In a new and different kind of transfer, we got word of a mid-cycle missionary arriving, which can be awkward to deal with, as all the companionships were just "tweaked" 3 weeks ago.
But then, two days later, a missionary "departed". His companion woke up, and found himself alone, with a good-bye letter. The departing elder is from South Africa, so it was kind of like a young man from Boise deciding to go home early from the Provo mission - and just leaving. This didn't just come out of the blue, of course, but his particular way of dealing with things was a total surprise. He had come to us after going home with medical issues from another mission, and was working and teaching well. His companion (a very good elder himself) handled it great, and all is good there.
So Elder Schmitz is doubly welcome - once for himself, and once for helping even up the companionships!
Elder Wells (area psychologist) and Sister Wells came down for two days from Johannesburg so he could talk with a few of the elders. We had a great time with them - we took them to dinner, along with Elder and Sister Sessions, to a restaurant in the new Westwood Mall. We like it both for the food and personnel, and the view. We sat by the window looking across at a hillside with big houses on top, more medium around the edges, and informal housing (shantytown) plastered on the side of the hill. As the lights came on, the informal housing became even more obvious - because it was pitch dark. No electricity.
And speaking of no electricity, the restaurant lost power shortly after we arrived. The whole mall went out off, then all the stores came on except the side of one hallway that included us, then later the whole mall went off, then all the stores came on again - except our side of the hallway. They cook with gas there, so we still had a nice dinner, mostly with the lights on. I had to go next door to see well enough to pay the bill. The Sessions live very close to the mall, so their power was out when they got home, but not for too long (this time!).
Great story out of Osizweni, near Madadeni - Elder Hiatt went there from being assistant, to check out the area and see if it could be productive towards an independent branch. There are a few members there, and it's a big area some distance from the Madadeni building. A member in Madadeni was thrilled with the news of elders in Osizweni, and offered his non-member father's garage for the meetings. Elder Hiatt has been there a few cycles, working really hard. Last week he and Elder Nyamombe reported 35 present for sacrament meeting (in the garage): 27 being investigators. As Elder Holland says, "Inspired missionaries change history." Inspired...and very hard working!
The rest of today's blog is a story we received by fax from the SwaziWilsons. It was written by Elder Nare, and is called THE SWAZI THREE NEPHITES. It will give you a good feel for the wonderful missionaries we have here. So here goes:
"Behold, it came to pass on the day of our Lord the 29th-30th of January 2009 on the 4th day of the week in the reign of President Mann in the South Africa Durban Mission (SADM), it was a day of the transfer while everyone went to the transfer meeting in Durban except Elder Nare (South Africa), Elder Kona (South Africa), and Elder Makono (Zimbabwe) in Swaziland. We were on a three-some waiting for our new companions so we were working in Manzini 2 area because none of us by that time had a driver's license so we had to walk to and from the area.
Now, therefore, I will tell you of the great miracle of the power and authority that happened this wonderful day. It was just in the middle of the day and it was raining. We were from the lesson walking towards the next appointment when we got a call from one of our recent converts, Nathi Masina, telling us how his wife, Nokuphiwa, is very ill. He was asking us if we could come and have a prayer with them in the house. And it came to pass that we didn't waste any time. We went there as soon as we could and found that she was really sick. She couldn't even speak. We decided to give her a blessing then left to our appointment.
After 20-30 minutes later, we received a call from Nokuphiwa telling and thanking us for coming. She told us that she was totally healed. We were so excited, we didn't know what to say.
On Friday the 30th of January 2009, we were still together. In the morning after our studies, we got a call from one of our investigators, Make Simelane. She was sounding very scared and sad on the phone. She was telling us that her husband Baba Simelane, had not been going to work for the past 2 days because he had an unusual pain under his left hand. It was an interior pain and she was aking us also to come to their house to have a prayer wih them. We went there and asked Baba if it would be OK if we gave him a blessing. He agreed so we gave him a blessing and told him that all would be well.
The next day when we went for our appointment with them, Baba was well, even helping one of his neighbors to move to a new house.
These are really great MIRACLES that happen around the mission because the great great mission equation which is: HARD WORK + OBEDIENCE WITH EXACTNESS + FAITH.
P.S. The motto of the Swazi Three Nephites: "We do not boast in our strength; instead, we are rateful for this opportunity the Lord gives to us to serve him on a mission. It's a privilege not a right! And now we make an end of speaking concerning the things which we saw while we were carried away in the great land of Manzini, Swaziland. Amen."
I can't show you any better than that what wonderful young men are coming out on missions. Don't you wish you were all here, too?
ps Steve drove to Richards Bay this morning to do interviews, so the office elders were scheduled to pick us up for Church. Around 7:30 I got a call from Sister Sessions (the Sessions live in the same complex as Elders Syphrett & Kitili) to alert me that the security gate to the complex wouldn't open, so no one could get out. It's not on the same power line as the boardings, which had electricity, and no one had a # to call for help. Half an hour later she called again: Elder Sessions had convinced the gate to open (I can't use the term "brute force" about a coupleelder can I?) so the elders were able to pick us up. If it had been OUR security gate malfunctioning on a Sunday morning I'd have looked very closely into Hunter and Morgan's nocturnal activities...