Our South African Journal

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Elder Hind was asked to bless another baby on Sunday. This was his fourth baby blessing. He loves it when he is asked to do this.
This little one is about one  year old and believe me she was not happy about being blessed.
The braids are extensions, they make her look a lot older.
We watched a Young Single Adult Devotional after church today. It was broadcast through the satellite dish at Madadeni chapel. The church is real anxious for the satellite system to be up and running for conference so this was a test run. They have had satellite in the Madadeni chapel for a number of years but things break down and then it takes a while to get it running again because we are so far out in the boondocks. So this year we won’t have to wait three weeks to watch conference.

Monday was cottage meeting and FHE as usual. We played bingo for FHE. Many of the people did not know how to play bingo but they enjoyed it once they got the hang of it. We gave away packages of cookies for prizes.

Tuesday, we had to drive our elder with the injured elbow down to Ladysmith see an orthopedic specialist. The hospital wanted him to follow up with a specialist because they found a tiny fracture in one of the bones in the elbow. I couldn’t find a doctor in Newcastle that could see him right away so we decided to go to Ladysmith. Our elder was worried that he might have to have surgery but the doctor told him wear his sling for the next four weeks and gave him some exercises.

The Ladysmith hospital is on a hill
The view from the hospital.
While we were there we visited a sister from Newcastle who was hospitalized in Ladysmith. Elder Hind and Elder Agyeman gave her a blessing. She was happy to have visitors.

We had ZTM on Wednesday. We made lunch for the elders. They want to do ZTMs more often so we are thinking we may not do lunch every time. Just snacks some days and lunch every other time.

Every day brings the blooming of new kinds of bushes and flowers in our yard.
This is a pink flowering bush with a white flowering bush right behind it.

A beautiful but unusual flower in our yard

President and Sister Zackrison came into town on Friday and took us to dinner at Ocean Basket. We had a nice visit and a good discussion. They are in town to train the new district presidency on Saturday and to conduct a Zone Conference with the elders on Monday. And President will be doing all kinds of interviews between times.

On Saturday I had a Personal Progress activity planned. However, I only had two girls and one leader show up and one of the girls was really late. I decided a long time ago that I would do what I am supposed to do and do the best job I can. If people choose not to take advantage of what I am doing then that is their choice. I refuse to be discouraged by it. I have had good attendance in the past so I am not going to worry about it.

Learning to make cinnamon rolls.

We pass this tree on the way to Madadeni. We call it our elephant tree. There is just
a few seconds as we go around a curve that the tree looks like an elephant

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

.We had business in every one of the branches today. First we went to Newcastle and spoke to the branch president. Then we went out to Osizweni for a while and then to Madadeni 2 and finally to Madadeni 1. We did not sit through an entire Sacrament Meeting the whole day. When it was over we realized that we never took the Sacrament. Four churches but no sacrament. Ridiculous!

Monday was our usual busy day. We went to the cottage meeting and found out that a counselor in the Madadeni 2 Branch has been given the job of finding a school room to rent for the cottage meeting. At first we had been meeting in the living room of a home in Madadeni and then we moved to the garage of the home because it was roomier. Now they are looking for a school room. Cool! Soon they could be moved from being a cottage meeting to possibly a new branch. I am told that if there are eight active Melchizedek priesthood holders they can be a branch.

This is our garage meeting room for the cottage meeting

Garage meeting room with people
After the cottage meeting we went home for Family Home Evening. Elder Hind taught a lesson about how our decisions can affect generations of people. He told about his  great great grandfather, Thomas Hind who was baptized in England in 1849. We were able to get pictures of him and his wife and his son George and his wife and his grandson James Hind and his wife and his great grandson Spencer and his wife. We talked about how Thomas’s decision to be baptized has affected everyone down to our own grandchildren. We also talked about how our decision to marry in the temple and to be active in the church has affected the lives of our 7 children and our 34 grandchildren. And that our decisions will continue to have an impact on generations of people we don’t even know. It is a powerful lesson. The missionaries realize that they are not just baptizing one person but could bring generations of people into the church. And the other young people realize that their decision when, where and who to marry will affect generations to come.

