Tuesday, April 2, 2013

December 2012 - Holidays in Africa

Hello Family and Friends,
We've been very silent the past several months and we apologize for that.  Now is the time for repentance and we'll catch you up on our lives as missionaries.  Notes will be short but we hope to hear from you and answer questions or find out about your lives.

Temple Visit with Madadeni Branch's 1&2:  (That's how it's written out here.)  Madadeni is a township by us and  they sacrifice to attend the temple twice a year.  The temple is about 335 km from Johannesburg, the temple location.  Members are encouraged and asked to save their money for a temple trip which cost about 220 Rand ($25).  This is a great sacrifice for them.  To keep costs down, they travel up to the temple, attend and return in the same day.  For those of you who think this is an reasonable task, let's walk you through it.  Preparations are made and Elder Miller is interviewing and signing temple recommends up to the night before.  Members may sleep over at the church if needed, because the Kombi (Taxi) leaves at 3:30 am from the church parking lot.

 Usually someone is late and slows things down.  Expected time in a Kombi is 4 hours.  An hour into the trip, the Kombi breaks down, and it takes 2 hours to get them back on the road again.  The temple workers are so kind and flexible.  Most stayed late to accommodate the late arrival.  We went the night before to make it easier on ourselves.  The joy is seeing them arrive all dressed and ready to go.  For most it is the first or second visit so we have the privilege to assist and guide them where they need to go.  The chance to participate in any way at the temple becomes a lasting memory for them.

TRAINING:  'Come Follow Me'.  As MLS missionaries we relish the chance to teach leaders and members about new programs.  The new program for the youth gave us an excellent opportunity.  Basically, we are teaching them a better way to bring the gospel to life in each and every member.  Through several sessions with the district and branch leaders, we were able to share new insights, demonstrate the concepts and really help them become the teacher that reaches more into the heart and testimony of the classes.  It is still rolling out but we are grateful for such inspiration in helping all the youth.  If you don't know about it, find out.

HUIS JOHANNA CHRISTMAS SHARING: One of our members lives in a retirement/nursing home in a small town, Utrecht.  It's about 60 km from here.  ON this special occasion, we planned ahead.  Simple needs are such nice gifts for them.  Basically we purchased a hygiene kit for them with some added goodies to make it a pleasant surprise.
Knowing that 50 people call this home, we planned accordingly.  Lots of cake baking on Sister Miller's part, buying and wrapping up gifts.  Christmas Eve morning we departed with 10 Elders and one enthusiastic member in tow.  Oh how their faces brightened as we flowed into the sun room area.  Quickly any missing were brought.  Together we enjoyed many Christmas songs and stories remembering the birth of Christ.  The residents sang and participated making it more than just a special day for them.  Christmas really is in the Giving of oneself.  Heartfelt appreciation allowed us to bond with all.  All the missionaries took the time to share and talk with everyone.  It's the kind of moment that conjures up Christmas stories.  For us, it will ever be in our hearts.  Many nationalities and religions, but only one Spirit.

Christmas Dinner for the Elders:  As Senior couples, the Elders become our sons for now and hopefully for a lifetime.  Many of our Elders never have received a gift at Christmas or shared in some of our traditions.  Here, Christmas is about welcoming the stranger or friend from off the street and into your home to celebrate and share something to eat.  No Christmas trees and little to no decorations.  Christmas for us was sharing our home and our means with our 'sons'.  Breakfast included French Toast, eggs, and sausage with all the trimmings.  All the Elders received some gift, thanks to family and friends.  Thank you for your kindness.  A fun day of talking, sharing and really being 'family'.  Our small tree and decorations radiated the Spirit of Christmas to the Elders  whenever they visited.  Games got everyone involved and the Elders were off to talk to families.  A great thrill for us was to visit with our families over SKYPE.  5 hours on Christmas day and 5 hours on the 26th.  We love the support our children and grandchildren provide.  For Christmas this year, we created a video DVD of our mission life and sent it to all our children.

YSA NEW YEAR'S EVE: We have a special love for the YSA's and we helped them plan a party to celebrate the new year.  It started at 6 p.m. with outdoor games and a braai (BBQ) until the clock struck midnight and then the whole township lit up with fireworks.  After we ate the braai we danced until 3a.m. and played "Minute to Win it" games until the sun came up at 5:00 a.m. which enabled the party guests to walk home.

Great Young Adults and they are the future of the church in this area.