The start of another week and I have a new stove! Since we have been in our flat I have not had an oven. It’s really been too hot to cook but I would have made an exception as I’m dying for some really good cookies. Walking through the store on the first week here, I spied and bought Oreos (my favorite) only to discover that they just didn’t look right or taste exactly the same. After reading the package I discovered they’d been manufactured in Saudi Arabia! The cocoa is just not the same as the real Oreos at home. To confirm that suspicion, one of our Elders received a box of Oreos from the states. Totally different color. Ours are darker and richer looking as opposed to the grayish color of the ones here.
Next I tried buying cookies from the bakery at Super Spar, a grocery store that is quite impressive. They have four tables of nothing but help-yourself cookies. I bought one of each. Sadly, all but two of the cookies, including the chocolate chip cookie, had peanuts in them. Now, I like peanut butter as well as the next person but when you bite into a meringue cookie you do not expect to find peanuts and I particularly do not want peanuts in my chocolate chip cookies. I can see why one of our Branch members asked me to make Snickerdoodles for her. I’ll be making them for me as well.
We went to a store called Macro (the one like Sam’s Club—not as big as Costco but bigger than a Wal-Mart) and bought a new stove. My old one worked it just didn’t have a bottom heating element so all I could do was broil… quite unusual or so I thought… They actually had brand new ovens with only the top broiling element. I guess very few people bake. Kinda like New York.
As I’m writing this, Elder Swan and Elder Scott are installing the oven and the top burners called a “hob.” We took the Elders to lunch at a shopping center called “Crossings” and I had chicken wings with BBQ sauce on them while some had hamburgers or pizza. It was just okay food—in fact if I didn’t know better I’d have sworn the chicken wings were really squab wings based on the size.
But while I was there I went to the bank to get 2rand coins for tipping purposes. Outside near the ATM a security guard in full military uniform complete with flack-vest and automatic rifle stood guard. He looked quite intimidating. This is not an unusual occurrence here but still unlike the States.
This is one of our car parkers. A great feature that I’d like to have at home. This is group we tip when they help us load our car and back us out of our spaces in the parking lots.
Last night was an incredible landmark night! Lance, Jennefer, Sophie, Avery and Riley actually Facetimed us using our iPads. Wow! ! was it ever good to see those smiling faces. We had a nice visit and Lance said he wanted to go on record as being the first to communicate with us in that manner. I’m just saying!
Today, Tuesday, we did not have our usual meeting with the Branch President so we drove to Sabie to meet the Bethals who are an older couple that live there. Of course we visited with the Weitz who also live there. Then we ate a delicious lunch at Petras Pancakes. It was more like a crepe as it was filled with ice cream, drizzled with chocolate syrup and sprinkled with nuts. We had lunch and dessert all at the same time. (I’ll tell you about the Bethals later)
I have an amazing story to tell you.
(I’m paraphrasing some of this as the teller of this story is a native African who repeats herself many times over and where English is absolutely her second language.)
Martha joined the church in 1991. Shortly afterwards her husband left her. Apparently in Africa a couple can divorce without cause and without paperwork. Martha went to live with her sister in KaNeymazane who took care of her because all Martha wanted to do was cry. Suddenly, Martha’s sister decides to move to Johannesburg and as Martha doesn’t have the money to move she is left behind. She has nowhere to live or sleep. She has no job, no money and, now, no family. She wanders around sleeping wherever she can and begging for food. After many months, she finds an empty plot of land and a large black plastic bag. She decides to squat on this piece of land. Cutting the bag in half, she uses one piece as a bed and one piece as a covering. It is now raining all the time but she covers herself up at night on this piece of land. It is called a “stand.” She lives like this for quite a long time.
Martha begins to have dreams where she sees people who come to her and tell her to “Pray to Jesus.” At first she says “No!” She is crying all the time and feeling very sorry for herself for her loneliness and her poverty. But the dreams persist. Somehow, she said, she knew they were her grandparents who had died many years ago. Finally, in extreme desperation she does what they advise her and call out to Jesus. The next night she dreams of a white man who told her he was her Great-Grandfather and that she must stay in the stand and not leave. She is very afraid and tells the white man that he is lying. She decides to leave the stand and search for someplace else to live but that same night when she is sleeping, she dreams of this man again who tells her to “stay in the stand.” She returns to her stand and “cries and cries” some more due to fear, hunger and loneliness.
The next day Martha rents a cell phone (that’s another story altogether) and calls her aunt to ask if they have a white grandfather? Her aunt tells her that this is her grandfather’s father –a white German man.
