Our South African Journal

Saturday, May 30, 2015

One of the missionary districts decided to have their picture taken for a district activity. This is the result. Aren't they all tough and manly? Two of these guys have now been transferred.

Men In Black
On Sunday we spoke in the Newcastle Branch Sacrament Meeting. We also attended the other meetings and then drove an investigator home. He is married and the father of two children. It would be nice to see him progress.

Sunday afternoon was quiet but in the evening the Zone Leaders came by to get the transfer itineraries and then things got busy. Most of the time the elders travel to their new areas on Tuesday but this time many of them had to travel to Ladysmith Monday night. So the Zone Leaders were calling everyone to let them know when they had to be ready to go. Tomorrow is going to be hectic for the elders.

Monday morning the elders in our area decided to play one last game of soccer together. They seemed to enjoy the opportunity to let off some steam but they weren’t too competitive. They let Elder Hind play with them. He is a little slow compared to the young elders and he doesn’t know soccer but he loved running around the field and the elders were patient with him.

Saying good bye to these elders.
We had FHE planned for Monday night so we had to go ahead with that. Meantime the elders were all meeting here to say goodbye and to organize the ride to Ladysmith. One was catching a bus Monday evening, two were picking up a bakkie in Ladysmith and driving to Durban. We still managed to have FHE and see the elders off.  They all said, “I love you”, to me in Zulu. I can’t believe how attached I have become to them in just two months.

Elder Holman and some of our Family Home Evening family
On Tuesday we had to take a missionary to a doctor’s appointment. While we were waiting an older couple asked about the badges we were wearing and we started a nice little conversation about our beliefs. Just then the elders came out and we introduced them to this nice couple. Elder Hind and I were asked to step back into the business office for a few minutes. When we came out of the office there were our hardworking elders, one talking to the husband and another sharing a scripture with the wife. I wanted to take a picture. (But I didn’t) We left this nice couple with a pass a long card and the Newcastle elders’ phone number. 

 We called the top manager or owner (I am not sure what he was) of the Meadowlands Flats where our Madadeni elders live. I talked to him about the fact that the elders don’t have hot water in their flat. He said it was not his fault that people use too much hot water in the cold weather and so it runs out fast. When I asked him if he should have warned us the hot water is not reliable he got really mad and told me there are plenty of people who would want to move into those flats and we should just move our missionaries out. I told him I did not have the authority to make that decision. But I can’t believe how rude and angry he was. He could not have a business-like discussion. I had to remind myself that I was representing the church and so I could not say what I really wanted to say. Anyway that left us feeling really upset and pretty much ruined our day.

Just as we were sitting down to dinner a couple of the elders dropped by because  they needed our help with a minor problem. Normally when I make dinner I only make enough for Elder Hind and me. It just so happened that I had made an extra-large salad and lots of chicken and rice. So we invited the elders to have dinner with us. They readily accepted and were soon on their way back to work with full stomachs. Elder Hind commented that feeding the elders had cheered me up. He was right. There are so many problems to work on and most of them won’t be solved during our time here. For the most part our victories will be small ones.  It is nice to be able to do some small thing that is so appreciated. And no one can say that the missionaries don’t appreciate being fed.

We have been asked by the mission president to look for the tender mercies in each day and we are encouraged to share those tender mercies in order to lift each other’s spirits. It was no accident that I had made enough food to offer dinner to those elders. I think Heavenly Father sent them by just to lift my spirits and to help me feel useful after a trying day.

We got a call to administer first aid to one of our elders. He fell in the shower, broke the ceramic soap dish and cut his knee on the fragments. A bandage and a pat on the head was all he needed. The soap dish, however, is deceased. Elder Hind had to replace it.

Don't worry Sister Tibbitts the look of agony is fake

Just a little gratuitous gore
We have met two of our new elders. One is from Kanab, Utah and within 5 minutes we discovered we were related. Something like second cousins twice removed. That is just a guess I haven’t looked at it closely. The other elder is from Botswana and he will be part of the Newcastle companionship.  I am looking forward to getting to know them and working with them. We have two other new elders that have been here a couple of days but they are in Madadeni and we haven’t been out there since they came.

