Friday, May 31, 2013

LDS Author John M. Pontius

This author is awesome!  Just finished reading some of his books.  Elder Pontius also served a mission in South Africa.  He is the author that wrote the story of the Book of Mormon being translated into Afrikanse.

On 30 May 2013, at 2:30 PM, "Thorpe, Janet J" <> wrote:

You can hear him speak on the internet.  Here is one place and I need to find the other one for you:
From: Diane Stokoe []
Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 11:18 PM
To: Thorpe, Janet J
Subject: Just discovered Pontius died

John M. Pontius

8 entries
·        "We will miss you John. You were always so much fun when we..."
- Allan Reed
The Guest Book is expired.

<MOU0021148-1_20121212.jpg>1952 ~ 2012
John Marion Pontius, beloved son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, and well-known LDS author and speaker, passed away peacefully in his home on December 10, 2012, after a lifetime of service to the Lord Jesus Christ.
He was born on May 12, 1952 in Moscow, Idaho to wonderful parents, Robert V. and Ann Pontius. Ever since he was a little boy, all John ever desired was to serve the Lord in whatever capacity he was called. He served an LDS mission to South Africa and returned home to BYU where he married Kathy Ferguson. They had four beautiful children: Matt, Ben, Bonnie and Lisa. They later divorced. John loved living in Alaska for nearly 35 years. He married Terri Jeanne Muhlestein and sealed four more beautiful children into his eternal family: Alicia, Jason, Stephen and Jessica. He loves his precious family with a pure and abiding love. They are each his treasure.
John had the sweet and humbling gift of writing with the pen of angels. The Lord gave him an ability uniquely his to express the gospel of Jesus Christ in a simple yet magnificently beautiful way. Throughout his life he has touched many thousands of lives through his published books, firesides, and blog (Unblog My Soul). In addition, John's passions included music, playing piano and organ masterfully since a young boy, oil painting, woodworking, conducting choral and orchestra (his favorite being the Mat-Su Alaska Community Messiah, which he did for many years), Christmas, and anything that captivated his mechanical and technical genius.
He is survived by his wife Terri Pontius of Saratoga Springs, Utah; son J. Matthew Pontius (Corinne) of American Fork, Utah; son Benjamin Joseph Pontius (Rainee) of Kenai, Alaska; daughter Bonnie Pontius Donigan (Patrick) of Somerville, Massachusetts; daughter Lisa Pontius Fennell (Jake) of Wasilla, Alaska; daughter Alicia Keller (Jake) of Parker, Colorado; son Jason Espersen (Amanda) of Spring, Texas; son Stephen Espersen (Christie) of Saratoga Springs, Utah; and daughter Jessica Elizabeth Pontius, of Saratoga Springs, Utah.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. in the Saratoga Springs Stake Center, 587 South Saratoga Springs Road, Saratoga Springs, Utah. A viewing will be held Friday evening from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Warenski Funeral Home, 1776 North 900 East, American Fork, Utah and also on Saturday from 12:30-1:30 p.m. prior to services at the Saratoga Springs Stake Center. Interment will follow at the American Fork Cemetery. 

Published in Deseret News from December 12 to December 13, 2012

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Upgrading Elufeni Primary School

Today we drove to Uitenhage to give 500 Rand to a welding school so Michael Toise's can get his MIG certification and hopefully find a job.  We enjoyed a buffet lunch at a beautiful Uitenhage restaurant. (see photo)

We drove to Elufeni Primary School where three classrooms are being upgraded and repaired with new windows, ceilings and electricity.  It will be nice to attend in newly painted rooms.  The new wing will give us privacy.  We won't be bothered by the loud music, hallelujahs and all the noise coming from the other churches.  The school principal instructed another church to exchange rooms with us as we promised to upgrade and we need more space.  

Brother Nzwana needed more money for supplies so we met him at the job site.  (Nzwana taught our "Planning for Success" in Kwanobuchle.) He has a small contract for this work which will be completed in time for the services this Sunday.  We took some curtain rods out which we had stored in the garage and will use curtains discarded by Brother and Sister Boyce.  They upgraded their East London flat and put in Plantation Sutters.  Now that we have more space Brother Zitshu has called me to teach the Sunday School class for 12-17 year olds.  He also wants me to teach the young women.  Sunday he said, "the youth will no longer have to spend all their time with the old people."
Mdlele Family Baptism on May 18th.  Older daughters & their father were baptised two months ago

Tom gave an inspiring talk on the Book of Mormon and the Restoration.  Sister Buzeiwa Norongo also talked in Sacrament meeting.  (We are making good progress in getting her birth certificate.)   Brother Mdlele gave a wonderful talk.  He and his wife followed their two university age daughters into the church.  He was a leader in another church before he was baptised two months ago and I see him as a member of the branch presidency when Motherwell becomes a branch.  He corrected Elder S. when he told Nolndwe Nkuthu that John the Baptist baptised Jesus and Jesus baptised John.  I introduced temple marriage.  She lives with five children, ages 3,4,5,6 & 7 but only two are hers.  The others are relatives.  They are such cute little kids and she is so good with them.  She had them fold their arm and pay attention while we taught the lesson.  Wish I had taken a picture.  

