Friday, March 29, 2013

PEF Report & Easter Luncheon

I  finally sent my mid-mission report to the higher ups in Jo Burg-- Brothers Khumbulaini and  Thembikos.  They are paid by the church to administer PEF in Africa and often get complaints during our conference calls.   Since they seem defensive when anything negative is brought up, I've been reluctant to share.

When Elder S. and I were replaced as the full time member service missionaries in Grahamstown, I told president about my issues with PEF.  President Wood is our spiritual leader and our bishop.   He asked if I had shared these feelings with our administrators as they are the ones who would need to released us in order to accept a different assignment.  
When I said, "No,"  President gave me this advise:  "Have a firm grip on the obvious.  Make the obvious clear."  

An e-mail came in reply today:  "This is a wonderful report and much, much appreciated.  You have done all in your power to fulfil your assignment.  You deserve the best. . .  We are so blessed to have such a positive couple missionary.  You have seen a good where many see bad, and for that you have won my heart.  You hardly complained about your challenges, you just kept on working. . . "   

 Thembinkosi called Tom yesterday to ask how he could be of help,   "It's not you it's the students," Tom replied.    Other PEF couples seem to be having similar problems.  Recently we got this from the Alan's, the PEF couple in Durban:
Response to the Alan's e-mail
"Great thoughts from Elder and Sister Allen."

Khumbulani Mdletshe (Director in Johannesburg)
On 25 Mar 2013, at 11:25 AM, "Elder and Sister Allen" sent this e-mail to all the PEF couples:
Dear Brothers & Sisters: 
The attached graphic from a recent Durban newspaper demonstrates some of what we try to teach our PEF hopefuls --- "personal responsibility", "take the initiative" and "follow-through".   We don't know what words are better to use in Africa.   Frustrating to us that we can't get more prompt personal action from all too many who have had the PEF orientation and must work toward completing a PFS Workshop, obtaining the Priesthood Interviews, and especially in completing an online application.

The graphic shows clearly that even if a job applicant passes initial screening, if they don't "make it to the interview",  or if they "neglect to take necessary documentation", they will never get hired, or, in our case, never get the PEF loan.

In our experience we are trying harder in the personal contacts to give emphasis to "you have to act on your own, to succeed", for we can only chart the path, not walk it for you.

Cheers to all,
Elder & Sister Allen

We are spending most of the time with our young missionaries and will host an Easter luncheon tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. after we do flat inspection as transferrs are on Wednesday.  We will all watch "Jospeh and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," on DVD.
These are the elders that we are responsible for here in P.E.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mail from home, Service & PEF Work

I've spent the last two days going through all the mail that Dean sent in an effort to collect information in order to file our taxes.  It was fun seeing all the Christmas cards and reading some holiday letters.  We learned that Leo's son Landon and wife have two children now-- a boy named Dax and a girl named Koya.   I got the new drivers license and everything I need to file.   Curtis Rasmussen, our tax man, told me to save all receipts while on the mission which I did.  Including all those for food and clothing.  It was hard going through all of that.  I got so confused I had to called him. Curtis suggested that I add  everything up but not include any of our day to day expenses like food or clothing.    We sent this off today.  I hope it will arrive before the deadline.  I discovered that we have seen more than twenty movies and that I've read more than 50 books including African fiction, biographies and some historical and political publications about Africa. 

Tom's been busy with two service projects.  He spent most of the day on Monday with Michael Toise driving him around to get his verifications for a welding program.  Hopefully PEF will approve this one. They denied his application for a driving program and for and for a different welding school because it was not certified.   Sister Toise starts her nursing program in April.  She called today because they claimed they have not received her tuition which PEF paid on February 28th.   There are so many problems in S.A. related to education including getting students into programs and getting these programs paid for.  I can see why they need a senior couple here even though we are not very busy with this work. 

Yesterday Elder Moangare was here most of the day trying to get his online application to BYU-Hawaii filed.   He is the elder with the beautiful singing voice.  I want him to play Joseph.  But there is a huge problem, Elder Moangare is from the Gilbert Island, where the official language is kiribati.   English is his second language.  He's only used it since he came on his mission.  He does not speak or write English well.   Tom had to help him with the "Why I want to go to BYU Hawaii essay."  

I asked if he knew, "Close Every Door to Me" and he asked if it is in the LDS hymn book.  I told him that the song was from "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat."   He had never heard of that musical.   So Tom brought up a clip on the Internet of Donny Osmond singing that song and Elder Moangare sang along with Donny.  He would make an awesome Joseph.  The Africans would love him if he could just speak more clearly.  He will need a lot of coaching--both speaking and acting.  Dean has just sent nine "Joseph" scripts that we had stored in the garage.  Tom used them in his 2010 Mountain Ridge production.   Tom insists that he isn't going to direct the musical but seems to be more interested in the mail that usual.   He's volunteered to do a play at a local public high school in Motherwell but has yet to hear from the principal. 

