Sunday, March 29, 2015

Week 43 - March 22nd - 28th, 2015

Our week got off to a great start this week with our Polokwane Branch Conference which was held at our little old rented schoolhouse in Seshego.   We filled it up to overflowing today and it was so great to have Pres and Sister Dunn attend as well!

We enjoy our morning walks around our secure Thornhill housing area and sometimes Melanie likes to get a picture of some of the things that grow here so robustly.

We were fortunate to have three great Elder's to our flat for correlation meeting this week.   L-R Elder Delahoy, District Leader, Australia, Elder Dye, our Seshego Group Senior Companion, Idaho Falls, and Elder Olson, Zone Leader, SLC.  All such high caliber fine young men who have a great missionary spirit and success about them always.  The President we heard only sends those he can trust the most up this far from the center of the mission back in Joburg.

While Melanie and I were around the area we saw a very eye-catching cemetery so we stopped in and drove through it.  We ended up teaching this security guard, Elton about the Church and the Book of Mormon and left him a copy which he will read since not too many live people hang around with him during the day.  He was very friendly to us.  He has a family that lives a days ride away by transport and he comes in to work here during the week and then goes home for the weekend.   This practice is quite common in many families we've found.

Elton the cemetery guard.

We had the great pleasure and opportunity of attending the family temple sealing for our Seshego Group Leader Elias Mashishi, his wife Betty and their two children, daughter Nkgodisheng and a deceased son.   It was an honor to be able to be proxy for their son at the altar with them.  What a special occasion!

Bro Mashishi (arm on his wife Betty), their little daughter, and on the right Bro Mashishi's sister and our Branch Pres and his wife, the Winwards from Idaho.

We also got to have a nice visit with Ben and Jill at their temporary flat by the Area Offices.  It's always good to be with and see family!

And as usual our week was not complete until we drove back to Polokwane and had a visit with our quadreplegic Jimmy Letsoalo which is such a special treat for us to be in this cheerful, spiritual man's presence.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Week 42 - March 15th - 21st, 2015

Sunday, March 15th to Saturday, March 21st, 2015

This week started out in a really special way, Melanie's 63rd birthday!  To be with her here is a wonderful blessing to me.  Her spirit and enthusiasm, kindness and love is unsurpassed among women.

The one and only birthday she will celebrate here in South Africa.  I tried my pitiful best to make it a good and memorable one for all of the right reasons.  She appeared to enjoy her day, especially at church when the Relief Society sisters sang 'Happy Birthday' to her.  But she did say that when they sang the last new verse to this 'How Old Are You Now?'  She simply told them that believe it or not she was older than any and all of them.  She doesn't seem older to me though.

I think the highlight of her day though was definitely the video calls to and from home.  She is not only a terrific wife, she is an extraordinary Mother and Grandma as well.

On our P-day we had some basketball pictures printed for the boys of Seshego which we began passing out on Friday later in the week.  They seemed to be excited about them.  We hope this project helps accomplish some good somehow, sometime.

This is an example of the pictures we have taken.  Now a few over 40 from a roster of 60-70 boys that come from time to time, about 15-20 per week.

These 11-13 year-old helpers sort of struggle with each other to see which of them can help us carry things back and forth to our car before and after our time together.   We have fun with them all.

Worked with a few of the group Elders trying to help them with finding employment.   This seems to be quite a challenge for many of the young men and particularly those who are here with us from Zimbabwe who don't have proper working credentials for South Africa.  Zimbabwe is up the road a couple hundred Kilometers from us here in Polokwane.

We were blessed with the most majestic, giant, rain, thunder, and lightning storm and show this week.   It was just simply amazing to see the power, the sound and the downpour.   Helped cool things off a bit too which was nice.   The ground here is quite porous so even when it rains heavily the water is absorbed or runs off into a fairly efficient storm drain system of pipes and ditches.

Melanie and I finished teaching our group mission leader the Temple Preparation lessons this week.  Now Thabong, 27 and single will be ready for his interview and temple trip.   He never knew his dad until he met him briefly earlier this year and has no relationship with him.   His mother died when he was 14 so he and his younger sister and brother went to live with his mother's sister, his aunt.   He has been a member for about a year now and his life has really been changing since he was baptized.   We are so grateful to have been able to be a part of this with and for him.

When we taught him about doing the temple ordinance work for his deceased mother and grandparents he seemed to be elated and excited.   We told him that they were probably grateful that he joined the church and was preparing for the temple so that they might have the opportunity for their own ordinances to be completed as well so they could continue on their path of progression toward eternal family life together with him!

A few more home visits with members this week all topped off with our Saturday visit with our beloved paraplegic brother Jimmy Letsoalo.   We come away from his care center feeling uplifted, recharged and more desirous to share his love, the Savior's love with everyone as well as he does.

A very, very happy week here in South Africa!  

