Friday, June 12, 2015

Feb 2015 - The Family Get-Together 14-15 Feb

Saturday, February 14, 2015
The Family Get-Together began with a Sealing Session in the Mount Timpanogos Temple for the adults.  On the way into the Temple we saw Milan Tyler, who helped my 2011 Germany trip be successful by calling the parishes and the archive before we arrived.  Tad & Sarah, Lyn, Emily & Taige, and Zoe & Joseph were able to be there and we sealed couples and sealed sons and daughters to their parents. Judy, Landon, and Mathis also came with us and they did baptisms for the dead.

Everything went well at home with the smaller grandchildren who were being watched over by Silke. They had made a Valentine's Day surprise on the patio for us.  Did you know that the middle of a walnut is shaped like a heart?

We loaded up the cars with the food, game supplies, etc., and went to the Church to set everything up for the afternoon's activities.  Here are the 2 pages of our planned agenda. 

Judy helped the younger cousings play "Pin the Nose on the Lion":

Grandpa got the technology hooked up and ready to go.

Inflatible animals needed to be blown up:

When the Bybee family arrival was delayed, we adapted and moved the Bean Bag Toss to be part of the gathering activities.  Joseph, Landon, Silke and Judy were great organizers.

The kids were given a small plastic animal as they filed into the multi-purpose room for our formal Welcome and blessing on the food, provided by Gandolfo's Deli via Tad.  Richard had milk and chocolate milk for us to drink.

Family Picture Time!  John Sharp, of Sharp Photography, was very patient as the 39 of us gathered in our "color" groups for the first photo and then the Mozambique "flavored" photo.  "Ok!  Stay with me! 1, 2, 3, money!"

Let the relays begin:  Giraffe & Crab walk relay; Capulana "baby" carry relay; Basket-on-the-Head relay. Then we played Safari, which is like Fruit Basket.  "I went on a Safari and I saw all the animals" (lion, hippo, giraffe, and elephant).  Go, Paisley, Go!

Then we divided up and rotated between 4 activity stations: Time Out For Checkers; Down By the Bay; Creativity Corner; and the Fish Pond.

Then we gathered together to discover more about Mozambique.  The granddaughters are so cute in their red and purple hats!

Pizza Dinner Time!  Mandie made a huge spinach salad and I made 4 pans of rainbow jello (minus the sour cream so Emily could eat it).  We had root beer for the beverage.

Before we had dessert, Richard and I shared some spiritual thoughts we had relative to the challenges and blessings we experience on our mission. Although the timing of things changed a little, this is the essence of what we said.

Family Gathering (spiritual) – Multi-purpose Room
Richard:  Before we have dinner, we have a few things we’d like to do. 
Tomorrow’s Schedule:
Church at 11:00 a.m.  Please try to arrive by 10:45 if possible.
After Church we will have lunch at our house.
In the afternoon a ride to see the Provo Center Temple and the Payson Temple is planned
Dinner will also be served at our house.

Now, we have a couple of songs to sing and here are the words.  We thank Zoe for playing for us, Mom will lead.
·         First, some of you learned the “Called to Serve” song in Portuguese song and Mom and I have sung it many times during our mission and we’d like to hear it again. 
·         Next, we need to practice the Musical Number we’ll be singing tomorrow during Sacrament Meeting. We will gather in front by the pulpit to sing -  “We’ll Bring the World His Truth”
Next, Mom and I have a message for you.
Sandy:  Before we left, we gave each family this plaque with some important things to remember while we were gone.  Do you remember any of the things on the plaque?
The first things was:  Remember, you are a loved child of God and of our Forever Family.
I have the first letter of each of the other things on the whiteboard.  Help me fill them in.

CTR - Choose the Right
Love & Serve
Listen to the Spirit
Follow the Prophet
Count Your Blessings
Read Your Scriptures
Attend Church/Temple
Nurture Your Testimony

We know each of you will continue to be blessed as we do these things.

