Our South African Journal

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 17-23, 2016

Fall is coming to South Africa. The temperatures are a little cooler and the leaves are starting to turn color 

We made DVDs of the Durban Temple Groundbreaking for all our branches. We copied it from a link provided by the area office. We watched it on Sunday. There was also a child baptism in Madadeni on Sunday. They tried twice but the poor child’s feet kept flying up out of the water. After two tries he was done so we will have to do it another time when he is ready.

Elder Hind, Elder Cook and Elder Harper on a Sunday afternoon

Monday was transfer day so we had Family Home Evening without the elders. It was a little weird. All the elders were involved in picking up and dropping off other elders.

We just played games for FHE. This is the toothpick game.
Tuesday night we got to meet all the new elders here in the Northern part of our Zone. When they all filed in and sat around our living room we couldn’t believe what a crowd we had. We got to know each other a little and then had some cake and ice cream to celebrate Elder Harper’s birthday.

Elder Vaughn
Elder Mears
Elder Sithole
Elder Smith

Elder Chitate

Elder Chaparadza
Elder Simonson

We went out to the school today and played Elder Hind’s version of corn hole. It is just such a simple and silly game but the kids just loved it. We had a lot of fun!

We went out with the new Madadeni 3 elders to show them around and to meet some people. We had a couple of good visits. 

We also showed them where Sister Mati lives. She is the sister that feeds us every Friday night. However we won’t be going there anymore. Now that she is feeding 6 elders we won’t let her feed us too.

We have a severe shortage of baptismal clothes in our branches. They are very expensive for our little branches. They can only afford one or two every year and that does not give them enough sizes. We had some heavy white fabric here in our boarding so I made two pairs of children’s elastic waist pants. We bought some white polo shirts to go with them. Monday I will go to the store and buy some white fabric and using Elder Hind’s pajama bottoms for a pattern I will whip up some adult elastic waist pants. The men can use white shirts but I will have to figure something out for the women.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

April 10- 16, 2016

On our way home from Durban we made another attempt to take the back road and this time we were successful. We got off the freeway in Pietermartzburg and headed home on highway 33. We would pass through Greytown and Dundee and several smaller towns. The road was good most of the way and there was some pretty spectacular scenery.

We just had to stop and take a picture of this view. We were coming down off a mountain
In one little town we came across a narrow bridge crossing a very wide river. Since it was only wide enough for one lane of traffic there was a light so you know when it was your turn. However the light wasn’t working and since we couldn’t see any traffic coming towards us we started across the bridge. Sure enough after getting ¾ of the way across here comes the cars going the opposite way. There was nothing we could do but back up all the way to the other side. When we got back there was a truck waiting there and we just followed it back across the river.

The rest of trip went well. It did take longer so I don’t know if we will do it again. We were glad to get home.

Our Mondays are always busy we went to the cottage meeting and then hurried home to Family Home Evening. 

We went out with the Madadeni 2 missionaries one afternoon. It was great. They got an investigator to enthusiastically promise to read the Book of Mormon. And then we went to visit another investigator who announced that she wanted to teach the lesson. She proceeded to tell us how much she loved the Book of Mormon and how much it helps her. Then she read a passage she liked about covenant people. I asked if she knew what “covenant people” meant. She wasn’t sure so I explained that covenants are promises we make to Heavenly Father. I mentioned that we make promises to God when we are baptized. Then Elder Harper asked her if she wanted to become part of the covenant people. She said yes so he committed her to baptism. It was a great moment.

Elder Hind helping a little boy stand on his head.
Elder Hind demonstrating his head standing skills for the kids.

I had an activity with the Young Women this week. We are learning to cook and are working on our cookbooks. I asked them what they wanted to learn to cook and they said, Pizzas. So I brought pizza dough to the activity and gave them a recipe for it to glue in their books. Then we made individual pizzas. They could pick what they wanted to put on them. It turned out good. I was baking the pizzas on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. When I took the parchment paper off after we were done there were 3 roasted cockroaches on the pan under the paper. I am just glad they were not on the pizza itself. They just sprayed the kitchen for cockroaches a couple of weeks ago but the little darlings are back.

