Busy Week….

After our great p-day with the Dummers at the lion ranch, Tuesday was rather quiet. We spent part of the afternoon with the elders, president Kwaikwai and President Dunn at the office. President Dunn came over to have a second interview with one of the investigators so they could be baptized on Sunday. He also wanted to take new mission pictures of Mary and myself. In the evening we picked up my home teaching companion and went to visit our families. For some reason I did not take any pictures of the day

Starting on Wednesday morning at 7:00 the next five days was very busy. There was a Helping Hands project at the school where we hold church. The schools here have  limited budget for repairs and cleaning. While we have rather nice toilets that we use, there are four other restrooms that the students use all the time and they were a mess. So we volunteered to clean and if necessary paint them.

IMG_6011  IMG_5845

This is the dedicated crew from the Potchefstroom branch that tackled four very filthy restrooms and left them clean and shiny. Mary spent much of her time running around the town picking up things we needed to do the work. I spent much of my time coordinating the work crews. I think I walked about 10 miles between the restrooms, storage rooms and the office. All I know for sure is that I was glad when the job was done.

IMG_5842  IMG_6019

 

The first pictures show the mess that we started with. Actually they looked much worse but you really had to be there to understand the difference 3 hours of hard work made. While the branch members were cleaning the restrooms, elders Perez and Lohmann were painting part of a ceiling in the classroom where we hold church on Sunday. It had fallen down and had been replaced the week before but the bare sheeting needed paint.

In the evening we attended the first of meetings for the funeral of a member’s mother. This was the fourth funeral we have been part of since we came 7 months ago. This one was different because for three nights there were one hour tent meetings where there is preaching and singing by family and friends. Since almost all of it was in Tswana or Xhosa, we could not understand much but we were there to support our sister.

25sept14 - Bobbi, Lohmann, Mary 25sept14 - Bobbi, Perez, Mary

On Thursday we took the elders up to visit sister Bobbi Swanepoel. It was Elder Lohmann’s last chance to see Parys and sister Bobbi. After a nice visit in her apartment and administering the sacrament, we went for a walk down by the Vaal River which boarders the complex.

25sept14 - Lohmann, Bobbi 25sept14 - Vaal River

The Vaal is about as low as it is going to get but in a few months it will overflow it’s banks.

We got home at 1:00 and I called Sister Renny, the sister who’s mother passed, because president Kwaikwai said she needed some help with some paperwork. When I called I found out that I was scheduled to be the main speaker at a memorial for her mother at the hospital where she worked for 32 years. So I hurriedly changed into a suit and managed to find the hospital. There were about 100 in the auditorium and you could tell they all really cared for their fellow worker. I think I gave a decent talk – especially since I basically did it off the cuff.

We then went directly to the office where I dropped off Mary so she could set up for her seminary class and picked up two investigator youth who have been attending. While Seminary was going on I went to the store to pick up some treats for the elders who’s flats we were going to inspect tomorrow. I got back in time to enjoy the last part of the Activity Night which included 3 investigators and one member. We dropped off those I had picked up earlier and went home. I called president Kwaikwai and told him to please apologize to sister Renny that we would not be attending the second night’s program. We just went home and collapsed.

26sept14 - Kalani, Siegel26sept14 - ZM - George, Menendez

Friday morning we left early to make our trip up to Vereeniging and inspected four flats. All of them were in very good shape – only mold in showers kept them from being perfect. The picture on the left is of elders Kalani and Siegel. On the right are the zone leaders elders George and Menendez.

26sept14 - ZM - Mukasa, Whitesides26sept14 - ZM - Menendez, George up front

Elders Mukasa and Whitesides. We then went to the Vereeniging chapel for zone meeting. Elders Menendez and George held the meeting in the relief society room instead of the chapel. They put the chairs in a semi-circle so everyone could see each other instead of staring at the back of each other’s heads like we would in the chapel. Elder Menendez said they got the idea from how President Dunn held his mission council meetings.

26sept14 - Greeting Kankkunnen26sept14 - night tent meeting

As the missionaries came in they walked around the circle greeting the rest of the Vaal Zone. the meeting was very informative and the lesson was on a talk by elder Callister called ‘The Consecrated Missionary’ that the ZLs had asked each missionary to read and come prepared to talk about. In the evening we went to the last of the tent meetings. The Church was represented by brother Simon and he shared the preaching with the pastor from the church where the deceased attended. The meeting was supposed to run one hour but we were told it would probably go on for 3…we left after 90 minutes. Once again everything was in the local language so while we enjoyed their singing we had no idea what it was about.

