I woke up this morning to find for once the weather guessers got it right – 4-5 inches of snow had fallen over night. This is only the second snow storm we have been in since we got home. The other one was while we were traveling in Wyoming on the way home from Jim.
The other exciting thing that happened this morning was that we got an e-mail from President Mann and a couple of booklets about the mission.
For future references our mailing address will be: P.O. Box 1741, Wandsbeck 3631, South Africa. That is for all letters and packages
The mission address for express shipping is: 8 Windsor Ave., Westville 3630, South Africa
He include some advice about what to expect when first arriving and what we need to bring with us. One of the interesting suggestions is that we bring an extra change of clothes in our carry on because luggage is often delayed a day or two.Â Â One of the encouraging comments in the letter was the suggestion to get to know Africa. Which suggests that we will have some time to explore the country while we serve.
He also mentioned that Elder Bednar was recently in Durban and stated that it wasÂ not a sacrifice for seniors to serve missions. We of course agree completely with that and have written it often in letters and our journal. We gained much more than we gave while serving in Indonesia. (Also I did not have to shovel snow as I did this morning while there.)
The mission booklet included information of the Mission Objective, what we would be doing and some handy hints. Another booklet was about the culture. It mainly dealt with the Zulu culture and it seems like we will need to learn at least some Zulu. Hopefully it will be easier for us than Indonesian.
In less than 5 weeks we will enter the MTC and in about 6 we should be on our way to South Africa. That is exciting.
14 December 2008 – Sunday
At about 8:00 am this morning we got a call from President Mann telling us that he just got our papers. He asked if we would be willing to have a change in assignments from the office to the field. We told him we would be happy to serve wherever he and the Lord thought we were most needed.
We had a nice discussion about the mission, the weather and the conditions we would find. He said that we would find first world conditions in a third world country. Good health care, good food, and good water. He also said that we did not need to take pills for malaria because they do not have a problem. He mentioned that they have been trying to get that information taken out of the instructions to new missionaries for 10 years without any success. He said that the weather was not as hot and humid in the interior as it is in Durban or elsewhere along the coast. I am hoping we will be is some town like Ladysmith but we will be happy to serve anywhere.
If he is able to get the missionary department to understand that we will not be serving in the office, we should only be in the MTC for a week. Which means we should be in the mission by the 27th or 28th.Â President Mann said if we get there by then we will be in time for a couples conference. That would be great because we could get to meet all the couples who are serving there. President Mann said that when we get there, he will have 11 couples.
This morning we had a short meeting with President Jackson so I could be released from my HP calling. I mentioned to the President that there were 11 couples in the Durban mission and he said that in the three years he was serving in Brazil, he had no couples.
07 December 2008
We had a great evening talking to the Nielsen brothers about their missions. David Nielsen went to Indonesia and was there for about 4 months at the start of our mission. Chad Nielsen went to the Durban mission and got home in July. Bob and his family joined us for dinner so they could hear about our mission. It was good to have Shane sitting there hearing about how much the young men enjoyed their missions and their desire to go back and visit.
We spent the first part of the evening, before dinner, talking to David about Indonesia and the missionaries and members we knew. He told us about where he served and who he served with. It was great to be reminded of the wonderful people of Indonesia and all the things we experienced there.
After a nice dinner we asked Chad lots of questions about our new mission area and what we will do as office missionaries. He told us that I will probably be in charge of the mission fleet of 46 vehicles and Mary will be doing the billing and taking care of the missionary apartments.
He said that while there are some dangers in South Africa, if we are careful and follow some rules we will be fine. He said we will have a nice apartment and a car to drive. Since I will be in charge of the cars, we should have a nice one. As he spoke I hoped that we would have time to work with inactives – I feel that is one of the reasons we are going there.
Because of our calling we will be traveling all over the mission so we should be able to see a lot of the country.
We are both excited about having this opportunity to serve in South Africa. What a blessing it is to be able to serve a mission and help God’s kingdom grow.
