Monday, September 30, 2013

Update on Sifundiso & Paul

We enjoyed Sacrament meeting in P.E. and then drove to Motherwell.  Sifundiso conducted the meeting for the first time.  Brother Mdledle, the 1st counsellor,  gave an outstanding talk on Reverence.    Later I asked Sifundiso how he liked conducting?  He said he was "very nervous" but he did an excellent job.  His story continues to intrigues me:  Sifundiso survived drowning when seven members of his rugby team were swept out to sea.  He was baptised May 4th after being introduced to the church by his English teacher.  He became an elder two months later.  He is always going out with the missionaries.  He is determined to go on a mission although his family want him to apply for a government scholarship and continue his education.  

We would not have known about his dental problems which would have prevented him from serving had I not decided to buy him a suit.  We asked the elders to bring him along when Elder Hlophe came to P.E. to see the dentist.  While collecting Hlophe, I asked if the dentist could see Sifundiso even though it was time for the office to close.  I had no idea that Sifundiso was in pain and needed antibiotics.  He said nothing about his teeth hurting him.   It would have taken years for him to pay for all the dental work.   Young men and/or their families,  must cover all their expenses as they prepare for a mission.  The church picks up the tab when they enter the MTC.

Sifundiso received a copy of his patriarchal blessing Sunday and asked if I wanted to read it.  Of course I did.  We read over it together.  Then he asked if I could get it reduced and laminated so he can keep a copy in his scriptures.  Consequently I have it to quote from.  It sheds lots of light on what's been happening.  It reads in part,

"Brother Beja, you lived with Heavenly Father for a long time before coming to this earth.  You are one of the choice spirits who have been held back till now because you have the potential to perform a great work in building the kingdom of God. . . you are of the Tribe of Ephraim. . .  You will help prepare the world for His Second Coming by testifying of Him and so leading many souls to Christ.  This is the purpose of your existence to search for and rescue those seeking the truth.

You have once again accepted Christ as your Savior as you did in the pre-existence.  Your decision to serve a mission is pleasing unto Him and is in line with what Heavenly Father has planned for you. . . There are people out there who have been prepared for you to teach. . . Wonderful callings await you. .. Be assured that they are all from above. . .

You have a great responsibility to show your parents and your brother what the gospel does for you.   Let your life be a living testimony of your love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. . . Help them to realise who they really are and what their potential is. . . Contact your mother and loveingly help her to understand that she is a daughter of God. . . You have ancestors who are anxiously waiting for you to do the work in their behalf in the temple that will free them from spirit prison. . . I send you forth now knowing that you are a beloved son of Heavenly Father with a great work to perfom for him.  . . 

Like most Africans Sifundiso lives with relative including his father, aunt, cousin, grandmother and her boyfriend.  When he and Paul came to our flat they were surprised that only two people live in such a large flat.  Sifundiso's father calls him "the pastor."  His aunt says he is very loyal to the church.  Recently he helped convert Bachle & Sindiswa's family, relatives who will be baptised October 12th.

As for Paul he is so excited about his fire arms class that he has already finished the first of three books.  He wanted to come to P.E. and take the fire arms test today but the school suggested he review the material for another week.  He missed the Young Adult fireside on Sunday afternoon because we did not have room for him in our car.  We planned to drive three young adults to Kwa Magxaki but when we went to collect them five jumped in.  Which made for an interesting drive.  We took one of Brother Mdlede's daughters.  She had to drop out of her program at the NMU for a lack of funds.  The Mdlede family continue to struggle financially.  Libby graduated and will likely be able to help her when she gets a job.  Too bad she cannot qualify for a PEF loan until she has been a member for one year.

Tom and I were asked to bear our testimony in sacrament meeting.  I said we would tell the Saints in Utah about the strength and courage of these new members.  We will speak again next Sunday.  P.E. Ward will be viewing the Saturday sessions of conference live however Motherwell will be seeing it on DVD later on President Zitsu's T.V. which he provides for such occasions.

The branch has no technology beyond a computer and printer which just arrived.  We asked Dean to send the Book of Mormon and Bible tapes which I ordered and Brian paid for when Alex and Andrew were little.  It took a leap of faith to have them sent.  They have been stored in the garage for over twenty years.  I didn't  know if they were still good or if the TV/video tape player in our flat would work with them.  It does.   We look forward to donate them and the TV to the primary.

It's hard to keep the kids occupied with only a few laminated photos, chalk and a blackboard.  There are so many young kids in the branch.  Some of them non members who come with friends because they feel loved.  Sister Zitsu, Nikki and Buzelwa have their hands full trying to keep them occupied.  Neither Sifundiso or Paul knew the story of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt, so I know the tapes will help.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

September 26th Zone Conference

This was the longest day we have had since entering the mission field.  We were up early preparing dinner for the conference.  We were at the church at 8:30 to set up.  The meeting began at 9:00 a.m. We served dinner after the testimony meeting which ended at 3:30.  The elders were very hungry and the spaghetti, french bread and dessert disappeared quickly.  We cleaned up and got home about 5:30 p.m. but we had to be back at the church at 7:00 for Institute.  During my class President Neku stopped by to invite Elder Stokoe to the high council meeting.  My class ended at 8:15 and I waited  until 9:45 for Tom's meeting to end.

Elders Bohn, Stokoe and  Ramashaba, among those who celebrated birthdays in August and September.
They were honoured with a song, a chocolate bar  and a card with a personal message
  from President & Sister Wood.
Sister Wood wrote,  "Dear Elder Stokoe,  Happy Birthday.  We love you both!  Your willingness to work in the branches has made such a difference.   We love your beautiful, rich reading voice too.  Thanks for all you have done for SACTM!"

