Monthly Archives: September 2009

27 September 2009

27 September 2009 – Sunday

 A very good and a very busy Sunday for us. We were out early to Esikhawini to pick up a couple of the leaders and attend their PEC meeting. Before the meeting I had a chance to talk to President Malinga about the Presidency Meeting they held in the dark on Wednesday. He was excited about all they got done and the counselors had given him lots to do today. It is exciting to see them start to understand the importance of holding regular presidency meetings – now if they could understand that PEC is just as important I could almost relax. I think they will soon start holding Branch Council meetings which will really help. While I attended PEC, Mary had a meeting with Sister Kumhalo about the up coming Relief Society Conference.

We then left and went to Engwelezane for Sacrament meeting so we could see how they are doing before the Barts left. They seem to be well organized and started only about 20 minutes late. I would guess that they can cut that down to 5 or 10 minutes if they try. The Primary put on their program and it was quite good – especially for their little branch. I must say I got a little teary eyed as they sang their songs. I closed my eyes and realized that I could not tell by their voices that we were not in some small ward or branch in the US. How wonderful is the only true and living church on the earth – no matter where you are for sacrament meeting, no matter what language is used, you feel comfortable.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the Mickelsens after the meeting. They had come up from Durban to meet with some of their PEF students. It was then that sister Mickelsen asked me about my not posting on the blog. She was afraid I was sick or something. I told her why I had stopped and then said since she asked, I would start again. It will be a good way to spend a quiet P-day.

The B’s and family left after the sacrament meeting. They leave so the branch does not depend on them to teach or lead. They are preparing them for their going home in just three short weeks. We decided to also leave to go back to Esikhawini for the baptisms. We arrived soon after SS should have been over but of course it ran long.

I took the time to talk to President Malinga. He told me how busy he had been making callings. He mentioned he had called Percy Zibani to be a counselor to President Nkosi. It did not register as he said this but a little later I realized he did not have the authority to make the call. President Nkosi should suggest his own counselors and then the Mission Presidency should make the call. When I told President Malinga the problem, he quickly spoke to Percy and got it straightened out. He really is a good man and will develop into a strong branch president.

After sacrament we had the baptismal service. Three converts and three children were baptized. As usual, because of missing people, there were some changes in the program. But other than a couple of the candidates needing to be done twice, there were no other problems. I was happy to Sazi Mthalane do one of the baptisms for Esikhawini. It is good to see a Priest use his PH. It should help him decide to go on a mission.

After the baptisms and confirmations were finished we came back to our boarding where I quickly ate my leftovers from Friday’s lunch at Maxi’s. I had about 25 minutes to eat – and no time to nap – before I had to head out again for the Richards Bay chapel and finishing the audit.

I arrived early and took the few minutes until Calwyn Baldwin came to close my eyes. Once Elder B arrived we pretty quickly finished the audit of the Richards Bay branch and the District. There are a couple of problems but nothing big. The member’s tithes and offerings and the LUBA are all handled and used properly. I am not sure who reviews the audit sheets we fill out and sign but hopefully they are not just piled together in some file cabinet until someone gets around to throwing them away.

By the time I got back to the boarding, it was getting on 4:30 and I must say I was exhausted. So after looking to see how Tiger Woods was doing – he had not teed off yet – took a short nap.

Later in the day we went over to the Barts to have dinner with the Elders. I think it will be the last one we have there but perhaps they will want to hold the one on the 11th at their house. It will be the last chance before they go home. As I have often mentioned it is one of the blessings of the mission to spend some time with the elders.

Since it was Elders Petersen and Weaver’s birthday, sister B had a cake for them and we all sang Happy Birthday. Later Mary and I were sitting around the table talking to the two birthday boys and heard how neither of them had really planned to go on missions. Elder Petersen said his mother asked him if he was going on a mission and he did not commit until she mentioned that if he did she could go to the temple with him.

It turned out that his father was an inactive Aaronic Priesthood holder and so his parents had never been to the temple. When his father signed the paper allowing Elder Petersen to go on a mission, he wrote to his bishop that he felt that he was ready to commit to being active. So it turned out that Elder Petersen and his parents all went through the temple together. So in one way you might say that the first ‘convert’ that Elder Petersen had was before his actual going to the MTC. The Lord does bless his missionaries.

We did not leave the Bart’s home until well after 9:00 and so by the time we got home it was late. I checked again to see how Tiger was doing and found that he was not doing very well – but he was hanging in and had a chance to win the tournament and even if he lost he should win the Fed-Ex cup.

It was a wonderful Sabbath day. The most important part was of course taking the Sacrament so I could renew my covenants but all the other events added to the spiritual beauty of the day. Although I can not say it was a perfect day for me – are any of them – it certainly ranks close to being a 2 mite day.

26 September 2009

26 September 2009 – Saturday

We had a wedding to attend in the morning and a party in the afternoon so we kept fairly busy.

