Thursday, December 18, 2014

1 - 7 Dec 2014 SnelsonsLeft,ZoneLeaderMtg,SemGrad,Crochet,Mery

It was wonderful to go shopping on Monday after being “in hiding” last week.  Monday afternoon I taught crocheting to 2 sisters.  This week the APs were to get 60+ fichas to me to make the 108 total reported by the District Leaders, so we could meet the 5 December submission deadline.  This week we set up the Mission Office Christmas tree and decorations.  Sister Kretly made the ornaments with photos of all of the missionaries.  We also worked on PowerPoint presentations on “Crucial Training” topics for President Kretly.  Tuesday was Snelson’s last Staff Meeting!

The Lopes’, Matilde, and Isabel prepared a wonderful lunch for the Zone Leader Meeting on Wednesday.

The beautiful “Pride-of-the-Kaap” Bauhinia Trees are in bloom throughout the city.  I remember them from last year, but this year they seem to be far more vibrant and striking to see.

This month we decided to make all of our grandchildren emails be Christ-centered to be in keeping with the Church’s "He is the Gift" Campaign.  These beautiful trees easily remind me of Christ.  Red and green are traditional Christmas colors, but beyond that, red reminds me of the blood Jesus shred during the atonement, His great sacrifice and gift to us.  In Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Since my week going through hives, I now more deeply know of in small part the miracle of Christ's healing both physically and spiritually and the mental and physical suffering my Savior went through for me. The red tear-drop shaped petals on the ground also remind us of the drops of blood Christ shed for each of us.

Did you all receive your first email from the First Presidency, 3 December 2014?  The Church is really reaching out to us to give us regular timely information about the Church.  One day we’ll look back and think members have always received emails from the First Presidency, but in reality we are seeing a new emphasis which is started here in our day. 

Slowly the rainy humid weather has descended on Maputo. 

I love rain, so it’s not a problem for me, but the people stay inside, for the most part, when it rains.  It is said that people are more afraid of rain than they are of cars!  As I look around at the new growth coming from palm trees, I notice that the beginning of a new frond comes from the middle of the top of the tree.  The new frond looks like a sword sticking straight up to the sky.  As we increase in learning by study and faith, we can learn from this growth pattern and look to begin with our focus on heaven and God for the influence of His Spirit to help form us into what He desires.

I’d like to encourage all of you senior couples out there to consider, prepare, and serve a full-time mission!  I heard that only 40% of the needs for senior couples are filled!   The assignments are so varied that you surely can find a place and way to serve to help hasten the work of salvation throughout the world.

We have always been “invited” to attend Friday morning District Meetings, but this week the invitation became more formal.  President Kretly wants the senior couples to be more involved in their districts.  Elder Poyfair shared insights on the concepts of “teaching” and “preaching.”  The manual is entitled Preach my Gospel.  We can preach, but it is the Spirit who “teaches.”  The Spirit must be present for the message to go into a person’s heart.  We also planned an activity for the families for next Wednesday evening!

On Friday evening we were invited to join the Public Affairs couples (Elder & Sister Humphreys and Elder & Sister Berg) who came from South Africa to have dinner with President and Sister Kretky at the Raddison Blue Hotel!  (Just a side-note, Sister Berg is President Steve Owens’ sister!  She’s from Houston, Texas.)  We  were seated in a private room and had multiple waiters and a waitress serve us! Sorry for blurry picture!

The highlight of the week was Saturday’s Seminary/Institute Graduation.  It was to begin at 10 a.m., but I went early to teach a sister how to crochet.  Even though the sister didn’t come, there were many young people there waiting for a meeting about next week’s open house to begin.   One young man, Luis, brother of one of our Mozambican sisters currently serving in Madagascar, wasn’t part of the meeting, so when the others left, he came and sat by me.  He is going to go far in this life.  He wasn’t going to just sit around and waste time; he wanted to ask me questions!  He asked about  my experiences with Seminary and Institute, how employment needs of members are met, about the PEF program of the Church, about Patriarchal Blessings and what kinds of things are in them.  The interesting thing about this conversation was that we were both speaking and understanding each other in Portuguese!  That wasn’t so strange for him, Portuguese is his native language, but for me this was a milestone that I was actually understanding and responding and being understood.  It gave me such a joyful spiritual feeling!  Yes, sometimes I had to ask him to repeat or explain a different way so I could understand, but still I feel I am doing so much better in conversing and being understood by others.  Later in the conversation we switched to English.  His English is also very good!  Since he lives far away from the chapel where English classes are held, he can’t go to English classes. However, he has his books and studies at home.