Five senior couples, President and Sister Wood and thirty-eight young elders attended this area zone conference.  I was impressed with Doctor Scott's testimony.  He described how on one of his missions he shared the gospel with seven young men.  All were Muslims who had never heard of Jesus Christ.  They were open to his messaged and asked, "How can we know that what you are saying is true."  "Pray to him and ask," he responded.  They all joined the church and are serving missions.

We were taught about the three pillars of eternity, preeminent and transcendent above all others: the creation, the fall and the atonement.

Bruce R. McConkie quote: "These three are the foundations upon whih all things rest.  Without any of them all things would lose their purpose and meaning, and the plans and designs of Deity would come to naught. . .  The fall of Adam brought temporal and spiritual death into the world, and the atonement of Christ ransomed men fro these two deaths by bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. . ."

 Other instruction:  Man is not complete without woman.  "Love is not possession but participation... part of that co-creation which is our human calling. . . In the little kingdom of a family, each spouse freely gives something the other does not have and without which neither can be complete and return to God's presence.  Spouses are not a soloist with an accompanist, nor are they two solos.  They are the interdependent parts of a duet, singing together in harmony at a level where no solo can go.  Each gives abundance to the others' want. . .

Temple marriages covenants do no magically bring equality to a partnership.  Those covenants commit us to developmental process of learning and growing together--by practice.

We learned that work is an antidote for may things.  On the wall of a reception room at a well-known neurological institute hangs a card, intended not for the sick but the well.  It reads:
If you are poor, work
If you are rich, work
If you are burdened with seemingly unfair responsibilities, work
If you are happy, continue to work; idleness gives room for doubts and fears.
If sorrow overwhelms you and loved ones seem not true, work
If disappointment come, work.
If faith falters and reason fails, just work
When dreams are shattered and hopes seems dead - work
Work as if your life were in peril; it really is.
No matter what ails you, work.
Work faithfully and work with faith.  Work is the greatest material remedy available.

The Gardners drove from George and stayed with us:  E-Mail from LeAnn Gardner:

It was such a pleasure to spend time with you guys once more.  We really enjoyed being in your home again.  I told you how I've never liked staying with anyone--always feel like we're putting them out.  But it's really different with you.  We just feel so welcome and loved and we appreciate all your kindness to us.  You're an excellent cook, Elder Stokoe, and we love your meals.  Thanks again for the super delicious breakfast.

We gave the book to Sister Claasen tonight and she was so excited to read it.  We told her she has just less than two weeks, as we will be taking it back to P.E.  We really appreciate your willingness to let us borrow your books.  We will ALWAYS return them.  It's neat there's a place where we can borrow really good books.  We go there often enough that we dare bring them home to read. Thanks again for the loan.

I continue to wear your clothes, Sister Stokoe, and lovingly think of you whenever I wear them.  I was so sick of my other clothes that it's a nice change.  I can just imagine how tired I'm going to be before we return home.  Maybe I'll get a couple more things out here while we're here.

I need to tell you that Sister Scott gave me their half of the money for the snacks.  It's nice knowing the mission will pay for things and that'll help Elder Scott feel better about contributing to the dinners and snacks, knowing he can get reimbursed.

Thanks again for the wonderful time in your home.  It was once again very enjoyable for us.  We really enjoyed visiting, the food and the love we feel from you.  We love you both so much!  

The Gardners

I enjoy lending my books but ask that they be returned.  Having been a librarian,  I always ask that they be returned so I can share them with others.  I hope the couple that comes after us will keep my "lending library" on the move.

Sisfundiso and Paul

Patriarch Bundy Palmer with Sisfundiso who missed
his Saturday appointment as he was in leadership
training with Elder Cook and his cell was on silent.
We collected Sisfundiso and Paul from Motherwell and drove them to P.E. on Thursday.  Sisfundiso had his last dental appointment and Paul needed to check on a fire arms school as he wants to be a security guard.

I asked Sisfundisco if he was going to the Senior Prom thinking he might want to wear the new suit I bought him for his mission.  He said, "No, after high school  I'll be going to the bush in December!"  This concerned me.  So I asked if he could manage the alcohol initiates are given and the expectations about sex after he "becomes a man."  He assured me that he had promised to uphold church standards and will not allow anyone to draw him into such things.  He said President Zitsu and Elder Mdedle will visit him during the weeks he's in the bush.

I asked if antibiotics are available to initiates.  He said that herbs are used but initiates were expected to "man up" and never complain.  His younger brother will act as currier and bring his meals.  His grandmother has arranged everything.  Sisfundiso explained that the men of his family have gone to the bush since his great grandfather's time.  He must go in order to take leadership in the family.  Otherwise the opportunity will be lost.  After he returns his grandmother will butcher a goat and host a three days of celebration.  So no prom for Sisfundiso.  The money will go for his manhood training and the celebration that will follow.   He promises to send pictures.

I asked Sisfundiso if he knew what President Neku expected when he was called to be 2nd Counselor in the branch presidency.  He said, "No, but I am willing to do whatever the Lord wants me to do. " He also said that President Neku gave him a manual.  After his fifth and last dental appointment, we drove both Sisfundiso and Paul to the church so he could receive his patriarchal blessing.  He asked me how accurate these blessings are.  I said the patriarch will tell you what you promised in the pre existence, what pitfalls to avoid now and give you information about which tribe you descended from.  He did not know what that meant.  So I asked if he knew anything about the story of Joseph, in the Bible, who was sold into Egypt.  He did not. He said that in the church he used to attend there was not much talk about bible stories.  They just clapped and sing and then the pastor gives a talk.    Obviously he attended one of the "charismatic" or happy, clappy churches which appeal to most black Africans.

