Our South African Journal

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

May 8-14, 2016

Mother’s Day was a wonderful and very busy day. It started with a skype call from Ethan. It was early in the morning here but late at night in West Jordan so his kids were falling asleep as we talked. It was good to see them and to chat with Adi, she is getting so big.

We put some sloppy joes in the crock pot and went off to church. The elders started showing up for phone calls and skyping almost as soon as we got home from church. We set up two lap top computers, one in the office and one in our spare bedroom. Then we let the African elders use our cell phone to call their families because most of their families don’t have computers. We also got to talk to some of our other kids in the evening.

Monday we had our usual busy day with the Cottage Meeting and Family Home Evening. We had a very nice FHE lesson given by Zinhle. After the lesson we brought out the Bean Boozled game. We like to get it out once every transfer so the missionaries can try it. The game is played by spinning a pointer. You have to eat whatever color jelly bean the pointer touches. The trick is, every color bean can either be good tasting or bad tasting. For instance the black jelly beans are either licorice or skunk spray. So you take your chances when you pick out a bean to eat. Some elders won’t go near this game and others love it. Sometimes we have to put the game away or the elders would eat all of the jelly bellies. We probably have enough jelly beans left for one or two transfers.

We went out to the school to play corn hole with the kids. Last time we did grade eight, this week we did grade nine. They really have fun with it. Especially the girls because boys all love to play soccer but the girls don’t have as much to do.

Elder Hind teaching the finer points of the game

cheering a great shot

We went to see our friend Bro Mkubo so the new Madadeni missionaries could meet him but he wasn’t at home. His son was there and told us he was in the hospital. We tried to see him at the hospital but they have very strict visiting hours. We came back later with President Nkosi and gave him a blessing. He knew us and was happy to see us but he didn’t seem to be able to tell us what was wrong. He did not look good.

We had to do District Training in Ezakheni and Dundee this week. We went to Ezakheni and taught the Ezakheni Branch and the Ladysmith Branch in the morning and Dundee in the afternoon. When we got to Dundee it started to rain. We had to run from our car to the chapel and then from the chapel to the house where the classrooms are and then back out in the rain to our car. I got so chilled even the car heater couldn’t seem to get me warm.

Dundee Branch classroom building

Dundee Chapel - converted garage

In this picture you can see the huge 200 year old
Monkey Puzzle tree.

We got a call from a young girl in the Newcastle Branch this week. She asked us to help her with a school project. She needed to build a model of a cell phone tower. We gathered up some things around the house that we thought might work and went to see her and her family. We showed a picture of a cell phone tower and she built the model with the materials we brought.

Four day old baby girl

One of our favorite families

In case you can't tell this is a cell phone tower

If you want to know what senior missionaries do the answer is “everything”.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

May 1- 7, 2016

We went to church at Madadeni 1 and then after Sacrament Meeting Elder Hind and I went our separate ways. I needed to stay at church and teach the Young Women. He wanted to go out to Osizweni and observe some baptisms. We have been hard at work getting ready for these baptisms. There were 5 of them. They didn’t have enough baptismal clothes in the right sizes so I have been sewing for the last two weeks and Elder Hind has been mending the portable font that they use out there. He didn’t bring the camera so we don’t have pictures of it set up but we do have a picture of him mending the font with bicycle tube patches.

They found a few more holes during the last baptism so he will be doing this again.

We had to pack up Elder Hind’s drum and some of our other treasures because we are sending them home in the Zackrison’s container. It will take the container two months to get home by ship. It is nice because we don’t have to figure out how to get them home and we don’t have to pay anything. The Zackrison’s have a home in Provo so we won’t have any problem picking our things up when we get back. But is sad because our house looks bare without some of the things we have collected.

Elder Hind sitting next to our boxed up drum. Our chicken sign is behind him.
They will leave with the Zackrisons and will be home before us.
We had Zone Training Meeting on Wednesday and then we drove to Durban for a Multi Zone Conference on Thursday. It made for a busy week.

While we were waiting for Zone Training Meeting to start I heard some beautiful music coming from the Primary room. When I looked in there was Elder Cook playing the piano and Elder Harper singing. They were practicing “The Holy City”. I love that song and I haven’t heard it performed in many years. I begged them to let me get them a spot on the program of the Multi Zone Conference. Elder Cook was up for it but Elder Harper didn’t feel ready yet. I made them promise to perform it at church soon. Transfers are not far away and they both could be gone before I know it.