We got transfer news on Saturday night and there are big changes.  Elders Nyirenda, Larsen and Fransen are going to other zones. We will get 3 elders to replace them and then they are opening up 2 new districts Madadeni  and Osizweni. That means four more missionaries in our area of the zone. We have gone from 8 missionaries to 12.

Waiting to hear transfer news.
Elder Larsen and Elder Shinga delivering the news.
Elder Fransen came here as a greenie. He is moving on to new adventures.

Elder Nyirenda used to be a pastor before he joined the church.

Elder Larsen has been a great Zone Leader we are sorry to see him go.

We know the president has committed so many of his resources here because he expects some big things to happen in this zone. We will soon have a new branch in Madadeni and we know that the new building in Osizweni will cause people to inquire about the church out there. We are committed to making sure that this is not a wasted effort. The elders are going to make things happen and we are going to help them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April 9, 2016

Durban Temple Groundbreaking

The groundbreaking was due to start at 3:00pm but they would open the gates at 1:00pm. We found we had a little time on our hands so we drove down to the beach. There is a light house there and lots of rocks. If we hadn’t been in missionary clothes we would have loved to climb on the rocks and look at the tide pools. After enjoying the sea breeze and walking around, we headed for the temple site.

Sister Hind and Sister Stevenson enjoying the view.

Indian Ocean
The temple plot is situated on a hill in an area called Umhlanga. It is just North of Durban. It is not far from the Indian Ocean but you can’t see the ocean when you are at ground level. We figure Angel Moroni will have a good view of the ocean. It is very green and beautiful in this area. Someone told us that this area was an old sugar cane farm.

We were with another senior couple that had already been to the temple site so we didn’t have any trouble finding it. There were about 50 elders acting as ushers so it was fun to see some of the missionaries we hadn’t seen for a while. We spent some time greeting them and talking to them.

Elders Hind, Weiler, Welling and Bennisan
They have all served as Newcastle elders
Elder Bennisan was companion to Elder Welling and then to Elder Weiler
It was so good to see these guys again.
Then we went and found our seats. We were about 5 rows back. We continued to look around and talk to people we knew and people we didn’t know. There was one sister from Madadeni there. She sat next to us. Elder Hind made friends with a family that was sitting behind us. He snagged a dinner invitation from them for the next time we are in Durban. They are an Indian family and we love Indian food. Score! Turns out he is on the high council in one of the coastal stakes.

It was a beautiful day but it was hot sitting in the sun for 2 hours and then another hour after it started. However we didn’t mind we were just glad to be there. Elder Hind wore his hat to keep the sun off his head and ears. We covered ourselves with sunscreen.

We were told they set up 2000 chairs. They seemed to have filled up most of them by the time the ceremony started. They had a few speakers that gave short talks and several songs by the local choir (which was really good). Then Elder Cook, president of the South Africa Area, gave the dedicatory prayer. After the closing song and prayer they called up some local officials and community leaders to turn the soil with gold colored shovels. Then they asked everyone who wanted come up and turn a shovel full of dirt. And of course we had to do that.

Some of the dignitaries (or "big people" as they call them here) turning the first shovels full. 

Elder Weiler

Elder and Sister Taylor

After the ceremony we went back to the mission home and had some pizza and talked about our wonderful day. Then we went back to our B&B and went to bed. Just as we were getting ready to go to sleep we got a phone call. It was some of the senior couples calling to sing Happy Birthday to me. They had forgotten to do it earlier. It was a Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April 3 – 9, 2016

We had committed to taking Brother Mkubo to church this week. But we didn’t know if he would remember that we were coming to pick him up. However, when we pulled up in front of his house he came out the door dressed in his white shirt and tie. It was so touching. We don’t know how long it has been since he has been to church but we know it has been a long time. It is so sad that faithful elderly members are unable to attend church because very few people have cars and it is too far for old people to walk. When we got to church Brother Mkubo was warmly welcomed by many people. They were glad to see him. He walked into the foyer of the church and saw a picture of the First Presidency hanging on the wall. He walked up to it and put his hand on the picture and just stood there for a few moments. Then we walked him into the chapel. He wanted to sit on the front row. We saw several people speak to him while he was waiting for church to start. After Sacrament Meeting he was ready to go home. He was tired and having some pain. We hope we can take him again sometime soon. We have a lot of Sunday responsibilities that interfere with us doing this every week.

