December 7, 2008
Sister Tanner, fully recovered, got her project with the English class going. The first Saturday, November 22nd, she had 2 students. The 2nd Saturday, there were 7. The 3rd Saturday, there were 7. The good news is there were 7 again, the not so good news is 4 of them were there for the first time. But what a fun class. 2 of the members and an investigator who have attended consistently, just rave about how wonderful Sister Tanner is. And you can imagine that if you know my fun loving, wonderful companion. She teaches the English class from 6-8 PM and begins after completing a keyboarding class from 5-6. Saturday is her busy day, but not the only one. Read on.
Our new branch continues to experience great attendance and what a spirit is there each Sunday. Yesterday was Fast and Testimony meeting and it was a joy just to be there. I am amazed as I watch our new Elder's quorum president and our branch clerk who have both been members for only 4 months. It is so wonderful to see young men accept callings with a humble attitude and so eager to learn and to do things right. President Prabhkar conducted priesthood meeting yesterday and I just welled up inside with the greatest feeling of appreciation to be able to support and love these brethren who have accepted their Savior and His gospel and are truly seeking to do His will.
But the spirit comes with a price too. You have to be flexible and willing to do whatever is needed. Our new Relief Society president is married to a member of the army who is stationed a long ways away. Her husband unexpectedly showed up for a few days and one of the counselors got a call just before church that she would not be there. Sister Tanner noticed she wasn't there, so she talked to President Smith right after Sacrament meeting and volunteered to teach. Our flustered Branch President heaved a sigh of relief and smiled again. Now this was after the elders knocked on our door as they left for church and asked Sister Tanner to speak on baptism at the service at 1 PM.
You know the church is true when the Relief Society has a new, lacey white tablecloth and a clear glass vase with beautiful flowers in it. The result of a shopping trip to the Atta market area.
After church, we headed over to 1st Branch for the baptism service. Robin Kumar, who attends the English class, was being baptized. He is another that has simply opened up and blossomed with the gospel. I can recall his first day at church and the change is amazing. The first English class, Sister Tanner asked those attending why they were there. Robin, his nickname, responded that he wanted to learn English so he could better understand what the elders were teaching so he could know it was true.
Robin and Elder Patha who baptized him. Elder Patha has been out 3 months and is a great missionary. He is one of "our" elders who lives upstairs. He was in medical school in Nanjing, China, and had completed his first 2 years when he decided he should be on a mission. He will have to begin all over with med school when he completes his mission. That is quite a sacrific to serve.
A small, 4 sheet neighborhood newspaper had an article about 4 girls from several countries who were here teaching their ethnic dances to the students at a large private school several blocks over from us. For some reason, the article had the girl's cell numbers. Elder Patha called the girl from China and began speaking Chinese to her and was able to set up a meeting. She also came from Nanjing where he attended medical school. Here was a cute young lady, Alice, who had no exposure to religion and I believe it was the first time she was out of her country. She honestly did not know what God was about, but she came to church and attended Relief Society. It was the first time Sister Tanner taught and she had a 13 year old American (the only Young Woman), an older Indian sister, Usha, who had limited English comprehension, and Alice who spoke very limited English. She taught and spoke very slow and simply. But regardless of the language, the spirit was there. Alice told Elder Patha later that she had felt something in all the meetings and if she had been able to stay, she wanted to join the church. Elder Patha knows the Chinese branch president in Nanjing and will contact him to tell him about Alice. The Chinese government does not allow their native people to meet with foreigners for religious services, they can only meet separately with no contact. This experience reminded me of President Henderson's saying that there are no coincidences, only minor miracles in which the Lord prefers to remain anonymous.