Sunday, October 26, 2014

Number 11 and lots of miracles!


I thought it was Wednesday and I was very relieved when I discovered it was only Tuesday. This is the first day I’ve had here that I did not leave our flat. I stayed inside all day until I decided to deliver a piece of cake to the Swan’s. ES, Elder Swan and the two Elders… Smith and Ah Wong went to Hazy View to stain and water proof Sister Jennifer’s house. They left at 6:30 am and returned about 5:30 pm. After a quick clean-up, I served them a yummy meal complete with homemade dinner rolls. My first from-scratch-in-mission rolls. Complete with chocolate cake and “Perfectly Chocolate Frosting” for some and white drizzle for ES.

Monday was P-day so we did just that. (Some think the P stands for PLAY but it is really Preparation.) I am now working on the YW activity scheduled for November 15 and since I have no idea where things are to be found I found some places to find things. Boy, did I find some things. I discovered this great store called Valencia Wholesalers… It’s like a Ross (without clothing) on steroids regarding kitchen things, rugs, linens, and FABRIC. Well, since I do not have a sewing machine or any inclination to sew I’m not all that excited about discovering fabrics by the truck load but a former designer, seamstress, and granddaughter dressmaker can’t resist the lure of bolts of lovely smelling warp and woof.

I admit to buying some much needed kitchen things like a descent cookie scoop and a measuring cup with the measurements embossed on the glass. Yeah, here’s why I even mention something so trivial. I bought a plastic one from a store called Game (which is actually owned by Wal-Mart but closely resembles a K-Mart ) with red lines and numbers on the outside. First washing… without a dishwasher mind you… and half the numbers were gone. Next washing all the red was missing. What good does a measuring cup do without measurements, I ask you? So, since this one has seriously raised lettering on the side of a glass cup I feel safe in assuming the measurements aren’t going to wash off.

Tuesday was spent with Martha regaling me with more stories of her life. She is truly a Visionary Woman. Her husband divorced her so he wouldn’t have to share his 30 years of pension money with her and one night while she was sleeping she had a dream where she was told to run to another home because her husband had sent a man to kill her. So, she did and he did. She ran yelling and crying to this neighbors home who sicked (?) their dogs on the would-be killers. That’s when she moved to KaNeymazane. She cleaned house while I talked on the phone to my friend Diane about her upcoming job interview for teacher.

The staining project is one Sister Jennifer (the RS President) asked for help to do. ES and the Elders volunteered to help her protect her all wood house. It is a most unusual home built on stilts and completely out of wood. Most houses here are cinder block and concrete. She has indoor plumbing—after a fashion—and wood walls and floors. Most everyone else has tile everything… But because of the rains she needed to protect the wood. They rolled and brushed every nook and cranny of the tall house with 6 liters of the best stain and sealer combo. ES said they were all covered in stain especially Elder Swan who drew ladder duty. He even had his bald pate covered in red mahogany spots. As it turned out, it was Sister Jennifer’s birthday. Later, in a text, she said it was the best birthday gift she has ever received.  ES said it was the absolutely most fulfilling service project he has ever participated in.

The week has truly passed quickly…today as I’m writing it is Saturday and the first time in my life that I watched General Conference via DVDs. As a branch, we met at 10 am and watched the first session of Conference then had a lunch break then watched the second session. What a privilege to do so. I had already watched all the sessions beforehand but to watch them again 2 weeks later on mailed to us DVDs was amazingly spiritual. And you all thought DVDs were invented for our entertainment. Pssshaw. A very long time ago when computers were first used to do family history, a General Authority mentioned that this was why they were invented… Oh, you scoffers (I’m just kidding). Not to put myself in his category but I’m going out on a limb here and including DVDs in the same vein. We, in South Africa, (or any part of the world where the time is upside down… like its 8:24 in Utah…as in A.M. … and it’s already 4:24 P.M. in South Africa. So, Priesthood Session would have had to be… well…you figure it out… very late indeed.