Tom paid for Elder Moangare's application to BYU-Hawaii but the elder has other problems.  ie:  How to raise the air fare from the Gilbert Islands to Oahu, and how to cover his expenses until he gets a job and settled in a flat on Oahu. (PEF only pays for books and tuition.) Elder Moangre has a May release date.  He wants to start school in Hawaii this September.    Elder Slabbert, from S.A. is looking forward to getting the sheet music for "Joseph" so he can practice the songs.  He said at least we could use the music to entertain the patients at the Lorraine Care Center sometime.  See photo below. 

 I bought a guitar for Tom and he has been putting it to good use lately.  Tom has composed two songs about Samoa.  He is playing it even as I write.  We have had no success in finding a left handed golf clubs so have not been back to the Walmer Wood's driving rang. 

We went for a walk this morning and once again ran into Jo whose husband has the same type of cancer that Ron recovered from.   However his is much more serious as the man has a large growth along his aorta between his thorax and spine.  The only thing they can do is chemo. Jo is a deeply religious woman.  She worries about her husband.  He is a lapsed Anglican.    Jo comes to the park every day to meditate and to pray for his recovery.  She and I have had several gospel discussions.  Today I told her that I would bring some religious material for her when we come tomorrow.  Alan Balmford invited our neighbours, Peter and Cheryl Clarks, to come to church with us.  However, I have not followed up because have been out in the bush all month promoting PEF.  Perhaps I'll invite them to join us on Easter Sunday.  Tonight I'm teaching an institute class for some Nelson Mendela University students.  We will review Chapter 12.  Friday night Tom will teach the first PEF class in Uitenhage and then he will turn over the class to the newly called teacher.

We had a nice visit with President Kenneth Voskit (a brown from Cleary Ward) on Sunday.  He told us that PEF will soon be focusing on returning missionaries.  Evidently this is what the stake wants us to do starting in June.   This was news to me.  President Voskit also mentioned that there were 47 people who attended the branch in Motherwell last week.  (Up from 18 when the group was organised.)  Concerning PEF we have covered all units in the stake now and have gotten one Planning for Success class up and going.   So we are finished promoting for the year.  We are not going to East London or to Cape Town.  So our main responsibility is to answer calls, process loans and help when needed.  We expect to process about the same number of loans this year as last and that's not many.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


     Driving through the countryside in South Africa is an interesting experience. Whenever we drive from Port Elizabeth to Grahamstown we see monkeys crossing the road in front of us. There have been times when I have braked to avoid running over one and have swerved slightly to avoid one.  Yesterday, I swerved to miss a tortoise crossing the road. On occasion we see a monkey at the roadside looking as if he wants to cross the road. He either darts across the road at full speed or stays still.

     Usually it’s goats that align the road, are standing on it or crossing.  In the townships donkeys roam free but they have learned to keep to the sides of the road.  Here in Grahamstown cows have free range throughout the town and have the right of way.  Drivers pause to let cows cross the streets or slowly drive around or through them.  It’s an interesting experience making way for  cows.  I asked a Xosha African, “Who owns the cows roaming in the township?” He said they belong to certain families.  I asked, “Doesn’t one ever get butchered by someone in the night?”

He said "No. Such a thief would be killed, so it doesn’t happen. The Xosha people have respect for cattle and ownership as do other tribes."

     In the townships there are many dogs, most of them skinny through malnourishment. In fact, most Colored and White Afrikanse families own a dog for protection. Besides a dog, there are iron bars on their windows and iron bars on front and back doors.  The homes of these people are quite fortified.  In a way, it’s almost like the wild west days in America, as depicted by Hollywood movies, where homesteaders break a window in their log cabin to shoot at attacking Indians or bad guys. The gated communities are surrounded by 7-8' brick walls with five strands of electric wire running atop, a warning to intruders: “Stay out, or be electrocuted!”  However, despite these precautions, break-ins are common, usually when the owners are away.

     It’s surprising to me the number of White Afrikaans who go barefoot in the stores and on the streets, especially young kids, teenagers, and even adults.  I have yet to see a single Black African
walk barefoot down town in stores or on streets. You would think it would be the other way round, but this is not the case.

     The African women have wonderful hairdos, many intricate styles, even with teenage girls and younger. I have asked women how long it took to do their hair and answers ranged from two hours to half a day. With little girls it can take longer as they can’t sit still for long and need breaks to run around and play.

     There are African women who are beautifully dressed in bright colored dresses. You see them every day in town, many with head wraps, fabric hats, and headdresses.  Some wear elaborate woven hats with beadwork attached. They are quite striking in appearance.  

     One thing that is picturesque are the uniforms worn by members of African churches. Each church has its own uniform. There is a street in the Grahamstown township called Church Street  because it is aligned with five different churches: Apostolic, Baptist, Methodist, Congregational, and Seven Day Adventist. As I drive along this street on Sundays I see members emerging from their churches wearing their respective church uniform. It’s an attractive sight.

     Women wear long dresses or skirts, blouses and hats. Men wear shirts and ties and some wear coats. Boys and girls wear assorted Sunday best. Despite poverty and living in shacks and small sub standard cubicle houses, efforts to look their best for church are most commendable. The pastor is dressed in a suit; some pastors wear a robe.

