Our South African Journal

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sept 18-24
We went to church in Osizweni because Elder Hind had some interviews to do. It was a very cold and rainy day. Osizweni does not have heat and I thought I was going to freeze to death. Sister Khumalo gave me a large towel to wrap around myself. It helped a lot.
A cold a rainy Sunday

Osizweni Branch - that is the Baptismal Font in the middle
Cold and rainy day

Then we went to church in Madadeni. After church we went to see President Nkosi’s family. We met at the Nkosi home along with other members of the branch. We sang songs and read scriptures and talked about President Nkosi. Afterwards the family served us Rooibos and scones. That was nice because of the cold weather.

We decided to have one last Bingo night for Family Home Evening. We are really going to miss these good times with the YSAs and the missionaries.

Bingo night

Elder Trapnell

Elder Rasmussen found my camera

On Tuesday night we had our final interview with President Thompson. He gave us our release letter and also a beautiful South African cookbook. Then he took us to dinner at the Cannon Restaurant.

President Thompson and us at the Cannon Restaurant 

On Wednesday we finished packing for our trip and prepared dinner for President and Sister Mashego and President and Sister Nkosi. We had a good visit with them. We have grown to love them and we are really going to miss them.
With our friends the Nkosis and the Mashegos
We got up early Thursday morning and drove to Durban. It was hard to believe that before the day was over we would be with Cyd and Eric and their kids. We thought we would have time to visit with the office couples and maybe do a little shopping. But just outside Durban the freeway traffic came to a complete stop. We spent the next hour and a half stuck in a massive traffic jam. We think it was an accident on the freeway.

When we got to the office we had only a few minutes to say hi and good-bye before we had to leave to catch our plane. Elder Sorensen drove us to the airport and our check in went smoothly. Before long we were on our way to Johannesburg.

After we landed we had a couple of hours to wait for the plane from the US so we looked around a little and then found a comfortable spot to sit and wait. We could watch the “arrival board" and we got excited when we saw that the plane from Atlanta had landed.

Still, it took another 40 minutes before we saw Cyd and her family coming through the door. It was so good to see them. We couldn’t believe they were finally in South Africa. The kids don’t seem to have changed much. Lyndsee is more talkative and grown up but for the most part they are the same. Cyd and Eric haven’t changed at all. After the first hugs and hellos it was just like we had never been separated.

We got our rental van. It was brand new and huge. It will be great to travel in. We went straight to Journey’s Inn, our B&B. It was pretty nice. We tried to find a place to eat nearby but everything was closed. Family style restaurants often close early. So we found some things to eat at a gas station convenience store and took them back to our lodgings.

In the morning they served us a great English style breakfast and then we were on our way to our South African adventures.

The trip to Kruger went well and we arrived at the Mjejane Lodge where they had a good lunch waiting for us. The rooms are very nice. We had a little time to look around and relax before it was time for our first game drive.

Fearless explorers

Kudu - such a beautiful animal

The next morning, we went to the main part of the park and did some more big game hunting. The highlight of the day was spotting a leopard in a tree. He was pretty far off but considering how difficult and rare it is to see a leopard we were happy. We have been on three other game drives but this is our first and only leopard.

There are actually two leopards in this tree. They have killed an animal and dragged it into the crotch of this tree.
There is one leopard by the kill and one further up stretched out on a branch.

After a couple of hours, we had a little restroom break and the lodge provided “breakfast” which was actually a ham and cheese sandwich and fruit. Zazu came by to see if we would share our food with him.

 Then we were off to see more animals. Kruger is just like Yellowstone in the states. If you see a bunch of cars pulled over there is probably an animal to see.

Some not so scary wildlife

An Eagle Owl with her owlet.
When we got back to our lodge we had lunch and then the kids went swimming while the warthogs grazed nearby. Elder Hind and I just took naps on the lounge chairs. The weather was nice and the view was beautiful.

In the late afternoon we did another game drive.


Rhino, Cape Buffalo and Giraffe all in one shot

At one point we stopped at a small man-made water hole. In the middle of it was a huge hippo. The big fellow took up most of the room in the water hole. The guide told us that he had come up out of the river one night and took up residence in this spot. They don’t know why he never went back to the river and his pod. Now he is just a lonely bachelor living all alone in his tiny flat.

The big gray lump on the left is our lonely hippo

Just before sunset we stopped by a lake. There was a pod of hippos enjoying the water. There were water birds flying around and a single elephant walking along a ridge on the other side of the lake. The setting sun was shining on the water. It was peaceful and beautiful. The guide set up a table with snacks and drinks. And we just enjoyed a few minutes of a lovely African evening.

It is time to kiss Kruger good-bye

Friday, October 14, 2016

Sept 11 – 17, 2016

We attended two Sacrament Meetings today. We needed to go to Newcastle and then we went to Madadeni Branch 1. We met Elder and Sister Rhodes at Madadeni Chapel. They are still finding their way around here and meeting all the people.

Newcastle Branch Primary

Madadeni 1 Primary

After church they came to our house and had dinner with us. We had a nice time visiting with them. They are going to have their hands full when we go. They are really going to miss us.
On Tuesday the carpet cleaner came and did our carpets. We want to leave the house clean and welcoming for the next senior couple.  We have done a little more packing, cleaning and de-junking. Time is flying by!

We went out to the Ncandu School for the last time this week. We had been given a few church hygiene kits and there were a few hygiene kits here in our boarding so with the last bit of money from the Anderson Family we were able to put together 70 kits. We took them out to the school and gave one to each of the eighth grade kids.

With Miss Gemma, 8th grade teacher

We also visited Sister Smith this week. She is an octogenarian member of Newcastle Branch. She can’t get to church much anymore but the Relief Society sisters visit her often and bring her food and do a little cleaning in her apartment. We enjoy our visits with her. She is very talkative and loves to discuss the gospel and tell stories about her life. She grew up in Rhodesia (which is now Zimbabwe) and she had an interesting childhood. She told us about learning to ride a motorcycle. Her friends and her used to catch young crocodiles and bring them home on their motorcycles.

Sister Smith

We brought a mission call to a young man in Madadeni 1 Branch. He has been called to Botswana.

We got word that President Nkosi passed away. We were not surprised as he looked so weak the last time we saw him. But we are saddened by his passing. He was such a good and kind man. He had been our Branch President until a few weeks ago when he had to be released because of his failing health. We loved him. He will be greatly missed. We went to his house to give his wife our condolences and love.  His funeral will be held while we are away. We are heartbroken we can’t be there.

Elder Hind with Brother Makumbo and President Nkosi
Both of these fine men passed away while we were on mission
The Woods (housing and finance couple in the office) came to stay with us to check out a possible boarding for the missionaries in Osizweni and to look at the current missionary boardings. The Osizweni elders would like to live out there where they work. But the house they found is not going to work. Whatever they find is going to have to be in good condition and very secure. This house is neither.

We went to dinner with the Woods at Pint and Pig Out. We like that place and were glad to go one last time.

We don’t have much time left here. There are a bunch of things that need to be finished up. Especially for Elder Hind. I like to tell Elder Hind that this has been his mission. He was asked by President Zackrison to help the branches and wards get their finances in order. He has helped them apply and qualify for a church program that can get all the branches out of the red financially. He got word a week ago that everyone is out of the red now. He has also pushed for a district auditing committee which is now doing its work and we just received word that all the audits have been finished. He has instituted regular financial training for all the branch and district leadership. We now have leaders in the branches and district that are committed to staying in budget.