Update we gave to our Bishop and Stake President
Sorry about the delay in getting back to you. Between having an extended visit from both our son and our grandson, then hitting end of year reports, etc. that were due this past week, we have been working overtime to get things done -- even some 12+ hour days.
Sister Nielsen's recovery is coming along, but slowly. After 6 weeks, she had surgery to remove the 4 pins in her shoulder, then put back in the sling for 6 more weeks to allow the bone to mend properly. In two weeks she returns for x-rays to determine if there is enough mending to remove the sling and start physical therapy. She is able to continue her office work by using a wireless keyboard on her lap, allowing for less movement of the shoulder area.
Elder Nielsen was inundated with requests from the area office in Johannesburg for mission financial information to complete year-end reports. He is finally becoming a little more comfortable with all the financial demands of operating the Lord's Mission here in this part of South Africa.
The mail delivery began to improve just a few days before Christmas when the strike was officially over, and the anxious missionaries finally started to get some of their mail. Elder Nielsen was responsible to pick up the mail from the post office. Several times the back seat and the trunk of the car were full of Christmas packages. Some of the missionaries are STILL enjoying a second Christmas as packages continue to trickle in.
Just before Christmas we were able to travel to the Johannesburg Temple, with our son JD and grandson Kyle, where our grandson was able to receive his endowments prior to leaving in mid February for his mission call to Cleveland Ohio, Spanish speaking, with prior language training in Mexico City. Upon entering the Temple, we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by the Temple President, who was expecting us. He personally took care of all of Kyle's needs and made it a wonderful experience for him. Just a note: we were able to see the original painting of the South African sister kneeling in prayer, a copy of which hangs in the Ogden Temple. It was very inspiring to us.
We have been assigned to meet with the Molweni Group, which has been struggling for years to be made a branch. Their attendance has been quite sporadic. Sister Nielsen has been working with the Primary which includes children from age 2 up to 12, which all meet together in one class. Some Sundays she has 2 or 3 children, but today hit a high of 14 and she was elated. Zulu is the native language learned in their home, with English being their 2nd language. A young adult sister assigned to do Sharing Time, adds the Zulu translation to Sister Nielsen's lessons. The children are very loving and accepting of us as Senior Missionaries. Its amazing to hear their young testimonies and their understanding of the Gospel at such a young age. The spirituality of their testimony meetings here is amazing, with the youth bearing very heart-felt and knowledgeable testimonies. Last week a counselor in the Stake Presidency announced in Sacrament Meeting that the request that they officially be made a branch has been sent to the Area Presidency for approval. We were elated to hear this news.
The spiritual "highs" continue to keep us uplifted, knowing we are doing the Lord's work -- things such as meeting the member from South Africa who had just helped complete the translation of the Doctrine and Covenants into Zulu, and was submitting it for publication. These experiences help us to know that "now is the time for South Africa." The Spirit of the Lord is hastening the work in this part of His vineyard. The members are anxiously awaiting the announcement of the location of the Durban, South Africa Temple. Our Mission President feels that the ground-breaking ceremony will probably occur before the end of our mission. This will make it possible for many more members to attend the temple. At present, it is approximately an 8 hour drive one way to the Johannesburg Temple.
We love our mission and know that this is where the Lord wants us to be, at this time in our lives. We appreciate your love, concern and prayers for us both.