Fieda Palmer, Sisfundiso, Stake Patriarch,  Stake President Neko with Paul Qakamfana
We love the Palmers.  They live near us in Lorraine.  Sister Palmer is 1st counselor in the Lorraine Ward Relief Society and she helped with Everett's project to provide layettes for infants.  We invited them to dinner a few months ago. I promised to help her with their family history but with their many reponsibilitis and our Motherwell assignment we could never find the time.  Bundy was the temple president in Johannesburg.  Their son Leslie was stake president until he was released and President Neku callied.  I have their grand daughter Erin in my Institute class.  

The Bundy Palmers were converted when he was working as a mine executive near Johannesburg over forty years ago.  Initially he resisted.  He delighted in offering the elders coffee and always lit up a cigarette when they came to visit.  The Palmers gave a fireside for young marrieds and had everyone in stitches.  He said, "I deserve a medal for staying married for over fifty years."  Freida responded, "Well,  I deserve a monument."   (Wish I had recorded it.)  Frieda said that while watching a ballet on T.V. Bundy came in and said "I can do that!" He started pirouetting around the flat and injured himself.

While I was with Sisfundiso at the dentist, Elder Stokoe took Paul to a fire arms school and signed him up for the course he needs to be a guard.  Paul explained that he missed church on Sunday because his 23 year old brother had been robbed and beat up by five men.  He had no money but they stole his shoes and jacket.  Relatives took him to the hospital where he was stitched up.  They almost killed him.

Paul is twenty-seven, lives with his mother and is unemployed.  We discovered he was half way through the program he needs to be a security guard.   So Elder S. paid for his the fire arms class and took him to an agency in Walmer Mall that places security guards.  He protested saying it's much too far from Motherwell.  Elder S. pointed out he needs to go where the work is and that bus fare is cheep.  Paul cannot qualify for PEF until next summer when he will have been in the church for a year.  I explained that if he would like to be a policeman he could apply then and prepare to be an officer. Then he could hunt down the guys who beat up his little brother and throw them in jail.

After Sisfundiso's blessing we took both young men to lunch and then brought them to our flat where we showed the DVD of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Coat."  Then Tom read the story of Joseph from the bible.  Both were very interested.  I asked Paul if he had been to the bush.  He said yes.  I wanted to know if the government required parental approval before a young man could go to the bush.  Both said "yes" but explained that know one ever checked to be sure they had it.  President Wood told me that this practice is only about 100 years old.  It came into being as resistance against the apartheid government's many exclusions and controls.

Both Sisfundiso and Paul expressed appreciation for what we had done for them.  Sisfundiso could not qualify to go on a mission without his dental work being done and Paul could not qualify to be a security guard without the fire arms class.  Now if we can just get Boselwa her national I.D. number.  We had an appointment to go to home affairs with her on Wednesday but discovered that Wednesday was a public holiday--National Heritage Day--so the government offices would all be closed.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Update from home

On 23 Sep 2013, at 7:26 AM, Nicole Stokoe wrote:
Hi Diane,
Sounds like you guys are getting ready to pass the torch...What a great example you have been to our family.  Thank you 
Thank you also for setting up pen pals for my kids.  They are so excited to have friends in South Africa.  The past 2 months have been quite a blur, so I'm sorry we haven't been on top of our emails and correspondence.  Cole is studying communities in school and is going to share some of the info that he has learned about the South African culture and communities with his school class.

He is getting baptized this Saturday and is very excited! He is such a good boy, we are so proud of him in every way.  He is quite the defensive champ in flag football.  His coaches call him the "flag pulling machine" ;)  His first game is tomorrow.  He has 3, 2-hour practices per week. He is also playing on a comp team in soccer and is doing very well.  Has practice 2 times a week and a game once a week.  So he is super busy, but football is over the end of October. 
Soph is getting so tall! She grew 4 inches in the past year.  She is so smart and doing great in school.  Knows all of her letter/sounds and is starting to read. I am looking into an additional program for her this year, (since she is too young for kindergarten).  
Her birthday is Saturday and we are having a tea party at Gardner Village with the little girlies and their baby dolls.  She is SO excited, (well, so am I)  ;)  She is such a sweet girl, but still sassy!  She is in dance and gymnastics and is doing very well.  She is one beautiful girl! 
Lola is such a sweet fun baby girl.  Well, toddler!  She has a really fun personality and has the cutest giggle you have ever heard!  She loves Daddy soo much and wants him to put her to bed every night.  I think she is almost ready to be potty trained, she always tells me when she goes potty and takes off her own diaper (all of the time).  Arg! 
2 more months til our little baby girl! Can't wait for her to come!  Can't wait til you are both home, we miss you and love you!  The kids pray for you every night, (its pretty cute).
                                                           Love you both,

Thanks for your update on the grandkids!  We miss them so.  Can't wait to see how much they have grown.  I'm so glad we will be there to welcome the new little one.  We tried to call your parents after Michel's passing but got no answer.  Then Seth died and I did not have the heart to try again.  Love & Blessings

Monday, September 23, 2013

Passing the Torch

From: Mark Sherbert
Sent: Sunday, September 22, 2013 7:17 PM
To: Elder Stokoe
Subject: Planning for Success Workshop

Would you please send me the names and telephone numbers of your Planning for Success Workshop instructors at Kwanobuhle First and Second Wards?
Elder Sherbert

