Let us share just a couple of pictures and experiences we have enjoyed in this last month.
Attached is a picture of Elder and Sister Boyce with our little 91 year old Sister Peggy from East London 3rd Ward. Sister Peggy has been a member since 1952 and from the onset of her membership she has been hosting and feeding the missionaries here in East London. She has them over to her home each Monday evening for food and a Family Home Evening. She has been doing this each week for 62 years. Needless to say, she has seen her fair share of missionaries as they serve in this area. She is so sweet and charming and so kind and gracious to all those who pass within the walls of her home. Besides feeding the missionaries, she also sews and takes care of all there split out pants, rips in their shirts, holes in their socks and everything they wear that needs to be altered. She even takes their pants in when they have lost weight, but more often lets them out when they gain weight. We are sure her eternal reward is pretty well guaranteed.
Elder 2 was bitten on his arm and it left a huge hole in his arm that needed 3 weeks to heal. Elder 3 was bitten on his elbow, but we were able to treat him quickly and the infection only lasted a couple of weeks.
Some of the greatest experiences we have is actively proselyting the gospel. Sharing and inviting is truly a blessing. We have had many experiences teaching people the message of truth. Generally we find and then turn these great contacts over to the full time missionaries who teach them the lessons. Often we fellowship and join them as they teach. Testifying and sharing personal experiences helps touch their hearts and instills a desire for more learning. One young man, Lamla Mafundityala, is an incredible 18 year old. His brother Luvuyo is a member and currently serving a mission in Ghana. Before he left on his mission, he tried to get his brother to listen and accept the message of the Restored Gospel. He was not really interested and did not progress. Many sets of Elders tried to teach him and nourish the seed, but he did not act. Luvuyo challenged us to visit him to see what a couple of old people could to do to spark his interest again. We met with him and shared our testimony and message. We read from the Book of Mormon and committed him to get back on track. The seed started to germinate again and he committed to read, pray and attend church. A great ending to the story - he was baptized yesterday!! It was a wonderful, spiritual event as he bore his testimony following his baptism. He will now prepare himself to receive the Priesthood and start his efforts in preparing himself over the next year to go on a mission like his older brother. These are some of the treats of serving here and are really the most rewarding things we do.
Recently we concluded all the Mission Branch Conferences. We as a Mission Presidency, along with our wife's, train the branch leadership on Saturday and Sunday. These branch conferences are patterned after the Ward Conferences. We have Priesthood leadership (This usually involves most of the men in the branch) and also relief society, primary and young women leadership training. Its a special experience and we love the association we have with these wonderful 'hungering and thirsting' members. This year our conference was based on the scripture in Matthew 11:28-30. All of us that labor and are heavy laden, need to take upon ourselves the yoke of the Savior and he will give us rest. Here in South Africa many are heavy laden with adversity and trials. We try to help them understand that they can gain rest from their problems as they trust in the Lord and his Atonement. Besides these trials in there lives (really in all of our lives), these two women are definitely 'heavy laden' with these burdens they carry on their heads. These bundles weigh about 80lbs. They must have very strong neck muscles and their balance is incredible.
We wanted to have a final lunch with all the Elders in our zones. (Except the Queenstown zone) So after their zone conference we took them to their favorite Chinese Restaurant here in East London. We fed 32 young men lunch. Oh, how we love these guys, they are incredible servants of the Savior and we have become close friends with each of them. Following the lunch they all stood and sang the mission song to us. It brought some tears and was very special. Here is a short video of their singing. All those in the restaurant listening were pretty impressed.
We love you all and again appreciate all your kindness, love and especially your prayers.
Ren and Debbie