Saturday, October 19, 2013


Hello Everyone:

  Greetings from Istanbul.  I am sitting here in our hotel room composing this email thanks to the assistance of personnel at the main desk in the lobby -  a very helpful young lady.

  Well, today was tour day #1 and a very busy day.  We jumped aboard our tour bus at 9 am and drove to the Hagia Sophia, a famous historical place of worship in the past for both Christianity and Islam, now considered a museum.  We were there with perhaps  700 -1,000 others, tourists from all over the world. It was a huge edifice with domes, mosaics and ancient decor dating back some 2500 years or so.  Sister Stokoe was so emotionally touched by the history and religious ambiance that she bought a very expensive plaque.

By the way, I can now refer to her as Diane as we are no longer on a mission and were released by the Area two days ago. We have yet to be released by our Willow Creek stake president.  It was a tiring day.  In fact, we arrived close to the Hagia Sophia about 9:45 am and commenced our walking tour which also included neighboring sights.  After Hagia Sophia and more walking we went to a cafe for lunch - 45 minutes, Then onto the bus and to the Blue Mosque where Muslim men outside were washing their feet, face, hands, ears, and nostrils as part of a cleansing ritual prior to entering the mosque to pray.

  The mosque was huge, again filled with hundreds of tourists They outnumbered the total praying. This is a beautiful mosque inlaid with tile in the Arabesque design or style.  Then more walking,
onto the bus, and off to the Istanbul Bazaar which is phenomenal - a modern day market with fingers of streets in north, south, east, west direction that seemed to run at least a hundred yards in all directions. All kinds of vendors. It was an overwhelming shopping experience though we bought nothing.

Our day was from 9am - 7:30 pm and it was a day of walking.  Walking along cobblestone streets,upstairs, through alleyways, main streets teeming with people, down stairs, up ramps, and down more stairs, and mingling shoulder to shoulder at times with hundreds of people.  

We had prepared for this trip by walking 45 minutes to an hour, 6 days a week, for almost two months and found out today that physical preparation was not enough. We both had pain in our lower backs as did others in our party, and as we were constantly walking and standing, walking and standing and listening to the guide's commentary over our headsets, and not always having a place handy to sit, it was taxing on the lower back. 

The sights, however, were remarkable historically, architecturally and religiously with the Islamic call to prayer the loudest voice in the environment. We all enjoyed the day.  Most of our fellow Fun for Less members are from Utah and we were surprised to see a couple, Howard and Kay, that we had toured with in China and Thailand.  They were equally surprised to see us.  There are also two wives that were born and raised in New Zealand. There is also another missionary couple en route home like us.  He's a medical doctor and served at the Area level covering several countries.  

 He told me in Spain, at the annual "Running of the Bulls", which is internationally famous, four of the missionaries decided they were going to run the streets with the bulls.  So with out getting permission from their mission president they did so. Unfortunately, one got gored in the posterior in a most delicate place and tossed in the air and had to have extra delicate repair work by a surgeon.  So it pays to ask permission of a mission president as opposed to assuming you can out run the bulls in Spain.  

We saw a lot today that I have not mentioned, but we really enjoyed the day, though tiring, and look forward to tomorrow to sailing on the Bosphorous Sea and other activities.
Best wishes from the Marriot Istanbul Asia hotel until next you hear from us.

 (I don't have to sign Elder anymore)  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

George & Cape Town

Mount George taken from the botanical gardens

We enjoyed spending Monday night with the Gardners
We spent most of the day Monday packing, getting one large suit case shipped air transport and two boxes sent surface mail, we had dinner and then drove to George.  It was after nine when we finally arrived in the city and the streets were very dark.

Luckily Elder Gardner called asking where we were.  He promised to meet us at Wellington Street.   He pulled up to the intersection just as we stopped for a light.  We would never have found the flat had he not been there at the right moment to guide us.

After a good night's rest we spent the morning touring.  We enjoyed the botanical gardens.

Hanna & Joseph
They drove us to the township where we met an African couple who are investigators.  He is giving up his smokes and have been attending church regularly.  George is interesting as there are very poor black people here and some very rich Afrikaners who live in beautiful homes.

One couple have a farm where they host weddings and other gatherings.  That woman made dinner for them and sent them off with food for us as well which we enjoyed before driving on to Cape Town.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Trip Itinerary

Hello Everett, Corinne, Ron and Loraine:

Thought I would share a bit of our trip itinerary with you being you are not with us like days of the past:

Day 1: Oct. 17 – Fly from Cape Town to Istanbul via Dubai.

Day 2: Oct. 18 – Arrive Istanbul.  Stay here 3 nights at Marriott hotel.

