Our South African Journal

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A few weeks ago I was talking about the Word of Wisdom with my Young Women’s class. We were discussing tea and coffee. One of the girls asked me what I drink when it is cold. I told her I drink hot chocolate. She said, “I want to drink hot chocolate.” I laughed and told her that she wouldn’t want to drink it in the hot weather we are having. She said she didn’t care, she would drink it in hot weather and the others agreed with her. I guess hot chocolate is a bit of a luxury. So that gave me an idea for a Christmas gift for them – that old Christmas stand by - hot chocolate mix and mugs. I didn’t have any trouble finding the mugs and the ingredients for the mix but I was amazed to find miniature marshmallows. They have marshmallows here but they are usually colored and in different shapes. I have not seen miniature marshmallows before but I found some for my Young Women’s gift. So I packed some mix and some marshmallows into each red and white mug. Added a green tag and ribbon and gave them hot chocolate for Christmas even though it was a hundred degrees outside. They were thrilled. Elder Hind passed out candy bars to the Young Men so they wouldn’t feel left out.

We have given out gifts to the children of every branch but Osizweni because they had chosen not to do a Christmas party. We decided to give them out on Sunday as this was the only time the children would be together. Because we had other obligations we gave the gifts to the Osizweni missionaries to pass out. 

It all went well and we were left with only a few extra gifts. It has been a wonderful experience to shop for these gifts and then hand them out to the children here. We have not suffered from homesickness during this time and I think that this project has helped us get through the season. Thank you Anderson family and all your friends and neighbors who helped.

Monday night we had a braai for Family Home Evening. We had 25 young people there. We were able to feed them all and we had a really good time. That is two braais in less than a week. We are so done!

Our house is pretty crowded when all our kids show up
On Tuesday morning we drove to Pinetown (near Durban) for the mission Christmas party. Because the mission is so big they had to have two parties. One in Pinetown and one in Bloemfontein. Pinetown is an hour closer to us than Bloem. The drive down was uneventful for us but our poor greenie who was driving to Durban for the first time was forced into a guardrail by a semi. It caused a gouge all down the side of the bakkie but it could have been much worse.

We had a spiritual devotional and all the zones prepared a musical number. Our elders sang, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”. Elder Hind sang the second verse solo. He sounded really good. After the program we went into the cultural hall (yay! Pinetown Chapel has a cultural hall!) and had a catered dinner. After the dinner we had a talent program presented by any elder that wanted to participate. Then we had a mission slide show that showed pictures contributed by all the missionaries. It included a video clip of one of the missionaries imitating the mission president. It was hilarious. The whole party was fun, we are so grateful for all the time and effort that President and Sister Zackrison put into these parties.

Lots of good food!

Lots of hungry mouths to feed!

President and Sister Zackrison
 After the party we went to Elder and Sister Stevenson's boarding to spend the night. They are so kind to put us up. It was nice not having to drive the 4 hours home at night. Their boarding is in a high rise in a big city. So different from what we are used to.

A couple shots taken from the Stevenson's balcony 
The next morning we decided to stop in Howick on the way home because they have a well known waterfall there. The waterfall is beautiful and there are shops and street vendors near there. We enjoyed a nice stroll through the shops. We found an antique shop that was fun to look through but of course the things we loved were too big to take home. We picked up some African animal playing card packs for the elder’s stockings and I got a skirt with an Indian pattern on it and also a pashmina scarf with elephants on it.

Some senior missionaries had told us about a place called Piggley Wiggley near Howick so we punched that into the GPS and headed there. As we drove past the freeway we noticed that traffic was backed up for miles and the police had closed the on ramp. We knew that we would be by passing a big chunk of freeway when we went home.

Piggley Wiggley was on a farm a little ways outside of town. It is a collection of shops and cafes. It is pretty high end. We had a snack at a café, took some pictures, did a little shopping and then started home. The GPS guided us around the traffic jam so when we got back on the freeway we had clear sailing all the way.

Piggley Wiggley
On Christmas Eve we needed to do a little shopping. It was just as bad here as it would have been back home. The store was a madhouse. Then we went out to Madadeni to pass out goodies to some of the people there.

found a baby in a manger on Christmas eve, well actually a plastic tub

We came back to Newcastle, picked up some McDonald’s for dinner and came home to enjoy a quiet evening. About 8:30 the missionaries all came by and we had a Christmas Eve devotional. We always like to give the missionaries a treat when they come by. At home we would probably serve them hot chocolate or hot apple cider. Here we opted for ice cream floats.

Merry Christmas! It was a good day. Elder Hind gave me some Zulu beads and some money. It was really sweet of him to do that. I did not get him anything because I thought we were not exchanging gifts. We did not go anywhere on Christmas day. Instead we hung out at home all day so the missionaries could come by and call or skype home and to eat something. We knew that the elders would be fed multiple times in their areas but we felt we needed something here for them. So we made homemade burritos for them. We also had fruit (bananas, peaches, apricots, and watermelon). We had banana pudding for dessert. We are glad we kept it simple because most of the elders did not eat all that much. We filled stockings for each of our elders. We put in candy, cookies apples, playing cards and a voucher for a local café. They seemed to like them.
I found some cheap soccer stockings to hang up for the missionaries
Elder Canamella wearing some of the green stockings that Santa had filled for the missionaries
In the evening we talked to Cyd and Eric. They had a great Christmas and it was fun to skype with them and their kids. Then we did a 3 way skype with Dawn and her family and Anna in Nebraska. It was good to talk to Anna. She looks beautiful and she seems happy. We were all shocked when Dawn announced that she is expecting a baby in August.  Well, babies are always welcome in this family.