This is transfer week. Two of our elders left Monday morning and two came on Tuesday and the “greenie” came on Wednesday.

Elder Agyeman

Elder Shanga (new Zone Leader)

Elder Harper (our greenie)
This week we were really focused on getting ready for the Mormon Helping Hands Painting Project at the Ncandu Combined School. We needed to shop for paint and painting supplies. We don’t know where to find things and where the best prices are. It is harder than it would be at home because we don’t know what we are doing. We also needed to plan for some food for the painters. I did’t want to do a full meal because there is no way to keep food cold or hot. So we decided on snacks that would be stable in the heat. We decided on Queen Cakes (a sturdy, unfrosted cupcake), fresh fruit, candy, and snack chips. The school asked us to paint the lower walls blue and the upper walls cream but they weren’t picky about exact colors. So we just picked some colors that looked nice. We also had to arrange for some way to get people to the school because most don’t have cars.

We got the paint and supplies on Thursday and shopped for the food on Friday. In the evening we went out with the Madadeni elders and visited some families. We visited a member family that has two returned missionaries in it. But the adult daughter has never joined the church. She did not come into the room when we had our lesson and discussion but she was sitting in the kitchen when we were going out the back door to leave. We stopped to talk to her for a few minutes and asked her why she was never baptized. She said her mother and her brothers were always sharing the gospel with her but she preferred her grandmother’s church. We asked her if she had ever had the missionary lessons and she said she had not. She was willing to set an appointment for lessons right then so we will see how that goes.

Saturday was the big day for our Mormon Helping Hands project. We went out to Madadeni to make sure the taxi came and was loaded with everyone that wanted to come. Then we headed for the school. There were people from Newcastle there when we got to the school. We think we had about 35 people all together. The principal was not there to unlock the gates but Sister Zikalala was in touch with her by phone so we knew she was on her way.

Waiting for the gates to be unlocked

We painted the classrooms in the building on the left

The principal wanted us to paint the four classrooms in one building. We did not want to make promises we couldn’t keep so we told her we would promise two classrooms and then see how the paint and people held up. Well, we had plenty of paint and people so we were able to paint all the rooms. The rooms looked so bright and beautiful when we were done.  About noon we had stopped to eat our snacks when the principal brought out a big pot of beans and some plates so we ended up having a real lunch. After lunch it was mainly touch up and clean up and then we were ready to go home. What a great day! We all had such a great time. We made life just a little brighter for some school children and in the process we got to know one another a little better and enjoyed being with our fellow saints.

Snack time!


After the paint project we went home to clean up and get some rest. But as the old saying goes, “There is no rest for the wicked.” We got a phone call from the Zone leaders telling us that one of our elders had dislocated his elbow in a soccer game and was in the emergency room at the hospital. So we ended up spending several hours there while they did x-rays and then sedated him to put his elbow back in place and then x-rayed it again. Finally, when everything had been paid for and they didn’t need us any more we left him in the tender care of his companions (he currently has two) and then we went home to fall into bed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

We prayed our way through this Sunday. It was stressful but prayers were answered. We were scheduled to drive to Ezhekeni for the Southern portion of the District Conference on Sunday. But on Saturday night we felt that we should stay and help with the Northern portion of the District Conference. We got permission from President Ngubane to skip the southern meeting. The plan was to have the northern conference in a rented hall at a school so some chairs and a podium and the electric organ all needed to be moved over to the hall. We went to the school at 10:30 to prepare for a two o’clock meeting but the security guard at the school had no information about our rental. She did not have a key to the hall and wasn’t sure about who to contact. She gave us some phone numbers but no one answered.

Meanwhile the sound guy showed up to set up the sound system. The missionaries came with their bakkies loaded with chairs. The district choir showed up early in order to rehearse. Everyone is standing around waiting for us to find a key. The security guard was upset and feeling a little overwhelmed. One of the members in our branch started to talk to her and calmed her down because he was able to communicate with her in her own language. We were given more phone numbers and we let our helper make the calls. We were finally able to reach the Assistant Principal who had the key but needed a ride to the school. She lives in Newcastle. By this time we have less than an hour before the meeting.

