Our South African Journal

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




  1. So many comments I could make right now. Very interesting stuff! I loved how amazed they were with your underground room. The gap in our cultures is also a very interesting thing to think about.

  2. I wonder why they were surprised you could make bread? Do they assume that Americans don't do that kind of stuff because we don't NEED too?
    Has Dad completely worn himself out yet getting of roofs and doing head stands? ;)

    1. I don't know why they were so amazed by my bread making. It is 8:15 right now and dad is asleep. It is because he can't stay still a second during the day so he crashes at night. The elders are amazed at how hard he works and his fitness and agility.