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.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chapter 15: What a week!



I know I say this every week but time has whizzed by again. This is late due to our busy Sunday and our exhausting week. And the power outage. And...

Here it is in a nutshell.

Monday: errands

Tuesday: House cleaning and more errands

Wednesday: Baked brownies and prepared a lesson (which didn’t come to past)

Thursday: Uh? ES went with the missionaries and then we took a nap??? I think

Friday: Went to Sabie, Hazyview and huddled during the wildest rain and thunder/lightning storm ever!

Saturday: Went to Lydenburg and rescued a stranded family (not in that order)

Sunday: Church, baptism, farewell dinner, nap (not in that exact order either)


I actually forgot to blog about the baboons we saw while driving home from Lydenburg the time before last. An entire tribe was crossing the road as we came around a winding bend. The road to Lydenburg is a winding road much like the AF Canyon road without the trees along side. It has many hair-pin turns and top of the world views. As we rounded a bend we all saw about 50 baboons ranging in size from Dad who was nearly as big as ES down to babies. Dad Baboon stood on the side of the road and watched as all his family came across safely. They were all running and I think we were all in awe over the incident that we forgot to take pictures but it was quite amazing especially for a city girl. So now when we go to Lydenburg we watch for Baboons. ES said he saw some last Saturday but we all voted that they were just rocks.  

We had some amazing lessons this week. ES taught most of them but I participated in the one in Lydenburg. We met at Colistos home in a township (these are the areas where the government built homes and communities for the blacks during the appartide.) This one is particularly small and Calistos house is very small. He works at Spur 6-7 days a week as a chips (French fries) and onion ring fryer. His shift is from 7 am to 12 midnight. Most of his money is sent home to his wife in Zimbabwe. He is very anxious to be baptized but he keeps getting called into work and in order to qualify for baptism you must attend church 5 out of 7 weeks in a row. He has only been once.

The day before while I was teaching seminary at the Weitsz’ home the Elders went to teach Lebogang in Hazyview. He is progressing nicely and has very solid questions. The lesson finished just before the biggest rain storm so far started. This storm blew down trees and brought hale to Sabie and overlapping thunder claps with lightning that hit quite close to where we were in Sabie.

Now, since this post is going to be even later than planned I suppose it would be appropriate to use the saying: the best laid plans of mice and women… I am typing this in the dark and using the battery function of my laptop. Our power went off around 11 am and as of this writing (not posting since I have no power or internet) at 3:00 pm it is still not on. Well, normally, I’d say, “Oh well.” But today is my turn to do the “welcome to the District” new missionary dinner. ES and I planned a Thanksgiving dinner sans his favorite part—cranberry sauce as it is nonexistent here. I bought a 12 lb. turkey that I later learned I’d paid $44.00 for (not sure I would have had I actually looked at the price label) Nonetheless, I’ve made rolls, yet unbaked, green bean casserole with real crispy onion things (not Frenches’), deviled eggs—an unknown item here—and apple pie with a new for me crust using only butter as Crisco is also not sold here. Now, of course, if I ever do get power today, I’ll add mashed potatoes and gravy and corn to complete the meal.

So as I was preparing food and preparing food and preparing food ES got a call from Sister Jennifer who he is Home Teacher for and the one who lives in Hazyview that the terrible storm they had last night (we only had some rain) blew apart some of her stairs. She is the one who lives in the wooden house that the Jrs and the Srs. went out to stain. Her stairs are kinda vital since she couldn’t get out or in her home without them. The men all loaded up, canceled a few appointments and left for Hazyview. So, maybe we will have a dinner and maybe we will not.

I may have to use Christy’s quick method of turkey baking… that is if I do ever get power today.

I wish I could have the skills of James D. my photo friend. He could have captured what I saw but I could not have so I didn’t even try. Last time I spoke about all the swarms of flying bugs…I can’t begin to describe that horror scene…but yesterday while I was cutting the Elder’s hair out on our back veranda (terrace) I noticed a huge swarm of birds, yes, birds flying and zigzagging around each other just inches from our view. We have a net that covers our opening so they couldn’t have entered and I’m so glad but they wouldn’t have been the problem. There were probably 2 or 3 hundred birds—small sparrow sized creatures—swooping and buzzing the air catching in mid-flight the hundreds of white bugs that were rising up from our below neighbors garden area. I don’t know if some nest or something had suddenly burst but you could see the bugs lifting off and then the birds swooping in to eat their fill. It lasted for about 20 minutes and then suddenly when the bugs were gone so were the birds. It was, I imagine, akin to the crickets and seagull episode of the pioneers but obviously on a mini-scale. I was cheering on the birds as I’d take a million birds to one flying white bug. Like I said, I cannot describe the beauty of the birds as they flew around in a figure-8 without running into one another and feasting on those nasty little bugs.  I wish I had the ability to show you first or second hand thru print the incident.  Go birds!