Even though President Baldwin did not realize that it was going to be a formal wedding so he did not come dressed for one, the wedding between Happy and Patrick went well. The President had a private meeting with the couple for about a half hour and then we had the ceremony. Mary played the piano, including a solo of Love at Home. President Baldwin had some good counsel for all married couples but he included some jokes that probably went over the head of most of the African guests. After the ceremony there was lots of pictures and cake and punch. By 11:00 we had cleaned up and locked up and headed for some lunch at the mall.

In the afternoon we went to Enselini to attend a branch party. Although it was to start at noon, we did not get there until 1:30 which turned out to be right when they started. That was a little late even for South Africa. The youth had planned a very nice program which included a tribute to the B’s. I forgot to mention that one of the Bartholomew’s sons and his wife arrived here yesterday for a visit week’s visit so they got to see how much the branch loved their parents.

A group of 5 young men put a very interesting dance program with original choreography by one of them and only a week to practice. There was singing and talks including goodbye talks by the Bartholomews. As I have said before, the Bartholomews have done a tremendous job getting the two branches they have nursed over the last 17 ready to run on their own. They not only love the people, they care for them as if they were family. As you see sister B greet each one with a big smile and hug, you understand how much they are going to miss being here. Elder B is not as demonstrative but when he talks about them, he knows each member intimately and he will shed many tears at their parting. Hopefully some time in the near future they will go on another mission –there is certainly a great need for couples like them through out the world.

By the time they were done it was almost 3 and so we left to come home to wait for the handy man to come once more. Early in the morning I had started to wash dishes when the repaired faucet jumped out of its socket and started to spray water everywhere. Luckily I was right there and could quickly turn it off.  When he finally did come, it only took him 10 minutes to fix the problem. It just takes the right knowledge and the right tools to get most things fixed. 1 ¾ mite day

25 September 2009

25 September 2009 – Friday

The morning was spent waiting for Rob to come and fix some plumbing and electrical problems we were having. He was supposed to come at 8:30 and finally –after 3 or 4 of my calls – he made it by 11:30. As usual here, there were lots of excuses but few reasons. Not all that time was wasted – we were able to do some planning, I got the Lexmark printer to work, and we neatened up the house. Rob fixed the leaky faucet, got the toilet to flush efficiently, replaced a light fixture, and managed to replace one of the evil little lights that are in all the ceiling fixtures. What he could not figure out is why the remote does not always open the garage door. We will just live with it for another 10 months.

We got moving towards Esikhawini after noon to go grocery shopping. It was the wrong day and the wrong time to do this. It seems that many people had a four day weekend and that they all decided to go to the mall and buy groceries. To be more efficient we split up the tasks and it ended up only taking 45 minutes and some $90 US to get our to do list greatly shortened. We next went to buy electricity but one look at the line that was almost out the door and I turned around and went back to the car.

At Esikhawini I found that the power was still off so I called brother Holder and Neville about the problem. They got busy with the municipality and found that the problem was at the city’s end. They promised to send some one out to fix the problem. Well needless to say it took another half dozen calls and a couple of hours before anyone showed up. By then it was pouring rain – it had been drizzling most of the day – and it was getting dark. When after 45 minutes of effort they still had not solved the problem I called Sne Mthalane and asked him if he would come over and sit the building until they were finished. He lives a block away and being a good guy he agreed so we could head home.

During this saga, the Youth gathered. Sisters Muvundla and Zibani were there to work with the YW and do pedicures while the elders worked with the YM to clean the baptismal font for Sunday. They worked hard and steady with no complaints. Elder Mokopotsa works well with YM – Elder Musemare just works hard. While they were doing that I cleaned the men’s bathroom so that it did not look and smell too bad. I will get a couple of air fresheners for the bathrooms – there is a great need for them.

We drove home in the dark and rain – not much fun when many of the cars coming the other way have their high beams on. But we arrived at our boarding safe, sound and exhausted. Mainly I was tired because I spent a couple of hours out in the rain and cold with no jacket on. I really do need to remember to leave my rain jacket in the car. Thankfully we did buy a new, large umbrella that kept some of the rain off.

After dinner I called Keith Hillman and talked about some things that needed fixing at the store he rents from us.  While we were talking I found out that his daughter was very sick and the doctors do not know what is wrong. Hopefully they will find out something this weekend so they can treat it. Since we have known Kylee all of her life it is almost like one of our granddaughters is ill.

I did not realize how tired I really was until I found myself heading off to bed just after 8:00! I thought I would just lie down and read but I was soon fast asleep. An interesting day in South Africa. 1 1/2 mite day

24 September 2009

24 September 2009 – Thursday

As we left our boarding we noticed a whole troop of monkeys – well over 20 -  in the yard of the neighboring church. We tried to catch them in a picture but they quickly ran across the yard when we approached. It is at this time when I wish we had a really good camera with a 300mm lens.

