Our South African Journal

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015 will go down as one of the great days of our mission. Last Sunday we visited a family that had called and asked us to come and teach them. They have been less active for several years. We visited them a couple of times during the week and we asked them if they would come to church this Sunday. They said they would. But we know that sometimes people make commitments they can’t or won’t keep.  Elder Hind had to run an errand so I was the only one waiting in the foyer of the church to see if they would come. Then I saw them come through the gate and my eyes filled with tears. The children ran to me and threw their arms around me. It is a wonderful memory. The best thing was that the branch members all greeted them and spoke to them. We didn’t have to worry about them.

We went out to the school we are helping. They were repairing the floors in some of the classrooms so we had a meeting outside under a tree. We passed out “For the Strength of Youth” booklets and talked to them about making good choices. They loved Elder Hind because he is such a goof ball. And they liked the young elders we brought with us because they promised to play soccer with them.

We went out to Madadeni to deliver a wooden step that Elder Hind built for a family there. Whenever you go in and out of their house you have to step on some large wobbly stones. Elder Hind always has to help me in and out of the house. Now with that step it is easy to go in and out. He got the wood at a local builder’s supply store and they gave it to him for free because he told them what he was doing with it. He also got the name and number of the store employee so we could visit him with the young elders.

On Thursday we went back out to the school. Sister Zackrison came with us and taught them proper hand washing and tooth brushing. It had to be done outside because they were still working on the floors. She also passed out toothpaste to everyone. 

Sister Z teaching her lesson

Then 4 of the young missionaries and a member showed up with a soccer ball. You would have thought they were celebrities! The kids all started cheering. They had a good game and the missionaries got trounced, 1-3. The whole school watched them play. It was a good day.

We met the Madadeni 2 missionaries out in the township after lunch on Friday and drove around with them and visited people. We saw the less active family we are teaching and a had good lesson with them. And then we had a visit with the contact Elder Hind had made. We had a short lesson with them and gave them a Book of Mormon. We couldn’t get them to commit to a second appointment but the elders said they will drop by again soon and see if they can get an appointment.

We also visited with a less active sister that had asked for a visit from the senior missionaries. She had a close relationship with a senior couple when she was baptized and is looking for that kind of friendship again. We are happy to be her friends. She also asked us for some American recipes. We will have to find some that will work with local ingredients.

After a few more visits and lessons we ended up at an active Sister’s house for a Family Home Evening. We had a nice lesson on the Restoration and of course she had to feed us dinner. Elder Hind said it was the best meal he has had here in South Africa. It was good but he was also really hungry.

We saw this t -shirt in a store window at the mall

Monday, October 12, 2015

A cactus in my succulent garden has decided to bloom

We had a long day on Sunday. We were gone all day except for about an hour and a half in the late afternoon. Elder Hind had his usual early morning meeting.  And then after church we had Branch Council Meeting. Elder Hind was supposed to come in with me but instead ended up running around helping branch 2 with finances and driving a member who wasn’t feeling well to the hospital and dealing with all kinds of things. Then he had a District Council Meeting and I had to just wait for him while he had that meeting. Good thing I had my tablet with me. We were finally able to go home for a little while and then we had to go back out to Madadeni to visit a family. We were anxious to visit this family because the wife called us and told us they hadn’t been to church in a long time and wanted us to come and teach them and help them come back. Yes!!

We arranged to meet the young elders out there so they could help us find the house. They had scouted it out earlier in the day and so we were able to go right to it. This is a family with a mother and a father and four children. One is an adorable 3 month old baby. The children sang several Primary songs and some hymns to us. Even though they haven’t been coming to church they have been teaching their children. They have a lot of challenges but we are eager to help them accomplish their goals.

Pretty good for children who have never been to  church.
The one in the green shirt is a neighbor
Sorry about Elder Hind's finger

We had FHE on Monday and tried to show a video of President Uchtdorf’s conference talk. We thought we had it downloaded but it hadn’t downloaded properly. So then we tried to play it off the internet but it just kept buffering. Oh well, we had a good discussion and played a game and ate popcorn. It was all good.

