Our South African Journal

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.  

1 comment:

  1. The mountains you drove through are incredible!!!