Steve and I now have two married children, and a new daughter-in-law. Life is moving on! Many thanks to all the family and friends who were so supportive in our absence - I had the opportunity to fly home for the wedding, and it was wonderful to see everyone, and to have no responsibilities (well, I did welcome everyone to the wedding luncheon). In the meantime, Steve was mission president, dad, and mom for a week - he looked a little tired when I got back!
The week before I left, Sister Mathe in Richards Bay took the conversion story of her father-in-law, Mpikayivuswa Mathe, to the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu. (It's posted here: please read it!) He was delighted to hear his old friend's experiences, asked for Book of Mormons and more information, and was very friendly about being visited again. Now, the king has 6 wives, so although he could certainly attend Church and be an active investigator, we don't anticipate baptizing him! There is polygamy here, especially in Swaziland, so the missionaries have to be very aware family situations as they are teaching. Children of a polygamist family can certainly be baptized, and I'm sure that all of this will be sorted out in the next life, with no loss of blessings.
Reg and Iris Nield, our friends from Harare, were in Durban this weekend for the Springboks versus the English & Irish Lions (rugby) test match. (We won: 26-21. We are, after all, the most recent World Rugby Cup champions.) It was great to see them. They have been the backbone of the Church in Zimbabwe for many years. And Reg knows EVERYONE. True story: a returned missionary who knew Reg was in Los Angeles, with a bumper sticker that read "I Love Zimbabwe" on his car. Another car pulled up alongside him, and asked through the window, "Do you know Reg Nield?" And he did! Reg is interested in and talks to everyone, and has a President Monson-like memory for names and faces. They went to Pinetown Ward with us, and, naturally, discovered that our former bishop and current seminary teacher, Sean Wilson, is a very very old friend - they knew his parents extremely well. So we had a lovely visit (that's South Africa talk) Sunday afternoon with Joanne and Sean, before we took Reg and Iris to the airport. They now have four days at the temple before returning to Zimbabwe.
The Nields are a great example of the people here who have pioneered the Church in Southern Africa. And, of course, the pioneering continues as new areas are opened up to proselyting. They are always helping other people, serving members and nonmembers alike, and that love influences those around them to listen to the gospel and feel it's truth, whether they choose to accept it or not. And the Nields keep loving people and maintain their friendships whether they join the Church or not - which is genuine fellowshipping! They are the ones who, during the war for independence in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) used to load up their six little girls in the van every week and drive out to hold Church in a black branch. They learned later than when they ledft each Sunday, the branch would pray together that they would return home safely.
It's really humbling to be around so many wonderful members of the Church, who have to make so many sacrifices, and stand up every day for their faith. I think maybe they should be going on missions to the Wasatch Front, instead of us coming here: they would so invigorate the wards there! I always used to think it was wonderful for missionaries from remote areas of the Church to serve in the States so they could see "how the Church works". Now I'm realizing that it's even more important for us to see "how faith and sacrifice work". All of our missionaries will take home memories of dedication, and willingness, and amazing changes that they see with their investigators and members. I'm embarrassed when I find myself frustrated because an auxilary isn't running perfectly - and then see the way the members are helping each other, taking nieces and nephews to live in their homes, walking long distances to Church meetings... It's easy to get bogged down in "stuff", and lose sight of the real meaning of the gospel. I guess those Nephites aren't so unusual, after all.
So, I guess this week's message is we all need to live the gospel better - in case we're only active in the Church. I need to, at least!
Love to everyone!
ps Recently the "bench" players for the rugby team were Chester, Warwick, Basil & Kanyiso. Do you love it?
pps Iris Nield mentioned that when her daughter was unhappy with her husband over something, she didn't "get after him", she "gave him socks". And no, I don't get it.
ppps The photographer at the wedding turned out to have served his mission in Durban