Monday, April 29, 2013

Ward Conference

As Motherwell is part of Kwamagxahi Ward the church paid to transport all the members of our group to the beautiful Kwamagxahi chapel for ward conference yesterday.  It's pretty exciting to see black Africans assuming leadership responsibilities here.  This makes sense as most of our new converts are from the townships.  Blacks and coloureds now make up the church membership in all the outlying wards and branches. P.E. and Lorraine Wards are still mostly white although both have a few black members like two of my institute students, Dent and Nozubko, who attend Nelson Mandela University.   It is interesting to look up at the new stake presidency as they sit on the stand and see a black, a brown and President Parker, a white.  President Neko is the first black to serve as president of Port Elizabeth Stake  And it was exciting to be in Grahamstown when the first all black branch presidency was called to serve in January. 

The theme for our ward conference was "keeping the commandments."  Bishop Khanya Nqisha,  a handsome, highly educated and well spoken young black, talked about returning from his mission with a plan to attend school for three years before getting married.  Then he met his wife.  As he wanted to remain chase and not be tempted beyond his ability to resist, he proposed.  She accepted his proposal even though he was a poor struggling student.  Bishop Nqisha testified that by keeping the commandments things always work out.  

President Neko identified three commandments he wanted the people of Port Elizabeth stake to work on--pay your tithing, observe the word or wisdom and live the law of chastity.  These are difficult commandments for Africans as they run contrary to common practice here.  Many people are poor, uneducated and often unemployed.  The tradition in the black township is to drink,  fornicate and live off the government dole.  Rape, crime and teen pregnancy is rampant.  Unwed mothers get 250 Rand per child month per month.  Marriage is uncommon.  Many youth and even older couples simply live together.  Those who join the church have access to wholesome activities such as seminary and institute.  They are taught gospel standards and are supported by loving leaders.  Many young blacks are now serving missions.  There are over 20 serving from Kwanoble Ward in countries all over Africa.  Married couples are encouraged to go to the temple.  A temple trip to Johannesburg costs for 800 Rand per person.   Every ward and branch in the stake has a temple trip scheduled.  President Neko promised the saints here that if they kept the commandments they will be happy and prosperous and generations yet to come will be blessed. 

I was one of two white women in attendance and was called upon to give the opening prayer in the Sunday School class.   The lesson was on temple work.  One women shared a remarkable experience she had while doing work for a woman born in the 1800's.   The life of the woman flashed before her and she saw her as a baby, a youth, as a bride and then as an old woman.  The ordinance worker saw everything that she saw as well.  The stake relief society president gave an outstanding lesson.  She much be a teacher.  It's always a joy to attend Relief Society in Kwamagxahi Ward. The sisters there have such beautiful singing voices there.  They remind me of the Polynesian Choir.   These sisters also like to hug and kiss like the Polynesians do.  They laugh a lot, have beautiful teeth and are always very warm and friendly.      When we drive through the townships everyone is out walking and visiting.  It reminds Tom of life in Western Samoa fifty years ago.

Friday we collected the Toises from Kwanobule and drove them to P.E.  Charlene needed a hepatitis B shot in order to certify as a nurse and she did not have160 Rand.  Michael and their youngest daughter jumped in and came along.  There was also a problem with Charlene's registration at the school.  The tuition was 3,000 Rand which PEF paid.  Then the school decided they needed another 180 Rand which Tom was prepared to pay himself.  However, Charlene is such a good student and has encouraged others to register, they decided to cancel the outstanding balance.  Charlene is very excited about her program and cannot wait to begin working as a nurse.  However when we took them home they mentioned that the bishop could no longer pay their rent so they would likely be moving. 

After we dropped them off we went to the market and Tom bought them 800 Rand worth of groceries and other staples.  Evidently the ward has exceeded their welfare budget.  As Church Policy is not to give anyone money Tom offered to drive Michael around to look for a welding job as he already has a welding certificate.  However, Michael declined explaining he had to tend their youngest daughter until Charlene completed her nursing program.  Michael has also received a PEF to pay for a 10 day welding certification.  There are often problems that crop up with the various schools so it's essential to have a PEF couple on site to follow through.

