Monday, January 26, 2015

Chapter 24: No pictures...sorrrrryyyy Just plain ol' writing

Today, Tuesday at this writing, Calisto, our investigator from Lydenburg, sent us the following: “Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is the cheaf conerstone of our gospel. We are blessed to have such a great restored gospel through prpht J Smith. Amen” 

We love this man! He is such an amazingly spiritual person who desires to be baptized. He just has to get off on Sundays more. We really love this man. I know I keep saying that but it’s just so true.

So the week has disappeared again. I am again writing on Sunday afternoon.

Church was great and moderately well attended. The Weitsz family was sick so that meant that Diane was not able to teach Gospel Doctrine so I got to do that today. I had everyone who wasn’t in Primary in my class including my own youth class. The lesson was easily adaptable as it was on the birth of the Savior. We had some less-actives attend, an entire family of investigators and a young woman from Swaziland. It was great—as it should be every week! Except for me teaching Gospel Doctrine that is.

ES and I are starting diets tomorrow so today we are having the “I’m going to feast on everything I cannot eat ever again feast” for dinner. I’ve just put the chocolate cake in the oven and I have rolls rising. We are having shepherd’s pie even though it is super-hot today. The weather has been so pleasant and the humidity has dropped to very livable and now the heat has returned. But, Oh Well! I have my A/C on right now but I will turn it off because we are expecting Debbie to come over for a lesson and she loves to be hot.

The last few days have been filled with absolutely great experiences! We had our scripture study class and 13 attended! Wow… 3 of those were children but I’m still counting them. Then on Thursday we went to visit the Bethel’s who live in Sabie and own the second-hand store. Then on Friday while I worked on my Seminary lesson, the Elders went to visit a family of mostly members (one daughter was not ready to be baptized when the rest were) who live an hour away from Nelspruit. They cannot come to church as they do not have a car and there are no buses that run on Sundays. The son wants to be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood and the daughter is now ready to join. Problem is how to get them to church????? There are no other members who live around them.

On Saturday we drove to Lydenburg to teach Calisto and to visit with the Sagauke family. They actually moved out of Nelspruit Branch the second Sunday we arrived…they moved to Johannesburg for a change of school but 2 weeks ago they moved back. They felt they had not accomplished what they needed to do in Nelspruit. I believe they have been directed to come back because this Branch needs them. They are incredible movers and shakers. Already they are out visiting the less-actives, calling members during the week, making plans to grow Nelspruit. He was the Branch President before and his wife was YW President. They will make a huge difference now that they are back. He works in the mine in Lydenburg and has for 10 years. They said they are here to stay. Great people. We need 10 more families.

And we think we have found one. Ben and Tulie and family of three. They came to church yesterday (Monday today) and are great people. Tulie really enjoyed all of the meetings. Ben is a little less expressive but he had a lot of questions about things which ES spent a few minutes discussing with him. The Jrs. found this family and have been teaching them for a while…ES joins them most lessons. They are what is called Progressing Investigators. They were warmly welcomed and fellowshipped the minute Sacrament meeting ended and all through the meeting.

Today is “P” day. We have lots of shopping to do and Jrs. hair to cut. I have to make a mock throne chair—Yes, Christy, I am stealing your idea but not so wonderful as I have no access to wood (yours looks magnificent, by the way)—for the New Beginnings I am working on for this Saturday. We did decide what we are doing and I’ll be busy this week as well as my normal doing.

Oh, we did see Baboons on the road to Lydenburg. None of us were ready with cameras and at 80kilometers it is hard to stop and take a snap. Beautiful creatures. But I’m glad they or any of their cousins are not in my kitchen

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chapter 23:

Chapter 23: It is Tuesday again—at least at this writing. Martha, our housekeeper is here. Yes, I have a housekeeper. I’m sure I’ve told you about her. But just to refresh; she’s from KaNeymazane, a member of the church and a delight to have around. She determined it was time to wash my bedspread so she pulled it off the bed and washed it in the bathtub. It is now in the dryer. It is very hot today. My noisy A/C is on. However, Elder Swan came over last night and got rid of most of the rattle. It is now just like a window air con—noisy but not unbearable. And, I’d rather be cool than hot so I’ll cope with the noise.

We are ready to meet with the Elders for planning meeting—they should be here any minute.

At this writing it is Thursday evening. We’ve had some eventual days but the topper of it all was the off-the-books Institute Class we started last night. I say of-the-books because this is a non-credit, non-sanctioned by CES class. We really call it our “Scripture Study Class.” We had 3 here last night: 2 members and 1 non-member investigator all official institute age. Our intent is to teach the scriptures in a way that they will desire to read them and gain testimonies of them. We tried to start it a while ago but with the holidays interrupting everything it finally got off the ground. Three is a small start but it’s a start. Of course we’d like to see dozens. Who knows, maybe we will.