Day 3 Oct. 19 -   Tour begins:  Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome, Egyptian Obelisk, bronze sculpture entwined serpents of Delphi, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace.

Day 4: Oct. 2 -  Boat ride on the Bosporus, the water separating Asia from Europe; on to the Black Sea.  Afternoon finish tour of Istanbul.

Day 5: Oct. 21 -  Istanbul – Kusadasi:  Fly from Istanbul to Izmir near Ephesus. Visit Ephesus and surrounding areas. The house of the Virgin Mary atop of Bulbul Mountain, then explore best preserved theaters, fountains and buildings.  Sleep Kusadasi.

At Ephesus
Day 6: Oct. 22 - Philadelphia – Sardi – Smyrna:  Visit ancient ruins of Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna and more.  Return to Kusadai.

 On the Isle of Patmos
Day 7: Oct. 23 -  Kusadasi – Isle of Patmos:  Ship to Patmos, Greece; explore island of John the Revelator. Dr. Michael Wilcox will talk to us on book of Revelations in New Testament.  

Day 8: Oct. 24 – Kusadasi – Istanbul:  Free day, enjoy beach resort hotel.  Late afternoon flight back to Istanbul.

Day 9: Oct. 25 – Istanbul – Amman, Jordan:  Today fly to Amman, Jordan.  Spend night in our 5 star hotel.
 Petra - center of trade in the ancient world

Day 10: Oct. 26 – Amman – Petra – Amman:  Travel to Petra newly voted “Wonder of the World.”  Walk down narrow canyon to view of the Treasury – a city carved from cliffs of the canyon.  Sleep in Amman.

Day 11: Oct. 27 – Amman – Galilee:  Visit Christ’s Baptismal site on the Jordan
River Jordan
side of the Jordan River, swim in the Dead Sea before crossing into Israel.  Afternoon visit Masada.  Rising above the desert floor is Herod the Great’s fortress of Masada which we will visit via cable car.  Stop at the Qumran caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found then continue on to Galilee to overnight.   

Day 12: Oct. 28 – Nazareth – Galilee:  Travel to Elin Harod where Gideon chose his 300 men before routing the Midianites.  On to Mount Carmel where Elijah had his historic confrontation with the priests of Baal.  To Nazareth, home of the Savior for 30 years of his life.  Day ends with a sweeping view of the Jezreel Valley from Nazareth dominated by Mt. Tabor.  We will discuss the transfiguration of the Savior.  

Deborah and Barak gathered their forces at Mt. Tabor and defeated Sisera’s iron chariots.  On to Arbel cliff for an overview of the Sea of Galilee.  Then a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee where we discuss Jesus walking on the water and stilling the storm.
Sea of Galilee at twilight

Day 13: Oct. 29 – Galilee:  Journey to the north of the Sea of Galilee and visit Capernaum where many wonderful events and teachings of the Savior took place.  Stop at Mount of Beatitudes and ponder the great truths delivered by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  Drive far north of Israel to the Canaanite city of Hazor and on to Tel Dan where Jeroboam erected a golden calf for the Israelites to worship, marking the beginning of a road that would end with the “lost ten tribes.”  The restored walls and gates give us an excellent idea of the fortifications Joshua would have faced as he conquered the land.  Visit Banias, known as Caesarea Philippi in the days of Jesus when he asked his disciples, “Whom do ye say I am?”  End of day return to hotel in Galilee.

Singing Carols in the Church of the Nativity
Day 14: Oct. 30 – Caesarea – Bethlehem – Jerusalem:  Focus shifts now to the West of the Mediterranean Sea and Apostles Peter and Paul as we discover Caesarea. Here the Roman centurion, Cornelius, became the first gentile convert to Christianity and Paul related his account of his vision on the road to Damascus to King Agrippa.  Visit a picturesque Roman aqueduct and wade in the Mediterranean Sea.  Conclude visit to Caesarea with visit to the roman theatre, and Hippodrome where chariot races were held.  Continue on to Bethlehem and recall the Savior’s birth,  Walk through the Church of the Nativity and sing Christmas carols. Have time to shop at the best OliveWood store in Israel, Nissan Brother in Bethlehem.  Sleep overnight in Jerusalem.

Day 15: October 31 – Jerusalem:  Explore ruins south of the Temple Mount and walk the sidewalks and stairs of Jesus’ time.  Climb the Temple Mount where both Solomon’s and Herod’s temples once stood and where the magnificent Dome of the Rock and Al Aksa Mosques now stand. Stop at the
Western Wall, the most sacred site of the Jewish faith, and write a prayer on a piece of paper and place it into the cracks of the wall as millions have done before.   Travel to the new city of Jerusalem and visit the Shrine of the Book where the Dead Sea Scrolls are located, and the model City, a reproduction of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus.  Visit the Jerusalem Museum.  Sleep in Jerusalem.