05 December 2008
As far as I can remember today was only the second time in my life that I have been fingerprinted. The first time was when we got our identification papers in Indonesia. Being fingerprinted is one of those things I do not believe most law biding citizens ever think about – at least not about their own being taken.
As an aside, I just thought about all the times on TV the villians are caught because they leave behind a ‘partial print’ which is enough to identify them. I guess now that my prints are in the system they will be able to match mine if they ever need to.
Provo provides fingerprint service four nights a week and it costs $10 for two sets. During the day we found that Orem does not charge their residents anything for the service but non-residents have to pay $30. There are also places where you can get it done free – such as going to the county jail down in Spanish Fork.
The other thing we got done today was to have our medical forms signed by the doctor. Now all we need to do is send our fingerprints, application and $18 each to West Virginia and hopefully get back a clean FBI report. It should be interesting to read what the FBI actually says about us.
It is hard to believe in just about 5 weeks we will go into the MTC! I am sure the time will rush by.
04 December 2008 –
The mail brought us a letter from the travel department with visa information. Everything seemed about the same as what we needed for Indonesia until we got to the part that said we need toÂ submit a FBI report. This includes having our fingerprints taken at our local police department and sending them off to Virginia where I guess they will check that we are not members of any terrorist groups or things like that. It will be interesting to read what the FBI has to say about us.
One thing that you get when you go on a mission – especially a foreign mission – is a lot of shots. So we decided to go the the public health service and make sure that we had everything we needed for South Africa. It turned out that what you need for South Africa is what you need for Indonesia so we were current and only needed our flu shots. The mission information did mention that we would start on anti-malaria pills a couple of weeks before we go but they will give those to us at the MTC.
We checked about any language training and the MTC said that the only language that was taught to any missionaries going to Africa is French. We do not think that we will be going anywhere where French is needed so we do not have the stress of trying to learn a language while we get ready.
The Lord has already blessed us by giving us access to some folks who have or are serving in South Africa. We should be able to get most of our questions answered so we will be prepared to serve as soon as we get there. We are looking forward to information from President Mann about what we will be doing, living, etc.
The bishopric announced our call in the meetings so we got a lot of congratulations.
One of the returned Indonesian missionaries who got our e-mail about our call, wrote to say that his brother just got back from a mission to Durban and served for 8 months in the mission office. I wrote back and asked him to either give us his brother’s phone number or have him contact us. We should be able to get a lot of good information from him.
It really feels good to know where and when we are going so we can make plans. I have started a list of things we need to do before we go. I am afraid it will get longer before it gets shorter.
29 November 2008
Yesterday, after 5 weeks of anxious waiting, the magic enveloped arrived. With Jim, Kristy, Olivia, Charlotte, Brian, Daniel, Becky and Spencer watching we opened the package and read that we have been called to serve in the South Africa, Durban mission. We are to report to the MTC on January 19 and should arrive in South Africa sometime in the first part of February. The letter said that we would be serving in the office.
We called all the rest of our children, other family, the bishop, and some close friends to tell them the news. It was great to share our joy with others. We will now have about 6 weeks to get things wrapped up here before starting our mission.
Today – Saturday – we sent off our acceptance letters to church headquarters. We also had some photos taken and sent them off to Durban where I would guess they will be used to get our visas.
We did a number of web searches and found that Durban is a little cooler than Jakarta but still sub-tropical and very humid. Like Jakarta it is a sea coast city. We will arrive during the rainy season – just like we did in Indonesia. The country is 83% either Christian or no religion – almost a mirror image of Indonesia. Many people speak English but Zulu is spoken in most of the African homes. We do not know if we are going to need to learn Zulu or Afrikaan to function in our calling. We will try to find out Monday.
12 July 2008 – Saturday
Another wonderful day. I spent just a couple of hours on the yard this morning because we went over to the apartment and cleaned out the kitchens, bathrooms and the rest of the rooms. We threw away tons of old food and other trash, made a big pile for DI, and took a few things home. Brian joined us and worked really hard cleaning up and moving out the trash. We filled the two big trash containers and a dozen more 55 gallon trash bags with junk and debris. I also pulled a lot of weeds but need to come back with Round-up to kill others. Thomas joined us about the time we were finishing up and continued working after we left.