Our Relief Society lesson was on marriage for time and eternity.  A rather interesting discussion for investigators and new converts.  One young women asked, "What if I choose someone who is abusive and want to get a divorce after we were married in the temple?"  Another wondered if it was okay to propose to a worthy young priesthood holder?  "No No No!"  we answered.    Sister Zitshu explained that "it's important to find someone that shares your religious values and then pray for confirmation," she said as she nursed her two year old son.

Motherwell currently has fifty-five people attending however all the records are in Kwanomaxi ward. Brother Ztshu does not have any of the baptismal records.  Still he knows everyone who attends.  The two missionaries cannot get to all the investigators.  We are trying to help and taught four follow-up lessons last week, including one to the entire Mdlele Family.  We must always co-ordinate our visits with a fellow-shipper who can go with us as we don't know where people live.  Some speak only Xhosa.  Thankfully Brother Mdlele interpreted when we taught Sister Sneke on Saturday.  I've written up a page of questions so everyone can follow along during the one hour visit. This had made teaching easier. 

Brother and Sister Mfilifila have moved to Kwanomaxi so now there are now only five people who are not investigating or the newly baptised.   A rather strange inconsistency is Mawethu Dlepu's 21 year old brother.  He and Mawethu were baptised into the church on the same day a few years ago.  Their father is the pastor who paid for Mawethu's mission in Kenya.  Mawethu was recently married in the Johannesburg temple to one of our PEF students.  The younger son attends Institute each week at Kwanomaxi Ward.  However on Sunday he is the pastor of another congregation that meets in Elufeni Primary School.  

With Group Leader Zitshu 
Classrooms next to a field allows for more privacy & the  Baptism on May 25th

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Motherwell Group - A Brief History

Elders greet an investigator who will be baptised on May 26th.

May 19th - Luvuyo Ntshebte arrives to conduct the services.

Elder Luvuyo Ntshebte presided at meetings on May 19th
Motherwell Group currently meets in two classrooms with broken windows and no electricity.   However the church has contracted with this Primary School to upgrade three classrooms and toilet facilities in another wing.  The upgrading is scheduled to begin soon.

Motherwell Group began in early December, 2012 with six members and an average of 46 people who attend Sunday services.

Motherwell is an off shoot of Kwamagxaki Ward.  Consequently a member of the bishopric often visits to conducts services or to confirm new members.

On April 28th, a bus was secured to bring group members to Kwamagxaki for ward conference.  All Motherwell's baptisms are held at Kwamagxaki Ward.  Group members are encouraged to attend all Kwamagxaki's ward activities.  (Note:  In South Africa missionaries cannot baptise anyone who lives over 45 minutes walking distance from a church building.  Members living in Motherwell township hired two taxis to get to and from church each Sunday.  Consequently the need for Motherwell Group.)   

Organizations:  On May1st Brother and Sister Sherbert arrived to set up the Seminary and Institute programs and to train the teachers.  On May 9th Sister Lwele was called to be the Relief Society President and Sister Amanda Zitshu was sustained as Motherwell's first primary president.

Missionaries:  Elders Wilde and De Carvlho currently serve as missionaries in Motherwell.  Elders Tuckett and  Atina,  previously served but have since returned home.  Missionaries first came to Motherwell in mid-February, 2013.  The first baptisms were held in April.  On the 20th of that month Elder and Sister Stokoe were assigned to assist the group by Presidents Wood and Neko.  Motherwell Group could benefit from two more missionaries but they will not be sent until Motherwell becomes a branch.  Consequently the Stokoe's have been assigned to schedule follow up lessons with the newly baptised.

May 19th Meetings were presided over by Elder Ntshebte who talked on the blessings of tithing.  (Group leader Mbali Zitshuisis is a fire fighter and was at work so did not attend that day.)  Elder De Carlho taught Sunday School.  Elder Wilde taught the Priesthood class.  The Relief Society lesson included a discussion of the law of chastity and modesty.  It was mostly in the Xhosa language.  These are new principles to the women of this country.  Many have children out of wed lock. These sisters  decided that as Latter day Saints it is not fair not judge those who do not know better.  The law of chastity was unknown to many before they joined the church.  However in order to qualify for membership, they must live the law of chastity now in order to qualify to go to the temple.