The District President asked us to participate in the District Leadership Training Meeting on Saturday. Elder Hind was asked to teach the Primary leaders and I was asked to train the Young Women’s leaders. We did some serious studying in the handbook. We both enjoyed the opportunity to get to know people better. I loved visiting with the Young Women’s leaders in the branches. They have some challenges that we don’t have back in Utah. But the concerns are all the same. How to raise up a generation of righteous women. We all want that.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Tim Tam Slam

This ritual treat was introduced to the mission by Elder Holman. Tim Tams are an imported cookie here in South Africa so they are hard to find and expensive. The missionaries love this but can't do this very often because of the cost.

You take a Tim Tam (a chocolate covered wafer cookie) and bite off opposite corners as shown in the picture. Put one corner in the hot chocolate and suck on the other corner like you were sucking on a straw. When you feel the hot chocolate coming through you quickly pop the entire cookie into your mouth. By now the cookies will have started to melt from the hot chocolate and form a gooey chocolaty yummy mess in your mouth. If you wait too long to pop it into your mouth it will fall apart and will fall into your cup of hot chocolate. The hot chocolate needs to be hot for this to work. If you let it cool off too much the interior of the cookies won't melt. You need to be careful that you don't burn your tongue so find the right temperature.

Elder Holman told me that you might be able to find Tim Tams at World Market in the United States. It may be possible to do this with other wafer cookies or candy bars. Some one told me that Twix will work but are not as good.

Tim Tam Slam

We got to attend another baptism this Sunday. It was in Newcastle so we had to come from church in Madadeni. We barely made it in time. A young man who attends our Family Home Evenings was baptized so I am glad we got to see him take the plunge.

After the baptism we and the Newcastle elders had a lunch appointment with a family that we visit regularly. They made a braai for us. That is the word for barbeque here. But they don’t just throw on some hamburgers and hot dogs. It is all the about the meat. At this braai they had mutton, chicken and woers (which is a sausage that comes in a big long spiral so it looks, rather uncomfortably, like a small intestine, and of course that may be what the casing is). Along with all the meat we had a cold bean and hot dog dish, some very hot chakalaka, and some creamy pap (grits). For dessert we had a kind of trifle made with cake, yogurt and custard. It seems I am always talking about food but food is history and culture on a plate and those things interest me.

Giant cooling towers. These look very eerie at night.

This is how close this family lives to these cooling towers. This plant is not in operation and hasn't been for a long time.

One of the older daughters doing the grilling

The two youngest daughters

Monday President and Sister Zackrison were in town. President Zackrison interviewed all the missionaries in the area. The missionaries all love the President and his wife. We went over to the Newcastle Chapel for a while and sat with Sister Z and some of the missionaries. Then we went home to get ready for FHE. Elder Hind was going to teach the lesson but the President wanted to take us out to dinner so Elder Jena got drafted to teach. The missionaries are all very good at teaching last minute lessons. Elder Jena did a great job and even had an activity that went along with the lesson. Just as the lesson ended President Z came by to pick us up so I turned my house over to the missionaries and we went to dinner. It was nice to talk about our problems and our successes with the president and his wife.

We had boarding checks this week. Not my favorite job. I am a private person and would hate to have someone going through my cupboards and closets and complaining about the soap scum and mold in my bathroom. However, I know this is necessary for the health and well-being of the missionaries. I just pretend I am the mom and they are my sons. It gets me through it. I came home and made sweet rolls for them because there were no bugs in any of the refrigerators. Yay!!!

Elder Tibbetts and Elder Welling singing a made up song about Sister Hind's cinnamon rolls.

We had DDM in Madadeni as usual and as usual there were no lights. On top of that there was no water. We don’t know what the deal is with the lights because they don’t work even if there is not load shedding. We were worried because we had a branch activity planned for Saturday. We are showing “Meet the Mormons”.  We have been warned that there are times the water is turned off. My house is full of stored water just in case. It hasn’t happened in Newcastle since we have been here.

Some of the water stored in the kitchen. I also have watered stored in both bathrooms.

We spent most of one day trying to find out what the problem is with the electricity in the Madadeni chapel and also sending the boarding and vehicle reports to the mission office. It seems we were on the phone half the day with one problem or another. We called the man in charge of maintaining the church properties and he assured us the electric bill had been paid and in fact it is always paid ahead. One branch president called to ask us who signs a patriarchal blessing recommend, the district president or the mission president. We don’t know these things. We had to look it up in the handbook.

