Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Remember me in the family tree. My name, my days, my strife; Then I'll ride upon the wings of time and live an endless life."

Thembeka C. Hola, pictured below with her husband Ncebazakhe wrote in her pamphlet "My Story" about herself, "I am someone who behave and who love respect for elderly people.  I am a good parent who like other mothers to learn from me about how to grow children as it is a challenging stage."

About her grandfather, Gugile William Dyakala she wrote, " He was a man very strict with house chores, if he told me and my family to work and refused, to do so, he will wake you during your deep sleeping dreams at night and you will do what he told you to do."

Over the past few days I have sat with the members from the Port Alfred Branch to help them enter family names to perform ordinance work when we attend the temple in Johannesburg next week.  I have become the branch expert on Family Search.  It is laughable, but I am all they have.  I have the help line on speed dial and we muddle through.  Some comments from the past few sessions...
  • Sista Wheeler, "you mean that my brother who died when he was hit by a car at the age of 28 can be sealed to his parents?"
  • Sista Wheeler, "you mean that I can be sealed to my grandparents for time and for all eternity?"
  • Sista Wheeler, " you mean that I am building a family that will last forever?"
We have laughed at their funny stories.  We have cried as the spirit of Elijah filled our hearts.  We have smiled a lot!

South Africa's records of births and deaths is very lacking.  Even the verbal records are sketchy.  "Sister Vulindlu, do you have a birthdate for your grandfather?"  "Well, I know he was born in the year of the great plague at Bathurst which was around…."  "O.K. that will work."  "Sister Hola do you have a death date for Somala Gamlashe?"  "Well, no but it was around the time of the war of ….."  "O.K. that will work".

As we finished up with the Hola family today, I asked them if they were excited about the temple trip.  Brother Hola has been endowed.  His wife will be endowed, and they are taking two of their children with them.  His reply, "Oh Sister Wheeler.  This time I am taking my family with me and we will become a forever family.  I am so happy!"


Friday, June 27, 2014

Johannesburg Temple or Bust!

Wasatch Front Mormons trip to the temple;
  1. Fill your tank with gas.
  2. Put on some church clothes.
  3. Drive an hour (or much less) and there you are.
  4. Get a babysitter if needed.
South Africa Mormons:
  1. Reserve the temple one year in advance.
  2. Reserve the housing one year in advance.
  3. Six months prior to temple date, give notice to those who are interested in going. 
  4. Explain recommend process.
  5. Explain costs involved.
  6. Meet with each member who has a desire to go and determine what they feel like they can pay.
  7. Line up transportation as no one has a car.
  8. Arrange for housing and who will stay with who.  Are there even enough rooms?
  9. Teach temple classes. (sometimes multiple times because not everyone comes).  Pick everyone up since no one has a car.
  10. Pretend you know Family Search.  Help members to enter names.  Cry tears of joy as you watch these precious members experience the thrill of being forever families. (Just a note to anyone going on a couple mission.  Take a Family Search course)
  11. Start meeting for temple recommends.
  12. Arrange for the mission president to come who lives three states of Texas away to sign recommends.
  13. Answer a gazillion questions.
  14. Cry a lot over generous donations from America that make it possible for 26 people to go out of a branch that has less than 80 members and whose average income is about $350.00 a month.  Some families are taking four members.  Impossible without help.  
  15. Type up flyer's detailing information for patrons who have never been.  Deliver them and answer more questions.
  16. Pull together activities for the 14 hours bus drive up…and the 14 hours bus drive back.
  17. Call the temple a bazillion times.
  18. Receive calls from the temple changing plans a bazillion times and then re-arranging schedules.
  19. And this is only the big stuff.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Come Follow Me Moment

This was one of those "moments" I never want to forget.  A moment where the Holy Ghost was present and performed the great roll of teacher.  If you are reading this and you are a member of the LDS church you are familiar with the new methods of teaching that is being implemented in our curriculum.  The fruits of that method was evident in Relief Society yesterday.  

