I think this is why I stopped writing novels. I have become bored or boring. Life has done its inevitable softening around its edges and become normal. As I returned from the Swan’s flat I looked up into the hills that surround our apartment complex and noticed the purple trees across the road; the new white blossoms mingled with the bright pink ones of our neighbor’s trees as the branches intertwined and thought, “Ah, it must be spring again. It is truly beautiful here.” I suppose I had stopped looking at the beauty that thrilled me when we first arrived nearly a year ago. Today, I recaptured the excitement of being in Africa! Can you imagine? Africa!
Never in my life would I have imagined I would be writing a blog page from my flat in Africa…!
But…as each day folds into another I find that I have “nothing new” to report so I report nothing. Life is pretty routine. We get up as we should, we go here, we go there, always busy and working but not at new things, just at ‘normal things.’ We are living life.
Except for the one startling fact that Elder Scott is sick again. Sadly, he is really sick again. He got sick to his stomach on Monday night and today, (Friday) he is still ill. Did I ever mention that every kind of illness is termed “flu?” here? Well, what he has is really the flu. The US version of the intestinal flu. Just as my system seems to have returned to a somewhat more balanced nature, his has become totally unhinged. Wow. I would have thought he just wanted to have more empathy with me except for the duration of his illness.
We have a few, 3, new missionaries… So I guess that is new.
It is now Friday, a week later. ES is well and do I have a cure for what is called here a “running stomach.” We all know it as diarrhea. It worked miraculously. I was told about this at church. You mix a full glass of water with a Tablespoon of Corn Starch then drink it down. 2 glasses later ES began to feel better and by the 3rd glass he was well. He’s been great ever since. Completely back to normal.
Back to our new jr. elders. Elder L and Allen and Xabile left us… Elder X went home and L went on to be a Zone Leader alongside Elder Smith. Elder Allen went somewhere but nowhere I had ever heard of. I’m sure he is doing fine.
We now have Elder Pickup—yup, Pickup as in Ford, Toyota and the like. He’s from Provo but originally from WA State. He’s our new District Leader and doing a great job of it. Then we have 2 Tongan missionaries. One knew Elder L and one lived on the same island as Elder L but didn’t know him. Both of them have had to learn English here. Elder T (?) will be going home next transfer and Elder V (?) just came out in June. Nice typical islanders. Big Eaters. Big tall boys.
The elders have been working hard to locate new investigators and they’ve found a few. They are currently teaching 3 different ones who are progressing with one on date for baptism in September.
I’m busy doing the same old things I always do. I made a zillion itty-bitty cookies for our Helping Hands outing for Saturday the 15th of August. I’m in the process of making a huge potato salad for the same event.
September 5th will be a community event called “Bears and Prayers.” President Dunn was attacked by a grizzly bear and he gives a great fireside event regarding it. We are setting up an event in Lydenburg with President as the guest speaker. It ought to be great. I’m working with the advertising and since one of our members own a printing company she is working with us to do this work. Should be great. KaNyamazane is hosting the Dunn’s the next day for the same presentation but for their branch and a few guests.
Sadly, we did not take any photos of our farewell dinner for Elder X, our welcome dinner for the 3 new ones or our district meeting today! I’m not sure what brain cloud has alighted over our thought process but … Sorry.
I’ll take pictures of Helping Hands… Hopefully.
It’s now Wednesday and Helping Hands was a huge success. We had a great turn out and accomplished several projects the Millennial Home for Children needed doing. Like painting the garage, building a sand box and raking the debris from several huge trees. The youth and YA guys were the busiest. They worked so hard and still had a great time doing it. Our Elders helped put the sand box together. A group from a school was also there but they only had 2 girls show up to help so our great Elders volunteered to put the box together for the school teacher. They did a great job and the husband and wife team from the school was really impressed. They were really impressed that there were “Mormons” in Nelspruit. They had heard about us but had no idea that we were real and worldwide. All in all, it was a great productive day!
We, the RS, brought lunch for everyone. Besides making 2 batches of very small chocolate chip cookies, I made my now famous potato salad and someone else made Chakalaka… Real thing… really, I promise. Its grated carrots, white beans, chilies of some kind, and an oil dressing. Super-hot. I did not like it. We also had Boers. Which is a sausage here that is served at every Braai or BBQ to us. Tastes a bit like bratwurst but heartier.
Sunday was a great day with a baptism afterward of a child of record but like all the other baptisms we had lunch afterward. I wasn’t asked to bring anything so I enjoyed the goodies without any work. At every event, someone always brings marshmallows. Pink and white mix. You cannot buy plain white marshmallows—they are always mixed so when you use them to make rice Krispy treats the color is always a bit weird.