On Friday we ventured outside of Newcastle for the first time. We had to drive a young sister down to Ladysmith to get a patriarchal blessing. Since we are not a stake we don’t have a stake patriarch so we borrow one from a Durban stake. He comes around every few months and sets up appointments at the local chapel and does as many as he can in 2 or 3 days. The young woman we had with us is expecting her mission call any day now. We met her at the Madadeni Chapel and we were disappointed to see we still had no electricity in the building. The drive went well. It took us about    1 ½ hours to drive 98 kilometers. We got to chat with the Taylors (the senior couple in Ladysmith) and to meet the patriarch. We spent a couple of hours in Ladysmith and then headed home.

Ladysmith Chapel

 The electricity was still off at the Madadeni chapel so Elder Hind made a couple of phone calls but we still couldn’t get things ironed out. I went to bed feeling the most discouraged since coming on this mission. We were also having issues with the Meadowland boarding for the Madadeni missionaries and I was sick of trying to work with South African businesses. I have felt I spent more time working on temporal problems than on meeting people and teaching the gospel. I could not sleep from worrying so much. I prayed for patience and electricity.

We went to Madadeni in the morning and were again disappointed because there was no electricity. We thought we could go ahead and grill up the sausages and eat and visit if we can’t show the movie. Elder Hind and the young elders were out looking at the electricity box outside our church property. There was no apparent way to get into that box. Suddenly one of the elders just put his hands on either side of the box and lifted it up. The box came up and exposed three switches. They flipped the switches and the power came on in the chapel. Hallelujah!

We had a great time. Everyone enjoyed the movie. They especially liked the Elder Armstrong segment because they remember him. We had some investigators there so we did a question and answer session afterward. It was wonderful! The sausages tasted especially good that day. We love the Lord and we know he loves us and the people of South Africa. AND WE LOVE OUR MISSION!!!

Grilling the sausage
This isn't everyone. Some are still in the chapel.

After the branch activity we went with the Madadeni 1 missionaries to visit a part member family. They were very kind to us and served us a meal of pap and goat stew. The goat was very well cooked, it was very tender and seasoned well. There were potatoes and carrots and onions in the stew. They gave us huge portions that we just couldn’t finish but of course the young elders didn’t have any trouble cleaning their plates.

This baby doesn't quite know what to make of Elder Hind
When we were leaving the yard was full of children. They all came running because they are very curious about us. They wanted to stroke our arms to see if our white skin felt different from their dark skin. As I bent over to greet them they started to stroke my hair and say, “Oh, fresh. So fresh”. I asked the elders what they meant by “fresh”. They told me the children were saying my hair was soft. I was delighted by their innocent curiosity.

Elder Hind greeting the children
 Meantime, Elder Hind spotted a bunch of men sitting in the backyard so he went back there to say hello. They were passing around a bucket of some kind of drink made from grain and offered him some. He explained that he did not drink anything fermented. They assured him it was not fermented so he took a sip out of the communal bucket. That evening as we met with all the young elders for transfer news there was some discussion about whether or not that drink was fermented. I think Elder Hind should just steer clear of drinks in buckets in the future.

Saturday night all the missionaries in this area met in our house so the Zone Leaders could go on the internet and get the transfer news. There is a fair amount of tension as the elders wait to find out what the future holds.

I really don’t like transfers. The elders like them because they like to move on and try a new area and meet new people and have new experiences. But I have become attached to these guys and I don’t like having to say good bye to them.

The news was that we are losing four of our missionaries. Elder Jena, Elder Holman, Elder Merile, and Elder Sibeko. I hate to see them go. I love them all.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mother’s Day was a busy, wonderful day. We went to Madadeni 1 for Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School. Then we went to Madadeni 2 because we had been asked to speak in their Sacrament Meeting. They meet in the same building as Madadeni 1.  After church the Madadeni 1 missionaries had a baptismal service. They baptized three young women. This is the first baptisms we have seen since coming here. Two of the investigators are 15 year old twins. Mission policy is that children this young can only be taught by the missionaries if their parents are being taught also. Since the rest of the family was not interested all the missionaries can do is give them a Book of Mormon and invite them to come to church. They started to come to church several months ago and have never missed a Sunday. They also signed up for and attended Seminary. When it became apparent that the twins were committed investigators the missionaries obtained parental permission, gave them the lessons and set a baptismal date. The other young woman is a friend of a branch member.

