Friday, April 29, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Elder and Sister Hall's

Out of Africa Adventure

When someone says "Just use your head" it may have a different meaning here in South Africa. As for carrying firewood on your head, I was told by a 70 year old member that this method has been common ever since he can remember.
We aren't sure what was in the bucket, but she had to steady it for the photo.  She didn't need to steady it while walking though.

Opah's Sacrifice
Opah Shai is a wonderful member of the Church and very intelligent. He is so intelligent that he graduated at the top of  his class and won an all-expenses scholarship to attend medical school here. He and his brother are the only members in their family, and even though his brother went on a mission, Opah's parents didn't want him to go because of the scholarship. They expected him to become a doctor and then he could help the family out financially. But Opah wanted to serve a mission, and insisted on doing it even if it meant giving up his scholarship.  So his parents kicked him out of the house and he has been living with the District President for the past three months, awaiting his mission call. We believe this young man is truly converted to the gospel!

"And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: ... And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."
[Matthew 10:37-39]

General Conference

Through the miracle of internet we were able watch all of general conference live in our flat, the first session from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm and the second session from 10:00 pm to midnight on our time. (I didn't watch the Priesthood session, which would have been 2:00 am to 4:00 am)!
Then one week later the entire branch was able to watch rebroadcasts at the chapel via satellite. They met on Saturday from 8:00 am to 10:00 am, then from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, then the Priesthood session from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. On Sunday they watched from 9:00 am to 11:00 am and from noon to 2:00 pm.  The attendance wasn't great, but those who came were spiritually blessed. It was not probably obvious to those in America, but to us Africans several things stood out: Elder Hallstrom spoke of visiting Liberia with Elder Bednar, and 4100 people came by foot or "inconvenient transportation." He said the atmosphere was "electric." He spoke of the choir singing verse 7 of How Firm a Foundation, with a 14 year old young man at the keyboard, and felt "a level of conviction I have never felt before in a congregational hymn." "One of the most remarkable, profound spiritual events of my life." The people have "little materially, but everything spiritually... Sons and Daughters of God who know it."  Elder and Sister Hall just nod our heads in agreement - until you have experienced it, it is difficult to describe.
After President Monson finished his closing remarks at the end of the Priesthood session, everyone stayed in their seats. They didn't get up and leave until after the closing hymn and prayer: Weird!


The Lenyenye Branch has been struggling to get the youth to attend Seminary and Institute. School demands on the students, especially the last couple years of High School, are extremely rigorous. Many of the youth stopped coming to seminary, which is held after school, because of the demanding homework. We don't know why institute attendance has dwindled - it is only once a week on Saturday afternoon. But we revived a practice that was successful in the branch a few years ago - a Family Home Evening group of young people, held on Monday evenings. The Seminary teacher, Bro. Humphrey (age 20), personally contacted 24 youth to attend; only 5 showed up. The next week only 4. We were becoming discouraged. By the third week the attendance increased to over 10, and last week 16 (including some adults who have become interested in it). We taught the first lesson and provided the activity and refreshments, but from then on different youth have taught the lessons and conducted the activities (we still provide the refreshments)! At the last FHE some of the attendees were there for the first time, while others who came the week before didn't come. But if they all come on the same night we could have 25.  So we hope this can be sustained - we shall see. On the third night they chose to sing one of their favorite hymns, "Come, Come Ye Saints." They don't really understand the whole meaning of this hymn - they think THEY are the pioneers - and they are! (President Wilson compared the church in these villages to the Nauvoo period in Church history, or even the Kirtland period). But this is our observation from participating with ten other voices, WE HAVE NEVER HEARD A GROUP OF THIS SMALL SIZE SING THIS (or any) HYMN WITH SUCH GUSTO - it literally brought tears to our eyes. In some ways these people are so unlearned and inexperienced in the gospel, but in other ways they are so advanced. You've never heard anyone pray the way they pray, or bear testimony the way they do. It is just so amazing to be around them. ALL IS WELL!

Youth and YSA Activity

We held an activity for all youth and young single adults in an attempt to get them to bond, and come to seminary and institute.

They enjoyed playing our childhood game of Pick-up Sticks.
They had never heard of that game.

Also, cut the flour, but don't drop the coin or else you have to retrieve it with your mouth, no hands!

 Also the Elephant game and, of course if Sister Hall is involved, water balloon toss.

