Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Chapter 41... Better late than never...

Chapter 41

It’s been a quiet week. Back to normal. ES has been teaching with the Jrs. all over the place…from Lydenburg to Hazyview. One of our old investigators has returned from school and called the missionaries. They were able to teach him again. He’s back on target.

One of the non-members who attended Bears and Prayers asked to meet with the Elders. They taught him about the Godhead, and answered some really interesting questions he had. He commented on how positive our teaching is. He has investigated several churches and was blown-away about how simple and pure and positive our teaching is. He said that in his experience that the churches or pastors he has had contact with are negative with cutting remarks about others beliefs. He felt so impressed that he wants his entire extended family to be taught. Way to go Lydenburg!

The man I was speaking about above is named Sonnyboy… yep, just like it sounds. Many years ago when the white man owned slaves here and registered the men as property (sound familiar?) they had to have two names—one was their native name and the other was what the owners called their Christian name. The practice resurfaced during Apartheid as they registered all the Blacks and Colored (mixed races of any sort). When they went to the office of Home Affairs to get their Passbooks they had to choose a white man’s name. Now, just out of habit they all give their children two names. Like Kwasi Esther, Calisto and Christine’s baby.

So, Sonnyboy, has come to church, has been taught another lesson and is anxious to learn more.

Amidst all the events we have had we got a new missionary. He is from Zimbabwe and brand new. His name is Kuyangeipie. Nice young man and a great teacher already. Elder Pickup is his trainer and by default so are we. We will train him to eat lots and laugh lots—the fun part of being on a mission with a senior couple.

Last Saturday, our Branch had an M&M day… Member Missionary—not the candy. The Branch Mission Leader was in charge. We had a small showing of members but we had enough to divide into groups of 2 and 3. ES and I took Laheri with us to our street in the CBD (the Central Business District). Our goal was to give away 3 Book of Mormons, 5 pamphlets, and 10 pass-a-long cards. We hadn’t even rounded the corner when we ran into a young man who works at McDonalds. We gave him a pamphlet and invited him to church. Going a bit further we met several men who were sitting inside a small television store. One man, the technician, was a bit hostile at first but when we told him we were not soliciting money and that we do not get paid to teach he calmed down. He also said he would come to church and check us out. Laheri stepped up and began talking to the passing women. She was bold and sincere. Because she could speak Shona/Zulu she had great success with passing out the items. By the end of the hour we hadn’t made it to our assigned area but we had given away all our stuff. We returned to report and have cookies and juice (soda as we would call it). Everyone came back with the same success.

That very afternoon the Elders got a phone call from one of the street contacts. He is searching for a Christian church. They have made arrangements to teach him! Yeah!

The next day, Sunday, saw another convert baptism. Senzo, a friend of one of our YA members, was baptized. He is the one who said, “”I am ready to be born again,” the first day he came to church. The Elders told him he needed to have the lessons and attend church a bit longer. Now, he is a member. He receives the Holy Ghost this coming Sunday. He came to the M&M event and boldly testified of the truth of the gospel and how it can change lives.

We have another child of record baptism as well this coming Sunday. Michael Weitsz was baptized on the 13th, then Senzo the 20th and now Stephan McCarthy will be on the 27th. It has been an active month with baptisms. Next month, October, we have already scheduled, Philadelphia, another friend of Melusi’s and two children of record—Thabiso and Lawrence. Thabiso is the son on Thandiwe and brother to Nolwazi and Lawrence is the oldest child of Simon and Lindi who were among those we taught and baptized from Lydenburg. The area is growing! We are super excited to be able to watch and to bring the Lord’s gospel to the world.

It is pretty amazing to actually see prophecy fulfilled and to be a part of the process.

“The standard off truth has been erected; No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposed of God shall be accomplished and the great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” Joseph Smith.

Our mission in New York was filled with miracles and remembered events but nothing like this one. We have seen so many lives change. Many dreams fulfilled and joy replacing despair. It is as if we are standing at the edge of a large pond watching as the ripples move towards us—each ripple is filled with the joy of the newly converted. All of these people who we have had a role in their conversion have been seeking for this gospel. All of these people have loved the Lord but felt something missing. The joy of the truth has filled that hole in their souls. They have come home and they openly express these feelings of gratitude to the Lord for what He has done for them.

I am so grateful to be able to stand still and watch the power of the Savior as He is the only one who can touch a person’s heart and fill their soul with understanding. My life has been changed because of these ripples that touch me.

There are also many we have taught who reject this gospel. Who turn away thinking there is something better or who simply like their church better. Many just grow tired of trying to understand the teaching by using their own method. They refuse to read the scriptures but expect an answer anyway. Some simply give up. Life is very hard here. It is difficult to get to church when you need to take a bus or taxi for over an hour. Taxi’s here are small buses. The drivers need to fill up the vans before they leave their area. So even though you may catch a taxi on time it may drive around looking for other people before getting you to your destination. Taxi’s cost money. Many do not have funds to bring their families to church. I have great empathy for these wonderful people. It is hard to sit and watch the people you love suffer.

