We left Port Alfred on Monday, May 2, 2016, and headed to
Port Elizabeth. The plan was to do some
family history research, ride elephants, and participate in a Schotia Safari.
We arrived at President and Sister Pershing’s apartment
and stayed for 2 nights.
On Tuesday, May 3, 2016, our plan was to travel to
Uitenhage, about a 45-minute drive from Port Elizabeth to go to the Department
of Human Affairs. The information that
was online about this office showed a form to fill out for copies of birth
certificates. We thought this was a good
start for a record of Martha Ann Gillson Hall, my Great Grandmother.
birth/christening record from 1849.
(There is some confusion on Family Search and histories I have in my
possession between birth year of 1849 or 1850, so I wanted to see if I could
find something to document the exact dates.)
We stood in line for about 2 hours and found out we had
filled out the form correctly and needed to go pay the cashier for the service
of obtaining a record to be processed.
The cashier told us we were probably wasting our time. She has been waiting what I believe she said
9 years for a 1983 family birth certificate, and still has not received it.
We knew that we had another option. The Uitenhage Methodist Church was our next
stop. The sign in front of the church
said the office was closed at 12:30 pm; we arrived around 1:30 pm. Randy called the phone number listed on the
sign and spoke with a woman who worked there that was just leaving the
office. She told us that the old records
had been moved to the Cory Library at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. She
said she would go back into the office and send us an email with the
We traveled to Grahamstown and arrived at the Cory
Library. The librarian assisted us after we filled in a form documenting the
information we were there to research.
She went into the back file room and returned with the baptism book
covering the general time period we were after.
We flipped through the pages and found Martha Ann
Gillson’s christening record. We were
both excited. The copies of the entry
and book reference are attached below.
We were headed back to
Queenstown from Sada last night at dusk. We could see something up ahead in the
field. Just as we got there, a Kudu jumped the fence of some farmland at a full
gallop and came to a complete stop at the edge of the road. If he had continued
across the road at that exact time, we would have hit him. Another tender mercy
and blessing was afforded to us! See a picture of a Kudu below. He was at least
as big as a horse or elk.
It has been quite a while since I have posted anything in
our blog. I could say that we have been
very busy, which we have, I could say that I’ve been lazy, which I haven’t, or I
could say that I just didn’t take the time to sit down and write anything. The fact of the matter is, that in one way or
another all three of these reasons may apply at various times in the past. But now with this being the first day of the
new year, I am trying to set a goal for myself and keep this blog up-to-date on
a somewhat regular basis.
Since I last posted,
Kay has had surgery on her eye to repair her retina, which was successful. As we were preparing for her surgery we were
somewhat nervous, but I kept reminding myself that we were in South Africa
where the world’s first successful heart transplant took place. The surgery went great and her doctor, Dr. DeBoer
was very good and helped us gain confidence in the medical system here.
In November we drove to Port Alfred and celebrated
Thanksgiving with the other Senior Missionary Couples who are serving in the Eastern
Cape with us. We substituted some large
chickens for turkey and tried to duplicate the Thanksgiving meal as much as we
could with what is available here in the area.
And of course, Kay made one of her famous “Apple Pies”, which was to die
for,and a fruit salad to go along with the meal. All in all, the meal turned out good. The following day we all traveled up to the Kwantu
Game Park for a game drive. The weather
had turned cold that day and the animals had found shelter in order to get out
of the wind. This resulted in not being
able to find the Rhinos or the Hippos. They fed us a good meal after the drive which was nice and filling.
Two weeks after our trip to Port Alfred we were able to host
Elder Thayne and his parents, Tim and Roxanne, for the weekend. Elder Thayne had completed his mission and
his parents had traveled here to pick him up and tour the mission before
returning home. We got to know the
Thayne’s and hope to carry on our relationship with them after our mission is
Kay is still teaching keyboard lessons in Sada, Ilinge and
Queenstown and I am now teaching English classes in those same areas on the
same days that she teaches keyboard. Some
of my English students are progressing well and others still seem to have some difficulty
understanding the course. We took a
break from teaching these lessons for the month of December because school is
out here and most everyone is out of town on what they term “Holiday”. We will begin teaching again this coming week
and I have some new materials I am going to introduce into my English class
which I think is going to help out the students.