After we got home from church the Newcastle elders came by and gave me a bouquet of pink roses and said, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.” I wish I could have snapped a picture of how they looked when they gave me the flowers. It is the same look a six year old has when he gives you his handmade card. These guys are over six feet tall and are veteran missionaries because they have been out since they were eighteen. But in many ways they are still just boys. We love them!
Elder Holman (Nevada) & Elder Welling (New Mexico) Newcastle Elders
Aren't they adorable?
We started cooking the minute we got home because most of the missionaries had appointments to come and skype or call their families from our house. We made a crockpot full of sloppy joe filling and had several dozen hamburger buns, apples, raw vegetables, punch and brownies waiting for them when they came by. I enjoyed being with the missionaries and even got to say hi to some of their parents. I was glad when I got a chance to call and skype with a couple of my kids at the end of the day. 

We spent one morning this week helping to paint a house for a widow in the Newcastle Branch. When we were finished she fed us lunch. She is of Indian heritage and her food was so good! It was all just vegetarian dishes but with Indian food it is all about the spices. They have shops here that specialize in just spices for cooking. I went home and immediately looked up a bunch of Indian recipes on Pinterest. Her food was simple and yet so good. She had a bean dish, a cabbage dish, a pumpkin dish, a potato curry, and rice. The beans were a little spicy but not too much. I enjoyed everything.
Elder Welling and Elder Hind painting

Elder Hind cleaning the gutters
We went to our DDM meeting Wednesday morning and we had a nice lesson and discussion. The District Leader is a good teacher.  I warned the elders that boarding checks were coming up and that clean and defrosted refrigerators would result in a treat. EVERYBODY failed refrigerators last time.

After the meeting we went to a sister’s house in Madadeni to replace her toilet seat. When Elder Hind asked to use their bathroom a couple of weeks ago he noticed the toilet seat was broken and half of it was missing. A few days later the toilets at the chapel were being replaced so he asked if he could have the toilet seats. We carried those toilet seats around in the trunk of our car until he was able to do this little service for her. We do all kinds of things on a mission.

One day this week we called a plumber and asked to him to meet us at the boarding for the Madadeni missionaries. They have not had reliable hot water since moving out there 5 weeks ago. We have been told over and over again that it would be fixed but it never happened. So we got our own plumber out there and the news wasn’t good. The hot water for the whole complex is generated in giant tanks and there are lots of problems with these tanks. Our plumbers can’t do anything to help. President Zackrison will be in town next week, we will let him decide our next step.
Let me tell you about “load sheding”. I don’t understand everything about it but basically there are times that there is not enough electricity to go around. So they pick an area (I guess they take turns) and turn the electricity off for two hours. We have had church without lights a couple of times. The windows let in enough light to get by. We have experienced load sheding in Newcastle but it is more common in Madadeni and Osizweni. On Thursday evening we went to visit with a family and their friends in Madadeni.  The meeting started out by candle light but after a few minutes the lights came on. I taught the lesson, Elder Hind stood on his head, and we had a great time. One teenage boy asked me if we were in the same branch as Thomas S Monson. The children asked us many questions about the US and Utah and our family. I showed them pictures on my tablet. One picture was taken in our family room and that got us into a discussion about basements. They were amazed by our underground room.

Another young woman asked about our house and I told her my son and his wife and two kids were living in it. Then I said told her they will have to move out when we get home. She was shocked that I would let them move out when I had such a big home. I could tell she really disapproved of my selfishness. For a minute I felt really ashamed that I was making Ethan and his family move out when I get home. Then I wanted to talk to her about how I want my son to be able to support his family himself and to be independent. But she lives in a place where multiple generations share a tiny home. She would never understand. The divide between us seemed very wide at that moment.