We had a Zone Activity on Monday. We went to Spoenkop Game Reserve. It has all kinds of antelope, some giraffes, hyenas and rhinos. Even after two years here some young missionaries never get to see the African animals.  Most game reserves are too expensive for the elders or there aren’t any in their area. Fortunately this game reserve is cheap and in our area. It does not have a lot of the more interesting animals but if they could see a giraffe and rhino that would be nice. Well, the rhinos never put in an appearance but we got up close and personal with some giraffes. After the game park the elders went to play soccer. We went with the Taylors to have lunch. It was two for one at Spur’s on Monday. Yay!!

Herd of Zebras

Elder Larsen and Elder Shinga - Zone Leaders

Just a beautiful day in Africa
Wildebeest and baby
I think these are Waterbucks. They have white on their rumps. We take a lot
of pictures of animal behinds because by the time we snap the picture they
are already moving away.
We drove home and finished preparing for Family Home Evening. We showed a video of Great Moments in Conference and then talked about how we can benefit from watching conference. I served vanilla pudding over sliced bananas with Marie biscuits. The South African version of Banana Pudding. I got more compliments on that than on anything else I serve.

Tuesday we went and got haircuts. We have been so busy we have had a hard time fitting in an appointment. Elder Hind was starting to look like a hippie. After our haircuts we met the elders at the doctor’s because a couple of them needed booster shots. I gave them a lolly (sucker) because they were good and didn’t cry.

Wednesday Elder Hind had meetings and I stayed home to pack for our trip to Durban.

On Thursday morning we drove to Durban. We decided to take the “back” way because we wanted to do a little exploring and see some different sights. We saw a road on the map that led from Osizweni to Dundee and then to Greytown and finally to Pietermarizburg which is near Durban. We knew that our GPS would rebel so we decided not to consult it until we were well on our way.

At first we couldn’t find the right road out of Osizweni. And whenever we looked at the GPS she just wanted us to turn around. Finally we found the road to Dundee but when we tried to find the road to Pietermarizburg the GPS just took us back to the main highway. We were tired of trying to find our way so we just let her have her own way.

When we got to Durban we went to the Mission Office to collect some supplies and to get some missionary mail. Then we checked into our B&B.
This is King's Guest House. We haven't stayed here before. It was nice.

 Later we met at the Mission Home for dinner and visiting. We enjoy being with the other Senior missionaries but we rarely see them so this is a treat.

The Sorensens, the Taylors, and Sister Zackrison
Chillin' in Sister Zackrison's Zebra chairs
Elder Todd, Elder and Sister Roberts, Sister Chandler, and Elder and Sister Stevenson

On Friday we had our Senior Missionary Conference. We started in the morning and the meeting lasted until dinner. It was a marathon but we enjoyed it all. Sister Zackrison fed us lunch so we were sustained. They had asked us all to present something that we felt was important to our mission and could help the other senior couples. We showed our Christmas video and our helping hands video. We also talked about the sustainable feminine hygiene kits.  We think our presentation was well received.

In addition to the presentations we were taught by President Zackrison and were also given an amazing lesson on the temple by Elder Roberts who was a seminary teacher. His students must have loved him because he is such an energetic teacher. We really enjoyed his lesson.

Left to right, back row: Chandlers, Hinds, Woolstons, Todds, President Johns, Taylors.
Front row: Stevenson, Roberts, Zackrisons, Sorensens.
Not all the senior couples were there. The Nielsons had family visiting and the Howdens were involved
in getting ready for the groundbreaking.

After our meeting we all went to eat at the Cargo Hold. It is a restaurant down on the beach that looks like an old rusty cargo ship.  One wall of the dining room is a large aquarium so we could watch sharks and other fish swimming around while we ate. We tried to get a picture with the fish in the back ground but none of the shots turned out.

Saturday we went with another senior couple (the Stevensens) to a market out in the country. It was a lot like Swiss Days in Midway, Utah. They had good food and lots of cute things. We didn’t buy much but we did enjoy ourselves.

Checking out the prices

After the market we headed to the Durban temple site. We will have a separate post for that.