During December, we have continued to visit 2 less active families in the Ilinge Ward each week and Kay taught her YW lesson in Sada. We attended Zone Conference on December 18 in East London with about 48 Elder Missionaries, President and Sister Merrill (the SACTM Mission President and his wife), and President and Sister Stapley (one of the Mission President's counselors and his wife). We joined in the festivities to help celebrate Christmas with the Sada Ward on December 23. They had a cute Primary children portrayal of the birth of the Savior and some yummy chicken and salads afterwards. We hosted some of the Elder Missionaries to Skype with their friends/families on Christmas Day and they enjoyed some of our Christmas goody plates.
Yesterday, on New Year’s Eve, Kay and I finally drove
through the Game Reserve that borders our home.
The cost is only 35 Rand, about $2.25 U.S. equivalent. We drove our own vehicle through the park and
the time it takes is about 2 ½ hours. It
was well worth the time. We were able to
get up close and personal with a herd of Giraffe. We stopped to take pictures of the herd and
the big male crossed the road about 75 feet in front of us. He was huge and it was exciting to witness
him and the herd so close to us. As we
traveled along the road we came by a very large water hole about 300 yards away
and noticed 3 large Rhinos standing in the water at the far end, cooling
themselves off as the temp was about 100-plus degrees. We also were able to view most all of the
animals that are contained within the reserve.
All in all, it was a good time.
Another thing I have decided to do, is at the end of each
blog entry I want to post a spiritual thought or message. I hope that those who read this blog may be
touched by the Spirit and they share in our experiences.
A couple of weeks ago I was reading a “Christmas Message” by
Clayton M. Christensen, titled “He Did It”.
In the message he tells about a dream he had about the “Pre-existence”
and the council that was held to decide which plan we wanted to follow. His dream goes as follows:
“I was at the meeting when God announced
his plan, and then Satan announced an alternative plan. And God said that he
would implement his plan. I
remember we felt a real worry in all our minds because the question was, “That’s
a great idea to send us to Earth, to experience the options of choosing right
and wrong.” Our concern was, “What will happen if we don’t choose the right?”
Then in my dream I saw one man amongst
us — Jesus Christ — who stood up and said, “Send me!” He explained that, if we
sin, it will be okay because, he said, “I will go, and I will live the perfect
life, and, at the end of my life, I will take upon myself the suffering that
all your sins might have created.”
I saw my friends and family were
relieved the Savior would do that for us. But then in a similar way, I began to
feel apprehension. “This is a great deal for us, but what’s going to happen if
the Savior comes down to Earth, and he doesn’t live a perfect life? And what
would happen if, when he comes to the end of his life, he decides not to go
through with it and decides not to take our suffering upon himself, onto his
shoulders. What’s going to happen to us then?”
Then I saw in my dream the Savior standing
up again, and with the kindest, gentlest voice I can imagine, he said to us, “It’s
okay. I will do what I have promised I would do. And if you’ll only accept me,
I will do what I planned to do right now. I will do what I said I would do. And
your responsibility will be to accept me.”
I remember the feeling in my heart, in this dream, at that time, that what
he asked me to do was to have faith in him that he would do what he promised to
Then in my dream I saw that the meeting
finished, and everybody went to do whatever was on his or her agenda. I looked,
and there was the Savior standing alone. I realized that he was the only man
who stood and offered himself to be the sacrifice for the rest of us, and he
was standing there alone. I thought to myself, “What can I do to thank him?
Should I go shake his hand and say, ‘Thanks’?” I realized that the way I can
say thanks to the man whose sacrifice would give me eternal life would be if I
can stand next to him and commit that I will do everything I can to help God’s
plan work, and he can trust me, that that I will do what I have committed to
do. And then my dream ended.
Brother Christensen says that this dream changed his life
because it has helped him to frame the
commitment he has to the Savior, that he will do everything
he can to bring souls unto him.
He thinks of this dream over and over again, each year at
Christmas. Everybody you meet or know
actually accepted Christ once, when they were at that meeting in heaven. We have all accepted Jesus Christ and
expressed our faith in him the he would do exactly what he promised he would
We are now here on this earth. The Savior fulfilled his promise to us. Do we have the faith to believe in him and
that he did it for our benefit?
It is my wish that each of us at the beginning of this new
year would take time to look into ourselves and think about our relationship
with our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. What are we willing to do in order to fulfill
our commitment to them? What can we do
to help others understand the commitment that they made in that meeting long
ago and help them to do what they need to do in order to be able to return to
Heavenly Father? I bear you my testimony
that Christ has fulfilled his promise to us, all we need to do is to fulfill our
promise to him, Amen.
May this New Year be a time for you and your family to come
together and be happy.