Monday, May 20, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning sun coming up over the trees in the park.

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

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

Institute May 15th

Question - What is the relationship of Elohim, Jesus Christ, and Lucifer?  Who is the “God of this Earth?” 

Elohim, God the Father, assisted in creating the earth (D&C 88:41-50) an orderly process subject to natural law.   Then Elohim delegated the responsibility over the earth to Jesus Christ, his “only begotten.” (Moses 1:32, 24 & 39)

The Plan,  “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” - Abraham 3:24.   “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Moses 1;39.

Jesus Christ is the God of both the New & Old Testaments.  He was know anciently as Jehovah, meaning Self Existent One, The Eternal or the great “I Am.”
What was his status in Heaven? “And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him;  We will go down for there is space there and we will take of these materials and we will make an earth whereon to dwell.  - Abraham 3:25

Elohim asked, Whom shall I send?  And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me.  And another answered and said, Here am I, send me.  And the Lord said:  I will send the first.  And the second was angry and kept not his first estate; and at that day, many followed after him.   Abraham 3:27-28  

Lucifer means Light-bearer or “Son of the Morning.”  Literally a spirit son of God, he was at one time “an angel” in authority in the presence of God.  (Isa 14:12-15; Rev. 14-4-9; He opposed free agency wanting all God’s glory for himself.  (Would he have considered being born in a manger?  Would he die for our sins?)  There was war in Heaven. and Lucifer was cast out.  He took 1/3rd of the hosts of heaven with him.  These spirits will never have a body.   But desiring life, they will even enter the body of a pig. (Mark 5:11-13.)  “So powerful was he in Christ’s day that the Master referred to Satan as ”the prince of this world,” but added “the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.”  (John 14:30)

 Spirit Children,  Now the Lord has shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these were many of the noble and great ones.  And God saw these souls what they were good, and he stood in the midst of them and he said; these I will make my rulers.  Abraham 3:22-23,  

3 Neiphi 11:14 Christ speaks the Nephites:   “I am the God of the Whole Earth and have been slain for the sins of the world.`’  (3 Nephi 11:14)

Moses 1:32-33 - Elohim speaks to Moses:  “And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.  And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten. “  

Thanks for your participation in Institute last night.  Remember that angels attend us as portrayed in the video clip below.  Remember to read from the scriptures daily and prepare Chapter 26 for next week.     Love and Blessings, Sister Stokoe

Subject: Check out The Divine Rescue on Highway Six - - YouTube

Click here: The Divine Rescue on Highway Six - - YouTube

Thank you Sister Stokoe and also for the answer on 'who lucifer was'
Kind Regards
Deng Galuak
Cell SA +27 745 690 782

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Family News

This past week I received these messages.  Obviously the Lord is taking good care of our family:

Hello Mother,

I am not sure if they have Mother's Day in South Africa,  but Sunday is Mother's Day.  So, A big giant happy Mother's Day to my favorite Mother.....

I have been reading your email's, and it sounds as if things are going well there for you and Thomas.  I am sure that you are probably a little frustrated with some of the cultural oddities, but it seems that you are handling them in stride.  I am not sure if the length of your mission is two years and if you are going to extend, but i think that you are well into your second year.  Before you know it, you will be making arrangements for your return back to the states.

Things here in California have been very relaxing.  I am finding that I am able to take care of business on the phone or over the internet.  These last 2 weeks I have been finalizing the details of the purchase of our new building.  We finally hammered out the final contract negotiations this morning, and all the documents have been signed and approved by all parties.  The buildings is almost 5 times the size of our current facility, so we should have plenty of room for growth.   The location is within a mile of our current location and approximately 3 blocks north of our original location.  3768 South 300 West.  Just across the street (to the west) of The salt lake community college campus on 3900 South near the traxx station.  I shall be returning to Salt Lake on May 16 and hopefully I can meet up with some of the family members for some fun time summer BBQ fun...

Well, that pretty much sums up the bulk of the excitement here.  I hope things continue to go your way.

your son,  Matthew 



Happy belated Mother's Day!  It sounds like you had a busy and fulfilling day in South Africa.  I also read Matt's information which you forwarded, and I think it's probably a good idea that he is buying a commercial building now.  There has been an interesting turn in the local real estate market, and everything seems to be selling very fast.  During the past few years, many homes in our area would sit in the 200's, and now anything that comes on the market is mid 300's, and only lasts a few days.

