Friday, July 31, 2015

Brother Hola Builds A House!

 They say a man's home is his castle.  Brother Hola has a new castle and his queen, Cynthia is thrilled!  We are so excited for their family!  The project began in September 2014 and after much effort and hours and hours of donated labor, blood, sweat and tears the project is complete.  The frame is sticks, the insulation is mud, and the outside has a layer of cement.  Cozy!   

The children's bedroom, complete with sleeping babies.  Three sons and one daughter share this room.

The master bedroom for the King and Queen!

The kitchen.

The laundry room.

The yard.

The neighborhood.

The neighbors.

And this has nothing to do about this post whatsoever, but I just thought it was an awesome creation.  It is bigger than life and made out of re-cycled cans!  Cool!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ten reasons why I love attending the temple in Johannesburg...

July 6th ~ 10th was the Port Alfred Branch Temple excursion.  As we begin to close some of the chapters of our African Adventure, this particular one was very sweet.  I will share with you a few of the reasons why we will always cherish this experience.  

#1.  The first reason is definitely our members.  We took six this year.  On the back row next to Elder Wheeler is Brother Canny Nobebe.  Canny served as First Counselor to then President Wheeler.  Brother Vivian Prince was attending for his first time.  Always a tender experience.  Left to right on the front row is Nomsa Nteyi, our RS President.  Sister Helen Dell, our Primary President, Ntombiyakhe Dayile, our YW President, and Sister Nompumelelo Vulindu, our Gospel Doctrine Teacher.  Elder Wheeler and I chose to fly to Joberg this year.  These stalwart souls boarded a bus on Monday at 5:00 pm and arrived at the temple the next morning at 10:00 am.  A seventeen hour bus ride!

#2.  We feel safe.  In a city of five million people, you can get a bit jittery.  There are two guarded gates that you pass through to arrive at housing.  These are some of our security friends that welcome us.

#3.  We feel connected and informed.  The Temple complex is also the location of the Africa Southeast Area Offices.  Every office of the church can be found here from finances, to technical support and on and on.  If we have questions, we know we can find an answer from someone here, and we have used this resource.  You can see the banners hanging in the parking lot.  They were having a fitness week with competitions between different offices.  It was fun to watch.

#4.  I feel the strength of Priesthood Leadership.  Elder Carl B. Cook, Elder Stanley G. Ellis, and Elder Kevin S. Hamilton along with their wives are all housed in this building on the complex.  

#5.  I feel like I am home.  LDS Distribution Center.  You just gotta love it!

#6.  I love meeting other members.  This is Sister Gorman.  She has been such a great help to us on all four of our temple trips.  Her job is like being the concierge at the tower of Babel.  Members from South Africa, The Congo, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, Botswana, Malawi, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Namibia, Swaziland, and Tanzania.  Each of these countries speaking a different language.  If you ever questioned that this church is a church of miracles, then you haven't met Sister Gorman.  She should have wings and a halo!

I was particularly impressed this year as we worked in the Baptistry.  We had groups from the Congo, Madagascar, Cape Town, and Port Alfred.  It felt like Zion.  All served and helped each other with no regard for themselves.  It was just a "what can I do to help you" feeling.  Service at it's best.  Sister Dell and I were able to take with us 425 ordinances for her family.  I did baptisms for some of the sisters.  One brother from Cape Town was particularly emotional as he performed baptisms for some of the brethren whose names we brought.  He was unaware of who they were until that moment.  Very sweet. 

#7.  I feel comfort.  The church completed a new Temple Housing Unit just before we came on mission.  It was wonderful after a very full day of Family History and Temple work to retire to the peacefulness of the lovely accommodations there.  I will for now and forever more contribute to the Temple Fund of the church.  If each member of my family including us donated but $15.00 a month to the temple fund it could pay for one of our members to attend the temple each month.  I can give up Five Guys Burgers and Fries for that.

#8.  My tummy is happy.  The Temple just got a new chef.  Yippee!!!  She is awesome and so is her staff.  Three meals a day and they are yummy.

#9.  There is always a surprise!  The gardeners were clearing out  these pomegranate bushes.  What a treat.  He thought we were crazy snatching the fruit from the tree.

 #10.  I get to attend the temple with this tower of a man.  My eternal companion.  My friend through thick and thin.  Oh how we have grown and learned to love each other at a deeper level on mission.  It has been an honor to serve with him.  Our love truly is eternal.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Dell Family Chronicles…I have been bitten!

Meet my friend Helen Dell.  Isn't she beautiful.
Helen is a faithful member of the church, the only member in her family, our Branch Primary President at 71 years of age, a former nurse/midwife, never married, loves animals and communicates with them, a cancer survivor, struggles with heart problems and diabetes, has a memory as sharp as a tack, and is just an overall charming woman.  I love her dearly.

We had been on mission for about six months and we were preparing to go to the temple as a branch.  President Wheeler asked me if I could help some of the members with Family Search so as to take family names with us when we went.  As with most church callings, one accepts and then just tries to figure out what it is the Lord expects you to do.  About all I knew of the Family Search Program was how to log on and make a fan chart.  I began to learn.  And fast.  Helen approached me and asked if I would help her with her work.  I agreed and we began meeting every Wednesday.  Helen had served as a Family History missionary, but with the changes in the computer program she had not kept up with the latest.  Together we began to figure things out.  I would go to her house each week and we would work from a set of photocopied papers that she had in a binder.  The folder was very well laid out with names, birth years, some marriage years, death years but no particular days.  After many weeks of working with these papers I finally said to Helen, "Where did you get these papers from?"  Without a word, she got up from her chair and left the room.  When she came back in she handed me a 500 page book entitled "The Dell Family Chronicles" published in 1979 by Margareate Jeal.  I was astonished!  This book had dates, histories, pictures, charts, drawings, and more!  

Well, the rest is history.  Or should I say Family History.  We were maniacs.  I love puzzles and this was one big huge missing piece of the puzzle that leads to more puzzles and on and on.  The Dell Family was part of the 1820 Settlers that sailed from England with the promise of free land.  I was a woman possessed.  I told President Wheeler that I would like to be released from all my other callings so as to just work on this project.  He laughed.  I spent every spare minute I could working on her line.  Sometimes with Helen and sometimes not.  Unfortunately, Helen was diagnosed with cancer and was unable to go to the temple in 2014.  She has recouped and this year……read on!

 We were able to take 425 ordinances to the temple!!!

These three cute young men from a ward in Cape Town helped us with male baptisms.  I was able to do some of the baptisms for the women.  I will bring the rest of the ordinance cards to America and work on them from there.

The church has a wonderful Family Search library on the Temple Complex.  Elder and Sister Jarvi answered a slew of questions for me.  It was so fun to read the wills from all of Helen's family and to clear up some major discrepancies.  

I have photocopied the Dell Family Chronicles Book to take back with me to America.  I feel like I am an honorary member of her family.  I think I know more about her ancestors than I do my own.  I must fix that.  Working on Family history in South Africa is like working with a clean slate.  I could work for days to find one name on my line whereas here, since nothing has been done it is all new territory!  There are many, many reasons that the Lord put me in South Africa.  One of those reasons I know for a surety is to help this good woman connect her family for Time and for all Eternity.  Serving in this church is an honor.  Having so much fun in a calling is pure joy!