Richard: In the Mozambique Maputo Mission, the Mission Purpose was to:  Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.
Sandy:  Our testimony of Jesus Christ and the gospel was essentially the reason why we went on a mission.  We wanted others to understand that true happiness in this life and in the world to come only comes through living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Richard:  We heard from one of the missionaries that a brother in Beira carved nativity sets out of iron wood.  The set he had purchased was missing the baby Jesus.  The nativity set wasn’t a nativity set without the baby Jesus.  It was just a set of people and animals made out of wood.  With the arrival of the baby Jesus, it became a nativity set like it was intended to be. 
Sandy: In our lives, without understanding who Jesus is and why he came to earth, our lives are without direction.  At Christmas time, Christian people turn their attention to Jesus and his birth, but we are promised that if we remember him every day, his Spirit can be with us to guide us back to Heavenly Father. 
Richard: When this missionary told us about his nativity set, we ordered one so we could have it for Christmas time.  When we unpacked it and set it up and saw how unique it was, we asked the craftsman, Vasco, to make 6 more sets so each of your families could have one.  (Hold up picture.) You can get your nativity set over at the house today or tomorrow.  We hope your will treasure this remembrance from Mozambique and that it will help you remember Jesus Christ.
Sandy:  During our mission we experienced many blessings and some challenges as well.  Let us talk about challenges first of all.
Speaking and Understanding Portuguese Language - When I (Grandma) arrived in Mozambique, though I had learned a lot of Portuguese by study and at the MTC, I felt very frustrated that I understood only a few words now and then. Over time my ability to understand and be understood improved greatly, but this proved to be a continuing challenge. A further frustration was that many times Grandpa did not know what they were saying either, and he was supposed to know what they were saying.

Richard: It was frustrating to me also, when I could not understand when I knew I was supposed to.
Taking Phone Calls – For most of the mission I did not like to make or receive phone calls because they were often in Portuguese and it was difficult for me to understand and be understood on the phone. Often I would text or ask others to text me because I could read and write Portuguese better.

Difficulty Adjusting to the Culture - When I first arrived in Mozambique, I had great difficulty adjusting to the culture. It was a very large city and was full of garbage and strange smells. I love black people, but I was not used to being in a place where over 99% were black Africans. The traffic was frightening, and none of the food tasted good.  I could not sleep, and I began experiencing the symptoms of depression. When I told Grandma that I did not know if I could stay in Mozambique, she reminded me that we had been called by the Prophet and she planned to stay and serve a mission. I knew she was right and that I needed to stay and be her companion. It took a while but by taking each day and assignment a step at a time the Lord greatly blessed me to fulfill my mission.

Sandy: Let us talk about other blessings we enjoyed -
We enjoyed the blessing of Safety & Security.   Every day we walked and were passengers on the busy streets of Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique.  Traffic conditions were almost always congested and multiple cars vied to be the first through the intersection.  Richard:  As a passenger, Grandma sometimes had to close her eyes, because the traffic was so scarey.
Sandy: We enjoyed Good Health.  Even though Grandpa lost a lot of weight in adjusting to the African culture, neither of us had a bad cold. 
Richard:  Mom had an unexplained bout with hives, but that was the only thing she had in the 18 months – no broken bones, no trips to the hospital, no sprained ankles even though I fell one time on the uneven sidewalks.
Richard:  We enjoyed the Companionship of the Holy Ghost.  There were many times that we were assigned to do things that we had never done before.  We had confidence, like Nephi, that the way would be prepared for us to accomplish these tasks.  By taking a step at a time, and through the assistance of the Holy Ghost, we were led to complete each assignment. 
Sandy: We were blessed with Friends.  We had friends in the branches we attended, the people who lived in our neighborhood, the guards who protected our building, personnel in the stores we shopped at, and, especially, the missionaries in the office and the couple missionaries with whom we lived and worked.  We now have another “family” of friends.
Richard:  We were blessed to use our talents to bless the lives of others. 
Grandma taught a number of sisters in the branch how to crochet even though the vocabulary for crochet terms were not easy to explain in Portuguese.  Then she taught Family History in Portuguese, of course.  Many families and members were blessed as she taught them about gathering family history information, inputting it in Family Search, and for some to be able to take names to the Temple to do the ordinances for deceased ancestors. She also mended clothes for missionaries.
Sandy:  Grandpa used his computer skills to train missionaries and branch and district leadership. He used his translation skills to support me (Grandma) in my teaching. He also translated training materials for missionaries and branch and district leaders.
Richard:  We were blessed to experience the joy of seeing the gospel change the lives of people. We saw it in people getting baptized.  Their testimonies right after they were baptized usually told us that their lives were completely changed by the gospel.
We know that while we were gone on our mission that you experienced blessings and challenges.  We would like you to share with us some of those with us.  Let’s start here and go around….  We’re asking only for a sentence or two.  Parents, feel free to help your kids think back over the last 18 months.  We will begin in a couple of minutes.