27sept14 - family cooking27sept14 - cooking for funeral

The next morning we were at office by 6 am to get ready for the funeral. We brought our sound system and a keyboard for Mary to play. One of the big part of a funeral here is feeding friends and family for two to three days. When I walked around to the back of the house I found the women of the family cooking huge pots of food that would be served when people came back from the cemetery. Just as a side note, later in the day I went back to pick up something we had left behind and saw a live goat tied up in the back yard. I am sure that it was going to be dinner for the family on Sunday.

27sept14 - Casket27sept14 - tent at cemetery

President Kwaikwai conducted the funeral service which is held at the home under the tent shown in the picture a few rows above. A number of family and friends spoke, there was lots of group singing – most of it semi-spontaneous and three LDS hymns which Mary played. She also played for about 30 minutes before it started at 7:00 am. I got to speak about the plan of salvation and president Kwaikwai spoke about the restoration. There was a pastor scheduled to speak but since the service was under the Church he only gave the opening prayer. He is a very nice man and very dedicated to work – he would be a great asset if he would join the restored Church.

After the two hour service, there is the trip to the cemetery. This was a different one from the other funerals we attended. I found out it was an older cemetery. Like most cemeteries here it was very busy. There were at least four other burials either going on or set up for later.

The set up a shade and some nice chairs that are for the women – Mary got to sit.

27sept14 - women in tent27sept14 - casket over grave

The funeral service also provides cold drinks for the women and anyone else who wants some.

27sept14 - Renny with dirt27sept14 - Branch supporting

I got to dedicate the grave and then the family drops a handful of dirt on the casket before the men start to fill it in with shovels. After they have worked at it for a while, a big cat comes up and fills in the rest of the dirt that had been excavated. The picture on the right is the daughter – sister Renny – putting in the first handful. A number of the members of the branch came and supported their sister member.

27sept14 - signGate

Eunice Motha was just a couple of months past her 54th birthday when she passed after a long illness. After the funeral we went back to the home and had lunch. As we walked away to head back to our flat we passed this gate that I found very beautiful. As I mentioned before the gates in the township tend to be more interesting and beautiful than those in the city itself.

Male and Female red headed finch 27sept14 - elder Perez repairing font

I saw this female and male red headed finch in the backyard. They look like they are carved instead of living. It was nice of them to pose. We went home and I changed into older clothes so we could go back to the office to help set up the font for the baptisms the next day. Before we could do that we needed to repair a lot of holes – most small but one big one – in the font. The lump in the middle of the plastic is elder Perez who fixed the inside while I fixed the outside. He could see the small holes because the light came into his dark cave. Brother David – who was to be baptized the next day – is the one kneeling and brother Johannes – who is the branch mission leader is on the stool. We brought our new hose pipe to be used to fill the font. While we were doing this Mary was giving a piano lesson.Once again we were happy to see the end of a long day.

 

It turned out that the woman who usually cleans each Saturday could not get in because she did not have taxi money. Due to a number of circumstances she had not got paid on Friday by the school. So while the font was filling a couple of the priesthood cleaned and mopped the chapel area. Then the elders started setting up for our Sunday meetings.

Unfortunately I think elder Lohmann did too much and he was pretty much dragging by the end of the day. But he did not complain…we are going to miss him when he goes home in two weeks.

In the evening we were happy to get a call from our friend and neighbor from Provo Lynn Wardle. He is in Potchefstroom as a guest of the university to take part in a conference on family law. He was kind enough to bring a small suitcase of goodies from home.

Sunday we were out of the flat by 6:45 so we could pick up Lynn and another member who is visiting from Pretoria on the way into the church. While I helped get every ready for the block meeting, Mary did her normal routine of picking up members and investigators. Lynn dug right in and helped.

Since brother Omphile had to go to school, president Kwaikwai asked me to conduct sacrament. I asked Lynn to share his testimony. Mary gave her third talk on conference and its importance to her. Since there was still 10 minutes left, I then called on president Kwaikwai to speak. He has an amazing memory and is a very spiritual speaker. For Sunday School I taught the last lesson of the temple preparation class while Mary played for the Primary. I conducted Priesthood while president Kwaikwai held interviews.

