Our South African Journal

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March 13-19, 2016

We drove to Ezakheni Branch this Sunday (about 120ks from here). The district Primary Presidency wanted to go to observe and train the primary leaders there. Elder Hind volunteered to drive them. It gave us a chance to visit with the members. We don’t get down there often. Of course they asked us to speak. We are getting better at speaking without any preparation. They have a huge primary in this branch. It is mostly children and youth. They have seven missionaries serving from that branch.

Ezakheni Branch
District Primary Presidency

We needed a new dryer so on Monday Elder Hind took the Madadeni elders to help him pick up a dryer from a nearby shop. We knew we would be needing another dryer soon because our old one was very noisy and we also had to use a pair of pliers to turn it off and on. It finally just stopped working. It was pretty old.  We still have not found dining room chairs for our boarding yet. We have looked in several furniture shops and even second hand shops and haven’t found anything nice, affordable and that would go with the table.

Family Home Evening

We were finally notified that the furniture for the new Osizweni chapel was being delivered so we headed out there to see what was going on. They got all kinds of new things, computer, printer, TV, microphone, tables and chairs (lots of chairs) chalkboards, bulletin boards, framed pictures and even toilet paper.  The branch president and his counselor were out there also. They were excited to see all the new stuff. This is going to make their life so much easier. They can meet whenever they want to (don’t have to clear it with the school), the chapel and classrooms will always be clean and they can store things there instead of having to take stuff home all the time. The church physical facilities manager was there and he asked us to take all the electronics home with us until they improve the security there. That will be a challenge. I hope they don’t get robbed of all their nice new things.

Furniture for the Osizweni Speed Space
Lots of chairs. Lots and lots of chairs. 130 for the chapel and a bunch for each classroom.

It will be nice for the church to finally have a presence in Osizweni
 and a place for the members to call home.

One day we drove to Madadeni to pick up our engaged couple we are teaching. They needed a ride into Newcastle to pick up their wedding rings. They were so excited and happy.

That looks like a big stone in that ring but the ring cost less than a hundred dollars
so we are sure it is not a real diamond. And we didn't have the poor taste to ask.

After picking up the rings we were walking to our car when I noticed we were passing a furniture store. We decided to check it out because we were still looking for chairs for our dining room. We actually found some chairs that would work for us. They don’t match our table but they will look good with it. They are big and sturdy and we need that because we live near our missionaries and they are at our house on a regular basis. We also have Family Home Evening at our house every week.  Those little wobbly chairs we had before were just not safe.

The chair seats look pink and gold in these pictures
 but they are actuallylight brown and gold.
The box in the corner is the electric piano/organ we are storing for Osizweni
 until they get more security.

This week we passed our one year mark. Time has just flown by and it seems to be going faster all the time. We have not been homesick, I guess we are just too busy. We feel so blessed to be serving a mission. And we are happy to be serving here among these wonderful people. We are having fun!

Friday, March 18, 2016

March 6-12, 2016

Our Sabbath Day got off to an interesting start. We had decided to attend Newcastle Branch because the missionaries were doing a special presentation on member missionary work and needed our lap top for the projector. While we were there the Madadeni 1 branch president called to tell us that no one in the branch presidency would be at church. He asked if Elder Hind would please conduct the Fast and Testimony meeting. We just smiled at each other because we know that the unexpected happens all the time. It makes our mission interesting. So we left our laptop in the care of the missionaries and we headed out to Madadeni.  Elder Hind did a good job conducting and the meeting went smoothly.

We went to a baptism right after church. Then the branch president of Madadeni 2 asked Elder Hind to help him count money.  After he finished that job the branch president of Madadeni 1 showed up and asked Elder Hind to help him count money too. They had some problems so all this took a long time. I hate waiting for Elder Hind while he is in meetings and such. There are no comfortable chairs in the buildings so I just sit and read but it is not relaxing. It is particularly uncomfortable on Fast Sunday. I just sat there getting more tired by the second. Finally they were done and I could go home. I think next time I will have Elder Hind just drive me home before they start counting money.

We had transfers this week Elder Weiler and Elder Tshuma said good-bye and we welcomed Elder Kaitoo and Elder Cook. We also got a couple of new elders in the southern part of the zone but we haven't met them yet.
Saying good-bye to Elder Weiler
We are going to miss Elder Tshuma
Elder Kaitoo
Elder Cook

One day this week we had only one morning appointment and the rest of the day was pretty open so we decided to go for a drive. There is a large reservoir nearby called Chelmsford Dam. We knew it was a recreation area so we thought it might be an interesting place to visit. We drove around the reservoir and found a playground and picnic spot near the water but no one else was there except some zebras. We got out of the car and walked down to the water. The zebras were about 100 yards away. They just ignored us.