Responses from Family:
Peter shared how our mission facilitated their being able to make a major turn as a fmily to come to Utah, save money, and start in his cake business - all of which were impossible while they lived in New York City.  Our going on a mission was a huge blessing to their family.
Zoe said she was able to do family history with Mom.  She found she was spending a lot off time doing frivolous things on the Internet.  She decided to ask Mom to teach her how to do family history research.  She was able to learn how to do Descendency Research and was able to find information on our families so their temple ordinance work could be done.  This has been a great blessing to her and to Joseph's family and to others which she has been able to help with their family history. She also shared with me later that they decided to regularly attend the Temple.  They are in an uncertain time regarding Joseph's employment and they need to have Heavenly Father's help in their lives.
Taige said Emily really missed having us here, but that our going on a mission has brought the spirit of missionary work into their family.
Emily said that the blessing that we had been given when we left on our mission that the family would be provided for was answered.  She missed having us here, but she said that every time something came up that she wished she could have called us for help, someone else either called or came to their home and provided the help she needed.  She knew that we serving in important ways.
Peter also testified of the importance of the spirit of missionary work that they felt as a family.  He said that every night the girls remembered us in their prayers.  Amelia every night, except for the night before we got home, in her prayers aked that Heavenly Father would "bless Grandpa to get into the mood of driving." He said they really enjoyed Skyping with us almost every week and that was a great blessing to them and to their girls.
Tad said that the experiences that Dad had in overcoming the challenges of adjusting to mission life should be a testimony to all of us that we can do whatever we are called upon to do with God's help.

Sandy Testimony:  
Richard Testimony:
Closing Prayer:
Here is a picture of the Nativity Set that we gave to each of the families.

We all enjoyed having a piece of the special cake Pete the Mighty Baker made for the occasion.

Everyone helped put things away and clean up the building!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The highlights of Sunday began with everyone getting ready for Church in the morning. All except Paisley, who spent the morning with her Grandma Julie, attended Church with us. Below is the program and our talks.

Sandy's Talk

I am grateful for this opportunity to tell you about our experience serving in the Mozambique Maputo Mission.

The Mozambique Maputo Mission encompasses 2 countries:  Mozambique (with Portuguese as the official language) and Swaziland, which has English as its official language.  The Church has been in SW for about 35 years, but only 15 years in Mozambique.  Currently there are about 9,000 members of the Church in the mission [1% of the population of 26 million] and they are located in the 3 centers of strength: Maputo, where we served; Beira, located ½ way up the coast of Mozambique; and Swaziland.  When we left 2 weeks ago, there were 29 branches and 2 groups, and a few hours ago, when we were sleeping, the first stake was formed in Maputo.  We served under President Kretly and his wife [who have served since August 2012]; and coordinated our work with the AP’s and the Secretaries, who were representative of the exceptional elders and sisters in the mission.  Our role as the Office Couple was to facilitate the work of the 112 missionaries, which included as many as 11 sister missionaries and 7 couples at one time.  One of my main responsibilities was to enter baptisms on the Church’s CDE system.  I also organized missionary recommendation papers, mission keys, and financial documents; I taught family history classes and coordinated food for Maputo Zone conferences.  It seems very strange now to not be involved in the many details of the mission.  Part of my heart is still in Mozambique.

In the article “Gifts to Bring Home from the Mission Field” [2007 New Era article by President Hinckley entitled “Gifts to Bring Home from the Mission Field”] President Hinckley relates a time when he was at the airport meeting some returned missionaries.  Their families were there and they were picking up their baggage.  He asked one of them, “What’s all this you have?”  He said, “These are gifts I am bringing home.”  President Hinckley went on to share specific gifts that every missionary should bring home from their mission.  I have developed a list of my own gifts that I have brought home from my mission experience.

1.  I have brought the Gift of the love of the Portuguese language
·         Butterflies are Borboletas; Windows are Janelas; Charity is Caridade; Repentance is Arrependimento.
·         Although I didn’t have the listening and conversational skills my husband had, I was blessed to be able to read and speak Portuguese.  Using Google Translate and then Elder Tidwell’s grammatical once-overs, I could prepare talks and Family History lessons and communicate with text messaging.  Reading the scriptures in Portuguese was a particular blessing as meanings of words and phrases became clearer because of the Portuguese.  My testimony of the truthfulness of the scriptures and the inspirational guidance I received when regularly reading them increased. 
·         Even though my language skills were limited, I made wonderful friends.  I feel I must have known many before this life and am so grateful for this mission experience that brought our lives together.  I miss my mission friends and I am humbled by the blessing of getting to know them and hope I can live worthy to see them again.