We went to the zoo and Ruth's Diner in Emigration Canyon for Mother's Day, and it was pretty relaxing.  The weather is nice right now, but hot with temperatures approaching 90.

Have a great week.  Love, Brian    


It was good to talk to you over mother's day, hope you guys continue to stay busy. We made it home from St George OK and had a good time. We should find out in about 3 weeks if we are having a boy or girl. Question for you, I'm trying to set up a direct payment to wells fargo for our house and need the last 4 digits of yours and dads socials, can you get that to me? Thanks, say hello to dad for us and keep up the good work! 
Love, Dave 


Dave Stokoe Realtor Century 21 Everest Realty  Group
Mobile (801)856-3848
Assistant, Jolie Breitling (801)449-3056 

Sophie, Lola and Cole


Hi Mom,

. . . Ron came by the house all flusterd.  He had been working on a valve for the williamsens and after 2 hours ne could not get it working.  I went to help him but he was gone.   I understand because if I have a problem I go to someone who I thi k can help me.  I know I cant do everything.  If we ask the lord he will always listen.

 We are very busy here.  Ron helped me turn on the water here.  Two big problems.  Today I fixed 3 zones that would not work.  It turns out the mower hit the line and nicked some wires but not the wholw line.  So I pulled up the entire line and saw the nick.  I  re-routed  the new line inside the crack in the drive way to the house and into the house.   We fixed a head near the drive and chipped some concrete to enable  to spin in a head properly. . .   

  I am so busy here at the house.  As the window goes I have removed all screws and boards but it is glued in.  I have to cut out the silicone holding it to the house!  Did you have such problems when you fixed a window and removed it?

 I had a free week  of methadone.  I will only pay 3 weeks this month.  When I pass one more UA and a phone check I will get my two weeks back.  July 18th is my 2 year anniversary on the program!   Which means I can pick up  a month's supply  if I have the five UA's passed plus 2 years at this clinic.

   I saw the smile box. I am glad it works on my touchpad.  I will have to replace it soon because of all the glitches.  I am working on the Meads and our sprinklers now.  I also am doing work for Marlene Heller.   Lots of weeds this year. I have to register the blue Ford also.  So I am very busy now. I hope that all is well. Let me know if you need anything.  Love, Dean 

Hi Diane

How are you? Neil told me you've been having some health issues. Are you doing okay? Did you decide whether to have your surgery there or wait till you get back to the states?

We are doing great! Anabelle is 6 mo old and so cute! She and I just came down to St George with Nikki, Cole and Lola for a few days. We are going to have so much fun with the cousins in the warm weather. I am working from home and Neil's new job is going great. They really like him and he has already brought a lot of great business in for them. He is a hard worker and gets along really well with his co workers. I think they are really glad they hired him.

Anyway hope all is well there! When do you plan to come back? Neil said something about you guys coming home early. I am excited for you to meet Anabelle, whenever that is!

Love,  Corrine

Note: I am having a hysterectomy on June 3rd.  We will be released on October 15th.  Just in time to join the Fun For Less Tour to Holy Land from October 18 through November 4th.  We will be home for the birth of another grand baby.


More good news on May 21'

I thought I would forward this announcement on my job change here at Wells Fargo.  With the improvement in the economy and reduction in the problem loan portfolio, I am moving back to the wholesale auto side.  I will be working with many of the same people and dealers, so it should be a good fit.  Some additional money won’t hurt either.  The new office is located off 45th South near the Jordan River Parkway, so that should be nice for running.  I won’t be able to take trax anymore, but it’s closer to home and will shorten the commute.
Have a great week.  Love, Brian
From: Stalnaker, Bob S
Sent: Monday, May 20, 2013 2:54 PM
To: G=WFDS Mountain ALL; Woliver, Bobbi; Lacher, Jamie L.
Cc: Peatross, Craig W; Grantham, Craig L.; Belov, Brian; Dale, Wayne
Subject: New Mountain Region CM in Salt Lake City
Please join me in congratulating Brian Belov who has accepted the Credit Manager opening in Salt Lake City.  Brian will replace Nick Webb who is retiring after 28 years of dedicated service.
Brian has spent the last five years in CRG working with various distressed borrowers.  He is looking forward to getting back to the line and working to grow relationships.  Brian worked in the Salt Lake Dealer Services office as a Credit Manager for eight years prior to moving to CRG in 2008.  Brian continues to be a dedicated runner, and can frequently been seen running during lunch or  after work.  Brian is a graduate of BYU with a degree in Finance.