The sun was shining and so were the faces of the members of the branch as they came together to partake of the sacrament, share the gospel and fellowship with each other. President Kwaikwai had to work and Omphile – the second counselor had to go to school so I got to preside for the day and also teach the Priesthood lesson.
Most Fridays we drive over to Klerksdorp to attend district development meeting with the elders. It gives us a chance to inter-act with the elders, share their spirit and learn. It also lets us share some of the successful ideas to improve their teaching and finding that we have learned on our other missions.
Elder Barton is the district leader and serves with us in Ikageng and Potch. Elders Peterson and Dye serve the Klerksdorp area while elders Todd and Turauskis serve in Jouberton. These last two missionaries were a little late to the meeting because they were getting their car washed. It seems that they almost got stuck in a large mud puddle – there are lots of those in their area – and their spinning wheels threw mud every where – including all over elder Turauskis left arm and shirt. They were lucky because they managed to get out of the mess without having to push the car. If they had to do that there would have been mud all over their shoes and clothes.
As usual they gave their area reports and there are a lot of people on date for baptism in the district in the coming month. Elder Barton led a lesson on the parable of the sower and he used elder Oaks talk on the subject as well as the scripture in Mark.
Following the meeting they enjoyed the rice krispy treats Mary made yesterday. The pink marshmallows give a rather festive look to them. Mary let me lick the spoon – or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I gnawed the spoon since licking did not work well.
Later in the afternoon Mary held Seminary. She is having the students take turn teaching the lesson and they have been doing a good job. Sister Shavonne Kruger taught this week and from what she wrote on the board I would say it was an excellent one. While Mary was teaching I went out visiting some members but made it back in time to help out with the activity part of the afternoon.
We are having a quiet week and we seem to have needed it. Mary fought through a sore throat – nagging more than anything else and we were both tired. Here are some of our experiences for the last 3 days…
When we drive out of our complex and stop at a 4-way corner we often find the man standing in the middle of the intersection selling newspapers. Since we do not read Afrikaans we smile at him or wave and go on through. Today I stopped and talked to him for a while to find out more about him and his job. Gladwin’s wife passed last year leaving him with two daughters 8 and 13. He has been selling newspapers for a living for 15 years. He sells papers 4 days a week – Thursday through Sunday and makes between 170 and 220 rand a day – that comes out to about 300 US dollars a month on which to raise a family. That is pretty good wages for four days of work when many men and women get that for six days work.
The car wash I go to has a senior – or here we are pensioners – discount Monday through Thursday. They completely clean the outside and inside of the car for about $2.60 – 300 rand. The place is usually very busy and it takes about an hour. It is not an experience for an impatient person because there is no way to speed things up. It gets a through washing – first with a power cleaner and then hand soaped over every inch at least twice. Then a crew of 4 or 5 people wipes up and cleans up inside and out. They even clean the hinges on the boot. Besides the standard carwash they have a detailing area where – if possible – they take the seats out of the cars and clean the underside of them. Many of the car dealerships bring their used cars here to get them ready for the sales lot. One of these days I am going to talk to one of the people who work there and find out how long they work and how much they are paid.
We are going to go to Kruger National Park for our anniversary next month so we went to a local business that specializes in Safaris – sightseeing and hunting – as well as other tours around the area or about anywhere in Africa you would like to go. They arrange drive yourself tours but specialize in ones where they drive. We are doing our own driving. In their yard are four big char pei were very friendly and a Russell that was not. This big boy was resting on the patio as we came out of the house. He is an orphan they rescued.
I have a fond affection for guinea fowl and warthogs. Mary took the photos of this great looking helmeted guinea fowl – they do not have crested guinea fowl in the park. There were warthogs all over the park – remember the one that greeted us at the gate. They often travel in family groups with only large males seen alone.
At the first body of water we stopped at the dead trees were filled with birds that were either nesting or just enjoying the sun. We never did figure out but at least one is probably a comorant. Mary took this great shot of three crocs enjoying the warm sun and sand. She caught a white egret either taking off or landing and a tree that is just dripping with weaver’s nests.
Besides the hippo we saw earlier in the water we found this pile of very lazy hippos out sun bathing which is unusual because they seem to prefer the water in daytime. Maybe the water was too cold. Along this dam there was a family of Chacma baboons.
When we stopped at a small commercial center in the park I got photos of a family of vervet monkeys that stayed around the restaurant area in hopes of getting handouts. Some were brave enough to jump up on the tables to grab anything left behind. The management was not happy about this but the monkeys are very fast.
Unfortunately I did not take many pictures of the landscape which was a mistake it was much different from what we have seen elsewhere. There are a small dams and one rather large one, lots of plains and mountains. Mary took this picture of what looks like something a giant farmer might stack up as he cleared his fields of rocks. She also took this photo of the grass – she was trying to snap one of the giraffes but her camera kept focusing on the grass just a short ways from her window. As we were leaving we said goodbye to our friend Lucky….
Zebras are one of the animals that we never get tired of seeing. On this drive we either saw them far away or really up close and personal as they wandered along the road. I like to think of the first picture on the left below as bookend zebras. The photo of the zebra neck and head was taken at a distance of about 5 feet through an open window. I asked Mary if she would like to pet it’s rump but she declined. The two zebras standing side by side in the road were not in any hurry to move out of our way. I finally got close enough that they got the message and slowly moved out of our way. In Swaziland they call cattle standing in the road – Swazi Stop Signs. I guess this is South Africa’s version. Both are very effective stop signs.