Exiting Hezekiah's tunnel
Day 16: November 1 – Jerusalem – Be it Lehi:  Walk through Hezekiah’s tunnel, built over 2500 years ago to secure the water supply of Jerusalem during the Assyrian siege.  Will need a flashlight.  At end of tunnel find the Pool of Siloam where the man born blind washed as instructed by Jesus and came away seeing. 

Head to Beit Lehi to experience firsthand an archeological dig.  Observe early Christian mosaics, oil presses, a mikvah (a ritual bath)  and the recently discovered Columbary where doves were raised by the thousands to be sacrificed at the temple.  See a New Testament period stable giving an idea of the one Jesus was born.  Stop at the Valley of Elah where David fought Goliath.  Then back to Jerusalem.

Day 17:  November 2 – Jerusalem:  Today the spiritual pinnacle of our pilgrimage.  We retrace the footsteps of our Savior during the last hours of his life and feel the deep appreciation these places create for the sacrifice of the Son of God. 

 We begin at Mt. Zion at the traditional site of the Upper Room where the Last Supper was shared with devoted apostles.  We visit St. Peter in Gallicantu, the possible site of the cock’s crowing and the Palace of Caiaphas where Jesus was tried.  From there we descend into the Kidron Valley to visit Gethsemane, the Garden of the Savior’s deepest prayers.  The afternoon we enter the Old City and continue the last hours of the Savior’s life.  We visit the Church of St. Anne where the Pools of Bethesda were located.  Here Jesus commanded the impotent man to take up his bed and walk.  We visit the Convent of the Sisters of Zion, the location of the Antonia fortress where Pilate tried the Savior.  Out highlight day concludes at Golgotha and the Garden Tomb where we will have time to ponder the Resurrection and final triumph of Christ.
At the Garden Tomb

Day: 18; November 3 – Fly home from Tel Aviv to the U.S.

Hope you enjoy this written excursion.  It would have been nice if we all could be on it but time, place, health, physical challenges, and money play their part.  There is a lot of walking involved and in Jerusalem busses cannot get to locations.  In preparation we are walking  45 minutes each morning instead of our normal half an hour and will probably boost it to an hour two weeks before our departure.   We are busy as we head toward the finish line and wrap things up.  We couldn’t have a better grand finale to our mission than to follow the steps of the Savior and apostles, walking where they walked.

Elder Stokoe

Farewell Activities

Friday night Susan Rank hosted a dinner for Elder Stokoe and I.  A single lady and retired nurse, Susan has invited us, along with the Lorraine Missionaries, to her home for dinner on many occasions.  Once she took us out to a restaurant.

First Counselor Elder Mdledle with wife saying Good Bye
I'm wearing a traditional African crown,
Elder S. was given  Xhosia head gear.
Sister Cwele - Temple preparation teacher.
Saturday afternoon Motherwell branch surprised us with a party and pot luck dinner.  We enjoyed the best African dishes we have ever eaten.  All the women wore beautiful native costumes.  The Relief Society sisters sang and danced.  My young women insisted that Tom and I join the dancers. Several gave tributes and then sang "How Great Thou Art."  I cried.  We received many gifts.

Sifundiso gave me a purse and flip flops made from Spring box leather.  I received slippers from Sister Sneke and bracelets from Sister Blaauw, the Mdledle family and others.  The best gift was the food and entertainment. We enjoy such an outpouring of friendship and love. These Africans remind us a lot of the Polynesians.  They are so warm and loving.

At 7:30 p.m. our four Port Elizabeth missionaries brought over a South African dinner prepared by  Von Brughen and Alexander.  It included punpkin and melee and a wonderful sweet spicy gravy.  As we parted they sang the mission song.

In Sacrament meeting I talked about Motherwell pioneers who are "children of light" in Africa.  I gave my last Sunday School lessons to fourteen youth--my largest class to date.  Nomtunzi Xozwa, the stake Relief Society president, gave an awesome lesson on sharing our talents to the R.S. sisters.  Tom's talk was on the parable of the talents.  She quoted him several times during her lesson.  The primary is growing very fast.  Many non-members come.  Buzelwa tells me they are there because they feel loved.

Elders Alexander, Von Brugen, Dale and Parkin
We were back in P.E. at 3:00 p.m. for dinner with Sister Janette Lake.  She had Tom to give her a priesthood blessing.  Janette is will be talking next Sunday.  She hopes to encourage the Relief Society sisters and members of the ward to be less judgmental and have more charity for one another.

