Back again! This time I'm only about 2 weeks behind what is really happening! I want to post more but not overwhelm anyone!
We went to church at the Nelspruit Branch with the Zone Leaders and the full time Elders for our branch. It’s a rather large branch as branches go but the geographical location is HUGE! Takes in many miles around and out to the borders of South Africa. It was also my first time driving on the LEFT side of the road! What a trip that was and no pun intended! We followed the Elders and made it without incident but with some heart stoppers along the way. Elder Scott kept saying, “Left! Left! Stay Left!” It is very odd to have to unlearn habits that have been so unconsciously done for …about 50 years. I’ talking about driving on the right side and making turns… right side turns are super freaky.
Our Mission President called a new Branch President named Milton Manjante. Our former branch President is moving to Joburg (Johannesburg) because of school issues. When we walked into the building which is above an old store front, we were hugged and kissed and welcomed as if we were long lost friends. It was reminiscent of New York. Everyone here—white or black—always have huge smiles on their faces! They instantly warm up to us and us to them.
That afternoon was my first time to drive any distance as the Elders wanted us to go with them to visit a sister who has to begin chemo treatments. Her name is Sister Kruger and she lives close to Kruger National Park (no relationship) in a small community called Komatepoorte. This is very near the Mozambique boarder which is a 2 hour drive from Nelspruit. Crazy roadway!!! When another car wants to pass you even if cars are coming toward them it is up to you to drive on the shoulder of the road so they can pass in the center. The oncoming traffic simply moves over as well. There were many, many semi-trucks on the roadways and I had to learn to pass like that and let others pass me. Quite intimidating! During one particularly nasty area I hit a concrete whatchamacallit and took out the left side mirror! Scared all of us to death! Mostly me cause I never saw the thing I hit even after I hit it!
Sister Kruger is Africaner. She speaks Africans (not African with a “can” sound but with a “con” sound) Sounds like Dutch and German mixed. Super nice family. Because they live so far from the Branch they don’t attend but she teaches her family each week and even teaches Seminary to her two very tall and very handsome 17 year old and 20 year old Rugby playing sons. She served us Rooibos tea and Malva cake. She said they are very traditional African (again with the “con” sound) foods for guests. And they were very good. We had to hold up our pinkie fingers since we were drinking from real china tea cups.
This week has been a whirlwind of activity trying to get things for the flat. We can’t really unpack everything nor stock our cupboards since we are moving on Friday but we’re doing our best to act settled.
The bed is horribly hard and I’m having trouble sleeping (big surprise there, I bet) so we ordered a memory foam topper which will come here Friday. Other than the fact that the wash machine and dryer are next to the refrigerator which is tall and skinny the flat by all appearances could be in the US somewhere. Well, except for the inside concrete walls and the tiled floors everywhere (no carpets anywhere) and the iron bars on every window and door and the built in braai (BBQ) on the patio at least.
We love South Africa. Some of the trees look like they were drawn by Dr. Seuss and other trees are like home. Today, Elder Scott and the other Jr. Elders went out a bit to help a sister in the Branch weed her garden. We are enjoying spring and heading into summer so they went to do a service project and help her. They came and got me for lunch. They live on a hill where Zebra run wild. This place was what I think I imagined Africa to be. It was so beautiful with lots of trees and birds. The air is fresh without smog and clear blue. The dirt along the road was orange… not like the Red of Southern Utah but truly orange like from a Crayola box. We drove past a house painted the exact same color as the orange dirt… I think so they wouldn’t know when it was dusty.
imagine Pictures her! I promise I will learn how to post pix soon....
We are driving out on our own a bit more. We’ve been guided by the other senior couple who live in our complex—the Swans who are from Canada and super energetic. They serve in a township called KaNeymazane… again… Connie Ma Zon. We haven’t been there yet but our housekeeper is from there.
Oh, I didn’t mention that little bit did I? Starting next week I will have a housekeeper named Martha. She is from the township and her fee is so reasonable. Martha is a member of the church and recently lost her husband so she needs the work. We are cautioned to not pay any employee more than the prevailing wage for so many reasons but mostly so they do not get robbed when they get home.
Something of interest maybe, whenever you go to the store or any parking lot—and there are millions of them—there are parkers who guide you to a stall and watch your car. When you return they help load your items and then guide you to back up safely. When you are safe, you roll down the window and give them 2 rand coins: basically 20 cents. It is so worth it. Everyone tips here and people work very hard to make these coins. Certainly, harder than I would want to do. I’d like to take some of these parkers home to the States with me. It sure makes getting out of parking stalls easier.
The money system is the Rand. The bills are very colorful and different sizes. I think some things are very inexpensive and others are more than the States. It was R2200 to get Elder Scott’s suit cleaned which is about $22.00 in the States. I think that’s high but not many people use cleaners so there are not a lot of them around. Supply and Demand. Food, however, is very reasonable but telephone service and internet is crazy. Wages are of course low and poverty is high.
So far the weather is ideal. We unfortunately, are living in the area where it is a bit hotter. Not sure how hot it will get but hotter than Joburg where I nearly froze… One day only. In Nelspruit, so they say, it will start raining and the grass will turn green and the humidity will start. Yay! But they say it is like Hawaii. So how bad can that be?
I was, I admit, way off on the population of Joburg and Pretoria. Like by MILLIONS. Joburg is huge like Los Angeles and has the same amount of people… about 9 million. Pretoria is a bit smaller with about 7 million people. Plus the suburbs increase the areas by about 3-4 million people. Nelspruit is much smaller. About the size of American Fork with about the same amount of people. Cool huh? I’m so glad I’m in this smaller place. The people are incredible. Just today in the Macro (kinda like Sam’s Club) a man started talking to Elder Scott about his name badge. He asked him where the church was and could he come? Whoa. We told him and gave him a pass-along card. So we’ll see if he comes. Nice guy, of course. Older man with a stripe down his hair like where a scar might have taken his hair away.
OKAY. So if you’re still hanging in with all this stuff I’m nearly done. We love it here! We love the people! We love the work! And we’re where we need to be!
Our love to all of you! Take care of our kids and grandbabies and give our dog an extra pat on the head or a good ear rub.