The Toises in front of Nursing School doorway

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Institute Class - Let's "Mormonize" Africa

New York Times best-selling author

The Mormonizing of America

This article was the subject of our Institute class last night.   I used it to demonstrate how a few can influence many.   Deng, my engineering student from South Sedan, will return home next year where he will be the only member of the church.   I told him that he can use LDS.Org and other electronic resources to share the gospel with family, co-workers and friends the same way Neil used the Internet to connect with the support he needed.   We are not alone. The last few paragraph in particular are reverent to how Mormonism can help build the new Africa.

There are nearly seven million Mormons in America. This is the number the Mormons themselves use. It's not huge. Seven million is barely 2 percent of the country's population. It is the number of people who subscribe to Better Homes and Gardens magazine. London boasts seven million people. So does San Francisco. It's a million more people than live in the state of Washington; a million less than in the state of Virginia. It's so few, it's the same number as were watching the January 24, 2012, Republican debate.
In fact, worldwide, there are only about fourteen million Mormons. That's fourteen million among a global population just reaching seven billion. Fourteen million is the population of Cairo or Mali or Guatemala. It's approximately the number of people who tune in for the latest hit show on network television every week. Fourteen million Americans ate Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant in 2011. That's how few fourteen million is.
Yet in the first decade or so of the new millennium, some members of the American media discovered the Mormons and began covering them as though the Latter-day Saints had just landed from Mars. It was as though Utah was about to invade the rest of the country. It was all because of politics and pop culture, of course. Mitt Romney and John Huntsman were in pursuit of the White House. Glenn Beck was among the nation's most controversial news commentators. Stephenie Meyer had written the astonishingly popular Twilight series about vampires. Matt Stone and Trey Parker had created the edgy South Park cartoon series--which included a much- discussed episode about Mormons--and then went on to create the blatantly blasphemous and Saint-bashing Broadway play The Book of Mormon. It has become one of the most successful productions in American theater history.
Meanwhile, more than a dozen Mormons sat in the US Congress, among them Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader. Mormons led JetBlue, American Express, Marriott, Novell, Deloitte and Touche, Diebold, and Eastman Kodak. Management guru Stephen Covey made millions telling them how to lead even better. There were Mormons commanding battalions of US troops and Mormons running major US universities. There were so many famous Mormons, in fact, that huge websites were launched just to keep up with it all. Notables ranged from movie stars like Katherine Heigl to professional athletes to country music stars like Gary Allan to reality television contestants and even to serial killers like Glenn Helzer, whose attorney argued that the Saints made him the monster he was. The media graciously reminded the public that Mormon criminals were nothing new, though: Butch Cassidy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fame was also a Mormon, they reported.
Most media coverage treated this "Mormon Moment" as though it was just that: the surprising and unrelated appearance of dozens of Mormons on the national stage--for a moment. More than a few commentators predicted it would all pass quickly. This new Mormon visibility would lead to new scrutiny, they said, and once the nation got reacquainted with tales of "holy underwear" and multiple wives and Jewish Indians and demonized African Americans and a book printed on gold plates buried in upstate New York, it would all go quiet again and stay that way for a generation. In the meantime, reruns of HBO's Big Love and The Learning Channel's Sister Wives would make sure Mormon themes didn't die out completely.
What most commentators did not understand was that their "Mormon Moment" was more than a moment, more than an accident, and more than a matter of pop culture and fame alone. The reality was--and is--that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has reached critical mass. It is not simply that a startling number of Mormons have found their way onto America's flat-screen TVs and so brought visibility to their religion. It is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints has reached sufficient numbers--and has so permeated every level of American society on the strength of its religious value--that prominent politicians, authors, athletes, actors, newscasters, and even murderers are the natural result, in some cases even the intended result. Visible, influential Mormons aren't outliers or exceptions. They are fruit of the organic growth of their religion.