The District Choir practicing while waiting to get into the hall.
Some of the missionaries and their bakkie.
We drove to Newcastle, picked up the principal and brought her to Madadeni. She unlocked the hall and we set the missionaries and members to setting up the chairs and other things. By this time it is a quarter to two. The principal needed a ride home so we took her home. The hall was all set up and ready to go by the time the leadership showed up. We, ourselves, were fifteen minutes late for the meeting. The District Presidency and President and Sister Zackrison never knew there were problems until we told them later. We know the Lord inspired us to stay in this area and make sure things went well. I don’t know what would have happened if we had gone to the southern meeting.
A new District Presidency was installed during conference. Elder Hind will be working closely with these men. He is looking forward to his association with them.

Elders horsing around after conference
The day turned rainy so the sisters brought out their umbrellas
On Monday we had a special training meeting taught by President Zackrison. He told the missionaries to teach repentance and baptize converts. It was a good meeting. The missionaries seem motivated.

We taught at the cottage meeting that evening. We talked about 2 Nephi 31. This is a great chapter. It explains the Doctrine of Christ in such wonderful language. We had good attendance.

The cottage meeting is held in a garage because it is now too big to hold in the house.

Sister Hind and a few of her friends
The elders clowning around after the cottage meeting. 
Then we went to Family Home Evening at our house. We played Family Feud. It was fun. Thank you, Pinterest!

After all that we were finally able to get on Facebook and see if our newest grandchild had been born yet. She was safely born into this world at a hefty 9lbs 13oz. That is 4.45kilo grams for those of you that understand grams better. She is beautiful! We wish we were there to hold her and snuggle her and give her mom a hug and an “atta girl”.

Beautiful Ivy Ann
We had a Zone Training Meeting this week. Still really impressed with our Zone Leaders. They are doing a great job. We could see and hear the elders responding to their leadership. This could be a great transfer. We did lunch for the Zone. We made Sloppy Joes. Didn’t hear any complaints.

Road Trip!

Driving through the beautiful African countryside with 
the Drakensberg Boys Choir playing on the radio.

We headed to Johannesburg this week to attend the temple with the Madadeni 1 Branch. They hire a taxi (15 passenger van) and leave at 2:30am on Saturday morning in order to be at the temple by 8:30am. They spend the morning in the temple and then head home in the afternoon. We on the other hand went up on Friday and then went home Saturday afternoon. This time we couldn’t get a room in the Patron’s housing so we booked a room at a B&B run by a member family. We had a nice time there. They were a lovely couple and they fed us really well.
The drive to Johannesburg was beautiful.

The charming B&B we stayed at.
The satellite dish kind of takes away some of the charm of the thatched roof.
It was good to be in the temple again. There is such a good spirit there and we were ready for some peace and quiet. We picked up a few things we needed in the Distribution Center and while we were on the temple grounds we got a phone message from the Area Auditor. The area offices are right there so we dropped into see him. He was surprised to see us. He didn’t know we were in Joburg. Anyway he wants to come to Newcastle to do some training so we will arrange a time for that and we offered our home for them to stay in while they are here.

We had an uneventful drive home and we even took a little different route just to see what it was like. We were happy to get home. It is funny that we now consider our little house in Newcastle “home”. It feels like we belong there.

Shortly after we got home the Zone Leaders came by and used our computer to get the transfer news. We are losing Elder Mvinqi and Elder Canamalla. We are getting two new elders and a greenie. We will have three in the Newcastle companionship until Elder Sixaba goes home in two weeks. We hate to see our elders leave (Elder Mvinqi has been here 7 months) but we love to meet new elders.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

 We left the house at 8am on Sunday and drove out to Osizweni to attend Sacrament Meeting. We met briefly with the YSAs to discuss the Eternal Family Institute class we will be teaching there. Then we drove to Madadeni and attended church there. We went to a baptism after church and then we drove to Newcastle and met with the Branch President. We finally walked in the door of our home at about 3:30. We find that we often only eat two meals a day. On Sundays it is usually breakfast and dinner.