Elder Cook playing the piano and Elder Harper singing The Holy City

I made lunch for the zone this time. I decided to make chili dogs for them. It is coming on winter here so it was a good choice. They enjoyed it. We had chips and fruit with chili dogs and I served milk tarts (a vanilla custard pie) with chocolate syrup for dessert. I have to make brownies for the Zone Conference on Thursday so I didn’t want to bake another dessert and milk tarts are cheap.
We had a good meeting. We played a fun game where we had to guess each other’s first name it was pretty funny.

Eating chili dogs after Zone Training Meeting.

After the meeting we had to run home, bake brownies and pack for our trip to Durban.

On Thursday morning we got up early and headed to Durban. All the missionaries are going. Some of them went down Wednesday night but we are spending Thursday night in Durban. We got to the church in plenty of time. The conference was held in the Berea Chapel. It is the oldest LDS chapel in Durban. It reminds me of some of the older chapels in Salt Lake.

The Berea Chapel 
Since President and Sister Zackrison are going home there was a bit of nostalgia in the meeting. President keeps telling the missionaries they are the greatest generation of missionaries the world has ever seen. I can tell he loves them. We love them too. We are so blessed to be on this mission. We are amazed at all the wonderful people we associate with and all the spiritual experiences we have had. We love the Lord. We know this is His church and His work.

Elder Weiler and Elder Fransen
They used to be in our zone now they are companions in Umlasi

How many elders does it take to change the batteries in the chapel clock?
Answer: Five- 4 big ones and one little one.

Pizza! Missionaries favorite food.

Newcastle Zone - right now it is the biggest zone in the mission
We spent the night at Huntley House. Jane, the owner, has seen us so many times she greets us with a hug and a kiss. When senior couples come to South Africa they spend their first night at Jane's. We try to stay there every time we go to Durban. In the morning we headed to Victoria Streetmarket to do a little shopping. I say a little shopping but we have around 48 people in our immediate family so we have to do serious shopping when we can.

When we finished at Victoria Streetmarket we headed home. We stopped near Howick at the Piggley Wiggley. In spite of its homely name it is an upscale country shopping area. A little like Gardener’s Village in West Jordan. Couldn’t find anything we wanted there. We stopped at another shop that was called Treasures and Trash. We saw a lot of things we liked but don’t know how we would get them home. We did buy an old book. We got home early in the evening all safe and sound.

On our way home

On Saturday we went to a District Training for the Northern part of our district. Elder Hind trained the branch presidencies and I trained the Young Women’s leaders.

We do so many unusual and interesting things in the course of a week. We never know what each day will bring. We love our mission!

Friday, May 13, 2016

April 24-30

It was interesting to see so many missionaries in the Madadeni chapel this Sunday. There were six guys there this week. It was good to see them greeting the members and introducing themselves and just doing their jobs. In the evening the missionaries came to our house for a devotional and a treat. 

We had gone to the municipality earlier in the week and had large wall maps printed for each companionship’s area. We handed those out and we also gave them a printout of the names and addresses of the people in the branch they are working in. We hope this will help with their planning each week and will help them tract efficiently.

Because we are going to Bloemfontein and Lesotho later this week we worked really hard to get all our office work done. Elder Hind and President Mashego worked on the papers for the new branch so they could be sent to the mission president.

On Wednesday morning we set off on our drive to Bloemfontein. We had to stop in Ladysmith and pick up our passports. The Taylors brought them up from Durban. We had sent them to Durban to get fixed because they had been incorrectly stamped when we came into the country. We wanted to go to Lesotho and we needed our corrected passports.

We drove into this cloud bank on the way to Ladysmith
On our way to Bloemfontein  we drove through Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Think of Southern Utah but with green grass. It has sandstone buttes and mesas just like So Utah, but it is also very green. There is a little touristy, artsy town near there called, Clarens. Think, Park City or Springdale. We stopped there and looked around and bought some nuts to munch on.

We visited a Basotho village in Golden Gate Highlands National Park
There wasn't much going on but they had some charming buildings
We got to Bloemfontein about 5:30 in the evening. It is normally about a five hour drive from home to Bloem but we took our time in Golden Gate and Clarens. We checked into our B&B (it is called the Lemon and Lime) and then went to dinner. It gets dark very early now so there was no time for sightseeing. We went to dinner at McDonalds. I know, I know, not very adventurous but it was a familiar place in an unfamiliar area and it wasn’t far from our B&B.

