Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Chapter 34 and lots of photos for you non-readers


Chapter 34

 

I’ll try to post more often and keep these stories shorter but sometimes… yeah, they just have to be told. And you know I am not a person of few words.

However, the business of the mission has been steady and miraculous and one or two stories need to be shared. I do this for several reasons—share these incidents, that is—but one of the most significant reasons I keep this blog is to record them. Another is to create compassion for our brothers and sisters in Africa and yet another is to show you God’s hands in our lives and finally the last and probably the most important is to strengthen yours and my own testimony. Sometimes I do not even realize how incredibly significant these situations are until I write them down. I am trying to recognize Heavenly Father’s hand in all areas of my life; even beyond the mission and I believe I am getting better at it.

Here’s the story. We were in Lydenburg Tuesday teaching Lindy, Lizzie (a neighbor of Christine’s) and with a couple of others listening in as we were outside in the space between Christine and Lizzie’s shacks. The lesson was about the plan of salvation. Lindy understood it perfectly. She had been talking with her husband, Simon, who had the lesson the Saturday before. The Jrs. had challenged Simon for baptism on May 10 and he said he would think about it, pray about and speak with his wife about it. That was good news to us but it wasn’t a definite Yes! So, when the lesson was over and Lindy had understood everything about the plan of happiness, Elder L asked her if she had spoken to Simon about being baptized. She responded with yes. “We have spoken about it,” she said. “We have prayed about it and we want to do it.” Then she added, “When Calisto invited us to church we were unhappy in our marriage. We were fighting and always crying and being angry. Even with our children. Then we went to church and we felt different. We are happy. We do not fight. We are very happy. I told Simon that we must join this church of Calisto’s because it is the right church. We are very happy now because of Jesus Christ.”

Wow! My eyes filled with tears. Lives are changing because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am in awe. We have 2 who will be baptized on May 10.

So, we leave and teach another great lesson and then onto dinner at Spur and to greet all those who work there… Calisto, Simon, Olgar and Yolanda. Calisto comes over to our table and introduces us to one of the white managers by the name of John. He is from the UK—Manchester to be exact. Calisto has invited him to church. I told him that this Sunday would be a great time to come because Christine is going to be baptized. He replies that he would also like to be baptized. I know your church and I would also like to learn. I will bring my fiancĂ© and come to church this Sunday. Then you can teach me as well.

Well, I’ll be darned! Another referral. So far, not one person we are teaching in Lydenburg has been tracked into. They are all member referrals. What an amazing missionary system we have when members teach non-members. Imagine what would happen if a couple of missionaries could serve in Lydenburg and there was a place close by to attend church and all the members would visit those new investigators and bear their testimonies to them… On Fire!

Elder Swan was at the grocery store last Monday when a bakery attendant saw his name badge and said, “Do you know Elder Scott?” He said, “Yes, I know Elder Scott. How do you know Elder Scott?”  She told him that she met him in Pretoria and that he was teaching her the gospel. Hmmmm? Interesting.

Long story short it was even a different church but the Elders went to visit with her and we ended up teaching her the first discussion today. Her name is Jessica and what a sweet thing she is—18 years old and just moved to Nelspruit. She wants to own a restaurant and cook for others. Amazing.

Oh, and the Nkosi sisters have obtained permission to be baptized from their father. June it is. Exciting!!!!

So the work goes on.

 

Another Week! I can’t believe time is moving so quickly. We have both been well and it is a little cooler especially at night so all is well. Sister Swan has been really sick with Virtigo. Eish, she hasn’t even been able to get up without falling over.

Christine was baptized by ES last Sunday. She bore a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and the plan of salvation. She said the gospel has already changed her life. We have to postpone Lindy and Simon’s baptismal date even though they are ready because they are not married. They have 3 children and have been living together for at least 8 years but… due to a thing call Lebola… it’s the 10 cow thing…they haven’t been able to marry. They have committed to do so and plan to be baptized as early as June. We should have several in June. Hugely excited.

We approached the President with the Branch idea for Lydenburg. He wants us to write a proposal along with statistics and photos. So lots of work ahead of me. He said, “”There’s no hurry; a week to 10 days should be okay.” Eish. But we’re on our way and its perfect timing since we have picked up more people to teach! On Thursday when Christine was leaving her yard a young girl, about 10, approached Christine and asked if that was a church because she had seen Pastors teaching there. Christine explained what was really happening. She told her that she wanted to learn next time we went out there.

