Today we are preparing lunches for Zone Conference on Friday and Saturday. We will serve our P.E. Elders today at 12:30. Tomorrow we will serve the elders from the Kwanobuhle region at 11:30. I've made three carrot cakes and have potatoes in the oven. Sister Sherbert is preparing the main courses. These conferences include interviews, instruction from President Wood, training and testimonies. The subject of the last conference was the Gathering of Israel. President Wood provided a brief history of the "House of Israel" and talked about the ancient prophecies that relates to the gathering. He explained that the fulfilment of prophecy included the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.; the dedication of Jerusalem by Orson Hyde in October, 1841 and creation of the state of Israel by the U.N. in 1947. Our President asked elders which tribe they were from and noted that their mission is in fulfilment of prophecy. Alan Balmford was with us and was so impressed that he sent this information to his friend, a retired Anglican minister. When he later asked what the man thought he replied, "I never read that kind of stuff." Too bad. He could have learned something.
Tom has been rehearsing "Close Every Door to Me" with Elders Slabbert and Moangare. This song is appropriate as it reminds the elders who they really are and what God has promised: no matter what happens in their lives, God is always with them. Tom told Moangare to sing as if he really were Joseph languishing in an Egyptian jail. "Otherwise you will not get a land of your own," I said, "and will have to live on an Island." Elder Vernon is also going home in May so Tom will join Elder Moangare in a duet and sing "Aloha Oi."
|Elder Vernon, President Wood and Elder Montgary|
|Serving Lunch at Zone Conference|
They were practicing during my institute class on Wednesday night, so I invited them to come in and sing Aloha Oi as a closing song. Only Neil Fourie, Nozuko Swap and Deng Galuak attending but we had a great discussion. The lesson was on the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. "Sometime in life everyone experiences loss which is why the gospel is so important. It helps us to get back on track. We are here to overcome our weakness and share our strengths, thereby becoming a light to someone else who is lost. Everyone really opened up. We shared our favourite conference talk and I explained that our general authorities provide a moral compass to the world as well as to every individual.
Each student shared his or her favourite talk and I learned a lot about each of them. Neil shared his trials with same sex attraction. Nozuko discussed her trails as a single mother and an engineering student. She liked especially liked Elder Bedner's talk on chastity. Although man Xhosa women are content to live off the dole, Nozuko's family value education so it is very important to her.
Deng is from South Sedan and plans to return when he graduates at the end of the school year. Even though he is the only member of the church in his homeland. A friend suggested that he stay and work in P.E. where he has support from other ward members but Deng wants to help his country. It will be difficult but he can become a light to those in South Sedan.
We were in Kwano Tuesday evening. All our PEF students were in attendance except the one who borrowed 30 Rand last week. With all our work shops are coming to an end we have almost finished the work here in P.E. Tom got a nice e-mail from Tim Mbkosi, our PEF administrator in Jo burg saying: "It's not your fault that the youth here do not apply. You can give a donkey a carrot but you can't shove it down his throat." Tom will teach his last PEF workshop in Utinhague tonight. Five will receive certificates of completion which is the best showing that we have had for some time.
Tomorrow we will host another luncheon with the Sherberts for the Kwano Elders. Mexican fehitas are on the menu. President Neko invited the three senior missionaries here to attend disciplinary proceedings over the past three weeks so Tom's had an official stake calling. We are attending church in Motherwell this Sunday. Perhaps we can do something to help that group since next Tuesday will have done everything we can with PEF in the Port Elizabeth Stake.
P.S. President Wood talked to our stake president and reported that we are going to be assigned to assist the group leader in Motherwell. Now that our PEF responsibilities are coming to an end here, it will be good to have something more productive to do.