Here are the first three of many pictures about our mission experience. The one on the left shows the kind of roads but also the beautiful views we have here in Ezulwini. The middle picture is Mary with one of the Young Single Adults from the Ezulwini branch who is all dressed up for a YSA Valentines dance. The last one shows Mary with a woman who teaches 1st grade students at a small school. She has almost nothing to teach with or from because it is not a state school but is for poor children.
These pictures are about the first baptism that we were able to be a small part of in Swaziland. The left hand picture shows Bill at the small stand that brother Nahti has along the road where he sells onions, squash, snacks and sometimes pineapples. Sister Wilson wanted to buy a pineapple so they happened to stop at Nahti’s stand. About the first thing Nahti said to them was he needed them to teach him about faith. So they and the missionaries – Elder Eddy and Makono – did just that. The middle picture shows how many lessons are taught at homesteads in Swaziland. Mary and I were there also but the story is really about the Wilsons, the missionaries and Nahti.
The last picture was taken just before Nahti’s baptism service started and shows the Wilsons, Nahti, elder Makono and elder Eddy.
The elders showed us a new internet cafe and we are trying it for the first time today. It seems to be quite fast – but that might change at any time – and so we might be able to actually post some pictures. It is our P-day so we can spend some time reading and answering e-mail as well as posting to this blog.
Yesterday was great. I attended PEC meeting for the first time and was impressed how they got things done without spending a lot of time on talking things to death. We then went to block meeting and I was asked to bear my testimony. It is nice to sit in a meeting 10,000 miles from home and understand most of what is going on. They do tend to pray very softly and in their native language. But that is OK because their spirits are so strong that I can feel what is being said.
The Priesthood lesson was one of the best I have ever been to. It was on missionary work and the teacher told the members that it was there duty to do missionary work because it was their branch and the missionaries were just visitors who would go home someday. So they needed to work harder at introducing their friends and neighbors to the gospel. He told how he was doing that and some others talked about their positive missionary experiences. All of us missionaries – there are 4 elders serving in the branch – were certainly happy to hear what he had to say.
In the afternoon we went out with a pair of elders – one is actually a priest who is serving with the zone leader elder Wright while his companion is recovering from a soccer injury – and taugh a young woman. I ended up telling her the Joseph Smith story and about my own conversion. I bore testimony that if she would ernestly prayed to find out if this was the only true and living church on the earth she would get an answer. I am not sure she will do that but as I looked her in the eyes and bore that testimony I knew that she knew I knew what I said was true.
The Young Single Adults in the different branches held Valentines dances. They were great success. One young lady who is investigating the church we met with on Saturday night said she had a wonderful time and made a lot of friends. They hold their dances in the afternoon or early evening so people can get back to their boardings before dark if possible. Transportation is a big problem here – as it was in Indonesia – and most people like to get home before the sunsets.
We are really enjoying our mission. It is much different from our experience in Indonesia. Just being able to drive ourselves around is a great change. We are still rather timid about going off the main roads with our car because we are not sure of the quality of the dirt roads. We have been on some roads with the elders in their trucks that look more like streambeds than roads. But even having a truck does not mean you will not get stuck. Just last week a pair of elders managed to get their bakkie – think pick-up truck – stuck so deep in the mud that they had to abandoned it until they could find a member with a tractor to come pull them out.
We know we are where we should be and doing the work we should be doing. It does not seem possible that we have only been on our mission less than a month.
I just noticed that a couple of you made comments stating that our mailbox was full. We knew that but until today we could not get AOL to load so we could delete a lot of old mail.
Thanks to those who tried to write and got it back. There is lots of room there now.
Well I thought I was going to copy a nice long post that I wrote at our boarding and put on a thumb drive. However it seems that this computer does not like Word 2007 at all so we will need to go to plan B on Monday.
I will say that I had a great time helping the elders tear down a house on Thursday. Pictures will follow some time.
We are well and enjoying serving here in beautiful Swaziland in the absolutely stunning Ezulwini valley – the valley of the gods.
It seems it is not going to let me download any pictures so that too will have to wait for a better connection.
We came to the beautiful country of Swaziland on last Wednesday. Since then we have had a couples conference, a district conference, and a district development meeting.
We immediately moved into our new boarding. A very nice one bedroom home with a large living room, a very nice sized kitchen, a large walk-in closet and a bathroom. We also have a veranda that runs along one side of the house. We have flowering trees all around the yard so it is quite beautiful. I would love to show you pictures but we do not have an internet connection that is fast enough to allow us to do this.
Of the 7 days we have been here it has rained 4 1/2 of them. But on the days that it was clear we could see that we were in a beautiful green valley with high rocky cliffs in many places.
Yesterday – that is Tuesday – we went out teaching with the missionaries. The first stop was a homestead with five buildings where two recent converts lived. We taught them out under some big trees with a nice breeze. The elders had us join in the discussion of the priesthood responsibilities.
Then we went way out to another area where we taught a first discussion to one woman and also encouraged a less active young lady to come back. I got to give the First Vision part of the lesson and Mary asked a great question to the young lady. This time we taught while sitting on a concrete porch. We sit outside because it is cooler.
Today we went to Mbabane to take part in a district meeting. It was great to sit and hear the missionaries talk about their investigators. One set has 23 at this time with a number having firm baptism dates. The work is really moving forward in Swaziland.
We know that the Lord has sent us here for a special purpose and we will work hard to find out just what that is.
02 February 2009
We have now been in South Africa for two full days and we are trying to adjust to the new time and the weather. Since I slept for 8 full hours on Saturday night, I thought I had managed to make the change right away but Sunday night was not as good so I guess I am still in the adjusting mode. Mary unfortunately did not do really well either night. However since we do not have a lot to do until we get to Swaziland, we have time to sleep in the afternoon.
We are staying at a lovely bed and breakfast that is owned by two stalwart members of the Church. The Rawlings have been members for over 40 years and served two missions in Johannesburg. Their grandson Lehi is staying with them so he can go to school here in Durban. I thought back to the days we spent in the Harris Hotel when we first got to Indonesia. Although the Harris was a very nice hotel, these accomodations are much more conducive to helping us make the transition from Utah.
Sunday we went to the Pinetown ward and got to meet many of the members. I was especially impressed by the young men who shared their testimonies. They kind of led out for the other members. One of the things you notice here is that the actually bear their testimonies. Except for one brother there was no preaching, stories, or telling how much they love their families. They only gave thanks for their spiritual blessings and testimonies of the truths they knew.
They held a group meeting of Priesthood and Relief Society to introduce a new program to help the members become more active in finding and other missionary work. It includes a challenge to become a Preach My Gospel member. One of the great things about this program is that the bishops, branch presidents, and stake and district presidents are behind it 100% and have decided how to implement the program in their own units. All in all it was a great set of Sunday Meetings.
Monday we met with President Mann and he gave us some instructions. We also talked about some of the things we will be doing in Swaziland. We will be going up there on Wednesday and we will be able to stay in our own boarding for the couple’s conference. The President tells us that our house is in the middle of a nursery so I should get to know all the native plants while we are there.
In talking to the missionaries Swaziland is booming with lots of baptisms of families so they will soon have a strong Priesthood. We are looking forward to having a chance to get to know the members there and find out how we can help the branch presidents strengthen their branches. President Mann wants Swaziland to grow large enough to become the third stake in the mission.