I’m spent all afternoon preparing for Seminary this Saturday. I’m really excited about this class. The Jrs. have been talking it up with everyone who is eligible. Hopefully, they will all come and invite their friends.

I thought this was interesting… Talk about your Scarlet Letter! Wow, I’m not sure I would have ever learned to drive. That giant “L” means “learner driver.” And it is RED so everyone can see it. I’m not sure all the ins and outs of learning to drive in South Africa but that red “L” would do it for me. Yes, I am insecure.

It is now (at the time of this writing) Friday afternoon. I have solved my problem with the help of some Facebook friends and my son regarding the jumping cursor so it makes typing easy again. I guess I’ve been typing all along with the touch pad turned off. Then someone, maybe even me, turned it on again. I kept turning it off but it wouldn’t do anything to the touch pad. Finally, I disconnected the laptop, turned it off and turned it back on again. And miraculously, the button to turn the touchpad off and on works again. I can now turn off the touch pad and stop jumping the cursor cause it sure is hard to type with letters ending up in all sorts of directions. Eish!

I have finished preparing my lesson except for a quick run-through reading and I’m ready to teach.

Last night we had another investigator lesson with Debbie who asked for a cup of hot water so she could make her cup of coffee. Then, when it was just she and I, she asked, “Now, tell me why you don’t drink coffee?” So I gave her a lesson on the Word of Wisdom.  Turned out well. She didn’t run away and say Eish or anything. But, I could almost hear her brain-cogs spinning… She already is bowled over thinking about all the new doctrine we are presenting her. This was just one more new thing for her to digest.

The week crept up on me so suddenly that I forgot it was District Meeting this morning. The Swans are in Joburg with their branch for a temple trip so the meeting was at our house. Thank goodness for McDonalds! We met there and had breakfast then came home for our meeting. No dishes, no prep, no mess. And I believe it is just about as cheap. ES bought us all Ronald McDonald socks…. We look so cute!

ES is off with the Jrs. to teach a couple of lessons tonight. Then we will go to dinner at Spur to spend a gift that someone very special arranged for us. Yum. I already know I’m having chicken.

We did not make it to Spur because of the horrible rain/thunder/lightning storm. So I fixed dinner for everyone.

On Saturday I had my first Seminary class. We had 4 in attendance. It turned out great. Sadly, I forgot to take pictures but I will do so this Saturday.

Sunday was ideal! We had lots of people at church! Several investigators and even a new move in member and an entire family that moved out when we first came to SA has moved back. They will be a great asset to the branch. He was the Branch President before.  The talks were excellent and so absolutely spot-on with a normal sacrament meeting. (You could possibly discern from my comment that it isn’t always so. LOL)

Monday saw us at Urgent Care again but this time with Elder Willombe from KaNeymazane. He is the last to fall victim to this bug that attacks the lungs. His is still in his throat. We went to lunch afterwards and treated the Elders to Spur burgers. On Monday, you can buy one burger and get one free. We used our gift certificate and really enjoyed our afternoon teasing and chatting with the Elders.

Everything is great! The weather has cooled down due to the rain on Friday. Now the weather is pleasant like when we first moved here. The humidity is low, the sun seems to have backed off a few degrees and a breeze is blowing. Ahhhh, I can breathe again. Paradise.

Still no monkeys and no sightings either. We will have to go to Lydenburg so we can see the Baboons along the road. What a sight. Lovely.

a contest to hit the basket that is blocked by Elder Pully. No one has been able to make the basket the first time trying

Our socks!

the Scarlet Letter!

Dinner with President and Sister Dunn, their daughter, the Swans, and our favorite waitress, Sister Lorraine (a member) and the manager of the restaurant Cicada... our favorite place... best steaks!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Chapter 22. Officially we've been in mission 5 months!

Chapter 22:

It is now Wednesday. This blog will be short as I just posted week 21… Wow, the time is really flying. We received our new Elder last night. The Swan’s prepared a wonderful ham and cold salad dinner. It is back to being HOT and HUMID again although today has been cooler than the last 4 days with a nice wind blowing through the flat which cools things down considerably.

