Our South African Journal

Sunday, September 27, 2015

We were able to teach more of the Sabbath Observance lessons this Sunday. These are a challenge to teach because we don’t want people to share their lists of what we can or can’t do on Sunday. We want them to focus on the Sacrament and make it a meaningful experience each week. And we want them to be mindful of the Sabbath Day and remember the Lord gave us the Sabbath to be a sign between Him and us. Ezekiel 20:12.

We had a Zone Activity on Monday. We met in Ladysmith with the missionaries from the Southern part of the zone. Then we drove about an hour to Monk’s Cowl in the Drakensberg Mountains. This is near where we went on the couples retreat when we first got here. We went on a 3k hike to a rock formation called the Sphinx. There was a bit of an elevation gain but it was not a bad hike. It was my first real hike since my knee surgery last December. I think I did pretty good but I was slow as usual. The elders all got to the top quickly and waited for us. They told us later that they talked about how Elder Hind could have kept up with them easily but he stayed with Sister Hind and helped her all the way. We are glad we could provide them with a little mini lesson on marriage.

Monk's Cowl lodge

Pretty flowers

Elder Hind on the trail

Sister Hind in the wilds of Africa

Beautiful view

The Sphinx

Some elders standing on the Sphinx

Elder and Sister Hind standing on the Sphinx

The dragon's back

View from the Sphinx
After eating lunch and enjoying the magnificent views we started back down the mountain. I have to say the last few hundred meters were pretty hard for me. My knees, ankles and feet were all hurting but Elder Hind was patient and encouraging. I really paid for that hike over the next couple of days but I recovered quickly and am back to normal. I am not ready to give up hiking yet. We bought an elliptical machine a couple of weeks ago and I will continue working out on that in preparation for the next hike.

On the way home from the Drakensburg we saw some giraffes, in a field just off to side of the road. That was cool.

President Zackrison was in town for a couple of days this week to meet with branch members and do interviews and sign temple recommends. He also set apart a young missionary from our branch. She has been called to serve in Ghana. It was a spiritual experience to hear that beautiful prayer. It reminded us of when we were set apart. This young sister is going to be a great missionary. She has been a leader in the Madadeni 1 branch.

We are really challenged in our Preparing for Eternal Marriage class. The world no longer values marriage. Add to that some Zulu traditions and cultural practices that make it difficult for people to get married. We want our students to embrace all that is good in their traditions and culture. But some things have to be left behind because they are simply not consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Anything that keeps people from creating and maintaining families is wrong. The major problem is the bride price. The price the parents of the bride want can be so high that the man she loves can’t pay it. Consequently many young couples simply live together and raise children without getting married. In today’s society that is no big deal but when young LDS couples want to marry in the temple they can’t without going against their parents and extended family. That is asking a lot. We can’t tell them what to do. We can only commiserate with them.

“The end of all activity in the Church is to see that a man and a woman with their children are happy at home, sealed for eternity.”
Boyd K Packer

On Thursday we drove to Johannesburg so Sister Hind could escort a young woman through the temple so she could receive her endowments. She is leaving on a mission in a couple of weeks. She will be serving in Zimbabwe.

We decided to do the trip in one day. Big mistake! The 3 ½ hour drive in the morning was no big deal. But we didn’t get out of the temple until after 5:00pm. We grabbed some dinner in the temple cafeteria and then headed out in the heavy rush hour traffic. At a stop light a little boy about 9 or 10 came up to our car just crying his eyes out. We couldn’t understand everything he said but the gist of it was he was trying to get home and didn’t have the money for a taxi (mini bus). He was either in real difficulty or he is the world’s greatest child actor. We keep a few coins handy for just such occasions. We hope he got home ok.

Naggy Maggy (GPS) got us out of Joburg safe and sound but the road was full of 18 wheelers and many of them did not have any rear lights or reflectors. We had to drive through a couple of construction sites that are a nuisance in the day light but are a little scary in the dark. So a good portion of the ride home was kind of tense. When we were about 45 minutes from Newcastle we began to relax a little. Too soon. Just outside the city is Bothas Pass. We have been over it a number of times, it offers some amazing views. This night it was rainy and foggy and there was no view. We could not see more than 10 feet in front of us. There were a couple of minutes when we could not tell where we were on the road. As we came down off the pass we saw a bunch of cars moving along slowly. We followed their tail lights. Soon the fog cleared and we were back on level ground. As we said, “Never again!” Next time we will spend the night in the Temple Patron’s Housing.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Elder Hind has to be to church early for meetings so I spend the hour before Sacrament Meeting sitting in the chapel reading and visiting with other early birds. This Sunday a little boy in the branch was in the chapel singing primary songs to his dad. I asked his father if I could make a video clip of him singing. Could he be any cuter?

One day we went out to the Madadeni chapel and Elder Hind got out of the car to unlock the gate. He left the car running and his door open. I was sitting in the passenger seat. A man came by and told Elder Hind that he should not leave his car running when he was not in it or someone is going to steal it. We have gotten comfortable in Madadeni but even its residents are quick to warn us if we are being careless.

