Spring has come to the Highveld. We haven’t used our heater for a week or more. The grass is beginning to turn green and the flowers are blooming. We are looking forward to enjoying a new season here in South Africa.
Elder Menze completed his mission and went home last week. Our mini missionary also went home last week and will be leaving on his real mission in a couple of weeks. Monday we said good bye to Elder Ochaya. He has been in this zone for almost six months and is ready for a change. He is a great missionary, we will miss him.
|Saying good bye to Elder Ochaya|
|Elder Benisson squeezing in, trying to get his share of the attention|
On Tuesday we were assigned to help with transfers by driving Elder Ghartey to the mission office in Durban where he will be picked up by his new companion and then we will pick up another elder at the mission home and drop him off in Ladysmith. We were excited about this assignment because we haven’t been to Durban since we flew in to start our mission.
We began our adventure about 8am. It is about a 4 hour drive. We remember very little about the drive out of Durban 5 months ago so everything was new to us. We realized how high we really are as the road to Durban was almost completely downhill the whole way. It wasn’t long before our ears were popping. The weather got warmer and the hillsides greener. The last part of the drive is very beautiful.
When we got to the mission office we ran into Elder Holman who was loading things into his car. We were happy to see him. When a missionary leaves you never know if your paths will ever cross again. We were able to talk with him for a minute and give him a hug.
Elder Ghartey’s new companion was soon there to pick him up so we took them to the mall to buy them lunch and sent him on his way. Sniff!!
|Parting is such sweet sorrow. Actually Elder Ghartey looks pretty happy.|
We decided we could not come to Durban without seeing the Indian Ocean so we drove down to the beach and looked at the waves rolling in. We walked around a bit and ate lunch at a restaurant right on the beach. Seafood of course.
|Our first view of the Indian Ocean|
|One of the many fancy seaside hotels|
|View from our table|
It was hard to leave the beach but finally we drove to the Mission Home to retrieve Elder Chapo. Elder Clayton, a missionary that was in our zone when we first got here, came running out of the mission home and gave us a hug. It was good to see him and it is nice to know we are remembered with fondness. A group of 16 greenies had just flown in from the Johannesburg MTC and were at the Mission Home receiving some orientation. They were fun to visit with. Elder Hind shot a few baskets with them. Then we grabbed Elder Chapo (he is not a greenie) and headed home.
We stopped in Ladysmith to drop our elder off and Sister Taylor invited us to stay and have dinner with them and the elders that had come to get Elder Chapo. We were introduced to Elder Bonner who is black and who we assumed was African until he spoke to us. When American English came out of his mouth we asked him where he is from. It seems he is from Utah valley. That showed us.
We were so exhausted by this time we were dreading the hour and fifteen minutes left in our drive home. Thankfully the Taylors offered us a bed for the night. We had nothing with us, not even a toothbrush, but we didn’t care. We fell into bed and slept soundly. The next morning we were ready to hit the road again and we were soon back home.
We had six students at our Eternal Marriage class this week. That is a really good number. We are so impressed with these young people. They are very anxious to learn more about the gospel and to live righteous lives. We had a great time in our class. We printed off some of the discussion points on colored cardstock and put them on the board. We noticed that several of the students took pictures of our display with their cell phones. What we think of as the usual they often see as extraordinary.
By the way, nearly EVERYONE has cell phones, even poor people. They have plans where you can buy airtime a little at a time. You can buy air time at the grocery stores or the bank so you can buy what you have money for. Sometimes members will text us to call them because if we call them it doesn’t use their air time. It is not unusual for someone to call us and then run out of airtime while they are speaking to us. I guess there are no landlines in the townships or they are too expensive. If you don’t have a cell phone there are places where you can pay to use a cell phone.
We had been hoping to go on a temple trip with the Osizweni Branch on Saturday. We decided to check our temple recommends and discovered that I don’t have mine. Elder Hind usually carries my recommend but I think I must have left it in my temple bag on my last trip to the temple. Anyway it was a scramble to get one but fortunately missionaries only need one signature. We also needed permission to leave our mission (Johannesburg is not in our mission) from the Mission President and he needed to inform the Area Office that we would be out of mission. Anyway we got everything taken care of including assurance from Renae in the Patrons Housing Office that she would provide us with a blanket so we could sleep on the temple lawn if she couldn’t get us a room. She and Elder Hind were kidding of course.
The Osizweni members all rode down together in a hired taxi (large van) Saturday morning and went back that same afternoon. We, however, are not so intrepid, so we drove down Friday and stayed in a tiny but nice room in the Temple Patrons Housing.
Johannesburg is a massive, sprawling and dangerous city about 3 ½ hours North of Newcastle. We were a little apprehensive about finding our way around there but Naggy Maggie (GPS) did not lead us astray.
|Some of Johannesburg|
When we got to the temple grounds we decided to visit Elder and Sister Clayton who are in the Area Offices on the grounds. Elder Hind had some more information for him on the branch audits he is helping with. They invited us to dinner as several of the senior couples in their apartment complex were having a potluck together. There are 22 senior couples in their complex. About 12 couples were at the dinner with us. We had a wonderful time. We sat with a couple who were on their third mission so you can imagine our surprise when she told us she was afraid of an MLS mission. But we told her that as far as missionary work goes we don’t do anything much different than we did at home. We bear testimony, we speak in Sacrament Meeting, we teach lessons from the church manuals and materials, we visit with people in their homes, we support branch activities and members and we pass out Book of Mormons and pass a long cards which are always graciously received.
|Playing a game after dinner|
On Saturday morning we joined the Osizweni Branch in the temple. It was wonderful. They asked us to be the witness couple. I was a little hesitant because of my bad knee but I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity. It went well and I was able to get up and down just fine.
|Sister Taylor with the Osizweni Family History Consultant. She is fourteen.|
The Taylors came up with some members of the Ezakheni Branch
We headed home after lunch and had an uneventful drive home. We were glad to sleep in our own bed that night. Wow, two road trips in one week. Next week is going to be boring!