Our South African Journal

Thursday, August 13, 2015

We had to scrape frost off our windshield on Sunday morning. We have had to do that several times this winter.  Kind of reminded us of home. Only we usually did not have to do that in August.  We went to the YSA Sunday School class today in order to drum up business for our Institute class, 
“Preparing for Eternal Marriage”. A lot of people signed up but whether they will actually come is a big question. They are all so busy with school and jobs. Time will tell.

We were sad to hear that a member in our branch had passed away. We drove her home from church just last week. She was an elderly lady and she died in her sleep during the week. She is a pioneer church member, and beloved in the community. She will be missed.

On Monday we met with some people from the Area office in Johannesburg that are in charge of construction of the church buildings. They want to build a chapel in Osizweni. The branch out there currently meets in a school on Sundays. The chapel they will build is called a Speed Space because it is made up of portable buildings. It is quick to put up and relatively inexpensive. The area people want us to be involved because they need someone local to help with the project. It is going to be an interesting experience because the people from the Area Office have been trying to call and email the Osizweni municipality for weeks to talk about electricity and water hook ups and no one answers the phone or responds to the emails. We went out there with them and met with the principal of the school the church is leasing the land from. The principal gave us the name and number of a council member that can help us. The Area Office has been trying to reach her and can’t get a hold of her. I have a feeling this is not going to be a fun project.

Elder Hind with some Osizweni school children

The practice here is to have memorials or “mournings”, every day after someone dies, until the funeral. These usually consist of visits to the family by small groups of people or a large more formal gathering at the church or mortuary. One night we went to the house of the sister in law of the woman from our branch who had passed away. There were about 15 of us from the branch including a couple of the young missionaries. These “mournings” consist of condolences, prayers, songs and testimonies or sometimes periods of complete silence. It was really a sweet experience. Of course our favorite part was the singing. And “Nearer, My God to Thee” sung in Zulu was the highlight.

I have been trying my hand at some Indian food. I really like it and I want to get good at making a couple of different dishes. The problem is they use so many different spices in just one dish. So when I decided I wanted to make “Butter Chicken” I found a spice mix for it. That way I didn’t have to buy a half a dozen different spices. Good idea, right?? Wrong!!! I forgot to take into account that Indian curry can be very hot. So when I made up this recipe I found it way too hot. Even Elder Hind who can tolerate spicy foods better than me, found his nose and eyes running about half way through his bowl of curry. The next day I had some missionaries come by and I offered to feed them my left over curry. I warned them it was spicy.  Two said it was just right, one ate it and suffered because he was either too polite or too hungry to pass it up, and one couldn’t eat it at all. Oh, well! Back to the drawing board.

Missionaries eating my too hot curry. Notice the pitcher of water.

We had to run our mini missionary (a young man serving temporarily until his official mission) to his nearby home town so that he can get his temple recommend from his branch president so it can be signed by President Z while he is town this week end. Any way, we have never been to Ezakheni, the Taylors usually look after things there. So we were happy to go and have a look around. Ezakheni is a township just outside Ladysmith. It is about 120ks from Newcastle. We think the chapel there is the best one in the district. Of course we haven’t seen the Dundee chapel yet so we could be wrong.

Ezakheni Chapel and Flowers in the garden there.
The Ezakheni threesome with our mini missionary. He is the one in the jacket.

We didn't actually eat here so we can't say if the food was first class or not.

The residents of Ezakheni were not happy when they found out the taxi (mini bus) drivers wanted to
raise their rates for a ride from Ezakheni to Ladysmith so they filled the streets of the town
with large rocks and boulders. They were cleared away by the time we got there.

We met with a brother in Madadeni who is helping the family of the woman that passed away. This sister had left specific instructions that she have a strict Mormon funeral  Sometimes non member families will change things to suit them. Fortunately this woman has a lot of members in her family so there is no resistance to her wishes.  He just wanted to make sure that they were in line with the handbook. It sounded like everything is good to go. There will still be a giant feast after the funeral because that is a tradition here and the family pays for the food. It does not come out of the branch budget. I was invited to go with some of the Relief Society to wash and dress the body. That is also a tradition. They all sang hymns as they lovingly served this good sister one last time. They were so anxious that the funeral home attendants not see her in her temple robes that they even insisted on lifting the body into the casket themselves. I explained that it was ok to let the attendants help but they wanted to do it themselves. There is more than one viewing and they are all done before she is dressed in her robes. When they were finished they sealed the coffin and no one views the body again.

We went to another memorial on Friday evening. There were several speakers and more music. I brought some cake and sandwiches to be served after the meeting. I was amazed when I walked into the church kitchen and it was filled with food and huge cooking pots. They have begun preparing the funeral feast. When I walked outside a huge tent had been erected on the church lawn. The chapel is too small to accommodate the number of people they will be feeding afterward. Even people who didn’t know her will show up for the feast.

We were not able to attend the funeral and I feel really bad about that but it simply couldn’t be helped. The mission president had scheduled meetings and interviews for Saturday and the rest of the week end and his schedule simple couldn’t be changed. He is on the road constantly in order to visit with the missionaries and spend some time teaching them. He also has ecclesiastical responsibilities (for the two districts in the mission) as well as missionary responsibilities, so he has a very heavy load. 

Elder and Sister Clayton from the Africa Southeast Area Office came down from Johannesburg on Saturday to meet with President Z and to train some of the branch presidents and Elder Hind on branch budgeting and finances. We all went out to dinner that night and had some interesting discussions and a good time. The Claytons came to our boarding and spent two nights in our spare bedroom.
I had to buy new bedding for our spare bedroom. I bought new pillows after I took this picture.
The old ones were just too flat.
Us with the Claytons who are missionaries from the Area Office in Johannesburg.
He is an auditor for the area.

We were glad to fall into bed Saturday night. It has been a crazy, busy week.

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