It was Zone Conference this week. We usually go out to dinner with President and Sister Zackrison but Sister Taylor and I decided to make a home cooked meal for them and have dinner at my house. Sounds like a good idea, right? About one o’clock in the afternoon the power went out in our house. We weren’t too concerned at first because this happens from time to time. We were just hoping the power would be back on in time to host the Zackrisons. Then we are told by the Zone Leaders that they have no power. They are only a couple of Ks from us so we just figured the power outage is widespread. Then we got a text message from some of the elders that they have no power and were given a letter saying that the power was turned off for non-payment. So Elder Hind walked outside to our gate and sure enough there was a notice stuck in our fence that our power was cut for non-payment. He walked to the elder’s boarding two doors down they had a notice stuck in their fence too. Now we were concerned. Elder Hind called the Mission Office and sure enough there was some kind of glitch that resulted in the power company not getting paid. They said they would get right on it but we didn’t know how soon the power would get turned back on. We called the Taylors to let them know what was going on.

Meantime, the window cleaner had showed up at our house late and was doing the inside of the windows and we had to leave to teach our Institute class. We had to skip having some of our windows done so we could leave and lock up the house. We didn’t know if we would have power when we got home or not. The Taylors were going to spend the night with us because they had to be here the following morning for the main Zone Conference meeting. We told them to bring a flashlight.  When we got back from teaching our class the lights were on thanks to the senior couples in the Mission Office. However it was too late to make dinner so the President and Sister Z took us out to the Canon Restaurant.
Notice how Elder and Sister Hind are glowing. Does that mean we are angels?

Our responsibility for Zone Conference is feeding the elders. They get pizza and cake and ice cream.
Not too much work and the elders love it.
As we advance into spring here it is fun to see our yard come alive with flowers we haven’t seen yet. I have always wanted a Wisteria vine in my yard. I did not know I would have to come to South Africa to have one. I have a little succulent garden in my front yard and some of those plants have flowers on them. Every day we see beautiful and unusual trees and bushes in bloom all around the city. And all the brown grass is turning into beautiful green grass.

Big nasty spiny stem, sweet tiny coral flowers on the end.

Blooming bush by my front door

My beloved wisteria vine

Right now this magnificent tree is covered with millions of tiny sweet smelling lavender blossoms

Every time I step outside I can smell these sweet flowers. I am going to call this tree
"Yvonne". I hope I get to see it bloom one more time

I don't know what this bush is called but it is beautiful.

Elder Hind is trying his hand at flower arranging/ I think he has the knack.
By the way those tiny lavender flowers have my house smelling like heaven.

We continue to enjoy the Institute class we are teaching. We have great attendance and the young people seem to enjoy our class. Our lesson this week was on the Law of Chastity. Whew! Glad that one is over with. We enjoy all our teaching activities and opportunities. This is a public blog so we are hesitant to describe all the people we teach but we are happy to have the chance teach often.

The Madadeni 1 YW and their finished crazy quilt blocks.
I had a Young Women’s activity on Saturday to finish up our crazy quilt blocks. Most of the girls either finished them or almost finished so we can move on to something else. The girls want me to teach them to make bread. So I think we will do some cooking for our Divine Nature project.

We went to a missionary farewell party given by the YSAs in this area. Elder Hind enjoyed the dancing. He loves to make people laugh and he likes being the life of the party. The young elders and the YSAs all like him because of his sense of humor and he is not afraid to be a little goofy.

The elders dropped by to wish the new missionary well and to eat lunch

Line dancing african style. Actually it looked a lot like the "Boot Scooting Boogie."

We ended the day doing some visiting and then collapsed into bed. We love our mission!!!

Monday, September 7, 2015

The mission president asked us to teach the Sabbath Day Observance lesson and discussion to all the branches in our area. So this Sunday we presented it to the Madadeni 1st Branch. We were not able to get through all the material but it went well and we enjoyed doing this lesson.

The Claytons went to church with us and Elder Clayton took the opportunity to look at the finances for Madadeni 1 and 2. Elder Hind was able to help him with some of that.

After church we went home and made dinner and had a nice afternoon. Elder Clayton and Elder Hind spent some time talking about woodworking while Sister Clayton beat me at a word game that she brought me. I love word games, this one was fun and I got good at it.

One of the YSAs from Newcastle had a birthday on Sunday and we told her to come by in the evening and we would have cake and ice cream for her. She wanted the missionaries to come too so they were invited also. The birthday girl’s mother, aunt, sisters and brother came. We sang Happy Birthday to her and ate cake and ice cream. We gave her a lacy scarf which she seemed to like.
The birthday girl
Sister Clayton and her new friend
On Monday we said goodbye to the Claytons and they headed home to Johannesburg. In the afternoon we drove with eight elders to a Lion Park near Memel (about 45 minutes northwest of here). That was very fun and interesting.