Monday we went to our cottage meeting. The turnout was disappointing, hope it is better next week because they have asked us to teach. This night we learned about the 2000 stripling warriors.

Elder Hind asked if we could take this little cutie home with us.
 Her mother told us we could.

We came home and had our FHE and we talked about the Family Proclamation. We had two young men there that were not members and not currently investigators. That might not have been the best lesson for them. Maybe something more basic would have been better.

Playing a game at FHE
Elder Weiler hamming it up

Elder Nyrinda eating a piece of watermelon
Watermelon is good here and a cheap FHE treat
The mother of one of our friends died so we went to a “mourning” they had at the mother’s house. As I have explained before this is a time to express condolences and a time to pray with the family and sing hymns and such. As I was sitting there in that little room with a single bare light bulb hanging down from a tin roof I was over whelmed with feelings. Was I really in South Africa? Am I really sitting here in this tiny house with its plastered yellow walls listening to the conversations in Zulu going on around me? It suddenly all seemed unreal. And yet I love it all! I love the work we are doing, I love the people we are working with, and I love the Lord. I cannot express how grateful I am for this time in South Africa.

We are working with a young couple and we are teaching them lessons about marriage and family. They are less active. We love them and are anxious to help them. They want to get active and are planning a March wedding. We are looking forward to that.

Elder Fransen with a cute puppy
Elder Hind with our Branch President's grandchildren
There is a very high rate of twins born here
Every branch seems to have a set of twins
We have another less active couple that have become active and are planning a September temple sealing. She insists that we extend our mission a week so we can be to the sealing. We will see about that.

We went to FHE in Madadeni on Friday night. It so happened that the young boy that lives there with his grandmother had a birthday that day. Every one calls this kid "Boy". He has a real name but he goes by Boy. When we were shopping one day we saw a baseball cap with the name "Boy" embroidered on the front so we picked it up for him. We had been carrying it around with us for several days. We were glad we had something to give him for his birthday.

We have been very busy getting ready for District Conference on Saturday and Sunday. President Ngubane is really relying on Elder Hind to make this happen. We made programs for all the meetings and printed them. We hope everything goes well.

We drove to Ladysmith on Saturday for the District Conference meetings down there. The early morning drive was lovely. There was a light mist over everything and meadows and fields were bright green.

There were Priesthood and Women’s Auxillary training meetings in the first part of the morning and then the Adult Meeting later in the morning. Elder Hind was asked to preside and speak in the women’s meeting. The theme for the meetings were: How we advance the work of salvation by focusing on gospel ordinances. After those meetings we drove to Madadeni and attended those same meetings there. Again Elder Hind presided and spoke in the women’s meeting and I also spoke on temple marriage.

I was a little nervous because I didn’t feel I could talk about marriage without talking about “labola” or the bride price. I know that there are still some traditional people who don’t want to give it up but it stands in the way of young people getting married. There are couples that want to marry but the parents won’t let them until they give their parents money. I have heard of some couples that simply go the temple and get married without telling their parents. Then they come home and live together and that is fine with their folks because they don’t know they are married. Anyway I reminded them that temple marriage is a saving ordinance and they shouldn't stand in the way of their adult children getting married. I didn't get stoned so I guess I did ok.

It was a long day and we drove home from Madadeni in a heavy rainstorm. We were so tired and hungry we went to KFC to get some dinner before going home. The take out window had a really long line because no one wanted to get out of their cars. So we decided to brave the rain and go inside even though we wanted take away. Just the short run from our car to the door had us completely soaked and then we had to run back to the car. And then when we got home we had to run from the car to our door again. So by the time we got inside we were really soaked. The rain drops are huge. It is like being hit with water from a hose!

We had a lot of extremely hot, dry days right around Christmas. But the entire month of January has been rainy. Some days it is just a sprinkle and other days it is a major downpour with tons of thunder and lightning. It has made the days cooler and has turned the countryside green. Sometimes when we look over the green hillsides we wonder if we are in England.

We have been driving past this dam almost every day for 10 months.
It has never had more than a trickle of water going over the spill way.

After a month with a lot of rain there is a ton of water going over the spill way
and filling the little river below.