As in keeping with tradition, the RS Sisters brought in lunch. I made potato salad with SA pickles which are not the same as Vlasik Dill, by the way, and SA mustard which ain’t French’s.  But, it tasted very good and even got rave “very nice” compliments. I also did the most unusual sandwiches I have ever done. They sell amazing bread here. I love the stuff and it’s so bad for me. You can buy regular or huge—and I do mean huge—loaves of unsliced bread from the regular grocery stores. I bought 3 of the regular sized ones and sliced them in layers (not slices) and put various meats, cheeses, and vegetables in between along with mayo and mustard. Then stacked them, refrigerated them and sliced them into thin slices. Sure, they kinda fell apart but they looked great and tasted great and fed all of us. (if I did them again I would buy long skewers and kabob them) I also did a plate of cookies and itty-bitty cupcakes… They were delish and cute…which I will, in all probability, never do again. Super labor intensive.

But, I digress from the purpose of this blog. On Wednesday evening Elder Scott and I went to a city south of us named Barberton to purposely deliver some plastic chairs we had purchased for a man named Chrystal. He is a math professor at a college in the same city and is investigating the church. Of course, we brought him and his buddy, Obert, cookies. Yeah, it’s like Robert without the “R”. They have both been reading and even checking the internet about the church. Both of them are very religious and they are both very interested in learning more. Chrystal wrote a booklet and once he discovered that I had also written a bit we became buds.

Admittedly, I hadn’t felt so hot the entire day and if I could have gotten out of going I would have but since my companion, missionary and eternal, wanted to go I agreed to do the driving. (ES cannot go anywhere by himself after dark as he needs my eyes to get home safely) So, what I was afraid of happened—they were not home. But, undaunted, ES telephoned him (or here gave him a “tinkle.” No kidding!) Crystal said they were 15 minutes from home and could we wait? So, we waited and visited with another man, a neighbor who is also interested in learning more. When Crystal and Obert arrived they greeted us as if we were long lost friends (which of course we are in an Eternal scheme of things) and took the cookies and the chairs. We told them we didn’t want to intrude but we just wanted to drop those things off. After some time small-talking in the street the subject turned to my books… Crystal invited us into the house to get his tablet and look up my books. After discovering that my books were after-a-fashion “churchy” books, the subject changed to religion. Long story short, he wants us to come to his home which is called Ridgeback Mountain (which is in our mission even though it is about 115 miles from here. I repeat “miles” not kilometers) and teach his family. It morphed from there to “teach my village!” then from there to “I will get all four churches from all around to hold a revival and you can teach them.” Wow and Holy Crab!

Might I mention, that Obert was not one whit behind Chrystal… just a bit more reserved but he was nodding and answering questions and explaining to us why our churches teachings were “nice.” He bore his testimony of Jesus Christ several times.

We explained that we must first teach them… Oh, yeah they understood that.

He wanted me to teach the women of his village to bake cookies… He’d been given my cookies on the previous visit ES made and wanted me to teach the women of his village how to bake American style.  While we talked our trip turned into a 2 week stay with his family teaching and preaching and baking! Wow! And Double Wow!!! We saw ourselves as Ammon and Aaron and Omni and Himni! Sans the 14 year mission part.

Then reality hit.

I carefully explained, under inspiration mind you, that we are not itinerant preachers; that we teach repentance with the purpose of baptism and the purpose of baptism was to enter into Heavenly Father’s kingdom here on earth and in the heavens and here on earth and in the heavens we have order and leadership and Priesthood keys and Priesthood direction and we cannot preach to them and baptize them until there is some place for them to go to church—at least the right leadership to guide them and officiate. Nelspruit is too far away to expect them to come to church each Sunday. That we must also have permission from our “boss,” President Dunn, before we could spend a week with them so far from our assigned area. I said all this with a smile on my face and LOTS of LOVE in my HEART because we really connected with these men.

Chrystal was not to be discouraged and committed us to at least come and see if it would be possible. We agreed to ask President Dunn for permission…we can go surely, but can we preach?

Here is what Chrystal said to us: “You must pray about this. And we will pray about this and God will provide a way for you to come to teach my village.”

So I was back to “Holy Crab!”