We had lunch and relaxed for a while before heading off to do some errands. We stopped and tried to buy a game to take to Cedar City but it still had not come in. Next we went to LoweÃ¢Â€Â™s where I got a sprinkler for the apartment – ours disappeared while we were gone. Then it was to AlbertsonÃ¢Â€Â™s where Mary needed a few things – including a newspaper. Finally we went to the apartment where I hooked up the new sprinkler and we sat and watched it water for 20 minutes. I got Thomas – he was napping at home – and asked him to continue to give the very brown lawn a good soak. I certainly hope he works out as a manager. We will come back next Saturday and start the cleaning up and painting that needs to be done.
When we got home I started reading but felt like I was wasting time so I decided to visit the Watkins. As I walked there I ran into Dan Purser, Brandon Hollingshead, Kevin Gardner, Tom and Mariyln, and Don Bradley. I stopped and talked to each of them for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. I really enjoy doing this and I learn a lot about what is going on in their lives. I was especially glad to talk to Don because we had not really talked to him since Elaine died. Before we left I had gone over to their house a number of times to talk to her because she was not able to get to church.
I finally made it the Watkins and had a very nice visit there. Verla is feeling much better than when we left – however she is going to need to have the battery in her pacemaker replaced earlier than was expected but she does not seem to be worried about it. NormÃ¢Â€Â™s eyesight is not getting any worse but his hearing seems to be slipping a little.
I really enjoyed the chance to talk to so many folks in the couple of hours I was out. In fact I enjoyed it so much I decided to talk another walk and just see who was out. This time I talked to Loren Anderson, Jared Toone, the Don Petersens, Will Grace, and the Hansens. I had forgotten that the Toones had moved in about 6 months before we left on our mission. I was rather embarrassed. I did not talk to as many folks and our conversations were much shorter but it was still great to spend some time with them and learn a little about how their families were doing.
When I got home this time, Mary made tuna salads and we ate while watching one of the home improvement/home buying shows that we seem to really like. Then I checked the lighting before coming up and catching up this journal.
It was a great day and the Lord really blessed me as I visited with all the great people I saw today.
11 July 2008 – Friday
I did not do a lot in the yard today. Mainly I put in the other 12 volt lighting system around the lower patio. It went much faster than the one I did down by pond yesterday. In the evening as I looked at how much it adds to the night time look, I decided I would get more for other parts of the yard.
Steve Gibson had invited me to go to lunch with him and I chose to go to ApplebeeÃ¢Â€Â™s so I could have their grilled chicken oriental salad that I have been looking forward since we got back. We had a good time talking about our mission and a new book Steve is working on to help people with less education start their own business. So I had a great meal – the salad was as good as I remembered it – and good company. It is hard to ask for more. While I was at lunch with Steve, Mary went out and did a lot of errands that really needed to be done. She had lunch at The Bamboo Hut – they have won-tons that she really likes.
After blowing all of our money for lunch on Wednesday we had a very inexpensive date night. Since we needed to go to Costco we had dinner there – Polish Dogs and Churros for $5. Then it was to the dollar show to see Ã¢Â€Â˜What happens in VegasÃ¢Â€Â™ – a movie Mary really wanted to see. It was very predictable but still fun. The language could have been toned down without affecting the movie. It is a shame that some people think that ugly language is necessary to sell a movie.
It was still light when we got home so I went out and enjoyed reading under the oaks. It is so peaceful and beautiful there. I feel like I am living in a private park with fountains and fauna. I forgot to mention that earlier in the day as I was walking through the yard, there was a doe standing in the TurleyÃ¢Â€Â™s yard and we stared at each other for a while. I did not come in until it was too dark to read.
It was such a nice day that I was uncomfortable about having this many blessings when so much of the world must struggle day to day to just feed their family. Steve quest to help others become self-sufficient and break the cycle of poverty that has gripped their family for generations seems to me to be very important and satifying.