Our South African Journal

Sunday, January 17, 2016

We had a busy Sunday. Went to church in Newcastle because Elder Hind was assigned by the District President to do some District releases and sustainings. We stayed for the entire block because one of the investigators in our FHE was getting baptized after church. We love baptisms!

Sleeping baby in Newcastle Branch
The man holding the jacket is the one that got baptized
Then we went out to Madadeni so we could talk to the youth in our branch about an upcoming regional youth conference. We made savings banks out of some little jars we bought in order to encourage the kids to save a little money for the conference. They will be able to go even if they have no money but we are trying to teach self-reliance so we want them to put a little money towards this activity.

On Monday Elder Hind spent time fixing a lock on a door at a missionary boarding. They had also complained that they didn’t think their refrigerator was working. Elder Hind checked it but it seems to be ok. We think that the extremely hot weather we had for a few days may have overwhelmed their cheap little refrigerator. Thank goodness it has cooled down now. Don’t know how long it will last. We are sure the hot weather is coming back.

We went to our usual Monday cottage meeting and it was great as always. 

In Madadeni
Then we went back to Newcastle for a braai at the branch president’s house. It was held in honor of the kids in the branch that just “passed matric” (graduated from high school). Many of them will be leaving soon to go to school in other areas or to go on missions. This is going to put a serious dent in the Family Home Evenings at our house.

Elder Hind playing a game called "signs"
Even though it was a braai we all ended up indoors because it was raining.
Elder Hind spent a big chunk of Tuesday in a meeting with the District President and also spent some time being trained in his District Clerk job. Sister Hind spent the day, working on her blog and writing her talk for District Conference, studying and being bored. We don’t have many days that we just spend at home but it was that kind of day for Sister Hind.

We went to DDM on Wednesday. Elder Hind had to go to both DDMs because he was assigned by the car guy in the mission office to give them all fire. (Mission slang for a serious lecture) Our zone went way over on Ks this last month. The elders need to park their cars and walk their areas a little every day.

After the meetings we went out shopping for new dining room chairs. The chairs in our dining room are falling apart. We have put a couple away in our garage because we are afraid someone will sit in one and fall and hurt themselves. It is apparent that someone has tried to repair these chairs in the past and Elder Hind has tried to fix them too. But the seats would need to be taken apart and rebuilt and he just does not have the tools for that. We are looking for basic, sturdy wooden chairs. We found one possibility but we need to do a little more looking.

Thursday we went out with the 1st counselor of Madadeni Branch and did some visiting. We visited with one family living in a tiny rented cinder block home. They told me they have a piece of land and they were going to build their own home. They just need to get some money together to buy some corrugated metal sheets to build their house with. They are looking forward to not having to pay rent.

On our way home from visiting in Madadeni a very heavy rainstorm moved in. There were moments when we had almost zero visibility. By the time I got my tablet out the storm had lightened up a bit. 

We are going to another funeral on Saturday. A young man that grew up in Madadeni 1 branch was living and working in Cape Town when he was murdered. The killer then tried to cover up his crime by burning the body. We have known about this for over a month but they had to do some investigative work and also DNA tests to confirm his identity. They finally sent the body to the family a week ago. On Friday evening we went to the family home to mourn with them. They are not members of the church. His family consists of his sisters, a disabled brother and some aunts and uncles. This is actually the second time we have visited with this family. We went to them when the murder was first discovered. The mourning consists of condolences, prayers, scripture readings, and singing, lots of singing.
We went to the funeral on Saturday. I bet there were more than 200 people there. It was very well attended. It was a Mormon funeral but the family who are not Mormon participated also. There was a lot of spontaneous singing by the nonmember people but it was all ok. We sat there for three hours while all the family took some time to speak. Ninety nine percent of the funeral was in Zulu so we didn’t understand much. Still it was an interesting experience. We went to the cemetery. It was a different one than the one we had been to before. We did not go to the dinner afterwards as there were just too many people and we were afraid they might run out of food.

At the cemetery 
In the evening we went to visit one of our favorite families and we taught them how to make bean burritos. It was fun and they loved the burritos. Even the Go Gos (grandmothers) liked them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

 We went to church at our usual time on Sunday and shortly after we got there we realized the time had changed and we didn’t need to be there until 11:00am. Elder Hind said he knew there was a change but he forgot. I don’t think I ever knew.  So anyway we enjoyed two fast and testimony meetings. The branch president asked Elder Hind to bless a baby boy so that is his 3rd baby blessing so far. He enjoys doing it but still struggles with the names.

We had a very busy Monday. The elders had a Zone Activity and wanted to go the Memel Lion Park. We have been there before for a ZA but we have a new bunch of elders so we were willing to go again. They have made some changes out there but we think the changes were for the good. We had a great time. 

A second after this picture was snapped this little darling stood up grabbed my
pant leg with her claws and bit my calf. Didn't hurt.

Oh, oh!
Elder Hind and his new friend

 In the evening we went to the cottage meeting and had a good time and then we came home to our regular Family Home Evening. Elder Hind taught the lesson. He used Jenga blocks to teach the importance of having a firm foundation in the gospel and Jesus Christ.

