Our South African Journal

Sunday, May 24, 2015

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.


  1. I'm so glad they got to see "Meet the Mormons" especially since they got to see Elder Armstrong. That must have been so fun for them all! Such fun pictures in this post! As for Dad, no gloves and now drinking out of communal buckets!!!?

  2. Your father is a courageous man.

  3. I loved this post! It's been my favorite one so far.

  4. I agree. Great post!
    Also that stew looks good. I'm hungry.

  5. I just love the picture of dad and the kids!!!

  6. Me too Nichole! I can't stand sharing drinks with my family much less some people I don't even know dad that is gross!