Our new Elder is from Finland. Yes, he’s a strapping Scandinavian in all regards. He actually makes ES and Elder Smith look tiny… okay, short at least. His name is Kankuunnen, (check spelling). Today has been what he deemed his “sponge” day. There is so much to learn when you are transferred to a new area. His old area was dry and brown compared to this lush green and wet area so he’s thrilled about his new scenery. We are looking forward to getting to love him better.

Certainly we miss Elder Ah Wong but that is the reality of the life of a missionary. We really never experienced this in New York with working part-time in the office we still saw the missionaries no matter where they served. Only when they went home did our heart strings get tugged to the point of breaking. The transfer of Elder Ah Wong has been a new experience for this old woman. L

I am focusing on Seminary now. I begin teaching January 17, 2015. It will be Doctrine and Covenants & Church History. A great course if it’s anything like the last time I taught it which was so long ago there must be new information that has come about by now!

It looks like I will have 5 students which seems like a small class until you consider that it is 5 more than they have ever had in Nelspruit. The class will only be once a week which means the students will have to do 4 days of home-study. These are sharp kids who will revel in this learning. I’m so looking forward to this.

ES and the Jrs. are out teaching. We have a lesson at our flat tonight at 8 pm with Portia, one of our students who went home to Bush Back Ridge for the holidays. I’m so excited that she has returned and wants to continue with the lessons. She has even been to church which is an established criterion for continuing to teach investigators: If you cannot commit to come to church while you’re learning about the gospel chances are you will not keep the covenants you’ve made if you are baptized… Just a fact of life.

OK! So I just listened to the Lone Peak Ward Christmas CD… NO, we haven’t received it in the mail…that might happen around Easter LOL but I was able to download it from the RS newsletter. It was wonderful.

We had a great lesson with Portia who also brought her roommate and friend. We were able to give her some council regarding her problem which turned out to be a misunderstanding only. I think it will resolve itself without too much ado. The lesson was an introduction for Portia’s friend whose Zulu name is quite long and which I’ve already forgotten.  She’s a cute girl with lots and lots of curly hair. Almost all of the women here wear their hair very short—even shaved and then wear braids with artificial hair or wigs in every variety conceivable. Portia has braids and I’m sure her friend had on a wig. Believe me; I’m tempted to shave my hair too but not wear a wig… By listening to Elder Kankkunnen teach we got to know him a bit better as well.

This afternoon we went grocery shopping for a few needed items. While we were there at Spar Debbie from the Mugg & Bean came up to us. She looked so much healthier and she was not wearing her patch. She hugged me and told us that she’d gone to a specialist who has helped her a great deal. She can see about 50% now. She said it was a miracle! Yay! I believe it was. So while speaking with her, she confirmed an appointment and then went on to ask a few questions. We answered them and basically had a 30 minute lesson in the grocery store.

It’s the oddest thing… the Mugg & Bean opens out into the check stands (tills) of the Spar Grocery Store. It’s not like being at Wal-Mart and walking into a Subway or a McDonalds… it’s an actual restaurant with separate entrances and the like whose back door is a railing that boarders the store. You can sit at your table and keep an eye on all the shoppers. It’s strange no matter how you look at it. We were, however, happy to see Debbie and happier still to teach her some things that will help her.

Saturday we are going to Lydenburg to visit with Calisto with a Sabie stop to do our home teaching. We have all the outlying people. Last week, our sister from Hazyview moved to Joburg. She lived in the house the elders stained for her if you remember seeing those photos. It was sad to see her go. I lost one of my Sunday school and Seminary students. We’ve a busy weekend so I’ll keep you posted with all of our investigators progress.

Our meeting with Calisto was amazing. Let’s just say that he is a Platinum investigator: he reads everything he can, prays always, sings songs of praise to Heavenly Father for finding the truth and has changed his life to align it with the Gospel of Christ. His work just prevents him from going to church enough times to qualify for baptism. He told us something appalling but quite realistic in this country where apartheid is still alive. Whenever we come and visit Calisto’s bosses assign him more work to do and longer hours because of “white people associating with a black man.” It was super noisy at the Spur and quite distracting with the TVs on and children running around and the normal hustle and bustle of a restaurant.  

Around 2:00 pm on Sunday after the smallest attended Sacrament meeting ever, we met with Debbie. She was really prepared and asked lots of questions. We, of course, had lots of answers. She left wondering if what we told her—cause what we told her, she said, was different than what any other minister or pastor has told her—just might be true. She wasn’t into absolute truth yet but she liked what we taught her—mostly the Plan of Salvation—and actually hoped it was true. Sound like Alma 32? Yeah, we thought so too.