In 1950, there were just over a million Mormons in the world. Most of these were located in the Intermountain West of the United States, a region of almost lunar landscape between the Rocky Mountains to the East and the Cascades and Sierra Nevada Mountains to the West. The religion was still thought of as odd by most Americans. There had been famous Mormons like the occasional US Senator or war hero, but these were few and far between. There had even been a 1940 Hollywood movie entitled Brigham Young that told the story of the Saints' mid-1800s trek from Illinois to the region of the Great Salt Lake. Its producers worked hard to strain out nearly every possible religious theme, a nod to the increasingly secular American public. Though it starred heavyweights like Vincent Price and Tyrone Power, the movie failed miserably, even in Utah. Especially in Utah.
Then, in 1951, a man named David O. McKay became the "First President" of the Latter-day Saints and inaugurated a new era. He was the Colonel Harlan Sanders of Mormonism. He often wore white suits, had an infectious laugh, and under- stood the need to appeal to the world outside the Church. It was refreshing. Most LDS presidents had either been polygamist oddballs or stodgy old men in the eyes of the American public. McKay was more savvy, more media aware. He became so popular that film legend Cecil B. DeMille asked him to consult on the now classic movie The Ten Commandments.
Empowered by his personal popularity and by his sense that an opportune moment had come, McKay began refashioning the Church's image. He also began sharpening its focus. His famous challenge to his followers was, "Every Member a Missionary!" And the faithful got busy. It only helped that Ezra Taft Benson, a future Church president, was serving as the nation's secretary of agriculture under President Eisehower. This brought respectability. It also helped that George Romney was the revered CEO of American Motors Corporation and that he would go on to be the governor of Michigan, a candidate for president of the United States, and finally a member of Richard Nixon's cabinet. This hinted at increasing power. The 1950s were good for Mormons.
Then came the 1960s. Like most religions, the LDS took a beating from the counterculture movement, but by the 1970s they were again on the rise. There was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a symbol of Americana when Americana was under siege. There was Mormon Donny Osmond's smile and Mormon Marie Osmond's everything and the three-year run of network television's Donny and Marie in the late 1970s that made words like family, clean, talented, patriotic, and even cute outshine some of the less-endearing labels laid upon the Saints through the years. New labels joined new symbols. A massive, otherworldly, 160,000-square-foot Temple just north of Washington, DC, was dedicated in the 1970s, a symbol of LDS power and permanence for the nation to behold. Always there was the "Every Member a Missionary!" vision beating in each Saintly heart.
By 1984, the dynamics of LDS growth were so fine-tuned that influential sociologist Rodney Stark made the mind- blowing prediction that the Latter-day Saints would have no fewer than 64 million members and perhaps as many as 267 million by 2080.3 It must have seemed possible in those days. In the following ten years, LDS membership exploded from 4.4 million to 11 million. This may be why in 1998 the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Salt Lake City. The Mormons--a misguided cult in the view of most traditional Christians, most Baptists in particular--had to be stopped.
They weren't. Four years after the Baptists besieged Temple Square, the Winter Olympic Games came to Salt Lake City. This was in 2002 and it is hard to exaggerate what this meant to the Latter-day Saints. A gifted Mormon leader, Mitt Romney, rescued the games after a disastrous bidding scandal. A sparkling Mormon city hosted the games. Happy, handsome all-American Mormons attended each event, waving constantly to the cameras and appearing to be--in the word repeatedly used by the press at the time--"normal."
The LDS Church capitalized on it all. It sent volunteers, missionaries, and publicists scurrying to every venue. It hosted grand events for the world press. It made sure that every visitor received a brochure offering an LDS guided tour of the city. Visitors from around the world read these words: "No other place in America has a story to tell like that of Salt Lake City--a sanctuary founded by religious refugees from within the United States' own borders. And none can tell that story better than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
Largely unchallenged, the Mormon narrative prevailed.
What followed was the decade of the new millennium we have already surveyed. Mormons seemed to be everywhere, seemed to be exceptional in nearly every arena, seemed to have moved beyond acceptance by American culture to domination of American culture. At least this was what some feared at the time.
But Mormons did not dominate the country. Far from it. Remember that they were not even 2 percent of the nation's population as of 2012. True, they were visible and successful, well educated and well spoken, patriotic and ever willing to serve. Yet what they had achieved was not domination. It was not a conspiracy either, as some alleged. It was not anything approaching a takeover or even the hope for a takeover
Few observers seemed to be able to explain how this new level of LDS prominence in American society came about. They reached for the usual answers trotted out to account for such occurrences: birth rates, Ronald Reagan's deification of traditional values, the economic boom of the late twentieth century, a more liberal and broadminded society, even the dumbing down of America through television and failing schools. Each of these explanations was found wanting.

