Cheryl loves Port Elizabeth and Lorraine is a beautiful upscale community. However many Afrikanners feel that the quality of life has gone down hill since the blacks came to power in 1994. Cheryl says that when these lawbreakers are finally caught they just get a slap on the wrist and are never severely punished. Many are simply released. Others receive an early parole which contributes to the lawlessness. They were accosted on a walk when they lived in Johannesburg. Cheryl described a recent crime where a man who had just been paroled raped a 83 year old woman at knife point. "I do not understand that kind of violence," I said. Cheryl thinks it’s because the blacks are angry about being put down for so many years. "It’s a power thing," she said. "They are trying get even for years of white suppression."
Thursday morning a petrol truck was bombed on the N6 between East London and Stutterheim. (We saw the road damage when we drove to Queenstown on Sunday.) The bombing happened on the fourth day of a nationwide strike by 20,000 workers in the road freight transport industry. The miners struck last month and got a 800% increase in wages. So the transport drivers want more money. They think demonstrations and violence will get them what they want. Gary feels that such heavy increases will eventually have an adverse effect on South Africa’s entire economy.
We drove to Mthatha last Wednesday and stayed there overnight there. We had no trouble finding gas on our way home the next morning. However the district leaders were stranded that afternoon when stations run out of petrol. The news reported bombings and demonstrations in Cape Town last night. We found one station without petrol on our return to P.E. but made it back without incident.
However my last week in East London was rather depressing. It was hard to be enthusiastic and try to help when there is such a need and only 30 PEF loans here since the program began. We were welcomed in East London. The stake presidency gave us their support. Gary accompanied to us most of the PEF firesides. However he did not accompany us to Queenstown. We were on our own. I had to go and round up kids after the block as none of the leaders attended the fireside. As we were leaving, Tom located the ward clerk who had stayed to lock up the building. He asked why so few young adults had attended. “They have heard it all before,” he responded.
Evidently Gary promotes PEF when he makes the rounds doing seminary and institute work. We saw one PEF flyer on a bulletin board out in Sada listing the Miller’s as the PEFcouple. They have been gone for many years. Tom feels really good about East London Stake as we covered all eleven units. They all have teachers and planning for success booklets.
The activity in Port Alfred was fun. We enjoyed collecting shells on the beach but the only whale I saw was a tail disappearing into the surf. We had a nice dinner hosted by the Richins and then we all sat around the Stumms beautiful sea side flat visiting. I listened to the accounts of service that all the other seniors were doing. Sister Fowler talked about her close relationship with Elder and Sister Wood and the area presidency. They loved spending time with Elder Hartman Rector, a noted psychologist from Sandy, who has written several books including one on color coding personalities. The Fowers said they do not know how they will cover everything before they leave in January. By the time we got home I was so depressed I could not go to sleep because we had so little success to report. I have not sent anything for publication in the Willow Creek Ward Newsletter because we were told at the MTC not to say anything negative and we don't want to discourage others from going on a senior mission. I stayed awake for several hours that night feeling like a complete failure. I could not understanding why the Lord would call such an “unprofitable servant” to this part of His vineyard.
Finally I got up and went into the spare bedroom and closed the door as I did not want to wake Tom with my tears. When I laid down all the negative energy just dissolved as I looked around and realized that I had done one good thing here. Because of the problems with the flat we occupied when we first arrived we have been able to supply a beautiful, comfortable boarding for the PEF couple who come after us.
Last night we visited the Sherberts; the couple who replaced the Taylors. They mentioned how much they both enjoyed staying in our beautiful flat while the Taylors were getting ready to leave. I explained that it was thanks to the Banister’s decision to emigrate to Canada that we ended up with all the nice furniture, curtains and pictures. Brother S. said he also returned from the senior couple’s activity feeling somewhat depressed. Sister S. understood and reassured us that mission assignments are different and it’s not productive to compare ourselves with others.
The Sherburts had had a really bad day and appreciated our visit. Sister S. had been sick. Their cell phone died. Their automatic garage door opener had stopped working. They had just returned from teaching an institute class for one of their instructors. These people are mission veterans. They sent two years teaching English in China and have served two missions in Romania yet they too were rather discouraged. They were told that 48% of the missionaries called to Africa decline the call. But those who come frequently extend or return to serve a second mission here. They were pleased to have us stop by. They said our visit cheered them up. We invited them to join us for dinner and movie night in Cleary Branch on Friday evening.
Elder S. just called to check in. He is spending the day driving the Toise’s around to open a bank account and collect the material they need to apply for their PEF loans. Michael wants to be a welder. Charlene wants to be a nurse. Both took the “Planning for Success Class” we taught at Kwa Nobuhle 1st Ward. They have two young daughters and neither are employed. They must have show 100 rand a month to qualify for PEF. Today they have no money for a taxi or train and would have had to walk about 25 miles around P.E. collecting documentation had Tom not decided to drive them around today. Oh well, the longest journey begins with the first step.
I like this quote from Present Hinckley: "It isn't as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. don't worry--I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. if you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. . . if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of his blessings, He will hear our prayers."