As we write today the Florida Keys are experiencing the eye of Irma, and the rest of the state will get the wind and rain over the next 36 hours or so. We are grateful that the storm track has shifted westward from our home in Jacksonville but feel bad that this means Tampa-St.Pete will be hit harder. As one friend in Jacksonville expressed, this means that he will be able to get out sooner to help those who are hit harder by the storm. We are grateful for the Bridegans, who are taking care of our home while we are away and who decided to shelter in place.
Two stories from the institute class:
A young woman, now a medical student, told about her conversion and love for the Church while in Jr. High School. She attended a school run by a denominational church, and one of the school requirements was that every student must attend worship services there on Sunday. Those who did not attend that church were caned on Monday morning when they came to school. She had been asked to play the keyboard at her LDS ward so did not attend the required Sabbath meeting. She spoke about how even the anticipation of that punishment every week could not take away the wonderful feelings she had in her attendance at her own ward. This lasted for two years. One of her school teachers eventually asked why she would choose a whipping every week rather than just attend the school’s church. She replied, “Because my church makes me happy”.
Another young man spoke about life before joining the church. He and 2 other boys had a friend who was a member and this friend would always read the Book of Mormon before school. Even though they mocked and teased him for reading it, he always stayed calm and never got angry. Once day Joseph snatched the member’s scriptures and threw them across the room but still he didn’t lose his temper. The friend later gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and asked him to just read some passages. As he did, he felt the spirit testify that this book was true, and that led to his own conversion and later a mission call.
This week we celebrated Sue's 68th birthday with friends at a French restaurant. It was great to visit over authentic French bread and butter, tagine, and crême broulée. Being together, serving in Africa, and doing the Lord’s work binds us together. We are creating memories which will last longer than a life time. We missed the Tolleys who were supposed to be with us. They will not be returning to Africa due to ongoing medical care. We already miss them a great deal and pray for a new assignment that will be rewarding and challenging for them.