The Mormon Machine

The truth lay within Mormonism itself. What the Saints had achieved in the United States was what Mormonism, unfettered and well led, will nearly always produce. This was the real story behind the much-touted "Mormon Moment." The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had risen to unexpected heights in American society because the Mormon religion creates what can benevolently be called a Mormon Machine-- a system of individual empowerment, family investment, local church (ward and stake level) leadership, priesthood government, prophetic enduement, Temple sacraments, and sacrificial financial endowment of the holy Mormon cause. Plant Mormonism in any country on earth and pretty much the same results will occur. If successful, it will produce deeply moral individuals who serve a religious vision centered upon achievement in this life. They will aggressively pursue the most advanced education possible, understand their lives in terms of overcoming obstacles, and eagerly serve the surrounding society. The family will be of supernatural importance to them, as will planning and investing for future generations. They will be devoted to community, store and save as a hedge against future hardship, and they will esteem work as a religious calling. They will submit to civil government and hope to take positions within it. They will have advantages in this. Their beliefs and their lives in all-encompassing community will condition them to thrive in administrative systems and hierarchies--a critical key to success in the modern world. Ever oriented to a corporate life and destiny, they will prize belonging and unity over individuality and conflict every time.
These hallmark values and behaviors--the habits that distinguish Mormons in the minds of millions of Americans-- grow naturally from Mormon doctrine. They are also the values and behaviors of successful people. Observers who think of the religion as a cult--in the Jim Jones sense that a single, dynamic leader controls a larger body of devotees through fear, lies, and manipulation--usually fail to see this. Mormon doctrine is inviting, the community it produces enveloping and elevating, the lifestyle it encourages empowering in nearly every sense. Success, visibility, prosperity, and influence follow. This is the engine of the Mormon ascent. It is what has attracted so many millions, and it is the mechanism of the Latter-day Saints' impact upon American society and the world.
Mormons make achievement through organizational management a religious virtue. It leads to prosperity, visibility, and power. It should come as no surprise, then, that an American can turn on the evening news after a day of work and find one report about two Mormon presidential candidates, another story about a Mormon finalist on American Idol, an examination of the controversial views of a leading Mormon news commentator, a sports story about what a Mormon lineman does with his "Temple garments" in the NFL, and a celebration of how Mormons respond to crises like Katrina and the BP oil spill, all by a "Where Are They Now?" segment about Gladys Knight, minus the Pips, who has become--of course--a Mormon.
Mormons rise in this life because it is what their religion calls for. Achieving. Progressing. Learning. Forward, upward motion. This is the lifeblood of earthly Mormonism. Management, leadership, and organizing are the essential skills of the faith. It is no wonder that Mormons have grown so rapidly and reached such stellar heights in American culture. And there is much more to come.
THE MORMONIZING OF AMERICA by Stephen Mansfield, © 2012. Published by Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., Brentwood, TN.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Kwanobuhle - Largest PEF Class

Elder Stokoe assisting teacher Xolile Eric Newton
Teacher Newana handing out certificates
Nomafakade Vumazonke has already applied for a PEF Loan
Eight Kwa Nobuhle Students completed Planning for Success on April 23rd
With eight students from Kwa Nobuhle and five students from Uitenhage completing the Planning for Success Workshop we now have the same number of students graduating as we did during all of 2012.  We also have two new teachers, Brian Kafwanka (Uitenhage) and Xolile Eric Newana (Kwannobuhle) who are trained to teach future Planning for Success Workshops.  At last we are making good progress.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Motherwell Group