We had English class at the Nzamas and everyone was there again. It is really good to see gogo Nzama feeling so much better. She is eating well and starting to gain back some of the weight she lost over the month of her illness. Muki is working more hours and her increase in income should be helping the family. They are excellent members and it is a joy to be with them each week.

After English we went to the Port Durnford chapel and had Youth. There is 6 to 8 stalwarts and others who come from time to time. Mary had them work on a couple of Articles of Faith and Lindani showed that he had memorized all 13. Although I had not promised anything for those who did, I gave him a good prize for being the first to do it without being prompted. He has a good memory and hopefully does well in school.

We then played a version of Simon Says and after a short time it was obvious that we were not going to get very many of them out so we stopped and went to the memory game where each person repeats what has been mentioned – in this case things you buy when shopping – until there is only one person left. They do very well in this game and we got up to about 20 items before the first person went out. They really enjoy this kind of games and it is good for them.

After Youth we stopped by and saw Bungumuse and looked at his sketches. None of them were good enough to buy but we encouraged him to continue trying. He has talent but it needs shaping.

21 – 23 September 2009

21 September 2009 – Monday

We and the Bs escorted the elders on a zone activity to the Umfolozi game park. Mary of course loved the experienced – she really would go on a game drive everyday if we could. We had elders Musemare, Babeeyo, and Otieono in our car.

We got to see elephants, cape buffalo, rhinos, kudu, nyala, warthogs, crested guinea fowl (well at least one) giraffe, zebra and wildebeest. Most of them were quite close with the elephant about 20 yards from the road. All in all it was a very successful activity.

In the evening Mary and I went to dinner at Spurs where they have buy one, get one free burger night. So we had rib burgers and there was enough that we brought about half of it home. I used the night to catch up part of this journal and to do some indexing. I am falling behind in my goal to average 50 a day but will keep plugging along. I am enjoying doing the Indiana census because they usually write very clearly.

22 September 2009 – Tuesday

We went with the Bartholomews up to Kosi Bay to pick up a mission car that had been hi-jacked from the elders and had been recovered by the police. The trip up went smoothly with only a little drizzle now and then from very threatening skies. When we got close to Kosi Bay we called the contact number we had and were told to go up to the border and ask for the constable.

So we dutifully drove up to the border and basically hit a stone wall. After some minutes of frustration and another call to the contact number we had we found that the car was not at the border, the contact person was actually spending some days in Richards Bay, and that the constable we needed was back at the police station outside Kosi Bay.

Of course we had no idea where the police station was so I suggested we get Iras and him take us there. However we were saved this by a tender mercy from the Lord in the form of a gracious couple who seeing our distress not only led us to the police station but helped us find the correct constable.

It of course then took a couple of hours for the constable to take care of some other business and get our paperwork done. In the mean time I had found the car and we had determined that it was not going to go anywhere soon. We also discovered the ‘jail’ where prisoners are held. It appeared to be 2 large cells – one for men and one for women. When they saw us they called out to us in a friendly way – I have no idea what they thought we could do for them but we were happy to wave back.

The constable told us they had recovered the car when they stopped a group of men who were planning to hold up a business. They caught one of the men and he has been in the jail for about a month. The others got away but they found 4 guns in the car.

We got all paperwork in order so that all that needs to be done now is to arrange to get some one to go up and tow it back to Richards Bay. It is going to cost a lot of money to get it towed here and repaired. But I guess it is cheaper than buying a new car. I think there have been 3 mission cars hi-jacked since we got to South Africa.

While we were in the area we went to the municipality and the library to see if there was any way we could rent the library for holding church on Sunday. It turns out that you have to get the approval of two different groups of administrators and they never agree on anything. We also found that Iras and the missionaries had pretty much done all that could be done. Our last chance is a very formal looking letter from the Church assuring all concerned that they will be responsible for the rent and any security expenses. If it is meant to be it will happen.

We had a nice lunch at the lodge where we stayed last week. Their hamburgers were so big that it was impossible to eat them without squashing them way down. I ended up using a knife and fork to eat mine. I got a good picture of sister B trying to get her mouth around hers.

Again the trip home went well and along the way we got to talk about a number of things relating to the branches, the schedule for the next few weeks, and of course about their going home. Once we got back to our boarding we found that we were very tired so after a quick trip to the store for something for dinner we pretty much relaxed.

It was easy to see the hand of the Lord in the day. Not only in providing the couple to guide us to the police station, but also for softening the heart of the constable who at first said that there was no way we could get the car because it was evidence in a pending case to change his mind and come up with a way to solve the problem. Now we just need to start praying that the two groups will agree to let us rent the library.

23 September 2009 – Wednesday

We did not go to DDM this morning because we needed meet the Barts at Happy’s crèche to make sure everyone agreed on what was to be done for her wedding on Saturday. Earlier Mary and I had run a number of errands including getting some special paper, some printing done, cleaning my silver ring so Happy can give it to Patrick as a wedding ring, and buying some electronic parts to hopefully solve a problem with the speaker system at Esikhawini.