Standing: Humphrey, Chris, Judas
Middle row sitting: Nico (blind investigator), 
Desmond, John, Esther, Sophie, Hazel
Front row floor: Fortunate, Elder Going, Elder Bagoole

First Authentic African Meal

Sister Tumelo and Family
Sister Tumelo (center holding her 2 year old) has been a member for 4 years. She is only 20 years old. Her daughter is turning 2 in May, so there's a story there.
We don't recall ever hearing a more sincere, humble, yet direct prayer than the one she offered with us recently.
She, her mother and friend fixed us our first authentic African dinner consisting of Pap (pronounced "Pop" - a very finely ground corn -maze- cooked in a large pot and stirred almost constantly), fried chicken with sauce, and vegetables. It was very good tasting. We used spoons but they eat with their fingers. The ladies spend a lot of time fixing their hair in a variety of ways.

To The Rescue

During our first week in the field the branch mission leader took us to two members who were less active. From that first visit and invitation to come back, these two brothers have been attending regularly. Last week the branch mission leader moved, and Bro. Kabelo (left - center) was called to replace him. And Bro. Tobago (right - center) spoke in church a couple weeks ago and talked about his inactivity and rescue, and bore a great testimony. The worth of a soul is great in the sight of God, the lost sheep and lost coin are found, and the prodigal has returned. "It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found." [Luke 15:32]


Years  ago a sister in the Lenyenye branch noticed that many young children were just roaming the streets after school. She investigated and learned that these children are orphans, and they stay with grandparents or aunts or others at night, but have nowhere to go after school because their guardians are working. Also during the day when school is not is session they have nowhere to go. She also noticed that many of them were malnourished. So she took it upon herself to start an orphanage, which is really just an extended day-care center, since the children do not stay overnight. She was able to "set up shop" in an abandoned government building free of charge. (This is very different from the Noah's Ark Orphanage that we reported on in a prior post).
Over time the place has become too small for the 100 children that she is providing this service for, and when she applied for funding from the government she was told that she can't have funding unless she gets a place of her own. They were able to secure some acreage in a beautiful little valley just outside Lenyenye. Having no funding, they spent what they could of their own money to construct this wooden structure shown above.

 Last week they had a church service project to add a kitchen shed onto the property so they can provide lunch and after school food to the children.  We participated in the project but were dismayed to see the crudeness of the construction and lack of proper tools - they are doing the best they can with what they have. The termites are already attacking the wood - that's why they can't build with wood here. I suspect the planks were donated - scrap from some saw mill.

All Volunteer Labor Force
I challenged their method of construction, predicting that it isn't going to last very long. In reply they told me the structures are only temporary, a place to house the children until they can get funding to build a proper structure made of brick. That funding is at least a couple years away, if it ever comes at all. The building they need will cost a half million South African Rand, an overwhelming amount for them. This translates into roughly $35,000 American Dollars at the current exchange rate. We wonder if there are any Americans who would like to sponsor a project to raise $35,000 for a worthy, charitable cause?
Site of the future Lenyenye Orphanage - $35,000 needed
Some of the kids in the orphanage receiving coloring books donated from a ward in the States (left) and then singing to us as we visited (right).

Three of these children are LDS who have no parents. They sang along with us as we sang "I am a Child of God" to the rest of them.

Check back with us....

Sister Hall says I have to publish this blog TODAY. But I have so much more to report: Opah's happy ending, the work progressing in the Motupa branch, the District Youth Conference, temple work, and us being attacked by wild animals... Please check back in a couple weeks for more updates. We love you all!


  1. you guys are having way to much fun. Loved it

  2. Hi Brother and Sister Hall! I got your blog address from our RS Newsletter. You are literally a world away ~ but so close in the gospel. How do people have enough water to drink? Is there enough? Do you have running water? What can we do to help? We are sending love and prayers you way. What is your email address?
    The Knights

  3. You two are perfect for this missionary work. They love you already! Afraid they won't let you leave. Keep doing doing you are blessing lives. Let us know if we can do something to help with the day orphange, can the Church help through humanity serviced?

  4. Love your blog. Hey your yard is looking better than if you lived there! We are headed out on Monday.


  5. Both of you are the best missionaries ever! sharing your great love for Gods children is touching lives and making a difference. We need to put our heads together and figure out a way to raise $35k for your children.