     As an additional duty we have been assigned to the township of Motherwell, a township where recent protests occurred because the government bulldozed people’s tin shack homes claiming they were illegally built on government land.  As a result several hundreds of displaced people demonstrated against the government, and stopped and burned 3 busses totaling gutting them.  It made television news nationally.  The LDS group in this township meets on Sundays along with 5 other denominations in a dilapidated primary school. The church has rented three classrooms in which to hold meetings:  one for sacrament meeting, gospel doctrine, and Relief society; one for priesthood, and one for primary.  All four have broken windows, no electricity, holes in the ceiling, and ripped out electric sockets.  There are 40 or so people who attend on Sunday and half of them are non-members.  The gathering is called an LDS group, not a branch, as it doesn’t have the priesthood numbers to qualify. But everyone is happy because they have a place to meet and worship on Sundays. The other 5 denominations are neighbors in the building and are of varying protestant faiths and apparently some of the classrooms they utilize have electricity.

      Well, I must say yesterday was a very interesting experience, quite unique as a matter of fact. It was our first time to visit this LDS group and a first time for an “invigorating neighborly experience.”   Yes folks, if you have ever had to bare your testimony to the clang of electric guitars, the pounding of electric pianos, rhythmic clapping of congregations, and the swell of Black chorus singing – then you know what it is like to be in Africa surrounded by protestants on a Sunday.  “Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!” echo the ministers’ voices. “Amen!” echo the congregations and so it is that we project our testimonies as though from a stage that all in our primary school classroom might hear.  Our prophets, seers, and revelators have counseled us to listen, ponder, and focus on the gospel, and such counsel could not be more appropriate than on Sundays in our Primary school LDS classroom, especially during a testimony meeting.  I like the guitar but not to the wailing twanging of a Sunday protestant meeting.  So, in the midst of a Black township we seek to magnify our calling and contribute to the spiritual welfare of those who attend our meetings.  Have a good day all.

Elder S.       
Elders De Cavaho & Tuckett

Group Leader Mbali Zitsu with his Mom, the Relief Society Teacher

Elvis Mfilifili,Assistant Group Leader and wife Thembisa

 Joseph Mabago was baptised along with several of his grandchildren

Preparing for Sacrament meeting in a classroom.
After Sacrament Meeting
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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Uitenhage - Graduates Five PEF Students

Tim-Lee Macquire wants a PEF to become a boiler maker
In 2012 we had just one student in Uitenhage Branch and she dropped out.   
 Sendra Bosman with Bishop Bray.  She wants to study business management.
April 19 - Uitenhage Planning for Success Class 
Brian Kafwanka, newly called Planning for Succss teacher, with Bishop Bray 

April 19 & 20, 2013

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. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

This is Africa


Life goes on and we are enjoying being busy with classes and assisting prospective PEF students and assisting the young missionaries.  As for current events here in South Africa:  There has been a judges strike due to failure of government to pay judges.  So the courts have been temporarily in limbo until judges are paid.  A shortage of 11,000 school teachers has led to strikes by students across the nation where affected.  Reason: failure of school districts to hire teachers due to failure of government to provide money for salaries.  Our missionaries had not received mail for a month due to strike by post office employees.  They went on strike because of failure by government to pay them.  The government has failed to deliver payment respectively because money so allotted legislatively has been siphoned off along the pipe line by so called civic officials.  The last week of March one of our missionaries was very happy.  He was elated.  He received his Christmas package that his mother had mailed to him the first week of November.  It was a beautiful air mail gift and included  “freshly baked cookies” by mom.  Well, at least this elder received his Christmas package.  We still have one elder waiting. The overall answer to all things in this country is  “This is Africa.” 
Hospital workers demonstrating for higher wages