Another week has passed… You should probably read this in segments obviously it is how I type this…

We have taught more in Lydenburg. We have picked up more referrals. We have added some more in Nelspruit as well. We teach about 35 people each week. Well, along with the Jrs. I do not teach as many as they do. ES goes with them when they must teach a single sister or someone new but they are doing an amazing job of staying busy with all those who are interested. Miracles abound.

Elder Swan was leaving our flat last week and overheard a man speaking on the phone about not being able to find a church to attend. He passed on by but then he said to himself, I should go back. A few minutes later the man, Eliadab, was in our flat learning about our church. He attended on Sunday and even bore his testimony regarding the love he felt the minute he entered our little branch building.

While I was teaching Seminary last Saturday, a youngish man (28) came in soliciting money for his record project. He said he was making CDs of gospel inspired music so young people could get out of their lives of drugs and sex and turn to Christ. I gave him some money and invited him to stay and then to attend church on Sunday. He stayed and learned about repentance. He came to church. The Elders are now teaching him.

The work goes on. The Love goes on.

I have been working on the proposal to send to the area presidency regarding the Lydenburg Cluster/Branch. 

Saw about 3 baboons on the way to Lydenburg. I have a lot of things in my life but still no monkeys in my kitchen and I am forever grateful for that…. The cute little things…

Teaching at Christine's... investigators Lizzie and Lindiwe (lindy)

Another view
 

Peace getting her hair done at the salon... It turned out really nice. She said it hurts your head for the first few days but it lasts for many weeks...




Jessica... our newest investigator in Nelspruit I just found out she stiffed the Elders appointment.. so maybe not our newest...

Christine's baptismal day... ES baptized her

with her husband Calisto
 

Another group on another day... along with the Siguakes

Eliadab and Exalt... the ones who came to church Sunday looking for something extra

Christine in her new outfit. she was confirmed last Sunday

Calisto, Collins, Olivia, Christine, Me and Kwasie Esther... Kwasie means Bright Morning Star... So cool.

More of our Lydenburg investigators....
 




Our Elders in Kamatipoort visiting the Krugers. this is their business. Potatoes and onions only... they do very well...


Sister Kruger demoing her wares

The youngest son, DeVille... Kinda small kid huh? He's 18...

We were enthralled by the  momma with the onions and potatoes on her head. They each weighed 20 pounds.

Our American baking class. Laheri with the bottle, Khetsiwe then Bridget with the cupcake... Such a great night. Eish!



Christine and Calisto in their new clothes with our name tags...
A Cattle stampede in Barberton...!!!!!

Monday, April 20, 2015

A few photos

Here are a few more photos that didn't quite make the deadline of yesterday... conveniently, ES forgot his cell phone as he left with the Jrs to teach out in Jerusalem. I'll caption these but I wanted to make excuses for some of the quality of the pix. As you know ES has two problems... His Vision and His Shaky Hands. Shhhh, don't tell him I mentioned it but I'll explain the photos so it should be fine.
I don't know who this is but it was such a nice photo... Could be Sister Grace, Sister Melody or Sister ???? Hmmm will check this out and get back to you...

This is Christine and Calisto's house with Simon in the back, Liny in yellow, their 3 children and Calisto with his head back. Christine is in the blue sweater.
 

Elder K, Elder L, Olgar, me and ES we are in front of Olgar's house. We just finished teaching her. I think she will want to be baptized. She is Zula and so beautiful and regal looking. All she needs is a crown.

ES took this in the dark relying on his night setting but... We are at the Masinga family home. I'll get a better photo next time.

The far right is Nolwazi, middle is Laheri and the left is Khetsewi at McDonalds. This is the very first time any of them had ever eaten at the Mac. I couldn't imagine there were teenagers who had never had a McDonalds... but there were all three. This was after Saturday Session of Conference.

We are teaching at Olgar's house (shack). I am sitting on her bed along with her. 
Elders reading and ES's selfie in the mirror! This gives you a better perspective of the size of her home. It is however, quite comfortable for a shack. She has electricity and a hot plate but no refrigerator.


This is a tuck shop. Just minutes after ES took this photo it opened for business selling colored popcorn, chips and sweets.