On Monday we had a real day off. We slept in a bit later, we did some shopping, took a nap and then went to dinner and a movie with the Swans. We saw Mission Impossible—whatever number it was. But, really great movie! Enjoyed every minute of it. And really clean! One swear word that I heard anyway. We were on the edge of our seats the entire time. Loved it and will see it again when we go home.
Tuesday was a Lydenburg trip where we met a new investigator. His name is Cecil and he is Afrikaner. He is 18 and a referral. Which is totally rare out here. He was going to school in Pretoria and he met some missionaries while one of his friends was being taught. He was so interested that he called the mission office to request missionaries. Wow. He’s a great kid.
And… he has the cutest dog. A black Scottie named Bobby. So cute. I do have pix of him and the dog. They live in a beautiful home that was built in the early 1900s. Loved it and so typical of plantation South African times.
We saw and taught many of our regulars out there but didn’t have much time to visit with them. We did go and look at Lindi and Simon’s new stand. Here’s how this works. If you are a South African citizen then you can go to the Home Affairs office and sign up on a register for a stand—a piece of property. When the province decides they need to develop additional lands they go down the list and see if the person still wants a piece of property. You sign your name on the deed and give them a promise that you will develop it within 2-3 months. You have to do something on it at least. You do not pay for it but most stands have a 50 Rand a year tax on them. Your water comes from a spigot about 5 stands away but there is no electricity out as far as their stand or sewage for that matter. They will have to dig an outhouse. It will be a 2-3 room wood frame surrounded by corrugated metal paneling and a corrugated zinc roof. A lot of things will be done outside because it will be hotter than H-E-double-toothpicks inside! But you won’t find two happier people on the face of the earth now that they can build their own house.
Today, Wednesday, I attempted to help two branch members with their family history. We decided we’d meet at our Branch building. After a few phone calls and several failed attempts to locate the Wi-Fi for the branch we decided to change the location to my flat. Well, I got on for one sister and actually entered several family members but due to the recent birth dates of the deceased she has to get approval to do her cousins work. So we are waiting for that.
Then when I began the brother’s log in we got all the way in only to find out that he had an existing account but didn’t remember his username or password. So by the time we got it sorted 2 hours had passed and the Elders were expecting me for lunch. I gathered all the information and told them I would finish imputing it for them and get the papers for them to do the work next week when we go to the temple.
Tonight is our Book of Mormon class and I have to do a bit of reading for that. Busy day. But a fun day helping. Family Search has really changed a lot and for the better. Super easy to move around in. Enjoyed doing the work today. I guess I’ll have to do more of it when I get home. I remember when Rabecca and family lived with us, we’d sit at the island and do family history. Good times.
Institute was canceled due to a lack of students. So, ES and I watched NCIS and had dinner.
Thursday was an interesting day with shopping in the morning, meeting the President at the branch for him to interview temple recommend holders. In the evening, the Branch leaders had a meeting with the mission president while Sister Maleka, Sister McCarthy and I went to McDonalds for a laugh fest.
After district meeting, which was really great, ES and I drove to Lydenburg to pick up the flyers, poster and signage for the upcoming Lydenburg Bears and Prayers event.
Saturday was Seminary. We watched Joseph Smith; the Prophet of the Restoration—the same DVD they used to play in the Joseph Smith Building. Great movie. Of course, I cried but so did the others.
The Elders went to Lydenburg while I stayed home and cooked, cleaned, mended and worked on assignments regarding the branch’s history.
Another new week!
This week was full of adventure as we had zone conference on Wednesday in Johannesburg. That’s about a 5 hour drive if you stop for lunch which we did. The Swans went with us even though they were both feeling poorly. Sister Swan has strep throat and Elder Swan developed a cold the day of and was really feeling it by the time we arrived at our B&B. They had arranged for a nice place on the edge of a golf course. We settled in then arranged for dinner.
Zone conference was excellent. We had several guests and guest presenters which brought another dimension to what we needed to learn. There was a newly baptized couple who told their story and answered questions on how they found the gospel.
The Schultes… I think. They are Afrikaner which is quite different from the norm around here anyway. His brother is a member from way back but lives in New Zealand. Brother Schulte always knew there was something different about his brother who always seemed to be the sensible one; the one with all the answers; they one who knew who he was. While he was a drug addict, a heavy smoker, a partier and really concerned with the world and not with his family and certainly not with God. He became quite adept at mixed martial arts and became South Africa’s champion. He thought he had reached his pinnacle. His wife was into spiritualism, super-natural healing and drugs along with Eastern-type beliefs without really embracing any of them fully. She said, all they did as a family was fight. They were so unhappy. Well, one day the missionaries just happened to knock on their door. Because of the brother and his connection, she let them in. They seemed to connect. It went on from there lesson by lesson until their lives began to change. They have only been baptized for few months but they are glowing with happiness. As they tell their story you can feel the spirit bear testimony that they really know the church is where one finds the saving ordinances.