The next time when she dreams of him again she asks him if he really is her grandfather. He tells her that he is and that he loves her very much but that she is not to leave the stand. In the dream he takes Martha by the hand and tells her things will be “okay.”
Three days past and she has had nothing to eat. All she has for warmth and shelter is that same plastic bag which is now very old and full of holes. She is so hungry that she goes to her closest neighbor and begs for a piece of bread. The neighbor gives her some bread but tells her that she cannot give her more because she is saving the rest for the “Elders” who are coming to dinner at her house.
Martha says, “Elders? What church do you go to that you have Elders?”
The neighbor says, “I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Martha shrieks and cries, “So am I! Is there a church where I can go?”
On Sunday, Martha walks barefoot several miles so she can attend church with her neighbor. She is instantly welcomed, fed and clothed and given blankets so she can stay warm. She lived like this for a few years until a senior missionary couple arrived in KaNeymazane by the name of Hunt.
Martha continued to have dreams of her family and of this German grandfather who continued to reassure her that everything would be “OK.”
During one dream she asked her grandfather, “Why must I stay in this stand? I have nothing here.”
Her grandfather explains that this stand is the place where he died. He told her that he fought in the war (I think she meant the Boer War although she used an African name.) Evidently, he was fighting along with eight Native warriors who were all killed at this site. Four were buried on one side and the other four on the other side. He told her that as long as she would live on her stand that these warriors would protect her but when she died their job would be over.
Sister Hunt, the senior missionary sister, went to visit Martha one day and discovered the appalling condition in which she lived. She decided to do something about it. The first thing Sister Hunt did was to give Martha a job cleaning her flat. Then she got her husband, Elder Hunt, to put in a pipe with water. From that pipe grew a concrete block, concrete floored, two-room home complete with simple furnishings. There is no indoor plumbing, no electricity, or washing machine or clothes dryer.
Martha will probably never have much more than she does now but she is a very happy woman who loves to serve the Lord. She has been endowed in the Temple of the Lord. She loves to go to the temple and is saving money to go back again as she can’t wait until the Branch goes this next January. She knows the gospel and more importantly, she knows Heavenly Father loves her.
I am very honored to know Martha. She is our housekeeper and every week I slip her a little extra for her temple savings account. This woman is a very special daughter of God who is grateful for dreams and visions and family history and a Heavenly Father who loves her and who sent angels to watch over her…both angels from the other side and angels from here.
|This is Martha... at the Swans (cool mirror, huh?)|
Thank you Elder and Sister Hunt wherever you are.
What do a cat, a bird, a frog and a gecko all have in common?
They have all been in our flat!
The very first day we opened the door to our first Nelspruit flat a cat was inside enjoying the solitude of being in an empty apartment. While we were moving in a bird flew in through our security door and panicked. The cat was more savvy then the bird…it found its way out as quickly as it had come in. I had to open the back slider to let the bird fly out. Just the other night, a frog was in our utility room and man could it jump. Elder Scott got it outside in one jump and it was down the stairs in another. Then today, (Thursday) we found a gecko lurking on our ceiling in that same utility room where we found the frog last night.
I’m not crazy about finding critters lurking about my flat… but at least it isn’t monkeys.
I had a fun time this morning trying to convert measurements from US to metric. Most all of my measuring cups and spoons have dual marks but not butter. It is sold in large blocks-500 grams. With the help of the internet site called conversion.com I nailed it and made super good Snicker Doodles and chocolate chip cookies. The only chocolate chips I could find are small—about ½ the size of our own so 2 cups of chips really fill the cookies with chocolate. The brown sugar is not what we are used to so I was worried but the cookies turned out mucho delishy moso… That’s great tasting for all you exacting readers.
Last night the Jr. Elders and Elder Scott and I went to teach a 9 year old named Thambiso. He is the son of a member and the brother of Nelly who was baptized last month. I ended up giving a great part of the lesson cause the Elders were having problems “dumm’n it down” to fit the understanding of a 9 year old. Luckily, I felt impressed to bring two Liahona magazines which had great stories for children in them. I referenced those stories and had Thambiso relate what the Elders were teaching him to the stories. His 7 year old brother was also there and they both asked good questions and wanted to keep the magazines.