But there are so many good things in this country:  You can have your car thoroughly cleaned for 40 Rand ($5) and the cleaning is the equivalent of “detailing” in the U.S. You pull up to a petrol station and attendants put petrol in your car, check the oil and water, put air in the tires, and clean your windows.  The people are friendly, helpful and will go out of their way to assist you.  There is spiritual strength not just in wards and branches but in other denominations throughout the land.  School students look fantastic in their uniforms and to see young elementary school boys in dress shoes, dress short pants, white shirt and tie, sweater, and coat plus hat is really an aristocratic sight.  Just imagine your six and seven year old sons looking this way each day they go to school.  Visually, the students in this country are outstandingly dressed and are so impressive looking.  The shops, the malls are loaded with all kinds of products just like the U.S. To go into a “fruit and vegetable” store is amazing for such stores far  exceed similar stores in the U.S.   There are a lot more positives but the point is:  despite its challenges, there is a lot of good in this land, the land of two life styles --  the modern contemporary world, and the archaic world of poverty-stricken people living in squalid tin shack ghettos and a few mud huts.  The gospel is true and we are enjoying our stewardship as the work progresses.  May the Lord’s choicest blessings be upon you all.

Elder S.

Monday, April 15, 2013

P Day in Port Alfred

Elder and Sister Chase, Elder & Sister Stokoe, Elder and Sister Sherberts, Elder & Sister Vansickles, Elder and Sister Stumm with Elder & Sister Boyce in Port Alfred on April 8, 2013.

Elder Care

We spent the past week helping our young elders.  It just amazes me that things went so well while we were up in Grahamstown while the four elders up there seemed rather immature and in need of adult supervision.  Meanwhile our ten elders in P.E. took care of each other. We seldom had to do anything beyond inspecting their flats.   That changed last week.   

We had just repaired one bike for our Cleary Elders at Nugget when Elder Khoni crashed and bent the rim.   Elder Cossey, a greenie from Magna, arrived from Jo Berg's MTC on April 3rd and became Elder Moangare's companion.  Although Cossey is having had some adjustment problems.  First Moangare called to report that Cossey needed a new "chair" for his bike.  So Tom told him to have Cossey to pick out a new seat and we would pay for it. 

The next day we got another call explaining that Cossey was experiencing separation anxiety and needed some counselling.   Consequently the two of them have been to our flat several times so Cossey can get counselling via the Internet and Elder Moangare can work on his application to BYU-Hawaii.  Evidently Cossey had anxiety-separation issues as a child.  The malady returned when he came to P.E.  He also has stomach problems which is likely due to stress.  
Elder Cossey is doing well now
We do not want him to go home so we gave him some over the counter stomach medication and a bottle of Mountain Spring Water and advised him not to drink tap water.   We have yet to install the water filter system at Prospect.  It's been several months since four of our elders moved there and we can't find the right connector.  We have been to three different plumbing stores with no success.  Finally Elder Boyce brought one from East London but that did not work. 

As there are no threads inside the nozzel to secure it we must buy a new faucet in order to solve the problem.  Elder Cossey's stomach problems could be the result of drinking tap water.  Brother Faurie, the owner, has not put up the ceiling moulding up yet and when it rains, our elders get wet.  We need to resolve this before stormy weather sets in. 

We planned to meet our Lorraine Elders at the Frail Care Center to work in the garden, but they sent an SMS saying not to come.  The unseasonably cold weather killed everything which is too bad. The melons were plentiful and almost ready to harvest.  If I had realised that the recent cold spell would ruin them, I would have harvested and and allowed everything to ripen in our garage.    

Friday night Elder S. taught a "Planning for Success" class in Uitenhague and all seven of our students attended.  If they attend one more class they will certify and be able to apply for PEF loans.   Brian Afwanka teaches an Institute class which ends just before our workshop begins so everyone stays for our class.   Brian is blackest and the brightest PEF student we have ever had.  He currently works in air conditioning but has dreams of getting his degree and going into politics.  S.A. certainly needs his integrity and high ideals.  Brian replaced the Institute teacher from Uitenhague who was knifed and killed last year as he and his daughter walked to church.  