It has been several days and I am still feeling pretty excited about this possibility. I don’t have any answers to my prayers and we haven’t approached President Dunn yet. We, all of us here including our District Leader, Elder Smith, want us to teach Chrystal and Obert first and have them come to church here in Nelspruit so they can gain a testimony themselves—not just of Jesus Christ but of his true and living church. Then we can move out to teach his family and then his village and then Chrystal can be the Branch President and Obert can be the Elder’s Quorum President and they can bring others to Christ and create an entire Branch and then a Ward in Ridgeback Mountain, South Africa.

Would that be cool, or what? So, yeah I’m back in the Holy Crab area!

Now, this is for Sister Smith in Utah… Your son, Elder Smith, gave an amazing lesson in District meeting on Friday. He has the gift of teaching others. He’s a great missionary but he’s an amazing leader as well. He is safe and happy and loving it here in Nelspruit. Of course, we spoil our Elders as Elder Ah Wong and Elder McClellan can attest. We love them and watch over them as best we can since they seem to be busy about the Lord’s errand and gone so much with their boundless energy and insatiable appetites for doing good.

And for my kids, the Elders watch over us as well. They take care of us and do all they can to make sure that “the old people” are safe and protected. They open doors for us, carry heavy items for us and always inquire what they can do to make our lives easier! In return, I feed them.

Sunday, today, was a repeat of yesterday only lots of sisters brought food. I just baked more chocolate chip cookies. I must say, with my new cookie scoop they were absolutely perfect! ES had to take a photo of them they looked so nice….

Well, no monkey’s in my kitchen so all is well. Ta until next time.

My perfect chocolate chip cookies! They are wrapped in plastic wrap in case you're wondering.

See the color of these hot dogs? The ones next to these look our normal... I think the Pink ones are even more PINK in real life... No idea what they taste like and I hope I never will.

This is me, obviously, Chrystal in the middle and Obert on the end.

The before picture. Elder Swan on the ladder, ES in red, Sister Jennifer in yellow and Elder Smith on the end.

Elder Swan was doing the cutting-in while the others painted the large parts.

The finished product! She was so very happy! And it was her birthday as well.

Trying to get the stain off Elder Swan's bald head!
Elder Smith is helping! Ultimately, they had to buy paint thinner to get it off. ES said he looked like someone had spilled caramel sauce all over his head.

Talk about giving your all!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Promised Photos

Here are the pictures I promised... Just a couple but I'll have more next official post.
This is the view from our stair landing. Take out the top of the car port and the fence and you'll see what we see. Notice the purple trees. Much prettier in person.

This is a shanty town on the way to Sabie. Sad how some people are forced to live.
However, the scenery is lovely.

The woman in the hat is Sister Jennifer, RS President of our branch. Sibusiso means Blessed in Zulu.
This is the family we taught. Neat people.
 The photo is blurry but Sibusiso is on the end, S. Jennifer, her granddaughter, Sibu's brother, his sister, Shpewe, his mother and some neighbor children. I think you can spot me!

Monday, October 20, 2014


Part 10 (no pix today...sorry)

Yesterday, Monday, which technically is our P day, we went to teach a lesson out in Hazy View. Now, the short route to Hazy View is torn up with construction which slows the trip down and sends us in an area where I would not like to be after dark so we go the scenic route through Sabie which takes us 2 hours. It was a beautiful day when we started. We left here at 2 pm, arrived at Sister Jennifer’s house about 10 minutes early. We picked her up along with her little granddaughter then drove another 30 minutes to Sibusiso’s home. Another young man named Sipiwe joined us. They are both members and friends of Melusi who is Jennifer’s son. Before we began Sibusiso’s entire family came in and I think a few neighborhood children even joined in. ES had prepared a Family Home Evening lesson on commandments and why we should obey the laws of Heavenly Father. First, ES began by explaining “why” we have FHE.  We sang a song accompanied by our I-Pad. Had a prayer by Sibusiso then ES gave a brief introduction about commandments then I went over 2 Nephi  2. The entire family participated and sang the songs. I know they felt the spirit. The oldest daughter who appeared to be about 20 really felt the spirit of the Holy Ghost. She told us that since the boys had started to go to church they were better boys. She even said she would accompany them to church this Sunday.