     One church, and I’m not sure their denomination, the women wear blue and white dresses with a blue nurses hat.  Another denomination the women wear red dresses with a hat.  There’s one church with women wearing brown skirts, white blouses and assorted hats. There’s also a church where women have a small short cape attached to their uniform somewhat resembling a sailor. These church goers look good and spiffy and are a nice sight to see on the streets on Sundays.  

     South Africa is a very interesting country. I like it here. There’s all kinds of food in the grocery stores, the fruit juices are excellent with many varieties, the bakeries are excellent, and there are several kinds of meat reflecting the different African animals. Of course the animal parks are always worth a visit, and being Port Elizabeth is by the sea, there is ample seafood. The culture is interesting, and just as Ron enjoys driving his UTA bus, I enjoy driving our 2011 Nissan Tida all over the place.  As for our Church, the work goes forward, the young missionaries are very dedicated, and the members of wards and branches are warm and friendly. It’s enjoyable to mingle with them and contribute to the Lord’s work.

Elder S


Friday, March 22, 2013

A day with the Missionaries

Elders Slabbert and Elder Moangare
Today was a good day.  We walked in the park just outside our compound, read chapter 33 from "The Life and Teachings of Jesus. . .", went to Builder's Supply to buy ant traps for the elders and attended  District meeting.  We were also invited to participated in a discussion with Bianca by Elders Slabbert and Elder Strauss.  Then we took Eder Tonge and Elder Moangare to lunch at Spurs, a local restaurant with American Indian decor.  
Elder Moangare spent several months in Grahamstown so asked us about some of the members up there.  He is from the Kiribati, (Gilbert Islands) and hopes to go to  BYU Hawaii after his release from the mission in May.   
After lunch we went to the airport and Tom picked up the elder's mail.  Then we came home and called them to collect it.  The post usually comes on Thursday but since yesterday was a national holiday, it arrived today.  Tom took some of the post over to the Sherberts and they will deliver it in outlying areas.  The Lorraine Elders picked up the post for the missionaries in P.E.  Since the post office workers are on strike, it takes longer for our South African missionaries to get their post.  Teachers have been on strike.  Many schools have been closed.  Some S.A. judges are on strike now even though that's unconstitutional.  Evidently they have not been paid.
Elder Slabbert, Bianca and Elder Strauss

We had an excellent discussion with Bianca.  She asked why Mormons believe that there is three heavens when her Afrikanner church teaches that there is only one?  The elders read several scriptures and explained that if you are more valiant than another it is only fair that you receive a higher reward.  I mentioned that people will find themselves in the place that they are most comfortable with like minded souls.  We will meet with her again tomorrow before the Relief Society Birthday Party.   
Elder Stokoe and I plan to go out to Cleary Branch Sunday to see if there is anyone interested in PEF.  Then we will drive to Uitenhage to meet with Bishop Bray and the youth that indicated an interest in the "planning for success" class.  Eleven signed up when we were there last week.  Five others indicated an interest when we visited Kwamagaxi Ward.  We will see how many actually follow through.
          The P.E. elders are teaching South Africa's official Woman's rugby team, one of which is a member.  The entire team live near the Walmer chapel.  Six came to church last Sunday.  As the team is playing China this weekend none will be in church tomorrow.  The new branch in Motherwell is on fire.  They had six baptisms last Sunday.  
Thandi, Karen and Herman Van Thiel at the Fourie's Party.

We spent yesterday afternoon celebrating national Heritage day among the beautiful  people.   Last night we saw "The African Passion" at the Opera House.  The black who portrayed Christ wore his hair in long dreadlocks.  The costumes were interesting.  Rather than traditional robes, characters wore mid-calf pants and simple tops in brown, orange and red.  Christ's had red pockets.   The choirs were positioned on stairways on each side of the stage.  The production ended with the crucifixion but did not include anything about Christ's resurrection.  Everyone participating in the finale which was the happy clappy music which is popular in black churches here.   This style of worship is called "charismatic" where the congregation claps, sings, shouts hallelujah and sways to the gospel music.    

Heritage Day - March 21st

We are back to normal and I'm feeling better about our assignment in Port Elizabeth.  We went to district meeting on Friday while Jessica cleaned our flat.  We are now sharing her with the Sherberts.  They have been using her every other Friday.  I understand that she also cleans for the  Van Sickles.  Jessica is excellent worker and very fast.  I'm glad the other two couples also use her as she is a single mother and needs the work.

The district leaders conducted the meeting on Friday.  We enjoyed Elder Vernon and Washburn's lesson on prayer.   They are traveling to George today so will be gone for the several days.  We went with them to visit Maria and Phillip Clark last night and enjoyed being with them as we haven't visited with them since we went to Grahamstown.    

Tomorrow is Heritage Day, a national holiday here in South Africa.   The Fouries have invited us to a Braii--a "bring your own meat" affair and a ping pong tournament.  Brother Fourie is proud of the fact that he is the only person to have beaten President Wood in ping pong.  Phillip is very competitive and expects to give Kevin "a run for his money."  I have both the Fourie children in my Institute class. Nicole is close to becoming a professional golfer.   Neil, in his mid twenties, is a beautician and also helps his parents in their law office on site.   A lot of young people  have been invited.

