Our South African Journal

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 3-9

We got to attend church in our own branch this week. Everybody asked where we have been and some even joked about us becoming less active. It was a good and relaxing Sunday and we enjoyed it.

We had car and boarding inspections this week. It was a little more involved than previous times because we had to do the Newcastle boardings and the Ladysmith boardings and the Dundee boardings. We timed the Ezakheni and Dundee inspections so they were on the same day as our classes in Dundee. It made for an extra busy week. I only had to get after one set of missionaries for not being clean, the others were ok.

We went out to Madadeni to try and get some coordinates of the new Madadeni 3 Branch boundries. We got a map from the municipality but there are no road names on it and the area office wants clear boundaries. We got a couple of road names and were using our GPS to get some coordinates. After awhile it became apparent that we didn’t know where we were in relationship to the map. We had to give up. We will try again when President Mashego can go with us.

Elder Hind got sick with a bad cold and cough. He has picked a bad time to do so because we are very busy getting ready for the District Conference. We have a General Authority coming and our new mission president is coming. We would like to have a good conference. One of Elder Hind’s responsibilities was to call and make all the talk, prayer and conducting assignments. Because we have a District Conference in the Southern part of our district and also one in the Northern part of our district this means we have eight meetings. (two priesthood, two women’s auxiliary, two adult sessions and two general sessions) So making the assignments for all these meetings is very complicated. To make it worse Elder Hind’s voice almost disappeared due to his cold. He spent several days getting all the assignments made.

We had Zone Training Meeting this week and we decided to have a braai. After the meeting all the missionaries came to our house to eat and play games. Elder Hind’s version of the corn hole game was a big hit.

Elder Vaughn was the Braai master

Playing Elder Hind's version of cornhole

The Howdens came up to Newcastle on Friday night. They are the Public Affairs senior couple for our mission. They came up to do a training for the district on Saturday. They gave a very interesting presentation. We really enjoyed it and we learned a lot.  That evening we went out to dinner with them at the Pint and Pig Out. They came to our boarding afterward and met the missionaries and got to hear the transfer news.
Elder and Sister Howden, Public Affairs missionaries
Elder Hind, President Mashego, Elder Howden

At the Pint and Pig Out
Since this is transfer week all the missionaries gathered at our house in the evening to get the news. They are closing the Osizweni 2 area so we lost those two missionaries. They are white washing Madadeni 2 so we lost both of those. We already had two missionaries go home and we lost 2 more in transfers. That is a lot of change. We went from 12 to 10 here in the Northern part of the zone. Two more are leaving from the Southern part of the zone. We always let the Taylors worry about that part of the zone but now they are our concern until they get another senior couple down there.

After transfer news we said good bye to the Howdens. It was fun to have them here for the day. We treasure our time with the other senior missionaries.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

June 26-July 2

The branch conferences continue. This time we went to Dundee. What a sweet little branch this is. Dundee makes our Madadeni Branch look huge. Elder Hind spoke in Sacrament Meeting again about the importance of family. He can never resist a chance to brag about his own family. President Mashego talked during the combined meeting we had later. He is fun to listen to. He is such a great story teller and he knows the scriptures so well. Elder Hind also spoke for a few minutes in the combined meeting too. He is getting used to speaking at the last moment. He knows he always has to have something prepared.

After church, Sister DeKlerk, the branch president’s wife served the entire branch butternut squash soup and rolls and fruit. That was so nice. I asked if she always does this and she said “no” just for special occasions. I always wanted to attend a ward that does a “linger longer”.

Elder Baumgartner and Elder Diehl

On Sunday evenings we always have a devotional with all the elders in our immediate area. It gives us a chance to talk about mission business. We also talk about the “tender mercies” of the day or the week. We sing a song and have a prayer. And of course we have to have a little treat. Because it is cold right now I like to give them hot chocolate or hot cinnamon milk. They really enjoy it.

We played Bingo for Family Home Evening. Sometimes it is nice to not have to plan a lesson because we do so many other lessons. The members and the missionaries seem to enjoy it even though the prizes are not much.

One day we had to drive to Ezakheni and then we drove to Dundee for our Seminary and Institute classes and then home. We are doing a lot of driving around now days. We laugh when we think about the first couple of times we drove out of Newcastle. We were a little nervous. Now we don’t give it a thought.