I have included a photo of where we were. One thing I have to caution is, do not confuse poverty with unhappiness. These are very happy people but sadly, they are also very poor. Notice the dirt floors and the cinderblock walls. There was no furniture in any of the rooms of the house. The kitchen was behind us and consisted of a few make-shift tables. The entire family was sitting on roughly hewn benches. There was no glass in any of the windows and there was no ceiling above our heads. The roof was littered with holes and I’m sure the rain came in freely. But, love abounded in that room.

I hope by our visit that we can teach an entire family the importance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just knowing that they have a loving Heavenly Father will help them rise up the level of how they live. What a blessing it was to be in their home.

Tuesday, we sent off Elder McClellan and the two KaNeymazane Elders and received an Elder Smith from West Jordan and two black Elders for KaNeymazane…one from Zimbabwe and one from Madagascar. Super Elders all. We had a welcome to Nelspruit dinner for them Tuesday night. The Swan’s provided a ham (which is called Gammon and not cooked like our hams are) and scalloped potatoes. I did rolls and salad. We had pumpkin pie for dessert. Sister Swan bought a pumpkin and cooked it so she could make pies. She also made an apple pie. Considering they do not sell anything like shortening here, they were really good.   

Today, Wednesday, we had our planning meeting and then off to President Manjate’s house for our weekly missionary coordination meeting.  They live in a really nice area of Nelspruit. It is quite beautiful filled with trees and flowering bushes at every turn. Our new Elder Smith, who is related to the Taylor Richards family in our home ward, was so impressed with the beauty. He has been serving in the city of Joburg which is like serving in Los Angeles and in the townships to the south of us which apparently is flat, brown and dry… kinda what I imagined all of South Africa to look like. He just kept saying, “This place is so beautiful. It is so hilly and green.” And it certainly is. Especially since we have had several rain storms… brown things turn green so quickly. It is very lush and the flowering trees are bright colors interspersed between thick green foliage—all very pleasing to the eye. We have one tree here that is covered in bright purple blossoms. It is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The one in the complex is losing its blossoms but you can look across the way and see these bright purple mounds dotting the various colors of green tree tops. This truly is the Garden of Eden spot in South Africa.

The rest of the day, I spent making cookies. I made snicker doodles, chocolate chip, brownies, and cowboy cookies. As we make deliveries and treat plates I’ll have to replenish but right now, my freezer is once again full.

Today is Thursday. It’s prepare lessons time. Catch up with things time and do a little visiting time. ES has some Bibles he’d like to drop off today so we’ll pick up a few things that we failed to get on our Tuesday grocery shopping trip and incorporate some “finding” along the way.

Friday has come and gone with Seminary and visits to Lydenburg for ES and the Jr. Elders. Great day and all was accomplished as planned.

Saturday and Sunday was the same. We had several missionary opportunities (as expected) and lots of fun times in between.

One South African observation: People of all colors say Yay-ses… I cannot even write it out phonetically but it’s a combination of Yeah and Yes… I really like how it sounds. Yay-ses… I’m going to incorporate that into my speech…it sounds so committed.

Our new Jr. Elder companionship have developed some new ideas on how to “Mesh anaries” with the Branch members so we can grow the Branch. We are giving each person “Snickers” when they pass out a Book of Mormon and/or set up a referral. ES had 8 investigators in his Gospel Essentials class on Sunday. Two of them are scheduled for baptism on November 2. We are really excited about this.

Meshanaries is a term our Mission President came up with to help us mesh with the branch members regarding missionary work. It’s quite a good idea and a great object lesson when you use it in connection with gears meshing together. Think about it.

Well, I’m glad I have facebook and can keep track of all the comings and goings of all my loved ones. I’m glad I have a computer that allows me to catalog all my comings and goings. We are always busy and always about the Lord’s errand. We are happy to be here and happy to be busy doing good things. We pray for you always and hope you remember us in your prayers.

Happy to report there are still no monkeys in my kitchen but we did see one run across the road and up a tree! Tootles.

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