September 22-30, 2013
We have had a busy and a good week here in South Africa. Probably the highlight of the week was our attendance of the Port Elizabeth Zone Conference. For those of you who don’t comprehend that lingo, zone conferences are meetings in which all the local church missionaries and their Mission President meet together for reporting and training.
The majority of the meeting was conducted by the young missionaries themselves and what a marvelous job they did. You have to remember that these are young men 18 to 21 years of age; Young men who have had no professional training in how to conduct meetings, to train others, to motivate and inspire their peers to go do what the Lord has called them to do. It was one of the best orchestrated and articulated meetings I have attended. At times they made you laugh and at others times they caused the eyes to moisten. Their conviction and resolve to go and do would have made any CEO envious and wondrous of how to generate the same in his employees.
At the close of the meeting I stood and told them that for 40+ years I have been among and involved with church and corporate leaders, but I could honestly say I don’t recall that I have ever been among a finer group – a more inspiring group, than I am today.
As we witnessed that meeting I could not help but think of our own grandchildren who some day will be where these young men are today, doing the same thing, in just as an impressive and inspiring way. I could see them clearly in my mind’s eye.
Other than that meeting we have been able to continue working with those who are trying to find work or in other ways improve their standard of living. Perhaps a success story will impart to you why we find joy in our opportunity to be here. In the workshops we do, we teach the students the importance of being assertive, confident in themselves, and determined. These people, for the most part, lack the confidence necessary to succeed or excel. They have been poor and done without for so long that anything beyond what they have seems unattainable. Yesterday, one of the former students, who has a menial job, asked us to come and talk to him about a matter. The first thing he wanted to share with us was an experience he had the previous day. He said he decided to do what we taught in the class. (He stated in the class that he wanted to be a safety manager.) So he went to his boss and told him that he wanted to become a safety manager and explained that he “had” (not, “thought he had”) the ability to become one. His boss said, “What a coincidence, we were just discussing this morning in our meeting that we needed to have one. Fill out this application and we will consider you.” At the end of work that day his supervisor informed him that he had the job and would start it on Monday. Furthermore, the company will pay for his additional training.
The man was so grateful for our help and quick to acknowledge the Lord’s help. We stress in the class that the Lord has not sent anyone here to fail, but to succeed. The Lord has stated that there is ample for everyone but we have to do things in His own way and if we do, we can not fail. The man was electrified. He saw for the first time that he would be able to provide for his family; that some day he would be able to own his own house; he could send his children to school; his wife could go to school; his whole world was transformed over night. One of the amazing things about that experience was that he barely got done telling us his story before he moved on to talk about that he could now reach out and help others in need.
We have included a few pictures that indicate the culture, environment and talent here in South Africa.
One object that has had our curiosity since being here is these poles with horns attached to them. One day we saw a large group participating in a gathering at this home with the horns (I did not take a picture of them while they were gathered for fear I would be the next item on the pole). I spoke to one of the church members and inquired about the horns. He explained that the poles were sacrifice poles and that they (those who have the poles) believe that they have, at times, communication with their dead relatives. When one has such a visit, he is required to sacrifice an animal and attach his horns to the post as a reminder of the occasion. They are also required to pour a can of beer in a bowel and place it and a package of cigarettes at the base of the pole for the dead person’s gratification. So, I asked, why the big crowd? He explained that the recipient of the vision invites his friends to share the experience with him as a testimony to them of his vision. They, of course, are more than grateful to be able to attest to the experience because they get to feast upon the carcass of the critter whose horns are now upon the post. My question, of which I was not able to get an answer to, was where the visionary got the money for the sacrifice?
The highway department here in South Africa has found a method in which to keep the roadsides trimmed by other than mechanical means.
The cows are also found mowing the grass along the road and throughout the communities.
A sales yard is established wherever it is convenient and you do not have to listen to an auctioneer.
The winter gardens are just being harvested now. Along the roads the natives sell their produce fresh from their garden. Local markets also sell fresh produce brought in by the local gardeners. It is amazing how little they get for their labors.
Here a lady is beginning her day by sweeping around the entrance to her home. Note that where she is sweeping is dirt but she wants to keep it tidy.
These pictures are typical of the shanty towns near here.
We dropped off this pair of Elders for an appointment they had at this home. (Their bicycles were in the shop being fixed this day).
This man demonstrates his artistic talents at a local beach.
At one of the Sunday services, this group of children was part of the program. They love any opportunity to have their picture taken.