2.  I have the Gift of inner Peace through Faith, Prayer, and promptings of the Holy Ghost.

I am a list-maker and tend to be “troubled about many things” [Luke 10:41].  My lists of things to do on my mission were long and most required me to go beyond my comfort zone – be it making telephone calls  or preparing and giving a lesson or Sacrament Meeting talk – all in Portuguese.  Heavenly Father blessed me with an inner peace, rather than being worried.  I knew that Heavenly Father was in charge and that the most important of our varied assignments could and would be accomplished if I would faithfully do all I could and then rely on God’s divine help.  Feeling the Holy Ghost was indeed a delicious feeling to me.

3.  I have the Gift of the Importance of Small & Simple Things
In a country where 99% of the people are African and 45% are between the ages of 0 and 14, and only 3% are 65 and over, Elder Tidwell and I, white people with white hair, were not the norm!  I learned that when I caught someone’s eye, smiled and said “Bom dia!” their curious and questioning countenances were quickly turned into warm smiles and reciprocal greetings.  It could be a simple wave to the housekeeper who was hanging clothes across the fence, greeting the young women who weighed the vegetables at the grocery store, saying Hi to the elderly woman who passed us as we waited outside our apartment building for our ride in the morning.  Even walking hand-in-hand with my husband down the busy Avenida Vinte Quatro where our 6-story apartment building was located, we were planting seeds of good will toward the Church.

4.  I have the Gift of Seeing the Gospel Change People’s Lives - President Boyd K. Packer said: “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.” (Nov 2014, p 95 quoted in footnote 6).

·         In the Family History classes I taught, my most regular attenders were recently baptized or soon to be baptized. The father of one family who was sealed in the Johannesburg Temple last March, was particularly thankful for the lessons and the help he had received; the gospel had changed his life.  Someone described what he was like before learning about the gospel.  They described a person who was angry, tough, and confrontive – so different from the humble, respectful, and diligent member of the Church I knew.  After going to the Temple this brother became a counselor in a newly formed branch. 

King Benjamin explained (Mosiah 3:19) For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

·         Another member, once a professor and now a tutor of chemistry, physics, and mathematics, suffers from early-onset Gloucoma which has made him blind.  When describing his decision to be baptized, he said, “Through the discovery of the Restored Gospel, I felt motivated to follow this precious Gospel and be baptized in the Church restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.” [When I was baptized] … for a second I disappeared and then I resurged a new person and when I was confirmed it was a moment of great excitement to believe it was really happening.”  He lives about a mile from the chapel and navigates the distance aided by a simple walking stick and asking passers-by to help him cross the streets. Knowing the crazy traffic patterns and the rutted roads of the city, he demonstrates great courage and faith every Sunday. 

President Faust said:  “Each new day that dawns can be a new day for us to begin to change. We can change our environment. We can change our lives by substituting new habits for old. We can mold our character and future by purer thoughts and nobler actions.” (Faust, President James E., “The Power to Change” November 2007.)

5.  I have brought home the Gift of an increased Enthusiasm for the Gospel.
·         The Mozambican saints sing the hymns with great enthusiasm!  The men greet each other with a firm handshake and the women greet by a gentle kiss on each cheek.
·         The first people who welcomed us into the branch were 2 young ladies.  Their friendliness was contagious.  Everyone loved them.  We thought, they must be long-time members of the Church.  It was at least 6 months before we discovered they were #1, sisters, and #2 had been baptized the week before we arrived!  The oldest one is now submitting her missionary papers.
·         A young man, who is currently preparing for a mission, always has a smile on his face.  Everyone knows and loves him!  He attended our family History class, often bringing his friends.  He considers it a great honor to know the gospel is true and he tries to be a good follower of Christ.
·         Another member told how during a near-death experience, he “… met some beings that appeared to be angels. They told me that I had to go back to earth to live longer, because I had not completed my mission on earth…A short … time later I was leaving a church when I was met by two Mormon missionaries who asked if they could talk to me.” He has faithfully attended church since his baptism, even though his wife and sons are not interested in the gospel.  He teaches English classes as a way to introduce people to the church and feels that is part of his mission.