We were on way to the gate to leave the park when I mentioned we had not seen any giraffes. This is unusual because while there are not usually a lot of them around, they are easy to spot. Just about the time I said this, the first one showed up as the side of the road having a snack. If you look closely at the front of the photo you can just pick out a rather large warthog that we did not notice at first. A few more kilometers down the road we saw our second giraffe. Both appear to be female – their horns are not worn down through fighting. However the one on the left was rather young so it could be a male who has not tried to fight for a mate.
Impala males often travel in small groups and separate from the females. They are graceful animals and one of the favorite foods for lions. Notice the last picture in this group with the beautiful, graceful looking doe. Just to the right of her you can see the rear of another one with the very noticeable three dark stripes that look like the for an ‘m.’ The guides love to tell their passengers that this stands for McDonalds as far as the lions are concerned.
Then to the other antelopes we encountered on our drive.
Top left is a nyala doe. The top right are two springbok. The bottom picture on the left is a not often seen – at least not by us on our drives – Tsessebe which is said to be the fast African antelope. This one was just about 30 feet from us and I tried to get it to stand up for a better photo but it would not cooperate. As we were leaving we saw this beautiful waterbuck male. Notice the white stripe on its rump. It goes all the way around and it is the only antelope with that marking.
18 May 2015 – This should have been the first post of day but I posted about the elephants before I realized my mistake. Before we did the game drive in Pilanesberg National Park we stopped to look at the Black Rhino Lodge to see if we would like to stay there instead of going all the way to Kruger. We had to drive about 2 1/2 hours to get there. When we drove up to the Reseve gate we were met by Lucky who informed us that unless we had reservations we could not go in. Of course we did not have reservation but I convinced him to call the Lodge and see if we could come and visit them. It was made more complicated by the fact that I managed to leave our cell phone at home so I could not call them myself. But everything worked out fine as they told Lucky to let us in.
Paul – the new manager who has only been there a week – showed us around the main lodge, the grounds, and the very nice rooms. We had packed enough to stay overnight if there was room but it turned out that they do not take walk ins so we will have to make reservations. I really liked it but Mary really wants to see Kruger so we will spend our anniversary there.
After we left the lodge we drove to the nearest gate into Pilanesberg Park and just inside we found this great looking warthog 3 feet from the road looking for something to eat. This was the first hippo we saw – it never moved a muscle. You can see the tiny ear and an eye just over the rocks.
May 18, 2015 – We have been in South Africa for almost 15 months and we have not seen a single elephant except those on the Tembe Elephant Park webcam. So we were excited when we saw some at a distance and then drove to where they were. Mary took the picture of the big elephant that was about 20 or so feet away. After she took the photo he wandered over to a near by bushy tree and tore off a good size branch and started eating it. The next four photos show the progress of his meal. One of the interesting thing about this bull is that he only has one tusk – you can see it clearly on the away side in the photo where he is selecting his meal. He probably lost the other one in some fight.
Just behind the bill bull, there was a group of 4 or 5 other elephants playing in the water. I never got a clear shot of them because we could not drive close without disturbing the one that was eating and that was not a good idea.
We decided to go around to the other side of the body of water and see if we could get a better shot of the ones in the water. As we were driving we came across a pile of fresh elephant spoor – a really, really fresh pile – and saw the young elephant on the left in the bush near the road. I like this picture because it seems it is looking right at us. The picture on the right is a large female that had just got out of the water. Notice the small size of the tusks…
From across the water we took these two photos of some of those who were playing in the water. They all are rather young and small. They reminded me of children who are playing in a wading pool in the backyard and having a great time.
As we were heading to the gate to go home we found this good size herd getting drinks from a dam area. Notice that there are all sizes in this family. Right down at the bottom of the photo there is a very young one, a little larger one and then on the other side of one of the adults is an larger but still small one. So we had a good time looking at elephants near water but we did not see any others in our 5 hours of driving.
The events are upside down but I felt the most important event should be shown first. Our granddaughter Gentry Bartholomew and her husband Devan became the proud parents of Cooper Batholomew who was born at 8:00 a.m. Utah time and weighed in at a hefty 8 pounds 11 Ounces. Welcome to the family Cooper!
Earlier in the Sabbath day the Potchefstroom branch enjoyed the beautiful sunshine of middle fall when the temperature is not too hot or too cold but just right. The lucky brothers Kenny and Tinashe have the lovely Kea and Meisie between them.
Sisters Georgina and Merriam are probably discussing Primary. While sisters Thato and Shavonne are checking out some pictures.
I take lost of pictures – this shows me taking a quick snapshot and then a better posed one. President Kwaikwai is in the background.
Due to a funeral that took many members away for the day, president Kwaikwai taught Sunday School while Bill later got to teach Relief Society. Somehow brother Kenny got involved with a real set of police handcuffs and it took him a while to get anyone to let him out of them.
After the block is over the Priesthood help the elders return the chapel to a school room. Here brother Philip has his arms full of odds and ends as the last items are on their way to the storage room.