Monthly Archives: July 2009

30 July 2009

30 July 2009 – Thursday

An eventful morning as I lost the internet once again. But I am getting better at figuring out what is the problem. In this case I had used up my basic amount of allowable GB and for some reason the extra ones that I have paid for did not kick in. So it was off to the mall to find out from my favorite Telkom ladies what was wrong.

To make things really short they could not help so I had to come home and call support, call Vincent, Vincent came over, found out how to switch from one account to another – yes I have two accounts instead of just adding the extra to one account. Two hours after discovering problem it was solved. By the time we leave for home I should be able to fix any internet problem that comes up.

Mary made brownies for Port Durnford, we packed up everything we would need for the day and headed out to fill a food order and then head for Esikhawini. We are getting really good at filling food orders. Although there are some basics that go to each family we are getting better at varying some of the order to better meet the needs of the particular family.

We were so efficient that we got to Esikhawini too early. We decided to visit some of the members. I wanted to see if I could find some of them without the GPS. I found brother Nkosi’s street but was not sure about the house number. I was about to give up when Mary reminded me that we had the map and luckily it had his house marked. He was not home but his non-LDS son was and we talked for a while about the wall he is help to build around the property.

As we were getting to leave a sister from the branch came up and we found that she lived just down the street but we did not have it marked on our map – which we quickly corrected. She is the sister who wants to learn English and we told her we would be there on Saturday. It is fun to start to know the members – we ran into one at the mall earlier and did not know her – so embarrassing.

We then went to their mall and while Mary got KFC, I went and bought ice cream. They have a very nice Pick n Pay and I think they had a better selection of ice cream than our big one in the mall. It is good to see that the mall and the stores are all very neat and clean – rather different from many things we find in the township.

We then went and delivered the food order and got to see Sister Nzama who is looking better but still not eating much. We forgot to get her a list of food that she should eat to take better care of her ulcer. We picked up Thandi Nzama and took her to the chapel for the cast party.

The party was a hit and they appreciated the pictures we gave everyone. We did find that some of them did not care at all for mashed potatoes and gravy. However a couple of the young men thought they were delicious and so they took any that others did not want. The brownies and ice cream were also a hit.

As we were leaving I reminded them that since they could all get to the party on time, I expected them all to be on time next week for youth. On our way back to the Nzama’s we came across Thobani Chirwa hurrying to the chapel – we were told he was in Esikhawini and would not be home in time for the party – unfortunately we did not have anything left for him. I felt very bad and tomorrow we will get something and take it to him because he was very faithful about coming to the rehearsals.

I want to write a bit about how they are very sharing people. Although the party was just for cast members, we could not keep out the little children who live there. Siya and Ayanda fed them off their plates. Fufu saved part of her food to take home and share. As we were leaving they asked for the extra Fanta so they could share with their family. So while they do not have much, they try to share what they have. The song “Because I have been given much” comes to mind but in this case it is “Because I have been given something.” We are blessed to know these young people.

Sister Muke Nzama needed a ride to the mall so she could go to work for something. Since we were going right by it we gave her a ride. If she had to take public transportation it would have cost her R 15 which does not seem like much but is a major expense for people who work for R 75 a day.

As usual the evening flew by and it was soon time to head to bed.

Four days in one…

I have been neglectful about posting my journal here…here is the catch up post.

26 July 2009 –Sunday

It was rather hard to get up and going this morning but we made it to Esikhawini in time to open things up and go to PEC. I thought for a while that we were not going to have any PEC but President Thusi arrived about 10 minutes late and apologized. Unfortunately no one else showed up except us and the missionaries. But we had a pretty good PEC anyway. I was glad to hear that they had organized Home Teaching and that they would give out assignments later today in Priesthood. Also they are going to sustain brother Mthalane as YM President for the branch.

We were also the first to arrive at Port Durnford, followed again by the missionaries and then President Machaka. At 9:00 when it was supposed to start there was one sister and her child in the chapel. We finally got started at 9:15. While we were waiting I got a call from President Baldwin asking me to have the same brother Mthalane as District YM President. He had been trying to call Elder B without success so he could do the same in their two branches. I told him I would try to contact him. When he did not answer their phone I called the elders and they got him for me.

After sacrament President Machaka had each of the youth come up and tell about their experiences yesterday. Mainly they said they had fun and liked the food. The last speaker was Ayanda and she gave a great talk. She had made notes while she was at the activity and also wrote after she got home. She covered just about everything and we were really proud of her. I hope that the meaning of the activity will not disappear quickly from her and the other youth.