6.  I have brought home the Gift of Appreciation for the many Family History helps we have in America.

·         In Family History, we use the My Family booklet (Minha Familia) and because of wars and health challenges, their Family Tree many times stops at their grandparents.  However, those who begin the process of gathering information are blessed.  They are encouraged to search their houses, talk to relatives, and some must travel to other cities to obtain records, since the country has no central repository of records.  A recent convert was featured in a monthly mission newsletter for having traveled to the District of Buzi to get the needed information to fill in his entire Minha Familia booklet.  Already he is preparing to go to the temple to do work for his ancestors. 

7.  I have brought home the Gift of Seeing the Blessings of Obedience & Sacrifice
·         The husband of one of the couples I taught to be Family History consultants, worked during the week in the city, so on Wednesday evenings he stayed in Maputo for the lessons on how to fulfill their new calling. His wife rode from a near-by town in a chapa, basically a mini-van stuffed with people, with her 7 month-old baby tied to her back with a capulana and holding the hand of their 3 year-old son.  After our lessons together, they would take the long trip back in another crowded chapa.   I asked myself many times, “Would I have done the same?” Some of their lessons were delayed, because they did not have the 7 MT each to ride the chapa.  This is equivalent to 23 cents in U.S. dollars. 
·         In a recent visit, Elder Ellis asked the members:  “What about the poor?  Is there really “enough and to spare” as indicated in D&C 104: 13-17?  Yes, he witnessed!  He admonished the saints to continue to fast, pray, and pay tithes and offerings.  He assured them that the “windows of heaven” would be opened and that Mozambique would “be a delightsome land.”  (Malachi 3:8-12)  One of the District Presidents, when speaking about tithing, recounted how 8 years ago when he was having missionary lessons, he did not know how he could afford to pay tithing. “We pay tithing with faith” he testified, “and we are blessed temporally and spiritually.  God wants to bless us but we must act worthily before we receive the blessings.” Heavenly Father wants us to learn that Sacrifice isn’t about losing something, but it is preparation for something better.

In conclusion, let us ask ourselves:  What part does the gospel play in my life?  Do I remember the Lord in all things, or do I trust in the arm of flesh first, and when if that doesn’t work, turn to God?  I am grateful for the opportunity to have served among this humble people, whose lives are uncluttered with worldliness.   The true restored gospel of Jesus Christ has made them “rich.”  They are enthusiastic followers of Christ and are being blessed for their obedience and sacrifice.  May this also be out lot!    ---    I have a deep and abiding testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, restored with Priesthood Authority through Joseph Smith.  I know that Heavenly Father loves us.  He provided the way for us to return to His presence – to believe on His son, Jesus Christ, and obey the principles and ordinances of His gospel , practice repentance, and endure to the end.  He promised to give us prophets, Thomas S. Monson being our current prophet, and scriptures.  I testify that the Holy Ghost is real and we can experience divine help in all aspects of our life.  I share these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Musical Number:  "We'll Bring the World His Truth (Army of Helaman)

I wish I had a picture of everyone singing our special musical number "We'll Bring the World His Truth" that Zoe accommpanied.  It was so neat to lead them - they sang with enthusiasm and conviction!

We’ll Bring the World His Truth (Army of Helaman)

1.  We have been born, as Nephi of old,
To goodly parents who love the Lord.
We have been taught, and we understand,
that we must do as the Lord commands.

Chorus:  We are as the army of Helaman,
we have been taught in our youth.
And we will be the Lord's missionaries
to bring the world his truth.

4.  We are God's children; we have received
the blessings promised to Abraham's seed.
We'll share the gospel, this is our quest,
'til every nation on earth is blessed.

Chorus:  We are as the army of Helaman,
we have been taught in our youth.
And we will be the Lord's missionaries
to bring the world his truth. 
To bring the world his truth.  

Richard's Talk

Brothers and Sisters,

It is good to be with you today. Thank you for your support in prayers, emails, packages, and thoughts. We thank also our family for their support and prayers while we have served our mission.

We were originally called on a mission to the Curitiba Brazil Temple, but after 10 months waiting for a visa to Brazil, we requested a change of assignment. We were called to the Mozambique Maputo Mission.

Eighteen months ago I bore testimony from this pulpit of the truthfulness of the Gospel and of our willingness to serve our mission in Africa. Today I again bear testimony that the Gospel is true and that the Lord blesses us and our families as we serve Him in our callings.

We knew there would be much for us to learn and that our experiences would stretch us both in many ways. We knew that the Lord’s promise through his prophet would be fulfilled when he said, “Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.”  We looked forward to a rewarding spiritual experience and a great adventure. We were not disappointed.

