We are still catching up our Blog and this posting will feature some of the highlights of the month of April
|Ezakheni Building w/Elder Miller|
The Ezakheni branch meets in an old slaughter house owned by the city. The city lets the church use it at no cost, just to have it occupied. We went there to interview a brother to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and to be called and sustained as Elder’s Quorum president. He was a member of 6 months. At 9:00 am, only the 1st counselor and his family plus the brother to be interviewed were at church. We started somewhere around 9:20 with about 40 people. By the time sacrament meeting ended we had about 90 people, including 6 investigators. Note the baptismal font in the rear of the chapel area. It’s a big fiberglass font or small pool.
|Baptismal font in Ezakheni|
|Priesthood mtg in only availabel space|
|Interview room and Utilities|
As we exited the building after services, the young women were singing hymns as families gathered to walk home. We also had a cow grazing right next to our car. Cows, goats and chickens roam most everywhere in the townships and along the roads and open land.
|Unlikely church attendee|
|Ezakheni youth singing after church|
|Lunch after a day of shopping|
|Sabisa Family- Renee is in the center|
Sister Khumalo felt a need for religion in her life. She didn’t want the flashy or demanding preachers, but something different, however she didn’t know what. Each Sunday morning she watched a neighbor woman walking to church meetings just down the street in the school. Finally she decided, “I’m going to follow that woman to church today.” After getting herself ready, she walked to the school yard. With more than one group there for church, she was unsure which one to attend. She stood outside of the door. The meeting was ‘Fast and Testimony’. After encouragement, she stepped inside and sat towards the back. The meeting was really strange to her, yet she stayed and felt something different. Desiring to head home after the meeting, she was coaxed into staying for Sunday School. The Spirit was present, she was touched and she accepted to receive lessons from the Elders. Brother Khumalo came along more towards the end of her lessons. She felt they both needed to be informed and involved. As the missionaries taught him, he was receptive. His prayer to God, asking if the church was true, came with a confirmation but also a tender feeling that he was speaking with a Father. He had missed his earthly father his entire life.
|Elder Jenks in Khumalo kitchen|
The Elders, Jenks and Masvaya, gave a short lesson and we played short videos from our laptop. It was getting late and time for dinner. Sister Khumalo was striving so hard to ensure we were pleased. Simple and tasty, steamed bread was the delicious beginning. She set to rise in the sun during the day, then cooked on top of the ‘stove’. The stove being a couple of hot plates on top of a small oven, looking like a microwave oven, only slightly smaller. Tripe with beans as a sauce rounded out the dinner. The sauce was spicy, and tasty. Guests used the large plates, attractive but not matching. She and her kids ate out of bowls, after all of us had been fed and she was sure that we had eaten enough. We have to watch the Elders to make sure they don’t overeat.
|Khumalo family with you know who|
What a great experience for us. Humbling and strengthening. We developed a quick love for the Khumalo family and their beauty as a family. Afterwards, the Elders mentioned that they were one of the ‘best off’ families in the area. Not remembering beforehand, but realizing afterwards, that I had set Sister Khumalo apart as a Primary Teacher the prior week. We had not extra rooms at the school, so the branch president and I stepped a little ways away and set her and another sister apart on a porch of the school. She spoke so softly that I didn’t fully understand her name (on the third request), so the branch president said her name for me when I set her apart. To complete our visit, we created a family picture for them and framed it, having not seen any pictures in the home. Wrapped it up with little ribbon as a package, the Elders delivered it to the family for us. We were told that Sister Khumalo was teary eyed as she unwrapped the gift. She not only loved the picture, but it was the first wrapped present she had ever received.
We decided to take a trip into the Drakenberg mountains. As we turned off the road to head up the first valley, the road got rough and somewhat narrow. It is more one large lane than two. We drove through hills and past villages. In the villages, the people don’t have stores. We passed trucks stopped on the side of the road with 20-50 people gathered around and getting either bread or basic food items. Every so often a huge bag of maize meal or corn meal in a 100 pound sack was on the side of the road. I think the people came and shared it. We drove until we ran out of paved road and into the hills. The mountains are different yet beautiful. You can see the small groups of family houses on the hillsides. The life is rural, slow paced, agricultural, and family based. It was nice to see the people of South Africa.
|shopping in the savannah|
|Drakensberg mtns - cattle grazing below|
|Family groups on a hillside|
|Goat herder high in the Drakensbergs|
|Off the beaten path|
|Rugged peaks of the Drakensberg mtns|