There were just over 20 people at Sacrament and I wondered where many of the others were. I told Mary that instead of going to the other hour of meetings that we should go out and visit some of the missing members and see if they were OK. We started by going to Sister Joyce’s where we found she had gone to Durban but we came across Sister Chirwa and her cousin. Sister Chirwa could not come because she had to meet with the local Chief so he could approve of a transfer of land from her cousing to her.

We then visited Gabi’s homestead – Gabi was at church but her father was not. She said that he mother was feeling better, but when we got there we found that she is still very ill and her husband had stayed home to help take care of her. He is going to take her to the hospital tomorrow. Earlier we found out from Thandi Zama that her mother was still sick and was not eating anything. We suggested she try chicken broth soup and see if she could keep it down. As I was writing this I had the feeling that we should make some tomorrow and take it to her.

When we were finished there, we headed for Esikhawini where we were able to take part in the last 30 minutes of RS and PH. After the block, Mary played for choir practice and then had her piano class. While she was doing that, I locked things up, had a good talk with Elder Mbithi about the idea that the brethren now testify of that this the True and Living Church and what that meant. Elder Mbithi and I seem to often end up sharing thoughts about the gospel. Earlier I had given him Elder Holland’s great talk at the Mission President’s Training about the Holy Ghost as your other missionary companion.

By the time we got home we were both tired so after a lunch of leftovers, we both took rather long naps.

While I was checking on Facebook, I found that our young friend Vita from Jogya was online and Mary and her had a good chat –while they were chatting two others contacted her including Looky another Indonesian friend. It is a great thing to be able to stay in contact with friends old and new but as I read in an article, most of what is written is lost for future use. No more large files of written on paper letters with thoughts and ideas of the times to be archived.

As usual we went over to the Barts for Sunday dinner with the elders. It is always a great time to meet and discuss what is going on and trade experiences – both recent and past. We have a strong group of mainly seasoned elders in Richards Bay at this time and they all have had interesting experiences while on their missions. Almost all have been robbed – elder Muthoka a total of 5 times including one where he was pistol whipped. But in almost all cases the elders were not being wise and therefore put themselves in danger. In talking to them they do not make a big thing of these kinds of experiences. They just consider it part of their missions. The thing that makes any elder who has been robbed or car jacked the maddest is when the thieves take their scriptures. Another thing I learned is that often the robbers seem nervous because they were raised Christian and know that they are robbing ministers of Christ.

Elder Richey said that when he and his companioned were robbed it was near the church and one of the robbers took the keys for the church and then looked at the church, decided that it was not a good idea to rob a church and threw the keys on the ground.

As the missionaries were leaving, Elder Musemare  came back and showed me the middle finger  of his right hand. He had shut it in a car door and the X-rays came back that it was not broken. But when I tried to straighten it out it hurt very much. I referred him to Mother Bartholomew who suggested we splint it. So we used two sticks out of Magnum ice cream bars and some surgical tape the Bs had bought by accident. I am sure it really hurt for us to mess with it but other than cringing a couple of times he bore it well. The Bs will probably take him in to have it checked again.

We were headed home just after 9:00 and in bed by 10:00. So ended another interesting day in the South Africa, Durban mission for us.

27 July 2009 – Monday

We spent our P-day cleaning house, running errands, starting a puzzle that may take the rest of our mission to finish, caught up captioning too many pictures, wrote e-mail to the other couples who were in the MTC with us, wrote to Tom Alexander asking about what was going on in the ward, and generally enjoying the day. Mary started making chicken soup from scratch so we can take it to a couple of the sick sisters in Port Durnford tomorrow. I read where Kristy was having a tough morning so I called her to wish her well. It seems Charlotte is again not feeling well.

28 July 2009 – Tuesday

The morning kind of zoomed by as Mary finished her chicken soup and I did dishes and laundry. I am amazed at the amount of dishes we use each day. I am guilty of using too many glasses – come on Bill wash out your glass and use it again – and so I can not complain too loudly.

I manage to sweat enough during winter to have to change white shirts most days. I hate to think what is going to be like in summer when the temperature.

We went to do some errands and while we were out I felt that we should call the Barts. I kind of ignored it at first but when it continued I gave Mary the phone – I was driving – and told her to make sure I called. When we got to McDonalds, I called and found that sister B was very sick. The strain of getting the youth activity done, going to two branches on Sunday and then fixing the meal for the missionaries on Sunday night was just too much. By the time she went to bed on Sunday night she had a terrible headache.

