Thursday, October 27, 2016

Lesotho Orphanage/School

On our way back to Durban from Lesotho we stopped at this school/orphanage. It is unclear whether it is an orphanage as we were told the last time we visited that it was, but this time someone said it was just a school. Despite that, it is a fun place to visit as the children are mesmerized by Nicole and her blonde hair. We are excited to visit at least one more time before Nicole returns to the states after Christmas to attend BYU - so proud of her!

 Nicole loves playing with the children, and they love playing with her!

 I asked this lady if Nicole and I could read to the children next time we visit - she was thrilled at the suggestion! Can't wait. The cute girl on the end is the granddaughter of our missionary couple living in Lesotho. She was visiting with her father,

 Nicole teaching the children to play the game of "Simon Says"

President Thompson captures the children's attention and plays a game with them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Inspiring Members of Lesotho

I think I've mentioned this already that Lesotho is a landlocked country within South Africa. It's a great place, and the members here are some of the most faithful I've ever witnessed.

 The Chandlers are an amazing missionary couple.

 The woman in front with the red jacket got baptized last week and confirmed on Sunday. This is a great group of people.

 The story of this family is worth repeating! President Thompson was interviewing this man by asking a series of questions, like: do you pray? He answered "everyday". He was asked if he reads the scriptures and his answer was the same. He was asked if he holds Family Home Evening, and his answer was still the same. President was puzzled and thought maybe they had a communication problem. He asked again if he really held FHE everyday and the man said, "yes, everyday! In fact, I have 7 people coming over tonight."  We discovered that this couple did indeed have FHE everynight and were having a competition to see who could get the most converts. However, they told us that they have started working together and to date have had 13 baptisms in the past 3 years. They are a genuine inspiration to all of us. Their love for the gospel is evident in so many ways. We love them dearly, as we do all the people in Lesotho. 

I love the beautiful stories of the people in Lesotho and South Africa. The young woman wearing white read the Book of Mormon and started attending church as a youth. She really wanted to go to girls camp and a temple recommend was required. Because she has been working on the Strength of Youth and working toward earning her Young Womens medallion, it was assumed she was already a member. When she went to the branch president to get the recommend, the president discovered she had not been baptized. He told her that in order to get the recommend, she must be baptized.  She said "okay, I want to be baptized very much". To be baptized, she needed to take the missionary discussions, which she did, and in two months she was baptized in 2007. She also earned her Young Womens medallion. She decided to study medicine and went to Cuba. Because it was against the law to proselyte there, she wondered if there were any church members. She desperately wanted to attend church.  So, she put up several flyers in the hallways of the school asking "if you are Mormon call" this number. She got a phone call from a young lady that was a member, and she had one other friend that was a member. They got together every week for a few months to study the Young Womens theme, and read scriptures, and study the gospel together. One of her friends fell ill and had to go to the hospital. She was reading the Liahona (like the Ensign) and one of the male workers saw and said he was a Mormon. He told her that he attends church with about ten other members. Soon it was thirteen!!! The young woman pictured above always wore her Young Women medallion and was asked by several people what it meant. She had the opportunity of answering lots of questions! She was able to get her doctorate degree in medicine. She was considering a specialty when she had this nagging feeling that she needed to go home to South Africa, but didn't k now why. She decided to listen to the holy ghost and go home. She had some difficulty with her passport and needed to submit a birth certificate. Her father had died and she'd be raised by her step-father, but there were lots of issues because of this. As a consequence, she decided to start searching for some ancestors. She discovered a man in his fifties and contacted him. His family had been looking for her as well.  He introduced her to a young man that turned out to be her brother. Her brother had been looking for her for a long time! They met at his car. He told her that he wanted to show her something in his trunk. He opened it and gave her two journals of her great grandfather, and several papers of genealogy with hundreds of names.  She immediately knew the reason she had been prompted to return to South Africa! She is preparing the names of her ancestors to send to the temple, she worked things out for her passport, and she said she KNOWS she is extremely blessed to have the holy ghost and gospel in her life. She is currently working at a nearby hospital as a doctor and hopes to specialize soon.  We are blessed to hear these kinds of stories all the time - and we are privileged to hear the enormous appreciation for the gospel from the people who live here. Imagine the enthusiasm of someone winning a large lottery, and that is the type of enthusiasm and gratitude the humble people of Lesotho and South Africa feel toward the gospel in their lives. After all, the greatest treasure on earth is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and its wonderful that the people here grasp that!