The reservoir is surrounded by a game reserve but there are no dangerous animals in it.
These are Springbok. They are Africa's national animal. They are also the mascot of
the national rugby team. They are very quick and hard to photograph.

I believe this is a Blesbok. He was not so afraid of us.
We drove down some dirt roads and saw a bunch of different kinds of antelope. We really enjoyed our drive but worried a little that we would get stuck out there. There was no one out there. When it
started to rain a little we decided to head back because a little rain can turn into a down pour very quickly and then we would be in trouble. When we got back on a tar road we drove around a bit more. We love to explore. It was a fun day.

Cattle drive on the high veld

Children coming from school

We went out to the Ncandu Combined School again this week. We passed out “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlets to all the kids in grade eight. Sister Hind talked about choices and had a student pick between a shabby cardboard box and a beautiful gift wrapped box. Of course the gift wrapped box was chosen but it had garbage in it and the cardboard box was filled with candy bars for everyone.

Elder Hind talked about education and the Newcastle elders talked about choosing good friends. It is fun to spend time with these kids. They are getting to know us and are always happy to see us.

Elder Hind talking to the children about the importance of an education

The children looking at their Strength of Youth pamphlets 

I had a busy Saturday. Madadeni 1 had a Relief Society picnic at a park in Newcastle. We met at the chapel and we all rode in a taxi (hired 15 passenger van) to the park. We had a lesson on health and a braai. We each payed our way to ride the taxi. It cost R20 per person. That is about $1.35. I had to leave early so Elder Hind came and picked me up at the park because I had a Young Women’s Personal Progress activity I needed to go to.

My first taxi ride

At YW’s activity we worked on making cookbooks and we also learned how to make Snickerdoodle cookies. There were about 12 girls that came so I was happy with that. While I was with the girls Elder Hind helped to clean the building. It was the priesthood's turn to clean and only one member showed up so I know his help was welcome.

Mixing up some Snickerdoodles

Making our own cookbooks

Sunday, March 13, 2016

February 28-Mar 5, 2016

We got an early start to our Sabbath Day because we had to go to Madadeni and pick up the Branch President, and a young couple we are working with. Then we drove them to Newcastle in time for 9:00am church and to meet with the 1st counselor there to begin the paper work for their marriage. He will be marrying them in a few weeks. I think I have mentioned before that in South Africa a person has to take a class in order to qualify to marry people. The counselor in Newcastle has that qualification.

We went to the cottage meeting on Monday and were told there are plans in the works for the rental of a school room for the meeting and possibly move to become a group or a branch. The difference between a group and a cottage meeting is that a group meets on Sunday and can bless and pass the Sacrament. The Mission President told the Madadeni missionaries that they are working on it. Things don’t always move as fast as we would like but we will be patient.

We celebrated Elder Larsen’s birthday on Monday at Family Home Evening. He is a leap year baby. For the lesson we took turns picking our favorite hymns and singing them and talking about them. It made for a very spiritual meeting.

Transfers are coming up so we had to do boarding and car checks. Not my favorite job. We had a short transfer this time (5 weeks instead of 6 weeks).   Most of the boardings looked pretty good. They all need a shower scrubbing lesson though.

We went out to the school to hand out some more of the sustainable hygiene kits. It went well, the girls are excited about them. Then Elder Hind had several hours of District Meeting in the evening.

Learning to use the hygiene kits.

Thursday we went to try and find chairs for our boarding. We have been needing them for some time now but we haven’t had time to do much looking. We didn’t have any luck. I guess we need to keep looking. We had appointment to teach but it was cancelled.

Look familiar?

Woolworths is not a five and dime. It is a very nice clothing store

Here is a familiar name

Couldn't find any chairs here

We went out with the Madadeni 2 elders and had some wonderful visits. The missionaries had given one women the Restoration pamphlet to read last week. This week they asked her what she had learned. She told us she didn’t know much about God or Jesus Christ but in this booklet she had learned about God – that he was her loving Heavenly Father. She was so pleased with that bit of knowledge that it warmed all of our hearts.

We had dinner at Sister Mati’s house, it was great as usual.

We went to another funeral on Saturday. It was for President Nkosi's niece. We didn't know her but we went to support President Nkosi and his family. The funeral was held in a big tent in his yard. We have been to five funerals so far but we have known only one of the deceased. 

Lunch after the funeral
Some of the sisters
Elder Hind with one of President Nkosi's granddaughters.
This was transfer week. The elders gathered at our house to get the news. We are getting pretty good at guessing who is going and who is staying. Elder Weiler and Elder Tshuma are leaving us. We will miss them but they are excited to be moving on and are really happy with their new assignments.


Madadeni children