Then we drove back to Motherwell for dinner and a lesson with the Nyqoutsti family.  They are going to be baptised a week from Saturday.  It will be great to have another father led family in Motherwell branch.  They have six children. Four are old enough to be baptised.  An area councilman, Bahle is politically influential.  He is a leader in his party.  This family came in contact with the church because the wife works with Libby Mdledle and she invited them to church.  Elder Stokoe gave everyone a hand out and they seemed to enjoy his lesson on "How to give a talk."

Bahle will run for re-election in 2014.  He said he will use the material in preparing his speeches.  The two Motherwell missionaries (George & Hlophe) and Stifendiso joined us.  We had a nice dinner with the Nyqoutste family.  Tom feels a special connection with Brother Bahle.  They exchanged e-mail addresses and agreed to stay in contact.
Photo shop employees.  The owner is the one in lime green.
These people have been helping senior missionaries print
photos for many years.  What a blessing they are honest.

After going to the Kodak shop Saturday,  I could not find my lap top.   I was awake all night wondering if it had been stolen from the car.  We were distracted when we went out to Motherwell for the party.  The wind was so strong you could not open the car door easily and Tom thought he had forgotten to lock it.

The photo machine was down so we had to pick up the last prints for the album on Sunday morning.  When I arrived at 9:00 a.m. the owner handed me my lap top saying I had left it on the counter.  What a blessing I still have it as  I hope to continue posting to this blog on our trip through the Holy Land.  I'm not sure I could do it with Tom's ancient H.P.  It's hard to use.

The handsome young man on the left always helps transfer pictures from my laptop to a thumb drive so they can be printed.  I told him that when the young women in Salt Lake see how handsome he is they will all want to come here to meet him.  "I'll be waiting," he replied.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Thandokoizi (Zim) Mdledle

We spent the morning helping Zim get registered at Dalmelin University.  The admissions officer gave us a tour of the school.  We discovered that Jessica, who teaches economics, is the organist in Port Elizabeth Ward.   Zim will begin taking classes in February.  First Semester she has Business Communications, Business Mathematics, Local Government Management and a class in Management Principals and Practices.
Jessica and Zim

I majored in Political Science and am pleased that Zim is going into that field.  Heaven knows the South African needs  intelligent people with integrity, training and commitment to run the government.

Brother Mdledle shared his testimony on Sunday and commented on how Elder Stokoe and I are very well matched.  Little does he know. It's been hard being together twenty-four hours a day as we had separate careers before coming on mission and are each used to doing our "own thing."

We visited members yesterday and Elder Stokoe gave everyone a lesson on the golden rules of public speaking.  He shared the hand out which he had used in speech classes for many years thinking this would help the newly baptised when asked to give talks.

While we were walking this morning I made the comment that it might have been better if he had adapted the subject to gospel principles rather than using, "Dogs are man's best friend" for an example.

Zim with Admission officer & the Academic Vice President
He became very defensive.  He said I had insulted his handout.   He went on and on explaining that he had used this in all his classes and every word had come out of text book written by an expert in the field.   I responded, "Your plagiarized material is just fine but it would have been better to adapt it to the gospel."

He got mad, turned around and started walking home.  When we came on mission I would often say to myself, "I must forgive him seven times seventy" and keep my mouth shut rather than share what I really thought.    However, after companionship training, I now know it's better to resolve differences as you go along.  I knew exactly what he was thinking:

"Lord, the woman that thou gaveth me and commanded that she should stay with me hath insulted my handout!  I am sore vexed.  She goth on and on in the manner of nagging and will not keep her mouth shut."                                                                          
                                                                                       So I hurried after him, caught up and said:

Elder Stokoe, our guide and brother Mdledle in the court
standing in front of the student's swimming pool.
"I am your companion.  We have been taught how to deal with these kind of problems.  I did not mean to insult your plagerized hand out.  I was simply making a suggestion.

The appropriate response is: "Yes dear." This acknowledges you heard me and that you value me.  Words which will prevent further argument and will bring the subject to a close.  Then we can talk about other things."

While driving out to Motherwell, he finally said, "Yes, and spelled d-e-a-r."  Looks like I'm making a little progress.  However he still refuses to say "Yes dear."

Elder S. is now happily preparing dinner for the Zone Conference tomorrow.  I've made a couple of suggestions which were not well rcceived.  He claims that for a farm girl, I am very stingy with the food.

Email from Pat Butts,

I remember when we were proseltying on our mission, David wanted to go door to door. Since we were also working in the office and didn't have a lot of time I only wanted to knock on doors I felt impressed by the spirt to knock on. It was a challenge meshing our two minds.