Elder Sherbert & Elder Blatter:
I share this information with you being we are leaving, and Cape Town is currently unaware as to when a replacement couple will arrive, and in answer to your questions concerning Kwano 1 &2.  
As of last weekend there was no Planning for Success Workshop teacher in Kwano.  It used to be Brother Ncwana of the Kwano 1st ward (phone 074-310-2694) who said he has been released.  The Kwanobuchle  1st bishop called me a week ago.  We conversed and I indicated he would need to call a new teacher and that such a teacher would teach the Planning for Success Workshop for a combined 1st and 2nd Kwanobuchle ward.  He said he would look into it. I asked when was the best time I could meet with him. He indicated it was hard as he worked a busy 12 to 12 shift and at the moment couldn’t give me a specific time and was busy on Sunday.  I have not heard from him since.
I talked to brother Ncwana yesterday, Saturday Sept. 21, who again reiterated he has been released. He has the teacher’s manual for Planning for Success and may have some copies of the student manual.   Since his release he has been called to work with the YM & YW.
BACKGROUND:  Since our arrival in South Africa there has only been one teacher covering both Kwano 1st and Kwano 2ndwards and that teacher has always been a member of the Kwano 1st ward. The first teacher was brother Luthando Stokwe of the 1st ward (phone 084-308-5784) and he taught for about a year.  We filled in teaching when he was not available and also taught makeup classes for any who missed one of the four required classes.  Unless they take all four classes they cannot graduate with a certificate and receive a PEF loan. 
When Brother Stokwe was released, brother Ncwana of Kwano 1st ward was called (phone 074-310-2694).  He was also the 1st counselor in the bishopric to bishop Unathi Mahaluba.  He and brother Stokwe had both been called as the Stake Director of the PEF program and as the teacher of the Planning for Success Workshop taught the combined Kwano 1&2 PEF interested persons.  The  PEF Stake Director calling  would have come from the stake presidency.  The calling as teacher of the Planning for Success Workshop would have been extended by bishop Mahaluba of the 1st ward.  When we arrived I talked to both bishop Mahaluba of Kwano 1 and bishop Kwanele Grootboom of Kawno 2 (both since released and now live in Johannesburg).  The two bishops collaborated and the result was brother Stokwe of Kwano 1st ward would teach the Planning for Success Workshop covering both wards.  As such, there was no need to call a Planning for Success Workshop teacher from the Kwano 2nd ward.  Both wards shared the same building so kill two birds with one stone. It was under this umbrella that we operated.  Whenever a Planning for Success Workshop was to be held it was announced in both wards. 
President Wademan, 1st counselor to President Palmer in the stake presidency, was the overall PEF administrator for the stake.  Anyone interested in a PEF loan first met with the bishop in a worthiness interview (criteria the same as a temple interview).  If worthy, the bishop signed the worthiness document.  The PEF applicant then had an interview with the Stake President (in this case President Wademan) and he added his signature.  These signatures, in conjunction with the completion of all 4 classes in the Planning for Success Workshop, enabled a person to go ahead and fill out a PEF Loan Application on line at, click on submit, and send it off to the PEF Committee in Johannesburg and then the Area. If accepted, the PEF Committee sent me, as PEF Coordinator, documents that I took to the applicant, had him sign, and then I electronically submitted all the loan documents (7 in a first time loan, 5 for renewal) to the PEF Committee, which then went to the Area, and then to Salt Lake who made the tuition payment directly to the applicant’s school.   That’s it in a nut shell.
The action needed now is for the Kwano 1st  bishop to call a Planning for Success Workshop teacher to cover both wards (assuming we are still working under the same umbrella which they probably don’t know as they are new bishops). Then in sacrament meeting an announcement needs to be made at the pulpits of Kwano 1 and Kwano 2  for “all those interested in a PEF loan for education classes meet with the Planning for Success teacher (Brother or Sister so and So) at the back of the chapel at the end of sacrament meeting.”  (It used to be meet with Elder & Sister Stokoe.  Then we and the teacher would sign them up. But now we are leaving). The teacher signs them up for the Planning for Success Workshop taking their name, age, telephone, and e-mail address and then the students and teacher decide on the best day and time to hold the Workshop classes.  The teacher then calls everyone and notifies them of the day and time for classes.
We attended all 4 classes.  I took the first 40 minutes of lesson 1 to explain the whole PEF program, gave them my PEF information handouts, issued them a PEF Workshop student workbook, and then turned the rest of the time to the teacher for lesson #1.  Lesson 1&4 are one and a half hours long  2 & 3 are one hour long.  Those who completed all 4 lessons received a Certificate of Completion which was officially presented to them at the pulpit by the bishop.  We took photos of the graduating class holding their certificates and gave each graduate a copy.  That’s the Kwano story and current status.
CLEARY BRANCH:  The Planning for Success teacher at Cleary is Brother Joshua Mosiah (phone 073-670-0129) and he is excellent.  We just finished a Planning for Success Workshop there 4 weeks ago, graduation day 25 August.
UITENHAGE WARD:  The Planning for Success teacher is Brian Kafwanka (phone 078-638-5935)   He filled in for Sister Mendu  (phone 072-850-8954) when she had her baby.  I taught a workshop in April.  He followed with another one.  Both are excellent teachers.   
KWAMAGXAKI WARD:  The Planning for Success teacher is Brother Luvuyo Ntshebe, (phone 071-688-8954), was 1st counselor to Bishop Nqisha.  We just finished a Workshop the beginning of September.  He is an excellent teacher.
LORRAINE WARD – there are literally no PEF candidates as the ward is so small.  In 18 months only one indicated an interest in a PEF loan but her program was a 4 year one and PEF only accepts those that can be completed within two and a half years.  There is no Planning for Success teacher currently in this ward as there is no demand for a teacher.  Sister Karen Van Thiel (phone 083-384-6690) was in charge of Planning for Success Workshops as indicated by Bishop Spear.
Latando is the only PEF student we've taught
from Port Elizabeth Ward.  He needs just
two sessions as PEF is a backup plan for him.
PORT ELIZABETH WARD – There were loan renewals which we processed.  Brother James Chimuti  (phone 078-232-5371 ) was the Planning for Success Workshop teacher and in 18 months did not have to teach a single Workshop as there were no new PEF loan requests.  Loan renewals did not need the Planning for Success Workshop as the students had it already. Brother James Chimuti has since been released and a replacement has yet to be called.  With the migration of young adults to the new single adult ward on the university campus there is virtually no need for one.
Currently the Stake PEF Director is brother Jerome Laminie (phone 072-995-7930) on the high council.  He replaced brother Ncwana.  With changes forthcoming, and PEF and Employment uniting under “The Self Reliance Program”,  there could be modification to the existing PEF structure.  The current counsel we received from Salt Lake and the Area is “carry on as is until implementation of changes occur.”
That’s the overview as the countdown continues and Motherwell dominates our daily activities.
Elder Stokoe

