Friday, October 30, 2015

Just Pictures

kids playing in the township...

This is an old picture of Elder Pickup and Elder Edeouch... he's gone home now...

Elder Scott and his newest members... Elder Pickup, Philly, ES, Senzo, and Elder Kuyangeppi

Bowling when I rolled a 149! Record stands so far! (one on the end works at the lanes)

rolling my record score!

Christine looking Pregnant finally, Stephen and Esther

Doing dishes at Swans... after Canadian Thanksgiving which is October 12. I will do another Turkey day on November 19th which will produce another monster mess! Glad we have missionaries who love to do dishes!

Elder Kuyangepii taking a break

pumpkin pie... Oh, yes, Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner at the Swans. ES actually broke down and had a piece of pie!

Lindiwe's uncle passed away and the elders went to the funeral. It was on a Saturday at 6:00 a.m. Yep! It lasted 2 hours +. After they lower the casket into the ground by hand, the men all refill the dirt with shovels. ES said it was extremely moving and very significant to him. They had speakers and singers and dancers doing traditional funeral songs and dances.

Elder K moving dirt


teaching the gang of young adults (from right to left) Elder Warton (gone home now) Siphewei, Angel, (in front) Mulusi in the hat, with his sisters near him, Vincent in red, Jennifer in yellow, then Philly and Senzo in orange.

Sister Carol who keeps inviting her neighbors to be taught. She is investigating as well and loves church.

Another investigator (sorry, don't know him yet)

and finally, just another cute photo of Christine!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Why can't I post pictures? I have lots and will post them when this is fixed!

Chapter 42:

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.

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.
















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

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NYC: A Mission To Die For