Monday, December 15, 2014

Chapter 18... Lost in time or is it Time Lost


Chapter 18

I’ve lost all track of time. I can’t remember when I was sick or well. I guess it has only been a week but the week certainly shifted in time and events. On Monday we volunteered to go to the Urgent Care Center and beg the doctor to treat us. She did and we didn’t have to do much begging… After getting our prescriptions we obeyed the doctor, went home, took our meds and went to bed.  Basically, we stayed there for the next 3 days. ES was way worse than me but I didn’t feel so hot either. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection but ES had tonsillitis, asthma and a lung infection. He was really sick.

By Wednesday we were down to 2 naps a day and a couple of errands run. Wednesday night we realized we were not well enough to take the drive to Pretoria for Zone Conference. After discussing it with the Swans (I’m the driver when we go) we all decided to take a bye.

We really missed going to Zone Conference but we made the correct decision. It would have set ES back on his wellness course. Today is Sunday and we are about 85% well.

On Friday we were both stronger but not out rock-n-rolling. I spent all day preparing food for our Branch Christmas Braai at the Weitsz. It was also very hot in Nelspruit and believe me cooking in the heat isn’t any more fun here than at home.

We did go to lunch at the Mugg & Bean. They make delicious salads and we have a favorite waitress. I haven’t really mastered the money thing around here. I don’t know the coins at all except the ones for the parker-people—they’re easy—but the rest of it just won’t stick into my brain. Consequently, I tend to tip LARGE. Especially after I heard that the servers generally only work for tips. I guess I got a little generous with this particular server one time because she came running after us with her tip money in hand and thanked us profusely. Needless to say she always seats us at her tables. She is very good and she gets ES’s jokes so that’s a plus. Well, Friday while we are there and waiting for our bill (one must ask for the “bill” not “check” if you want to get out of the place as they will let you sit all day if you choose)after she brought the slip of paper  in the leather cover she said to ES, “You are such delightful people. I would follow your beliefs of your church just because of you.” I cannot think of a great compliment. I know she was being kind to include me but she was looking right at ES when she said it. Well, of course, she got a pass-along-card. It is such a pleasure to share the gospel and a great cobb salad at the same time.

But, back to the Braai! It was great FUN! We had American Hamburgers… BBQ’d beef patties, buns, Heinz Ketchup, American Style Mustard (really that’s what it’s called)Hellman’s (Best Foods in the West) Mayonnaise, tomato slices, pickles (sorta) and lettuce with cheese for those cheese burger fans.  Yummmmm… and all sorts of delish. We also BBQ’d chicken legs… so good. I made potato salad, rice pudding (that was yucky) Rice Crispy Treats and sugar cookies without cookies cutters… I found some but nothing to write home about so I cut out circles with a jar mouth and made ornaments… they were cute. The recipe was not mine but Valerie Myers butter recipe since they do not have shortening in South Africa. Go figure.

We had crackers… the popping kind that you pull apart and find a prize inside like opening a box of cracker jacks… along with a paper hat and a riddle or joke.  ES’s joke said “what do you get when you eat Christmas decorations? Ready for it????? Tinsillitis’s! Get it? Uh, he had Tonsillitis and you get TINSIL—itis… Well, I laughed a little.

It was a low key, singing Christmas songs and visit kinda day. It drizzled rain all day which kept it delightfully cool, almost chilly, which was wonderful since it’s been rather hot for the last week.

Tonight is Sunday evening and we’ve just finished dinner, the dishes and the Elders (Elder Ah Wong since now Elder Smith is sick with the upper respiratory infection) made Snickerdoodles for a family in the Branch. They are going caroling tomorrow night and cookie delivering. I supervised Elder Ah Wong while Elder Smith read and rested.

After church we took Elder Smith to the Urgent Care Center to get medicine for the Lad. He had gotten sick in his last area and let it go too long. We did not want a repeat of that so he’s already on his way to recovery.

