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.


  1. I want to hear Dads solo! I'm glad you haven't been homesick. A great blessing.

  2. I would have filmed his solo if it had been in the cultural hall but didn't feel it was appropriate to do that in the chapel.