Later we met with President Machaka for PEC before visiting some members. I felt a real need to visit one sister who is blind in one eye. Her house was out of the way from where we were and there were a number of other members we had not checked out but I told Mary we needed to visit her. When we got there we found that she had been ill – Mary knew this but I did not – that she had also fallen and cracked some ribs, that she had no food or electricity. We gave her some money so she could get electricity and food and told her that we would tell president Malinga so she could get some help.

After visiting her we went to the Esikhawini chapel where I found that the electricity was out and the part I bought would not fix the speaker system. The power being out meant that the presidency meeting would have to be cancelled or moved somewhere else. I explained to presidents Malinga and Nyawo some things that I thought were important and gave them some supplies. I also told them that it was very important that they hold their meeting so they could get things organized.

14 – 20 September 2009

I decided that if no one was reading this blog, that it made no sense to post to it. So while I continued to write in my personal journal, I stopped posting posting until Sister Mickelsen mentioned yesterday – Sunday the 27th – that she missed reading it. So for Sister Mickelsen and anyone else who might drop in once in a while, here is most of the missing days.

14 September2009 – Monday

More of a L for Lazy than a P-day for us. We worked on the puzzle, checked e-mail and Facebook, did a little house work, and then went to meet the Barts at the mall for lunch. We had a great time talking about our mission, plans for the future, and what we needed to do before they leave for home. Sis B is still not well but she is determined to not let this stop her from finishing on a high note. She is a special lady.

After we said goodbye to the Barts we did some shopping and then went to see The Proposal. This is the second movie we have seen since we came here and it was fun. Completely predictable but still fun. Back at our boarding we finished the puzzle, read, and just enjoyed an uncomplicated day.

Tomorrow it is back to serving others.

16 September2009 – Wednesday

District Development in the morning was excellent. The missionaries are continuing to try to have a perfect cycle – some are doing better than others but they all seem to be trying. The lesson was on praying for help when planning so that the Spirit can guide you.

After DDM we had lunch and then went to Esikhawini to try and locate some more members and get them on our map. We are determined to leave the next couple an Area book that will help them get to know the members quickly so they can be more effective.

We had PEC with President Machaka and the elders. There was not a lot to discuss and we will need to follow up on a few things. After the PEC meeting we went to visit with President Malinga and ended up spending more time there than we had planned. Mainly because he needed to tell me about how well his presidency meeting went with President Thusi. Hopefully it will wet his appetite to hold more of them so the branch will run more effectively.

For some reason by the time we got home I was exhausted – something that is happening more often lately. I hope it is just because I have not been exercising enough and of course getting older. It is a pain to be tired much of the time.

17 September 2009 – Thursday

Normal morning and after some planning we headed over to the Richards Bay chapel to give President Mann directions and keys to our boarding because we will not be home until after the District Council meeting. He was already in his meetings so we went to plan B and headed for Meernsee where we got our mail and I bought some small nails and a wrench. Then I paid the water bill – $2.50 – for the month before going to McDonalds for some lunch.

As we were driving to McDonalds we found ourselves following the Barts car and when they pulled into the mall we parked and said hello to them. Sister B seems to be feeling much better and that is great news. Lunch at McDonalds was as elder B said – always good. It was memorable because Mary did not have her traditional fillet of fish but had my favorite – a deluxe quarter pounder.

We then went back to the chapel at just the right time to catch president Mann between interviews. Actually he was taking the assistants to McDonalds for lunch. I had a chance to talk to elder Mbhiti for a while – we always have a lot of fun together and he says he is really enjoying the opportunity to serve as an AP. Mary gave the map and keys to the President and we headed off to Esikhawini.

We drove around J section with the GPS and tried to pin-point where members lived. There are not many members in J but some of the strongest members – including president Malinga – live there. We did not visit any of the members because we want to have a member with us when we visit the less actives.

We had a good English class at the Nzama’s – all three of our students were there, and an excellent Mutual. Almost all the youth showed up pretty much on time and Mary spent most of the time on the 9th and 10th Article of Faith. She had them start to memorize them, taught them what they meant and we had the puzzle game where they have to assemble the pieces in correct order. It turned out that Lindani and Siya were the champs – Lindani had them just about memorized before the class so they had an edge.

We hurried from that meeting to grab something to snack on before the Council meeting. I had a nourishing ice cream bar and a couple of rusks. The meeting was very informative and we got quite a bit done. President Baldwin taught from the handbook about who could and could not be called on missions. We also discussed adding new members to the Council which will be very good training. While all this was going on Mary and Sister B were waiting in the car for us to finish.

When we arrived home we could not be sure that the President was there so we quickly checked the alarm and found that he was there. We ended up having breakfast for dinner and talking for a few hours. I almost feel guilty spending his time talking but he did not seem to have anything that he had to do so I did not feel too guilty. It was great to talk about the elders, the mission experience, and how the spirit changes lives. It was a 1 7/8 mite day.