 Elder Washburn mentioned that he golfs on p-day but has not been able to find  a set of left hand golf clubs.  Interesting that we had just been to the Port Elizabeth Golf Club to look for left handed clubs.  Tom says he needs only a left handed driver to practice at the Walmer Wood driving range.   President Nye gave us a set of right handed clubs.

Elder Washburn entertained us with a story about sleep walking and talking.  He has had two concussions because he is a sleep walker and is on  medication.  This has resolved the problem but he had a companion who often talked in his sleep.  Washburn was awake one night when he heard his companion say, "I testify that the church is true.  Now my companion will testify.  (There was a long pause)  Then the elder went on:  "Sorry my companion is sick and cannot testify. " Then he taught the rest of the discussion without awaking.   I mentioned that when our son David was quarterback of his little league team he used to call plays in his sleep.

Elder Strauss and Slabbert invited us to help them with a discussion.  They had a 12:00 noon appointment with a 21 year old woman they were meeting at the church.  (Missionaries cannot teach a single sister without some other adult present.)  Bianca is an attractive  unmarried Afrikanner with a 4 year old daughter.  She lived with her fiancee, an inactive Mormon, and was progressing nicely, until he cheated on her and she moved out.  Bianca is reading the Book of Mormon.  She is a former model.  She has worked in Cape Town and in Miami but does not like the life style.  Her career prevented her from completing high school. She is currently making up the classes while working as a waitress.   Bianca wants to know what God wants her to make of her life.  We met for 1 1/2 hours and have an appointment on  Friday.

On P-day we were at Addo Elephant Park most of the day.  We had lunch and I bought two beautiful statues--one of a warrior and the other of an African marian.  Then sent the off via surface mail. Since there is a postal strike I don't know when they will arrive. No matter, so far everything we've sent has eventually gotten there.  We saw over one hundred elephants at the watering hole.  They arrived in groups of seven or eight led by the matriarch.  They just around while the youngsters bathed and then they wandered off in different directions.  A young male came over to the cement sign next to the road and used it to scratch himself.  It was awesome.  
PEF Students Brad & Stuart Chamberlin with wife Tish & their sister.

Heritage Dinner with Kevin & Gale Fourie and friends

Institute student Nicole Fourie celebrating her 21 birthday

Nicole Fourie & Phillip Clark in Ping Pong Tournament

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March 13, 2013

We are back to "not being very busy and not having anything to write home about."  Today we are without transport.   Tom took  the car in for it's 60,000 mile service check.  It also needs paint on the rear bumper and new break pads.  Elder S. backed into a gate and scraped the bumper.  We will charge all repairs to the fleet card and hope that the church will cover everything.   The car rental fee is $150 a month and includes all the service.  The cost of gas in South Africa is going up. Last month we paid $300 for petro as we were running back and forth between Grahamstown and P.E. covering two assignments.  

We had a very productive day on Sunday in Kwanobuhle 1st and 2nd Wards. Elder S. had both bishops announce that anyone interested in a PEF loan should meet with us at the back of the chapel after Sacrament Meeting.  We were able to talk with a number of students. We met Brother Newaua, P.E. Stake's new high councilmen in charge of PEF, who will teach one planning for success class for these wards as they share the chapel.  

We had our Lorraine missionaries over on Monday night for a spaghetti dinner and for family home evening.  They are both white South Africans. Elder Strauss used to work for a furniture store.  He repaired two of the cabinets we got from the Bannisters which were damaged during transport.  Elder Slabbert is an accomplished pianist. Tom's going to ask you send some sheet music so Slabbert can accompany Elder Moangare when he sings "Close Every Door" from "Joseph" to the patients at the Lorraine Frail Care Center.  Tom told me he would consider directing "Joseph" if he ever had a missionary who could play the lead.  Elder Moangare, from the Gilbert Islands, sang a solo during Zone Conference last week.  He is charismatic, handsome and has a beautiful tenor singing voice.  He would make a great Joseph.   Slabbert is an accomplished pianist. So perhaps Elder S. will change his mind about directing.

Monday was p-day so we went to Kargga Karmma Game reserve and enjoyed watching four white rhinos for about an hour.  Tuesday we drove 203 kilometres to the little shop where I purchased black linen slacks on our way to Cape Town last November.  I bought two pair of linen slacks in lighter colours.  They are much more comfortable than skirts.  We visited "Birds of Eden"  and "Monkey Land" while waiting for some alternations.  I brought a lot of skirts with me but only wear them to Institute or to church meetings.   I would have froze if I had not brought a pair of wool dress slacks to wear last winter.  Of course levi's can only be worn on p-day.   By putting on dress slacks every morning, I look professional.  Sometimes we have to go out shopping or we need to collect the mail or run an errand.  I used to feel guilty about wearing slacks so often until Elder Critchfield quoted from page 12 of the "White Bible" which contains mission rules.  It states that lady missionaries may wear dress slacks.