28sept14 - boganai, KK,  Dorcas Motha, Nthabiseng Monaisa, David Rampai, Menzi Ramosena 3 28sept14 - Lohmann, Dorcas Motha, Nthabiseng Monaisa, David Rampai, Menzi Ramosena, Perez 2

 

 

After the block meeting we held the baptismal service for four wonderful people. The picture on the left – sisters Dorcas and Mthabiseng who were to be baptized by Bongani Buta who came back from Pretoria. President Kwaikwai was to baptize brother Menzi and David. The picture on the right has elders Lohmann and Perez flanking the four.

28sept14 - Nthabiseng, font28sept14 - Menzi, KK, font

 

The water is unheated and a real shock for all who enter the water. But even with the cold water there were lots of smiles. I just noticed that I managed to get Mary in one of the pictures.

28sept14 - Sis Una, Us28sept14 - Lynn Wardle, US 2After the baptisms they were confirmed and received the Holy Ghost. Then the font had to be emptied and the chapel converted back into a class room for Monday’s school. While Lynn and I helped the elders and others do this, Mary took people back to their homes. We had everything cleaned up and put away and Mary had not come back. Everyone left except our guest from Pretoria, sister Una – shown with us above, Lynn and myself. I started getting worried because Mary usually was over due from her first trip as we sat and waited out front of the school. Mary had not take the phone so I could not find out where she was. I checked to see if the people she took made it home and they had. When she finally made it back to the school, she told us that she had taken the group of students home. She had met them as they were walking to the taxi stand and had not thought to call me to tell me why she had not come back to school right away.

I think Lynn will be going home on Tuesday with great memories of the Potchefstroom branch. He got to help set up church – which reminded him of his days as a missionary in the Philippines – help with the font, speak in church, watch four baptisms and participate in four confirmations.

So as you can see it really has been a very busy week for Elder and Sister Pier in South Africa and we would not change it for the world. Well I would have liked more than an hour to prepare my talk for the memorial but I trusted the Lord to help me and he did.

 

 

 

We Get to See Some Cats….

On our P-day we went with E/S Dummer to a ranch where they raise cats to sell to zoos and private game parks. It was not the same as driving through a large game park where they roam over hundreds if not thousands of acres and feed themselves but it is a step up from seeing them in a zoo.

22sep14 - looking at ocelot 222sep14 - looking at ocelot

 

This ocelot was tame enough that she let us pet her. However she was not happy when I tried to hold her up for a picture.

22sep14 - Big Female Lion22sep14 - female with chicken

We saw quite a few lioness’ the first time we were in South Africa but none were as big and heavy as this lady. They feed them chickens that are given to them by chicken farmers when they die from age or disease. It seems the cats do not care.

22sep14 - 2 cubs eating 22sep14 - arm and cheetah

These two cubs enjoyed their chickens. The guide said that a lioness usually gives birth to 3-5 cubs. This cheetah was tame enough that she would come up to the fence and let us pet her.

22sep14 - Cheetah eating 22sep14 - Pride eating

Here she is eating a chicken, not the arm that was showing in the last picture. Our final stop was a chance to see a group of 5 very large males having lunch of a recently deposited cow. I was interested to find out that they do not tear the belly of the cow open with their claws or teeth but use their very rough tongues like sandpaper and lick it open. I missed the shot of them hauling out the pink entrails and gobbling them down.

22sep14 - Pride eating 2 22sep14 - HANITAS FROM OUTSIDE

When elder Dummer first step near the double fence to take a picture, the male on the right who does not seem to care about joining the feast, quickly charged. I think elder Dummer was glad that there was a very strong fence between them. After watching the lions eat we felt hungry and went to this restaurant where I had my beef cooked into a hamburger.

Walking Around the Neighborhood

On my morning walks I like to take pictures of things that interest me – mainly flowers, homes, and yard art. Bailie Park is an upscale section of Potchefstroom and a delightful mixture of modest and huge homes. With Spring comes lots of flowers. I was surprised to find gladiolas already in bloom…we usually do not see them in Utah until Summer.