Does it seem like Christmas time mixes the great with the tragic? It seems like this is the happiest season as well as the one most subject to grief. Our Branch President who is a marvelous man with two small really active young sons almost lost one early Saturday morning. A miracle occurred which prevented a total tragedy but here’s what happened.

The Manjate’s put their sons to bed and then went off to bed themselves falling into a peaceful slumber. Suddenly, Sister Manjate woke up about 2 AM and rushed into their son’s bedroom finding him on the floor in his own vomit and not breathing. His eyes were wide open, his mouth clenched shut, his hands in claws and his lips and nails blue. He had aspirated his vomit and suffocated on it. Fortunately, Sister Manjate is a doctor. She knew what to do. She knew how to get his jaws unclenched and brought her baby back to life. After clearing his airway, he coughed then started to cry and asked for a toy. He is still in the hospital and undergoing tests but there doesn’t seem to be any lasting damage to him.

President was at church this morning looking as if an entire building was sitting on his shoulders. His wife was with their 3 year old in the hospital while he had custody of their 18 month old who is a cute spit-fire of a kid. I just sent the Jrs. with dinner for President—just spaghetti and fruit salad but something he can heat up without thinking about it much. I suggested to our RS councilor today that we might want to do that as a RS and she acted as if this the first time she’d heard about this kind of service. She agreed to post it on our message thing called “Whatsup?” and see who could take in meals for a week. I think this is the first time that compassionate service has been done in our branch. It is so meat-and-potatoes for the Sister’s in the States so I just kinda figured it would be worldwide. Maybe it is now here as well.

Last report from President is good. He’s doing better and mom and dad are recovering as well.

So all is right with the world again. Still no monkeys but I keep finding little crawly things trying to get in my house. Eisch! I hate bugs. Till next time.

a tent trailer...all that fits into these tiny things a Smart Car could pull. Really amazing

cookie baking



the boys watching a church video on the Book of Mormon

just because it was beautiful

the Braai


the view

the food and decorations

the Braai guys

the hosts... Diane and little one


Our Christmas party hats


Sunday, December 7, 2014

chapter 17... still no monkeys

Chapter 17:

We haven’t done to well in our resolve to take more snaps. We went to a swanky place for dinner last night and nary took a pix. What is wrong with us? This was a really above the cut lovely dining establishment with linen (at least white) table cloths and large cloth napkins… we call them serviettes in South Africa… candles on the table, complete with a real rose in a vase. The occasion was Sister Swan’s birthday. Elder Swan’s failure to plan actually turned out rather nice. He basically lucked out and the evening was a success with great food, great atmosphere and great company… Well, I’m bragging about being great company but we are a kinda fun couple to go to dinner with… just saying.

Here’s how the whole thing started:

Monday was a busy P-day with lots of errands to run and groceries to buy. We pay as we go around here so we had to buy power…yep, buy electricity. We have a meter on the wall and it shows how much power we have used. When it runs out we run out and nothing around here—runs. Every month we have to go to the management company and buy power and pay our water bill. We did both of those things, got some cash from an ATM and went grocery shopping. Never have I ever received anything from a grocery store because I’ve spent a lot of money…well, here every time I exceed a certain Rand amount, I get a sleeve of candy. We always give it away to one of the baggers but it’s kinda nice to get something free for spending money on food.  We also went to the largest mall in the area—it is really large—and bought a few things and paid our internet/landline bill. That’s one thing that is not cheap here. If I didn’t need it I wouldn’t have it but…

That evening (Monday) the Swans came down and we discussed our upcoming plans for zone conference, Sister Swan’s birthday celebration and a myriad of other nonsensical topics. Sister Swan wanted to go to a restaurant called the Nest.

Elder Swan got so busy doing whatever he did on Tuesday that he forgot to request a booking (reservation in US talk) but we drove out anyway taking a chance that it would not be filled. Sorry, they said, “We are booked.”