We woke up Friday with the entire day before us to do what we wanted. We had a couple of errands to run but there was not anything scheduled for the day. Then some of the Osizweni elders called and asked us to pick up a brother and sister at the Madadeni hospital and take them home to Osizweni. We were to pick them up at 10:30am. We got there on time and asked around until we found the brother. He is a little boy about 8 or 10 years old with a broken femur. He has been in the hospital for a month. We waited an hour and a half for the sister (she is 19) to come. She was coming by public transportation from Osizweni. It would have been faster to go and pick her up ourselves.

 The doctor said he would discharge him at 9:00am but he still hadn’t seen him and no one knew when he would show up. After waiting for two hours we decided to go back to Newcastle to run our errands and then come back when the doctor showed up. The sister wanted to come with us because it wasn’t visiting hours and she didn’t think she should be there. So we took her with us while we paid a bill, and then bought a new mattress for one of the elders. By this time the doctor had discharged the little boy and so we went back to Madadeni.

 It still took another 2 hours to get him checked out and to find a gurney to roll him out of the hospital. (his cast covered his entire leg and went up over his hips. By the time we got him home it was after 4:00pm. We hadn’t eaten lunch and I was exhausted from traipsing up and down those long hospital corridors and standing around so much. We are told that they have first world medicine in South Africa. Well they don’t have a first world hospital in Madadeni. The beds and furniture were old and beat up. The floors were not clean. The toilets were broken. And Elder Hind killed a bug on the floor of the children's orthopedic ward. We would have liked to take some pictures but we have to be respectful of people and sometimes it just does not feel right to take photos.

Saturday we went to the community garden and worked there for a couple of hours. We went grocery shopping and then Elder Hind had a meeting in Madadeni so I stayed home and made bread and mended three pairs of pants for a young elder in our area. In the evening we went to visit a family and I brought a loaf of homemade bread to the family. They were surprised I could make bread. I also gave the elders that went with us a loaf of bread. They started eating it as we driving to our appointment and finished the entire loaf before we got there. They are always hungry.
A mother hen and her babies visiting our backyard



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

 Our Neighborhood
Two or three times a week we like to go for a walk around our neighborhood in the morning. So while I walk Elder Hind runs around with a garbage sack picking up litter. People keep their personal spaces very neat and tidy but the public spaces are sometimes pretty trashy. This is made worse by the technical college just up the street from us. We have a lot of young people who walk through our neighborhood to and from school. As a result there is plenty of junk for Elder Hind to pick up during our walks.

This is the back side of the college that is in our neighborhood. They are
building some more classrooms back here

Sometimes people think he is picking up recyclables. Many people collect things that can be recycled in order to make a little money. People talk to him and ask him what he is doing. He likes to visit with people. Eventually he will probably get some contacts for the missionaries. 

I have asked him to please use gloves but he won't

This house is just two doors down from us. Four elders live in this boarding.

You can see by this tree that fall is coming here. The days are still warm but the nights are getting cool.

This is the only house in our neighborhood that does not have a fence around the front yard.
We live in a nice area but everyone has walls and fences around their front yards.

Walls and fences make it hard for missionaries to tract

This is a common tree in this area but I don't like them very much.
They aren't very attractive and they always seem to have a lot of dead limbs

This is one of my favorite trees here.

It is a kind of pine tree with long, soft needles
This is the aloe plant in my front yard. As you can see we don't have a wall, just a chain link fence.

This is a beautiful lily. I have several of these blooming in my backyard right now. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

We went to the Newcastle Branch this week. We have been to their garden to work but haven’t actually attended church there until this week. We could only attend their Fast and Testimony Meeting because we had responsibilities in Madadeni. The Branch President asked us to bear our testimonies so we introduced ourselves and spoke for a couple of minutes. We had to run off after the meeting and we hated that. Sometimes we feel we are pulled in a lot of different directions. The other branches feel bad because we are not assigned to them. It is nice to be wanted.
Newcastle Chapel
We went to Madadeni for the last part of church and young women and the older women all watched Women’s General Conference. It was great! Elder Hind and the other men and boys watched priesthood.

Monday, for FHE we showed “Meet the Mormons”. If was fun because all the members that were here and some of the older missionaries know Elder Armstrong. He is the missionary in the last part of the movie. His last area was Newcastle. He has a reputation for being a great missionary.

