Our South African Journal

Monday, December 4, 2017

October 2-4
We were excited to take Cydnee and her kids to church on Sunday. We had been showing them around parts of South Africa and having a great time. But now we can let them see a little bit of what we have been doing and introduce them to some of our friends.

We decided to go to Osizweni first so that Taylor could give the Branch President the baptismal clothes she had brought with her.  President Zulu was very touched by the gift. He told Taylor to stand up at the beginning of the meeting while he told everyone about the baptismal clothes. It was a great experience for her. After church, several people told her how grateful they were for her offering. I told her that she not only provided something the branch needed but that she also set an example to the people of the branch who are still learning how to live the gospel. We passed out Book of Mormon coloring books and candy to the kids in Primary.

Taylor with President Zulu
Taylor with some of the Primary kids. They are standing in front of the baptismal font

We then drove to Madadeni to attend Sacrament Meeting in the Madadeni 1 Branch. We were asked to share our testimonies in the meeting. Cydnee, Taylor and Reagan also gave their testimonies. After church, we passed out CTR rings and candy to the Primary children. We had to say good bye to our friends today. It was very hard. We have learned so much and our testimonies have grown, and we have come to love so many wonderful people. We have felt their love for us and it has changed our lives. It is difficult to know that we will never see them again. “…for ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but  fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God.” Eph 2:19

We went to visit Sister Nkosi at her home to say good bye. We also went to Phumlani and Lihle’s home to visit them and to give Lihle a temple dress that our daughter-in-law sent over. We also went out to visit the Danisa family. A lot of tears were shed.

Cydnee and Sister Zikalala

After our visits we went home and just rested. We are tired from our travels and from such an emotional day.

Monday we got up and did some packing and cleaning and also some shopping for our Family Home Evening dinner. 
In the evening the missionaries, Brother and Sister Brown and Newcastle Young Single Adults came by for one last Family Home Evening and a braai. We had a good time. We love feeding people. But it was also time to say good bye to the missionaries and all our young friends. All these good-byes are very hard.

On Tuesday we finished packing and cleaning. The Browns came by and we gave them the house keys and some last minute advice. Then we were on our way to Johannesburg.

We went to the temple and took some pictures.

 We had lunch at Mike’s Restaurant.

Then we went to the airport. The GPS took us on a crazy route so we got to see some interesting neighborhoods on our way. When we got to the airport we had some difficulty finding our way around and also between all Cyd’s luggage and our luggage we were kind of struggling. Finally a nice young man offered to help us. He showed us how to get to the right level of the airport and helped us push our luggage carts. We were worried because we knew he was expecting a tip and we didn’t have any cash on us. As we were moving through the airport suddenly some security guards came and grabbed our kindly guide and took him away. Evidently he had no right to be working in the airport. We felt so sorry for him.  However, we were able to find our way after that and we no longer had to worry about a tip.  

We waited with Cydnee and her kids until they boarded their flight then went to catch our own flight. It took us 8 hours to fly to Qutar. We didn’t have to wait too long for our flight to Dallas. One more flight to Salt Lake City, (30 hours total) and we were finally home. 

As we came along the airport corridor we heard chanting. “Nana, Papa, Nana, Papa”  In a few minutes we were surrounded by all our family exchanging hugs and kisses. It is so great to be home.

We are so grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission in South Africa. We loved our mission and we loved the people of South Africa. What a privilege it was to serve along side so many wonderful missionaries and church members.

It was very hard sometimes, a little scary other times and absolutely wonderful and amazing most times. We would not trade this experience for anything.

We want everyone to know that we have a testimony of Jesus Christ. We know that he loves us and we have felt his help and comfort many times on our mission. We know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that it has the ability to change lives. We have seen it happen. God bless the people of South Africa.

Now to the next adventure!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

On Sunday we drove from Kruger to St Lucia. It is about a 6 and a half hour drive. We drove through some very pretty countryside. We drove up over a pass that gave us some gorgeous views. The kids were very good in spite of the long drive.

Our accommodations in St Lucia was a house. It was very roomy but it was pretty dated and just kind of “meh”. We had nice lodgings in Joberg and Kruger so we were pretty spoiled.  There was a swimming pool so the kids enjoyed that although it was not all that warm.

The next day we cruised the St Lucia Estuary and saw a lot to hippos and crocodiles. Actually the estuary is no longer an estuary. They have an ongoing drought in the area so the estuary is cut off from the ocean, that makes it a lake. We have been told there are more hippos in St Lucia than humans. You have to be careful when going out at night because the hippos come out of the water and roam the town looking for grass to eat. They are very bad tempered and territorial so you don’t want to run into one in the dark.

In our boat


Hippo pod

Weaver birds,
The males build the nests and if his lady does not like it she will tear it apart.
And the poor guy has to build another one.