From left to right standing:  Monica Vulindlu, Cynthia Hola, Eliza Ncibi-Nobebe, Ruth Cockbain, Mary Van Rensburg, Patience Mgadi, Priscella Tunye

Nomsa Nteyi (seated at the table) is the RS President and she gave the lesson from the Joseph Fielding Smith manual #11, Honoring the Priesthood.  Please keep in mind that these members are new to the church with the exception of Sister Cockbain in the middle.    Also, because of the traditions of their father's and the language barrier they often do not open up and share their thoughts and their feelings in class.  With Xhosa being their first language they sometimes have a hard time understanding what is being taught in English.  

Now, back to "the moment".  As part of the lesson, Sister Nteyi asked one of the sisters to read this quote from the lesson;  "We know Joseph Smith is a prophet; that the Father and the Son appeared to him in the spring of 1820 to usher in this final gospel dispensation; that he translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God; that he received keys and authority from angels sent for this very purpose; and that the Lord revealed to him the doctrines of salvation."

The sister that read this, was completely overcome by the spirit.  The tears were flowing as she added her testimony and bore witness that she knew this event was real.  Sister Nteyi, stopped the lesson.  She said, "I think we must stop and each bear witness to what has been said."  One by one each of these dear sweet sisters, hesitating at first, bore solemn testimony stating:
  • I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.
  • His life was like the life of the Savior.  He gave his life for the truth that we may have it.
  • I know that the true gospel has been restored to the earth.
  • I know that we have living prophets today.
  • I know that God lives and that he appeared with his Son to Joseph Smith.
  • He was only a boy.  There is no other way than by God's power that he could have accomplished what he did.
  • I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.
  • We are so blessed to have the gospel in our lives.
I add my testimony to theirs and acknowledge to all that the church in South Africa is taking root.  It will grow at a steady pace and fill this continent.  The Holy Ghost is and ever will be the ultimate true teacher.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Cultural Celebration...

What can I say.  This really is one of those occasions where "you had to be there" to truly appreciate the sights, the sounds and the colors.  

The theme for our branch party was "A Cultural Celebration".  The members were to come dressed in their traditional costumes, do traditional dances, tell stories, and recite poems.  What a party!!!

If we would have award prizes.  Patrick and Nomsa would have won the prize for best dressed couple.  Most of the traditions and rituals of Xhosa people are all about what they are wearing; the hang of the hat, the color of the dress, and the bibs, bracelets and beads suspended from their bodies.  Few words need to be spoken to convey the status of a person in Xhosa society.  By the way the women wear their clothing you can tell if they are married, single, or widowed.  In most Xhosa communities, it is all about the headpiece.  The more elaborate the hat, the more senior the wearer.  The beadwork also speaks much of their status in life and surrounding community.  Nomsa is wearing a beautiful hand beaded necklace as is Patrick wearing a bandelo of beads.

And the drums!  My, oh my.  We pulled up to the church, got out of the car, and President Wheeler said, "listen".  They were practicing and we could hear the drums resonating throughout the town.  The Xhosa tradition and dance serves the role of connecting generations.  Through dance, movements and the rhythms of the drum, the Xhosa people believe that the living connect with the dead and offer praises for their ancestors.

I was unable to find the significance of these hats.  If you look closely at the skirts, the beads are woven in to the pleats.  

Face painting is varied from tribe to tribe.  It can represent love, purity, tribal identity, happiness, giving birth to a child, initiation rites and more.  Today, we painted our faces "HAPPY"!

 Sibongiseni was our designated face-painter.  I will have to post some of the other artwork he has created.  He is really gifted in this area.

President Mark I. Wood, our outgoing mission president was there for the celebration.  He and his lovely wife Kathleen got in to the spirit of things also.  The face paint of choice is calamine lotion.

President Wheeler got in to the spirit of the dance!  It looked a little like a rock 'n roll move to me, but it was great fun.  

I found out that for an 'ol lady, I still have a few moves.  The young women taught me five dances.  I did my best to follow them.  All of the performances were done in the Xhosa language.  Some of the words I was able to say.  Some I just moved my mouth and pretended.  

It was a great party!  We loved every minute of it.  What an honor to learn more from these great people in Port Alfred, South Africa.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland….