So, its Wednesday. We had no power until somewhere around 1: am the next day…today. So tonight is the “welcome to the district/early by one day thanksgiving dinner.” My rolls collapsed and we ate all the eggs last night waiting to eat real food. We went to a place called Ocean Basket and had overpriced fish dinners. I, for one at least, will not eat there again. Not so hot.L

For the rest of the info of my life see the captions for the badly taken but at least taken photos.

This is Kombicillae. ES baptized her on a hot, hot Sunday after church in KaNyamazone. The stairs you can see in the background go into the small build-it-when-you-need-it baptismal font. As you can tell we are all outside. The other white people in the pix are the Swans. There were 72 people attending Kombi's baptism. Great baptism and super good attendance. You would have thought we were in the States...except for the attendance part. Never have I been to a 72 people in attendance baptism.

Another guy was also baptized.
this is a home of some investigators the elders and ES were teaching. They are all interested but they are also the children of a polygamist. The Elders are checking into the circumstances of whether they can be baptized or not... Mom probably not and she is most interested... We really don't know what the church's policy is but we're checking. It is quite legal here.

This is Lebogang who is also being taught. He lives in Hazyview or at least near there. This is outside his apartment... They taught outside as he doesn't have any windows.

Another view.

And his view of his beautiful area.

a waitress that was very friendly. she told us she was in training and that if she had one complaint she would be let go. This was right after ES said, "I'm a little upset!" "Why?" "Because you haven't given me anything to complain about!" Tee Hee Hee! Only she didn't think it was very funny. In fact she sighed hugely!

This is the family the Elders went to rescue. They were stranded without gas and food or a place to stay. Its too long a story of how they got the Elders phone number and ended up in Nelspruit but needless to say, the Elders put them in touch with our Branch President who called their Branch President and etc., etc. They were at church on Sunday. We don't know if they plan to stay. He is out of work and looking for jobs in the mines.

This is Callisto and this is the cul-de-sac where he lives. His home is the one on the left side of the pix. Just below ES's thumb. It was quite warm but only got worse when we went inside.

The smiling guys.

These are views of the inside of Callisto's home. The walls are tin and wood and yes, you do see newspapers stuck in between the spaces. Ceiling is tin and the floor is almost lino... its actually an oil cloth that he has spread out. He is very fortunate as he has a window. I was sitting in front of the window. His kitchen is behind him and ES was sitting on his bed. This is a man who used to live in Zimbabwe with his wife and baby in a real house. He was a journalist and a journalism and media teacher in school. It was because of his job that he lost everything he had. He had to come to SA to work as a chip fryer. Nice man and very faithful. When I see this I have to remind myself not to confuse poverty with unhappiness. You can see from his smile that Callisto is a very happy man. Made happier because he has found the "gaps in his soul." His words, not mine. I love this man and hope he can continue to progress for his sake and that of his family. We gave him an extra Book of Mormon to take to his wife in Zimbabwe next week when he goes home to see her.

This young man is begging. We are on our way to church on Sunday morning. He is wearing a Santa hat. Yes, he's standing on the center traffic line. His sign says that he is hungry. We think he is one of many who work for a "pimp" of sorts. Like Oliver...and what's his name. Usually, there are as many as 3 at this intersection, 4 at the other and 3 at yet another. All have similar signs and they seem to trade off. He got mad at ES because he took his photo. No such thing as stealth with ES... Well, the kid marched over to our car and demanded money for taking his photo. I gave him a 2 rand coin (.20) and he said it wasn't enough. We told him take it or leave it and drove off. Probably not going to get a referral out of that contact...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chapter 14

Chapter 14:

Well this post is late and the last week was a blur. You know when you’re up to your eyeballs in alligators or in South Africa’s case crocodiles and then one more thing happens?… Yep, you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about. Well, that was my week last go around.

ES was sick (again but he’s better now) I was working on the decorations for the Young Women in Excellence program, the weather was Horribly Hot and HUMID and then on Thursday our internet went down! Eisch…. Or however it is spelled. I announce happily that I stayed on my feet with a mostly good disposition during the entire stressful week and weekend.