Dear Elder Stokoe,

That was very helpful, especially with you leaving there is now a great history of the program during your tenure.  Thanks


To Elders Stokoe & Blatter,

While we are thinking about it, in anticipation of the Stokoe's departure, Sister Sherbert and I would be happy to take over the 'Post' duties, for the remainder of our time here.  We can begin when ever the Stokoe's decide and pick up the post and make the initial distributions - if that is agreeable to all.


Elder Sherbert

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Elder Cook - Africa South East Area

I was impressed by the talk given by Elder Cook, 1st counselor in the African South East Area  Presidency at the fireside.   He's a member of the 1st Quorum of Seventy. When he opened up the meeting for questions I asked him to explain area assignments.   He quoted from D&C 107; 21, 23, 33, 35, a revelation describing how the church was to be organized.  It is a testimony to me that this works as well today with a church membership of 15 million as it did when the revelation was given on 28 March 1835.  This is the same organisation that existed in previous dispensations and when Christ organised his church upon the earth.

Jesus Christ is the head or "chief corner stone" of the church.  He is assisted by
1.  President Monson who holds all the priesthood keys needed to administer the affairs of the church.  The president is assisted by two counsellors, the twelve apostles and the first quorum of 70.  All are "prophets, sears and revelators."  Some will be giving talks in general conference next month. 
2.  Twelve Apostles are special witnesses and missionaries responsible for spreading the gospel throughout the world.
3.  The First Quorum of 70 are missionaries and special witnesses. Under the direction of the twelve, they build and regulate the affairs of the church.  Each is assigned to a specific area of the world.  They serve until age 70, then become "emeritus" (or retired general authorities.)  They work to strengthen members.  Elder Cook was told, "Serve until you are 70 and we will tell you when to come home."
The following assist the first Quorum but they are not general authorities:
4.  The Second Quorum of 70 - assists the first quorum and serve five or six years.
3.  The Third Quorum of 70 - assist on a part-time basis working mostly week ends.
5.  Additional quorums may be organised to "labor in the Lord's vineyard" as the work requires.

There are fifteen International areas world wide presided over by 45 members of the First Quorum of 70.  Assignments are rotated every four or five years.  Elder Cook lives in Johannesburg.  He serves as 1st counselor in the Africa South East Area Presidency.  There are 185,000 members in this area, 35 stakes, 13 missions and 560 wards and branches.  His job is to visit and give counsel and strengthen the members.  He has a weekly conference call with Elder Bednar and Elder Clayton, the general authorities over Africa.  They discuss various concerns and regulate the work here.

Peter Deng Galuak
Since Deng is going home to South Sudan in January,  I asked if there were plans to send missionaries there?  Elder Cook explained that there is a branch in Juba which he can attend but South Sudan has not yet been opened for missionary work.

The country is under the the spiritual guidance of the Ugandan mission president.  It will be up to the twelve to decide when the time is right to "turn the key" and send missionaries.  Deng has a strong testimony.  He came in contact with the church when Phutikazi Swapi, a member and an engineering student at Nelson Mendela University, invited him to join her at Institute.  Deng was baptised in 2010.

After the fireside Elder Cook and President Neku toured the wards and branches of Port Elizabeth Stake.  They spent three hours talking with President Zitsu in Motherwell.  The brethren are concerned about real growth.  They counseled him to strengthen the roots (branch members) rather than focusing on more baptisms.  Elder George, who was just transferred from Cleary Estates Branch, talked in sacrament meeting on sustaining our leaders.  He explained that the church is organized like a pyramid. Jesus Christ is at the top.  President Monson and his counsellors come next followed by the twelve apostles and the First Quorum of 70.  Below these leaders are mission presidents, stake and ward leaders and leaders of Relief Society, Primary and the Young Women.  All work for the growth and development of members.  It is important to sustain them, follow them and pray for them.

President Zitsu explained that mission, stake and ward leaders receive inspiration for their various callings.  He receives inspiration for the members of his branch.  He loves everyone and gives guidance and counsel for their spiritual growth and development.  

