Hogsback Mountain

Hogsback Mountain
Hogsback Mountain Wilderness

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beautiful African People

One of the most heart wrenching things we see here in South Africa is the poverty.  Each time we drive by or through a township, we think of the mothers taking care of their children’s basis needs in such tiny little shanties, knowing that they often carry water and have no indoor plumbing.  Last week we had the opportunity to visit several wonderful new members of the church in their humble homes.  Each home we visited was immaculately clean and orderly and they were wearing their best clothing.  They were so honored that we would come to visit them and treated us with generous hospitality.  Their joy and fulfillment in life is not based on the things of this world, but rather in the peace that comes through their faith in accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is so much to learn from these humble people.

Wash day in the the township.

We are so drawn to the children with their beautiful, shining faces.  Most of them are deathly afraid of Sister Fowers and her shining white hair, but every now and then she can entice a little one into her arms. 

Terrified in the arms of this white haired grandma!

Sisters in the Gospel
Last Sunday we attended the Mdantsane 1st Ward (congregation), which is located in a large township about 15 kilometers outside of East London.  Most of the services were conducted in Xhosa (the native language of this area which has many clicking and popping sounds in it).  Though we could not understand the spoken language we did understand the language of the spirit.  We were pulled in by the fellowship and faith of these saints.  That day, Sister Fowers was able to attend Relief Society, the adult women’s organization, and felt the kinship of sisterhood among a “standing-room only” crowd of 70 sisters.

After Sabbath meetings, a baptismal service was held for five new converts as they took upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ. Words do not do justice to the overwhelming feelings of peace and rejoicing that permeated the meeting.  It made us stop and consider how blessed we have been to have this guiding light in our lives since childhood and what a profound difference in has made to our family.

Mdantsane Baptisms

We still have the head-turning experiences of seeing exotic animals and birds.  We often watch monkeys playing in the trees outside our flat and peacocks strutting around our complex.  This last week we visited animal rescue farm and had some up close and personal encounters with some injured birds.
Petting Frankie
Whoa...back off!

Nearly every morning we are able to beginning our day with a vigorous walk/run on our local Gonubie Boardwalk and beach.  Our gratitude for this opportunity to serve in South Africa grows each day and we pray that we are making a tiny difference through our service.

Gonubie Beach/Boardwalk

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Our new Home in East London

East London, South Africa is our new home.   As of September 3rd, we have been assigned to one of the far outreaches of the mission, which is about 1075 kilometers (670 miles) up the eastern coast of Africa.  The geographic distance of the mission makes it very challenging for President Wood to support and monitor the Elders in distant areas, so Elder Fowers has been called as the 2nd Counselor in the mission presidency to watch over the Elders in this area. 

Elder and Sister Fowers, Sister and Pres. Wood in front of Mission Home

We had a beautiful drive, which took several days and we continue to be in awe of the beauty and majesty of South Africa.  We were able to visit two small mission branches at George and Kynsna and four other senior missionary couples along the way.  Each couple is committed to lift and love the saints in the area they have been assigned.

On the Road to East London

We have now settled into a beautiful flat overlooking the Gonubie River valley.  Along with our many other supervisory responsibilities, we will be working in the Mdantsane township to help support the new ward leaders and find the “lost sheep” in that area.

View from our Back Window...Gonubie River Valley

We love working with the young Elders! (There are no young Sister missionaries here due to safety concerns).  They are full of righteous energy and are working hard to serve and teach the happy message of Jesus Christ and the restoration of truth to the earth.  We are blessed everyday to interact with these young men who have given two years of their lives.

Queenstown Zone Elders

Just last weekend we attended a Stake Conference in East London.  It is difficult to put into words the power of the spirit we felt as we sat among these humble members.  Their words were profound and the music stirring.  They love music and you can feel their love for their Savior through their singing.  Their Stake choir, of about 25 voices, raised the rafters with their hymns that rivaled the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  We couldn’t help but be moved.