presidency

After a long day of meetings on Monday,  we went out to dinner and had a relaxing period where President Merrill shared many of his working career experiences with us.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Mission Presidency Meetings

Our Mission Presidency Meeting went on all day Sunday after Church and began on Monday morning as well.  The meeting, in different sessions, went on through to Tuesday evening.  It was wonderful to be able to meet together to counsel on the various subjects that were on the agenda.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Erin, Chelsea and Nicole check in at SAA and are on heir way home.

It has been very nice to have Chelsea, Erin and Nicole join us for a week and a bit here in the mission field.  We enjoyed being able to show them where we have served and what we do in the mission field.  I was also please that they were able to meet President and Sister Merrill who we have grown to love for what they are the what they are trying to teach.

We get our “kids” checked in at South African Airways on their way home.  As it turns out their flight is delayed and they missed their flight out of Johannesburg to New York so they had to stay the night in JHB.  They rented a car the next day and drove around the houses where they lived and the schools they attended.  They were not able to see people at church because many were away on leave.  In the end they flew safe and arrived in SLC one day late.

Visit to the Mission Home and Cecil Rhodes Memorial for Lunch

We went to the Mission home so that we could introduce our family to President and Sister Merrill and show them around the mission home.  The Merrill’s we most gracious and showed my daughters and Nicole around.

Then we went to the Rhodes Restaurant for lunch which is at the Cecil Rhodes Memorial to have lunch before we took the girls to the airport and dropped them off for the long flight back home. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Visit to the Mission Office

This morning we visited the Mission Office and introduced the kids to the Blatters and the Petersens.  Then we went to the wharf in Cape Town and then Green Market Square. While at the wharf we rode the giant Ferris Wheel  The three shoppers found what they were looking for at Green Market Square. The girls got all the curios and small gifts they needed for friends and family..  Later, we went to see some shops and the view of Table Mountain from Canal Walk.  We did some final shopping while we were there.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Visit to Cape of Good Hope

We drove to the Cape of Good Hope view point which is south from Cape Town.  We hiked to the old light house and looked out to the sea on the right and the waters of False Bay on the left.  It was a beautiful day.

We saw ostriches and baboons and lots of people on holiday.  On the way back we drove up the west coast highway and drove by Chapman’s peak. Those are the pictures on the bottom.  Everyone should take that drive once in their life.  It is a true beautiful especially at sunset

Visiting and lunch with Lisa

Lisa Stanley called and we made arrangements to meet her for lunch today.  Lisa is one of our other "adopted daughters" and one of Chelsea's best friends growing up.  It was a delight for Chelsea and Erin to spend some time reminiscing with her about Sandown High School and the trip that Lisa took with us back to the USA one year. 

Trip up Table Mountain with our Daughters

January 1st, 2015.  First thing in the morning we took the cable car up Table Mountain. We started up through the heavy fog but when we arrived at the top it always clear for miles. 

Once at the top we FaceTimed first with Tara and showed her the sites from the top of Table Mountain.  We wished her and her family a happy New Year a bit after midnight.  We then FaceTimed with Trisha and her family who were in St. George.  They all enjoyed the views from the top of Table Mountain as well. 

Elder Thomas took time to build a rock cairn for our family while on Table Mountain.  One stone for each member of our family, 16 of us all in.  Bigger stones for the adults and the smaller ones on top for our Grandkids.  I wonder if it will be here next time we come?

While we were there, the fog burnt off and we could see the city clearly.  We took the time and walked across the top of Table Mountain.  It was a good experience which we all enjoyed.