Dear Family & Friends:
The wait, and even the longer drive were worth it: the new King Shaka International Airport is amazing. It's big, spacious, full of stores and restaurants, there are glass doors so you can spot the missionaries (always recognizable) as they look for their luggage, and plenty of parking. We liked it so much we went there 4 times this week! First the eagerly awaited Blackburns arrived on Sunday night. The only glitch in their arrangements was actually om the U.S. side, as their plane was delayed in Atlanta; although they made the connection in Johannesburg, their luggage didn't. Our newest couple handled jet lag beautifully and drove to Swaziland their second day here.
The next trip to the airport was a sad one - saying goodbye to the wonderful ladysmithWilsons. We'll miss them a lot! (Fortunately, you'll be able to see them in the new senior couple recruiting dvd...)
The airport journeys continued as we picked up our 8 new elders on Wednesday - to the music of the Beach Boys singing "Kokomo" - and dropped off 8 seasoned priesthood leaders on Friday. We always have a dinner and testimony meeting for each of these groups of elders, and I thought Elder Hamilton told about coming out to South Africa with Elder Summers, and sitting by a man who was very harsh with them about wasting two years for a meaningless cause. They had no idea what to say to him - then. We're all hoping they will sit by him on the way home, too: it will be a very different story!
Elder Hamilton also gave a very good "last lecture" when he said, "I know the gospel is true. The Book of Mormon is true. In fact, it's all true - and that's all that matters."
For those of you who are not (yet) deeply immersed in Preach My Gospel, here is a message Elder Davis shared in devotional, from page 120. See if it isn't worth your time:
"Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God's will and accept His timing. when you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith - you must wait for the Lord's promised blessings to be fulfilled...You must be patient with all people, yourself included, as you work to overcome faults and weaknesses." PGM p120
Every so often Steve sends a special email out to all the missionaries. I thought you might like to see what your elder has been reading lately:
As we have travelled this cycle we have often started skills & interviews with the song "Come Come Ye Saints". Each time we sing it I think of my own great, great grandparents and the sacrifices they made as they left their homes in Europe knowing they would never see their families again and made their way west. They made their way filled with hope and a burning testimony that the gospel of Jesus Christ had been restored. It was hard, they suffered through hunger and thirst and fatigue. They buried children along the trail, but still they made their way west to the Promised Land where they could practice their religion, partake of the saving ordinances and raise their children in righteousness.
How grateful I am for their commitment and sacrifice. What a legacy they have left as their children, grandchildren, and great, great, great grandchildren have grown to maturity in the gospel and gone on to serve the Lord.
Each day as we make decisions to serve the Lord we too are leaving a legacy. As we live and honor the mission equation we leave a legacy. As we strive to build and support and encourage and love our companions and those in our districts and zones we leave a legacy. We leave an enormous legacy with the brothers and sisters we teach and baptize as they change their lives and start on a path that will unite them with their families forever and allow them to return to their Father's kingdom.
We leave a legacy with the people we serve as they observe missionaries from all over the world serving others rather than pursuing their own selfish interests. We leave a legacy for our own children and grandchildren, for in some future day they will read our journals and hear our stories and come to know the trials and joys of their grandfathers as they served the Lord on full-time missions.
Most importantly we leave a legacy for ourselves as we serve with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength and learn to live by the Spirit and by revelation. This legacy is built each day and each moment as we make choices to serve the Lord. This legacy is built with two-mite days, obedience with exactness, one more doors, tailored lessons, and enthusiasm, and hope and faith, and tired bodies and joyful hearts. It is a legacy that sets the foundation for the rest of our lives and a legacy that will bring us and our families back to our Father.
What a joy it is to serve with you and be part of your legacy. You are magnifying your callings and your priesthood and as you do so you are fulfilling your part of the covenant made in D&C 84 that promises you all that the Father has. I love you, Elders. Go out and make this the best week of your mission. Go out with joy. Go out with boldness and courage. Go out with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a determination to invite all to enter His kingdom.
This week is the interim Mission Presidents' Seminar in Johannesburg. It will be great to see all the other mission presidents and their wives, as well as the Area Presidency and their wives. (Let's be honest: for me it's especially the wives!) The downside, of course, is knowing we won't see many of them again for years. I guess that's one of the advantages of living in the Wasatch front - there are always a lot of people you met on mission who live within reach for reunions. I understand part of the post-mission adjustment is discovering that after the first few minutes, no one else is really that interested in talking about your mission memories - except the other former missionaries!
ps I was surprised last week to see a truck with the bumper slogan: "Say no to crack", as I hadn't seen any anti-drug projects around here or heard anyone talk about specific drugs. Good for you! I thought...until I looked at the logo on the truck: T&R Paving...
pps For those if you who have been asking, we were just invited (via email) to give a homecoming report in our River Heights Ward (Eagle, Idaho) on July 25th at 11am.