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.