The day after Christmas we went to the mall and ran some errands but overall it was a quiet day. It was nice to just relax after all these hectic weeks.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It was a good Sunday because there were lots of baptisms and we got to see some of them. We try to go to all of them but a lot of times we have other obligations. This week however we left Madadeni right after church and headed to the Newcastle branch. We got to see two women baptized. These ladies have been coming to our FHE the last few weeks so it was good to see them take the plunge.
We took some pictures with Elder Benissan because this is his last Sunday here. We are really going to miss him. We hope to see him again sometime. He has a standing invitation to come and stay with us in Utah.

Elder Weiler and Elder Benissan with the ladies they baptized
We love Elder Benissan. 
Then we headed back to Madadeni to see some more baptisms. One was a man the elders have been working with a long time. We went with the elders one time when they were teaching him. Anyway we got to the church too late to see him baptized but we saw an 8 year old baptized. She was really scared but they got it done.

We are shorthanded right now because so many elders have left. Two of them were driving elders. So Elder Hind went out with the Madadeni elders on Sunday afternoon so he could drive them to their appointments. Sister Hind went home and took a nap.

Tuesday some of our new elders came in. We are looking forward to getting to know them better.

Elder Nyirenda
Elder Larsen
Elder Sixaba

Elder Fransen, the greenie
Wednesday was the Newcastle Branch Christmas party. Elder Hind led the music and Sister Hind gave a brief talk on why we celebrate Christmas. Then we ate good food and handed out gifts to the children. Another new elder (our greenie) showed up just as we were leaving the party.

After the party we went Christmas shopping for the kids in the Madadeni hospital. Then we went home and got everything wrapped.

Thursday we went out to the hospital. It was so fun. We saw some big smiles. The nurses were all cheering as we went from bed to bed handing out gifts, talking to the patients and taking pictures. I went around with a big lump in my throat. I could hardly speak. We passed out about 20 gifts. At the end the elders sang “Silent Night”. It felt so good! Thank you Anderson Family and all your friends and neighbors. You brought some joy into the lives of these children.

The head nurse with one of the patients

Friday we had our Eternal Marriage class at our house. We had a lesson on adjusting to marriage. We did some role playing and it was really fun. We always have fun and interesting discussions with this group. After the class we had a braai and then we played Elder Hind’s version of corn hole. It was a good evening.

Saturday was the Madadeni Branch 2 Christmas party. They had a santa suit for Elder Hind. He loves playing the part. The children were so good and so cute. We have loved handing out gifts to them. We kind of hate seeing it end. After the party we had to go shopping again for the Osizweni Branch. We have been shopping for gifts as we give them away. It was too hard to figure what we needed ahead of time and we didn’t want to end up with a lot of extra gifts.
Elder Hind stirring the Pap. It takes some muscle.
The Braai is men's work
Sister Hind and friends
Father Christmas

We had a FHE with one of our favorite families in the evening. When we were driving home we were treated to an absolutely spectacular thunderstorm! Not a lot of water but a great sound and light show.   
The missionaries all came by to practice a Christmas Carol for the Multi Zone Christmas party next week. It was very nice to listen to them sing while I wrapped presents.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

We spent Saturday night at Ardmore Farm so we went to church at the Ladysmith Branch because it was only an hour away. It was nice because there were several other senior couples there also. Then we went to church in Madadeni. We sat in on a special meeting with the youth. The area is planning a big youth conference for March and they are trying to get the word out so that the youth can start saving and preparing for the conference. 

As usual Elder Hind is very much in demand by the leadership in both the Madadeni branches. He is always on the go when we are at church. They always want his help and his input.

We did boarding and car checks this week. The missionaries told me that I am pretty easy on them compared to some of the other senior sisters. I told them that I should probably get tougher. They begged me not to change.

We had our Eternal Marriage class this week and we talked about making Jesus Christ the foundation of their marriage. These kids are afraid of marriage so we reminded them that the scriptures are full of the phrases, “be not afraid, do not fear, and be of good cheer". They have so few examples of successful marriages.

Transfer news is coming on Saturday and we know that we will lose half our missionaries. Three are going home and one is certain to be transferred because he has been here six months. They wanted to get together and have lunch so they asked if they could have it at our house. We had sandwiches, chips, watermelon, brownies and soda. It was nice to be with all of them. They are such good kids.

We caught Elder Benisson with a mouth full food.

Saying good bye to Elder Faganello who is going home to Canada
Saying good bye to Elder Payne who is also going home to Canada

We went to 3 Christmas parties on Saturday. First, we went to the Newcastle District Party, then we went to the Madadeni 1 Christmas party and then we drove out to Dundee so Elder Hind could play Father Christmas out there.

Madadeni 1 Primary Children
Elder passing out gifts to the children

Thanks! Anderson Family

We have been to all the branches in the District except Dundee. It is an hour away and on the way to nowhere. The branch president called Elder Hind to ask if he would play Father Christmas and pass out treats to the children. The president wanted someone that the children wouldn't know. They even had a santa suit for him to wear. Elder Hind accepted so we added one more party to Saturday. The Dundee Chapel is in a converted garage and the offices and classrooms are in a big old house.  It was unusual but much nicer than meeting in a school.  We really had fun there.

Saturday night is transfer news so we hurried home so the missionaries can come over and get the news. We always have a few treats for them on these nights. We know this is going to be the biggest change we have had in our area since we have been here. We figured Elder Benissan would be leaving us and we were right, he is heading to the coast, Port Dunford. We will be getting 4 new missionaries (including one new greenie) in our area and 7 in the zone. Only one companionship in the entire zone will stay intact. There are a lot of changes but no surprises. Everyone seemed happy with their new companions. Elder Benissan is a little nervous. Newcastle was his first area and he has been pretty content. But he is a great missionary so we are not worried for him. He is just one of those guys that will do great wherever he goes.