But, it was an 11 year journey for them. 11 years ago, she told her brother-in-law—the member—to never mention the church again or she’d walk out of his house and never come back. But then 3 years ago, she quit drugs and smoking. Her husband followed to support her because she was near death using them. Then a while ago she tried to commit suicide. Shortly afterwards she asked a member she had met through the missionaries if he would give her a blessing. He told her so many things in that blessing that she knew God knew her personally and that He loved her. That was their changing point. Brother Schulte said he had always felt the spirit—now that he knows what it is to do so—whenever his brother spoke to him about the church but that his life was such a mess that he just couldn’t or wouldn’t believe it could be the same for him. He didn’t feel worthy enough to feel the joy of God’s love.
What a story. It was so moving and heart touching but not sad—extremely joyful.
Then Elder and Sister Peterson were there to do a class on emotional well-being. He is the mission phycologist. I didn’t even know they had one. He is in charge of 14 missions all across the southern part of Africa. I learned that if I have a problem I ruminate. Which in its very nature, makes things worse. I have learned how to break the cycle. Well, it’s easier said than done of course. But it was an interesting class.
Overall, I think this was the best zone conference we have been to. Now we will only have one more before we go home. Which is super amazing to think that time has gone by so quickly or I guess a more accurate statement is that time is going by so quickly since we still have 6 months to serve.
I hope by then that Lydenburg will be a branch and that we will be in our new building. Those are our goals…however, we have absolutely no control or influence over either happening. So????
It has taken me two days to recover from our Joburg trip as I do all the driving. Any time I have change in our schedule it really takes it out of me. I get so tired. I think I am old. Sigh! Oh well, like grandma Scott used to say, “It beats the alternative.”
The crazy thing is we are going to Joburg tomorrow. This time we are going to the temple. We have permission to take the Nkosi girls with us for them to do baptisms for the dead. They are so excited to do this and we are so excited for them to experience the temple. I’m not sure how many are actually going to be there but most of those recent converts will be there. Calisto and Christine, Lindi and Simon and Evelyn and Pearl and Siyabonga as well. There are lots of youth going. It is life changing for them. I hope it cements their faith forever.
But, it’s another 5 hour drive and we have to leave at 4 a.m. I’m not sure what time we will get home but I hope early enough to rest before we start all over again on Sunday.
Monday is our “”take the elders to Kruger” day. Since Elder T from Kany is going home and so is Elder Edeouch is going home shortly, we will spoil them with a day in Kruger.
Maybe we’ll remember to take a few photos. Oh, one more thing. One the way to Joburg, ES’s phone screen died. It just went black and no matter what he did it stayed that way. He had to get a new phone but I’m afraid he has lost all his photos that he’s been collecting for me. Sigh.
One more experience then I’m out of here for another week… maybe.
Saturday evening, I was preparing a shrimp and avocado salad for our dinner. It was about 7:30 and I suspected ES would be home soon and hungry so I began rinsing the shrimp. Then I began to prepare the avo’s. As usual, I cut the first one in half and then began to remove the seed. I have always done it this way although I may consider a new way from this point on… I hit the seed with the edge of a sharp knife and it sticks in and I lift the seed out. Well, that time, the knife blade slipped off the slippery seed and plunged through the avocado and into my hand. Ouch!!!!
It really hurt and instantly started to bleed! Like lots and lots. So being the sensible person I am I rinsed it under cold water and then as I saw the extent of the wound I grabbed a cloth—sadly one of my Norwex cloths—and applied pressure. About 10 minutes later, when the bleeding wouldn’t stop I called ES asking him how far away he was…. Eish, he hadn’t even left Lydenburg yet! I asked him to call the Swans to see if they were home and if they could come and rescue me. About 20 minutes later (they had to change from their pjs) they came over. Sister Swan agreed that I needed stitches so they drove me to Urgent Care. We arrived about 15 minutes before they were going to close so I was glad they were still open and I didn’t have to go to the regular ER… who knows how long that would have taken. But, I was admitted immediately and 10 minutes later my hand was numb and I had 4 stitches in it. Wow.
Today, Friday, I had the stitches removed. It still hurts a bit and wow did the back of my hand bruise. It is all kinds of purple, green and yellow. I am positive I hit the bone with the tip of the knife!
Well, live and learn. No more sharp knives for me!
|these are the only photos we have available. This is where we stayed. It was very nice.|
And gladly, no monkey’s in my kitchen. No avocados either.
(sorry no pictures of Bobby, the Scotty dog. They were all lost with the phone disaster)