Sister Sherbert has asked me to teach Institute.   My first class in P.E. is at 7:00 p.m. this evening.    I am trying to go forth with faith, not look back nor covet my neighbours Grahamstown mission assignment.  Thanks for keeping the home fires burning.  Love, Mom


Dean Belov to Diane Stokoe,  E-mail on March 13th - "Back to busy-ness"
The snow is almost all melted. Only a few spots left here and there.  Clearly there is lots to do.  Ron is anxious to get going on lawn projects and we picked up supplies today.  We started on the front lawn.  I could not get our lawn mower working. Ron hit a stump last year and it needs some repair.  It needs the blade to be sharpened as well.  I will take it in for service.  The Ford Explorer has a flat tire. I  found  a nail in the tire and will take it in as well.   We worked  for 4 hours today!

  I just got a phone call from across the street.  Matt  has a problem with 3 scections of fence in the back  yard between the Madsens yard.  He owns a dog and needs it fixed! Looks like it is back to work!  I hope all is well!   Have a great day!  Love , Dean.


Monday, March 11, 2013

A Beautiful Day

Hello Utahns:

     Today has been a beautiful day, a special day, a Sunday of cheerful gospelness - our second day permanently back in Port Elizabeth.  Yesterday, the return day, was a good day too:  We attended the Stake Conference
couples meeting, attended by some 70 couples Black, Brown, and White.  The theme of the occasion was "Harmony in Marriage."  Our stake patriarch and his wife were joint speakers at the podium and their presentation was hilarious.  They shared memories from fifty-five years of marriage.  He was attracted to her beautiful blue eyes.  She was attracted to his red sports car but hated his favourite shirt.  Frieda still has  beautiful eyes.  The sports car is gone but he still has his ugly shirt.  They were married in an Afrikaans ceremony but he did not speak Afrikaans.  Frieda had to poke him in the ribs when it was time to say "Ya."  Bundy still claims he did not know what he agreed to.  Frieda explained that men use half the words that women do.  By the time they get home from work they have used up most of their daily quota of words while women are just getting started.  Celebrate the differences. Enjoy your marriage.  Never to let yur kids get between you and your spouse.   The kids will leave to live their own lives.  Bundy claimed he deserves a metal.  Frieda said she deserves a monument.  

I think this is the most I have smiled and laughed since coming to South Africa.  Fifty-six years of marriage from courtship, marriage, children, work, bishop, stake president, temple president, to stake patriarch it was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining journey through bumps and smooth sailing.  They were wonderful, absolutely great and their recommendations and spiritual counsel was most significant, meaningful, and applicable. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed them.  Next up at the podium was a Black counselor in the Area Presidency, the keynote speaker, who further elaborated on harmony in the marriage.  We were well nourished spiritually and temporally and it was enjoyable being among many couples we knew from throughout the stake - a reunion in a way after a three month absence in Grahamstown.  The meeting concluded with this comment by the stake president: "Brothers and Sisters, we have refreshments in the cultural hall, and brethren, inasmuch as we have been counseled to respect, love and honor our wives, all the men are to serve the wives."

     Well, as soon as the word Amen was pronounced people stood and mingled greeting one another, smiling and laughing cheerfully, some standing, lingering while others headed for the refreshments.  Sister S. and I were among the greeters and lingerers.  As we went through the door into the cultural hall there was a line of people on each side of the serving tables getting food buffet style.  And would you believe it?  They were all women and they were piling up their plates like Polynesians - mini mountains of food!  The men didn't have a chance to serve the women.  The women helped themselves so much that 1/3rd of all present got no food - the women hogged it all.  At least we got a drink.  
Sister S. and I smiled at each other and said, "This is Africa."

    So today, Sunday, was a neat day.  I got up at 3 am and updated my PEF handouts for teachers, students, and bishops.  This would be a day to go to Kwanobuchle 1st and 2nd wards and solicit potential students for the PEF program.  It would be a day out in the boonies some 40 miles away.  1st ward at  9 am, 2nd ward at 11 am and both shared the same building.  I was running late and we left home after 8:30 am.  I said to Sister S., "I hope today they start on Africa time or we will be late."  Thank goodness they did. We arrived, the bishop was at the door ready to go up and start the meeting. I gave him my announcement for all interested in a PEF loan for school meet Elder and Sister Stokoe at the back of the chapel after sacrament meeting.  After the meeting some college age students came to us and eleven indicated interest.  We got their names, phone number and email addresses. Then we gave orientation to a young woman desirous of attending flight attendant school and we gave PEF orientation to the new stake PEF director.

     Next, we went to the 2nd ward sacrament meeting that had already started.  It was fast and testimony day.  Sister S. went to the front and gave the bishop the paper with my announcement asking those interested in a PEF loan to meet with us at the back of the chapel after sacrament meeting.  The bishop would announce it before the closing prayer.  Now this is where I was most spiritually touched and moved:  The teenage boys in this ward rotated up to the choir seats - 16 boys - with no less than 8 sitting in the choir seats at any given time, to bear their testimonies.  As they rotated one after another to the podium, the majority smiling, speaking in both English and Xosa, I couldn't help but think what a terrific potential band of missionaries.  You could feel the goodness emanating from them, the gospel spirit, the meaningfulness of the gospel to them.  I was so impressed and deeply moved that those moments of 16 boys bearing their testimonies was the spiritual highlight of my day. Afterward, three college age students came to us interested in PEF and we got their names and phone numbers.  Fourteen total for the day.  Now the next step and question is -- will they all show up for the required Planning for Success Workshop?  We'll find out in three weeks when it begins.

