I have the most impressive news! Well, I think it is almost on the miracle level especially those who have gone bowling with me… We went bowling with the Jrs. for P-day! They have a 6 lane 10-pin bowling alley in an arcade in the Riverside Mall. The old folks with one player short lost the first round but on the second round WE WON! And I beat everyone! I bowled a 149 with 3 strikes! WOW!!!!
It was really fun! Especially since 2 elders had never bowled before and boy did they odd bowling styles! Elder V from Tonga actually threw the ball down the alley. Elder Warton had to teach him to put his fingers in the holes and roll the ball down the lane. Wow! It was so much fun I actually contemplated going there again today all by myself and practicing. I think I may have to dust off my own ball and shoes when I get home and take it up again.
But, on a spiritual note we have had a great 2 weeks… as that is how much time has flown by. (We are down to 4 months left which is incredible to me.)
ES baptized 2 more last Sunday. One 20ish woman named Philadelphia (yep, we call her Philly) bore the most incredible testimony regarding the Book of Mormon. He mother is a Sargoma… which is a traditional healer. Shortly after Philly started taking lessons and coming to church she suddenly stopped. ES felt prompted to go to her home to ask her why. She had been having the lessons at a member’s house. She told him that her mother had forbidden her. Now, one thing about these African’s here is they live the Honor Thy Father and Thy MOTHER rule… Especially the MOM part. So, ES asked if he could meet the mother. Mom said that American preachers were evil, red-eyed devils and that the Book of Mormon especially was evil and from the devil… um, yeah. We hear that a bit down here. But, undaunted, ES pursued meeting Mom. Once he charmed her and showed her that his eyes were hazel, she told Philly that she could meet with the elders and join the church if she wanted.
Well, Philly wanted to continue and then asked to be baptized.
On Sunday, Philly bore such an incredible testimony about praying with a sincere heart. I was in awe. The spirit of the Holy Ghost filled the room. She said that at first she didn’t want to read the Book of Mormon but the elders kept telling her that she would never know if it was true if she didn’t at least read it and then pray about it. So she began reading it. Then on a Sunday night she started asking if it was true. She didn’t get an answer so the next night she asked again, and continued all week long asking but not getting an answer. Then on that Friday evening as she was reading she felt an overwhelming peace and calmness enter her body and mind. She knew it was true. She said that from that point on every time the missionaries (including ES) told her some new doctrine that same feeling returned testifying that what she was learning was correct.
I have to say that she comes across as very shy and quiet. It’s like she’s ducking her head all the time. But, when she stood at the pulpit and bore her testimony for the first time in her life, a powerful woman who was filled with dignity and majesty stood and bore a sure witness of the truth that she has discovered thanks to her Heavenly Father’s love. It was wonderful to hear and to feel.
But, now a funny thing.
The Elders are teaching yet another friend of this group who have already introduced 5 people to the church from Hazyview which is another 1 hour + from us. This surge started with Sister Jennifer and family (they lived in the wooden house on stilts from way early in our mission.) She moved away for about 6 months but then returned when her ex-husband passed away. With her son Melusi preparing for a mission he has been introducing his friends to the gospel. Two of his friends, Siphewe and Sibosiso had already joined the church but then went inactive due to the family moving away and no support out there. But, they are making their way back to church and Siphewe has introduced his girlfriend, Angel, to the missionaries. (This is the same group that comprises Philly, Senzo, and Vincent, who will be baptized 10/25)
So, anyway, the Elders are teaching Angel and they ask her who she believes God to be. She told them He is our Father in Heaven. So far so good. Then they asked her who Jesus was and she said, “I have been taught that he is a giant leg.” (Yep, read it again.)
The Elders didn’t know what to do or how to react. They didn’t want to laugh ‘cause she was dead serious yet they needed some clarification.
ES said, “A leg?”
“Isn’t that right?”
So, they read scriptures that explained who Jesus really is. Then they taught her about the first vision. She felt relieved. In fact, they taught her yesterday and she no longer believes he is a giant leg.
The only way I can understand why someone would believe that is she must have heard a pastor say that Jesus is like a giant leg of God who helps God do his work… Ah? Well, you know how children can warp things around. Mom says one thing and child hears another…
But, when things get stale around here we say, “Well, at least we know Jesus isn’t a giant leg.”