I made a dentist appointment for a missionary but we were late so we had to reschedule. We were late because when the woman on the phone said 9:15 I thought she said 9:50. It is one of our great frustrations. English is everyone’s second language, whether you are Zulu, Afrikkan, Indian or something else. We struggle to understand what people are saying because of their accents. Of course that goes both ways. A woman who was helping us with our internet had to call the mission office for some information. When she got off the phone she said to me, “That woman has the thickest American accent I have ever heard. I could barely understand her.” Anyway, we are gradually getting better at understanding but it is still pretty hard to conduct telephone conversations. We can’t even clearly understand all of our elders when we talk to them on the phone.
We had our first Zone Training Meeting this week. We weren’t sure what our responsibilities were (as in food) so we called the Taylors, our Mentors. Sister Taylor said we could serve lunch or we could just do refreshments. I opted to do lunch. Just hot dogs, chips and apples. We figured 2 hot dogs per elder. It really wasn’t enough. Missionaries are bottomless pits!! We will have to do more next time.

We took time this week to get pampered a little. Elder Hind was getting a little shaggy (the young elders were starting to comment) so we went looking for a place for haircuts. We found a nice place and I just randomly asked if they did pedicures. They do, hurray! So while Elder Hind got his luscious locks trimmed I enjoyed a pedicure. They do them a little different here but it is great to have good looking feet again.

We were finally able to get our missionary to the dentist and get his tooth fixed. He got a temporary cap so we will have to take him back to get the permanent one installed.

Elder Jena's tooth was broken in the car accident
Elder Jena wanted me to put him on my blog. Here he is with his new tooth.
We worked in the garden again this week. All the little plants are starting to come up. We spent some time preparing more beds for spring planting when the time comes. The missionaries love it when Elder Hind shows up because he does twice the work of anyone else.

After working in the garden we went out to Osiweni to a branch activity. The elders there were so cute, they made Mother’s Day cards for all the mother’s in the branch. They got the youth to sing a Primary song for their mothers and then they showed “Meet the Mormons” and served popcorn. We had to leave early because we had a Seminary and Institute training in Madadeni. But the elders told me later that the members all loved the movie and they all knew the missionary in the movie.

Sometimes the traffic in Osizweni can get a little heavy
This adorable baby was afraid of my pasty white face.

The Osizweni elders made these cute cards. They used sparkle pens. :)

After the S&I training (It looks like we are going to be called to be Institute teachers) we went out to see the new member family that we always visit with the Newcastle elders. Elder Hind had fixed a broken dining room chair for them and they were so thrilled they asked him if he will fix their coffee table next time. Actually the mother asked me if it was ok if my husband fixed their table. They are a sweet family. I brought their younger girls a Primary Songbook and they were thrilled with it. Sometimes they feed us Rooibos tea which is an herbal tea that everyone around here drinks. I googled it and supposedly it can help you lose weight. I think I will be drinking a lot of Rooibos.




Monday, May 4, 2015

Conference finally came to South Africa. We didn’t get to see the Saturday Sessions in Madadeni because of the funeral. But we got to watch Sunday Sessions in the chapel on Sunday. I wasn’t thinking or I would have brought some water bottles and snacks for Elder Hind and me because we only got about 45 minutes between sessions and that wasn’t enough time for us to go home. By the time Conference was over we were tired and hungry. I must admit I got a tiny bit homesick when they showed the Conference Center and temple square.
I think my favorite talk was given by Elder Neil Anderson. “Thy Kingdom Come” He talks about the Second Coming but he also talks about the 3 newly announced temples and about being disciples of Jesus Christ. His talk just touched my heart.

We have spent a lot of time this week writing emails, answering emails, making phone calls, receiving phone calls, etc, etc. Sometimes missionary work is just plain work.

Elder Hind took me to lunch at my favorite restaurant (Ocean Basket) and we sat out on the patio. The weather has been so nice. The temperatures are just in the 70s and 80s. As we were sitting there enjoying our lunch I noticed a cloud building up in the distance. I had Elder Hind take a picture of it. Let me tell you about South African clouds, they are different. I don’t think you can really see the difference from a picture and I am not sure I can describe the difference. The only thing I can say is they look more solid and substantial than clouds in Utah. I know it does not make sense to call clouds solid and substantial, but there you have it. They don’t look like water vapor, they look like whipped cream.