But I have to say it is the first investigator lesson where I was asked if I could serve a cup of coffee. When I told her I did not have any and offered her Rooibos tea instead. She said, “No, but if I could have a cup of boiling water I can make my own.” She whipped out a little bag of coffee and some cream and made herself a cup. I daresay a missionary lesson has never smelled so good. I’m just glad we weren’t teaching the word of wisdom.

So, now it’s 400 degrees outside, my A/C is running noisily along and the Elders have all gone to teach a couple more lessons. We have one more single female lesson to teach here in our flat at 7 pm. I’ve got a chocolate cake in the oven and we are having ES’s favorite dinner… Mince (ground beef patties) mashed potatoes, gravy and corn. I’ll also add carrots and rolls then we’ll top it off with a chocolate cake with white glaze…

It has still not rained…all week we have been waiting for it…so the temperatures are pretty much Phoenix without stream but some humidity so thankfully the A/C is dropping the temps in my little flat. Otherwise, ES would not be getting a cake and his investigator wouldn’t have gotten cookies. Looking towards next week our schedule is filling up. I’m glad I have a new planner to keep my life orderly… oh, wait… I haven’t written anything down yet. I will do it Just Now… Remind me to explain that to you all…

Still no monkeys and finally, our ants are gone.


Calisto, Elders and me in front of the Pizza store where the Elders first bumped into Calisto. In case you've forgotten the story, ES went to buy pizza to take to a family but the Elders (Smith and Ah Wong) decided to go outside and contact passersby. Calisto was on his way to work and saw the Elders and said, "Hey I know your church. I want to start to learn again." He's been amazing ever since.

Elder Kankkunnen and Elder Smith sitting at the counter in our flat. Nice guy and pretty funny as well.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Chapter 21: Happy New Year 2015!

Chapter 21: Happy New Year!!!!

 Can you believe it? It is 2015! I’m amazed that that number is upon us… I can remember so vividly when the 2000 mark rolled around. We have moved so rapidly through the last 15 years that it’s hard to believe.

We’ve had a nice beginning to the week. I’m finally sitting to write on the blog and its Wednesday.
We drove to Kamatipoort yesterday (Tuesday last) which is about 3 kilometers from the Mozambique border and a 2-hour drive from our flat. Having a bit of time before we needed to be at the Kruger’s home, we drove to the border crossing. We let the Jrs. walk through the no-man’s land all the way to the actual border. We stayed and watched our car and all the interesting people. Just like living National Geographic.

The weather has been pleasant which is usually a conversation ploy for stalling but since I’ve been complaining about the HOT and HUMID stuff I thought I would insert that observation as we stood for some time watching the people and the chickens and the taxis off-loading people and their goods. We were close by where the Kamati River and the Crocodile River merge before flowing into the ocean. It was a very beautiful place. And a most interesting place. ES and I did not walk through the gates to the actual crossing itself but we could see where one country merged into another.

Today is New Year’s Eve and once it is dark we are going to change into our relaxing clothes, chose a Netflix movie and watch until Midnight. Yay!!!! We bought some sparkling red grape juice to toast the New Year. Time is going so quickly we will be leaving our mission before we realize what has happened.

Currently, ES and the Jrs. have gone to fetch Debbie, our investigator, to bring her to our flat and give her a blessing. On Christmas day, she went out to pick a lemon from her tree and a wasp stung her IN the eye. She is doing quite badly. Not only did she spend the rest of Christmas in the hospital but her vision is now impaired. They are hoping it is not permanent but they don’t know for sure. ES sent her a SMS (text) to see how she was and to wish her a happy new year and she said she “Had been better.” So he quoted her the scripture about calling the elders when you are ill and asked if she would like a blessing. She said she would.

They are on their way here.  (it went well)

Tomorrow is a free day. We are driving with the Jrs. to visit the tourist spots around Sabie like God’s Window and Potholes and Pilgrim’s Rest. These are amazingly beautiful places where people come from all over Africa (and the world) to see and they are right in our own backyard… well, an hour-or- two drive-away-back-yard anyway.

At this writing it is Tuesday. I am late with my blog due to the incredibly busy weekend that has transpired. To summarize: we had a great New Year’s Day! Super relaxing. See pictures; they’ll tell the story. The photos are of 2 waterfalls out in Sabie (the one where I slipped and fell covering myself in slimy mud is my most favorite.)

On Saturday, I had a 3 + hour seminary in-service training meeting. Very enlightening. I’m teaching Doctrine & Covenants/church history this year.

And on Saturday afternoon we were informed that Elder Ah Wong was going to be transferred. Very sad news for all; except he was of two minds. Elder Ah Wong was excited for the change and challenge but very, very sad to leave all those he had grown to love. This was his first place to serve and he has been here for almost 6 months. We were his first Sr. couple and he was our first missionary and of course, we love him. So when Monday came rolling around it was hard to say farewell.