Then I had an interesting conversation with one of our former Family History students.  He wants to get a missionary recommendation form!  He is also learning English.  He explained, in Portuguese remember, that he is doing fairly well reading and speaking English, but it is the conversation part that was the main challenge for him.  English people talk so fast, he explains!!!  Yes, I said, it is the very same for me in Portuguese!!!  We were experiencing the same thing in our learning a foreign language!

President Kretly was the first speaker at the graduation meeting, and then he and Sister Kretly had to be excused so they could catch a flight to Tete.  He recounted his experiences as a seminary student, his eight years as a seminary teacher and how these became the foundation of his gospel knowledge.  It is from small and simple things, like regularly attending seminary, that great things are accomplished.  He told of a story of a young man who said he could not make the sacrifice to get up early to get a chapa to get to the chapel for Seminary.  Then, four years later, the President heard that this young man was having problems at school; he had friends who were leading him astray.  If he had been diligent and made the small sacrifice each day to learn the gospel and associate with other youth who were also being fortified by gospel learning, he would not be in the situation he was in. 

Other talks were on similar themes.  A male quartet sang a medley of Primary songs: "Eu Quero Ser Um Missionario" ("I Hope They Call Me on  a Mission"), "O Senhor precisa de servos valentes" ("The Lord Needs Valiant Servants"), "Levaremos ao Mundo a Verdade" ("We’ll Bring the World His Truth"), and "Chamados a Servir" ("Called to Serve").  Brother Massango, with the help of Branch Presidents and seminary instructors, awarded the certificates to the students. In the picture of 3 female graduates, Benita Mazive is on the left.

Afterwards, as they waited for the lunch, they would be served, was ready, the branches gave special presentations.   Each young woman in one group recited a memorized scripture in a different foreign language.   Then they sang "Histórias do Livro de Mormon" ("Book of Mormon Stories").  Another group performed a mini-play on a story from the Book of Mormon.  Another group recited scriptures (in Portuguese) and then sang "Firme na Fé" ("Firm in the Faith").

Firm In The Faith
by Jenny Phillips

In a world built on fleeting ground
Where I see those around me falling down
I am holding to who I am
I am choosing my Father's plan
And every day I live
I want to stand with Him

Firm in the faith
Anchored in truth
Solid in all that I do
No turning away
No shadow of doubt
No storm has the power
To drag me down
I'm a youth in these latter days
I'm standing firm in the faith

When I am faced with the ways of man
When the world tossed about by every wind
I will build on the one sure rock
Faithful to what I’ve been taught
He has called me to His side

And I will live my life

Saturday afternoon we walked to Premier to meet Mery after she got off work.  We enjoyed lunch at KFC and talked and shared picture of our families.  

Sunday, during the Fast and Testimony Meeting, I knew I had to bear my testimony.  I have been feeling the Spirit often and am so grateful to know the Church is true.  Being able to communicate my feelings with a loving Heavenly Father through prayer is so important to me.  I felt particularly strengthened and blessed during the fast this month.  I didn’t get any headaches or other pains that day or the day following.   Fast and Testimony Meeting is my favorite meeting, because I can understand most of what is being said!
  • Through the atonement of Christ we can return to God
  • God will bless us if we do His will
  • It is important to use our agency wisely; live the gospel every day
  • My daughter was blessed by the Priesthood and became well
  • We must act to show Him we are worthy and love Him; follow His words
  • God depends on us to work for Him here; allow Christ to enter you life
  • The gospel makes us free
  • We need to control our desires; the Church is our school to learn
  • Let’s stay on the road; when we make errors, let’s return to the path
  • There is no flavor, be it lasagna or hamburgers, which is better than the gospel!
  • Hold onto the rod of iron, the word of God; God loves us!
  • We exercise faith and receive blessings
  • God is on our side all the way; we can secure exaltation for us and our families
  • God led me to this Church; God answers our prayers
Peter and family Skyped for the first time from their new home in Provo.

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