You two have done so much good. You have been amazing. You have truly both put your shoulder to the wheel. You have finished the work and kept the faith,....  How are you since you had surgery? Are your hormones okay?   Affectionately,  Pat

Monday, October 7, 2013

P.E.'s People & Places

There are hundreds of churches in
Port Elizabeth
Containers make a great place of business in the townships.
Tom's favorite activity was catering Zone Conferences
Mine was getting a massage.  Rose found the pinched nerve that
  was causing my hip flexer problem which sometimes caused me to stumble.

 Rose owns Sabai Massage.  Doctors frequently refer their patients to her.
We loved seeing all the  interesting hair styles

Sister  Palmer just had her sixth knee surgery
  The flowers were beautiful but not from us.

This church is next to the compound where the Palmers live.
 I've often wondered what they store in  "The Store House Church."
My neighbor started a church and invited me to his bible study class.

Cosco ships whatever they cannot sell in the U.S. to South Africa.
Their containers sometimes become part of other buildings.

These sister  share the primary school with our branch.
Religion is big here.  Some of the churches have congregations of thousands.

We visit teach Ngaleleka Thandekile
who serves as young women's president

Last Week in P.E.

New Relief Society Presidency  Sister Gomba 1st counselor,
Sister Mzini President & Sister Sneke, 2nd counselor
Lots of excitement in the branch yesterday with releases and several new callings:  Sister Cwele, who served as Relief Society President for ten months, was released,  then called to teach the temple preparation class for the people going to the temple in November.  President Zitsu announced the engagement of Siyabonga Willie and Felecia Mzini and suggested other young adults ought to follow suit.  Cute Nikki got up and looking directly at Bushle and other single men, pointed to her finger and said, "Listen up guys.  I don't have a ring on my finger yet!"  
Nikki in red with other singles in the Branch

Buzelwa Norongo bore her testimony and told everyone she had just gotten something she had wanted all her life.  She thanked us and the good Lord that she finally has her national I.D number.  Sister Mzini said she has prayed for years for a husband for her only child and now she is engaged.   Siyabonga Willie followed up by saying how much his life has changed after getting baptised.  He has a great job and a wonderful wife when they get married on November 30th. Various others thanked us for our service to the branch.

As it has been my desire to help two young men and two young women in Motherwell before we leave on the 14th, so I told the Mdledles we would pay for their number two daughter to continue her studies at NMU until she can qualify for a PEF loan after the first of the year. 

Today we shipped our last package off using surface mail.  We will begin packing the suitcase we are shipping air freight which will leave one suitcase and one carry on each for our trip.  We had two suitcases we don't need so we are sending both on missions.  One goes to Stefundiso and the other went to Bulelwa.  We got this e-mail from her today:
Bulelwak Kewuti is Aya's twin sister.
He is serving a mission in Johannesburg.

"Dearest Elder and Sister Stokoe, this is Bulelwa Kewuti in Grahamstown. I know you still remember me,  I never had the chance to tell you how thankful I am for the suitcase Sister Chase told me it's from you guys. Thanks so much, by the way I recieved my mission call. I'm leaving on the 28th December I'm going to Uganda Kampala Mission, .. Thanks. Love and miss you both."                                                                                                              Bulelwa Kewuti  

We forgot to take the cell phone along while running errands and got this when we returned,

"Sister Stokoe, I tried to call you a couple of times but no answer.  We were thinking that the Zone Training would be on Wednesday but it looks like it's Thursday.  So, instead of coming Tuesday night like we'd planned, we'll now plan to see you on Wednesday.  Remind me, are we going to make the food after we get there?  If so, what time would you like us to be there?  Am I supposed to make anything before we leave?  I'm thinking you said we'd do it all there and that's why I feel so at ease about it all.  Please remind me if I'm supposed to make anything here before we come or bring cake pans or anything.  Thanks!

P.S. We're looking forward to spending time with you and Elder Stokoe and sadly realize it'll be our last time staying with you.  Thanks for your always inviting us to stay and making us feel so much at home."  With love, Sister Gardner.

We called them back to ask if we could stay overnight with them on our way to Cape Town. We will spend next Monday morning closing our Internet account (they needed a 4 week notice!!!) and transferring our rand to U.S. Dollars. Also a complicated process requiring verifications from the mission office, our credit union, a pass port and other documentation.   It's a ten hour drive to Cape Town so staying overnight with the Gardners in George makes sense.