I asked if we should come over so we could give her a blessing. They felt like that was a good idea so we had lunch, dropped some things off at home and went to the B’s. We talked for a short time – sister B was obviously not well – and then I anointed and elder B sealed it and gave her a blessing. Hopefully that and some good rest will help her get well.

Our main activity of the day was going to Port Durnford on a Chicken Soup run. That is we went to visit the sick, the missing and others.

At the Nzamas we found that she was at the doctors and that was good. We left the soup with Thandi Nzama. Then we went by sister Joyces and found that she works at her business 6 days a week and so she is going to be hard to catch. We then went to Gabi’s homestead to see her mother who looked so ill on Sunday and found her outside in the sun washing dishes. She does not have good English so we talked a little and left her the soup. Our final stop was at the Chirwa’s where I we talked to Thobani about missing church –he was very tired he said – and found that sister Chirwa needed a ride to the clinic in Enseleni on Monday. We told her we would be glad to pick her up and bring her home. Our last stop was at the Zondi homestead – he is second counselor in the branch presidency – where we met a young man who is investigating the church and is building a traditional shaped house. We had a good time there but later I realized I had not taken any pictures to show in the blog.

The main activities in the evening were Mary making brownies for DDM tomorrow and us trying to work on the puzzle. You know it is a tough puzzle when you are excited when you are able to fit three pieces together in only 15 minutes.

It was good to get out and just visit people. We need to do that most days. By the time we got home we were rather tired – I am afraid we are not as young as we used to be. Hopefully as we visit and serve, we will touch the lives of some of the members  – active and less active – and will help build up the kingdom in Port Durnford and Esikhawini.

29 July 2009 – Wednesday

Mary woke up much too early and could not go back to sleep. Luckily I did not have that problem this morning. We did the normal morning things with the addition of doing a couple of loads of laundry.

We went to DDM with the Esikhawini district. Elder Babeeyo conducted his first one here as DL. He did a good job but it ran a little long. The best part of the meeting was when he had each missionary tell about how why he decided to go on a mission and how he prepared.

Elder Richey had a normal Utah experience, but the African elders all had wonderful stories to tell.

Elder Mholo was trying to decide about going on a mission when he re-read his journal. As he read he felt the spirit tell him he should go.

Elder Musemare was told by the missionaries who were teaching him that if he was baptized it was required that he go on a mission. This brought a number of comments from the rest of us. His parents are not members but supported him when he told them he was going.

Elder Mokopotsa said that he had soccer in his blood. It seemed like it was the most important thing in the world to him. When it came time, he had to choose between a mission and going on to play soccer. He decided to go on a mission and then it turned out that his branch president forgot to send in his papers for 6 months.

Elder Mbithi was the last of a large family, all who served missions but there was never any pressure put on him to serve. However twice he got quite ill and each time it was only when he committed to go on a mission that he got well. When he started getting the necessary papers to go on his mission he ran into all kinds of problems and it took him the better part of a year to get everything he needed.

Elder Babeeyo went to a Catholic boarding school. When the teachers found out that he was reading the Book of Mormon they told him it was wrong, took it away from him and burned it. He did so well in school that he got a full ride scholarship that he had to give up to go on his mission.

I imagine that almost every African missionary has a story somewhat like these to tell. They are true spiritual giants and, if they stay active, will greatly strengthen their wards and branches when they return home.

After DDM we went to the mall to get some lunch and then home for a short nap before heading to Esikhawini for our PEC with President Machaka. It was one of our better PEC with the President and he had a good idea of using some of the branch LUBA to have a braii after the Mormon Helping Hands activity on August 22. It should help get out people to help in the project and branch unity.

After the meeting we went to Port Durnford where we went to see some of the same people we saw yesterday. We had to tell sister Chirwa that we could not take her on Monday because we had a prior appointment that we had forgotten about. She said she can make it on public transportation. They are amazingly flexible people.

We then went to see how what sister Nzama found out from the doctor. It turned out she has an ulcer and so we talked about what she can and can not eat. We called President Machaka about some needs they have and he said he would look into it.

We had an excellent meeting with President Malinga. I am afraid I overload him most of the time but I always remind him that I am just making suggestions and have no real authority. He tells me he is glad to have the suggestions and considers me his coach. He is truly a good man and I think by the time we leave he will have the branch growing and functioning like a ward.

By the time we left his house it was completely dark. I feel somewhat uneasy but mainly about driving where there are few or no street lights more than any physical threat. We arrived home without any problems and ate our lunch leftovers for dinner.

It was another beautiful and spiritual day in paradise.