Sunday, April 19, 2015

chapter 33


 Chapter 33

We have officially passed our 8 month mark. Time is marching on.  Next month we will hit our “hump” day and will have been in mission ½ of our time or 9 months. We will speeding up our activity because time seems to speed up as you roll downhill.

This week has been filled with amazing events. I know, you say! Another amazing event! Sure! Well I’m not sorry to report but it has been another amazing week. The first of the week was spent trying to get ES back healthy again… Yes, again. This time it was a parasite. We bought some nuts from a street vendor a few weeks ago and apparently you should not do this. He got an intestinal parasite. Nasty buggers but easily killed with antibiotics. Thank Heavens for good drugs. So, he was doing a bit of resting and lots of feeling really lousy. He finally relented and went to the doctors after much nagging on my part. He has completed the course of meds and is completely cured…of both the parasite and of buying nuts from street vendors. Eish!

The rest of the week was spent teaching some pretty amazing people. We went to Lydenburg and taught Simon and Lindy and then when that amazing lesson was over we walked down the street and taught the Masinga family (I spelled it wrong in the last post) again and had dinner at their home. As the lesson concluded, each member bore their testimony about what they had been taught. We came out of there flying high on the Spirit.

The next day was Saturday so I taught Seminary with only 2 in attendance. It has been Easter vacation and that decimates schedules for everyone. But, two is better than none. Afterwards we took a detour to the mall to purchase pillows, blankets and a comforter for Calisto and Christine. When we were at the Masinga house they were both shivering from the cold. Esther was wrapped up nicely but I must admit it had gotten rather chilly. Neither Christine nor Calisto have much in the way of fat on them so their insulation level is rather sparse. They were freezing. Lydenburg is in the mountains and even occasionally snows. It had been raining off and on all day and the “shack” they live in was cold indeed. They had one cotton blanket to cover the bed and nothing else. So before our return, we bought them some warmer items.

Simon and Lindy have 3 children and are friends of Calisto and Christine. I am sure they are going to accept the challenge to be baptized in May. They have been to church several times and really understand the doctrine… so… we’re praying for them.

We didn’t get to Lydenburg until about 2 pm so we were only able to teach Christine who is anxious to be baptized on the 24th of April and then onto Margaret who is a friend of the Siguake family. She accepted the challenge to be ready for baptism on May 10th. We are excited for that one as well. She is a little quieter but when I first met her I thought she was already a member because of her comments in Relief Society. She has such a great spirit about her.

Today, (Monday) the Assistants to the President stopped by. They were delivering a new car to our Elders. It is just like our car. I’m glad they have a white one or we’d have a hard time telling the difference. Anyway, while they were here, we plead our case for a full-fledged independent Branch in Lydenburg. They have the Priesthood leadership, they have the member base and all the missionary contacts are member referrals. That’s amazing in and of its own self. They heard our pleas and promised to discuss it with the President but apparently he’s not the problem…it’s the Area Presidency. So Pray for Softened Hearts… either theirs or ours. Theirs if it is to be and our understanding if it’s not what Heavenly Father wants right now. Sigh.

Two days in Lydenburg, Seminary, teaching on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, overcoming my ear infection and battling ES and his illness, making 3 batches of cookies and feeding Elders makes me a little tired come Sunday. We went to church, taught lessons and then came home and crashed. We barely moved until dinner time. We invited the elders and I made a chicken stir-fry that all could eat. It was pretty good. After dinner, we chatted with the Swans until about 9 pm. They are a fun couple to hang out with. They had arranged to take a couple of women from their Branch who have lived here all their lives and have never been to Kruger or seen wild animals. They have been gone all day. I’m excited to hear how it went.

Today is now Monday and ES and the Jrs. have gone off to teach Tulane who is Sister Lorraine’s husband. I was scheduled to cut the Jrs. hair but I was so tired and they really needed haircuts so I paid this new barber shop to cut their hair. Elder K. really liked his new hair style.

Our power was turned off about an hour ago and will probably be off for another hour. Crazy. But, I must be grateful because in KaNyamazane they turn off the power every day at 6 and do not turn it on again until 5 the next morning. They also turn off the water 3 days a week. Talk about mistreating the poor. But alas, I digress. I am very grateful for the blessings and miracles that we have been privileged to be involved in. I was reading about Ammon the other night and I read about his “boasting” of God. I could really relate to his reveling.

this is exactly how I feel.