We are going with Elders Alexander and Dale for a last visit with Phillip & Mariam Clark tonight.  We have five appointments with the recently baptised in Motherwell tomorrow.  Sister Rank has invited us to dinner Friday night.  We will say good bye to people in P.E. Ward and then speak in Motherwell next Sunday.   Then it's off to Cape Town.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Deng Galuak, Erin Palmer, Nicole and Neil Forie, Phuti Rukia and Latando Matanda, Elder Stokoe's PEF student
Deng, Phuti and Latando all attend Nelson Mendela University
We concluded the year with the Book of Revelations. I spent a lot of time researching the four horses of the apocalypse and discovered that they do not come in our day but appeared in earlier dispensations.  Sorry Wendy Alex, but you are wrong.  (She is the author of the popular "Brother's Series" which claims the four horsemen will come in our day.)  It's such a blessing to have additional scripture or we would be as confused about the Book of Revelations as the rest of the world.

Basically John had a vision on a Sunday some 2,000 years ago.  Banished to  the Isle Patmos, he saw the Savior (described in Revelations 1:14-16.)  He came in glory riding a  White horseHe that sat upon him was called Faithful and Truth leading an army.  All on white horses.   (Revelations 19; 11-16)  He will conqueror evil.   Jesus Christ was the only one able to break the seals of the books that described the history of the earth.

First Seal – 4,000 to 3,000 B.C. In this period John saw someone on a white horse (emblem of victory); who had a bow (weapons of war); wearing a crown (the garland or wreath of a conqueror) and who went forth conquering and was victorious.  Perhaps the rider on this white horse was Enoch, general over the armies of the saints in his day.  (See Revelations 7:13-17 & Moses 7:13-17).

Second Seal – 3,000 to 2,000 B.C.  Red Horse - Noah’s day.  The earth  was corrupt and filled with violence and wickedness. (See Moses 8:22, 28, 29, 30)

Third Seal – 2,000 to 1,000  Black horse - famine and hunger with scales in hand to weigh the grain, of which there was very little. Abraham's brother died of hunger.  He built an alter and prayed that the famine might be turned away.  Then he went to Egypt where the famine continued.  There was grievous hunger. (Abraham 2; 17-21.)

Fourth Seal – 1,000 B.C. to the meridian of time.  God’s people (the Jews) were warring among themselves.  .  .  The Pale Horse is death - Revelations 6:8 describes how men were killed by the sword,  hunger and wild beasts. The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.  The Jews were dispersed and one fourth of the people on the earth died.    

Fifth Seal – 1,000 A.D.  Birth of Christ. The spread of Christianity followed by the apostasy which I described in "The Mormon Waldensians,"at  John's vision opened with the Lord's council to the seven churches in Asia in his day.  But these instructions applies to our time.  This was the age of Christian martyrs.  

Sixth Seal – 1,000 A.D. to the present – We are living in the last days of the sixth seal when Christ's church was restored by the prophet Joseph Smith.  The Book of Mormon came forth.  Heavenly messengers helped restore the priesthood.  Elias is a title which represents the angels who came. 

Little Book - The gathering of the tribes of Israel. Revelations 10:1-2.  I'm still working on this.

During the Millennium:

Woman with a baby – Revelations 12:1-7  (55-24) p. 462.  Joseph Smith translation:  Woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of 12 stars. . .  The woman,  representing the church of God, "was delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ.” I ran into difficulty here so passed the baton to Elder Sherbert who explained by reading the words from modern prophets which are found online at 

Harlot riding on a beast is Satan’s kingdom which includes any and all institutions that support and promote wickedness throughout the world.

Lake of Fire = man’s torment.  Everyone condemns themselves by the way they live.  “The saddest words of tongue and pen are alas, it might have been. “  Free agency will exist during the millennium. Not everyone who survives the burning will be members of the church. 

"After Christ comes, all the peoples of the earth will be subject to him but there will be multitudes of people on the face of the earth who will not be members of the Church; yet all will have to be obedient to the laws of the kingdom of God, for it will have dominion upon the whole face of the earth.  These people will be subject to the political government, even though they are not members of the ecclesiastical kingdom which is the Church."  p. 462 The Life and Teachings of Jesus & his Apostles. Published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, SLC, Utah.  Copyright 1979.

At the end of class the students had a party.  They brought refreshments and presented a card in which each had written a message,

Deng wrote:  "Thanks for teaching us Institute.  It has strengthtened me spiritually and I have learnt a lot.  I am indeed very grateful for the help, care and love you have accorded me.  You were and are always so cheerful.  Thanks for the wonderful meals and company.  I will always remember you.  I also won't forego the first words I heard from you sister Stokoe, "You don't have the keys of the kingdom!" was funny.  May God bless the two of you and your family.  Farewell, Yours Deng Gatlak.  (He graduates in January and will go home to South Sedan.  Thankfully he can attend the branch in Juba.)