Roadshow – Youth Activity Pictures

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Eating lunch was perhaps the favorite activity of the day but the roadshows also got a lot of applause. One branch did Ammon converting the Lamanites…Elder Bartholomew came up with the costumes for the sheep. These two young men did a great job on stage. They would have one best sheep of show if there had been such a reward. The Enseleni branch had a tremendous show that showed the temptations that youth and adults face everyday in the townships. The young man who dressed as a wanton woman did so because they decided that it was not right that any of their young women should play such a role. What great young men to think that way about young women.

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I am sorry that I did not take a picture of the great Port Durnford backdrop that was designed by a non-member. It was about 17 feet wide and 7 feet high. Everyone was impressd by its quality.

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After they put on their shows we took group pictures. Port Durnford on the left and Esikhawini in the middle and right. As you can see we asked them to do one serious and one crazy photo – can you tell which is which? I can’t – they both look normal to me.

26 July 2009

26 July 2009 –Sunday

It was rather hard to get up and going this morning but we made it to Esikhawini in time to open things up and go to PEC. I thought for a while that we were not going to have any PEC but President Thusi arrived about 10 minutes late and apologized. Unfortunately no one else showed up except us and the missionaries. But we had a pretty good PEC anyway. I was glad to hear that they had organized Home Teaching and that they would give out assignments later today in Priesthood. Also they are going to sustain brother Mthalane as YM President for the branch.

We were also the first to arrive at Port Durnford, followed again by the missionaries and then President Machaka. At 9:00 when it was supposed to start there was one sister and her child in the chapel. We finally got started at 9:15. While we were waiting I got a call from President Baldwin asking me to have the same brother Mthalane as District YM President. He had been trying to call Elder B without success so he could do the same in their two branches. I told him I would try to contact him. When he did not answer their phone I called the elders and they got him for me.

After sacrament President Machaka had each of the youth come up and tell about their experiences yesterday. Mainly they said they had fun and liked the food. The last speaker was Ayanda and she gave a great talk. She had made notes while she was at the activity and also wrote after she got home. She covered just about everything and we were really proud of her. I hope that the meaning of the activity will not disappear quickly from her and the other youth.

There were just over 20 people at Sacrament and I wondered where many of the others were. I told Mary that instead of going to the other hour of meetings that we should go out and visit some of the missing members and see if they were OK. We started by going to Sister Joyce’s where we found she had gone to Durban but we came across Sister Chirwa and her cousin. Sister Chirwa could not come because she had to meet with the local Chief so he could approve of a transfer of land from her cousing to her.

We then visited Gabi’s homestead – Gabi was at church but her father was not. She said that he mother was feeling better, but when we got there we found that she is still very ill and her husband had stayed home to help take care of her. He is going to take her to the hospital tomorrow. Earlier we found out from Thandi Zama that her mother was still sick and was not eating anything. We suggested she try chicken broth soup and see if she could keep it down. As I was writing this I had the feeling that we should make some tomorrow and take it to her.

When we were finished there, we headed for Esikhawini where we were able to take part in the last 30 minutes of RS and PH. After the block, Mary played for choir practice and then had her piano class. While she was doing that, I locked things up, had a good talk with Elder Mbithi about the idea that the brethren now testify of that this the True and Living Church and what that meant. Elder Mbithi and I seem to often end up sharing thoughts about the gospel. Earlier I had given him Elder Hollands great talk at the Mission President’s Training about the Holy Ghost as your other missionary companion.

By the time we got home we were both tired so after a lunch of leftovers, we both took rather long naps.

While I was checking on Facebook, I found that our young friend Vita from Jogya was online and Mary and her had a good chat –while they were chatting two others contacted her including Looky another Indonesian friend. It is a great thing to be able to stay in contact with friends old and new but as I read in an article, most of what is written is lost for future use. No more large files of written on paper letters with thoughts and ideas of the times to be archived.

As usual we went over to the Barts for Sunday dinner with the elders. It is always a great time to meet and discuss what is going on and trade experiences – both recent and past. We have a strong group of mainly seasoned elders in Richards Bay at this time and they all have had interesting experiences while on their missions. Almost all have been robbed – elder Muthoka a total of 5 times including one where he was pistol whipped. But in almost all cases the elders were not being wise and therefore put themselves in danger. In talking to them they do not make a big thing of these kinds of experiences. They just consider it part of their missions. The thing that makes any elder who has been robbed or car jacked the maddest is when the thieves take their scriptures. Another thing I learned is that often the robbers seem nervous because they were raised Christian and know that they are robbing ministers of Christ.