20 September 2009 – Sunday

With the Zone Leaders in Kosi Bay, we got to pick up the Esikhawini elders and take them to the chapel. We then picked up brother Nkozi for PEC. President Nyawo thought we were not going to pick him up so he took a taxi. So the leaders are starting to understand the importance of PEC and are trying to get it functioning.

There was an excellent turnout today – 82 was the count which is about 20 over the average of late. Two recent converts – Sister Zibani and sister Mavundla – gave excellent talks on the family and the plan of salvation. The intermediate hymn was ‘Called to Serve’ which led perfectly into my talk on service. I felt that it went well and I often felt the spirit. In looking over the congregation it seemed that most of the adults were paying attention. The youth are always a bonus.

President Nyawo taught Sunday School – they really need to call a regular teacher and the members need to be able to know what it will be on in advance. But everything take times so we will just let it progress one step at a time.

There is no teacher for Priesthood and President Thusi usually fills in. I suggested that since there was no AP teacher that he teach the youth and I would take the older PH holders. I gave a decent if not inspiring lesson on Patriarchal blessings.

Since there was no power in the whole area, Mary could not hold her piano lessons and an attempt to get people to stay and look over their records fell flat so we got to head for home earlier than usual.

There was one great experience that pretty much made the day. The two counselors have reached the point where they want to hold Presidency meetings. President Thusi told me that he had mentioned to President Malinga that they really needed to hold them each week. Just hearing that made my heart beat a little faster. The next thing you know they will be holding Branch Council Meeting. They are also starting to go home teaching – another big move that will help the branch.

In the evening we went to the Barts where we had a light meal with a few of the elders and then came home. While we were there Mary printed off some things she needed, including Elder Musemare’s genealogy. It ended up close to a 2 mite day for me.

13 September 2009

13 September 2009 – Sunday

Woke to a beautiful morning at  Kosi Bay – sun and wind so that while it was warm it was not hot. Which proved to be perfect because like Port Durnford and Esikhawini there is no air-conditioning at Kosi Bay.

We did not have time to order breakfast from the restaurant – they did come around and asked us – so we had rusks. We have become very fond of rusks and take them with us wherever we go. They can be used as a main course or as a snack. We said goodbye to the owners of the lodge and told them we would be back in a couple of months.

We arrived at Iras’ shop just as it was being opened. We help set up for church and then I interviewed the two recent converts for receiving the Aaronic Priesthood. They are brothers but one knew more English than the other so I could give him a searching interview and discuss the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. The other brother did not understand English as well so I had Iras translate for me.

Sacrament meeting of course started late but there ended up being either 34 or 38 in attendance. Since there are only 14 members in Kosi Bay that is a lot of investigators or at least believers. Kosi Bay is probably much like the house churches in Paul’s time. A few members, a few investigators and a few believers.

There was a wonderful spirit in the sacrament meeting. We contributed the water from our cooler. I am not sure where they get the water when the missionaries are not around. I think I will speak to President Baldwin about providing some operating funds for Kosi Bay. They get as many to sacrament as Richards Bay and Port Durnford – they just need more members and more Priesthood. It would be nice if someone had a car.

Two of the sisters spoke and gave excellent, well prepared talks on love and service. Mary spoke on her favorite scriptures – one of which had been used by another speaker. I spoke as the spirit moved me but mainly based on the talks by President Monson at conference. Since there was a large number of non-LDS there, I spoke about my own conversion and how important prayer was in knowing that this was the only true and living church on the earth today. I admonished the men to be spiritual leaders in their homes. I closed with my testimony and I felt edified.

After sacrament the women stayed in the ‘chapel’ and the men went out in the ‘mall’ area. I should mention that Iras’ shop is in a group of shops that is kind of like a series of strip malls. Everything is pretty well kept up – even the toilets while not up to US standards were still quite neat and useable. They were certainly better than what you found in public toilets in Indonesia.

As we were separating Iras said “Elder Pier what are you going to teach the Priesthood today.” Since I did not know I was going to be teaching anything, I suggested we take the Priesthood Duties manuals and I would teach out of them. Since two of the men would had been sustained to receive the Priesthood and be ordained Priest, I gave a lesson on the duties of a Priest. I think it went pretty well but I did not get as much participation as I would have liked. I am not sure how much had to do with my teaching and how much was because of the language barrier. But I think that things were taught that are necessary and hopefully Iras will start teaching more from the manual.

Mary went to Relief Society and said that the teacher was well prepared. She also mentioned that it appears that the primary children entertain themselves. Obviously as the group grows, they will need to call someone for Primary. Mary said she will bring some things for the children next time we come up.

After the meetings Iras and one of his assistants ordained the two new members. They had done this before so I held the ordinance information card while they performed the ordinance. Iras gave a wonderful blessing and his assistant did his best. There was a good spirit in the room.