Lyndsee and the crocodiles

Taylor and Papa

After the boat ride we had lunch at Ocean Basket which is a seafood chain we like. 
Papa and Cydnee

After lunch we went to a traditional Zulu Village. They explained their customs and traditions. They demonstrated their handicrafts like mat weaving and beading. They dressed Cyd and Eric up in Zulu gear and dressed the girls in beaded “maiden” outfits. They looked great!

Lyndsee learning to make a reed mat.
Reagan getting dressed in her maiden costume
Zulu family

Will learning to be a hunter and a warrior.
Then they danced for us and they got Eric and Cydnee’s family to dance also. We had a wonderful time and I think the kids really enjoyed it.

After the Zulu village we drove to Durban and checked in to our Bed and Breakfast. This was at Huntley House or as us regulars call it, Jane’s. We found our dinner at a food court in a nearby mall.

 The next morning after one of Jane’s wonderful breakfasts we headed to the Oribi Gorge. We have been told it is a “must see”. We went to Eland Lake and tried out the swinging bridge over the gorge. We also tried the Loo with the longest Drop.

Giant millipede 

Cydnee and daughters

Beautiful Oribi Gorge

Elder Hind, Cyd, Eric, Reagan and Taylor decided to do the zipline. I stayed at the lodge with Will and Lyndsee and fed them lunch and watched them play. Meanwhile the more intrepid members of the family were zipping across the gorge in a thunderstorm. I was worried for them but they came back full of excitement and stories.

Elder Hind

That night we went to an Italian place in Durban to have dinner. The kids were excited to eat some pizza. It was a busy place with really good food. After that we went back to Jane’s for some much needed sleep.

The weather continued cold blustery and damp. We had hoped to spend some time down on the beach in the morning but it was simply too unpleasant so we didn't stay very long.

You will be relived to know that we did save the children
from the giant snake

Two princesses and a castle

It was time to put Eric on a plane to head home. He could not be away from work anymore than a week. We got to the airport and dropped him off in good time. Then we went to a nearby mall and had lunch at Wimpy’s, a South African burger place.

After lunch we decided to try and find the Durban Temple site. It looks like a lot of red dirt that is being pushed around. It is our understanding that the underground work has all been done and soon we will see some progress. We looked around and took some pictures and then went back to our B&B for some TV and relaxation.

Sign at the temple site

The underground work has all been done. Maybe we will be able to see some
building soon.

The Mission Office planned a good bye dinner for us. Some of the other Senior Couples and the Mission President and his wife and daughter all met us at a restaurant near the beach. We also met Elder and Sister Brown there. They are the couple that will take our place in Newcastle. We were thrilled to meet them and we spent most of the time telling them about our work and answering their questions.

In the morning we went to the Mission Office to take care of some final business. President Thompson was there and had a little interview with all the children. Then we said “good bye” to Durban and headed out of town.

Cyd's children being interviewed by President Thompson

President Thompson asked the kids to make some artwork for the mission office

Last time at the office

 After traveling the freeway for awhile we stopped at Howick Falls. It is a lovely waterfall but the sight of the some of the local people doing their wash at the top of the falls makes it even more interesting. We did a little souvenir shopping at some nearby stalls.

Beautiful Howick Falls
If you look close you will see people doing their laundry
at the top of the falls

Another stop we made was the Mandela Capture Site. This is where Nelson Mandela was captured and then sent to prison for 27 years. There is a museum there and a very unusual sculpture.

We hit the road again and after traveling for a while we stopped have lunch at a roadside diner. When we were near the Royal Natal National Park we made one more stop at the Bergville Spar grocery store. We hadn’t really made any plans for our meals while in the Royal Natal National Park but the cottages are self catering so we needed some groceries.

As we approached the park we could see a wild fire burning. We were afraid we wouldn’t be able to stay there. But apparently it was a controlled burn. We found our cottages and were thrilled with how cute they were and also with what a great view they had.

The next morning we took a guided hike to see some prehistoric rock painting. Then we went to the stables and everyone went horseback riding but Sister Hind. The children hated to see the ride come to an end but Cyd and Elder Hind were happy to get off those horses.

Two cuties sitting on a sign

Following the guide up the hillside

Ancient African rock art

Ready to ride out
We went to lunch at a charming place just outside the park. The food was good, the weather was perfect and we just sat on the porch of the restaurant and enjoyed watching the kids play. After that we went back to the cottages and did some more hiking and exploring and watching the baboons and guinea fowl.

We had to drive aways to find a place for lunch. The food here was very good.
And I loved the shovel chairs.
Mother and child

Peeping Tom

The escarpment and clouds

On Saturday we drove to Newcastle. We were excited to show our family where we have been living and  to introduce them to some of the people we have been working with.

We went went to dinner that evening at our favorite place, The Pint and Pig Out. The weather was very nice so we ate out on the patio. The kids enjoyed a nearby playground.

That evening the elders came by to get transfer news. Elder and Sister Brown came by also so they could meet the missionaries.''

It was good to be “home”. But it won’t be our home much longer. Soon the Browns will be calling our house home and we will be home in West Jordan, Utah, USA.