Monthly Archives: November 2009

29 November 2009

29  November 2009 – Sunday

We decided not to go to Enseleni today because Mary wanted to have piano practice at Esikhawini. She had missed yesterday because of the Youth activity and next week is District Conference. She did not want to go three weeks with out any lessons.

Once everyone got there, there was a good turn out for PEC at Esikhawini. I was especially happy to see that the Elders are bringing completed missionary reports to the meeting and encouraging the presidency to act on giving new members callings. President Thusi was worried that asking new converts to accept callings might drive them away and the elders pointed out that there were many callings that did not make any great demands on their time but did make them feel needed and a part of the branch.

We then headed off to Port Durnford where of the speakers were all the youth reporting about the Youth Convention yesterday. Lindani gave a great review and others did OK but for the most part the thing that every speaker talked about was how great the food was. I guess the way to a youth’s heart is through their stomach.

We stayed for part of the second hour but once the classes got a little settled – not an easy task – we started back to Esikhawini. As we approached the buildings, I saw President Malinga walking towards us so I stopped and offered him a lift back to his home. He had just got off of night shift at 7:00 and so he had not had any sleep. We found the branch presidency had spoken at Sacrament meeting and that was just what was supposed to happen. President Baldwin wants the branch presidencies to speak one Sunday a month. Later we found that the same thing had happened at Enseleni – it is reassuring to know that the branch presidents do listen to our coaching.

After sacrament meeting Mary worked with two of her piano students and found that Sazi Mthalane has been asked to play a solo for the Christmas social. Mary thinks he will be able to do it…it will certainly give him a good reason to practice each day. While she was doing that I tried to help sister Khumalo with her computer skills but found that she had a book that would help her much more. She just needs to carefully follow the steps in the book and she will gain a good basic knowledge.

I then talked to President Nyawo about a number of things. He mentioned this morning that he wanted to have branch goal of having an actual building for them to meet in. I told him that this was a great goal to work towards but it had to start with the keeping of the basic commandments of family prayer, family scripture study, FHE, full tithe paying, home and visiting teaching, and being involved with missionary work. As the branch did these things – starting with the leadership – the build will just come. The longest journey starts with the first step.

After the last of her lessons we dropped president Nyawo off at his home and came back to our boarding. After lunch and a nap – we got things ready for the missionaries to come for dinner. Mary cooked BBQ Beef, corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, toasted rolls, green salad, jello salad, and drinks. For dessert they had brownies and ice cream. I thought we had cooked way too much food but other than the green salad there was little to take home. We took pictures of the new elders in the zone and zone pictures. also had the new elders fill out information sheets so we can put them in our mission book.

As always we enjoyed having the missionaries in our home for a couple of hours. It is fun to see them chow down, talk to each other, and share experiences. Elders who came out together but are not companions especially seem to enjoy a few minutes of relaxing together. I took a number of pictures and it is great to capture their enthusiasm and friendship. All too soon it is time for them to leave for their boardings so they can be obedient to the mission rules. They of course take any extra food with them.

16-18 November 2009 – Durban Trip

 For some reason I completely forgot to post any pictures of our trip to Durban earlier in the month. I had promised Sister Mickelsen that I would share the spice pictures below so I will take the opportunity to post a few others that I think are interesting.


They take their hot spices seriously here – Mary is glad they do not sell this spice in the US. I am sorry that we did not buy some of the KFC Spice to see if they really have the exact formula.


While we were at the B&B we saw these nests. The birds strip the palm branches and weave them into this really nice closed nest. Unfortunately they do this right over the swimming pool so the Rawlings must knock them down so the bird dropping do not disturb their guests. The last picture is our view out  door.


Sister Swazi-Wilson enjoying swinging while her husband is off bird watching. The Mickelsens do not have to go far for their morning fruit. This bunch of bananas is growing about 15 feet from their front door. Talk about fresh fruit! Tika is not at all shy about sharing the shade of our room.

28 November 2009 – Youth Convention


Enseleni branch arrived before we did so I took their picture. The other groups came one after another and quickly mixed and were impossible to gather together. Each branch made a banner depicting one of the virtues that are part of the theme for the year – here are four of them. 50 – 60 worthy youth and their leaders  came to the convention.


Each person who came got a T-Shirt. Ngeniswa, the District YW President was one of main organizers and conductors of the event. It was a great experience for her and the other District and Branch leaders as they put together a full day of activities. Nonhlahla is a YW leader in Enseleni and pretty much organized the branch for the event.



The youth were divided into four groups for the games and instruction. As you can see I asked for one or two nicely posed pictures and then let them have a wild one…they really can do wild!


The elders pitched in through out the day, but were especially helpful when it came to serving food. The water balloon toss was one of the favorites. If you managed to get wet, the warm day quickly dried you off.