But, those who persevere and hang-on receive all the Father has. Maybe not here in South Africa but one day when they live again they will be blessed beyond our comprehension. I feel so sad for those who have abandoned their Father in Heaven. I weep for them as my heart is broken from grief for all they have given up and replaced their testimonies with. The world has nothing to offer those who truly know the Savior and I pray every day that all those that I love will always love what I love—the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am reminded everyday how precious life is and how blessed we in the States are. Even though these are crazy times our lives are filled generously to overflowing with gifts from Heavenly Father. And with gifts come responsibility. I am grateful for the responsibility Heavenly Father has entrusted to me.

I am so proud of Hannah who is serving a mission in Phoenix AZ. She writes about the changes in her life and in the lives of those she serves and teaches. I only wish all of my grandchildren would have or will choose to serve missions. It is a life-changing experience if you do it right.

Well, the weather is nice right now. Warming up a bit but its spring here so the days are always changing. We are supposed to have rain tomorrow and Friday. That usually cools things off. So not looking forward to summer when it will be hot and humid. Eish.

But, still no monkeys in my kitchen which is a good thing.

P.S. The weather has changed and it is HOT! We had rain last night so this morning the weather is nicer. We had another child of record baptism on Sunday for which I made 65 cupcakes. I make them during the week and freeze them. Then on Saturday night I frost them. On Sunday I taught my Sunday School class and then RS. We got home about 2 and hit the napping position. We were both very tired. I fixed dinner for the Elders and then ES and I settled in to watch Netflix… NCIS. Reruns of course, but fun. Due to our naps we stayed up kinda late. Then on Monday we were both a bit draggy. We did our usual shopping and then off to the movies with the Swans. We saw The Intern. It was a good chic-flick. Not bad but not amazing either. But we liked it.

So that gets us up to date. I know I haven’t been really consistent with posting but I’m trying to do a bit better. Still no monkeys.
Off we go on our M&M day. This is the street adjacent to our branch.

Our parking lot and ES coming to meet with us.

Elder Kuyangepie, Malusi, and Senzo ready to teach the gospel

Senzo practicing for bearing his testimony

blurry but this is the M&M group

ES took this of the cloud in the middle ground but this is a typical country road

Senzo with ES and our Jrs. Pickup and Kuyangepie

baptism day for Senzo

Senzo and Siabongna... I have noticed that Africans love their pictures taken. I think it is because they have sweet spirits

Kwazie almost walking. This is her new Sunday dress

Once a week someone cleans the rafters of the shopping center. This area is always clean and neat. I am very impressed by the overall cleanliness of SA and its people

John, the owner of Cicada, our favorite restaurant... with his little boy

AT Cicada with the Jefferies, the Seminary and Institute directors for Johannesburg mission (the Swans are there as well)

Elder Kuyangepie. Sorry, figured out how to turn the photos but forgot this one

teaching someone... Don't know this man yet

teaching Vincent and Senzo at Sister Jennifer's home

Michael Weitzs' birthday. His entire family

The Nkosi girls + one who parked in our parking lot then walked across the street to another church. It is Heritage month so it is proper to wear you country dress

The Elders preforming an impromptu service project out in Lydenburg

This lady was trying to move all this gravel by herself. Our boys jumped in and helped her. She said, "God sent me angels today."

Our kids wanted to do a service project for someone here. They are building a house for a family. We are so proud of their generosity and love for people they don't even know.

This is Aaron the builder.

Heritage day with all their traditional dress.

teaching Philadelphia, Senzo, and Vincent

Ah, unknown person

Laheri with her science project. It is like the game Operation. Buzzes when you tough the wire

Cleaning after dinner. Elder Edyouch's last dinner with us. Good cake but kinda messy.
















Monday, September 7, 2015

Chapter 40.

