Sunday, May 22, 2011

It is good for us to be here . . . rh

Well, it was a fabulous Sunday, today. It was stake conference yesterday and today and we were well fed by the speakers. Both the temple matron and president spoke to us last light and brought up some thought provoking things. Sister Armstrong quoted Elder Kikuchi thusly, “As you firmly grasp the iron rod, it will lead you to the open doors of the temple.” This is a confirmation of the thoughts that Georgia and I have that getting new converts to the temple is the real objective of missionary work. We are told in Sec. 109 of the Doctrine and Covenants that we can receive an endowment of POWER by going to the temple for ourselves. Surely, this power will convert into greater activity among the saints and new and growing leadership as they return from the temple and become “beacons” in their wards and branches. It is especially important in Ennerdale since relatively few members are endowed.

President Armstrong said that President Hinckley told the saints that “Every time we go to the temple, we leave as a better son or daughter of God.” What could be more inviting than to realize that each temple visit makes us stronger and more useful in the kingdom. Georgia and I both feel that there should be more emphasis on the saints receiving their own endowments and then returning often to the temple – whether it be in South Africa, Oregon, Utah, Nebraska or anywhere else in the world.

President Molema (Stake President) spoke on the fall and atonement and made a statement that struck me particularly. He said that just as Naaman had to wash seven times in the Jordan or he would not be cured, we must do exactly as the Lord has commanded to receive salvation. This is a point that is brought to the missionaries constantly as “exact obedience” just like the stripling warriors of Helaman in the Book of Mormon – they served in the stressful conditions of battle exactly as they were directed and were spared from death.

This morning, President Wrench (1st Counselor) told us of a brother who was searching for a secretary in his stake calling. He proposed a dozen men to the Lord and never received confirmation. He then was inspired to propose another brother who was thought by many to be a less than desirable member of the kingdom. He received strong confirmation that this man was to be the secretary needed in this stake organization. He had to convince the Stake President that his decision had been confirmed by the Lord. Pres. Wrench said that this points out the need of being persistent in search of inspiration. When we hit on the right answer, we will know it.

We then heard three powerful testimonies from returned missionaries – two brothers and one sister. President Msane (2nd Counselor) followed, pointing out that life is an open book test. Open book does not equate to easy – he said that we must be familiar with the material (scriptures, commandments, words of living prophets, etc.) and realize that there is a time limit. In life’s case, we are not given the exact time limit – it is different for each of us. This is a great lesson in not procrastinating the day of our repentance.

Sister Poulsen spoke next and posed the question – Did I promise in the pre-existence to find certain people and expose them to the gospel in this life? Wow, what have I/we done about this? How many times have I ignored a prompting to share the word and ignored it? Coupling Pres. Msane’s talk urging me to realize that there is a time limit and Sister Poulsen’s question gets me to thinking that I must do better than I have done.

President Poulsen then gave us a powerful message about being a missionary. I will just share one thought that he gave. He said that EVERYONE we meet already knows that the gospel is true, but that the veil has been drawn over their memory, so that they may find out for themselves in this life. This again relates to the pre-earth life – every person who is on the earth accepted the Savior’s plan, so they know it to be the truth. The point being that we should not exclude anyone from being exposed to the gospel – the Holy Ghost will bear witness that we are telling the truth.

President Molema then taught a powerful lesson in being where we ought to be when we ought to be there. He related a story (which I recall hearing) that President Packer told about getting to a remote Pacific island. The way through the treacherous reef surrounding the island was to be found by lining up two lights – one high on the mountain and the other at the water level. Due to storms at sea, their arrival was delayed and the keeper of the light at water’s edge had given up and gone home to sleep. It was a major problem for them to safely reach the landing area. Pres Molema pointed out that YOU and I are the keepers of that lower light and it is our job to be there for investigators and members alike.

The real payoff of the day actually came after the meetings as three brethren from our branch were given the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained elders. One of them will soon go to the temple, be endowed, sealed to his wife and have his daughter sealed to both of them. The other two have been members a bit less than a year. They both have the desire to serve as missionaries and I’m sure they will do just that and be good at it. I could not control the tears of happiness as I stood in the circle as these last two were ordained.

After the elation of the ordinations, we shared more joy with a sister from Ennerdale who had just received her Patriarchal Blessing. In the one year plus that we have been in the branch, she has grown tremendously. She will be a powerhouse among the saints, not only in Ennerdale, but in the stake and throughout South Africa. The three men who received the Melchidezek Priesthood will also be great leaders in the years to come.

All in all, it has been a wonderful day. “It is good for us to be here.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

95% . . . rh

Recently, we had a missionary come from Mozambique. There is nothing unusual about that except that when he arrived at the MTC, he spoke no English – only Portuguese. It has come to our attention that several of the missionaries coming from Mozambique, Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have arrived not speaking English. Those who have been here for some time now have no problem conversing and teaching in English – the gift of tongues. In fact, one of the Elders from Madagascar who arrived speaking only Malagasy and French told us the other day that they had found a family who spoke little English and mainly French – he found that he was unable to teach them in French.

One of the Elders who recently went home had come from Uganda speaking only Kamba. He spoke to us in transfer meeting in fluent English. These brethren have great courage to not only leave their homes for two years, but to face a sea of English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Shona, Tswana, etc. speakers in their field of labor. I admire them and I am amazed at their ability to communicate effectively with those whom they teach and live.

