December 14, 2013
Another week gone, and looking back, I see the blessing of a loving Father in Heaven. He filled two cancelled appointments yesterday with a timely visit to a young single mom who needed to know that she was loved and that someone cares.
At a surprise 49th birthday party for Jimmy, we shared in the laughter and joy with Jimmy and all his friends at the care center. The glow in Jimmy’s eyes as he looked around at all the people who cared was priceless. And even more priceless was his insistence that some cake be taken around to all those in the care center who were not able to come into the small reception area. Mom and I are always humbled when we receive his texts of “thanks.” We have watched him send messages to others as he cradles his phone with both hands, and types out each letter with his nose. He has been in this care center for 13 years and in spite of his circumstances, he has a good attitude about his future.
You should have seen the look on Patrick’s face when Elder Palmer gave him a full set of scriptures on Thursday. Patrick’s smile was running into his ears. Having been told of the pending gift last week, Patrick said he had been so anxious all week long. You know, the same feeling that you have as you look forward to Christmas. He told us he needed to be able to reference all the scriptures as he read and then searched the footnotes.
As we teach, he poses a question, we search the scriptures together and when he is satisfied, he says, “I understand that, now we can move on.” His questions are well thought out and he wants to see the answers written in God’s words. He will often conclude with, “I will pray about that.” The rest of the family and his daughter’s friend sat in on the discussion this time. Wow, what sweet experiences we have each week.
We started the week visiting a “Walk with the Tigers” (located at the Jugomaro Predator Park). It’s about a two-hour drive south of Polokwane. We met up with Elder and Sister Brammer and the two Elders from Mokopane for a really great day. Tigers are not really from South Africa. They have been brought in from India. This was an amazing experience. Mom wasn’t even nervous. She took everything in stride, no big deal. (Don’t tell grandma Audrey)
It has been a little hard to catch the Christmas spirit with the temperature in the 80’s and no snow. The killer thunder, lightning and rainstorms are also throwing us off a little. We did however, get some gifts wrapped today. Mom and I are excited to help a family out in one of the little villages.
Elder and Sister Winward and the three sets of missionaries are coming to our flat for Christmas Eve. The Elders are so excited they can hardly stand it. I think the word is out – – – Mom is cooking dinner and putting a party together – – she is the best. You know Mom, she always does all the extra trimmings and makes the parties so fun. We got the Elders some gifts to let them all be kids again. We think they will all have fun. A few games to play, great food, and we’ll all enjoy each other’s company. Then for Christmas Day we will all travel down to Mokopane and have a Christmas Devotional with Brother & Sister Brammer and the two Elders there. The three Senior Sister Missionaries, (Mom, Sister Brammer & Sister Winward) are putting on a nice Christmas Dinner for all. It will be a nice day I’m sure.
Oh, we forgot to tell you that our “missionary couch” broke in half. I was not sure how long the sag in the middle was going to hold, but even after a fix up, it bit the dust. The mission office told us to go find a new couch to replace it. We are thrilled, and just in time for Christmas. Our little place is cozy and we love it.
A killer rainstorm wiped out the power at the church on Friday night. Results, we crowded 18 of us in our little “flat” for Institute. We talked about the nature of our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. It was powerful as we listen to the remarks and experiences of the youth.
We used as a guide, a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. He said in closing, “ I bear most solemn witness that the Father so loved the world, His children, that He gave His best child, His perfect child, His Only Begotten Child, that whosoever would believe in Him would have everlasting life.”
We feel that confirmation as we teach and testify to others that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the World. He is our Savior and yours. We know that is true.
After Institute, we drove Maggy home. It takes us about 25 minutes from our flat to go one way. As we were making our way home, Bernard called and was stranded. He made it back from Zimbabwe, but at the border, his papers were not sufficient and he had to give the guards all his money so that they would allow him to continue home. His wife and children will be coming home, but not until she receives the documents for their passports, and marriage certification. That will probably take a month.
So, when we made it back to Polokwane, there Bernard stood waiting for us; tired, hungry, and wet from standing in the rain. Mom asked him when he ate last, and he said when he left that morning at 4:00 am. So, our first stop was back to our flat so Mom could make him an egg salad sandwich. From there we headed out to his village. We had to pass through “Blood River” a place you really don’t want to be stranded in. The rain had let up a little, but I was very worried about driving down his dirt lane. When it rains, the lane turns into a river.
We knew that we were on the Lords errand, so on we drove. As we drove into the dark driveway, I could see that the metal frame security door was closed, but the inside wooden door was wide open. I could not believe it. Had someone broken into this humble home and taken what little they had, while they were away? As Bernard and I approached the door, a cat came running out of the house. I waited by the door while he went and found the key he had hidden out in the yard. We prayed silently for a miracle. He unlocked the security door, and we walked through the OPEN wooden door. He turned on his one light, and we went from room to room. How could this be? Everything was still there, just as they had left it. While the cement floors were wet from a leaky metal roof, everything else seemed to be in place. I know that the Lord loves each of his children.
We were grateful as we drove home. The day had been long. But, as we climbed into bed at 1:30 a.m. we knew we had witnessed a miracle.
Every morning as Mom and I kneel in prayer, know that we pray for each of you by name. We know you are in the tender care of a loving Heavenly Father.
May this special season remind each of us of the true meaning of Christmas. We are proud to represent the Savior and share His message with those in this part of the world.
Thank you for the love you show to one another. Know that in Spirit, we will be at the family Christmas party on Monday evening. We love you all so much.
MOM & DAD
Watch the Mormon Message: “Good Tidings of Great Joy: The Birth of Jesus Christ. It will make you feel happy and grateful.