Now, I don’t want you to think I’m making fun of her because she is a sweet girl who just wasn’t taught the truth. She is coming to church and learning all the things she was never taught before.
On the next visit, the Elders taught her about the Atonement. When asked about why Jesus died on the cross she responded, “I know why Jesus died on the cross… it’s because he stole the good Samaritans donkey.” True story.
But on Sunday, her friend and a recent convert herself (see above), Philly, came up to ES and said “I’ve been working with Angel and teaching her about the Book of Mormon. We’ve been discussing the pamphlets and she understands it all. She really loves the church and is learning so much.” Angel was beaming at church. Her life is changing in huge ways. It’s such a joy to see lives absorbed in the love of God.
I find it so interesting that small gestures of kindness can create celebrities. I drove into the shopping center this afternoon. ES was on his way to teach with the Jrs. so I was alone. As I drove in one parking aisle a car parker-man waved at me and said, “Park here, today Momma!” The parking woman on the next aisle said “Momma, where is Daddy today?” I got to the store and I was greeted by the produce person. The cashiers are considerate and friendly. I drove to another store and the parking guy waved at me like an old friend. He wished me well, asked where ES was as he calls me Momma. He opened the car door for me then helped me back out of the stall. It is customary to tip the car parkers as you leave the lot. Normally, people drop a 2 Rand coin into their hands which equates to less than 20 cents American. We usually give the people who serve us a 5 Rand coin—about 40 cents. In order to work at the lots they have to pay their company 80 Rand a week. At 2 Rand a car it takes a lot of coins just to pay their bosses. Some people drive out without tipping and others tip copper coins which are less than a penny to us… So, when we park, we tip 5 Rand or more… We have become celebrities. A small gesture to us…not even the price of a soda or a stick of gum, but to the humble of the world, it is everything. The message it conveys is worth all the effort. Of course, we leave them with smiles, conversation and sometimes even a prayer as they call ES Pastor.
I love these people here!
Every day when I kneel to pray to my Heavenly Father I think about what and why I am here in South Africa. I think about what has happened during the previous 14 hours. I reflect on what I have done, good or bad, as I have interacted with those I came in contact with. Wearing a badge on my lapel reminds me of why I am here and who I represent. It keeps me focused on my tasks. But as I think about those who have crossed my path I wonder how I was perceived by them. Did I represent the Savior as I am supposed to? Did I keep my covenants? Was my day worth living—my time well-spent?
Our mission—this time—is self-directed. We come and go as we need to. We have the usual demands of callings in the Branch but we don’t have an office to go to or 4 institute classes to teach. We are in total control of our own time. Often, I wonder how well I‘ve spent my time.
But, as I close my day my thoughts turn to my family and hope and pray that the time I spend out here in 100% service to building the Kingdom of God on earth will be noticed, appreciated, and absorbed by my children and grandchildren. That they will be blessed and fortified in the gospel. That their testimonies will grow. That they will feel vicariously the blessings we are receiving from meeting and teaching the great sons and daughters of Heavenly Father who reside in South Africa.
I know—really know—that our cause is just. Christ’s gospel is true and His Church has been restored on this earth and we—ES and I and all other members of it—represent the Savior Jesus Christ.
I am grateful for that knowledge and hope this finds all of my readers feeling the same. If you don’t, do something about it. Pray. Learn. Ask. And then pray some more.
I know this sounds rather preachy…but that’s what I’m out here for…
Still no monkeys but lots of heat… Days of nearly 100 with humidity and inadequate A/C (I’m not complaining cause some is better than none) but sadly, it’s not as hot as it will be.
A short P.S. here
We are not able to watch conference live… We just finished watching all the sessions today at church. I watched several of them beforehand but I don’t get the same satisfaction from the Spirit by watching it away from the Branch and members of the church. For two days I have listened to the voices of our prophets and apostles and other leaders and more importantly, the voice of the Holy Ghost testifying to me that what they were teaching was true doctrine! I really enjoyed this weekend. I really enjoyed associating with my brothers and sisters, many of them viewing conference for the first time, and I really enjoyed learning new things and feeling the gentle tugging of the Lord’s Spirit to try a little better, be a little better and Ponderize…
Very Grateful indeed for the conference.