As "The Life and Teachings of Jesus and his Apostles" was the subject of our Institute class this year, we look forward to our tour of Turkey and the Holy Land from October 18 - November 4th so we can compare the church established in ancient times with the one in our day.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Last trip to Grahamstown

The Cleary Estates Elders came by last night to borrow shovels, rakes and seeds.  They have a service project to plant another garden.  Tis the season as it's spring here now and the weather is perfect for planting although this week end is rather cold and windy.
Elders Burton, Nance, Arthur and Muange in our garage to collect tools for their service project
Still no word about the couple who will replace us.   They likely will not arrive before we leave. So we are planning to drive to Cape Town on Tuesday, October 15th for our exit interview with President Wood.  Wednesday morning we will drive up the coast to see the penguins. Then fly out the next day. Someone from the mission office will take us to the air port.  We will arrive in Istambul at 2:55  Friday afternoon and meet up with the "Fun for Less" tour at the hotel that evening.

Lalitta, our Indian landlady, who placed meditations in
the foundation when they built the flat behind their house.

Tom with Khaya, 1st counselor in the branch presidency
This morning we drove up to Grahamstown to say Good Bye.  I took flowers to Lalitta, the Indian owner of the flat we stayed in while we were there.  She and her husband Edward have just retired and turned over their laundry business over to their son.  She gave me a pink silk scarf and a bracelet. She will visit us in P.E. before we leave and we will keep in contact.

She is very happy with Khaya who has been her gardner since we recommended him.  We teased him about finding a wife and suggested he get on with it as he is now in his mid 30's.
He said that he had someone in mind.

We returned ten DVD's and a book I had borrowed from Alan Bamford and gave him the items we had purchased from Makro at his request.  He was excited that President Wood had called and asked him to give a 30 minute talk on the Apostasy at the Zone Conference in East London.

He keeps a log of all the missionaries that visit him and showed us an entry for 29 September 2000 when Elder Viwe Sive Xozwa and his companion Elder John Welling visited him.  Brother Xozwa was featured recently in an article in the Church News entitled "Perpetual Education Fund a Growing Miracle."
Brother Alan 

As he is now living in Port Elizabeth Alan decided to call him.  When he answered Alan said,  "Do you Know Elder Welling?"

"Alan, is that you?" Xozwa responded.  They had not seen each other for thirteen years but obviously Alan is a man one can never forget.

Brother Xozwa became an IT consultant and then went on to study labor relations, corporate governance, business administration and advanced project management.  He is one of the success stories here and they enjoyed getting caught up.

We had lunch at Spurs and then returned to P.E. in time for the 4:00 p.m. Fire Side with Elder Cook from the African South East Area Presidency who will be the sacrament speaker in a combined meeting of Lorraine and P.E. Ward at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow.  We are busy preparing for Zone Conference on Wednesday and my last Institute class that evening.
A common sight in Grahamstown

Lalita asked if I were a decorated after we added a new light fixture and lamps in the living room, some pictures and new curtains and a bulletin board in our office/bedroom.   These were our Christmas presents to each other.  We loved staying here.  The biggest problem was the steep driveway and we had to open the gate at the top whenever we went in or out which we did a lot.  We were covering two assignments and were in P.E. at least twice, sometimes three times each week.  But the branch building was close.  Even though it was on the wrong side of the valley from the townships.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Assisting some Young Adults

At the dentists office
Sisfundiso is on school break so we scheduled two dental appointments for him this week.  We discovered Paul needs to complete one class in order become a security guard so we brought him along.  I stayed with Sisfundiso while Elder Stokoe took Paul to get the grades from a home study program he took in 2010.  The school had moved.  It was hard to find.  They had to call Jo Burg to find it.  His certificate had been mailed but not his grades.

This woman lives next door to Boselwa's Aunt
Good news.  Paul has a B average.  Now he can get a good job.  So they went to the police station where he was fingerprinted.  Next week Paul has an appointment to check into fire arms training.

The social worker did not want to be photographed.
Her office is in this compound.  They checked the boot for
guns before opening the gate to let us in.
I asked Boselwa if she had convinced some relative to go to home affairs to testify for her.

Her aunt had promised to go but when Elder Stokoe went to pick her up last week she had changed her mind.  Her uncle Cecil Rhodes had visited the family she stays with recently but he ignored her.  She will not ask for his help again.  

She decided to visit a social worker to see if she could put pressure on her old blind aunt.  I went with her on the second visit.  The case worker said she had talked to the aunt and asked her to go in but  she said she was sick.  Boselwa said this was just another excuse.

I explained that it was the government's fault and not Boselwa's that she does not have a birth certificate.  That she cannot further her education, apply for a job or live a normal life until she gets her national I.D. number.  The government made the mistake and it's up to them to fix this.  The social worker said she could not make the old woman go in and testify.  However she did call her the next day and the blind old aunt finally agreed.  We arranged to pick them up early Thursday morning.

Later we taught a follow up class at the Blau home where we ran into the missionaries.  Elder Wilde told me that it was the aunt who went to a sonoma or witch doctor.  The woman told her to poison her sister.  So it was the aunt who murdered Boselwa's mother.

Seminary is taught at Sister Blau's home.  She is in black.
Elder Wilde said Boselwa had told him about it when he interviewed her for baptism.  She cried and said she had forgiven her.  Evidently Bosewla wants to be part of a family.  However the only relatives that are kind to her are the one she stays with--relatives of her dead father.

 I've been telling Boselwa that if we can't get anyone to testify in her behalf I will have to visit  a witch doctor.  Little did I realise that one was involved.  Whenever I said this Boselwa would just laugh.  She never told me that it was a sanoma that had given her aunt the poison that killed her mother.