So, we drove through the back roads and hills and dales to another city called White River and after exploring the place settled on the Magnolia. They had plenty of room and really was lovely. I highly recommend it to anyone traveling in South Africa. I had Kudu again. I will say it was not a tastily prepared as the Kruger’s version but it was very good. ES had a cob salad, Elder Swan a prime rib (unlike any we’d ever seen) and Sister Swan had Yellow-tail tuna. The service was great, the food was great and we even had sparking red grape juice… We were enjoying ourselves!

And no photographs.

So today (Wednesday) has been a bit laid back. The Jr. Elder’s car died a horrible death yesterday afternoon. The camshaft belt broke so they called ES and said, “Help!” and of course, he did. Got the car towed to the Chevy dealer and they are fixing it but the Jr’s will be without a vehicle for a week or more. Now, this isn’t a place to be without a car. The Jr’s have no money for taxis or buses so they’ve been walking but we live a bit off the beaten track so that’s not even an easy thing to accomplish. ES left to help them keep some appointments this afternoon.

One of those appointments is with a family called Ngcosa. The mom and the children (6) are all interested in the lessons. They even rang up the elders asking when they could come over to teach them. There is just one little problem. Mom is married to a man with several wives. She may be the first wife but I don’t know if that gives her any additional standing here. It is not against the law and it is very traditional for Zulus to have several wives. Only problem is, they cannot be taught while living in this situation unless Mom is willing to divorce husband or kids can live on their own.

The Jrs. asked the Senior ES to go with them to ascertain what their interest and testimony level really is. It’s a sticky problem. The wife really married “one” man. It was the husband who married other women. They don’t all live together but he does provide for all of them and the kids know their dad has other children and they are brothers and sisters and … See what I mean. Wow. I’m glad I’m not in that meeting. I feel sorry for the family and the mom who was really interested.  But we all talked about it and decided that we could not be responsible for denying them the choice of salvation verses security. The husband does provide for his family so if Mom divorced him she’d be giving up a lot—security and the nice house they reside in—but there are many people who give up just as much once they know the gospel is true. The Elders were tempted to just drop them but after speaking together we all came to the conclusion that only the family can make that kind of decision.

So, I stayed home and did some mending for Elder Smith and a bit of baking. It’s a warm day but a nice breeze is blowing and cooling things off nicely.

The men came home and reported that the family that I mentioned above received the news very well and all 4 of them understood and asked to continue the lessons. The mom told them she was the second wife and even when she married him she somehow knew it was wrong in the eyes of God. The Elders came out of the lesson feeling great. All the kids and the mom have read the passages the Elders underlined for them and Mom has already read to 2 Nephi 13… They spent the first part of their lesson responding to questions they had written down regarding the Book of Mormon. This is a prepared family. The Jrs were pretty excited about being able to continue to teach them.

Thursday brings a new adventure as well. We’re going out to Sabie so I can teach Seminary again. The Elders are going with us and then over to the Bethels to see what help they can offer them. They are the ones who own the second hand store where I have purchased a lot of bric-n-brack and our A/C. Since they are without a car they’ve had to think outside the box and rearrange their schedule. We moved the lesson to today due to our 45th wedding anniversary which is Friday. We’re going to go play!

ES and I had a memorable anniversary. I even remembered to take a few snaps of where we spent most of the afternoon. The place is called Casteridge Village or something like that but it reminded me of Gardner Village out in Midvale or that area at least. The shops were high end with lots of art galleries and specialty stores filled with handcrafted goods. There was even a chocolate maker who specialized in Belgium chocolate. We spent a bit of time there, as you can imagine. They have a thing called a “chocolate shot.” They have chocolate cups about 1” tall and 1/2” around that they fill with melted milk chocolate dripping from the huge chocolate fountain they have bubbling over with sweet goodness. Too bad it wasn’t dark chocolate but oh well, it tasted divine. Yeah, I had one. But only one.

We ate at a great restaurant called the Gum Treez and enjoyed an amazingly loud lightning storm and then walked in the rain to our car. It was a really romantic day—just like a 45th wedding anniversary ought to be.