Right afterwards, Elder Scott and the two Jr. missionaries went to teach a follow up lesson to a Father and daughter. I went home to cook dinner for us all. The Jrs. had been going over their Area Book when they found a man listed in there that had been to church a few times but then stopped showing any interest. They called him and he said he’d like them to come by. While they were visiting him his daughter came in and began listening. They have both been going to church on Sundays for some time. Well, Elder Scott went to visit Ezra and Violet. Almost immediately upon walking in the door, Violet told them that she had prayed about the Book of Mormon and knew it was true. She had read it before but not been too impressed but this time she decided to pray, asking if Heavenly Father would tell her if it was true or not. She knew it was. Ezra was asked to pray about it as well but he admitted that he didn’t know how. Elder Scott taught him how to pray and ask if the things he was learning about were true. He committed to do so and his daughter assured him she would help him.
Elder Scott said it was one of the best missionary lessons he’d ever been in. All the Elder’s came back beaming with joy.
On Thursday night we went to dinner at a member’s home who had 5 dogs hanging around. Well behaved dogs…3 of them were hers and 2 were being tended. Made me miss Jed.
On the way home—this was way in the country—we saw a Zebra hanging out in someone’s yard. So absolutely cool. It was one super beautiful animal and quite large for a Zebra. The ones I’ve seen have been the size of a pony… this was horse size and a large horse at that
Today, (Friday) after our District Meeting (our Zone Leaders visited and conducted) Elder Scott was invited to help the KaNemazane Senior Elder Swan and the Branch President go to repair the roof of a family in that Branch. They live on a hill that an ordinary car cannot navigate. The father built the house with things he found along the road and in ditches but the tin roof had many, many holes in it. With rain forecast for tomorrow, Elder Swan didn’t think they could wait until their scheduled repair date of Monday. So off the two of them went to fix the roof and buy some food. I spent a half-a-day by myself reading, napping and baking a cake from scratch. Found a good recipe on the internet… Did I mention I left my cook book at home? So if anyone wants to send me some of my recipes I’d greatly appreciate it…especially my banana cake and German chocolate frosting. Sounds really good about now.
I can’t believe it is Saturday already. I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, divided them into dozens and put them on paper plates to deliver to members in the Branch. We found several home and popped in on them. Who can turn away old people with cookies? After we visited several around Nelspruit, we drove to Lydenburg to visit another family. Lydenburg is an hour plus drive through the mountains and it was raining. We drove right through a cloud and behind a logging truck which slowed us to about 18 ks an hour… super slow in any measurement. After about 40 minutes of driving this way, the clouds broke, we had a straight-away and I was able to pass the truck. Before we looked for the address of the people we came to visit we stopped at a Spur and had dinner. I have more photos of this Spur which is called the Laramie Spur after Laramie Wyoming, I imagine. We found the family, the Sibanyoni’s, dropped off the cookies and headed back making good time. It was a long day.
Sunday came and for possibly the first time in my life, I spent Sunday School and Relief Society time tending the kids in nursery. They were darlings but I must admit I’d rather train lions than do that again. Okay maybe not train lions but I’d really rather teach a class with older kids…like the teenagers at least.
I’ve just baked a cake and it came out beautiful. Strange instructions but I made it the way I normally do (packaged mix) and it looks, smells and feels great to touch. Hopefully it will taste great as well. I’m making my chocolate strawberry cake or as it has become to be known in Lone Peak Ward: the funeral cake.
Well, enjoy the photos.
|this is the basket that I bought in order to get directions. I bought the rhino from the second hand store in Sabie|
|this is how drinks come. we have to ask for ice separately and there are no refills.|
|this is the grocery store where we like to shop.|
|this is the drug store and another mall we like. Mopani is a chain and there is also one in the strip mall above. This is a very large mall with tons of stores.|
|Some more parker guys. They call me "momma" and asked me to buy them something to drink and eat. I did and now they are my friends for life! I try to always park in their area.|
|this is a cup I bought for Christy. It is Constantina fine china and I will try to get it home in one piece|
|this is our Branch President... Milton Manjate. He is from Mozambique originally.|
|This is a view from his family room window. He often has Kudu running in the back|
|This is Elder Scott's gym where he goes every morning|
|this is our Favorite Spur called Arkansas. The guy in the orange & black shirt is backing someone out|
|This is the entrance|
|see all the American Indian décor|
|Perusing the menu|
|this is our favorite waiter name Ndombia. We talked to her the first time we went in and gave her a pass along card. She has had one lesson from the Elders in KaNemazone where she lives|
|this is a logging truck. see how straight the trees are planted. this is part of the largest man planted forest. These trees are smaller than some|
|these next pix are from another Spur called Laramie which is in Lydenburg|
|This is a township. Some of the pix are blurry but it gives you the idea of what a township is|
|This is the view from the driver's window as we are leaving the township.|