19Sept14 - White flowers 20Sep14 - Walk - Big house

Most large homes in the area are surrounded by high walls or fences which are often topped with high voltage wires. I love this large home without any fence or wall in front and the gracefulness of the tree.

20Sep14 - Walk - Tall Tree 20Sep14 - Walk - Wisteria close up

Hiding cell towers as very tall pines is one way to keep the neighbors happy.

 

20Sep14 - Walk = School 22sep14 - Fountain in front yard 22sep14 - Gladiolas 22sep14 - red bird

For the second time since we have been here an African Hoohoe showed up in our back yard. The common sparrow behind it is put to shame by the bright colors of the Hoohoe.

22sep14 - tooth gate 22sep14 - windmill

When I first saw this gate I thought they had put a mask in the middle and then I looked closer and saw that it was a _ _ _ _ _ ! The Dutch ancestors of the owner appears to be reflected in their choice of decorations.

18sept14 - Walk - garden 18sept14 - Walk - gate

We often drove past these raised garden beds and from the street I thought they were part of a memorial. It was only when I got close that I found that they were grow boxes.

18sept14 - Walk - Nursery sign 18sept14 - Walk - red flower bush

This sign interested me because who would think to advertise a dentist and a children’s preschool  on the same sign?

18sept14 - Walk - wall decoration 18sept14 - Walk - white flower        18sept14 - Walk - wisteria

Wisteria is in bloom throughout the area.

Sept14 - Walk - Elephant Head Sept14 - Walk - House

This elephant on a wall reminded me of one almost exactly like it on a gate at the B&B where we would stay when we went up to Kosi Bay to visit the small dependent unit that held services there. Most homes in this area have large walls or fences all around them. Many also have electrified wires on top of the basic fence. I loved this house that did not have any fence along the street and the yard was beautiful. I did not notice my shadow until I downloaded the picture

Sept14 - Walk - Urns Sept14 - Walk - water feature

There is lots of yard art to see along the way. I have noticed one interesting fact – many times there are three urns or pots displayed. I do not know if the number three has any special significants here. I did think that it might have something to do with the Holy Trinity.

Waterbuck - nice picture

 

No there are no waterbucks along my walk – I wish there were – but I caught this one on the Tembe site and it looked so magnificent that I thought it should be included.

Elephants, Baby Birds, Out with the Elders and Other Things

First let me point out that I added a new blog address to our links. Our good friends Elder and Sister Mickelsen served with us in the Durban mission and recently accepted a call that has them Down Under in the Brisbane mission. I am sure you will  enjoy sharing their experiences and pictures as we do. Maybe we will be able to follow them down – well actually over from where we are now – after this mission.

ElephantsSept 2014 - Mom and Baby Bird 2 Sept 2014 Mom and Baby Bird 15sept14 - Mary Brummer

The herd of elephants are taken from the Tembe Elephant Park website which I like to look in during the day. Hopefully before our mission ends we will have a chance to see the big animals up close and personal. What we did get to see on Tuesday was a couple of mother crowned lapwings with their single remaining chick. The lapwing usually lays 3 or 4 eggs but many of the chicks are killed by predators. I missed the picture of one of the mothers spreading her wings and covering her chick. It reminded me of the scriptures where so often the Lord says that He would cover us like a mother hen her chickens.

15sept14 - Elder Perez leading the music 15sept14 - Elder Lohmann

 

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Mary at her computer where she seem to find lots of music to use in Primary and for her piano students. Of course she also looks up mail and FaceBook. On Saturday the branch had a temple excursion and this is one of pictures that were posted on FB pages. One of the sisters who went for the first time told me how she was a little nervous before she went into the temple but how a peaceful, loving  spirit came over her once she was inside.

 

Friday – Yellow Bird – District Meeting – Steers

Just two days after zone conference the Ikageng district held their usual Friday district meeting in the Klerksdorp chapel. The zone leaders, elders Menendez and George, traveled close to two hours to attend.

12Sep14 - Yellow Bird 12Sep14 - Perez leads music

In the morning our favorite yellow bird showed up to have breakfast and I got a good shot of him – I assume it is a him because males tend to have the brightest colors. The meeting opened with elder Perez leading the music. What he lacked in ability to keep time he more than made up with enthusiasm.

