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.