Our Kwanobuche students are also progressing.  One surprised me last week by asking for taxi money to come to P.E. to research schools. I told him to talk to Elder Stokoe.  The mission rule is never give anyone money.  If some asks refer them to their bishop.  This student is bright, speaks excellent English and has a weed wacking business.  He explained that as other people owed him money, he only had enough rand for a one way fare.  Elder S. reluctantly loaned him 30 Rand ($3.85) telling him that this was a loan which he needed to pay back.  Eight students took the first "Planning for Success class in Kwanobuche and there were nine there last week.   We attend but do not teach as Lwanda was set apart as workshop teacher for that building. 

Our wonderful tenor, Elder Moangare, has been trying to get his application off to BYU-Hawaii since March 2nd.  The deadline for admission in the fall is May 1st.  Moangare has been to our flat several times to use the Internet and our Vonage line.  He still needs to get his GPA from the high schools he attended.   The schools are not listed on the Internet. There is also a 12 hour time difference and when he finally called on our Vonage phone   lines on the other end were  both busy.    

Tom called BYU-Hawaii's admissions department on his behalf and talked with four different people.  He discovered that Moangare also needs a U.S. sponsor willing to deposit $10,000 into an account for him before he can get a student visa.  Also he passed the English proficiency test which costs $160 and will not be offered until May 5th.   As a result of these and other problems our young elders have been stopping in all week and we always feed them.

The "Joseph" scripts arrived last Wednesday.  Tom called Elders Slabbert and Moangare and told them to come by and pick them up. Elder Slabbert was so excited that he came immediately.  However he was unhappy to discover that the book contained no music. Only the words to each song.  We will find the sheet music to "Close Every Door" online so Slabbert can accompany Moangare when his sings this song at Zone Conference on Friday. This will be Moangare's last conference before he goes home May 15.  He is also practicing "Aloha Oi."  Tom will accompany him on the guitar. 

We got a call from the Bicycle Elders on King Street during the cold weather asking for blankets. Swacina and George have a broken windows which their landlord has decided not to fix since he expects to remodel that flat.  However with winter is coming on, his contractor out of town and plans yet to be approved by the city,  who knows when it will be done? I discovered that the broken pane is large enough for an intruder to crawl through and steal all their goods.  So we took the window frame into Builder's Supply and ordered new glass.   

I'm not happy with their old stained, mildewed curtains either.   So I bought a couple of sheers and a new curtain for the sliding glass door.  South African's love to use white paint in their flats but it makes me crazy.  I feel like l'm in a hospital.   So I took the paint which was left over after our flat was painted and spent most of the day Friday painting their walls and hanging curtains. They helped until the car elders picked them up for district meeting.   Their landlord's maid was doing the wash and hanging it out to dry, so I asked her to wash the Elder's curtains as well.  She did.  And then got out his Swedish iron and ironed one panel to demonstrate how to use it.  I kept thinking I should ask if I could pay her to do my ironing as well.    However I felt that I had already imposed on time owed the land lord.

Elder Stokoe noticed that our missionaries had only enough toilet paper for one wipe and and their cupboards were bare. Mission policy dictates that we buy their cleaning supplies and submit bills for reimbursement at the end of each monty.  We also make sure that their boarding is in good repair. 

Each elders buys his own food and covers the cost of his of personal expenses and the church posts money to each accounts (via a debit card deposit) on the 1st and 15th.   When Tom asked what they were eating, they said they had some pasta and hot pockets and would be able to get by until the 15th.  Thinking they might appreciate some potatoes, eggs, and ice cream he went shopping and also picked up eight rolls toilet paper.  They were excited to see all the toilet paper.  Elders Lekqoati and Hixson took a few rolls back to their flat when they dropped them off.  I noticed that George and Swacina hid the ice cream so they would not have to share.    Swacina showed his appreciation by giving us a large chocolate bar which looked like the one we gave him for Easter.   

