December 21, 2013
Church last Sunday was great. Good talks and strong feelings about the Savior. The hymn, “I know that my Redeemer Lives” was full of testimony building feelings, which always add strength and commitment of doing what is right. What a great time to live.
It was so hot today, 87 degrees. Our little schoolhouse, where we hold church, was blistering. If you want air conditioning, your best bet is to open the window and sit by the opposite door. I guess it could be Utah weather, -5 and beyond cold. I guess we’re OK.
I am thankful for tons of other things. Just yesterday, Mom made this great cake with a fudgy chocolate frosting. We took it over and shared it with Elder and Sister Winward, our new senior couple. They provided the ice cream. We shared some ideas about our assignments as missionaries and had a great visit. We brought some of the cake home and Mom said she would share that last piece with me. When I got up the next morning, just like she said, she only took half, the top half.
Yesterday was a public holiday, the “Day of Reconciliation.” The holiday came into effect in 1994 after the end of apartheid, with the intention of fostering reconciliation and national unity. There have been good changes between the different cultures here since 1994. That is the good news; the bad news is that all the Elders stay close to home on this day. There is a lot of drinking and it is not safe to be out.
As Senior Couple missionaries it is not a matter of what to do, it is more what is most important, and what should we try to do first. We are going to start Temple Prep. Class after the first of the year. Everyone goes on holiday for the month of December until about the 2nd week of January, when school is ready to start up again. We would like to teach all those who have not had a chance to go to the House of the Lord, and help them learn more about our Fathers plan for us.
OK, here is a strange fruit for you. It is called “litchis.” The fruit inside is very sweet. The flavor seems to be a cross between mango and a real sweet (with sugar) grapefruit. The texture is like the inside of a grape. The pit is quite large and black like an olive pit. If you can get over the fruit looking like you’re eating an eyeball, you will love it. For me, maybe not.
The South African people are always willing to work, and do most anything to provide for their families. Unemployment is real high and every morning, as we travel, we see men and women gathered in certain areas to see if they can pick up a job for the day. Here are some of the food places across from a strip mall. The stands always seem to be busy.
This is true of most everything. As you can see even with church services, the people make due. Here is a picture of several groups of people gathered in a field for worship. We see these groups every Sunday morning on our way to church.
Staple food…pap (you say it like pop). It’s kind of like sticky rice with out the sticky and it’s real heavy. You just dunk it into whatever else you are eating and there you go. It is real filling. It is like eating chicken fried steak at Chic’s in Heber. It stays with you for a long, long time.
We just got back from Joburg to the Temple. We were able to attend two sessions. We always come away with a quiet reverence for our Heavenly Father and His plan for us. The experience is so personal and real. The drive is about 3 ½- hours away, but well worth it. We really miss our Tuesday night visits to the Provo Temple. There is no replacement for the spiritual experience you have while you are there. We went to dinner with Brother and Sister Mishishi. They are awesome. Every time we turn around, he is sharing his excitement about the Gospel with someone. I have never met anyone like him.
Primary update. Mom has noticed a little 5 year old girl coming to church for about 2 months now. She seems to understand English, but the only English she says is “Sister Harward.” She loves Primary. She came and sat by us during the two 2-hour sessions of conference. No problem, she just kept busy with all the Conference aids Mom had made up for the children. During a 45-minute break between sessions, we had some extra sandwiches for lunch, so we shared with her. A week ago, Mom asked one of the Sisters who she belonged to. They answered that she lived down the street. She came once with one of her friends and now, her mom gets her ready every Sunday and she walks to church all by herself.
For the past few weeks Mom has been teaching the children about being prepared for the Second Coming of our Savior. She told the parable of the 10 virgins and that the oil represented all the good works we do that will fill our lamps. Last week, Mom made play dough for the children. She wanted them to make “clay pots” to help light their way and to help reinforce that they needed enough oil in them to be PREPARED for the Savior to come again. Once she showed them what to do with the clay, they had fun. They made their pots and were so excited that they could take their very own clay home to play with.
We just got back from teaching Patrick, Mary and their family. This will be Elder Palmer’s last time teaching Patrick. It seems that Patrick already knows and understands each principle before we teach it. Tonight as we were finishing teaching the Plan of Salvation, and the part Elijah played in the Restoration, we went over everything that was important. At the end he said, “I know all that, all I wanted to know is, who holds all the keys now?
“And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye shall know the truth of all things.” He shared his testimony and said that he felt bad that after all these years, as a minister, he now knew that he had been teaching without the authority to do so, and he that he needed to be baptized. He told us he is ready, but is wants to give his family the time to feel what he feels and all be baptized on the same day.
We asked about his congregation. He said that he loved them, and wants them to also know the truth. He said he already knew that some would turn away. But, one by one, his intent is to share the truth with each of them. His commitment is strong. I have never met anyone so prepared to receive the truth.
What a miracle to watch the Lord teach and inspire through the Holy Ghost. Elder Palmer closed our meeting with a powerful testimony and we all shed a few tears. While driving home from Patrick’s, we all expressed our gratitude to what we had witnessed over the past couple of months of the Lord’s hand in finding and teaching His children.
Though we are a long way from home, know that we are trying to do just a little in preparing the way for the second coming of the Savior. We appreciate each of you and your examples to do the same.
We love you. Merry Christmas.
MOM & DAD
I am supposed to tell you that mom is teaching piano, not organ. The piano sounds like an organ and I always have a question when it comes to the spelling of piano, so I just put organ. Sorry!