It is Winter in South Africa.  We are minus all of the regular signs.  No "snow glistening".  No snowmen.  However, it can get chilly.  The evenings dip down to around 50 degrees but we are usually in the 70 degrees during the day.  I kept watching for the leaves to turn yellow, orange, and red and to "Fall" off the trees  but I found out from friends that South Africa never looses the greenery.  These are some of our winter flowers.   Each morning when I go for a walk I pass these beauties. 

This is the view as we drive in to our living quarters.  The ocean is in the distance.

This one took my breathe away.  I was in the back yard of our church talking to Brother Hola as he worked on the garden.  I didn't have my glasses on, but I could see some red blossoms hanging over the fence line.  I thought…is this what I think it is.  Sure enough.  It was a beautiful large poinsettia tree.  Ahhhh….winter is here!  

Look at the size of this Poinsettia bush/tree.  

There are no words to express the beauties that this country holds.  Come see for yourself.  You will love it.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pretty Personal Progress Pouches….

It was a delightful day on Saturday with six of our eight Young Women working on one of their goals for Personal Progress.  Our opening song was Chopsticks???  Yessiree.  I taught
the girls how to play chopsticks.  They loved it.

Six girls.  One sewing machine.  9 yards of fabric.  Buttons.  Velcro.  Hot glue.  Pins.  Scissors.  What girl could not have fun with all those supplies.  This was the first time each of the girls had used a sewing machine.  They were really burning up the foot pedal.  We only had to unpick three seams.  Pretty good for a bunch of newbies.

Six completed Personal Progress Pouches.  Each one has a pocket to hold their Personal Progress Book, Personal Progress Journal, and For The Standards of Youth Pamphlet.  How cute are they and I don't just mean the pouches.  

A Hair Affair...

Apparently, getting your hair done in Africa can be good for your soul.  No wait…I think that is true in America also.  But here you can get…

 You can receive Blessings….

And, God's Grace is available at this salon!

Hmmmm…I thought Mercy was available only through the "Son"?

This one is more typical…"The Village Gossip".

Ta…Dah!  And here you have my salon of choice.  Yup.  This is where I get my hair cut.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

My Quest for Quilting in South Africa

Some of you reading this post will know that one of my hobbies is to purchase fabric, cut it up in to pieces, stitch it all back together and call it a quilt.  I have made way over 100 quilts.  I have now been on a seven month dry spell from quilting in South Africa.  I have not, however, given up the search for the perfect piece of 100% cotton.  I think I am about ready to give up the fight.  I really think the Lord intended it that way.  If I was in a country that was full of quilting fabric, I may be too distracted from my calling.  In America, I have been in quilt stores from Boston to Seattle, Montana, to Arizona.  I have seen some amazing shops.  In my search on this continent, Bessies' is probably as close as I will come to finding anything that equals what the good 'ol USA has.  

This is Bessie's.  It has an interesting theme going, even for South Africa don't you think.  It isn't hard to spot the building. The purple exterior and some very unique "Grecian" statues out front make it quite noticeable.  Not something you see in Africa on a regular basis.  This shop is a two hour drive from Port Alfred.  I made a purchase today for a project I am working on for Young Womens.

I have to admit, the fabric here is gorgeous, if you are making an evening dress, wedding dress, formal attire, or any amount of items you can dream up with polyester.  They do have a fairly good selection of fleece and flannel.  And they do have a lot of it!  
  This is the cute clerk that helped me.  I found some fusible interfacing for a project I am helping the young women with.  I asked her if she had a rotary cutter.  She looked at me like…"a what", and then pulled out this t-square and a pair of lethal looking scissors.

This is my purchase.  In Young Women's we are making a satchel that will hold the girl's personal progress books, the PP journals, and For The Strength of Youth Pamphlets.  Cute huh.  It is a cotton poly blend.  It sort of has the feel of poplin.  But here is the best part.  Eat your heart out my American quilting friends.  I purchased 9 yards of fabric, 3 yards of interfacing and four spools of thread for $26.00.  
I did find this quilt rolled up and stashed in the back of our flat.  It looks more like it came from India than South Africa, but it works for me.  It is falling apart and I am going to do my darndest to repair it and get it on my wall.  For now, this will suffice, but in 17 months, I will be making my rounds to every quilt store I can possibly find on the Wasatch Front.  I will touch the fabric, I will smell the fabric, and I will buy the fabric!