September 6, 2013
Dear Family & Friends:
It’s Friday night and before I go to bed, I would like to share a couple of things I learned this week. The first deals with who we are and how we present that to others.
Here in South Africa, the stores and street are crowded with those who are members of the ZCC, Zion’s Christian Church. You can tell by the silver “star of David” backed by a green piece of felt and pinned on their lapel, shirt or dress. Some of the men wear a uniform with both a star on the jacket and one on their hat. I find it interesting that so many want others to know of their faith.
With or without a badge, do we know who we are and what we believe? I thought of President Faust’s talk, where he spoke about his experience meeting with political officials in Jerusalem. President Faust said he explained the commitment that that Church would make that we would NOT proselyte if allowed to build the Jerusalem Center. The gentlemen he was talking to said, “ he appreciated the commitment, but added, yes but how do we get the light out of their eyes”.
It really is about the “light in our eyes”. The Sprit comes by invitation and stays only if we are doing our best to follow the footsteps of the Savior. That means there must be some daily seeking, asking, pondering, and serving.
Yesterday we went over to see Jimmy, our friend in the care center. His TV needed some help. The days and nights are long when you are confined to your bed without something to fill the time. I have told you about Jimmy before. His smile is as large as can be. His testimony is even larger. We spent some time getting things taken care of and gave him a short gospel message about “what matters most”. He was noticeably touched and wanted to share his feelings.
He said that since Monday, (this was Wednesday) he has been waking up in the middle of the night and could not go back to sleep. He decided that he would count his blessings, one by one, until he dozed off, or got to the end of his list. It had now been 3 days and he told us that he had not got to the end of his list yet.
I could not believe what he was saying. His right arm has little movement, and his left arm only limited with some movement of his fingers to hold and dial on the phone for a short time, before he gets too tired. He lies in bed, has to have a nurse roll him over and is completely dependent on others to do everything for him. He has been like this for 16 years. I felt more than a little guilty as I listened to him, recount his blessings for us.
Too often I quickly get past the “grateful” part of my prayers so I can tell the Lord what I really need or want. I will be more aware of all the Lord has given to me and tell Him so from now on.
Thursday morning, Jimmy took the time to text me and one of the other sets of missionaries a kind 35 word message. His phone and mine are not smart phones. They are the old type where you have to scroll through the alphabet, abc on one key, and def on the next, and so on. Texting is awful and takes forever. I cannot imagine how long that took him. When he gets too tired with his finders, he uses his nose and tongue to press the small buttons.
It has been a great week. We had Maggie over with her 2 year old on Monday afternoon. She has been a member for 10 years, but not active. After 5 months of having a calling in the Primary, but being too afraid to do anything, Mom helped her get everything ready for Sunday. Mom does not doing anything half way, so she was ready with all the pictures and games before she came. Maggie was so excited.
We had a bite to eat and she stayed for her first FHE ever. What a treat to watch Ulanie, the 2 year old, do the hand motions and sing to “I have two little hands”. She sang the rest of the night.
Mom asked me yesterday, what we had learned about each other in the last month of 24/7. I said well, I know that if I get in “your grill” that is a bad thing, and if I persist beyond “the grill” there is a killer fan on the other side. So, it is imperative to back off or get hurt. It seems we both agreed that it was the same in both directions. We laughed … both knowing the truth of what had been said.
I think the hardest part for us, this first month, was to get into the swing of things. After arriving, President and Sister Omer took us over to the mission home to have for a little orientation and meet the office staff. They asked if we were tired and wanted to go to an apartment and have a nap, after the long flight. We said no, lets get to work. I think we frightened the staff. I guess we were a little too much like the live electrical wires downed by the storm. In my mind, I could hear them say, “Don’t touch them” there live. Just leave them alone, and it will pass.
Next morning they had a zone conference and we were politely invited, never expecting that we really wanted to go. You don’t have to, they said again. No, we want to go. The sitting around was killing me.
Mom didn’t hit the wall until sometime in the middle of zone meeting. Mom was gone, and I knew lying down on the padded bench would not cut it. I guess we really were a little over the top. It’s like you get here, and you really don’t have a clue of what to do. I’m sure they have seen it before. Without saying it, the words were probably, “You’re a senior missionary, figure it out. You’ll be fine”.
Hey, we had our badges, we had been to the MTC, we even had our “classy” missionary shoes and we were ready to go. Just point us in the right direction.
Well, the panic stage is over and we really are figuring it out. The Lord is helping us see the needs of his children, and we are loving the work. Mom has only screamed once this week in the car, turning the wrong direction on a one-way road, so we are doing better.
The people are kind, anxious to love and be loved.
We love you all so much. We see the Lord’s hands daily in our efforts. Keep the “light in your eyes” and be grateful and express it to everyone.
Elder & Sister Harward