Elder Richey said that when he and his companioned were robbed it was near the church and one of the robbers took the keys for the church and then looked at the church, decided that it was not a good idea to rob a church and threw the keys on the ground.

As the missionaries were leaving, Elder Musemare  came back and showed me the middle finger  of his right hand. He had shut it in a car door and the X-rays came back that it was not broken. But when I tried to straighten it out it hurt very much. I referred him to Mother Bartholomew who suggested we splint it. So we used two sticks out of Magnum ice cream bars and some surgical tape the Bs had bought by accident. I am sure it really hurt for us to mess with it but other than cringing a couple of times he bore it well. The Bs will probably take him in to have it checked again.

We were headed home just after 9:00 and in bed by 10:00. So ended another interesting day in the South Africa, Durban mission for us.

25 July 2009

25 July 2009 – Saturday

Youth Activity Day in Richards Bay…and a busy day for the couple missionaries. First let me say that the day went so well mainly because Sister Bartholomew is 1000 Gorilla for work in a 120 pound body. I have no idea how Elder Bartholomew can keep up with her. But that may be why he seems to catch a quick nap whenever he gets a chance. The pair are amazing and a perfect example of how much good a missionary couple can do in an area. BTW –neither of them would agree with anything that I wrote here.

The day early for us as we made sure we had everything we needed for our two branches’ roadshow. The car looked somewhat like a travelling circus car. Swords, banners, a sheet of metal for thunder, backdrop paintings, costumes, and on and on, all to be fitted in.

We arrived a little early at the Richards Bay chapel so we could unload everything. We then helped set up tables, put out crocodiles, etc. We were lucky because the Enseleni branch youth showed up very early and helped clear off the stage, set up chairs, and generally be of great service.

Over the next hour, the youth begin to arrive. I did not see either of our branches arrive so I called Fufu and she assured me that they were on the way. Not long after that Esikhawini arrived but I did not see Port Durnford. I was starting to worry when they came around the back of the chapel. I found out that the little stinkers had arrived a half hour before and had decided to practice without letting anyone know that they were here. I could have kissed them – but of course that is not allowed.

I really could go on for pages about the experiences that I had this day but to keep it short, the first part was spent with learning activities including a section where sister B showed the video by Elder Packer about Crocodiles. Then she said that we never knew where they would find crocodiles that could grab them. She suggested that there might even be some in the chapel. They finally got the idea and looked under their seats where we had earlier stuck 6 posters with different crocodiles such as bad language, sexual impurity, etc. We then broke them up into 6 groups and they had to come up with a presentation that told the dangers their crocodile posed for them as LDS youth and what they could do to overcome it. They all did a great job.

Then President Baldwin talked to them about a number of things but mainly gave a no nonsense review about sexual immorality. What chances they are taking physically and more important the spiritual consequences. He told them that any Young Adult who was found to be immoral would be excommunicated.

After the program we fed them a good lunch that was cooked by President and Sister Vesi. We, the Bs, the Vesi’s and others produced about 80 plates of curry, salad and squash in about 15 minutes. Then we put together the same number of desserts. It is amazing how much some of those skinny little young people could put away.

Then came the roadshows and they were amazing. All of them did a great job. I told our two branches that the important thing was for them to have fun and I think they did. We were really proud of how well they did and I only lost my cool three times.

The Enseleni branch has a large group of older youth that have some great leaders among them. They wrote their own script, put together their own props and costumes, and practiced three or four times a week. Sister B did have to tone their original script down a bit but the result was magical. The show mainly showed the temptations they faced each day in the townships that tried to get them to let go of the iron rod. Each temptation drew away a few people but in the end three of them made it to the tree of life. Then they all came on stage and sang a medley of church songs. I got tears in my eyes as I felt the spirit of these LDS youth who must work every day to stay faithful in a society that tries to drag them down. Add to this that most of them have very little in the way of earthly goods, and I even have greater respect for them.

After the roadshows it was time to start cleaning up and getting them on their taxis so they could go home. We were lucky again because none of the taxis came on time so we had a lot of help in putting things away. I was given the money and task of paying the taxis drivers once they arrived. The last one did not come until almost 45 minutes late and the only reason he did come was that we finally called him. When he arrived it was obvious that he had been sleeping.

After they were gone we had to pack up all the things we brought and help Sister Wilson and Sister Baldwin start to get the building ready for Sunday service. The biggest problem was that one of the youth had thrown up in one of the class rooms. They had eaten much too much of rich food that they were not use to and never made it to the bathroom. This is not something they teach you about in the MTC.