The new mission president came in this week and he is really hitting the ground running. He is trying to meet all the missionaries in the first week. So he is having two meetings in the Durban area and then one meeting out in Bloemfontein. Our zone was asked to drive to Pinetown (near Durban) to meet the president and his family. He and his wife brought their 18 year old daughter with them.
So we drove to Pinetown early one morning and got there just in time for the meeting. I had baked brownies and Snickerdoodle bars (a missionary favorite) for the lunch. Sister Stevenson made cupcakes and ordered the pizza.

The chapel was a little over decorated for a Zone Conference
I guess they were having a wedding the next day
Our zone with President and Sister Thompson

Outside the Pinetown Chapel with Elder and Sister Sorensen
We had a meeting where President Thompson and his wife introduced themselves and then the missionaries were introduced by their Zone Leaders. We had two zones there. The mission president then asked all the missionaries questions. He asked Elder Hind why he fell in love with Sister Hind.

After the meeting we ate lunch and then cleaned up the chapel and went to the Stevenson boarding. They live in a high rise apartment. We decided to drive down to the beach so we let Elder Stevenson drive and that was a good thing because the city traffic was crazy. There was a big horse race called Durban July (think Kentucky Derby) going on that same weekend.

We went shopping at the Ushaka mall and got to see some Zulu dancers. We each bought a painting. Elder Hind paid for his with a five dollar bill that Cydnee had sent us. It was funny because Elder Hind is always trying to pay for things with it just to see what people will do. Most of the time they just look at him like he is crazy. But this time someone actually wanted it.

I liked this picture of a township
Sister Hind also bought a vintage wooden food bowl. The Zulus serve meat in these large bowls or troughs. She may have paid a lot for it but it was not much more than Elder Hind’s drum.

We walked along the beach for about a kilometer. We watched some surfers and walked out on to a long pier. We saw the sun go down behind the giant hotels that line the million dollar mile. Then we headed back to the boarding.

In the morning we went to the Shongweni Market. We have gone there before and it is always enjoyable. Sort of Midway Swiss Days Afrikaans style.  I bought a butter dish from a potter there. We had hot chocolate and steak and onion wraps for breakfast. They were huge. I think we got at least two meals out of them.

We left the market and started home. We stopped for a break in Howick and saw the waterfall again and looked through our favorite antique shop. I bought two old Zulu-English translation books.
We were home by early evening and we were glad to be there.
Howick Falls

Monday, July 11, 2016

June 19-25

We attended church in Ladysmith this week. We are still doing branch conferences. President Mashago and President Nkosi drove down with us. It was Father’s Day and Elder Hind spoke about the importance of families and the responsibilities of a father and a mother. Then he was asked at the last minute to teach a 45-minute lesson in a combined adult class. So he taught a lesson using Doctrine and Covenants Section 88. He is a pro.

After the meeting the Primary passed out little gifts to all the fathers. The Primary had colored little cards to go on the packages. In the package was a small towel and some candy. It was perfect because Elder Hind always takes a small towel with him when he runs in the morning.
Elder Hind with his Father's Day gift and some of the children in Ladysmith

We went to Madadeni for our cottage meeting. Attendance is down right now because it is cold and dark in the evening and people are reluctant to walk a long ways.  We had a good Family Home Evening. There were lots of people there because it is in Newcastle and more people have cars and most don’t have to walk so far. We had a lesson about filling people’s buckets. When we say nice things we put drops in their buckets and our buckets. But when we are unkind we take drops out. We discussed the importance of the words we use. We also took pictures with two of our missionaries who are going home in a couple of days.
Elder Jena
Elder Kaitoo

I told Elder Hind that I felt a cold coming on. Sure enough I woke up Tuesday morning with a cold. We still managed to take a Dundee missionary to the doctor in Ladysmith and then drove back to Dundee to drop off the missionaries and teach our Seminary and Institute classes.

The sun is setting when we drive home from Dundee. 

By Wednesday I was feeling terrible and I hadn’t been sleeping well. Elder Hind went to DDM without me and took care of some other meetings and responsibilities while I just schlepped around the house all day. He ran to the store to buy me some medicine and then he made me a cup of lemon rooibos. He even put a little lemon wedge on the edge of the mug. Sigh! Bless his heart.

By Thursday I was feeling a little more human so we were able to take care of some things and run some errands. By Friday I was almost back to normal. We drove to Ezakheni to pick up a visa application for a young man who has been called to Angola. He will fly to Brazil to attend the MTC there. And then fly back to Africa for his mission. They speak Portuguese in Angola.

Then we drove to Dundee to teach our classes. Love, love, love teaching these kids.

Passing out treats after class