Do we take for granted all that we have?

Date: February 14, 2012
Area: Johannesburg
Companion: The other Missionary Porter, of course


 Sometimes, as we look around I wonder if we take for granted all the blessings that we have.  I want to share with you two stories of what others here have to deal with. 

Lucky, one of the security guards here at the MTC, Institute complex was baptized last June or July by Elder Watts.  The Watts have since gone home.  He stopped by to chat with us about his problem.  One of the days that he works is Sunday.  However, they have allowed him to take an hour and attend Sacrament meeting.  There has been some changes in his supervisors and they told him he had to quit the Church or lose his job.  Elder Porter listened and gave him some advice - the most important being that he needed to meet with his Bishop and receive counsel.  We helped him explore possibilities such as switching shifts with someone else, etc.  He was thinking that he would have to quit his job. Part of the difficulty is that he gets paid time and a half on Sundays.  To add to his burden, his mother is in failing health and he has provided most of the care for her.  His wife also works.  I don't know how large their home is, but he said that his mother was sharing his room. Most of the homes in the Townships are 150 - 300 sq. ft.  The larger ones might be around 500 sq. ft. but there are very few large homes.  Lucky is now taking a walk of faith.  He did finally get someone to trade shifts with him at a loss of income, but the blessing is that he will now be able to attend all of his church meetings.  He said that he is now looking for a second job or a better job.  I admire his courage in making that decision.

Update on Lucky as of Feb. 16th.  Not all is well yet.  He thought he had it arranged to work nights, but it fell through. He is still looking for a solution so keep him in your prayers.

Khumbalani, our supervisor, shared what it was like for him growing up in a Township.  He said that breakfast was usuallly a loaf of bread - no butter, jam, etc to be shared among 6 of them.  Lunch was the same and dinner was usually pap (corn meal mush like overcooked Cream of Wheat) and/or beans and rice.  He told us that Fridays when his father got paid they might get a treat of sharing 2 or 3 apples or pears among the family and sometimes a little better meal.  He said that the best day of the year was Christmas. In the townships, they go from house to house and are allowed to eat all they want.  He was always sad when Christmas was over because he had to wait a full year to really feel full after eating.  The amazing thing to me was that he said they were happy - they didn't know anything different.  Most of the YSA's in the townships still live like that.  It made me understand why when we have treats or refreshments, the black kids literally inhale all that's there. 

To show you how little people here make, one of the YSA's makes 1800 Rand a month for working full time - that is about $200 - 250. Another man makes 4800 Rand a month driving a big truck full time - around $600.  Most of them work a 6 day work week sometimes 10 hours a day.  I know that there are many parts of the world where conditions are much worse - such as where the Kirkhams are serving, but it puts into perspective what we take for granted and even sometimes complain about at home.

I have had to take a second look at all that we have been blessed with.  We take for granted warm homes, being able to run to the store to pick up what we need, inexpensive internet, cheap fuel compared to here, cars, clothing, good health care  and plenty of food.  I started last year keeping a gratitude journal after listening to a talk given by Elder Renlund at a YSA fireside.   When I am discouraged, writing in that journal and finding at least one thing I am grateful for changes my whole day and perspective.  The Lord truly blesses us here and blesses our families and loved ones at home.  I will always strive to not take for granted the many great gifts we have been given.

We love you all!  Stay happy and go well with you!  Mom/Mutti/Sharon


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