Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Spoiler Alert!

The following material may give the impression that all we are doing is having fun. So be it!  But please know that the work of the Lord is going forward here in South Africa and we are trying to do our part, and it is fun!

Opah's Reward

Last blog we introduced Opah Shei, an incredible young man who was kicked out of his family because he chose to go on a mission rather than accept a full scholarship to medical school.  He moved in with the District President and applied for his mission. He has been called to serve in Madagascar. He will need to learn two new languages (in addition to English which he speaks). After two months living away, his parents have softened their hearts and have welcomed him back into their home. He will be leaving on his mission in mid-June. He and his brother joined the church when he was 13 years old. They were members of the Assembly of God church, and their objective when the missionaries approached them was to prove to the missionaries that they were wrong: "We were trying to convert them!"  But in the end they were converted and his brother recently returned from serving his mission and is now attending college in Pretoria. Elder Shei plans to pursue medical school when he returns from his mission.

Temple Preparation Class

We have been teaching the Temple Preparation lessons to members in Lenyenye. We started out thinking there would be 3 attendees, but at the first class we had 16 people attend!  Many of them have already been endowed but wanted to attend to see what they could learn. And several youth attended to see what it was all about. Because transport to the Johannesburg temple costs about 430 Rand (about $30) none of the youth in the branch have ever done baptisms for the dead.
In the next couple lessons the class size has been reduced - we are preparing 4 members to go to the temple for the first time in June. Another 2 or 3 may be ready to go in September or October. And we'd like to find a way to get some of the youth there for baptisms within the next year.

Julia's Room Completed

 In a previous blog we told of a faithful member in Motupa (Julia) who is raising a son who is severely disabled. Stephen cannot walk or talk - he just lays in bed all the time except when he goes to the clinic for checkups. The Campbells, our fellow missionary couple here, take him every 4 to 6 weeks, and I guess we will assume that task after they leave in a week from now. The Elders began building a new addition for Stephen so he could have a room of his own. Unfortunately, the Elder who had the skill to lay the brick was transferred just as they had the foundation in place. We thought the project was doomed. Julia said that she knew the Lord would provide a solution.

The solution was the Branch President provided funding so professionals could complete the project and now Julia and Stephen have a new addition so Stephen can have his own space. On our last visit there we sang "I am a Child of God" to Stephen, who hears but cannot speak.  As we sang he moved his legs around and tears came to his eyes.  Stephen is 20+ years old. We plan to sing to him from now on when we visit.

Julia has been a member for a couple years. She has been instrumental in bringing  her sister Maite into the church. We teach Maite, who does not read English, New Testament  stories from the Stories of the New Testament picture book intended for children. Julia and her several sisters never attended school or church as they grew up.  They have learned to speak English pretty well on their own, but they cannot read. The Campbells began teaching Julia to read by using the Stories of the Book of Mormon picture book to her.  We have taken up that task as the Campbells are returning home. Last week when we went to teach Maite, another sister and niece were visiting, and they seemed very interested in our message. As we read about the birth of the Savior to them, we were stunned to learn that they did not know the meaning of "Savior" - we explained how Jesus "saved" us from both physical and spiritual death, thus being our "Savior." 

The Second Mile

Julia has another sister living next door - Anna - who doesn't like the church.  Anna was in the hospital in Tzaneen last month for several weeks. When they finally released her, they just put her on the curb! She and her daughter Winnie had no way to get home to Motupa, a distance of about 30 kilometers. The Campbells were busy preparing for seminary so they asked if we could pick them up and drive them to Motupa. We tried to make conversation as we drove but they didn't want to talk to us. We helped Anna walk down the slope to her house, as she was very weak.  Then we left and attended seminary in Motupa. After seminary we discovered that Anna's bag containing her medicine was still in our car. So we drove about 5 minutes back and delivered it -we didn't think anything about this. But on our next visit to Julia she told us that Anna, thinking we had driven home to Tzaneen and then driven all the way back to Motupa just to deliver the bag, was in tears after we left. She said she has changed her mind about our church, that it is a good church, and that she and Winnie would like to know more. We shall see where this goes but a small act can sometimes mean so much.

