Sunday, January 6, 2013

Christmas in Grahamstown

Sunday, Dec. 23rd was another hot day.  We presented our family Christmas Eve program in Sacrament meeting.  Tom rewrote the script to include some prophecies of the Savior’s birth.  Elder Swenson, from Sandy, led the singing. Elder Von Brughan, from Pretoria S.A., played the melody with one hand. (Our electronic piano only plays certain hymns.)  Rather than the three kings singing solo parts, we used a choir of Wise Men to sing “We Three Kings.”  Then the branch watched a rebroadcast of the First Presidency’s Christmas Program during the second hour.  Both meetings were well attended considering it’s summer break.  

Evening we served meat loaf to our missionaries and Aya who will leave for his mission on February 21st.  Then we each shared a Christmas memory. Tom played the guitar and sang Island songs.  Alan Bamford, a former Anglican, provided information on the service at the Cathedral which we will attend on Christmas Eve.   Alan is a childless widower.  We always usually include him in our activities with the missionaries.

Aya & Masixoli, Brother Alan and our four missionaries.
Monday, Dec. 24th, Christmas Eve  As all the Internet cafes were closed the elders came to our flat to e-mail their families and set up their Christmas day calls.    The smell of turkey made it hard for them to wait so I gave them fruit to tide them over.  Today it rained and  the weather has cooled down.  At 8:00 p.m. we enjoyed the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes with all the trimmings. After dinner we watched a video entitled “Ancient Rome – The Fall of the Roman Empire” which described the rise of Christianity under Constantine.  At 10:30 p.m. we went to Midnight Mass.   After which we discussed the experience.  We enjoyed the Christmas carols and especially liked “the peace” where members greet one another.  The Bishop of Grahamstown came down the aisle to shake our hands and greet us at the end of his sermon.

Tuesday, Dec. 25th, Christmas Day  
I made turkey soup and then Elder Stokoe and I went to the Brookshore Home Retirement Center.  Alan had invited us and our four young elders to join him for Christmas dinner.  We were served sliced beef and ham, potatoes, red beets, salad and milk tarts.  Alan added a sparkling fruit drink and minced pie with cream.  At 2:00 p.m. we returned to our flat so our missionaries could use Vonage and the landline to call home.   

It's Christmas Day and we just had lunch with Alan at Brookshore Home, in the retirement center's dining room. We are now back at the flat with our young missionaries who are excited to be calling home.   At the moment we have Elder Swensen, from Sandy, on Vonage and Elder Khumalo, from South Africa, talking to his family on the land line.  Tom's outside visiting with Edward, our Indian landlord, who owns the local laundry and I'm trying to put together another Smilebox but seem to have forgotten how to do it on this Apple.  We are taking Masixole to East London on Thursday to fly off to his mission.  It's been wall to wall activities since we arrived here.

Wednesday, Dec. 26th There is a lot to do in this branch including reactivation work.  On December 18th we went with Elder Olyabo to visit Sister Bumela Athemkosi and her two young children, ages 3 and 6.  She and her nonmember husband own a hair salon which is open on Sunday so she has not been attending church.  Elder Stokoe promised her that she and her children would be blessed if she started attending regularly.  Elder Stokoe is working on the branch calendar today.  

Being set apart by Elder Fowers & President Bell
Arriving at the Fowers Flat in East London

 We left Grahamstown at 1:00 p.m. to take Masixole to East London to be set apart for his mission.  I asked him to share his conversion story.  He said he began attending church with his friends when he was thirteen. His parents were divorced so he lived with his grandmother and cousins.  The family were all Seventh Day Adventist.  His grandmother was opposed to to him joining the church so he had to wait until he was eighteen to be baptised. 

Sister Nye helped Masixole, Ayabulela and Sivuyile make  muffins to sell at the Grahamstown Art's Festival to pay for their passports and other expenses.  Aya will leave for his mission to Johannesburg February 20th.  Ten members of Masixole's family came to his grandmother's home to say "Good Bye and wish him well.  His mother flew in from Durban to see him off.   We stopped at a local gas station so Masixole could give away his fist Book of Mormon.  One of the attendants had asked Elder Stokoe for religious material. In East London we joined the Fowers and Stums for dinner and then we drove Masixole to the Stake Centre to be set apart.

Two other young men were there to be set apart for missions.  All were going to Uganda.  A fourth elder arrived while we were there to pick up his mission call.  He has been called to Uganda as well.  Early the next morning these three flew off to the Missionary Training Center in Johannesburg.  

It is such a privilege to support Masixole and these young men.   We enjoyed representing his family.  What a great blessing these dedicated young African Elders are to the church. They are leaders of tomorrow.

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