“My brothers and my sisters, behold I say unto you, how great reason ES and I have to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started from the land of Utah that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?

And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?

Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren and sisters, the Lydenburgites, were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.”

“Yeah, I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God!”

Read Alma 26 for the full account.

Still no monkeys but I saw a bunch the other day… one large baboon ran across the street right in front of our car. I had to slam on my brakes. Eish!

 

Another week has past and I’m just getting my blog written. Hopefully, I can also post this today. We have been busy but we’ve also managed to squeeze in a bit of relaxation in the way of studying and eating out a bit.

Today, Sunday, we watched General Conference as we also did Saturday. On Saturday we had only President Manjate, President Maleka, the Jr. Elders, ES and I and Khetsiwe and Laherie…our two investigators. But, it was a great spiritual meeting. Sunday, we had more members and more investigators… some of our Lydenburg people. Christine is set for baptism next Sunday and we are super excited. We even made sure she had clothes to fit for the ordinance.

It was a wonderful experience to see Conference through the eyes of someone who has never seen the prophet (even on television) or heard the choir or even knew about them. Khetsiwe sat captured as the choir sang. And what an amazing choir the YSA afternoon session choir was???? We were stunned at the arrangement of their last hymn. Wow. The Nkosi girls were still talking about it today. We introduced the Nkosi sisters to the Masinga kids and they bonded instantly. All the girls sing and Syabonga plays for them. When it was time for them to go home we discovered them in the Primary room singing and playing. Laheri, Charity and Khetsiwe have all announced that they would like to be baptized but not until June. I’m not sure why that particular month but it will work time wise as they must attend church for about 3 months since Mom is not being baptized. I only hope they can continue to attend after we leave as transport around here is such a problem. Hopefully, Mom will attend more regularly and drive them.

With our chapel full of investigators—we had 8 not counting the children—I was sure glad to see the world wide church represented during the conference sessions. It was great to see Elder Sitati who I am assuming is African. (He sure sounded like all the other Africans around here) And the Councilor in the Bishopric who was from France, Gerald Causse. Not to mention those who spoke Spanish and the Asian Brother who said the Benediction. I loved it. As I mentioned previously, it is amazing to me how the Spirit transcends the time, and the method of viewing so that even when we are watching conference 2 weeks later via DVDs, we can still feel the testimonies, hear the truths taught and witness the transformation of lives as we and they heed the voices of our leaders.  

I also learned something from my daughter Christy. Well, in truth I have learned TONS of stuff from her but I’m going to speak of something specific… I have been sending out this blog now for nearly 9 months and relating some of the marvelous experiences we have been involved in. Several posts ago after I told of a miracle Christy wrote and said, “gee wiz Mom. Why are you so complacent when you are involved in miracles?” I really should erase the quotes since I did paraphrase her but that is the message I received from her comment. I said in my head, “She’s right. The things that are happening are miracles. I’m going to start recognizing them as such and telling my “fans”—you guys—that they are really miracles.”

I was so happy when one of the speakers, I think it was Elder Anderson, talked about the hand of God in our lives. ES and I have been wrapped around by the Lord’s miracles. This is an amazing place filled with people ready to hear the gospel—prepared even. I can see it. I hope I express my gratitude enough—and even then I know I will still be unprofitable—to my Father in Heaven for allowing me this season of my life to see the guardianship of His hands in the lives of my brothers and sisters and to be on the borders of their miracles.

Still no monkeys in my kitchen. Oh, and I should mention, The WEATHER has cooled down considerably. I even wore shoes to church and a sweater.
 
Sorry... not head but it is Elder K. He and Elder L celebrated their hump day last week. I made them mini cakes with rubber camels on top.  Can't figure out how to turn this photo so I guess you have to turn your head.

This is Khetsiwe celebrating her 18th birthday. I made cupcakes for the entire class. I couldn't find any matches so she is faux blowing out her candle.

the rest of the class
 

this is Elder Pulley. He and Elder X made a flag then challenged the Nelspruit Elders to do the same. So far nothing on this end....

I have a few more photos but I'll just post them as soon as I can grab the phone from ES...
 

NYC: Murder Brooklyn Style

NYC: Murder Brooklyn Style
Dang this copyrighted stuff! Couldn't get rid of the red face!

NYC: A Mission To Die For

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