Needless to say we have had a very busy week helping the elders and teaching classes but it's nice to be busy.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Easter Weekend

Tom is on the phone with the Tises. She started nursing school yesterday. Now she needs some vaccinations. Tom is saying that he will pick her up, drive her to the pharmacy and pay for them. The school called 3 times last week to say they had not received her tuition. We have proof that 3,000 rand was transferred into their account on Feb. 26th. There is lots of corruption here in S.A.   It takes a full time senior couple to navigate through these problems.  So far we have managed to stay busy. 

Went to Sea View Game Reserve while Jessica cleaned our flat on Thursday.  We attended District Meeting on Friday, shopped and then went to a "Planning for Success" class at Uithengage at 5:00 p.m.  When we got  home I made a carrot cake for the missionaries. The next morning I put a ham in the oven and we began inspecting flats at 8:00 a.m.  We finished in time to shop for their supplies and the other items they needed and then made it to the church for Institute training at 10:00 a.m.

We picked up some Kentucky Fried chicken on the way home and I put the potatoes in the oven to bake. I made a tossed green salad while Tom set the table. Our missionaries began arriving at 12:45. It had been raining hard for the last several days.  Since many people were out of town for the holiday,  they were happy to attend this activity. Several asked what we were serving while we were inspecting the flats. Our two Cleary Elders said they hoped it would not be pickled fish. They had their fill at dinner appointments in the colored areas on Good Friday.  The Elders cleaned everything up, including the rolls I bought for the Senior Couple dinner I hosted on Sunday. We gave each Elder a huge chocolate bar and then we watched "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat." We took photos with everyone's cameras.  They all left at 3:00 as some had evening appointments.   Sister Rank invited Elder Stokoe and I to dinner at her house that evening.  The Lorraine Elder, Strauss and Slabbert, were also included.

 On Sunday we attended both Port Elizabeth and Lorraine Wards and announced that anyone interested in a PEF loan, please meet with us in the back of the chapel after Sacrament meeting.  We had several stop by but had to tell them that these loans were only for young people between the ages of 18 & 30. We found a woman in each ward eligible and took down their contact information.

We came home and made dinner for the other two senior couples here. I grilled salmon and Tom cooked the stakes. The Sherberts brought a tossed salad and the Van Sickles brought root bear and ice cream for floats. It was nice to get together as we usually only run into them in the outlying wards.  I started this tradition last September when the Taylors left.   Up until then, we got together only on birthdays.

The Van Sickles work in the Townships and had some amazing stories to share about bride price. They mentioned that one of our PEF students was going to East London this weekend to collect his bride. Evidently all cows that they had agreed on were not delivered at the time of the ceremony so the brides family insisted that she remain with them until the contract was fulfilled.  They had married six months earlier.   I asked why she did not just "walk away and join her new husband."  They explained that this had to do with tradition and respect.

We drove to Grahamstown on Monday to meet the Chases. They were happy to see us and Sister Chase prepared an Indian dinner for us. She loves to cook and has been making cookies for the elders and members since she arrived.  They have many fears and concerns about living in Africa. There is always a period of adjustment.  She seems overly concerned about crime, clean water, and bugs. Unfortunately they were without running water for three days and had to carry water from a tank.  The Stumms were without water in Port Alfred for 21 days last spring.  We only experienced a couple of electrical outages during the three months we served in Grahamstown.

We also visited Alan Bamford.  He gave us several DVD's from his collection so now we have something to watch besides the nightly news. We have already watched Ghandi & Pretty Woman.  Last night Tom watched Gladiator for the second time after we came home from a "Planning for Success" class at Kwanobuthle. Eight students showed up for the first class.  I hope they all complete the program and a few actually apply.  Tonight I'm teaching Chapters, 12, 13 & 14 at Institute. I'm reading Voices of Hope, Latter-day Perspective on Same-Gender Attraction— which was compiled by Ty Mnsfield.  One of my students gave me the book to read.

P.S. All five Institute students showed up.  Sister Sherbert sat in on the class as our husbands were asked by President Neku to attend a special meeting between 6:00 and 9:00.   All participated and Sister S. complimented me on the lesson.  We are really looking forward to Conference.  There is an eight hour time difference but still, some of the sessions will be broadcast live.