Before we started our celebration we had District Meeting and I fixed breakfast. ES brought me home roses. They are super, super beautiful and unlike so many florist roses, these actually have some fragrance. Hmmm. I have pix.

I made crockpot breakfast casserole—the recipe from FaceBook and everyone but me loved it. I didn’t like my choice of Beef Sausage. It was GROSS… But everyone else enjoyed it and even went back for seconds. I had an entire crockpot left over—I made two. One big and one small as I never can judge how much one of those will serve so the small one went home with the Elders.  I even made chocolate and bran muffins—24 of each so there were even some of those left.

Saturday (today as I’m writing) we were surprised by the Elders who had a gift for us. Watch the video and you’ll see what they did. Needless to say, I cried and ES cried. He got to hug them and thank them… I can’t…boo hoo. But, I hugged them in my heart. These Jrs. are as close to my heart as any two men ever could be. I knew I was going on a mission but I didn’t know I was going to adopt two boys as well. Move over kids and make room for two more brothers! Trust me, you’ll love them as much as I do. Thanks MOMs for sharing your sons with US.

We are heading to Lydenburg to teach Calisto. He’s sharing his lunch break with us. He wants to be taught. He just came back from visiting his wife and baby. I hope we find all is well with him and his family.

After reading Facebook I learned that several of my friends and family need prayers sent their way or in behalf of others. Know this: we are praying for all of you and especially for those who need a bit extra sent their way. We only ask in return that you include us in your prayers. We really need to grow this branch. That is our goal. We need an entire congregation to join. Ones that will stay in Nelspruit and make our branch strong so this will be a Ward someday. With united prayers from us in South Africa and you in the States (or wherever you are) we can find those who are seeking… especially Father-lead families who will garner generations of righteous Africans to build up this part of the vineyard. It is ripe and ready to harvest and we are thrusting in our sickles but we need to do more. We need to hasten our work and run and not be weary…

Next week will be filled with the same busy schedule, I’m sure. On the 12th is Zone Conference so we’re leaving town on the 11th and staying at that great B&B we stayed before. I’ll keep everyone posted.

As you all count down towards Christmas, remember “The Gift” and think of Jesus Christ and how blessed we are. I hope all of you have running water and plenty of electricity. Right now, we only have electricity and it just came back on. This early morning we had scalding hot water in all our taps and even in the toilet… kinda interesting Sauna experience. Such a funny place.

When we arrived home after our very productive visit to Lydenburg (I even saw Baboons but we had no place to stop along the roadside so we could take pix and when we did the Baboons were gone) because we visited Caroline as well as Calisto. I got to hold a 3 month old baby girl. Really neat.

We got home in time for the Elders to go to a DA and for us to relax and to discover that we still had no water. After a few phone calls the caretaker came down and discovered that some unknown prankster had turned off our main… Yeah, it’s right out there at the bottom of our stairs out in the open so anyone could mess with it…  And I guess anyone did. Eeeeshhhh.

Sunday…We ended up sick with colds I’m sure curtesy of Elder Pulley… Yesterday we tried to fight them off but we both just got worse and worse as the day went on. We stayed home from church we feel so rugged. I’m posting this AS IS so I hope it’s okay… Enjoy.

 E’ya later.   (P.S. No monkeys and I have water)

This is the box that tells us how much electricity we have. We purchase how much we think we'll need then they give us a receipt with numbers on it. We go home and punch in those numbers... Yeah, for real

This (and sorry for the underlining and the blue can't figure out how to change it and yes, I've tried) is my table be
The above would not let me edit anymore... but my table before the meeting. With the plant the Weitsz gave us for our 45th anniversary.
Rapt attention to Elder Smith
/Elders teaching Brother and Sister Bethel. He has Alzheimers and is getting really bad. They are going to have to sell their store and move in with children... Sister Bethel is having a really hard time with that option. Great people. Strong members.

