I wish I had more pictures for this posting. I hoping for a picture of all the elders in the zone taken by some others. But I haven't gotten any yet. I just was not in picture taking mode. Too jet lagged and too overwhelmed. But if some pictures come my way I will update this post.
Our first week in Newcastle was a busy one. We hit the ground running with Zone Conference on Monday. Our zone is the Newcastle Zone.We have 16 elders and two senior couples. The other senior couple (Elder and Sister Taylor) live in Ladysmith about 90 Kilometers south of here. The mission president along with his assistants pretty much run the conference but the senior couples are in change of feeding everyone. The Taylors were kind enough to shoulder most of the burden for feeding the elders this time around but next zone conference it will be our responsibility.
It is not too hard because the elders love pizza. So we just ordered pizza for them and Sister Taylor made brownies and cupcakes and bought ice cream. Let me tell you missionaries eat alot. We hadn't met some of the elders because they live farther away so it was nice to have an opportunity to get to know them a little.
The Taylors look after the elders in the southern end of the zone and we look after the ones in the northern end. They are also Seminary and Institute missionaries so they do a lot of traveling around the mission and are very busy.
In the evening President Zackrison and his wife took us to dinner at the Pint and Pigout. That is a funny name but it was a nice place with kind of a pub atmosphere. We had a good dinner and a nice visit.
On Tuesday morning we went to watch the zone play soccer. They sure played hard. They managed to hurt each other. I didn't take a picture of the poor missionary gasping for breath because he got the wind knocked out of him.
Then we had to go meet with the mission president and the Newcastle District president. (A district is like a stake but it is what you get when all you have are branches. We have no wards in this area.) In the afternoon we met with the branch presidents in all the nearby branches.(Newcastle, Madadeni 1, Madadeni 2, and Osizweni.) We had to go to Madadeni for that meeting. We thought we knew the way but we got lost and wandered around for awhile. The GPS is useless in the township. In the evening we got together with the all the elders and the assistants and ate a meal cooked by one of the elders and then had a devotional before going home and going to bed.
On Wednesday we went out to Madadeni with the Taylors do a walk through on two new flats that we will be moving the elders into in a week or so. Right now the 4 Madadeni missionaries live in one large flat here in Newcastle because there were no secure places for them in live in Madadeni. Then the mission president found a gated apartment complex with security guards. It is so much better when the missionaries can live where they work.
We finally found some time to start cleaning our house, unpacking our clothes and doing our wash. We have had to spend some time trying to figure out our phone situation. The mission provides a bottom of the line cell phone for us but we can't use it. We need a full keyboard for texting and a larger screen that we can actually see. Also the wireless internet does not work. The password we were given is not working. This house stood empty for about 4 months between the last couple leaving and our coming. During that time the house was broken into and the TV, some piano keyboards and a computer were all stolen. I don't know if that has anything to do with our internet problems.
The Newcastle elders invited us to go along to visit a family they are teaching. We really enjoyed that experience. Then we took them to lunch. We invited all 10 of the nearby elders to come to Easter dinner at our house. We could tell they were hoping for an invitation to dinner. We haven't been doing much cooking yet so we will have to get busy and whip up a nice dinner for about 10 hungry young men.