Elder Mavinqi is trying to catch popcorn in his mouth

On Tuesday we went back out to visit the family in Madadeni we are working with. We knew the husband would be at work but the wife had told us she gets lonely so we are going to try and visit her often until she makes some friends.

We had the elders over for cake and ice cream one evening when they were done for the day. It was Elder Benissan’s birthday. He is now an elderly nineteen years of age.
Elder Benisson after blowing out his candles
Our lesson in our Eternal Marriage class was on maturity. We decided to stage a small argument to begin our class. I pretended to be missing some papers that I needed to begin the lesson and I blamed Elder Hind for not remembering to bring them. So he stomped out of the room. I didn’t think I could pull it off without bursting into laughter. But the class totally bought it. Suddenly they were looking at their phones or talking to each other. They were trying hard not to look at us. When Elder Hind popped back into the room with a big smile on his face they were so relieved to discover we were just role playing.

We had DDM with our new District Leader. It was great! He actually kept the lesson at about an hour. We have had some DLs that would teach for a couple of hours. These missionaries are taught to keep lessons short when teaching investigators but go on for hours when they are teaching their fellow missionaries. Have mercy! After an hour I can feel my ankles swelling, my back aching, and my knees stiffing. I am too old for long meetings.

Elder Hind helped Elder Taylor with a branch audit this week so I enjoyed a nice long visit with Sister Taylor. We talked about our work here, our children, our husbands and just about everything else. Girl talk is good.

One evening we went to visit a family of six in Madadeni. They live in a 12x20 cinder block home with no indoor plumbing. We went from there to another family who lives in a large brick home with big beautiful rooms and indoor plumbing. The contrast was stunning. Not everyone living in a township is poor.

One morning I was lying in bed trying to decide to get up. I noticed a strange whooshing sound that kept coming and going. My first thought was, “Oh, great the geyser (hot water heater) is acting up”. Then I noticed all the dogs in the neighborhood were going crazy and barking their heads off. Slowly my brain began to operate and I remember that earlier in the week Elder Hind had seen hot air balloons above a nearby park when he was out for his early morning runs. So I got up, got dressed and went outside and saw several beautiful hot air balloons in the sky above my neighborhood. Meanwhile Elder Hind jumped in the car and chased after them. He got some great pictures.

Beautiful things keep blooming everyday. I love all the new plants and flowers. Even my tomatoes are starting to set fruit. We have had a few hot days this week. Hot enough to make us realize our air conditioner does notwork. A repairman is coming Monday.

Look at the gorgeous color on this tree

I have been admiring these trees ever since they began to bloom.
Then I found a whole street of them not far from our home.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

We visited Newcastle Branch this week so we could teach the Sabbath Observance lessons. Elder Welling shared his testimony as this was his last Sunday here. Newcastle Branch will miss him.

Elder Welling saying good bye to some Newcastle Branch members

On Monday Elder Welling came over to say good bye to us. The Zone Leaders are driving him to Ladysmith so he can catch the bus to Bethlehem. We will miss him. He was a lot of fun.

Saying good bye to Elder Welling.  He makes me feel little.

We said Good bye to Elder Leonard Monday evening. He does not make me feel little.

Elder Gant came by with his dad and brother. He was expecting his Dad to come but his older brother was a complete surprise. We went to lunch with them and had a nice visit. They are going to spend the rest of the day and tomorrow visiting members in Osizweni.

Elder Gant was the missionary who got my chicken sign for me.

Elder Gant with his dad and brother
We had Elder Payne and Elder Merile come in on the bus on Tuesday and Elder Leonard headed to Durban that same day. We just have to wait for Elder Weiler to come and the transfer shake up will be over.