We took lots of pictures so I'll let the captions do most of the talking.

this is Sister Diahle. She has been less active and agreed to help on this event and the Sunday after she came to church. Yay!

Me hanging the banners the spent the week making. I also made the overlays for the table.

Our cake stand with glasses. I made the cake table wrap with the scraps of colored fabric.

the primary class room after we stripped it of all things primary. This will be the food tables and YW display tables.

the entrance

the entrance with balloons and girls. The two in orange are twins.

the entrance with balloons sans the girls

the finished event room

with girls now and a few leaders

The woman with the short hair & in white blouse is the YW President



Some things we did not record digitally are the lessons we have been teaching (lots of those) and the dinner out at the Kruger’s home in Komatepoorte.  It was great fun and they fed us kudu fillets… Major good meat. (I have a photo of a Kudu from Kruger) I’d eat that critter anytime. Yum. We had lots of vegs, Malva pudding (which is really cake but everyone calls this kind of cake “pudding”) and orange stuff to drink. All very good. I have to say it was a delightful evening with lots of laughs and music and a spiritual lesson. Now, I must add that Komatepoorte is nearly 2 hours from our Nelspruit flat. Long drive but totally worth it.

One of the days of the blurry last week, we went to Lydenburg (another 1 ½ hour + drive) to visit a man who is investigating the church. He came to church the previous Sunday and has met with the missionaries once. Wonderful story—he met the missionaries several years ago (like 8 or so) in Zimbabwe and went to church. He had a Book of Mormon which he has read a bit in from time to time. On one of my seminary visits to Sabie I suggested that we bring pizza to the family. Well, there isn’t a pizza place in Sabie so ES and the Jrs. decided to buy the pizza in Lydenburg after they had done what they had gone there to do. While waiting for ES to order the pizza this tall, rather gaunt man approached them and told them he wanted to come to church and visit with the missionaries again. Long story short, they hooked him up with the Sibanyonis (who live in Lydenburg) and arranged for a ride. He came to church, arranged to meet with the Elders and then for the second lesson I tagged along. But, before that time, on the Sunday he was attending, I was asked to give a talk at Ezrom’s baptism on the Holy Ghost. Immediately after, Calisto told ES that he wanted to be baptized before he goes to visit his family in Zimbabwe so he could have the Holy Ghost to tell him all things he should say to his wife so she will want to join the church as well. During our meeting with Calisto, he told us that he must join this church not only for him but for his children and grandchildren. That this TRUE church will change his family forever. Now, keep in mind that he has just had his first baby girl and he has no grandchildren yet. But he gets it!!!!

Elder Smith asked Calisto to pray about whether Joseph Smith was a prophet and he said, “I already know he was and is. I will pray so my family will know.”  When you talk about Golden Contacts this guy is 24 k. gold with Platinum on top!

We will see him again on Saturday and set a date for his baptism. He can’t make it before he goes to Zimbabwe as there are mission rules about attending church 5 times out of 7 weeks so it stretches it out a bit but he is so excited to learn more. He reads the Book of Mormon always and knows the church is true. WoW!

ES will baptize Kombi this Sunday at KaNeymazane. She is the one who came to church by accident and we started fellowshipping but then she had to move. The KaNey elders began teaching her and now she is ready for her “father” to baptize her 

So, that’s one. Ezrom was baptized last week and his daughter Violet was baptized last Sunday. Ezrom is on end, Violet and her daughter, and Elder Ah Wong. Super family.

Then there are the two girls who are learning in our flat. They actually live in our complex and felt impressed to talk to the white elders with the name badges. The Elders cannot teach a sister without an older male or female present so they asked if they could teach her in our flat. We have had three lessons with Portia and then she brought her flat mate, Shokie, who is super insightful and really ready to learn. She began reading the Book of Mormon and told Portia that “this book is addictive.” Shokie has had two lessons and is hungry for more. They were at church and attended Violet’s baptism. She bore her testimony to them about her decision. Nothing like member interaction with investigators. 

Portia and Shokie.
Lebogang (exchange the g's for h's to pronounce)
On Wednesday this week we will start having scripture study class at our flat. We will basically be doing a beginning Institute class where we will discuss the Bible and the Book of Mormon—heavy on the Book of Mormon.

Then there is the guy who is the referral from the internet who lives in Hazy View…I could go on and on… but I won’t.

