Our South African Journal

Monday, June 8, 2015

Osizweni is a township about 25ks from Newcastle. The branch out there is only about a year old. It started out as a “group” that met in a member’s garage. A “group” consists of a bunch of members that meet together but are not yet large enough to organize a branch. Now they have a fast growing branch out there. They hold their Sunday meetings in an elementary school. They use one room for the chapel and other rooms for classes.

We were asked to speak in the Osizweni Branch this week. When we got there everyone was scurrying around getting set up for church. The chairs had to be set up, the sacrament table had to be set up, the sound system was brought in, hymn books handed out and classrooms and nursery set up. The “chapel” room was filled with people. We were told that attendance was a little low that day (perhaps they heard we were speaking). We were told that on a normal Sunday there isn’t always room for everyone so some people stand outside to listen to church. But when they began to sing it was a powerful sound. Beautiful hymns, beautiful harmony, it was wonderful!

Some views of Osizweni

There is a family in Osizweni that had their car stolen this past week. They not only lost a car but they lost the source of some of their income because they used their car as a taxi. This is a huge deal for them. We went out to visit them and bring them a treat to lift their spirits. Instead they lifted our spirits. The father read some lines from the hymn “We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet”.

When dark clouds of trouble hang o'er us

And threaten our peace to destroy,

There is hope smiling brightly before

   And we know that deliv'rance is nigh.
   We doubt not the Lord nor his goodness.
   We've proved him in days that are past.
   The wicked who fight against Zion
   Will surely be smitten at last.
Can you see why we love our mission?
  The Zone Leaders were out of town for a few days this week so we had to go out to Osizweni a few times to pick up the walking elders out there. They rode a “taxi” (a small van that operates like a bus) out every morning but it is not safe for them to do it at night. One night we had a Family Home Evening in Osizweni with a member and her daughters. We love to get out and meet people.
A favorite toy in Osizweni

Osizweni young women
  We were in the grocery store one day and a women approached us and said she noticed the names on our badges and she has relatives with the name Hind. She said her grandfather was a Hind. He invented a cereal that is quite popular here. Elder Hind told her that we are here serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then he said we are sometimes called “Mormons”. She said, “Oh I have relatives in England that are Mormons.” She didn’t want to give us her number but we gave her our number in case she wants to dig deeper into her family history.

I also spent some time mending three pairs of pants for one of the Osizweni elders. These guys are hard on their clothes.

I like to do mending for the elders
   We spent one day running a young sister to the doctor for a checkup and to the hospital for chest x rays and blood tests. She is trying to get her papers ready for a mission. Next week we will be sending off a new missionary to the Johannesburg MTC. The young people here are really motivated to go on missions.
  We had a good District Meeting this week. Our new District Leader is a good teacher and motivator. We made some plans and set some goals to work with the members to encourage them to fellowship investigators and less active members.

  A woman in the Madadeni 2 branch has a relative that is very sick. He is just a teenager but has been in the hospital twice recently. She asked the elders to please give him a blessing. He lives in a distant part of Madadeni, so the elders asked us to go with them. One very young elder was asked to do the anointing.  He took a minute to check to make sure he had the wording right. I just had a precious, warm feeling as I watched him perform this anointing. He may be very young, he may be new at this, but he holds the priesthood power to bless and comfort this sick teenager. I am so grateful to be able to witness these wonderful moments.
  Winter has come to Newcastle. Until just a few days ago the weather was in the 70s and low 80s during the day and in the 40s and 50s at night. Then we had a couple of windy days. One of the elders told us that wind means cold weather and he was right. For the last few days the temperature has dropped into the 30s at night. Now for those of you in Northern Utah and Wyoming you are wondering what’s the big deal? Well, remember we have no central heat. Our house is heated by a small furnace on the wall in the living room and two space heaters. The wall heater in the living room only blows slightly warm air. We cannot run the heaters all at once because that trips the electricity off. In fact I cannot run my electric appliances in the kitchen at the same time as the heater. We have no heaters in the bathrooms so it is an act of courage just to step out of the shower.  We have a heated mattress cover here in the boarding but when we put it on we discovered only one side works.  One day we went and bought ourselves two fleece jackets so we could have something to wear around the house and to wear when we go walking. The weather is still nice during the day. We will see what happens as we get deeper into winter.

This is how I dealt with a recent cold snap

The elders appreciate a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day. Note the gloves on this
elder. He is from Botswana, he is really feeling the cold.
This is an electric kettle. Elder Hind bought it for us. It is our friend when it is
cold outside. We make hot chocolate or herbal tea with it.

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