Incidentally, The Elder spoken of above from Uganda said that he had never had a problem with any of his companions. The main reason being that he decided to always go 95% of the way so the companion would only have to give 5%. What a great idea for getting along in life – 50-50 is not the way to go. If we all went 95% of the way in any relationship, – mission, marriage, family, employer/employee, etc. – we would have such synergy that the world had better get out of the way for us.
I am so grateful to be associated with these missionaries and to be able to learn from them to improve my life and outlook on same.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Trunky Duty -gfh

President Poulsen usually takes missionaries to the airport for their flight home. However this week he has been traveling doing Zone Conferences and needed some help with transport. We drew the lucky staw and got special airport "Trunky Duty"!
Missionaries usually go home in a large group at Transfer/Departures every six weeks. However, this time we had three missionaries whose visas expired before the Departure date. (President made the decision a few transfers back that we would not go to the expense, time and stress of renewing visas that would expire one or two weeks before the missionaries original departure date. sign. This has helped lighten my worry load" a lot!)
Yesterday Elder H and I delivered Elder Sande Sande (yes, first and last name are the same) to catch his return home fight to Zimbabwe. As we waved our final goodbyes we turned away with tears in our eyes. Elder H said "How does President Poulsen do this all the time?"
(and RATS! This is one of the few times that I didn't have my camera!)

Elder Sande's flight was at a very respectable time in the middle of the day but today's trip to the airport meant getting up at 4:00AM. By the way, the stars are brilliant at that time of the morning in ZA.
Elder Musembi and Elder Odundo from Kenya had a flight out at 9:40AM so we had to calculate and include plenty of time for travel and "two flat tires". Elder Musembi met us at the office at 5:45 and an early morning volleyball team was there as well. Elder Musembi is in the middle with the ward missionary who will serve until Transfers on his right. (Br. Welcome who has submitted his papers)and next to Br. Welcome is Elder Musemi's soon to be ex companion, Elder McNally from Scotland. And the rest of The Boyz! (shhh, I don't call them that to their faces)We met Elder Odundo at the airport. He had been there for an hour, was all checked in and waiting for us. It's allowed to use the "T" word at the airport.Elder Cannon and Brother Holmes, who is Elder Cannon's companion until Transfers next week (and who has his mission call to Durban Mission) joined in for final goodbye hugs.
Elder Odundo's carry-on was overweight. The attendant told him to take some things out but when I acted so surprised and sorry for Elder Odundo (sincerely) the attendant decided to never mind. I told him I needed to get a picture of such a nice man.Final Good Byes and off to their next mission! I hope we get "trunky duty" again!

Blessings -gfh

This is Nomvula Shelembe outside of the Johannesburg Temple yesterday! She attended for the first time! Elder H taught the temple preparation class and she is the first from the class to attend. I was her escort! It was a beautiful day! One of our many marvelous mission blessings!
(Sister Nomvula is in the Ennerdale Branch but is originally from Swaziland)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Gauteng Zone Conference -gfh

One hundred and thirty seven missionaries assigned to the Gauteng Province arrived today for a Zone Conference (ZC's are now held every three months. So this will be our last one!) It's a great time to do car inspections! This is Elder Watts, our Car Czar, really getting into his work with the help of Elder Porter who was recruited to assist. (Elder & Sister Porter are CES missionaries) Elder Henrichsen is in charge of ordering and delivering the food for 137 missionaries. Kentucky Fried Chicken was the menu with "137 Streetwise 2" boxes! Wow! What a delicious aroma was coming out of that bakkie!

Knit one Purl Two -gfh

This is Alecia and Robin. Two nine year olds who hang around and wait for their moms while they are in Institute class after the block. Elder H and I wait around too because we transport one of the families and he also has branch clerk stuff to do. I very often bring my knitting and they have been fascinated and have been hanging around very close. Two weeks ago I asked them if they would like to learn to knit. They are so polite and shy but I got the message: YES! So the next week I came with yarn of their favorite color and started knitting lessons.

They learned to do the garter stitch and were sent home to practice. This is a picture of their return project. Yesterday, they wanted to learn to cast on and wanted to start a real project. I told them we'd have to take out all of the knitting they had previously done and start over. They were positive! So we unraveled and reballed and I taught them to cast on and away they went. Alecia asked if I would teach them to knit a cap to go with the scarf. I think they'll have to hurry because we only have eight more Sundays together. It makes me wish I had started these little knitting sessions earlier.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Another Office Seranade -gfh

Elder To'o stopped by to give us a little seranade on his plastic ukelele. He added a nice touch to our day in the office.

I Have Nothing -gfh

Yesterday was the last Sunday in Ennerdale Branch for Sister Malitha. I have enjoyed her so very much. She is positive and dedicated to the Gospel. A single mom with a young adult son who causes her worry over his drinking but saves her from snakes. Last month after church she asked me to take her to the train station so she could go to Soweto and stay with relatives because she had a SNAKE in her little place. She hates snakes! and she would not enter again until she knew it was gone. I didn't see her place but it is probably a 12X12 shanty like many of the others. Yesterday she bore her testimony in Relief Society and said: "I have nothing but I am very happy! I have the Gospel and it fills my life with happiness!" We will all miss Sister Malitha!
Sister Malitha is in the middle with the green scarf around her neck.