Our extraordinary mission was not exactly like we thought it would be, but it was everything it needed to be for us.

Though Portuguese is the official language of the country, for about 50% Portuguese is their second language. Largest religion is Christianity with significant minorities following Islam and African traditional religions. The Islam call to prayer was a commonly heard sound each day.

We lived in Maputo, Mozambique, serving as the Office Couple as well as serving in Member Leader Support. We attended two Maputo branches and participated in their branch activities.

We were participants in the weekly Mission staff meetings where we were involved in Mission planning, often receiving special assignments. We were blessed to work closely with President and Sister Kretly.

Mozambique is 1500 miles long and is twice the size of California, and the mission also includes Swaziland. Thanks to technology the mission held mission-wide training for missionaries and Branch and District leaders with a minimum of travel. We were excited about our field of labor where the Church is in the early stages of growth. The Saints in Mozambique are humble and teachable, preparing for stakes.

Since we arrived home 2 weeks ago, we received an email informing us that the first stake in Mozambique is being formed this very day in Maputo, the capital, where we lived for the last 18 months. What a great blessing for the members there. Among other blessings of a stake, they will have a patriarch to give blessings in Portuguese rather than having to obtain a costly passport and spend more money to travel to South Africa to receive a Patriarchal Blessing in English.

We found when we arrived that we had to make adjustments as we served in a third world country. Though Cell phones are common, lack of water or electricity provide daily problems for the population.

The Church is made up of mostly first generation members.  Church members are asked to rapidly take on great responsibilities. For various reasons it took one brother a year before he could be baptized, but within three weeks after he was baptized, he became the Branch President and is doing a great job. Others are asked to accept similar callings.

On Sundays we were able to join the enthusiastic singing of hymns by the members. My favorite meeting on Sundays was the Fast and Testimony meeting as members bore their testimonies strong and fast. Sometimes on a Sunday there would be 30 or more bear their testimony in the same period of time we have here. The spirit was strong as they bore testimony, and on some occasions. investigators would bear their testimonies.

Having served a mission before and speaking Portuguese in Brazil, one would think that I would have less of an adjustment period than Sister Tidwell, but on the contrary she adjusted more rapidly, and it was I that took much longer to adjust. I think it was that I was not used to having my life structured as much as a mission requires. Whereas, Sister Tidwell, being a Mother, was much more used to dealing with the changing of plans on a moment’s notice and having external forces impacting her life. When I was set apart, I was blessed with confidence and courage to overcome my mission challenges. When I needed confidence and courage, I felt the power of that blessing.
What a great companion I had for my entire mission! I am thankful for her and her diligence and dedication to serve. She learned to read, write, text, and communicate in a new language as well as to bring innovation and order to an office in need of such.

Sister Tidwell, in addition to her family history work, reached out to Sisters to teach them to crochet. She would meet them at the Church or go with them to their home to teach them. She was able to communicate with them in Portuguese and teach them a skill of value to them. She was able to connect with the people in a way that I was not able to do.

She built friendships at the grocery store with some of the young ladies who weighed produce, and as a result was able to invite them to read the Book of Mormon and consider receiving the missionaries in their homes.

When I was depressed by the conditions of the third world country in which we were living or given a task that seemed impossible, she reminded me that we were called to serve by a prophet and that, as such, we would be blessed and guided in all that we did. That miracle happened time and again.

When I told my Mission President that I would not be able to drive in the large city of Maputo due to the traffic conditions, he told me that I did not come on a mission to learn how to drive. He blessed my life by designing my tasks to match my talents as well as to stretch me to new heights of capability.

There were on the average about 110 missionaries serving in the mission. About ten of the young missionaries were Sisters. We enjoyed serving in the mission with Elder and Sister Snelson, also of this Stake. We served in the same mission as Sister Harrison and Elder Christianson also of this Stake. Elder Christianson is the grandson of Moreno and Lavinia Robins and of Helen Christianson and John Sorenson.

Our Mission President and his wife were both dedicated to the work and have a great vision for the Church in Mozambique. He has the missionaries focusing on baptizing complete families, preparing new members for the Temple after one year, and working to have as many Mozambicans and Swaziland young men and women serving a mission as are serving from other countries in Mozambique. In 2014 there were 255 complete families baptized in Mozambique.