Once we were done the Bs joined us for dinner at the mall. We had an excellent meal but none of us could eat more that ½ of what we ordered. This was strange because I do not think any of us really ate any lunch. However we all drank a number of glass of water or Coke Light. I realized that I did not drink anything from 8:30 in the morning until 5:30 in the evening. No wonder I was thirsty.

We bid the Barts goodbye and quickly traveled home. I unloaded the car – I was not going to but we needed a couple of things that were at the bottom of the piles so it seemed like the easiest thing to do – and then basically collapsed until bed time.

What a wonderful day we had and what joy comes from working with the youth of Richards Bay district.

24 July 2009

24 July 2009 – Friday

Happy Birthday to Mary…

About 5:00 I was awaken by a noise that I at first thought  was a clock ticking but it turned out to be water dripping off the roof and hitting a piece of plastic. It was so annoying that I had to get up and move the plastic. It is very cold this morning and the heater barely makes a dent. If we were going to live here any amount of time, I would put A/C – heaters in at least three of the rooms. I told Mary that when  summer comes I may remember this cool weather with fondness.

We spent the morning finishing up details for the costumes and props for Esikhawini’s roadshow. Among the things that got done: the swords got their aluminum foil blades, fishing poles got line and hooks, and the Title of Liberty got ironed.

I worked on some extraction of the 1920 Texas census. It was one of those maddening sheets that when the writer took his time, the records are very clear. But if he hurried or did not leave himself enough room, the names are pretty much unreadable. That is not good when it is a given name but when it is a family name it means that they may never be accessed.

I read an interesting article in Mormon Times this morning about Alex Boye. He is a former black rock star who is a member of the Church and was while be was part of a rock group. He quit because he did not like the atmosphere. He now sings in the Tabernacle Choir. Reading the comments was almost as interesting as the article. I am surprised how many people who do not have a good opinion of the Church post comments on almost any article about an LDS celebrity or situation. I would think they had better things to do with their time.

Without comment from our local paper: – Patna India: Farmers in and eastern Indian state have asked their unmarried daughters to plough parched fields naked in a bid to embarrass the weather gods to bring some badly needed monsoon rain, officials say.

“This is the most trusted social custom in the area and the villagers have vowed to continue…until it rains very heavily” said an official from Banke Bazaar.”

I gave Mary her choice of having lunch or dinner out on her birthday and she chose lunch. So we went to the mall and ate at ‘Elephant and I.’ While we were eating the Barts came by and wished Mary a happy birthday. I would guess either one or both couples are in the mall sometime around lunch almost every day.  While we were there Mary bought some needed office supplies.

Of course the wind and the rain continued right up until we were on our way to Esikhawini. However by the time we got there it was only drizzling so most of the young people came. What made the rehearsal difficult was that a few of the main characters did not come or did not come on time. But to make up for that, some who have not been for weeks or had never been to a rehearsal came. Unfortunately we had one very bad piece of news – Sphelele who is a new convert and was also one of the main characters came very late and explained that due to school, she could not be in the play on Saturday. All of us were very disappointed.

The dress rehearsal was – to say the least – a minor disaster. Mary reminded me that it is said that a terrible dress rehearsal means a great performance. Well is that is true Esikhawini is going to have a wonderful roadshow tomorrow. But – as I have to keep reminding myself – that perfection is not the goal here. The goal is for the youth to work together and enjoy themselves.

Once we had cleaned up the chapel, put the chairs back, and loaded up all the props it was again turning dark. But the traffic was light – which was completely different from when we were going to Esikhawini a few hours earlier –and so we made good time coming home.

The evening was spent getting a few props made – we needed 4 more swords and some more robes – and making sure all the bases were covered. It will be a great relief to get this over with.

During the day Mary got lots of Happy Birthday notices on Facebook, through e-mail, and even by talking to Cindy on the phone. More people may have tried to call but for some reason the phone went right to voice mail. I could not figure out why this happened so I am going to have to call Vonage and ask them what to do.

As President Mann has often said – Another day in Paradise.

23 July 2009

23 July 2009 – Thursday

An interesting, productive, and yet frustrating morning for us. It was interesting because of my reading in Mosiah about the start of Abinidi’s calling. A Prophet is not welcome when he tells people to repent –especially not when he tells a King and other leaders that they are the main cause for the problems the people will be facing.