However, this time of year will begin to slow down our progress. At this time of year everyone who is attending school begins testing or what they call “writing.” I think because all the tests are written essays. Eisch! Not fun! And if you fail one part you must take the entire year over again. So, you can be 25 and still in grade 11. I know I would be still there trying to take that dang math exam! LOL!!!

Consequently, everyone studies really hard to pass those tests. Then when all the tests are done everyone goes “home” to wherever that is. According to locals, there will be no one in Nelspruit not even in church. They will all come back in January and life will begin again and so will missionary work.

If only Home for us wasn’t half a world away. Sigh. But, we’ll have fun and keep on working as hard as we can. Heck, I even bought a turkey (one of the 3 in the store) and since we’re not doing T-day here (like why?) I will save it for Christmas.

So still no monkeys in the kitchen but we sure had a problem with flying bugs… YUK!!! I hate bugs! It’s calmed down now and we only see a fly or two but honestly, I’ve never seen anything like the infestation that one night! It was like a horror movie! I was ready to lock myself in and never go out after dark!!!! Oh, yes I was. I think I’d prefer a monkey. Cheers.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Chapter 13... Kruger

Chapter 13

May I recommend to all world travelers… Like my friend Val… come to South Africa and visit Kruger National Park! One of the coolest things to ever spark my brain. I have included millions of pictures… well, lots anyway but I think I took a million. We saw the neatest things but I’m going to let the captions of the photos and the photos speak for themselves. After all a picture…well, you know the rest.

That was an all-day adventure with dinner at our favorite Spur—you know the Native American Restaurant with the intermingled tribes and cowboy spurs—for 2 for 1 hamburger night.  But lest you think we might have saved some money think again. I’m thinking 1 hamburger for me so the 1 for ES is free. Then 1 for Elder Smith and Elder Ah Wong’s will be free… Oh no. They each had 2 burgers! In all fairness, they offered to pay for them but who among you could take money from poor struggling missionaries… Not I!

Well, after they were struggling to breathe with having eaten too much I put them on diets! Oh yes I did. Now Elder Ah Wong isn’t buying into the idea but Elder Smith is.

Since there are so many photos I’m going to be brief. It is now Sunday…the week has—you know—well, it’s gone. I had a birthday and got OLD, I was sick an entire day which is like not having a day, we ran errands, we did missionary work, taught Seminary, cut the Elders hair, had the Seminary Kick-off event, and ate slept and watched a bit of Netflix.

I had a wonderful birthday dinner party at a Belgian restaurant called Josephine’s. It was great.

Back to Sunday: It is raining, hot and humid. Yeah, my favorite kind of weather! Not! Oh well, Paradise can’t have it all I guess. We had a baptism after church and I was asked to give a talk on the Holy Ghost, I also taught RS and my Sunday school lesson as well as had slices of my birthday cake for those in my SS class and those who had read the Gospel Doctrine lesson… It was a busy day. We just got up from taking a nap! Glorious Sabbath and there are still no monkey’s in my kitchen! Especially after I only saw two while we were in Kruger and I usually see that many out of Kruger and alongside the roadways.

Wonderful place this Africa!

deer-Impala, actually, at the entrance

Maybe you can see something in the trees???

typical topography

don't know what happened to my Monkey photos... sad really

there is a crocodile and two hippos in the water Look very closely

 More Impala... they were everywhere

signs of life... That's one big pile...

Our Elders and Elder Willombe from Zambia


 Yes, Zebras... these guys were smaller and kinda yellowish stripped instead of white. Dirt?

black rinos... endangered from poachers

these are like REALLY huge

 Yeah, I know what it looks like but his head is just a little behind his dad... A whole family of Water buffalo And talk about your big animals!!1 Just as big as the rhino

 A white rhino. I took more snaps but let's face it... I am not James Dahlrimple (sp?)
 a yellow billed something or another... Pretty cool looking bird, I must admit
a precarious rock

look closely... a Kudu they are a big as a horse. you could ride them

Yay! Elephants!!!1


bones of the spoils... A lion was here...I had another pix but it was blurry... showed a skull

the exit

Elder Smith and Elder Ah Wong

another unusual plant...

the group

saying good bye to Kruger Park

my table for the Seminary Kick-Off

Elder and Sister Heyens... My Seminary bosses

My students

a game with scriptures

some moms

my kids for next year.
Lebo, Nolwazi, Sinethimba, Dee, Nicolas and Sara... a few were not there (Brian, Nelli, and Malusi)

my birthday party with the owner and the server. great dinner

A bit blurry but you can guess what's going on! Bon Appetite!

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