Elder Payne

Elder Merile
A sister in Madadeni 1 Branch called us one day and asked if we could pick her up in town because she needed to talk to us. So we went and got her and brought her to our house for a visit. She is a very educated and active woman who is currently studying for a law degree. She is also active in the community and her pet project is a school in Newcastle. The children in this school live in a squatter’s settlement which is comprised of tin shacks that have no running water or electricity. They are the poorest of the poor. She wants to help these kids as much as possible. She is particularly interested in the girls as they are especially vulnerable. She is overwhelmed by what needs to be done.
We have been wanting a community project to add to our work here. This was an answer to a prayer. We committed to two mornings a week. We arranged to go out to the school on Wednesday and meet the principal and some of the children.  It was an eye opening experience! After visiting the school and briefly talking to some of the children we went to our house and began planning out the next two months. School will be out all December so we are hoping to get some people together to paint some of the rooms in the school. But there are broken windows and broken desks. So much to do.

Yes those are maxipads they are holding. We brought them some and you would
have thought it was Christmas.

Lunch is rice and beans

Elder Benisson came by with his new greenie Elder Wieler from Bountiful, Utah. His suit is still sharp, his shoes are still polished and his shirts are still white. Yep, he is green.

Obviously, a companionship made in heaven
Saturday we had a Seminary and Institute training meeting. We had to share a spiritual or uplifting experience we have had while teaching. We have only been teaching a few weeks but it has been a good experience and we had some thoughts to share.

Another beautiful South African cloud

Friday, October 2, 2015

We are enjoying springtime in South Africa. Every day we see something new and beautiful blooming. I can’t believe how many trees they have with beautiful or interesting flowers on them. We also have had a couple of rip-crackling thunderstorms. Pretty sure "rip-crackling" is not a real word but sometimes you just have to make up your own. The storms are a sign of spring also. Winter is the dry season here.

Pretty yellow flowers on a bush
Unusual orange flowers on a big tree
Red flowers on a tree. Looks like a bottle brush.
Elder Hind has been training for an 8k trail run sponsored by the local mall. A couple of missionaries wanted to run the race too. So Elder Hind got permission from the Mission President for them run also. There were about 700 people running and walking in the race.  One of the elders came in about 25th and the other came in about 41st. Pretty good considering they hadn’t been training for the race. Elder Hind came about 150th. But he was 2nd in his age group. In addition to his participation medal he received some prizes, a back pack and water bottle and insulated mug. He had a great time.

September 24th is a big holiday here. It is called Heritage Day and many people dress in their traditional costumes and they have parties and celebrations. The 8k trail run that Elder Hind participated in was part of the community celebration. All the branches here had their own activities. After the trail run we went out to participate in the Madadeni 1 Heritage Day Activity.  We danced, and laughed and ate a ton of food. We had a good time.

The women and children were decked out in traditional African and Zulu clothing
I didn't see a lot of men dressed up that day.


Elder Hind bringing the house down

Our dinner was cooked in giant pots over a wood fire
Indian style rice, beets, creamed spinach, steamed bread and yes that is a chicken foot.
And yes we tried it.
And no, we did not like it.
On Friday we put Elder Gant on a bus to Durban. He is meeting his Dad in Durban and they are going to tour around a little and then he will be going home. He has been a great missionary and will be missed.

Waiting for the bus

Saying good bye to Elder Gant
Later in the week we went out to Osizweni to participate in a Strength of Youth activity.  Sister Hind was asked to speak for a few minutes. And then of course we were fed. They always insist on serving us and they always give us too much.

After that we stopped by a farewell party for a missionary leaving from Madadeni 2, then we went to visit a Newcastle family.
The Shanga kids love to play "fish" with the missionaries.
Saturday night the elders all met at our house for transfer news. It was a really interesting transfer this time around. We knew Elder Welling would be leaving us, he has been here for 6 months. He has been here almost as long as us. He was surprised to be called as a Zone Leader and will be working the Bethlehem Zone. We are really going to miss him. Elder Leonard, who has been here only one transfer is going to a coastal zone. He needs to be near Durban because he recently had eye surgery and needs to be near the top eye doctors. Elder Faganello received an inter-zone transfer from Madadeni 1 to Osizweni and he will be made one of our Zone Leaders to replace Elder Gant. We are receiving 3 new elders. Elder Merile, who was here serving in Osizweni when we got here, has come back and will serve in Madadeni 2. Elder Payne will be serving in Madadeni 1. And we will have a bright and shiny new greenie from Bountiful named Elder Weiler.