We handled the processing of missionary recommendations. I was asked to train Branch Presidents how to prepare the necessary missionary recommendation documents for young prospective missionaries from Mozambique and Swaziland. In the Southeast Africa Area applying for a mission is a paper process. After our review we scanned the paper and sent it to the Southeast Africa Area office which reviewed and electronically sent it to Salt Lake City for the same review that every missionary recommendation in the Church receives. When these young men and young women receive their calls it is by a letter from the prophet. What a remarkable opportunity for these missionaries to serve and then later to return and serve as leaders in the Church. Currently there are over 90 serving, having received their call, or are waiting for their calls. We often received phone calls from those who were waiting for their calls wanting to know of its status.

Mission calls are not without great financial sacrifice for the missionary and their family as the average annual income in Mozambique is $USD 600, for example. After the missionary and their family have given their sacrifice, the Church, from donated funds to the General Missionary Fund, makes up the difference. I have donated in the past to the General missionary fund, but on our mission I was able to meet the beneficiaries of this fund. They were my friends who with strong testimonies were ready to serve. My donations to this fund will forever have a new meaning to me.

Missionaries from Mozambique and Swaziland have been called to serve in various places throughout the world. One young man will arrive at the Provo MTC in March to serve in Tampa Florida for an English-speaking mission. Other have served in Brazil, Angola, Portugal, Columbia, Georgia, England, to name a few. What a great opportunity!

Over the past many months there has been an increase in the number of young women seeking to serve a mission.  We found that one of them was not registered on the records of the Church even though she remembered being baptized at 8 years of age by her father and had been active over the last 13 years. Church leaders helped her obtain witnesses of her baptism so it could be recorded on the Church records. What a joy for her when she found that she could be considered for a mission. Just a few days ago we received an email from her telling us that she had received her mission call to the Massachusetts Boston Mission entering the MTC in Provo in June of this year.

I also prepared training to teach Branch Presidents how members can use the Temple Patron Fund to go to the Temple for the first time. Before baptism the missionaries teach the investigators about how baptism is the beginning of the road to the Temple. After baptism missionaries, as part of their continued teaching of recently baptized members, teach the new members how to prepare to go to the Temple. The vast majority of members are unable to afford the travel and lodging to go to the Temple for even one time. Because the nearest Temple is in South Africa they need to obtain a passport for everyone in the family. The passport and trip costs are major barriers to worthy members.

Members who are recommend worthy, after they have been able to contribute a significant financial sacrifice, can be assisted by the Temple Patron Fund to pay the remainder of the passport and trip costs for their first time to attend the Temple. 

I have befriended some of those who have been or who will be beneficiaries of these funds, and my donations to that Fund will also have a new meaning for me. Early on Sister Tidwell in one of her family history classes was able to assist a family to prepare their family history records so they could go to the Johannesburg Temple soon after they had been members for one year. While there they were also able to do temple work for some of their deceased ancestors.

In addition to training we were asked to teach classes and give talks in Church. Because the mission included Swaziland as well as Mozambique, all verbal and written materials needed to be prepared in English and Portuguese which always necessitated an extra step to produce any form of communication. We felt the help of the Lord as we participated in language translation.

Verbally communicating in Portuguese on the phone was a major challenge for me. Some of the Elders and Sisters and senior couples also spoke very little English. Mission conferences were conducted in Portuguese.
It was a great blessing to be associated with dedicated Elders and Sisters who were so well-prepared and who were willing to meet all challenges to spread the Gospel and touch the lives of families with an eternal message. You, as parents to such missionaries, can be proud of the way they take upon themselves the mantle of a missionary and boldly challenge the people to follow Christ. Being in the Mission Office we met missionaries as they arrived, as they served, and as they completed their missions. It was testimony-building as we watched the Lord’s hand in their lives as they matured in their missionary work and their skills with the language.

Because visas often took a long time to be approved, Mozambicans many times began their mission in their own country until they could travel to where they had been called. These young Elders and Sisters were a great source of strength for the mission as it provided extra missionaries. These young Mozambican missionaries were so excited to serve. Sometimes they needed missionary clothes and supplies when they arrived, and the Mission helped obtain them. Sister Tidwell, when possible, was able to help some of them enter family information on Family Search so that they could do work for their ancestors as they went to the Temple on the way to their missions. I remember one who was able to do the work for his deceased father and brother.
The role of the couples in missions is vital as they do tasks that the young Elders and Sisters cannot do and also do tasks that allow the Elders and Sisters to focus on their ministry of finding, teaching, and baptizing. One of the senior couples  serving there who had previously served as a mission president told me that every mission needs couples to allow the mission to operate effectively.

