February 15, 2014
Dear Family, Baptism Sunday. Wow, what a joy to see those 5 children dressed in white, anxious and excited. Ruben’s family got up at 3:00 a.m., walked down a long hillside, then down the rocky road, and out to the main road where the taxi pick up station is located. It took about 45 minutes for the trek. Ruben, who is in his late 70’s, and his family, all 8 of them to finally pile into the taxi van for the 2-hour drive to the Polokwane chapel. He wanted to make sure everyone was able to enjoy all of the Sunday services, which start at 9:00 am.
They arrived at 7:30 a.m. and sat outside the gate until someone finally arrived to open up the chapel at 8:30 a.m. Mom and I needed to be with our little flock in Seshego, so we showed up in Polokwane right at the end of their meetings. The kids were so excited to see us. I use “us” loosely, they really wanted to see Mom. “Where have you been? Why didn’t you come to church? We’ve been looking for you,” they said.
We briefly explained our assignment out of town and everyone was OK. Mom had all the white jump suits clean, ironed and pined to the proper length. The initial excitement however was the new package of underwear for each of the 5 children. Mom had to buy the whole package in order to get the white pair each one needed. “Do we really get all of these?”, they asked, as Mom handed each of them their own package.
We were humbled again as we were reminded of the simpleness of their lives and how much the little things really matter. Mom took the girls in to help them and then gave them each a set of pearl earrings. She told them how special they were and to take care of them so that when they were ready to go to the temple they could wear them there too.
She told them that a special man, John Beesley, back in American who was a jeweler sent them over for special occasions just like this. They were thrilled beyond belief!
(THANK YOU JOHN!) All dressed in white they sat on the front row as the short program started. Bernard proudly also dressed in white stood to conduct. He is the Group Missionary Leader in Seshego. During our 6 months of teaching, Mom has taught them well, including tons of primary songs. One of the 2 highlights during the program, was to listen and watch them sing “Baptism”, Jesus came to John the Baptist.
They sang loud and determined, as Mom lead and I turned the flip chart with all the words on. The two littlest boys, Zwonaka and Hope can hardly speak English, but they knew every word in English to the song.
The water in the font was not very warm, but they all did very well. Grandpa confirmed all 4 of his family and gave the blessing part in “Venda”, a language all their own where they live. We told him as long as the initial part was in English that would be fine. As he spoke, the Spirit bore witness of the love that our Heavenly Father has for his children.
This continued as each of the children bore their sweet testimonies, some with the help of Grandpa, others by themselves. What a sweet experience this was. Mom did not want anyone to be hungry on the long ride home, so how about inviting the families of those baptized and of course the Elders over (30 people) for a little lunch.
I’m not sure if anyone had eaten in along time. The group ate 9 lbs. of hamburger (sloppy joes), potato salad, fruit salad, ice cream cones, chocolate cake, cupcakes and all the extra trimmings. It was really a success. They really loved church and lunch was more than OK.
Spent Tuesday working on getting ready for District Conference, with all the planning, having missionary coordinating meeting with the Elders, and working with the new Elder leaders organizing home teaching. With very few having cars, limited funds for taxis and our area is large and very spread out, it is a challenge to organize Home Teaching. They had some inspirited solutions. The two counselors are receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood at District Conference and are coming to our Temple Prep. Class. It is wonderful to watch the hands of the Lord as He gathers his children, teaches and inspires them to help others. This is the Savior’s Church. Today, Wednesday, was thrilling . We picked up Elizabeth and Gwen, two of the group sisters, to take them to their interview for a Temple Recommends from President Motimele, the Branch President. Tears flowed easily and Mom joined in as they expressed their gratitude for such a privilege. We shared our love for them and they in turn thanked us for our concern for them and their families.
We are planning to go with them on March 8th. “How sweet the joy”… is an understatement. Gwen is also going to receive her Patriarchal Blessing while we have a Patriarch available. President Hoffman is the mission doctor here and he will be going home in April. After that, I am not sure what we are going to do for a Patriarch. We do not have our own Patriarch up this far from JoBerg. Mom has been down sick with the flu. She has had bad headaches, you know, those that feel like your head is going to explode. But after episodes of hot and cold chills, and just feeling awful with her body aching all over for four days. She was so concerned she wouldn’t be well enough to go teach the children in Venda. She asked me to give her a Priesthood Blessing.
The next morning when she woke up she felt totally fine ready to drive to Venda to teach the children about “Testimony”. After Mom shared her feeling about the Savior and her love for Him, she ask if any of the children would like to share theirs. The Spirit of the Lord was strong and powerful as they search for the right English words to express their feeling and followed the instruction they had just received. Mom asked Ruben, Grandpa, if he would share his testimony. His voice was loud and definite as He paused and declared His feelings about those things that ran deep within his soul.
I added a bug out in the yard. Everything here comes in only one size, large. On Thursday, one of the days that Mom was down, the phone rang early and it was Bernard. He had fallen and could hardly walk. The clinic people told him he needed to see a doctor over at the hospital. So, my day was filled with lots and lots of waiting for this and that. On the way home, way past lunchtime, I asked Bernard if he was hungry, anticipating a trip to KFC. He told me he was and promptly told me to turn off the road right here. Well, he had the same idea, kind of.
Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the guiding and loving hands of the Savior, as he guides and helps us. As we plead for His help in everything, including staying healthy. We are determined to do our very best and He provides the rest, always. We love you. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We feel them and see them as you share pictures, short notes and words of from home. Each of you are in our prayers. We could not be more proud of the fine parents and grandchildren you have become. Stay true, feast on His word each day, and love one another.
MOM & Dad