Erin wrote:  "Thanks so much for all the love and effort you have put into teaching us throughout the year.  My testimony has grown so much in the gospel because of it.  Thank you for helping me with all the catch-u work in order to qualify.  It is very much appreciated.  (Erin is in drama and missed classes because she had to attend rehearsals.)

Phuti wrote:  Thank you Sister & Elder Stokoe for the lessons, may you be greatly blessed for your service.  You guys are truly wonderful.  I wish you and your family happiness.  Safe journey home.  Lots of love Phuti.

Nicole wrote:  Thank you for everything you have taught us and for taking the time to get to know us and thank you for preparing such good lessons.

Neil wrote:  Thank you Elder and Sister Stokoe for teaching us insititute this year.  I always apreciate the enthusiasm in which our lessons were taught.  I felt the spirit a few times.  Travel safely back home.  Lot of love, Neil.

They concluded by quoting 2 Nephi 25:26,  "And we talk of Christ, we rejoince in Christ, and we write according to our prophecies that our children may knowto what source they may look for a remission of their sins."

I love these kids.  I'm very happy that P.E. Stake has formed a Young Adult Branch at NMU in September.  I  forwarded this and the post on social media to each of them.  Both describe how quickly all the prophecies in the Book of Revelations are coming to pass in our day.

Boselwa, Mzini family, Lwando & Sister Sneke

Boselwa will have her  birth certificate and South African
national identification number in three months.
She will be able to get a job and continue her education.
Wednesday we took Boselwa and her blind old aunt back to home affairs.  The supervisor who sent her back for her primary school records spent an hour helping her fill out various forms.  Elder Stokoe stood with her at the counter while  I sat nearby with her aunt.

It was touch and go and did not look very promising until the assistant director came out of his office and shook hands with all of us. Then Elder S. took Boselwa off to get some I.D. photos.  They fingerprinted her aunt. Both were taken into a secure rooms where their testimonies were heard.  We have spent five months working on this including four visits to home affair and countless trips to secure out the information needed to get this done.  I asked what name she would be using now that she has an official ID?  It's "Boselwa Norongo." She would preferred to go by the name her mother gave her, Mineka, which means beautiful day.

I asked why her aunt poisoned her mother but Boselwa did not know.  She heard they fought a lot.  She was touched when I told her that my friends were praying for her and that Pat Butts put her name in the temple.  Boselwa hopes to have her mothers and father's temple work done as soon as possible.
Catherine Mzini and her daughter Felicia

Lwando Gomba and daughters.  His wife was working
We visited Sister Catherine Mzini and her daughter Felicia Mzini and her two children on Tuesday.  Catherine was baptised July 6th and is now the 1st counselor in the Relief Society.  Felicia is in the young women's presidency.  She and her 14 year old son Siphosethu were baptized in June.  We have been giving them all follow up lessons and they are sad to see us go.    I have Siphosethu in my young adult Sunday School class.  Sikelelwe is the four year old sister.  Felicia has never been married. Her mother told me that she is now engaged to Siyabonga Willie (who was baptised on August 24th.)  This is an answer to her mother's prayers.  She prayed that Felicia would find a worthy priesthood holder to marry. It's a good  match.  Both are strong members and very bright.

We visited Lwando Gomba and his two daughters.  Elder Stokoe taught him how to lead the singing in Priesthood.  This is the newest family in the branch.  Brother and Sister Gomba were baptised September 7th.

Thandeke Sneke was baptised on May 4th.
We paid a final visit to Sister Sneke, an awesome African woman who really knows how to pray.  I keep my eyes open so I can see her dramatic gestures.  She owned a huge house and a prosperous business until her daughter got sick. Relatives called in the witch doctors and they cheerfully worked on both mother and daughter until Thandeka became so ill she had to go to the hospital along with her daughter.   I do not know what sickness the young woman had but she died leaving her mother to raise Portia who is now  seven and in the third grade.

Relatives and the witch doctors divided up Sister Sneke's assets and moved her from her big house.  She now lives in a much small house in Motherwell with the grand daughter and her twenty-five year old son.  Her oldest son is a policeman in Cape Town.  He visits but I've never talked with him.  Wonder what he thinks about thinks about his mother's situation.

Sister Sneke is taking classes in religious philosophy at a local university and is very busy spreading the gospel among her friends and neighbours.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Using Social Media to share the gospel

The subject of the young adult Fireside on Sunday was using social media to share the gospel.  All these young adults have cell phones and every one of them love using social media.  Consequently, the church is changing the way the missionaries teach.  This e-mail from an elder in Santa Rosa California to his family describes changes that will soon be coming to our mission:

 "Alright everyone listen up!    I am not being disobedient! The work is hastening!! We as missionaries are now allowed to contact and teach ANYONE ANYWHERE in the world and teach them over the internet via skype, facebook, facetime, chat, email, blog etc!! We can contact and ask any one for referrals and that includes each of you!

