We couldn't have been schooled by a greater set of missionaries. They are men that have matured in the gospel and their growth is evident and their spirits are strong. They represent 8 different countries and they have all left their mark. It was an honor and a privilege to spend an evening with them in the mission home. We witnessed their camaraderie and heard from each one as they expressed their gratitude and testimonies. They helped season me regarding transfers and the departure dinners I will have ahead over the next 35 months. I figure we need to savor each one, for we will have about 23 nights like this and each one will be very special.
As part of our new tradition, we asked each Elder to take time and leave a reflections with us and create a page for our book. They took it seriously and made creative, heartwarming personal pages we are already treasuring. Here is a line from each one of their reflections. i could have written so much-but this also lets you see their names and where they are headed home to!
"I am happy to serve a faithful mission and to have you as a mission dad and a mission mom. It's a blessing."Elder Kelem (Kenya)
"I love this gospel and this Church. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. "
~Elder Mower (Utah)
" Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God and no man can possibly get back except through Him.
~"Elder Costigan (Australia)
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding," Proverbs 3:5 ~Elder Ruekhart (Utah)
"It has been an absolute pleasure to serve in this mission. In my heart I know the gospel is indeed true and Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God. ~Elder Smith (UK)
"My mission has been a great experience for me. I have learned how to love my Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ." ~Elder Ramiaramanana (Madagascar)
"Following the Lord brings blessings in my life and to those I taught on my mission."
~Elder Msanga (Zanzibar)
"The Church is true and the Johannesburg Mission will continue to thrive under Christ-like leadership." ~Elder Brinkerhoff (England)
"My mission has taught me more than all the books I read in school." ~Elder Mukarati (Zimbabwe)
"The time has been short, yet glorious, our interactions have been divine and life changing, wish we could have had more time together, but the Lord's timing is for a reason. "
~Elder Nherera (Zimbabwe)
"This is for sure and by far the best thing I have done in my life. The things that I have experienced will never leave me." ~Elder Booker (California)
"Thank you for the energy you have brought to the mission. South Africa Johannesburg will always be in my prayers." ~Elder Purnell (Canada)
"It really has been the best two years and I have a strong testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel." ~Elder Searle (Idaho)
"In my service of God here in Joburg, I count myself lucky to have glimpsed through "God's Window" and seen His children as they really are." ~Elder Elliott (California)
"I feel blessed to have had such a sacred opportunity to become one with my father and saviour." ~Elder Ryan (UK)
|Fun to prepare dinner for 22. Elder Smith from England had his great family pick him up and join with us.|
|Our second table had the Assistants joining with the other departing Elders.|
|Everyone is satisfied after dessert!|
|A sense of our dinner shown above, plus a salad and a fillet of beef and homemade chocolate cake and ice cream. It all turned out, despite a new cook in the country and a new kitchen to work with!!|
|After dinner we gathered around and had time to hear from each departing Elder.|
|It was so sweet to hear them bear testimonies and share their gratitude for the growth and opportunity they have had. This is a very close group with deep and enduring friendships.|
|Standing for the mission song!!|
|Elder Elliott started it all off by being the first to stand and share his testimony!|
|Elder Smith sharing his testimony. His parents also spoke to everyone and it was wonderful to have them with us.|
|You can feel of the love and comraderie|
|Elder Kelem from Kenya loves his camera and asked me to send him every picture I have taken in addition to his!:)|
|Elder Ruekhart with everyone singing|
|Elder Rami heads back to Madagascar. He had open heart surgery during his mission and has been quite a champ during an unexpected health challenge.|
|Elder Purnell from Canada and Elder Ryan from England will be missed!|
|Elders: Smith, Costigan, Elliott, Searles and Mower|
|Elder Msanga, Elder Kelem and Elder Booker -You can feel of their sincerity and love|
|Last chance to say good-bye before the airport|
|Elder Ryan checking in and getting a little support from Elder Bodily,|
|Elder Ruekhart getting everything in order|
|On day two of transfers we make one more ride to the airport to send all the departing African missionaries. They leave during the day instead of night flights like those going to Europe and North America.|
|One last photo before they go their separate ways.|
|Can I get a different seat??:)|