    One more thing we did yesterday.  We went with 2 of our missionaries to our garden at the Old Folks Frail Center, did some gardening and picked some vegetables.  Then we went into a large room or hall where some 20 plus old folks or patients were sitting.  These folks are handicapped either physically, mentally, or both.  The ages vary from the thirties to the nineties.  Elder Slabbert is an excellent pianist and brought some music to play on the piano to entertain them.  I entered the room, shook the hands of 3 patients near me and sat down.  Elder Slabbert prepared to play the piano.  The scriptures talk of Christ-like love.  I was about to see Christ-like love truly and honestly shown.  Elder Strauss, with the love of Christ smiling on his warm, radiant and friendly young face, went around the room, shook hands, greeted, conversed, and embraced every single patient in the room - the gnarled bodies, the disfigured faces, the eyeless, the limbless, the deformed, bent and crooked-broken bodies, the withered and shrunken - he hugged them all, he loved them all, he was truly an angel of Christ-like love.  Elder Slabbert played music; Sister S. danced with a female patient who wanted to dance.  I marvelled at the music, the Christ-like love of Elder Strauss, and my dear wife cheering up a patient. It was a beautiful day and today is a beautiful day.  The question is:  What can I do to contribute to a beautiful day tomorrow.

With much aloha,
Elder Stokoe


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March 6th Update


Came to P.E. at request of Pres. Wood for dinner with the other two other senior couples  on Saturday evening.  We enjoyed Stake Conference and being back with our missionaries. We returned to Grahamstown on Monday close up the flat and to collect Alan.  We took Kahya, 1st counsellor, to the bike shop and bought a tire and inner tube for his bike.  He's been walking miles every day to get to his job as church gardner and gardner for our landlady.   Could not afford the R200. It would have taken him over a week to earn that much.  With the all black presidency a full time senior couple is badly needed in Grahamstown.  

Tuesday we helped the other senior couples with dinner for Zone Conference.  Today we visited a Jewish Private School and picked up our tickets to Aida.  Will see the play tonight at 7:30.  Tomorrow Alan is taking us on a tour of P.E. with the Sherberts.  Then we will return to Grahamstown on Friday for Institute.  Pres Wood wants us at Sacramenty meeting in  Grahamstown on Sunday. 

Alan loves our P.E. flat and enjoys being here.  He went shopping today and bought 10 new DVD's.  I just watched a very strange 2012 version of Wuthering Heights with a black man playing Heath Cliff.  He has a collection of over 600.  Looks like beginning next week we will be back to having lots of free as Elder S. has processed all renewals and there is little else to do.  We saw the workshop teacher from Cleary at Conference and asked if he had done another class.  He said he tried to get one going "but they all ran away."

I sent a box of my favorite fiction books on Africa to Corinne in January via surface mail which takes about 3 months so she should be getting them soon.  The tax information Dean sent air mail arrived in 16 days.  I just helped Brother Alan send an e-mail the Nyes.   As he does not have Internet this is his first experience with e-mail.  He gave me permission to share this with you and post it.  Love and Blessings, Sister S.  

On 06 Mar 2013, at 4:11 PM, Alan Bamford wrote to the former Branch President & wife:

