Friday, January 1, 2016

Blog Entry:January 1, 2016

Randy and Kay’s South African Mission
Blog Entry: January 1, 2016

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 completed.

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 do.

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 do. 

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.

Elder and Sister Farnsworth