After this Iras gave me some tithing and we closed up the shop. I suggested to Iras that he use part of the day to visit those who did not come to church today – I think that there were at least 4 members not there. I also gave him some training material and told him we would talk about it when we came up in a couple of months. I would love to spend a month or so in Kosi Bay so we could do more training. It would be wonderful if there were enough couples that one could be assigned to Kosi Bay.

I need to mention one more experience. After the meetings I started talking to one of the men and found that while he was not a member he had actually started meeting with Iras on Sundays to discuss the gospel before there any other members in the area. He comes every week but he has never joined. As we talked he explained that he liked to hang with friends and that he did not keep the Word of Wisdom. He told me he knew the Church was true but he just could not stop. I gave him some encouragement but only he can make the change. I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said he would like a tie like mine – I was wearing one of my Indonesian ties. I immediately took it off and gave it to him. Hopefully it will remind him of our conversation and help him make the right choices.

The trip home was very pleasant. We stopped for lunch at the Weavers and for fuel at the Petro-Port. With those stops it took us just over 3 ½ hours to make it home.

We just kind of unwound from all the driving until it was time to go to the Barts for dinner. Mary called Nancy Campbell and talked for 30 minutes or more. She can spend more time talking to Nancy than any other person she knows. While she was on the phone, I down-loaded and edit the pictures from the week-end.

We had a great time at the Barts. Unfortunately sister B is still not well from her tick bite nor her headache but she will not let that stop her from doing what she feels needs to be done before they head home. They told us that they made their reservations to go home a couple of weeks early but that they will end with a crescendo. We will really miss them and I am not sure how we will handle everything that needs to be done in the four branches but we will do our best and trust in the Lord.

Sister B shared with us the story of how they got their call. It seems after they turned in their papers they were told that they would not be issued a call until Elder B got his diabetes under control. Since that would take months they were crushed. They had a holiday to Hawaii planned so they went. When they came home their mission call was waiting for them. They were taken completely by surprise to a point where they had their stake president call to make sure there was no mistake. He was assured that the call came from the 12 and so here they came. As usual the Lord knew what He was doing because they and the Hafens were the perfect couples for the needs of the new district. It is another testimony to me that this is the Lord’s church and he is in charge.

After the meeting we came home and Mary worked on the puzzle while I put pictures in the blog. It was a 2 mite day for me.

12 September 2009


12 September 2009 – Saturday

Today we drove to Kosi Bay so I could interview two recent converts to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and speak in sacrament meeting. We left home at about 9:00 and arrived in Kosi Bay before noon. We did not stop to sightsee along the way because I thought we could use the time sightseeing in Kosi Bay.

Thanks to Mary excellent memory and a very large sign we found the Maputaland Lodge soon after entering the city. The Lodge turned out to be quite nice with good size rooms, interesting décor, and very quiet. For some reason I thought that Kosi Bay was a tourist destination. It is not – at least not for white tourists and I doubt African either. When I checked in I spoke with the owner and she said they were mainly busy on week-days when business and government representative visited here.

After we had settled in our things and had a delicious lunch of peanuts and dark chocolate –there are not a lot of restaurants here either –we went to look for Iras’ tailor business. Iras is the local Priesthood leader of the congregation at Kosi Bay. Since it is not a branch – not even a dependant branch – the title of his calling is a little murky but basically he acts like a branch president.

We went to where the GPS said to go and then called him. He came and found us and took us to his tailor shop. We found out later that Iras is 37 years old, is from the Congo and has been a member for 10 years. His parents and all his brothers and sisters are muslim but they did not get really upset when he joined the Church. He was introduced to the Church through English classes taught by missionaries.

He is a very industrious man and works hard to employee members and helps them start small businesses. His shop is a nice size and he has a number of older sewing machines and a decent computer system. His shop seems to be busy making new clothes as well as repairing and altering old clothes.

While we were there I convinced Mary that she should get an African skirt made so she chose a very nice print and they took her measurements. The material was expensive – it was hand printed and came from Nairobi – but the making was almost as cheap as it was in Indonesia. Hopefully it will come out nice and she can find other material – less expensive I hope – to have other skirts made.

After making arrangements to take him and his wife to dinner, we decided to do some sightseeing. It turned out there was very little to see except a landscape that we had seen for over 100 kilometers. We did go up to the border but because we did not have our passports, we could not cross over. Maybe next time. We also tried to find a road that went to the bay, but when we tried one we found it much too sandy for our car so we turned around and went back to the main highway. We did get a picture of a very unusual warning sign that was at the beginning of the road.

We decided to just go back to our room and chill until dinner time. However we had just got settled in when Iras called and invited us to his English class. So we hurried back to his shop and found him teaching English to 7 or 8 women, most of who turned out to be members. We got to participate and did well until he asked about a scripture that says that the Lord had given us the Law and the Commandments. He wanted to know the difference and we were hard pressed to come up with a reasonable answer except that they are basically the same and the use of two terms meaning the same thing is a literary device that is found often in the Old Testament. I am going to have to do some research and send the information back with the elders.