Dear Carl and Louise

I'm in P E staying with the Stokoe's. Thank you for your 2nd letter sent shortly after your return home. I'll reply in detail later. It was a wonderful letter and I was so pleased to be in line for a letter so soon. My life has turned around since you left. Zukani Budaza begged to be EQP, but I refused. Then he begged me to be Teacher in P/H, I agreed. So I'm staying the full three hours Sundays and teaching President Snow. 
In Sunday School, Tesh is teaching D&C and I'm glad to be there as well. I've joined Sister Stokoe's Institute Class Friday afternoons.  It's "The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles." I've had the manual for years. So it's about time I studied it. I suppose you know that Zukani was called as Branch President by President Wood at the end of January. 1st Counselor is Khaya Ketani and 2nd Counselor is Solomon Johnson. 
I'm told that EQP is still Lindile Budaza, whom I visited in prison for the 2nd time with Elder Stokoe and the Branch Presidency a few weeks ago. He's just the same as when you and us visited him late last year. Ten days ago the Stokoe's were advised by Pres Wood's secretary that their time is G'town was over. They were not present last Sunday, so I prepared a farewell appreciation and read it to the members from the pulpit after sacrament. They all signed it. 
The Stokoe's had me join with the missionaries every Sunday night at their flat for dinner. When they weren't there, I had the missionaries to dinner in my flat. Elder Swenson was transferred to Cape Town and Elder  Olyabo to Uitenhage. We  still have Elder Khumalo and three new ones. This is my 3rd trip to PE with the Stokoes. I took them on a short tour of PE on the 1st. 
I accompanied them to Zone Conference on the 2nd trip. Pres & Sis Wood were  gracious hosts. He spoke about The House of Israel. Yesterday (during this 3rd trip to P E) I attended my 2nd Zone Conference. Pres Wood spoke on the Apostasy and Sis Wood on the First Vision. There were 32 missionaries present yesterday including Elders Khani, Moangare, Mahoney, Mapivire and Olyabo. They were all pleased to see me. I bore my testimony about the Restoration in NY, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois, as we all did. Several including the Woods thanked me. 
I'm taking the Stokoe's on their 2nd tour of P E tomorrow. We're going to have lunch at my Club. Tonight we're going to see a performance of AIDA at Theodor Herzl High School. We visited there this morning. It is a small Jewish School with only 300 students  from Pre-Primary to Matric. Most of the students are Christian. The Stokoe's have been up and down from Grahamstown twice and sometimes thrice weekly. They have infinite patience. 
I've been helping them look after the missionaries including flat inspections, repairs and meals! I'm enjoying the break in P E, It is 35 degrees in G'town today. Glad I'm not there. Don't forget to try to contact Rex Ball, the architect, in Tulsa. I took him on a tour of Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg in 2003. He was in S A for the Congress of the Art Deco Society. He stayed at my club in Johannesburg - The Country Club. I'll have to get Sister Stokoe to print this e-mail for me so that I have a record of what I've told you. 
Thank you again for your friendship that means a lot to me. I miss your efficiency at the Chapel. It doesn't get properly cleaned Saturdays. Pres Budaza is struggling. The next couple, the Chase's, arrived in Cape Town last Saturday and will be driving to East London for the Zone Conference Friday 8  March and will be occupying your flat on Saturday 9 March. Pres Wood has instructed the Stokoe's to be there on Sunday to introduce them. They've cleaned your flat ready for them. The Stokoe's are taking me home Friday and coming back to P E. Then they have drive up again Sunday and back again. No more now. THanks for the photos of your families that you sent me. They are awesome. I love all the photos you gave me during your stay. I miss you both and wish you everything of the best. How did your report backs to 12 stakes go? 
I hope you persuaded lots of couples to consider becoming Senior Couple Missionaries. We heard yesterday that there are to be 58 new missions worldwide. From 1 July, Cape Town will be losing Namibia to the Botswana Mission. Pres Wood said we'll see more of him. I've offered the Woods a tour of G'town on a Fri or a Mon. He said he's interested, Your friend, Alan.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Thanks from Grahamstown Branch

Saturday, 02 March 2013

Dear Elder and Sister Stokoe,

We, the missionaries assigned to the Grahamstown Branch in the Cape Town, South Africa Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, are sad that you have been transferred.  We, Elders Khumalo and Von Brughan, arrived at the same time as you did in December and we, Eders Myende and Cobabe, arrived only eleven days ago.

However, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks for your kindness towards us.  You have acted in loco parentis, which we appreciate greatly.  You have helped to keep us on our toes and gone out of your way to look after us.

We particularly appreciate the Sunday DA's that you invited us to in your home.  You know that missionaries are always hungry and you succeeded in looking after our inner men in a most generous way.

We enjoyed the outing with you to Sister Audrey Thomas's farm.  Thank you for the meal in town yesterday after our District meeting at the chapel.  lThank you for all the cookies and juices on many occasions that we have met.  We will miss you.  Your sincere brothers in Christ,
Elders Myemde, Von Brughan, Khumalo and Cobabe


Elder & Sister Stokoe,

In your absence today, we acknowledge your devoted and humble service to us as or Senior Couple during the interregnum between the departure of Branch President & Sister Nye on Sunday 2 Dec- ember, the calling and setting apart of Zukani Budaza as Branch resident by President Wood on Sunday 27 January and during February, while watching over the settling-in period of the new Branch Presidency.

You have been generous with your time and your spiritual and temporal gifts.  We have got to know and love you in the three months that you have spent with us and we are going to miss you a great deal.

It would be impossible to remember everything you have done for us.  But, in particular, we recall the excellent Christmas programme prepared by Elder Stokoe on Sunday 23 December, the lovely talk on "Children of Light in Africa" by Sister Stokoe on Sunday 30 December, the valuable talk to priesthood brethren on Ordinances necessary for Salvation by Elder Stokoe on Sunday 3 February and by Sister Stokoe's acting as greeter to all comers at Sacrament meetings.

We recollect with gratitude your regular attendance on Tuesday nights at Branch Presidency and Branch Council meetings, on Friday mornings at Missionary District meetings, on Friday afternoons when Sister Stokoe taught Institute, on Friday nights at Missionary Correlation meetings and on Saturdays when you arranged and attended activities for members.

We note the many acts of service you gave to the chapel, the members and the missionaries.  Most of these were of the small and simple things that President Boyce, 1st Counsellor in the Mission Presidency, spoke about in Sacrlament meeting last Sunday.  We are so grateful to you for all of these.