Zone Conference #5 Lesotho

Elder and Sister Chandler also spoiled us. She not only fixed a homemade meal for all of us, but they furnished treats for two firesides, and fed us again on Sunday. How did we get to be so blessed by such fabulous couples?  All of our couples are tremendous!

 Taking a break!

Lesotho is a fabulous country. The members here are exceptional. Unfortunately some of our Elders were without water for a few days! Hopefully it didn't last! 

Zone Conference #4 Bloemfontein

We have such fabulous missionaries - I feel like they are family! I love their enthusiasm and love for the gospel. It's great to share this important work with them.

 Elder and Sister Roberts spoiled us!

What a great group!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Miracles in Madedeni

A few weeks ago, President Thompson discovered that we had over 25 returned missionaries in the Newcastle area that were "less active". He commissioned leaders in the area to find these missionaries and invite them and other members who were not coming to church to a special fireside with a General Authority! 

The meeting was held in the Madedeni Chapel where the photo below was taken. The entire room was filled. 

I had the privilege to speak, President Thompson spoke, and then our General Authority spoke. There was a beautiful spirit. 

During the question and answer period at the end, a gentleman stood. He expressed a deep concern and worry. He said that he had been a branch president and fell away from the church, making incorrect choices. However, he wanted to come back, but was concerned for the welfare and faith of others that knew of his transgressions. 

Elder Palmer invited this man to come next to him on the stand. While the man was making his way, Elder Palmer taught the principle of repentance, love, and forgiveness. Elder Palmer gave the man a big hug as he stood next to him - the entire audience gasped. He further explained that no matter what this man had done, if he truly repented the Lord would forgive him. He also admonished the audience to offer forgiveness, and show forth love because we all make mistakes. There was a strong witness of these two important principles of the gospel. Tears streamed from my eyes and I could see throughout the audience that many could feel the spirit. Jesus Christ loves ALL! And, through his atonement, he is beside us every step, if we allow Him.

It was a beautiful fireside. Many of the "less actives" came to church the next day. The gospel is about CHANGING lives for the better, and we were able to see that miracle in just one fireside.

We don’t pray because we’re worthy. We pray because we need help. 
We don’t take the sacrament because we are perfect, but because we are willing to be perfected. 
We don’t go to the temple because we’ve made it, but because God is making us better there. 
We are not earning a treasure in heaven, but learning to treasure heavenly things.
~Brad Wilcox

This young man is considering a mission. When I first took his photo, he didn't smile. I told him he had a wonderful smile, and when he questioned it, I snapped shutter on the camera. I think it's a great smile!

Zone Conference #3

We drove three hours with Elder and Sister Palmer to the Newcastle Zone. We were once again spiritually fed with topics like obedience brings blessings, joy and faith, making goals, and teaching.

 We were thrilled that the Elders lined up to greet us as we walked in the building.

This is a great zone!

Zone Conference #2

Our second zone conference was held at the Pinetown Chapel. The missionaries were very engaging and attentive throughout the conference. 

 Pizza is a highlight!

 Two zones attended this conference!
 Our Richard's Bay Zone had to travel about two hours to join us.

 Our Elders offer great exuberance toward missionary work!

Monday, October 24, 2016

1st Day Mission Tour - Berea Chapel

Our first zone conference began at the Berea Chapel in Durban. General Authority of the church, Elder Mark Palmer of the Seventy, spoke and instructed all of us, along with his wife, President Thompson, and myself.

 We are blessed to have great missionaries!

 Leadership meetings start at 8:00 AM, the conference starts at 10:00 AM and at Noon we break for lunch - pizza is always a favorite!

 Two zones are here today!