We wish all you Fathers a Happy Father's Day!!
Well, Sister Boyce has asked me to enter the blog this time around. Naturally, I do everything that she asks of me.
Things have been very busy since we last posted. Time has been flying by and its hard to imagine that we have served for 1/3 of our mission. It seems like we just arrived and started our labors. We continue to love what we are doing and everyday becomes a different adventure. Let me see if I can recollect some of the wonderful things that have happened in the last 30 days since we last posted.
Probably the highlight of our mission, so far, has been meeting Jackie and Ayanda Gqola. When we first arrived in East London we were asked to attend the Mdantsane 3rd Ward, our Bishop Mangwane, asked us to visit some families who were not taking advantage of the benefits of the gospel. One Sister we visited, hadn't been to church for 5 years, was staying with her daughter and helping her with a new baby. She agreed to let us come and visit her, and we created an instant bond and love for this good sister. We visited and taught her several times and she started attending church. On one of the visits, she decided to invite some friends, family members and neighbors over to read the Book of Mormon with us. One sister, Jackie, a close neighbor, was invited and Sister Boyce and I wanted to read in 3rd Nephi 11, where the Savior appeared to the people after his resurrection.
We asked each person in the room to read a few verses. When we got to Jackie, she read a verse and then began to cry. She was overcome by the Spirit and by the things she was reading. (She told us later, that she had prayed the night before and asked God to show her a new path and direction for her family.) One of the others took over and finished her part. After teaching we invited those in attendance to come to church with us on Sunday. Jackie accepted our invitation and attended. She absolutely loved what she heard. She said, "I want my husband to feel like I do, I want him to hear this too."
Jackie and her husband, Ayanda, attended the next Sunday. Things just began to blossom. They have 2 children Jade, age 10, and Kelly, age 7. Jade and Kelly were at their Grandma's for a time and didn't get in on all the lessons that the full time missionaries began teaching them. To make a long story, short, I had the privilege to baptize both Jackie and Ayanda last Sunday afternoon, I also confirmed both of them today in Church. Ayanda is so excited to receive the Priesthood. He will then be able to baptize his son Jade, who is already old enough, and Kelly when she turns 8. They are both anxiously preparing to attend the Temple next year and become an eternal family. Teaching and testifying, to this family, has been so rewarding. It's incredible to see the way the gospel completely changes lives.
We also have been very busy taking care of Elders and all the things that seem to arise for their care and well being. Its the middle of the winter here and although the temperatures are mild (40 to 70 degrees), the change in weather, has caused a few illnesses. Because it is so humid, the mornings feel pretty cold. None of the housing have insulation in the walls, heat or air conditioning. We have to keep the Elders warm with little fan heaters, blankets and hot water bottles. In our Queenstown zone, the elevation is higher and the temperature is much colder. It gets below freezing and even snows occasionally. We've spent a few days taking Elders to the doctor and nursing colds, coughs, and the flu. Sometimes they don't eat the correct healthy food, so Sister Boyce and I have given each of the Elders vitamin packs that they can take daily doses of Vitamin C. We have found that this is helping them. We also give them hand sanitizer that helps them from getting sick.
Weekly P day sports sometimes produce injuries that affect these young men. They give their "all" playing soccer and rugby. Unfortunately many of these young elders become very competitive. The elders are not suppose to play competitive or even keep score. The purpose of sports is to get some physical exercise, but its hard to prevent the hard fought competition with 19 and 20 year old young men. I'm sure that dealing with this situation is the same throughout the mission world.
Before we go to P-day with the Elders, however, Sister Boyce get's her hair done here! (ha ha)
Last week, Sister Boyce and I traveled to Port Elizabeth (about a 4 hour drive) to pick up a returning South African Missionary, Elder Ndlela, from the Uganda Mission. He had completed his 2 year service and was returning to his home in Grahamstown. Grahmstown is a quaint old city in our mission between Port Elizabeth and East London. Part of my Mission Presidency responsibility is to see that these returning South African Elder's get adjusted to life at home. We want to insure they get an opportunity to find a job and enroll in school. (Possibly taking advantage of the Perpetual Education Fund) We also want to get them totally involved in the branch and enrolled in institute. Elder Ndlela is a great Elder and adjusts to post mission life very well.. He's already been called to be the Elders Quorum President for his little branch.
This Friday we have a 3 zone conference where Sister Boyce and I will feed a mid morning snack and lunch to 56 missionaries. We're having french dip sandwiches, salad, fruit and chips, with brownies and ice cream for dessert. We found a good butcher here in East London where we can purchase lean roasts and put them in crock pots (we have 3 big crock pots) and cook them all night. We have had this before and the Elders love it. Its hard to limit them to 2 large sandwiches each, but along with a good salad and with ranch dressing (they love ranch dressing, but hard to find here in South Africa), bananas and applies, and a little bag of chips. At this zone conference we are lucky enough to have a visiting general authority, Elder Colin Bricknell, from the area presidency. He will instruct and teach and we will have the opportunity to spend some time with him. Zone Conferences are a great experience for the Elders. They loving getting together to eat and learn. At zone conferences we always sing our mission song. You might be interested in the words -
Verse 1: "We stand as armored soldiers in the service of our Lord.
We are ready, willing, able to go forth and preach the word.
Marching forward into battle, we are armed with shields of faith
And there's nothing that can stop as we go...
Chorus: Forward marching forward, we will hold our banners high,
As we go. Forward, conquering forward, with the eagles we will fly.
We cannot be discouraged, we will not be turned away,
For the Gospel in South Africa is here, forever to stay.
Verse 2: South Africa is where we have received our call to serve.
In this land of splendid beauty we will march and never swerve.
Sharing further revelations, bringing Gospel truths to light,
Wielding swords of might and power, we fight for God...
Verse 3: When our call is at a finish and we leave the battle field,
We can truly say its over? Do we dare lay down our shield?
Once as soldiers we're enlisted in the army of our God.
It's our duty, hold your head up, Carry on...
Great song with incredible words that motivate all of us to be diligent and accomplish our missionary duty.
Well, I think I will end for now, we don't want to bore you with too much. We thank you for your love and prayers in our behalf. Believe me, we can feel your support. Thanks again,
Ren and Debbie