12Sep14 - Otieno cookies, Larsen 12Sep14 - Perez, George

After the meeting elder Larsen worked on a baptism program while elder Otieno made some followup notes. Others just enjoyed talking to friends that they have not seen for two days!

12Sep14 - more conversation

The discussions continued into the parking lot where the zone leaders handed out supplies and the ever hoped for letters from home. Some of the missionaries get regular mail and some have never had one their whole mission. I just noticed that the companionship of elders Graham and Larsen is sporting blue ties.

12Sep14 - Sis Dummer, Otieno 12Sep14 - Steers

Sister Dummer has a discussion with elder Otieno. For lunch we went to Steers with E/S Dummer where we talked about – what else – missionary work. We shared ideas that work. talked about the branches we work with and gave suggestions about problems or concerns.

On our way home we stopped at the used books store so Mary could stock up for a few more weeks of reading. I find that I did not take a picture of this stop but will the next time we go.

 

 

Zone Conference

On the 10th a conference for the Vaal, Benoni and Bedfordview zones was held in the Bedfordview chapel. Since Mary was recovering from a bought of stomach problems I hitched a ride with elders Perez and Lohmann. The Zone conference centered on more effective finding and how to work more closely with the ward or branch where they served. I missed the first hour because the senior elders do car inspections at ZC to find out if the elders are keeping up their vehicles. Most of them do a pretty good job but some just do not get the fact that they are responsible for the Lord’s vehicle. Not even when they know that their car is going to be inspected gets them to make sure they are clean and neat.

10Sept14 - ZC - announcement slide 10Sept14 - ZC - elder Stephens teachingSince President Dunn is an expert on media, the visuals are always well done. There were three training sessions. This is elder Stephens teaching the Vaal zone.

10Sept14 - ZC - Mashing gears! 10Sept14 - ZC - Chow line - sis DunnPres Dunn’s presentation was on how to work more closely with the branch or ward to help more missionary work along. After the presentations it was time for lunch. Everything was good but the rolls and cookies were outstanding.

10Sept14 - ZC - mess hall 10Sept14 - ZC - sis Hansen, Thompson, ps DunnWhile the missionaries were eating president and sister Dunn walked around talking to them and taking pictures. Then they took the opportunity to enjoy the lasagna, salad, rolls and some of the best cookies I have ever had. Sisters Hansen and Thompson – she was surprise as I took the picture – did yeowoman service in seeing that everyone was fed and then the mess was cleaned up.

10Sept14 - ZC - game 10Sept14 - ZC - time to leaveAfter the meeting the missionaries played a game that was somewhat like Battleship. There was a curtain between the two teams and if you were hit by the ball thrown by the other team you were out. Then it was time to leave but everyone had to have a last conversation to catch up with what was going on with old companions and friends. Sister Dummer is about to walk by elder Perez.

10Sept14 - ZC - Bedfordview zone 10Sept14 - ZC - Benoni Z 3The final part of the conference was the zone pictures. Bedfordview zone on the left and Benoni on the right. Since some elders like to get their picture taken they manage to show up in more than one.

10Sept14 - ZC - Vaal Zone 10Sept14 - ZC - Vaal 2Two pictures of the Vaal zone one with elder Perez doing his thing and me helping him, and one for the family album.

10Sept14 - ZC - the Allreds 10Sept14 - ZC - Perez and Johnson

 

I finally got to meet the Allreds. We have been sending emails back and forth for months as they prepared to come to the mission. I tried to help answer their questions about what to bring and what they could expect to find here. They are going to be a powerful influence on the new cluster they will be working with. The final picture is elders Perez and Johnson. I kidded elder Johnson that it seems like he is always at the same meetings as  I am. I think that every transfer and zone meeting that we have attended he has been there and I have taken his picture.

So ends Zone Conference for another 12 weeks or so. The next one may be an All Zone Conference for Christmas!

 

 

Street Display

On Friday the 5th, the branch and missionaries put up a street display. In the past we did it on a Saturday morning but we decided to see if the evening display when people are coming home from work would provide more men who were head of households. The three hours produced about 50 names and hopefully one or two will be baptized in the next month or two.