They even have their own carnival with hawkers and grifters just like at home.

Very large, fire-ball sunset one night this week.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Week 41 - March 8th - 14th, 2015

Sunday, March 8th to Saturday, March 14th 2015

If a picture is worth a thousand words then this week's post will be worth many volumes I suppose.

First two collages of some of our MLS work with the Seshego Group people, members, investigators, etc.  Lots of people.   Always lots of choice experiences.  An abundance of the spirit of love and friendliness makes this all so wonderful to Melanie and I regardless of the setting or which of these people we love are involved.   All with sharing the Savior and having so much fun doing it!

Then on to an especially nice dinner with Melanie to celebrate Friday the 13th along with an early nice meal for her birthday!

Then to our weekly basketball activity with the kids (ranging in age from 4 to 17) of Seshego!  Wow, we didn't think we'd ever be having this much fun and making some wonderful contacts and memories for both us and the kids in the process.

We'll get some prints made of some pictures we took with everyone individually with our little board we threw together.  None of the kids in the top collage are members.   The pictures we give them (and hope to do so as we meet their parents and families) will be kept by them and since basketball is not their 'favorite' sport, yet, maybe some day when an Elder comes along they will remember and they will listen.   Here's hoping and praying on top of this little effort to engage with the kids of the community.

These eight pictures are of Bro. Elias Mashishi, a retired cop, our Group Leader at Seshego, his wife Betty, a school teacher, their family friend Sonia, 22, preparing for her own mission, and then besides Melanie and I, Elder De La Cruz from Spain, Elder Dye from Idaho Falls, and Nkgodisheng Mashishi, just 8 and recently baptized (see the top collage).

We had a wonderful and inspiring Zone Conference at the end of our week with the Elders, the other Senior Couples, and Pres. and Sister Dunn.  Then we visited our quadriplegic brother Jimmy Letsoala (top collage, bottom row picture) as we concluded another terrific week.

We visited a man named Jimmy at a care center tonight. He is a quadriplegic. He has the purest heart of any person I have ever met. He blesses so many people from the bed he is confined to, through his love and good works. Before we left tonight, he prayed for us. It is as if God himself were sitting in the room with us and Jimmy is speaking to him. He asked God to bless our children that they might have the desires of their hearts. Use your faith my children, incline your hearts toward God, because with Jimmy Letsoala praying for you you will receive the righteous desires of your hearts.
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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Week 40 - March 1st - 7th, 2015 - Start of month 10

Sunday, March 1st to Saturday, March 7th 2015

The new week started off with a wonderful baptism for Bro. Elias and wife Betty Mashishi's daughter Nkgodisheng who turned 8.   It was also Bro. Mashishi's birthday on the same Sunday, he turned 62.   He is a rock and such a strength to this little group of pioneer saints in Seshego!   We love him and his little family.

Monday, March 2nd the calendar tells us our mission is 1/2 over, wow!   The time flies by.   We have so much work to do and service to render in our new assignment as Seshego.  We pray we can accomplish what the Lord wants us to do here for these wonderful people whose hearts seem so pure and tender in the gospel.

We were shopping at Makro and a salesperson came up to me and said he felt impressed to cross through the store to the area where I was looking at some things.   Then he said he 'saw an angel over where I was' so he thought he should approach me.   Then he saw my badge and greeted me and said he was new in the area and was a member with a wife and 5-month old son still living in Pretoria.  He wanted to be with them.  We talked and Melanie joined us.  He had such a good nature about him.   Later I told Pres Winward, the Branch President about him so he could follow up with him.

Each week on Tuesday we have a correlation meeting and briefing with our Seshego Elders, Dye and De La Cruz.   They are great Elders and work hard and are having some real success.   We like to go teaching with them when they invite us.

Had a very nice first-time video call with my sister LaRena and her husband Lee.  Just sort of happened on to it as a trial to see if it would work and it did.  It was very nice to see her and talk with her.  Maybe now she can help my Mom video with us a little more easily as well.

We got some bitter/sweet news this week that our daughter-in-law Tiffani, our son Cody's wife, and her two kids, Elizabeth 5 and Henrik 3 months got crashed into by a truck and totaled their Camry.   Good news was no serious injuries, thank God for His blessings, the car will be replaced.

We held another session of basketball at Seshego with ever changing progress and success.  We even had a few little fellows join so Melanie had them doing some things as well.   It is fun and it is interesting to see how this BB project unfolds.

Freddy the basketball player.
Our week finished up on Saturday with some good and some interesting visits at Seshego and with Jimmy Letsoalo at the care center.  Seems he has a fellow resident who isn't playing with a full deck or maybe even has a few extra cards hidden in there some where.  Anyway, this lady, Renee Venzer, joined our visit and after quite a while she wanted a blessing which I gave her.   She sort of joined on at the end praying herself, but when it was over she left content and feeling better.