Sunday, we had a farewell dinner for Elder Ah Wong. I fixed easy to do things as it has, once again, heated up to blazing temperatures. We ran our room noisier-than-a-jet-plane air-con all day. It was reasonably pleasant in our flat as the district joined in the send-off Elder Ah Wong in the manner he should have been. We just had to yell at each other to be heard. (maybe a bit of hyperbole.)

Tuesday, tonight, we will welcome the new Elder. He’s got awfully large shoes to fill.

Nothing new to report on the missionary work. This is a strange place regarding holidays. Everyone goes home for at least 2 weeks. Businesses close, work stops everywhere. They have been doing roadwork on the street that leads into our apartment since before we got here. Right about the 10th of December they stopped working on the road and as of yet they have not resumed. Will be interesting to see it start up again. But with this holiday season all of our investigators left the area. Hopefully, they will be returning soon so proselyting-life can begin again.

Still no monkeys but we got to see 2 separate groups of them on New Year’s Day… zoos are just not going to have the same appeal they once had…

This is Violet working at the water purification plant. I wasn't there so I'm not exactly sure what she is doing or what the next few pictures are but they are of the plant.

This is at the border. The trailer to the left hauls all the goods the travelers carry to the border. I'm not sure what this woman is doing but we are standing next to our car. See the shadow left hand corner. That's ES arm snapping the shot.

We are parked on the edge of the street right next to this garbage can... But the picture is of the vendors behind the orange umbrella. they sell all kinds of foods and some household items that crossers  can utilize.

Elder Smith is pointing to the Mozambique border.

Pay attention to the woman walking...not the car. She is carrying what she purchased on her head.

They have these small round pillow/type hats they roll and place on their heads. They place their bundles on their heads and walk along as if nothing is there. The one in the blue shirt was nearly running to catch up with her friend. She is carrying 5 dozen eggs in her arms. they walk across the border than pickup taxis on the other side to take them to their villages.

The river is in the back. This is where two major rivers join before moving into Mozambique and then into the ocean.

My boys and I'm not sure what I'm doing... ES is not much of a photographer...sorry.

New Year 2015. Elder Ah Wong pointing to Lone Creek Falls. It was like a "happening" that day. Place was packed with people all Braai-ing and having fun. There were lots of vendors across the way selling SA wares. The falls proper was beautiful.

Boy do we need to diet!

The Fantastic Four

The falls. I'm not sure if I'm praising some unknown deity or taking a photo????

Some posers. People love their photos taken. I was in several with these black girls. The white ones wouldn't even speak with us... not even Hello.


Horseshoe Falls. It is my favorite See the guy in the striped shirt. He moved down this little canyon just as I was walking behind him and slipped! I slid down a sloped rock, rolled across it and nearly toppled into the water. Bruised my rear end, my elbows and of course, my pride. Plus I was covered in silty mud. Fun.

This is the old man who collects your money to get into the park. He's got to be 100. Nice man. He sits there all day and collects R4 each visitor.

Pilgrims Rest. This is a mining town from the 1800's which has been preserved with shops and houses much like old Park City or Jamestown in CA. I rather enjoyed this part of the visit. We spent some time browsing and looking for some place to eat. We finally resolved to eat the snacks I had brought and wait for dinner so we could see the rest of the sites.

A better view

cows alongside the road on the way to God's Window

Warning! I love the pictures. Especially the one with the little person praying to the flowers. Um? And the guy falling...

I had to ditch my striped shirt, don my sweatshirt and see my new scarf I bought in Pilgrims Rest...
the area is called something like the "three roundels" I'm not sure if that is it exactly but the next picture shows a better view.

There are 3 of those Roundels (?) cropping up. see below as well. It is a magnificent view. You can see all the way to Nelspruit which is a long way away.

Those rocks are simply amazing. Someone told me you can take a boat ride along the river and that there is even a restaurant where you can dine by candlelight before taking the cruise back. Sounds nice and expensive.
Well that was our New Year's Day 2015. We didn't get in to see the potholes due to the size of the crowd but next time we'll take some better snaps. Elder Smith's blog which I reposted on my timeline has a few better photos. If you're looking at a map the area of the falls, the cows, and the Roundels are North of us towards the Zimbabwe border. Mozambique is West and South of us. That entire time of sightseeing we did not leave our mission area. Our proselyting area is HUGE. And might I add spectacular. Until Next time.

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