Not a lion
Also not a lion

This is a lion!
This is a lioness eating a dead chicken
A seven month old lion just before she rolled over and hooked my pant leg with
a great big claw. I just stood there waiting for her to retract her claws. Unfortunately
Elder Hind didn't get a picture of that.
Elder Hind petting a young lion.
This is the pretty girl that clawed my pant leg

This is not a lion

We had FHE that night. Elder Gant taught the lesson which was a series of games and each game taught a principle from Preach My Gospel. Overall we had a good P-day. We don’t always have a set p-day. Sometimes Monday can be a busy workday for us.

We love our Eternal Marriage class. What fun it is. Our lesson this week was on Dating Standards. We had a very lively discussion about dating with marriage in mind. The young people in our class told us that the people here don’t really date. Outside of taverns there are very few entertainments in the townships. There are movies and restaurants in Newcastle but they are expensive for them and if you add in a taxi ride they are even more costly. They also told us there is no word in Zulu for “like” so most young people just say they love someone. That can and does lead to some misunderstandings.  So we are discussing ways to get to know other young people and to develop romantic relationships outside of traditional dating. Any way you can see that we have our work cut out for us.

The poet tells us that Spring can be cruel. I always thought that was true in Utah. I have found that to be true in South Africa also. After a couple of weeks of temperatures in the 80s we took the heavy blanket off the bed, and put away the heaters. I also bought me two pairs of sandals. Then suddenly the weather changed and the daytime temperatures fell into the 50s and the rain came pouring down for two days. So we put the heavy blanket back on the bed, got out the heaters, put the sandals away and made ourselves some hot chocolate. Now we will wait to see what happens next.

We had a crazy day on Saturday. The Relief Society had a farewell get together in the morning for a sister that is leaving on a mission to Ghana. They gave her gifts and said nice things about her. This was so much fun but a little different from the usual Relief Society activity.

Then we had a Seminary and Institute training. It was uplifting and educational and spiritual. And then we topped off the afternoon with a District Meeting, which was pretty dry but necessary. After all that, we went to the store to get some meat pies to eat because it was about 5:30 and we hadn’t eaten lunch. We had to eat them quickly and then we were off to have a FHE with one of our favorite Newcastle families. Whew!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

After a very hectic week we were looking forward to a relaxing Sunday. It is good to go to church, take the sacrament, hug and shake hands with our friends and fellow branch members. We love our branch.

The pleated skirt and beaded collar are traditional Zulu.
The t-shirt is not.

After church we just went home had a bite to eat and took a nap.  I love Sunday afternoon naps. Later some of the elders said they came by and rang the doorbell but we didn’t hear it so they just came in and grabbed some Book of Mormons because they were out of them. Next time we will lock the doors.

We had a good crowd for FHE on Monday. We had a lesson based on Elder Kevin Pearson’s April Conference talk called “Stay by the Tree.” It is a really great talk. We then played Charades using a game app on my tablet. Everyone really loved that.

We were excited to have 11 YSAs show up to our Eternal Marriage class on Wednesday evening. We are really having fun with this class. What great young people! We are so blessed to be here!! It is days like this that make us so happy to be missionaries. This has been such a great experience.

We planted a garden this week. We put in a bunch of tomato plants. Even though we have several nice garden spots in the yard they don’t seem to get enough sun. So we had to put them in a rather small area. We also planted tomatoes in some other plots in the yard. We will see how they work out.  I think we will put in some peppers in another plot sometime  next week. There is no hurry because they have a long growing season here.

Elder Hind misses his big yard. If it were up to him
he would fire our gardeners and do all the work himself.

Elder and Sister Clayton came into town on Friday evening. They will stay with us while Elder Clayton helps with the district financial training meeting on Saturday and then does some branch audits on Sunday. Elder Hind is very involved with this and finds it all very interesting. He also enjoys all the new things he is learning. Sister Hind finds it all pretty boring and is glad she does not have any responsibility in this area.

Elder and Sister Clayton love to play games and they taught us a new card game. Then they proceeded to beat us at the game. We are happy to be their victims. Elder Clayton also loves to work with wood so he and Elder Hind always have a lot to talk about.

Saturday was a busy day. Elder Hind and Elder Clayton had the financial training meeting in the Madadeni Chapel and I had a Personal Progress activity in the Relief Society room. The brethren had confiscated all the tables in the branch for their meeting so we had to work on our laps.  We worked on our crazy quilts. I am tired of them and would like to move on to something else but I also want as many girls as possible get them done.

The YW working on their quilt blocks. Sister Clayton photo bombing my picture.

The branch and district leadership learning how to handle branch and district finances
Meanwhile Elder Hind was learning how to do branch finances along with the leadership from the branches in our district. We were in Madadeni from about 9 in the morning to about 3:30 in the afternoon. Then Elder Clayton and Elder Hind had to go to the Newcastle chapel and do an audit there. Sister Clayton and Sister Hind went home and took a nap.

That evening the Claytons took us to dinner at the “Pint and Pig Out.” It is a pub hence the crazy name. But the food and service were good.

Elder and Sister Clayton are serving as Area Auditors.  They work in Joburg.
They will be going home in 2 months.

We came home after dinner and let the Claytons beat us in another card game. We are determined to get better at these games.