Gratitude in ALL circumstances


May 21, 2014

Dear Family:

As Alma (the younger) is getting older and is turning over the sacred records to his son Helaman, he gave Helaman counsel about things that matter most. He said, in my words, now you may think that this is no big deal, but … “by small and simple thing are great things brought to pass”. It is the righteous things you do every day that matter, in your relationship with God, the Savior and with God’s children. (Alma 37:6) Our prayers matter little, unless we go about being answers to the prayers of others.

Alma continues to paint us a picture of how we allow Satan to influence and move us wherever he wants. A quote from “The Book of Mormon Made Easier” by David J. Ridges; “The imagery at the end of verse 15, has to do with harvesting grain in ancient times. As the plants grow, the heads of grain are enclosed in husks and in order to harvest the grain, the husks are walked on or rolled to separate the actual grain from the husk. At this point, the husks are called chaff. The piles of intermixed grain and chaff are tossed up into the air and the heads of grain fall back to the threshing floor.

Thus, the imagery of being sifted by Satan as chaff in the wind is that those who transgress God’s laws are easy for Satan to blow wherever he wants”. (Alma 37:15)

“But if ye keep the commandments of God … no power of earth or hell can take them from you”. (Alma 37:16)

Mom and I have been trying to influence members, one at a time. Share what we love and know to be true. Those things that make us happy, and counsel about those things to stay away from that make us miserable. From time to time, each of us find ourselves floating as chaff before the wind because we have chosen not to do daily those things that keep us grounded or which voice we will listen to.

Mormon Message: “Voice of the Spirit” by President James E. Faust

Struggles here in South Africa are the same but different from home. Poverty is everywhere on a basic level. Having enough food to feed the family, staying safe and just trying to change my circumstances are always on my mind.

We watched two more conference on Sunday. Mom had prepared all the papers for the children to color and keep the busy for 4 hours. Twice now we have had electricity so it was a success. The treats for an in-between snack were nice and everyone cleaned everything up to the last muffin and banana. Mom had to enjoy it from home. During our set up, she got really sick with the flu and I had the Elders bring her back home. With lots of rest and the blessing from heaven, she is doing well and going full steam ahead.

tgbIkOnFIS7O1cJgwrD21aKecUpLOlsViOTd-AZkT6QI always look for to spending a little training time with Brother Mashishi. This is picture of us getting things ready for Sunday.




Bernard’s family is struggling. Bernard is relying on his little shoe repair skills to feed his family. He made some rough signs and hung them on fences around the area to advertise his new business, “ hair cuts and shoe repairs”. He put a chair out on his dirt driveway and does his repairs outside, where everyone can see so that hopefully it will drum up more business. There he works trying to make enough to feed his family and make enough pay for a taxi come to church.

Last Sunday his family was not able to make it to church. Lucky got beat up when going to the store last Saturday to buy some bread. He came home no bread, or the 50 rand, which was to be used for Sunday taxi. This week, too few of the people came and picked up their shoes. We pray that this week, the big bucket of repaired shoes will be empty and the owners will find the money to come and pay.

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The broken needle made things a little tough to push through the leather sole. Bernard told me the needles are expensive, 17 rand each ($1.70). He told me it was hard to buy needles when you have no money. As we talked I could tell that there were a few other things Bernard needed. Mom and I piled Bernard, Batsirai, Kudzai in the car for a little trek to another part of the village where there was this little, old, funny shop to buy some needles, and sole material.

Bernard told me he had an appointment to go to the hospital for a doctor visit, just to see how his leg was doing after his stroke in February, so we dropped him off on our way to another appointment. He never called to say how things went. We assumed that he was progressing and doing as well as could be expected.

Yesterday, both Mom and I had the same feeling, go and see Bernard’s family. Mom put together a Family Home Evening on challenges and allowing the Lord to help us with a game and some treats.

Upon arrival, we asked Bernard how his doctors check up went. With Batsirai out of the room, he said quietly, not so well. “What do you mean”, we asked. “They have to cut off my leg. “They showed me the x-rays and my condition is getting worse.

Please keep the Bernard Chitewe Family in your prayers.

*** FYI *** The next day we couldn’t get Bernard off our minds. We decided to go out to the village again, put Bernard in the car and take him to the hospital.   We wanted to talk to the doctor and ask some questions. We felt like we needed to find another doctor for a second opinion. Bernard went in to the hospital to get in line to speak with someone. This is a public hospital, so the lines are always long. After a while of waiting in the car with everyone, I went in and stood by Bernard. This lady looked up, saw me standing there and promptly asked me if she could help me.

I told her why we were there and we need the files so we could get a second opinion. She stood up, came out of the office and told us to follow her to the next building to find the therapist who had filled in the charts from Bernard’s last visit. The three of them spoke while I stood and watched. I could tell that the administrator was NOT happy. I ask them to please speak in English.

It was as Bernard had told us. The therapist had been reading the wrong file. Bernard told me as we walked back to her office that the lady asked if I was going to sue them. For the last week, Bernard told me he felt as if his life was over.  He had become so depressed. Batsirai, Kudzai, and Mom were waiting out in the car. The feelings of relief were overwhelming. What Bernard really needed was major physical therapy. What a blessing from heaven. We were all so happy.   Heavenly Father is so aware of each of us.

We then traveled over to Simon and Ouma’s Family for Family Home Evening. With Simon not a member and the rest of the family just learning, we decided to watch the DVD “The Testaments, One Fold and One Shepherd”.  We told them we were going to have a movie night. Mom made a large bowl of caramel popcorn to go along with the video. The Spirit was strong, and it really helped them understand what was going on, at the same time, both in Jerusalem and in the America’s. Just like when we viewed it for the first time at the Conference Center, back home, everyone was speechless, including Simon. The caramel popcorn was a hit – – they had never had anything like that before.

Institute on Friday was, as always wonderful. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and Another witness of Jesus Christ.

This morning we picked everyone up at 7:00 am so they could catch the bus to the YSA Conference in Mokopane. The Branch in Mokopane is really nice and of course, everything was all set and ready to go. Elder Brammer is the Branch President, and of course Sister Brammer is really his 1st counselor. Gee, we had over 90 kids from our District in attendance. Elder Khumbulani Mdletshe, a new Area Authority Seventy, was our keynote speaker. The members of the Seventy are told not to prepare talks, just follow the Spirit. He talked about not wasting your time, evaluate where you are now and go to work on your plan to get where you want to go and what you want in life, now.  He is a great speaker with a powerful spirit. The pictures with Mom and I show us with Elder and Sister Mdletshe, and Elder and Sister Bunker, Senior Missionaries working in the Tzaneen area. Mom, Sister Brammer, and Sister Winward always are finding themselves making and serving the goodies. We could not do it without them. The last picture is of Mom with Maggy.

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Our activities included Mom & I teaching the swing. We mixed it up with a little ABBA and African music. It did what we wanted – – everyone was real involved in learning the swing. Once the ice was broke they all started doing their own thing. They were doing line dances, the go into the circle and dance thing, and those who wanted to play volleyball headed out to the grass to the side of the Mokopane chapel.  No one wanted to leave and had a great time.

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These kids live in hard circumstances, but love the Lord and show it.

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We love what we are doing. Each person, each visit, each miracle help us recognize Heavenly blessings. We are grateful to our Heavenly Father for each of you. We continue to see His “tender mercies”.

We love you. Have a wonderful week.




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