We provided support as we attended and helped with weddings and baptisms. Weddings were held as often couples had not married due to financial reasons. Before they could be baptized they had to agree to follow Christ and live the law of chastity and be married. They were married by the Branch President at the Church followed by an appropriate celebration. Missionaries and the branch made sure the couple found a wedding gown and suit to use and provided a cake. Traditional Mozambican singing occurred during and after the marriage. One time we attended a wedding of 5 couples at the same occasion. It was not uncommon for baptisms to immediately follow a wedding.

The spirit of a baptismal service is great. Following the baptism the new members were asked to individually bear their testimonies. This they willingly did. Some were short and sweet. Others were longer and articulate as they explained how they came to be baptized and the incredible change it had made in their life.

Sometimes we went with Elders to meet with investigators and share our testimonies.. To go to their humble homes and be warmly welcomed and attentively listened to was a great experience.  On Christmas Day with 5 Elders and another senior couple we went Christmas caroling in the heat of the day. We went to the homes of members and investigators to sing to them in their humble circumstances. What a special way to spend that morning. It was a surprise as we arrived at each house. We all enjoyed that opportunity to share on Christmas Day. Even a non-member, as we walked by their home, invited us to come into their home and sing too, and so we did.

Like Nephi, we did not know specifically beforehand what we would do on our mission, but we knew that He would prepare a way whereby we could accomplish what He would have us do. Soon after receiving our call to Mozambique our Mission President told us to, “Be prepared to see miracles happen here!” and that we did.
What a great blessing it was to see the Gospel change the lives of people. We have many new friends. We left part of our heart in Africa.

The lessons we have learned from our mission will be of great worth as we proceed with our lives. Our lives have been changed because of this mission experience.

Testimony – I know the Gospel is true and that it was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Jesus Christ is our Savior. Heavenly Father and Jesus know who we are, and answers our prayers. I know that missionary work is an inspired work to gather the children of Heavenly Father that they may return to His fold.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen


Pictures and memories from the afternoon visiting with family.

Richard and I took Silke, Landon, and Judy on a ride to see the 3 nearest temples:  Provo City Center Temple (under construction); Payson Temple (April 24 - May 23 Open House; Dedication June 7, 2015); Provo Temple.

Leftover Pizza (cold and hot) for dinner!

Lyn visited Virginia Hayes.

Happy Birthday Amelia!  Playing at Peter's!

Games before bedtime!

Lyn, Caleb, Henry, and Fern went to their hotel.  Caleb's brother would pick them up in the morning, visit for a while, and take them to the airport for their Monday 11 a.m. flight.

Zoe, the master packer, got everything ready for Monday's early-morning flight.

Brrr!  It's cold at 5 a.m.!

A new day dawns!

During our Mozambique Maputo Mission, July 2013 – January 2015, we weekly authored on-line posts to our blog, Tidwells in Africa, which is the source of these two volumes. We will use these books to remember our experiences and the unwritten feelings in our hearts.

We dedicate this book to:

Peter Tidwell, our youngest son, who, at our request, created this blog.

Our family, who fully supported us with their faith and testimony that our mission call was from the Prophet.  Each experienced unique blessings in our absence.

President Paulo and Adriana Kretly, whose dedication and testimony for the work allowed us to witness miracles while expanding our capacity to serve.

The members of the Church, who through the process of conversion, in spite of opposition and cultural traditions, followed Christ and became the pioneers of the Church in Mozambique and Swaziland, blessing their future generations. These are our forever friends.

The Elders and Sisters, who, in spite of their youth, boldly proclaimed the Gospel with the Spirit and challenged the people to be baptized, live the Gospel, and receive their eternal Temple ordinances.
The young men and women, who, as members in Mozambique and Swaziland against all odds, volunteered to serve a mission blessing themselves, those they taught, and the Church in Mozambique and Swaziland when they return.

All people of Mozambique and Swaziland, who readily gave us a smile and a greeting.

Sandy, who always faithfully served her mission, was the rock of support for Richard, and ensured that this blog was kept.

Richard, who learned that the Lord qualifies those He calls to the work and that through obedience we are blessed.

Richard and Sandy, who learned that serving a mission is a growing experience that strengthens a marriage.

The Lord, who supported us at all times by whispering to us that He was with us and opening all doors to assist us, because He, through the Prophet, had called us to serve in the Mozambique Maputo Mission.

Elder Richard and Sister Sandy Tidwell

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