Cows outside Boselwa's aunts house

On Thursday we went to pick them up.  I kept wondering if the aunt would actually come.  We watched the cows feed and talked to the neighbourhood boys while we waited for them. What a relief to see her lead the old woman out.

We arrived at home affairs and found Banisi Muani who told us he could take care of this if we brought in a relative, ten years older than Boselwa, who would testify in her behalf.  He directed us to the counter and instructed a supervisor to help us.

The woman took everything Boselwa had brought in and began entering information into a computer.  Then she returned and told her she needed verification for grades 1 through 6 although she had all her high school records.  The worker did not interview the aunt.  I was surprised and angry.  I wanted to talk to Mauani, the assistant director, but Tom said "It's up to them to sort this out."  We took the old aunt home and drove Boselwa to her Primary school where her teachers, grades one thru six, signed and stamped documents saying she had attended. I do not know if we can get her aunt to come with us again when we go back next week.  I am so frustrated. We are running out of time.

We just heard form Michael Toise.   He got a welding job yesterday.  Charlene is working for a family with a disabled son.  They pay her a salary and cover the cost of transport.  They both finished planning for success over a year ago and are happy to be employed.  They moved in with relatives while trying to accomplish this and now they can better support themselves and their young daughters.  All this happened after Tom refused to help them and suggested they start taking responsibility for themselves.

Inspection, transfers, & stolen bikes

Tuesday morning we inspect the two flats we did not see Saturday morning.

"I'm excited to serve in Motherwell."
Both King Edward and Nugget passed with flying colours.  Elder George was transferred to Motherwell and will replace Elder Wilde who went to Mdsante.

We told him that the Motherwell elders have a beautiful flat with a loft in a resort community called Bluewater Bay.

The plan to transfer four missionaries assigned to Kenya here has fallen through.  Evidently the mission office was successful in securing temporary visas for them.  President Wood approved the rental of a second flat in Bluewater Bay as he expects to send another set of missionaries there as soon as possible.
"They did a great job of cleaning up."

Elder Burton stays.  We replaced a broken windows behind them.  Other elder who were here a year ago broke it.  However the landlord did not want to replace it as he has applied for permits to remodel the flat.  So our missionaries were using an old mattress in the window to keep the cold out until we purchased a new window.

I got in trouble when we bought the new window and installed it without the landlord's permission.  It was broken by elders a year ago but not replaced until Elder Swacina complained to us about it being cold.  The landlord was annoyed.  He did not want me paining, hanging new curtains and fixing things up without his permission. But the window was large enough for someone to climb through and rip them off.  It was a security issue and our job is to see that these young men are warm and safe.

Sister Stokoe,
I wish I could have read all your progress letters. Thanks so much for this. I have trying to work through the Zone Leaders on the Flat Cleanups as the Flats are pretty bad, and I am have great luck with this plan. I have found that Flats, long established can have terrible situations. Your inspections are needed. We are getting better at it but not good enough, still some real disappointments out there. Thanks again for your note and pictures.
Elder France

Elder Von Brugan suggests elders carry taziers like his.

We stopped by Prospect to deliver supplies and talked with the bike missionaries.  While walking in the township last night the bike missionaries felt threatened.  Elder Von Brugen, a South African, thinks every missionary should carry a tazier.

I discussed the leaky roof with in their flat with Ken Farie.  Immediately he sent one of his workers to make repairs.  Now all five flats that we inspect are clean and in good condition.

The compound fence will be raised to prevent another robbery
Kevin Ferie shows where 4 robbers entered his compound
Reply to Elder Stokoe:  

Will you assist the Elders in purchasing new bicycles? Is there an place to purchase bikes in that area? Goodmorning.

Elder France 
  Vehicle & Housing Coordinator  
  South Africa Cape Town Mission
From: Elder Stokoe
Sent: 17 September 2013 02:06 PM
To: South Africa Cape Town Mission
Subject: RE: Bicycles

Elder France:

The damaged bicycle is being held as court evidence.  The Cleary Branch car elders told me this morning the 2 bikes they have are in Cleary; that they drive their car to Cleary, park it, and ride the bikes to save petrol and kilometers.  So those bikes are not available. The bicycle-less elders get dropped off in the nearby township by the Zone Leaders and walk.

Elder Stokoe purchased two new bicycles for the elders who serve in Walmer Township.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lunch & VW Plant

Lunch at Georgios
We toured this plant -- one of the two VW  complexes in Uithenhage
The Volks Wagon plant employees 4,000 people but assembly is done by huge robots.  Workers were on strike for three weeks but are back to work now.  There are two eight hour shifts.  It takes sixteen hours to produce each automobile.

New cars just off the assembly line
We were driven all over the plant in a trolly.  However we were not allowed to take photos.  The plant was built in 1940's.  The first cars produced were Studebakers.  Today the VW plant makes Audis, Nissans, Volvs, Apollos, Golfs, Jettas, as well as other makes.   Then they are shipped to dealers all over the world.

Shifts were cut from eight to four hours each day as the parts suppliers are now on strike.   They are running out of parts -- seats, radiators, etc.  If the suppliers do not settle soon this plant will have to shut down again until the suppliers strikes are settled.

Touring trolly driven by Brian, our tour guide

The Auto Museum
Sisters Gardner & Chase with a truck & car from the 1940's

Race Car

 A new VW

Thanks, Sister Stokoe, for the two blouses.  I love them and have worn both of them now and will get much use from them.  Seems so nice to wear something else I'm not sick of and I appreciate your giving them to me.  Thanks, Elder Stokoe, for the saw you gave us.  I'm sure Elder Gardner will use it and also be able to let others use it from time to time.  We appreciate everything you always do for us!