IMG_5834 IMG_5835As usual the booth was set up under the KFC sign on the busiest corner near the chapel. The hope is that those who come by live close enough that they can walk to the chapel in less than 30 minutes. President Kwaikwai and brother Thomas are setting up the display. Brother Thomas is an investigator but from  the way he talked to the people about the Church you would think he had been a member for a long time. He will be baptized in a couple of weeks. One of the others who helped is a recent convert who was just baptized last month. Their testimonies and willingness to serve is powerful.

IMG_5838

Elders Perez and Lohmann watch – well they were watching before I started to take a picture – one of the men who came by sign up for a Book of Mormon or a video that the elders will deliver in the next week or two. In the background you can see brother Thomas hard at work as a woman he was talking to walks away with a passalong card.

Miscellaneous ….

Here are a few shots that really do not fit into other posts but show part of mission experiences.

Aug2014 - Playground dump Aug2014 - Fence

If you look carefully past the right side of this pile of trash you will see a piece of playground equipment. Piles of trash is something you just get use to in townships as often they do not have trash pickup or people can not afford to pay for it. So they just pile it up in areas and then often they burn it so on any given day you will see lots of columns of smoke rising up over the houses. I took this picture of a great looking fence. Often you fences like this protecting very humble homes. However here the house was neat and clean.

Aug2014 - Birds Feeding 2 1 Aug14 - house under construction

 

Another picture of the birds gathering at our feeder. We have counted as many as 15 birds in our yard at one time as they seek out the feed we spread around. The last picture shows a house in progress. Notice there is a fence already in place. That is because they tore down an older house to build this one.

 

 

More Inspections – District Meeting – Last Lunch

Wow am I behind in writing about our experiences and commenting on the pictures. I wish I could say that it was because I was so busy but the truth is that I just grow lazy at times. On the 28th we went to do apartment inspections up/over to Ennerdale where two companionships live in different apartments in the same complex. It is a good 90 minute drive and none of it is very interesting. But meeting with the missionaries – we see them only two or three times a transfer – and getting to know them at least a little is one of the tender mercies of a senior mission.

On the way back to Potchefstroom we stopped in Parys and had a nice visit with sister Bobbi who we helped move to a new flat just a week ago. She loves her new flat and I think it is much nicer than her old one. After our visit we took the long way home by going on a route we had never traveled before and probably will not take again. I will have to take some pictures of the views along the way but if you have ever driven across Kansas you have a pretty good idea of what it is like. What is funny about that is I mentioned this to Mary as we were traveling and she told me that it was exactly what she was thinking at that time. I guess 58 years together – 56

The next day – Friday the 29th – we went to district meeting. Since this was the last one before transfers we kept up our tradition of taking the missionaries to McDonalds for lunch. Elder and Sister Dummer are now part of the tradition and shared the cost.

Aug2014 - Pedersen, Flynn, Menendez - Stilgoe  goodAug2014 - Dutson, Puis

While we were inspecting the Ennerdale elder’s flat, the Zone Leaders dropped in on their way to the mission office to pick up supplies and mail. So I got a picture of elders Pedersen and Stilgoe bookending elders Flynn and Menendez. A few days later elders Pedersen and Flynn were transferred to new areas so it is kind of like the last picture of the 4 of them together. The Orange Farm elders – Dutson and Puis – also got a last picture as elder Puis was transferred.

Aug2014 - DM - OtienoAug2014 - DM - Lohmann

On the board behind elder Otieno is the prediction squares – at the last district meeting the elders often make predictions about who is going to be transferred and where they will be serving. I predicted that no one was going to be transferred because all the companionships had only been together for a single transfer. It turned out I was wrong. Elder Lohmann is comfortably watching the predictions. You will notice he has his coat on because it is colder inside the building than it is outside.

Aug2014 - DM - Mary, Perez, etcAug2014 - DM - LL - Group

Smiles all around – Mary, Elders Perez, a little piece of elder Larsen, Fidel, Graham and Lohmann. Then it was off to McDonalds for lunch with E/S Dummer and the missionaries.

Aug2014 - LL - Fidl, OtienoAug2014 - LL - Larsen

 

Elders Fidel and Otieno with elder Larsen once again hidden. Finally I got a picture of elder Larsen with his famous smile. He was sitting next to a young lady who I approached and gave a passalong card. I then mentioned to elder Larsen that she lived in his area and he should get her name and phone number.