I spent most of one day altering the curtains from the Madadeni elder’s old flat so they would fit the windows in the new flats. Some of the curtains fit ok they only needed washing. But others needed to be altered. I have a good machine here and it felt good to do some sewing. One of the Newcastle elders brought me by 3 shirts to mend. Boy he is hard on his shirts! It is not like the shirts are wearing out, he is just tearing holes in them. I told him I could patch them but they won’t be pretty. He was ok with that.
On Wednesday we went out to Osizweni with the walking elders assigned there. Osizweni is a township about 30Ks from Newcastle. We haven’t been out there yet because we didn’t feel we could go by ourselves the first time. We have been pestering the elders to take us there. There are 4 elders that work in Osizweni, two driving elders and two walking elders. All four elders live in Newcastle and drive out there every day. The driving elders drop the walking elders off in their area every morning and then pick them up and bring them home every evening.  The driving elders are also the zone leaders and this week they had some responsibilities in other towns in the zone so we were asked to take the walking elders out to their area after district meetings on Wednesday.

The “chapel” in Osizweni is a school room at an elementary. The elders showed us how to get there and set our GPS so we could find it on our own. Then they set our GPS with the home where we will meet them in the evening to have FHE and then we will bring them home to Newcastle. Well when the time came to meet them we set out to Osizweni but we couldn’t find the name that they put in our GPS. We headed out there confident we could find it on our own. Things look different after dark and while we found the township we couldn’t find the house. I was looking through the GPS and finally found the name I was looking for. Within a few minutes we were at the house with some concerned missionaries waiting for us. We had a great FHE with a lovely family. They had a son about 9 or 10 who reminded me so much of our Samuel. We played a game of UNO and he was just so excited and energetic. When I told Elder Hind that he reminded me of Samuel his older sister heard me and started calling him, Sam.
The next night we went out to Osiweni again to visit two families. At the first house we got there ahead of the missionaries. There were some boys pushing a homemade go kart down the street. It reminded Elder Hind of Ethan and his friends and their homemade go kart. So he decided to have a look at the go kart and before long he was surrounded by friends. 

 Child engineers
Elder Hind was in top form that night as he wowed the family we were visiting by standing on his head during a game we were playing. We were in a corrugated metal shack that was the family’s home. But we felt we were in a sacred place because this was a family with a mother and father raising their children in the gospel. The father shared his testimony about how the church helped him stop drinking and smoking and start being a father to his children. There was love and laughter in that home as well as a great lesson presented by a young daughter who clearly understood the gospel and knew how to teach a lesson.
We visited another family and had a great time with them also. We love these wonderful people. We are humbled to be invited into their homes and we are blessed by their love of Jesus Christ and their faith and testimonies.

We had to take the walking elders out to Osizweni again on Friday. We have really been putting the Ks on our poor little Nissan this week. Not only is Osizweni far away but there are 52 speed bumps between Newcastle and the township. They use a lot of speed bumps around here. I guess they are cheaper than traffic cops. We thought the zones leaders would be back to pick up the elders in the evening but they were late getting out of their meeting and said they wouldn't be back until morning. So we had to trek out there again that night. We arranged to meet them at a house that was on our GPS. They told us they would walk to that house. When we got there they were not there yet. I called them twice and sent them a text and they didn't answer. It is not safe to wander around the townships at night and these two elders are not very big guys. I was sure they had been mugged and their phone stolen. About ten minutes later they showed up and they had a great big guy with them. They said he was their body guard. I was sure glad to see them. They told us they were walking fast and didn't hear their phone.
Saturday we went out to Osizweni again and watched the Saturday morning session of conference. I talked to a young mother there that had an adorable baby. I told her that we would visit their branch from time to time. She said that she will invite me to her house and make sugar beans and tripe for me. Can’t wait.

The Zone Leaders came back while we were watching conference. They brought us a mission call envelope for a young man in Madadeni 1 branch and a copy of Meet the Mormons. We are going to plan an activity for each branch and show that movie. An elder’s mother brought several copies of that movie with her when she came to pick up her son. She donated them to the mission so one was sent to us.

Saturday night we went to visit a new member family. We got to teach the lesson. We enjoyed preparing and teaching. Visiting people is our favorite thing to do.

Beautiful sunset