Friday, February 12, 2010

Our Branch....rh

The Ennerdale branch meets in a group of modular buildings in one of the many townships surrounding Johannesburg. These townships are not the prosperous suburbs we think of in the USA, they are more like the inner city neighborhoods at home. Here things are just reversed, the cities are where the more wealthy folks live and the suburbs (townships) are where the poor and really poor people stay. Ennerdale itself is a fairly nice township, but the branch spreads out several kilometers in all directions. It includes lots of the countryside - rolling hills with occasional groups of trees but mainly grassland. We are told that during apartheid days, this area was mainly full of farms of Afrikaners. The farms have been mostly abandoned. Even though the majority now rules the nation, most do not have the resources available to pick up where the Afrikaners left off, so the farmland sits idle.

The people of the branch are enthusiastic and grounded in the gospel. Of course there are the newer members and investigators in the group. I saw the quarterly report of the branch this week and they obviously have a large group of less active folks, just like our branch in Waldport. The chapel will hold about 80 and most of the seats were filled last Sunday. I could see that they were mostly filled since Georgia and I were asked to speak on our first time in the branch. By the time the first two speakers were finished, there was about 35 minutes left before the scheduled end of the meeting time. Georgia took about 15 minutes to touch on the power of God’s love in our lives. I was able to speak for about 15 minutes by tying the love theme of the first three speakers into how the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon, show God’s love by giving us guidance. I challenged everyone to read from the Book of Mormon each day, even if it is only for a minute or two. Since it was a fifth Sunday, the branch president taught the combined Priesthood/Relief Society meeting. His topic was a challenge from the stake to read the Book of Mormon this year. How about that?

There are few with musical ability in the branch, but the congregation sings with gusto. It was good to hear them sing out songs that are familiar to all Latter-day Saints. The speakers and teachers were very good and class participation was excellent as well. We had a good experience throughout the meetings. Afterward we went with the Gunthers (our trainers) to visit the families they home teach. It is assumed that we will be teaching these same families, so it was a good introduction for them and us. Some of them live in nicer places, but one of them lives in a tiny little house surrounded by other tiny houses in a situation that can only be described as squalor. The contrast in living conditions was quite evident in our visits to these families.

On Fast Sunday, I was greatly impressed by the testimonies offered to the congregation. As I said above, they seem to be generally well grounded in the gospel. The Spirit was strong. The testimonies were direct and appropriate – no long stories or travelogues. Georgia said that she hopes the missionaries do not mess up the doctrinal purity that we find here.

It is good to be here. We are having a good time in South Africa. We are working hard and long at the office each day. We are thankful to be serving God and our brothers and sisters in this capacity.


  1. It's nice to know the gospel's true wherever we go with strong members blazing the way. You will have a HUGE impact on everyone you come in contact with (missionaries, church members both active and less active, and non-members). THANKS for your service! Can't wait to see pictures!

  2. Thanks for the update. Appreciate the insights.
    Maurie has been called to give tours during the open house for the new Gila Valley Temple. Looks too like we will work there in some capacity.
    Keep up the good work I know you will bless the lives of those you teach and come into contact with, and no doubt they will bless yours.
    Larry & Maurie

  3. Nice to hear about your venture out of town. It's the same here in the Congo. The center of town is nicer and things get worse the farther out you go until you get into the bush.
    It's also the same in that the members have strong testimonies and know the doctrine of the church well. It gets a little more difficult when you come to the organization of things, but the spirit is very strong. Thanks for sharing.