It seems that time is speeding up as we near the end of our mission. I took a quick walk through my journal since my last blog post and it is amazing how many things have happened in the past month. Not only have we been filled with the spirit of Christmas as we served Mdantsane families that we love, but also found time to see just a bit more of the this beautiful country before we leave. Enjoy just a few of the highlights from our journals during the past month.
1 December: Finding Lost Members
Much of our time is focused on finding members who, for whatever reason, have become less active and their once bright testimonies have dimmed. Often all it takes is to find out the someone missed them and came looking. Today we visited Sister Thembeka who was baptized years ago, but quit attending when they built the new church far from where she lived. She was so excited to see us and we felt the witness of the spirit as we share our feelings. Thembeka joined us in church the next day! A little miracle.
Knocking Doors...Finding Hiding Sheep
Sis. Thembeka came to church the next day!
9 December: Last Road Trip to George
One of the blessings of our mission has been to travel to the outlying mission branches and nurture their little flocks. Elder Fowers presides as the first counselor in the mission presidency and we always speak in church. As I spoke today in Sacrament meeting, I was filled up with all kinds of conflicting emotions knowing that it would be my last time with these beautiful people. On our way home we took time to explore the beauties and wonders of the Garden Route-- finally stopping to see the things we always thought we might like to see. More than the beauty we see around us, we know we have changed inside our hearts, our countenances and our minds, in ways that escape words.
Beautiful Buffel Bay
Garden Route Coastal View
13 December: Last Walk with Sister Wood
Sister Wood and I have walked 100's of kilometers together, sharing every part of our lives. Today was my last walk on Gonubie Beach with her. We have become dear friends. Of all the people we are leaving behind in South Africa, Sister Wood is the one I feel the saddest about. She has such positive energy even though she carries a heavy burden of responsibility, yet she always has a smile on her face. As we walked today, I kept tyring to find the words to tell her of my love and respect, but they just didn't come. I will miss this dear friend.
17 December: Hogsback Mountain
Today for our P- day we took a two hour drive to the Hogs Back Mountains named for three mountains resembling the back of pigs. This dense old indigineous forest hidden in the Eastern Cape of South Africa was the inspiration for "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The rivers have cut through these old shale mountains to form several breathtaking waterfalls and we hiked to three of them today.
Madonna and Child Falls
This was such a beautiful waterfall I decided to get a better shot of myself up closer to the cascading waters. As you can see, Sister Fowers did get a better shot, but it was not of the waterfall. I also became the subject of several other tourist cameras.
Taking a momentary dip in a cool mountain stream.
Enjoying Swallowtail Falls
20 December: Xosha Clothes Shopping
Dress up, Xhosa style.
Surprize gifts from the Chula Vista Institute
Playing Santa to Sister Margaret
Merry Christmas Mbiza Family
Christmas Cheer to Mama Magibisela
25 December: Christmas Dinner with Cima Family
Thembisa, Sister Fowers, Cathrine
Brothers~Elvis Cima and Elder Fowers
We had a peaceful, stress-free Christmas. We focused our celebration on the Savior as we served in quiet, simple ways. We love you all. May you be blessed with a Happy New Year.