Elder Fransen, Elder Weiler and Elder Canamalla in an intense Jenga game
We have been busy preparing for the District Conference. Elder Hind has had a number of meetings in preparation for this conference. He is also responsible for calling everyone that is taking part in the meetings and giving them their assignments. This is no small job. There are a total of 8 meetings. The district must be divided in half and each half has its own meetings. This is done so it is not a hardship for people to attend. There are 98ks between the southern half and the northern half of our district. That is a lot of ks to travel if you have no money. So there are 4 meetings in the South and 4 meetings in the North. Elder Hind has to call all these people and give them their assignments. Their phone numbers are not always good, they can’t always understand him and he does not always understand them so this has been a major challenge. We also have to make posters, flyers and programs for the conference.

We went out with the Madadeni missionaries on Friday. This gives us a great missionary experience. They were doing follow up appointments with possible investigators. I think we were turned away from about 4 houses before we finally got into one. The one we got into was a new member so he was happy to see us. We also visited with a returning less active family which is always good. We ended the day with a FHE in Madadeni and being fed dinner by Sister Madi and her girls. Elder Hind thinks she is the best cook in the area.

Elder Hind and Sister Madi

A couple of our
little friends.

Saturday we went out to visit a family that lives just outside Newcastle. The mother has been working in Durban the last few weeks but she was back so it was nice to see the family together again. The missionaries taught a class on being a “member missionary”. At the end of the lesson they asked the family if they could refer them to someone who might be interested in the gospel. The family came up with a name of a woman that lives near them. They told us that the woman was so impressed with the kids in their family that she wanted to know what church would produce such good kids. Great way to end the lesson!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Church meetings were different this week because so many people travel during this time. A lot of the people we usually see were gone and there were a lot of new faces because people are visiting their families here. We attended our branch this Sunday and then we attended Branch 2 because the mother in a family we have been working with was speaking in Sacrament Meeting. She was very nervous but she did a great job and her nerves did not show much. We are so happy to see the progress this family is making.

We did not have a cottage meeting this week because the hosts were out of town. However we had a great FHE, as usual. The lesson was taught by one of the young women in our group. She talked about how Heavenly Father helps us through hard times.

Tuesday we drove to Ladysmith so Elder Hind could train a new branch clerk. He is still learning his clerk duties so he is learning along with the new clerks. We had lunch with the Taylors and then we put all four of our heads together to help two of the branches with their curriculum orders. One branch’s order didn’t go through and the other branch ordered way too much and blew their budget. So we gathered up what the branch that ordered too much didn’t need and we plan to take it to the branch whose order didn’t go through.

Ladysmith has a great street market and we have been wanting to stop and pick up a few things. Usually we are short on time when we go through Ladysmith but today we stopped and did a little shopping. It was fun.

I bought this apron at the Ladysmith street market. Everyone here wears big aprons. They call them pinafores.
It makes sense to wear aprons when your laundry facilities consist of a plastic tub and a clothes line
I like it because I often have to cook and clean in my good clothes.
Wednesday we had Zone Training Meeting. It was great and we are really impressed with the new Zone Leaders.  They encouraged the missionaries to spend more time finding new contacts. We provided lunch for the elders, just hot dogs, chips, fruit and ice cream.

After the meeting we drove out to Osizweni to deliver some curriculum materials to the branch president. We also talked to him about us teaching the Eternal Family class out there.

After we left Osizweni we drove to Madadeni to teach our last Eternal Marriage class. We have loved teaching this class. It is one of our favorite things we do. This institute class has been discontinued and has been replaced by a class called the Eternal Family. It has a lot of the same lessons. If there is enough interest we will start teaching that class in Osizweni in a couple of weeks.

As I was getting ready for the day on Thursday I thought to myself, “This a pretty open day. We don’t have much to do.” Then I thought, “But that can change. We never know what will happen from one minute to the next.” I was right. The phone rang and we were told that there was a funeral in Madadeni and they wanted us to come. So we got dressed in missionary regulation and headed to the funeral. About half way through the funeral they asked us to speak for a few minutes. We just pretty much shared our testimonies. When we went out to the cemetery they asked Elder Hind to dedicate the grave. Then of course, he helped shovel the dirt into the grave. After that we went back to the branch and ate a big funeral feast. Here they don’t feed just the family – they feed everyone who came to the funeral and also some of the neighbors who drop by for a free meal.

Driving out to the cemetery
The cemetery - after the burial a large mound of dirt is left on top of the grave

A large tent was set up on the lawn of the church for the funeral feast

The woman who died was not a member of the church but lived with a family in Madadeni 2. Twenty three years ago they took her in and gave her a home after she lost her memory due to some illness or injury. They never could find her family so she lived with them all these years. She came to church sometimes but chose not to be baptized. We didn’t know her.

In the evening we went out to dinner to celebrate the New Year. We went to a nice pub near our home called the “Pint and Pig Out”. We passed on the pint but fully embraced the “pig out” part. I had a Poorboys stack, chicken breast layered with shrimp and calamari in a cream sauce. Elder Hind had a steak. There were very few people in the restaurant. They don’t go out to celebrate the New Year. 

We were told it was the custom to set off fireworks to bring in the New Year and that became apparent when we went to bed and tried to sleep. They didn’t have a lot of showy fireworks but they have a lot of really noisy ones. Some of them sounded more like bombs than fireworks. At midnight we got up and looked out our windows for a few minutes. Fireworks (known as crackers here) were going on all around our house. Things didn’t quiet down until about one in the morning.

The rest of the week was pretty slow. Everyone is still out of town or busy with relatives or still celebrating in one way or another. We worked on lessons and other projects (I got my video finished), Elder Hind had a meeting and we visited with a Newcastle family. Next week it will be back to work as usual.