After the class we took Iras to his homestead. That was a real experience as he lives out of town off a very badly maintained road. To say that his home is humble does not really cover it. But they usually have water – it has been off for a number of days – and they do have electricity as the ever present TV indicated. We again set a time to come back and pick them up and headed back to our lodgings. We checked out the TV schedule but ended up turning it off. We have reached a point where TV is not a big thing for us. I am sure we will revert when we get home but right now it is a good thing.

We drove once more over the challenging road and picked them up. It turned out that the Lodge’s restaurant is the best in town so we ate there. There were not many customers – I think that there was one family other than ourselves – but the service and food was good. We spent the time talking mainly learning about Iras’ background and his family. We did not find out much about his wife’s life. We will have to do that the next time we come up.

If I thought driving on that road was interesting in the daylight, I can assure you that driving it at night was a true adventure. We passed one car that was going slower than a walking pace. Iras informed us that the man always drove that slow. Of course with the road being in that condition I can understand being cautious but he was perhaps being a little too cautious.

Back at the lodge we again gave up on TV and just sat and read. By 9:00 I was ready for bed and it did not take long before I turned off my light and was asleep.


We love signs in South Africa. Rumble strips are roughed up pavement to warn that something is coming up. Usually it is a cross street or school. If it is a school there are usually speed bumps after the strips. The middle sign warns that you are about to leave a paved road for a dirt or gravel one. You can figure the last sign out without any help. I can tell you it was more than truthful and after about 200 yards we turned around and came back.


Don’t you love the name of the city…don’t ask us how to pronounce it. The middle sign is at the border crossing – we could not cross because we did not have out passports – besides it is out of our mission. The last one is the lodge where we stayed in Kosi Bay – the elephant was on the gate and it closed at night.


Our room and car at the lodge. We found some interesting sights near our room. First there is the fence made out of the old sides of houses. Then what everyone needs next door – a private family graveyard.


These photos show the branch meeting place in Kosi Bay. The branch President turns his shop into a chapel by covering the display with white material and setting up chairs. The music is a DVD player. It may be a humble place to meet but the spirit is greater there than in the finest cathedral in the world.

11 September 2009

11 September 2009 – Friday

It was a good news – bad news morning for us. The good news came in a letter from Bob that told about meeting a man – David Nelson – in the temple who was a missionary in Inglewood over 40 years ago. He served in our area for 9 months and had dinner at our house every week. He told Bob that he has wonderful memories of that time and the things Mary and I shared with him. He said that it ranks as one of the two or three best times of his life. Mary remembers him very well but I have to admit that I only remember him vaguely – one of the banes of my existence is a poor memory. But once again I am reminded that just by living the gospel and loving others, you can have a great effect on others without ever knowing it.

Bob’s Letter – BTW today is his birthday!


I just wanted to write and tell you about something that happened in the temple last night. After preparation meeting, I have about 20 minutes before my first assignment. I was walking through the locker room and one of the other Ordinance workers stopped me. He said that he had wanted to talk to me since I had started working there but had not had the chance. He said he had heard me say that I had grown up in Southern California. He said that in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s he had served as a missionary in southern california. He was assigned to an area for 9 months and knew and worked with a man named Bill Pier. As he said that, I said, that is my Dad. He asked me if I was sure and I told him that if it was So. Cal in the late sixties it had to be my Dad. I asked him if the area he was in was Inglewood and he said it was, and I told him that it was defiantly my dad. He told me that when he had heard my name he had wondered if I was related to this man, but had no thought that it would be my father. He then proceeded to tell me that in the 9 months that he was assigned to the area he worked close to Dad and also a man named Dennis Clarke. We talked about our housed in Inglewood and that we lived in front and Dennis and his family lived in back. He also said that he and his companions had dinner once a week with Bill and his family. I told him that if he had eaten with them once a week he also ate with me and I would have been 6 or 7. He told me that in the intervening years when he thought back on his life that those nine months were in the top 2 or 3 times where he was truly happy and how much of that was due to the two of you. He could not remember Mom’s name, but I told him that at that time she went by Mary Ellen. I told him that you are on your second mission, this one to South Africa, and that when you returned in 10 months it will be to Provo. I offered to give him your email address, but he said he doesn’t really use email. I also told him that I am sure we can set something up and when you get back we can all get together. His name is David Nelson. I hope you remember him. I did tell him that I did remember that when we lived in Inglewood I do have some memory of a time when we seemed to have the missionaries over a lot. He went on and on about the two of you and the Clarke’s and how much you influenced his life. He almost came to tears a few times when talking about you. To me that was a great experience. I know that you have influenced many people in your lives, but to have someone tell me how much you meant to them at such a deep level really touched me. Thank you for being you. I love you both and am so glad for the examples you have been to me and for our family.  I hope this means as much to you as it does to me. If you wanted to send him anything send it to me and I will print it and give it to him.