Saturday, August 29, 2015. Got up at 2:30 A.M.
Picked up Nkosi girls at 3:40
Drove 4+ hours to Johannesburg
Spent 5+ hours in the Temple
Well, one of the best days ever anyway! Right up there with my own children’s special events! Especially when they were sealed to their spouses and made their own covenants with Heavenly Father.
The girls did proxy baptisms along with ES helping in the baptismal area. I did the big kid stuff for a relative of ES’s. I sat between my friends in a small session. The session rooms hold about 24 people. We were short a few men so ours was even smaller. It was truly an amazing day.
All the way home the girls talked about how excited they were to have been in the temple. Khetsiwe vowed she would only marry in the temple. They were so excited from feeling the spirit they got into the car and almost instantly fell asleep.
Calisto, Christine, Lindi, Steven, and the Nkosi sisters—Laheri, Charity, Khetsiwe—were only recently baptized themselves and to have them all in the temple was truly an amazing experience.  I am so proud and happy to know these amazing people who really have sacrificed a lot to be members of the church. I love them all so very much.
We drove back to Nelspruit with a stop for lunch and a break. We really had a great time but if I never had to sit behind the wheel of a car again it would be ok…. Only its wishful thinking as I’ll be driving to church tomorrow and then on Monday it will be driving in Kruger!
Tonight, however, I am tired. I am going to frog on the couch and watch NCIS season 7 on Netflix…
Can I get an AMEN!
This entire week has been one long drive. First we went to Zone Conference in Joburg, then we drove back to Joburg for our temple trip and then on Monday we drove 2 hours to get into Kruger National Park and 8 hours in the park.
We took the Elders as one of the Tongan Elders goes home in September. This was a dream of his to see Kruger and so we and the Swans took all the Jrs. with us. Only one Elder had seen Kruger before so it was super exciting for all of them.
I took pictures. We saw some different animals than ever before. We got really lost and had to make a dash for the exit gates as we were afraid we would get locked in… scary thought… or fined for being tardy…another scary thought. But we made it out and lived to tell about it.
Wednesday, we went to Lydenburg to celebrate Kwazie “Esther’s” 1 year old birthday. We got there while Christine was cooking lunch for everyone who came—mostly neighborhood friends. It was a great day. We had to leave early so I could get home to teach Institute and ES teach with the missionaries. All good plans, however… We hit fog so dense that we had a line of about 50 cars driving 5 miles an hour. Took us 2 ½ hours to get home. I had to cancel class but ES made it in time to teach Portia who is supposed to come to church this Sunday. (she did)
Today, Thursday, ES is back in Lydenburg with the Jrs. teaching and passing out flyers for the upcoming Bears and Prayers event on Saturday. The response so far just from advertising has been positive. We are expecting a large crowd to hear President Dunn’s presentation on what he learned from his bear attack and recovery. I am looking forward to it. I spent all day making cookies…4 batches should be enough…well, I guess it will have to be as that is what I have made. Chocolate Chip, Cowboy cookies, and a Rice Krispy cookie called Chocolate Scotch-a-Roos.  They taste like a candy bar made in South Africa called a Lunch Bar—it’s a cross between a Crunch bar, a Twix and a Snickers. And it seems to be everyone’s favorite.
Friday was district meeting at the Swans. We had pancakes and a great lesson from Elder Pickup. He is a very effective teacher. Our lesson was on using the Book of Mormon when we teach. A favorite subject of mine. Friday afternoon, I spent preparing my Seminary lesson. It feels like I haven’t taught Seminary for forever but it has only been one week. But, Saturday is the big day! The day we have all been preparing for! For one month we have been working on Bears and Prayers with President Dunn. I have a lot of photos so I’ll let them tell the story but the coolest part besides the event itself was the news reporter who showed up at the end. She took a lot of photos and did a long interview with President Dunn about what the even was all about.
Sunday was Sunday and Bears and Prayers was replayed in KaNyamazane for that Branch. Sometime in the future we will invite President and Sister Dunn back again to do a repeat for Nelspruit when we open our new building. Hopefully, that will be soon.
So, today is Monday, September 7, 2015. We relaxed, ran errands, bought groceries and took in a movie. Fantastic 4 this time. It was good… somethings I didn’t like but I’d still give it a 7 out of 10. It was nice to kick back.
Still no monkeys and the weather has been cool. In fact, I wore my winter coat on Saturday for the first time since I have been in Nelspruit. You’ll see my red coat in some of the snaps. Bye and lots and lots of love… from Africa!
 OK so I have some pix but some are sideways, upside down and blurry! I only posted a few of the photos I have due to this problem. Sorry, don't know why and I don't know how to fix it. Either turn your head or your computer... Ooops....
we stopped at Burger King in Joburg after our Zone Meeting! It was great!

Calisto and Christine in the garden at the Temple. Beautiful grounds. They did baptisms. I wish we could be here for their sealing but we will be home by several months. Glad we were with them on their first temple trip!

Christine on left and Lindi on the right.

many of our branch members who attended the temple. We missed some and added a few more who were just there

a few more

Doesn't Dad look great!

Me and my girls... from left to front: Khetsiwe, Me, Charity, Laheri, Sara, Zama, Lindi

Yep, a giraffe! We are now in Kruger National Park

These birds are Hornbills... they are as large as BIG turkeys

This is a rhino. We saw 4 of these big boys and girls this trip

Just to show that we are not in a zoo. These bones were along side a watering hole. His hind parts were missing and what a souvenir  those horns would have made but we'd have been arrested and thrown in jail for a million years... so we left it there...

We are now in Lydenburg at Kwazie's B'day party.

G'pa is assembling her b'day present

how cute!


present time

a duck lap top and a Sunday dress

Bears and Prayers! President Dunn was attacked by a Grizzly bear while running in the Grand Tetons sometime in the 90s. He survived and does an entire presentation which includes a move Hollywood made about the attack. He talks about the BEARS in our lives and how we can survive them using prayer and by listening to the Holy Ghost. It is very impressive and maybe once they return from their mission our Stake can ask them to do a fireside for us!

Our newest investigator, Cecil.

Sister Dunn along with some of the others. We had 51 in attendance and only 17 members. All the rest were non-members. Sweet!

This is the blurry one but next to me is the reporter. And it was really cold regardless of the elders without jackets


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

NYC: A Mission To Die For