Monday, May 20, 2013

May 15 - 19 - Missionary Transfers and Meetings in P.E.

Transfers were on Wednesday.  Elder Zarbock, Assistant to the President, has come to replaced Elder Vernon who went home (Park City.)  Moangare is back in Kiribisi.  Zarbock is a fire ball.  He has red air and a firm grip on gospel principles.  We ran into his aunt at Cottonwood Hospital while getting our physical exams there.  She said her nephew was here in S.A. and asked us to say “Hello” when we came across him.   Zarbock conducted the district meeting on Friday.  He is an excellent teacher. 

The training was on how to do Companionship Inventories.  We role played with our companion and discussed goals; strengths; pet peeves and  communication.  This activity was very helpful, even for us.  It will certainly bless the lives of these young elders when they get married.   I think Zarbock was rather surprised to see Elder S. and I at district meeting.  Most senior missionaries don’t attend these meetings but we love being taught by these energetic, enthusiastic young Elders. 

All four of our P.E. elders were standing in the foyer greeting people when we arrived for Sacrament Meeting yesterday.  Phillip Clark was standing there as well.   “I’m showing up,” he said as we walked into the chapel.  We will visit the Clarks this evening.    I’ve finished reading The Triumph of Zion  Our personal Quest for the New Jerusalem so will share it with Phillip as he likes to read.

Neil Fourie,  who was re-baptised last week, gave a very touching and frank talk about overcoming the challenge of same sex attraction.  He  thanked his family for standing by him and the ward for not judging.  Phillip’s response to me,“ Neil was very brave to share all that. “ Kevin Fourie is the 1st counselor to the bishopric.  Gayle runs the Family History library.  Sister Eck, Neil’s grandmother, has been so kind to us since we arrived.   “We all have our problems,” I responded to Brother Clark.     The black family including Sheila, Simpiwe and their three kids were also there.  Simpiwe had the day off from his job as a cook at the hospital so he could bring his family to church.  It's good that the bus strike is finally over.

The Stake Meeting  Thursday night (May 16) with the other two senior couples, President Parker and Elders Van Tiel & Leminie and really helped sort out some of the issues I’ve been concerned about since we arrived.  Specifically the matter of helping our students to get a driver’s license in order to get a job.  Because of corruption in the government driving schools, PEF will no longer pay for returned missionaries to get licenses.  Most blacks have never driven a car and usually need a lot of practice.   Sometimes failing their practical test is a legitimate outcome.  However,  many examiner will fail a student so they will have to re-take the test, thus generating more money for the company.   Some accept bribes. 

We asked the stake leaders what to do about this problem as our people need a drivers licenses to get a job.  Elder Van Sickle suggested that the stake or some well healed member might consider opening our own school.  President Parker and Brother Van Tiel will discuss this with in High Council as they co-ordinate with ward leaders.  They hope to resolve a disconnect that has existed by improved training on PEF and welfare services.  This is a big change from what we experienced as we met with the stake leadership in March, 2012.

Meanwhile, in Lorraine Ward, Janette’s boyfirnd, Hanius, has been called to be the first counselor in the bishopric.  Hanius was baptized in October, 2012 and made the Sunday superintendent on the day he was confirmed.  Janette was called to be Relief Society President three months after she was baptised.   Both are white Afrikanners and will likely marry sometime soon.  

Although there is over 15,000 Christian churches in P.E. it’s rather hard to get an Africanner interested in the gospel.  Elder Stokoe and I are continuing with our "Park Ministry." We always share our beliefs with people we meet while out walking each morning.     We see David Pitt several times each week in the park as he walks his two dogs.   David is a Catholic and attends mass every Saturday evening but he is curious about our church.   We used to run into his wife walking the dogs before she died in March.   He is lonely and having a hard time now.  David needs friends.
A walk in the Park

Leaving our compound for the park at the end of our street

Morning sun coming up over the trees in the park.

Our Elder Swacina, who was just transferred, was a life long Catholic until he walked into a Mormon Church in his neighborhood a few years back.  He said he was “a hard case“ as it took 18 missionaries to get him into the waters of baptism.   Elder Swacina is the only member of his family who joined the church.  His parents are divorced.  He talked to his mother, who lives in Australia, on Mother’s Day and thinks she might be investigating as she told him she was doing family history.  Elder Swacina’s  father in none too pleased about his son's choice to become a Mormon and serve a mission.   He remains a devout Catholic.

This sums up what’s been  happening in the P.E. Wards.  Meanwhile our Motherwell Group continues to grow.  We could not have a baptismal service last Saturday as a young twenty-year-old man had been stabbed and they were holding his funeral in the Kwanaxaki Ward building.    However Elder Stokoe was able to meet with two people interested in PEF before the service started.  Funerals in S.A. are big in last for hours.   So many people attended that there was no parking to be found.   Some roads were blocked off as those who could not find a parking place who just abandoned their cars.  Elder Stokoe had to drive all the way out to Motherwell in order to get home.

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