We love staying with you and always feel so at home.  We will miss you so much when you leave but are so thankful to have gotten to know you.  We have really, really grown to love you both!

The couples activity was wonderful and it was really fun being with you and the other couples.  Thanks again for a really special time together.  Much love, Elder and Sister Gardner

Monday, September 16, 2013

P Day - September 16th

Greetings fellow couples,
The following is the P Day Schedule for 9/16/2013:

1.   9:00 - 10:00 - Daniell Cheetah Breeding Camp & African Arts & Crafts Shop - take R75 highway. The Cheetah Camp is 40km beyond Uitenhage.  On our return we will take exit 336 which will lead us into Uitenhage and the restaurant.            

2.  10:30 - 11:30  Buffet Breakfast at Georgiou, 7 Thorn Street in Uitenhage. It's on the same road we come in on upon exiting at 336.  

3.  12:00 - 2:00 p.m.  Tour the Volkswagon Plant.  Instructions given:  (1) No sandals.  (2) No photos allowed in plant.  (3) Photos allowed in the museum and outside the plant. (3) Guide will be furnished. (4) A brand new VW will be given to each missionary couple in  gratitude for service rendered in South Africa. (Just kidding.  Had to wake you up a bit and brighten your day)          

Thank you those of you who have indicated you are going on tour through the VW plant.  The booking has been made and the tour is free.   We will all meet at Daniell Cheetah Breeding Camp at 9 a.m  The drive from Port Elizabeth to Cheetah Camp takes one hour.  The drive from Cheetah Camp to Georgiou restaurant is 30 minutes.  After embellishing our physical fuel tanks, we will proceed down the road to the VW factory located at        
103 Algoa Road and welcome all the strikers back to work.  We go to the auto pavilion parking lot and come around the building to Reception.  We report to Nombasa, receptionist and our tour coordinator.   Have a good day.  Looking forward to seeing you all.                Elder Stokoe

We arrive early and wait for two other couples

Elder Chase, Gardner and Sherbert

Sister Stumm getting her hands sanitised

Three leapords
Elder & Sis Boyce, Elder & Sis Stumm, Elder & Sister Gardner, Elder & Sis Sherbert, Elder & Sis Blatter
Elder & Sis Chase, Elder & Sis Stokoe

Getting his feet sanitizer

Sisters Blatter & Gardner in the gift shop

Elder Stokoe petting a cheetah

One of the tame cheetahs

E-Mail from Angie Blatter - Thank you for planning our outing today.  Very enjoyable and nice to all get together (and we all came home with all our fingers).

What a wonderful time we had today.  Thank you Elder and Sister Stokoe for planning our great preparation day activity!
Elder and Sister Sherbert

For additional photos see our post "P Day - August 19th."  When we came with the P.E. Zone elders.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

District Meeting & Flat Inspection

We attended the last District Meeting with our Port Elizabeth elders before transfers.  The closing song was "God Be With You Till we Meet Again."  They really enjoyed working together here in Port Elizabeth.
Elders Ramoshaba, Von Brugham, Van Zyl, Cossey, Carlson, Lawson, Dale

We collected the mail at Air Transit on the way back from Motherwell.  The mission office mail is flown in from Cape Town weekly.  Elder Stokoe usually collects, sorts and distributes it. Then Elder Sherbert and Elder Blatters take it to the outlying zones.

Von Brughan, Dale, Lawson & Ramoshaba
Getting post is a big deal and when it comes late they always call to find out if "the post has arrived?"  The mission office also sends out supplies, pamphlets and Books of Mormon alone with the elder's letters and their packages from home.

We senior couples share a post office box in Sunridge Park.  and seldom get our post from Cape Town.  However today we got an wedding announcement from Colton Lee Balmforth who married Amanda Gardner in in the Draper Temple on September 5th.

We began inspecting flats at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday. The Lorraine missionaries always do a super job.  Elder Von Brugon helped squeeze the mattresses into our trunk so they could be transported to Motherwell.

However the Cleary elders did not remember that flat inspection was today.  King Edward was a mess with dishes in the sink and no proper cleaning.  Elder Stokoe was very annoyed and rescheduled those two for Tuesday morning.

Molding around the ceiling is finally installed!
The news at Prospect was both good and bad.  The owner has repaired the roof, finished the molding and repainted.  It took four days and two elders had to cancel their appointment to  guarded their stuff.  These repairs should have been made before they moved in a year ago.  Elder Cossey reports that rain still comes in.

Worst still is that compound was robbed at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.  Four men jumped the fence, smashed a window and stole one flat screen TV and a lap top.  They also stole the elder's bikes.  One was damaged when thrown over the fence and they left it behind.  The other was carried off.

Four robbers ran up these steps.

Shopping for supplies at Mackro 

Back at Bluewater Bay Sat. p.m. to inspect & give Elder Wilde his post.
New developments:  When President Zitsu learned Motherwell is getting two new elders he suggested that we explore the possibility of renting a townhouse in a gated community nearby.  As we are hosting a senior activity to the Volkswagon plant and the Cheetah breeding farm we will have no time to check this out on Monday.  We suggested that President Zitsu and Elder Wilde check on it out and contact Brother France if they discover this is better suited for our Motherwll elders.

Sister Stokoe,  The opening of an additional area in Motherwell is contingent this transfer on 4 elders coming here on temporary assignment who are designated for Kenya where there are visa issues.  I won’t know until Tuesday whether this is going to happen.  President Wood