Maria's Baptism

In Motupa they employ a portable baptismal font. Beneath the plastic lining is a circular structure made of thick wire. They fill the font from the water tank in the background.

Simply climb the latter up and down - it works!  The water can be a little chilly.

Sister Maria was baptized by Elder Smith-Holley who is from New Zealand.  He was transferred after this and made a Zone Leader.
Those are classrooms in the background.

Primary and Aaronic Priesthood

Sometimes we are called upon to teach lessons; actually we are called upon often to teach lessons, many times without prior notice. We have found the following scripture to be true.

"Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts ... For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say. But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things.  And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say." (D&C 100:5-8)

District Youth Conference

A youth conference was held in April for the three branches and Motupa group in the Tzaneen area. The other branches in the District are around Polokwane, an hour and a half drive- so they had their youth conference a week later. We were honored to have our Mission President and his wife (President and Sister Wilson) attend the conference.  They will be completing their three year service at the end of June, and the new Mission President is a native African from Zimbabwe. We don't know much about him yet, other than he served in a Mission Presidency and was a District President.
We will miss the Wilsons - they have been especially appreciative and supportive of the senior couples.

Unlike past years when the senior couples planned and carried out the youth conference, this year the entire event was planned and executed by the local leaders. This is a big and marvelous step for them.  It was excellent.

None of the youth had ever participated in a "Ropes" course before; some of them were persuaded by the missionaries to let go of the iron rod, but most listened to the whispering of the small voice to hold fast.

If there was a flaw in the planning it was assigning a single sister to cook the entire lunch - and it was the wife of the District President.  Luckily she got some help from Sister Hall - otherwise the lunch would have been at the dinner hour instead.
Sister Hall stirring the "Pap" [Pop]
Instructed by Sister Manzene
The lunch was typical African: Pap [finely ground corn maze cooked like mashed potatoes], Fried Chicken, Cabbage, Chocolata [like baked beans, but much better], rolls and punch.
Can you find four white people in this photo?(President and Sister Wilson, Elder and Sister Campbell)
We forget that we are white, and skin color makes no difference to us or to them.
Youth, Youth Leaders, and Missionaries
Senior Couples Training Retreat

The Mission President arranged for all of the senior couples to get together for a special three day training seminar (There are only 4 couples left, plus the president and his wife). 

On the way home from the training we were attacked by wild beasts!

To save our lives we had to change vehicles for more protection.

Elder Hall happened to have his camera so he tried to get some shots of these wild critters, but every time he pointed the camera at them they would show us their back sides:
 Zebra Hinders
 Impala Hinders                                                         
Elephant Hinder
Wart Hog Hinders
Water Buffalo Hinders

Missionary Couples Hinders!

Thinking the animals were avoiding us because of our missionary attire, we decided to try a different approach.

Our new attire must have worked because we started to get a good look at the animals:
Blue Wilde Beast
Male Water Buffalo - Giant Forehead
Cuckoo Bird
You know this one
Leopard Tortoise
Lyin' Lion
Cape Vultures
Water Buck
Stripped Horse
Baby Crocodile - No Alligators here
We escaped with our lives and resumed the great work to which we are called.  We attended the temple again with another couple from the Tzaneen branch who were getting endowed.  More pictures of the temple flowers and other news to come in a few weeks......

Thanks for your support and love and prayers!


  1. Love your post and all the good that you two are doing. It looks so natural to see you both teaching. You are so good at it. Weird to see all the animals roaming wherever. Keep having fun and spreading the good word. Love you

  2. Wow!! Loving the pictures - what an amazing adventure you are having!! We love you!

  3. Safari fashion! I love that pic

  4. Love your blog. You two are the best!

  5. Actually that was Kendall that posted the last one. Doesn't know how to post and this one will say Pam too. :)

  6. Thank you for sharing such wonderful pictures - loved the "hinders"- made me LOL!!!! Have also loved reading about the progress of the church, the members and the many faith promoting activities. Our love and prayers are with you.