Here is a view of the strip mall we wondered around. It was raining while ES was taking this pix

Another view

The center of the Riverside Mall.  It is the largest mall in the area. That's a bear in that yellow ball. A tree!

I'm looking at Native American CD's I've heard this guy before selling his captivating music. I asked what a Native American Indian was doing in South Africa and he replied "selling my music" He sounded more Northern Mexico to me and his music sounded Inca or Aztec or Peruvian... Oh well. I left since he didn't want to conversate..


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Chapter 16: Sorry!


Do you ever wish you could go back and redo an entire event?

Well, I sure wish I could have a redo on our Turkey Day/Welcome to the District dinner on Wednesday night. It was wonderful, don’t get me wrong. My turkey was great, the stuffing was moist and flavorful, and the gravy rich and free from lumps, the potatoes delish and everyone ate until they were tired. What is wrong is that WE FORGOT to take PICTURES! Not one snap from anyone! Not the Elders! Not the Swans and not us!!!!

So, you’ll just have to imagine our first Thanksgiving dinner in South Africa with my $45.00 turkey who flew all the way here from South Carolina… truly. No wonder it was so much.

But, on Friday, we took lots of pictures as it was Elder Smith’s Hump Day! Now, for those who are unfamiliar with a hump day… it’s the day that marks the 1/2 mark of a mission. So for us and for Sister Hannah Knott it will be at 9 months and for those 24 month’rs its 1 year.  See the photos. And the captions.

We had an interesting Friday and another Marathon Seminary Lesson at the Weitsz… Poor Kids! The Elders including Elder Swan (boy was the back seat smushed) went on to Hazyview and taught two investigators a lesson while the men tried in vain to fix Sister Jennifer’s toilet. They will have to go back now that they think they’ve identified the problem. They left me off about 2:00 and returned about 7 pm. The Weitsz and I had a lot of fun as we finished the book of Alma!!! Yay! Poor Kids! Their ears were bleeding.

Sunday was also another interesting day. The Elders, Scott, Smith and Ah Wong, had been practicing all week for their musical debut at the branch Christmas program. When they arrived at the branch the director informed them that another singer would be joining them. Well, even though he hadn’t practiced with them the song turned out very nice. I thought I was reading the scripture from Luke 2 but when I got there I was informed that I had a talk to give! Well, for a last minute study it turned out okay.

Now, its Sunday night and it’s raining quite hard and thundering with all it’s got. We fed the Elders a dinner of wagon wheel pasta, with mince (hamburger,) home brewed pasta sauce with a sprinkle of cheese then baked in the oven. I made French bread from scratch—turned out nice—and apple crisp for dessert. Again no pix! Sorry.

So, this week has been a short blog week with not a lot of photos but week filled with lots of great investigator lessons and good contacts.

But with one day without power, one day to cook and one day worth of Seminary it swishes by really fast.

Hopefully, next week will be a bit slower but with lots of plans already set in stone I doubt it will be. With plans already in the making to put up our tiny Christmas Tree, celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary on Friday and Sister Swan’s birthday on Tuesday the week is practically over! I’ll try to do more pictures.

Still no monkey’s but we keep getting invaded by flying bugs! Now Martha informed me they are good eat’n but I’m just going to take her word on it.

This is Elder Swan attempting to fix the toilet

this is her living room and kitchen
The Elders are teaching under a tree

We had cupcakes and candles for Elder Smith's Hump Day!

We sang Happy Hump Day to You!

I presented him with him gift from his MOM! Its a camel and a letter about why Camels are the symbols for missionaries who reach their halfway mark. Cool gift.

The new guy... Elder Pulley and the old guy Elder Willombe

Elder Smith reading his letter from his mom. Made me cry a bit. Him too.

We searched all over for a stuffed Camel and so I resorted to making a clay one.

NYC: Murder Brooklyn Style

NYC: Murder Brooklyn Style
Dang this copyrighted stuff! Couldn't get rid of the red face!

NYC: A Mission To Die For

NYC: A Mission To Die For