Signed on the 3rd day of March, 2013 by the following members of the Branch:  Claudia Sheiff,
Tesh (Thembakazi Kabane) center between two friends

Remie & Soloman Johnson

Alan P. Bamford

Bulewa Kewuti, Wendy Kewuti, Amanda Ntlanjen & Sister Kewuti

Zukani Budaza, Khaya Ketani, Dumisani Payi, Claudia Sheiff, Aviwe Petsha, Christebella Mhonda, Ndemogbe Juana,  Remie V. Johnson, Solomon N. Johnson,  Bulewa Kewuti, Sheilla Valindly, Amanda Ntlanjeni, Siphokazi Nontyi, Malibongwe Mbelu, Thembinkosi Nontyi, Wendy Kewuti, Vuyisekamagadla, Elder Sabelo Kahumalo, Elder David Cobabe, Elder Nhlakanipho Myende, Elder Sabastian Von Brughan, Alan P. Bamford.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Motherwell Group is Growing Fast

A Group in Motherwell Township was approved by the Area Presidency in December, 2012.  Four missionaries were then assigned.  Since then the attendance at Group has risen from 19 to 35 in a few weeks.  The two articles from the February 18th issue of The Herald were revealing:

"E Cape Churches brought to knees by bitter feuds," article by Hendrick Mphande. 

Christian churches in the Eastern Cape have fallen prey to in-fighting which has prompted clergy, theology academics and congregants to speak out, believers to question and ”God to run for cover.”

Local ministers fear that the recent spate of incidents—some of which have resulted in messy court battles—will not only tarnish the image of the Christian church it will also negatively affect the good work they do in communities.

The Presbyterian Church of Africa in Motherwell is embroiled in a legal wrangle over control of the church. . . . trivial issues have also brought church groups to their knees.  These include which song to sing on Sundays; the redesign of the church building; that the music is too loud; and that heads should be covered when entering the church. . .

“If churches are involved in internal squabbles, it is a bad example to society.”  It’s time to stop the rot say Bay’s leading clerics. . .  Finca, who is also national commissioner of the Electoral Commission of South Africa, said internal divisions are permeating all mainstream and Pentecostal churches.

Margaret Meek of Port Elizabeth is a believer, but not a church-goer.  She said part of the reason why she did not attend church was due to petty in-fighting.

 “Personally, I don’t think God cares whether we are Protestants or Catholics, Anglicans or Presbyterians, charismatic or mainstream.  The problem is when people put themselves and their own egos above God and doing His work;  that’s when the fighting starts.  It must make him want to run for cover.”

 “Unholy dispute” 

THE legal wrangle over the control and name of the Motherwell Presbyterian Church of Africa is among a recent string of church feuds to hit media headlines.  The Motherwell church has been embroiled in a six-year legal battle over control of the church.

One faction, led by its moderator Reverend George Mokabo, approached the high court in Bloemfontein last November and appealed against an order compelling them to carry the cost of an earlier application brought against the opposing faction led by Reverend Amos Mongezi Mpulu.

The Port Elizabeth church split into two groups in 2009, each with its own bishop.  In a series of drawn-out court battles, the two factions were fighting to be recognized as the “real” Motherwell Presbyterian Church of Africa. At Mthatha High Court late last month.  The case was postponed until February 28 to give the parties time to settle the matter out of court.

This week, bishop Mziwethu Vakala who runs a Presbyterian church in Kwazahele and supports the Mokabo camp, said it was deplorable that the two factions had dragged each other to court to settle an internal dispute.  Mpulu is not the moderator of the church.  He and his faction are in contempt of court order which barred them from using the name of the church.”

Vakala, who is also the secretary of the Mokabo camp, said they had seven churches in their cluster, while the Mpulu camp had only three.

The church’s troubles came to a head in July 2011, when Mpulu’s faction was granted an interdict by Judge Judith Robertson in Grahamstown to stop the other faction from claiming they were the real Presbyterian Church of Africa, holding meetings and collecting money.  At the time, former moderator Mzukisi Faleni of the Mokabo faction “excommunicated” Mpulu from the church.  The stand-off resulted in police being summoned to the Motherwell church when a riot ensued and Faleni was arrested for congravening a court order.

Earlier this month, the Trinity Methodist Church in Graaf-Reinet was embroiled in controversy, following allegations of missing tithes amounting to R75,000, which has split worshipers.

President Neku said in Stake Conference yesterday that 600 new members are needed to divide P.E. Stake.  President Wood asked Elder Stokoe and I at dinner Saturday evening to attend and support the Group there as often as possible.

In review:   We stopped at the Stake Centre to pick up a copy of Evan Wright's 2nd book from the family history library mid February.  Sister Ek had given us with keys and the security code for the building.  There had been a huge thunder storm and the electronic gate would only open about four feet ad did not close.  Then Tom accidently set off the building’s security alarm and an armed guard arrived.  We explained the problem and he stayed with us while we waited for the gate repairman.  Christopher Zondani asked a lot of questions about our the Mormon Church.  

He lives in Motherwell and is not happy with the church he attends. Zondani said all they do is “fight and argue."  Tom responded, "Mine house is a house of order" saith the Lord and told him about Mormonism.  Christopher was interested.   Elder S. took a referral and I gave him a pass along card.  Since Brother Filifili had just been called to lead a group (Motherwell is too small for branch status) and we have missionaries in that township, we gave them the referral. 

Elder De Cardalha called to thank us for the referral and to report that it had born fruit.   Elder Itina, called back a few days later to report that the Zondani's were attending Motherwell Group.