     Another amazing thing is that we the California Santa Rosa mission are the first mission in the entire world to as a whole receive the "8873" or in other words, we now have Ipad mini's to assist us in all of our work! The area book is on  our planners and schedules are on it--- we have all of our manuals and scriptures and Mormon messages and videos on it and we can get access to facebook on it wherever we have wifi!! It is awesome!! So when I contact you on facebook, don't be surprised!! And in the future don't be surprised if I skype you up so that we can teach together! Yes me and you and my companion in the future could teach together via skype! Mom or Dad you could be the "member present" at my lessons!! Isn't that sweet? I have already begun contacting a few of my teammates from Barstow that would ask me questions about the church! We will see if they are interested!

     So HUGE changes in missionary work! huge! So on Thursday when the missionary department came and gave us our ipads they showed us  three scriptures that blew me away. The first is Matthew 24:14.

Do you remember what happened on June 23rd? That was the big missionary meeting. Do you remember what happened in that meeting? What happened that was different? What changed? anything? we learned about Members working with missionaries, the responsibility of members and ward mission leaders and bishops, which is what we have been trying to do for a long time right? But is that all it was? Well no. There had to be something more than that to make it historical. We received a letter that said it was going to be a huge what  happened that made it historical?? Well this is what bro Donaldson from the missionary department said. He said that that day marked the Beginning of the end, just like the scripture says. Because that meeting was when the whole world was opened for missionary work!! Then the end will come...I hope that made your stomach drop because mine did!!  Now here is another scripture. DC 88:73

This scripture is fulfilled. it is no longer I WILL hasten it is now currently I AM HASTENING MY WORK RIGHT NOW.  
With the age lowered the scene was set and with these ipads and the thousands of missionaries teaching everyone everywhere online, the work has hastened. With theses ipads the work is hastened. The hastening is literally here it is currently happening we are apart of prophecies being fulfilled!

Another scripture, Mosiah 16:1 What is the significance of that verse? Every nation shall SEE EYE TO EYE. How can us here in Cali and people in Europe see eye to eye?? i will tell you. SKYPE is how we will see eye to eye. As we were getting our ipads on Thursday the leaders who had their ipads already within the first  hour had taught four lessons via chat. That is usually how much we teach in one day, on a good day! Accomplished in an hour. but they were not only teaching people in their area they were teaching people in Europe, Astonia, Russia. One of our zone leaders taught a girl in Russia via skype last week. They saw EYE TO EYE.

Are you catching the vision??

Something else the missionary department told us is that they have found that most people are online from like nine pm to 12 pm. So how will we teach those people if we are asleep? well bro Donaldson said this. " We will have to get the help of the missionaries on the other side of the world, Missionaries in japan and Europe will have to teach our people and help us out here while we sleep and then in return we will help out with their people over there while they sleep." in fact during that meeting he got a call from a mission president in Japan about that exact topic. IT IS NUTS!!!!!

Missionary work has dramatically changed AGAIN. Which is another testimony to me that this truly is a LIVING BREATHING CHURCH!!! I had a funny experience last week. While we were studying, we heard a knock on the door. It was two old ladies giving out pamphlets for the Jehovah Witness. They asked if we wanted a pamphlet from the watch tower and I said yes and offered them a pamphlet, they said no ha ha but I thought it was funny because they are still doing the exact same thing that they have always done. I haven't tracted in months because that is an ineffective finding activity and we have been taught that there are much better ways to find. And it has worked. We are finding many people to teach that are not just quantity but quality. And other churches are still doing the same old thing because they are not guided by revelation! How many times has our missionary program changed!! so many times!! Since I have been on my mission there have been six or seven big meetings where we have learned new things to do and implement to increase our effectiveness and teaching ability. I know with out a doubt this church is truly guided by Our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ through our living prophet. . ."

Concluding statement from the Mc Donald's, the area public relations missionaries who wanted Tom to direct Joseph when they first arrived in South Africa, "Be an Example in all You Do and Say. As you begin sharing your testimony through Social Media, it is important that you stay constant with your beliefs.  Your example in what you send out can touch many people.  Let it be an example for good.  Help and uplifting others lifts us as well."

Hi:  Thanks for this information.   I went with Everett to a meeting about four months ago concerning the new things coming out for the missionaries and how they will teach and find people.  This is what we learned also - same as the things that you sent.  I guess in a way it is sort of scary that things are going forward and that soon the world will be taught but in another way it is exciting as well.