I thought about the two years that he had between his warnings to his people. What did he do? Were they peaceful years for him to be with his family? How did he feel when he got called again to go back and put his life on the line for the Lord.  It brought to mind one of the conference talks – Elder Snow’s – I read recently related to a man who had a great challenge in his life because of his call to serve a mission. Later though lots of hard work he had again become prosperous and was told he received another mission call. The story tells how he thought about it for a while, spit, and said ‘Alright.’ I wonder what I would have done in his place.

Mary finished our Liahona and I mounted some signs on cardboard in preparation for the last rehearsals before the big event on Saturday. I know the youth will come through but how is still a mystery to me.

As I was posting to the blog, the dreaded red light came on signaling that I had lost the internet. I immediately knew that somehow we were again past due on the account. I did not get upset – I just realized that as I was just now writing about it. I finished dressing, got the bill, and drove down to the mall. Once again I paid everything that was outstanding and found out when I needed to go in next month to make sure I paid just after the bill was issued. I am not going to let it happen again.

The young woman who helped me was the same who helped me earlier in the month but of course she did not remember me. I kept everything friendly because they get enough grief each day. As she was working with me another of the clerks exclaimed ‘It can’t be.’ I laughed and said that I knew that feeling. We all had a good chuckle.

The weather has changed – there are dark clouds and a cold wind this morning. Hopefully it will not rain so the PD youth will come to practice. I still may have to go gather them up as I did earlier in the week but maybe they are committed enough now to come on their own. I sent text messages to those I had numbers for.

The dollar continues to weaken against the Rand. As of this morning it was 7.75R per $. Back in early April it was 11R per $ – so our mission instead of costing about $1800 a month is now costing about $2400 a month. Luckily we can afford the increase, but there are other couples that may feel the squeeze.

As we left for our English class at Port Durnford, I noticed that the internet was still not working. So when we got to the Nzamas I called my new friend Nana at the Telekom office and told her my problem she promised to call and see if she could get it re-connected. When we finally got home, amazingly enough it was and with only one visit and one call. Last time it took 2 calls and 3 visits – or was it 4 visits…

Thembe was at our English class for the first time in 3 weeks but unfortunately Sister Nzama was sick in bed. I asked her daughter Thandi if her mother would like a blessing and she said she would. I called to see if the elders were around but they were busy in Esikhawini. 

The class went well but they have problems remembering short words that they have been working on for a number of weeks. I think we need to do more reviewing before moving on to new words. Today we had the word weep and Thandi thought it was whip because she did not know what weep meant. Also we discussed which and witch. English is a hard language.

After the lesson Thandi came with us to the PD chapel where we unloaded everything. The wind was really blowing and when we open the door to the chapel it was almost torn off the hinges. We ended up tying it closed. After I dropped the ladies and the props off, I went around collecting l the youth and delivering them to the chapel for rehearsal. I actually got one to stop fixing her dinner and come.

Among those I found along the way was Quinton who is the Elder’s President. I asked him to go with me to give sister Nzama a blessing. We reviewed what needed to be said and I told him he could do it in Zulu if he was not comfortable in English.

When we got to the house sister Nzama looked tired but seemed in pretty good spirits. Quinton anointed and I sealed the anointing and gave her a blessing. I felt she would soon be well and back with us. She has great faith and is a wonderful gogo.

Mary had a dress rehearsal and I have to say the youth did great. Many of them have learned their lines and the songs. I think by Saturday they will have everything down. I took a lot of pictures and some movies.

One of the songs they sing is ‘Master the tempest is raging’ with some changes in the lyrics. I must say the tempest was really raging and if we had been in a ship instead of a building the waves would really have been tossing us around. As it was the building often shuddered as a blast of wind hit it.

After the practice I took many of them home or near to their homes. On the way to Gabi’s a small tree was blocking much of the road but I was able to just drive over it. Thankfully one of the big ones did not fall.

President Machaka asked us for a ride to the special training on handling of church funds that was going to be held at Richards Bay and we were happy to do that. We dropped him at the chapel – I opened it so he did not have to wait outside – and then ran Mary home. I had enough time to grab a spot of dinner before heading back. By that time the rain that had threatened much of the day had started.

The meeting was fine and I am sure the branch presidencies learned a lot. I learned some things about auditing which we will use probably next week. I was surprised to see President Malinga in attendance because he was working the evening shift. I will have to ask him how he pulled that off.

President Thusi – 1st counselor in Esikhawini also came. That was great for me because that meant I did not need to take President Machaka back to Port Durnford. I was going to do this if I had to but I was certainly happy to not need to spend an hour plus driving in the dark and especially not in Port Durnford.

