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.


  1. Some very pretty scenery on your hike! So glad you made it home safely from Joburg. Sounded really intense!

  2. Excellent Greg. Good, practical stuff. I just floated your article around my network. Keep up the good work.

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