Love you,  Bob

We spent most of our day in Port Durnford and Esikhawini. We bought and took a food order to a family in Port Durnford and visited a couple of other families while we were there. We really need to get to know the Zondi family better as they seem to be a good source of Priesthood for the branch. In Esikhawini we visited members and then attended the Youth meeting where we and the elders ended up pretty much running the meeting. However I think that as the YM and YW presidents get counselors and start working together it will improve. There were a lot of the young people out but since it is exams time and others are matricing – that is getting ready to graduate – some stay home to do homework and study.

It is hard to describe what Port Durnford and Esikhawini is like just after school lets out for the day. For up to an hour – and in Port Durnford longer – the sides of the roads and the roads themselves are teeming with youth. From the young 5 and 6 year olds who seem to often walk to and from school alone or in groups to the bustling high school students they spread out over the landscape as they head home. Since schools – even the small rural ones – require students to wear uniforms, there are groups of maroon, blue, and many other hues clustered together as they walk. Each group slowly shrink as the students come to their street or home until the one who walks the furthest walks the last section alone.

Since we are leaving for Kosi Bay tomorrow I finally got around to making reservations for our night stay and talk to brother Iris – I have no idea what his last name is – who is the leader of the little group who meets in his tailor shop each Sunday. I am looking forward to sharing Sunday with them because I imagine it will be much like it was 175 years ago when the church was still young and little congregations were meeting in homes.

We called Bob to wish him Happy Birthday – actually he ended up calling us – and found that there was a problem with the downstairs bathroom – the leak we thought we fixed obviously was not fixed. Hopefully Nate can fix it once he gets home if not it is likely to cost us a bundle to have it professionally fixed.

10 September 2009

10 September 2009 – Thursday

Dark rain clouds still cover the sky. I am not going to complain because at least this keeps the heat down.

We spent the morning getting ready for the rest of the day. Not having a working printer or copier means we must figure out what we need and take it down to the RB chapel to print and copy. I guess we will just have to break down and get a new one because it is going to take forever to get ours fixed.

While we were at the chapel the Richards Bay District was having their DDM. We had some of elder Weaver things that we returned. We found out that sister B was at the doctors because she does have Tick Bite Fever…she is certainly going to remember these last 6 weeks. When I called she said it would be fine and I hope she is right.

When we were finished with the copying we headed to Esikhawini and our meeting with President Malinga. I was surprised to see him dressed in his work clothes because it was supposed to be his day off. It turned out that he got a call from work asking him to come in because they were short handed and the man he is replacing has already worked 16 hours straight. But we had time to discuss what I had come to share with him. Hopefully it will help him with his call.

We then went to the Esikhawini chapel where I put up the wall clock that a member donated. It is not going to be of great use because you not really read it from the stand but it will make the donor happy. Then we went through the branch list and tried to make sure our map had every member marked and their name recorded so we can transfer this to our new map. There are still some major questions but we are getting closer.

It was time for lunch and we went to KFC – about the only choice we have in Esikhawini – before heading for Port Durnford and our English class. On the way we stopped and visited Gabi’s mother who is unfortunately dying of cancer. It is so sad to enter the small home with dirt floors where she lay on a thin pallet. She shares the room with her 97 year old grandmother. Mary was inspired to give her a picture of the resurrected Christ and she was very happy to get it. She carefully laid it by her head and kept glancing at it.

When we got to the Nzama’s we were happy to find gogo Nzama feeling much better since she started eating. We had just her and Thandi Nzama for our class as Temba has a new job that keeps him away.

Youth at Port Durnford was rather hectic and of course started late. They were not at their best behavior today. Mary introduced them to two more Articles of Faith and then played a matching gamew with them. After the game I talked to them about the Atonement. We have found that many members do not really understand the atonement and it’s importance. None of the youth really knew why the atonement was important and how the Savior overcame both physical and spiritual death. They really do need more basic teaching and I do not know how they are going to get it without Sunday School and Seminary. It leaves a big hole in their knowledge of the gospel.

We had to stop and get some groceries on the way home so we just beat the sun setting as we drove into the garage. Since summer is coming and the days are getting longer we changed youth back to 4:00 at Port Durnford. It will be interesting to see if that increases attendance.

While I was indexing and about 80% through a batch I decided to darken the highlighter. What I did not know was that to do this the program has to close and of course I lost everything. I learned two things – don’t change highlighter in the middle of a batch and save the work every 10 names. The third thing I learned is that I can still lose my temper at an inanimate object.

Another unusually thing happened tonight. Mary fell asleep on the couch – that is not unusual – and did not wake up and go to bed. Usually when I start turning off lights or moving around she wakes up but not tonight. I ended up turning off all the lights and going to bed with her happily sleeping away. I did leave on the light on her side of the bed so she did not wake up in a completely dark house. She must have really had an exhausting day.

1 3/4 mite day?