Thursday evening we had dinner at the Blue Water Café on the waterfront with President & Sister Wood and Elder & Sister Cook who is in charge of Africa South East Area including all 35 countries. Also the Taylors, Richins and Van Sickles attended. The Cooks know Lowell and Tammy Snow who also served in that position. Also the Cook’s daughter married to a former Skyline football player. Elder Cook was president over the New Zealand Mission from 2005-2008 and in 2011 he was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy. They have five children, are based in Johannesburg, and have a home in Ogden.
The Cooks tour countries in their assigned area, attend zone conferences, and access the needs of the people here in Africa. Almost half of the membership in Africa are young single adults. It was interesting to look at our PEF assignment through Elder Cook's perspective. I can see now why so much emphasis in being placed on helping the young African returning missionaries get further education. It leads to better employment, self reliance, and leadership positions in the civilian arena as well as within the Church. Increased focus on institute and seminary attendance by young adults is encouraged being these young people will be the Church leaders of tomorrow.
Zone Conference, August 29th
In Zone Conference Elder Cook talked about Section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants where the Lord sets up the organization of the church in 1835. It describes an organization that has served the Church since that day and is going forth as outlined today. We were told that the Lord knows each of us and that we are here for a reason. After moving into this flat I can testify of that. It’s so good to have enough room to do our job and be able to find what we need. Must close for now to go to my hair appointment.
President and Sister Wood talked about tithing. The Woods both began investigating the church in their late teens. Mark wanted to join but his parents insisted that he wait until he turned twenty-one. He paid his tithing for three years before he got baptized. His father had planned to pay for his education. Mark had a free ride through law school until he told his dad he was going on a mission. He said his father “went ballistic and disowned him financially.” Mark cashed in 1,400 shares of stock that his grandfather had left him, and paid his tithing. He had some money saved but was short $1,000 for his mission. He was too new in the Church to realize that the ward would help.
After a few months in the mission field, his mother began sending him $20 a month. She said, “Don’t tell your dad.” Then Elder Ezra Taft Benson arrived in Fairbanks to attend a conference. It was his practice to visit community leaders. Mark's father was a community leader and a prominent judge. He visited Mark's father not knowing he had a son on a mission. They talked for three hours about politics and community affairs but nothing about religion. Two weeks later Mark’s dad sent money for Christmas and told Mark to buy a new suit. Then he began sending monthly checks. By then Mark’s inheritance had completely run out. When he returned from his mission, his father relented and agreed to pay all his tuition so he could finish law school.
Sister Wood talked about a blessing received after they got married. Even though his tuition was paid, she had to work to pay for their food and rent. She found a job in a college town in upstate New Your where they had moved. As newlyweds they just got by. When she was six months pregnant the company she worked for downsized and she lost her job. They needed $88 a month to get by. So they prayed. The next day the bishop called and told her he needed to hire a cook for the soup kitchen the ward supported. He asked her if she would take the job. It was the only paid position. She received $88 a month and was able to work there until the day before their son was born. The Woods told the young missionaries to stay active by paying their tithing.
Brother Cook: "Our people will only walk out of poverty and overcome their challenges if they pay their tithing, render service and become more self-reliant. Where you put your money is where your heart is. The law of tithing is an eternal principle. See Malachi 3:8-10 which was given 400 years before Christ was born after the Jews returned from captivity. This is not about money. The law of tithing is about obedience. It’s a standing law forever. See D & C 119; 1-4. Elder Van Sickle reports that those who pay their tithing, even from what small amounts they make at odd jobs, are the ones that he is able to find jobs for." There were 10 young men from the Kwanobuhle Wards who were there painting tables and chairs at the stake center so they could earn money to go on missions. Two articles were handed out: Dallin H. Oaks General Conference talk on April 1994 on Tithing. Also Carl B. Pratt’s talk, “The Lord’s Richest Blessings,” from April 2011 General Conference.
We visited the Taylors last night. They bore their testimonies in Zone Conference along with all the other missionaries who are going home. They said it will be hard to leave. We are looking forward to Stake Conference tomorrow.