Bloemfontein means " fountain of blossoms" and is famous for its roses and
other flowers

Our beautiful B&B - the Lemon and Lime
The next morning we slept in a little. That was so nice for a change. After breakfast we plugged the name of the theatre into our GPS and found that it was only 1.5 ks from our B&B. How lucky was that? We found the theatre and parked near there. Then we went to a nearby mall and did a little shopping. It was fun because our shopping in Newcastle is somewhat limited and this mall had everything.

Bloemfontein is a very nice city.

We went to the matinee performance of Young Ambassadors. It was fun to see some of the senior missionaries that work in that area of our mission. We also enjoyed the Young Ambassadors and got to visit with a couple of them after the show.

Then we got in our car and headed to Ficksburg. It is where President Johns lives and we followed him there. It is right on the border of Lesotho.  He offered to have us spend the weekend with him when we saw him at the last senior retreat so we took him up on it. He will be our guide in Lesotho. He prepared a wonderful dinner for us and right before we sat down to eat President Zackrison showed up. He was in this end of the mission so he took the opportunity to visit with President Johns. He didn’t know we were going to be there. We had a good visit with President and Sister Z.

In the morning we went to President Johns shop. He has a courier service and he also sells homeopathic medicines. Then we drove a couple of blocks to the Lesotho border. We handed our passports to the border guard and waited while they scanned them, and waited,.. and waited… and waited….A supervisor was called and he scanned them about 10 times. Finally they stamped them and let us through. Whew!

There is an extensive street market just over the border in Lesotho
You can buy everything from Toyotas to roasted meats to handcrafts.

We bought this hat in the street market. It is the traditional Lesotho hat.
They still wear them
We drove to the town of Leribe. We have a branch building there that consists of a house that has been converted to classrooms and a portable building that functions as a chapel. It has an interesting outdoor baptismal font. That must be fun in the winter. President and Sister Zackrison were there visiting with some missionaries.

The Leribe Branch Chapel

The house has the classrooms in it and the portable building is for Sacrament Meeting
The bapismal font
This would be very cold in the winter
Another view of the font

After that we began our drive to the Katse Dam. It is an amazing drive. The road is an engineering marvel as it winds its way up the mountain and through passes. The highest pass is over 3000 meters. The mountains are not forested but are covered with grass and low shrubs which are all very green. When you get to the top of the pass you can see mountain range after mountain range as far as the eye can see.

You can see the terraced fields in this picture

In this picture you can see the road cutting through the mountains

The homes in Leribe are made from cement blocks and bricks but as you go up the mountain you begin to see more and more round stone huts with thatched roofs. You see people wrapped in blankets riding horses and donkeys.

People here still use animals and wagons for hauling.
They also ride donkeys and horses
I do not have a lot of pictures of the people because I worried about offending them
Although this guy was happy to pose for me.
This is the highest point on the road

This is the view from Mafika Lisiu  Pass back the way we had come
It was very windy.
The dam and the road are products of modern engineering surrounded by people living in stone huts and riding animals. It is an interesting juxtaposition.

The people up there are mostly farmers but the land is not very good for farming. They have terraced the mountainside in order to plant crops. We could see stands of corn but we are not sure what else they grow.

President Johns

When we finally reached the dam we were able to take a brief tour.  After looking around and enjoying the views we started the drive back to the border.

When we got a couple of Ks from the border we were stuck in traffic. It became apparent that the traffic jam was caused by dozens of little taxis that were running back and forth from the border. In order to make as much money as possible they would not wait their turn but force their way to the head of the line. So those of us who were politely waiting our turn ended up moving along very slowly. One taxi driver pulled up along side us (he was in the wrong lane) and honked at us to let him in. But we wouldn’t let him in so he had to drop back. (We try extra hard to be polite and patient, but we have our limits). Finally we got to the border and had no trouble getting back into South Africa.

We laughed about it later. We love interesting experiences even if they are not convenient.

The next day it was raining as we made our way home. We stopped in Clarens again and had a hot chocolate.
Elder Hind in Clarens

 As we drove over a pass we found ourselves in a fog and were denied what would have been an amazing view. We took a wrong turn at one point and wandered around in an unfamiliar township for a while before we found our way out.

Inspite of fog and rain and being led astray by Naggy Maggie, we eventually got home. It was still early evening so I was able to do some more sewing. I am anxious to get some more baptismal clothes made. We are going to have 6 baptisms in Osizweni next week.