Earlier this week, elder B mentioned that the police stopped one of the couples – I think the Hafens – in Esikhawini one night at about 9:00. When they found that they were a white couple, the police – black policemen – asked them what in the world they were doing in a township at that time of the night. They thought they were crazy to even think about being there after dark.

By the time we got out it was pouring wind driven rain so just getting out to the car was an experience. Of course I was one of the few people there without a coat – not overly bright when it is cold and wet out. But the trip back to the boarding went well and Mary had the heater on so I walked into a warm house from a warm car.

The way the youth came together for the roadshow made it a great day for me. Also to see our non-member at our English class was good. I forgot to mention that a young non-LDS woman who we had not seen for at least 3 weeks came to the rehearsal today and is going to be in the roadshow – at least we hope she will be in the roadshow.

22 July 2009

22 July 2009 – Wednesday

A beautiful bright morning in Richards Bay. The days are getting longer which means spring and then summer will soon be upon us. I am looking forward to spring but not summer.

Our dear friends the garage door folks showed up a little early this morning for what we hope is the last time. They are nice people but enough is enough…I just realized I never talked to them about the gospel. I forgot the first lesson of missionary work – ask everyone!

I was reading the Church News from Morning News and it seems one of our chapels in Florida lost the copper tubing and condensers from their air-conditioners. This sounded more like something that would happen in South Africa than the US but it just goes to show that there is crime everywhere.

Yesterday as we were coming out of Esikhawini we had to detour around a rear-ender wreck. It occurred about 500 yards from where we had ours a couple of months ago and I bet it was caused by the same thing – someone stepping out to cross the road in front a truck. The car that ran into the truck looked like it had not touched it’s brakes – luckily it did not look like anyone was seriously hurt.

I found it interesting that as I was doing personal study by reading in the Liahona I read Elder Allan Packer’s talk. In it he relates a story about how he heard his coaches voice in the midst of action on the field and related it to how if we familiar with how the Holy Ghost ‘speaks’ to us, we will know what to do. I obviously did have that closeness this morning.

I am really enjoying reading these talks for the second and third time. I remember in his closing remarks, President Monson urged members to read the conference talks when they became available. He said “I urge you to study the messages and to ponder their teachings and then to apply them in your life.” Words of wisdom of a living Prophet given to all the church and especially me!

Mary spent much of the morning making a Liahona. Although it is not made of brass, it is certainly of curious workmanship. I told her she was spending a lot of time on something that will be on stage for about 2 minutes or so. I think I will make a stand out of cardboard so it can sit on stage the whole show – then at least it will have its 15 minutes of fame.

The Richards Bay elders called and then came by. It seems that elder Babeeyo left his scriptures and PMG at the chapel after  ZDM and since we will see him later in the day we will return them. The elders also picked up the Books of Mormon that we have had out for them since before All Zone.

We headed out to the mall so I could buy another AC/DC converter for the keyboard. I also got some money. While I am thinking about that, Elder B tried to use his Wells Fargo VISA card to make a purchase the other day and it would not work. He called the Wells Fargo and he was told that due to the high level of fraud, Wells Fargo and some associated banks have blocked all credit card transactions from South Africa and Turkey. He was told all he had to do was call and tell them that he was going to use the card…which is rather hard to do from a mall in South Africa. Luckily they have did not block getting cash from ATMs or we would be in real trouble. Our other major purchase of the day was a 25 cent dowel that Mary is going to use to make the spindles on her Liahona.

We made it easily to Esikhawini in time for our PEC with president Machaka and took care of some things that were needed because of the welfare orders we filled yesterday. About 3:00 I got a SMS from the elders saying they were doing baptism interviews and would be 30 minutes late. We decided we could do our part and leave – which we did.

At the Esikhawini chapel we got things ready for the roadshow practice while the youth finished up their seminary class. Unfortunately only 5 students were at seminary so we did not have many to work with for our rehearsal. But we did what we could and we will hope that come Friday we will have a decent amount for one of two final run throughs.

After the meeting Mary had a short piano lesson with Yaya Mathe. She seems to be starting from scratch – as most of them are. It will be interesting to see how things turn out with the five or six ‘students’ Mary may have for the next year. While I was waiting for them to finish, I saw a man walking down the street and said hello. I found out he was married with three children and had a job. However his family lives on the homestead and he rents a small place here. He only gets to see them when he has enough money for transport. I did not take his name but I did give him a “Who are the Mormons?” and invited him to church.

We of course had to drive home in the dark again – far from a fun experience. On the way we stopped at the mall again. I went to the grocery store while Mary got us some fish and chips for dinner.