April 19, 2014
Last night we were able to be part of a powerful FHE lesson on the “The Plan of Happiness” with Oma and her family. Mom gathered up her visual aids and we shared our living with our Father in Heaven, before coming to Earth and His plan to allow us to return. He gave us the opportunity to choose our path, but with a Savior to help us. We read the scriptures carefully and it was like a light turned on as understanding became clearer. We played a game and Mom even had a treat. Not sure the apples in the Garden of Eden were carmeled, but the point was taken. Simon got home from work late, but enjoyed the laughs and Oma moving from last place to winning the game. Knowing where we came from, why we are here on Earth, and where we are going, really is “The Plan of Happiness”. Being in the dark and not knowing which way to go is not fun.
I marvel as I search for just the right words to explain the Gospel. They always come, always, adding truth to the things that people already know.
I spent 2 hours yesterday with President Mishishi doing some training. Since his new calling as a 1st counselor in the Branch Presidency, we meet every week. I try to keep the meeting to an hour, but he is like a sponge and is so anxious to get answers about everything. Yesterday he wanted to know more about the proper procedures for a funeral. His mom is 89.
She just went to the Temple for the first time a couple of weeks ago. He knows that in the near future he will be faced with how to deal with the traditions of South Africa and the pressures of family, most of them are not members of the church.
He told me that at other family funerals, he has used the time that everyone is by tradition to sit down in the house for the evening to teach and testify about “The Plan of Salvation”. All I can think about when I think of him is Abinidi, powerful, unbending, and standing firm regardless of the circumstances.
He is a missionary like no one I have never met. He talks to everyone, and is not afraid to share with anyone, and he does it in such a powerful, loving way, that you want to listen to what he has to say. Later in the evening we had a really good training session with the new Relief Society Presidency. They are eager to learn and always fun to be with.
We traveled to Mokopane this week to conduct a Branch Audit. When President asked me start doing the audits on both Polokwane, and Mokopane I thought, really? I’m the guy that closes his checking account and opens a new one, when the struggle to balance just does not happen. You really want me to be an auditor? Well, the Lord makes weak things strong while in His service. Here are a few pictures of their meetinghouse. They have a monster garden that is helping a few of the members with some food. President Brammer is posing in his library, located out in a storage container along with shovels, chairs, and everything else.
Today Patrick has some business here in Polokwane, so we will teach at the church. Sweet…we don’t have drive out and especially home in the dark on that dark narrow road. There are always a variety of headlights; some have two, lots with only one. The large trucks and buses are always a little scary but we are doing OK.
Every Sunday, the question is do we have power or not. This Sunday was a good day, power and everything. As you can see, mom is busy with the prelude music in our not too elaborate meetinghouse, but, it does the job. The Aaronic Priesthood boys were there and ready to go.
Last Sunday was Thapelo’s baptism. He is such a little boy with a big heart and a small warming smile. Mom gave the talk on baptism. She showed us the steps to make it back to our Father in Heaven, with baptism, of course, being only one of them. She had made footprints out of colored paper, and placed them on the floor, in front. She then asked Thapelo to stand on a chair that was labeled Earth. Across the room she had another chair labeled Heaven. Do you think you can jump over to the chair? He told her “No” it is too far. Heavenly Father knew it would be hard and that we would need help. So he gave us steps to take to make sure we were on the right path to return to live with him and our Savior, Jesus Christ. She had Thapelo step on the footprints as she talked about the different steps. Getting back is really one step at a time, one day at a time.
As everyone walked out to the baptismal font, it dawned on the Elders that maybe the water in the font was too high. They took a mop stick to measure the water and then checked Thapelo’s height. Nope, we were OK, it only came to the bottom of his chin.
After the baptism and changing into dry clothes, we resumed with the balance of the service. What a sweet experience to see Thapelo standing behind the pulpit with only his head about the level of the lowered microphone (we even had him on a step-stool).
During Primary, earlier that day, Mom had taken Thapelo out on the steps so they could be alone and talk about what was going to happen. He said he was afraid and did not know what to say for his testimony. Mom took his little hand and she touched one finger at a time, as they reviewed what he was thankful for and how he felt.
As he stood at the pulpit, that look of fear came over his face. He looked over at Mom who was sitting the piano. She quietly walked over, leaned over and touched his fingers, one at a time. He promptly, looked at the congregation, spoke in a voice much louder than his normal voice (which is very soft and timid) and shared four tender things he knew to be true and was thankful for. Wow, everyone was so touched by his sweet testimony. You could see the members who were there were visibly moved by Thapelo’s courage and the truth he shared.
His mom followed, she had not attended church for quite some time. She shared a short tender expression of her desires to return and her love for the Lord and Thapelo. Tender mercies of the Lord had just been witnessed. How grateful we were to be there and feel of the love our Heavenly Father has for each one of his children.
Later the big cupcake was more than appreciated, to celebrate the big occasion. “I WAS BAPTIZED TODAY”
I found a picture of the 15 senior couple in our mission with President and Sister Omer. This was taken when we went down to our retreat and just completed a trip to the JoBurg Temple. I know I am a little older, but as you can see, I am certainly not the oldest. Thank you for all the well wishes for my birthday. We it was fun to hear from everyone. The pictures were great. Everyone is growing up.
Well, tomorrow is Easter. We are looking forward to a great day, good talks and special feelings.
We miss each of you so much, but for now we have some special things to do here in South Africa. We know that we were called here for a purpose. We know we are on the Lord’s errand.
We have seen lives change, including our own. May each of you enjoy the real meaning of Easter.
We love you.
MOM & DAD