One of the main reasons that the activity went so well was that there was an excellent turn-out of adult leaders. This shows three leaders from Esikhawini and Ngeniswa enjoying the food and the shade. President Vezi and his lovely wife provided the food. On Sunday at Port Durnford, the one thing the youth mentioned in each of their talks was the quality and quanity of the food. Just to show that elder did get to taste of their labors of serving, here is Elder Reeder chowing down.

28 November 2009

28 November 2009 – Saturday

It was a wonderful day – we got to see how couple missionary work paid off in Richards Bay. It was not us who did the work – it was the Bartholomews and the Hafens. We just got to see the results and share in the joy.

The event was an all day Youth Convention where worthy young men and women – over 50 – in the Richards Bay District came together. Those who came had to have a recommend from their branch presidents and a permission slip signed by their parent or guardian.

What made it so great was that the District Young Men and Young Women leaders, a member of the District Council, and the District Presidency, did all the planning and ran the event. All we had to do was help Port Durnford youth paint a banner – they designed it themselves – and show up. Every other banner, all the games, all the speakers, all the food, and all the transportation was done by the YM and YW committee or the branch presidents. They did use the outline of a program that Sister Bartholomew printed off the internet not long before they left for home.

Our main contribution was to bring a few things – sticky putty for putting up the flags, pens to sign Book of Mormons, three table cloths and extra Book of Mormons in case they were needed. We did help with the serving of food and I took a lot of pictures. But other than that we basically could sit back and just watch everything work. There were of course a couple of problems – they had to break up a fight and breakfast arrived a little late, etc. but none of them were the fault of the committee.

Not only that, but every branch except little Port Durnford had either their YM and YW leaders or a member of the branch presidency there to help. Esikhawini had four leaders there to help. Two of the missionaries were deeply involved for most of the day. I think Elder Weaver and Elder Reeder had as much if not more fun than the youth.

Everything ran so well that Mary and I were even able to get away for a couple of hours for a quick nap. I have decided that I am not as young as I used to be.

When President Baldwin started his talk at the end of the day, he mentioned that this was the first Youth activity that was all home grown and how proud he was of those who organized it.

After the Convention was over and we were in the parking lot paying the taxis’ and making sure that everyone made it home, Sister Ngeniswa Matanzima, the District Young Women’s President came up and started thanking us for all we had done. I stopped her and told her that we had done almost nothing but that she and the rest of the committee had done it all. She broke in to a big smile and said it was the first time that she had been in on the complete planning of an activity and that the next one would be even better. That smile and confident statement was worth a whole mission.

We did not even have to lock up – we drove off with the Richard Bay elders were still getting in car and would close the gate behind them.

A perfect day was capped off by a delicious dinner with the Mickelsens and their visiting son Nathan at our favorite Thai restaurant at the harbor. We somehow spent the better part of two hours eating and talking. By the time we got home we were happily exhausted – the end of a great day.

27 November 2009

27 November 2009 – Friday

Our morning had to be slightly re-arranged because the gardening crew came over to work on our yard. Much like the car wash they take their time but do a good job. I had to call Justice – their boss – to come over and translate some instructions to his crew because I could not quite get across what I wanted done. I told Justice it was my fault and not his men’s.

I managed to get my check cashed. As a tender mercy I got the same teller that I had on Wednesday. I have to confess that I thought it was another teller and was at first disappointed when my turn took me to what I thought was the wrong window. But the sweet teller quickly acknowledged that she was the one who helped me before and she quickly – at least for South African Banks – cashed my check.

It had been alternating between raining and drizzling all morning and it continued that way all day. I of course forgot to put in an umbrella so we managed to get wet from time to time.

We went from the bank to Esikhawini where we took a card and candy bar to sister Myeza who turns a young 82 tomorrow. Since we will be at the Youth Convention all day, we decided to do this a day early instead of a day late. She was thrilled with the attention and when we sang Happy Birthday to her she jumped up and shook our hands again. While we were there, sister Mkhwanazi – the other of my ‘young ladies but only 77 years old – came over and she was able to translate anything that needed translating. It is wonderful to see how grateful these humble people are for any act of kindness.

We then ran over to Port Durnford and picked up their banner so Mary could finish putting on the scriptures. It really does look good and I am proud of the youth for how well they worked together. Not just in Port Durnford but everywhere.

During the day I came up with a number of things that I thought might cause problems tomorrow with the Youth activity but each time I called Sne, he told me they had taken care of it. Even when I called to say that they might want to make a plan for if it was raining hard and he said they had spent the morning doing just that – they had Plan B. Basically the Youth leaders have adapted the two day program that Sister B had printed out before she left into a one day program. Next time I am sure they can find their own program on the inter-net or make their own plans for their activities. It is wonderful to see all the effort the Bartholomews and Hafens put in to show them how a program should bear fruit. We just get to be true shadow leaders – and not even very close shadows.

Our afternoon was spent in Enseleni teaching English to President Vilane and then being there for Youth. About the time Youth should have been starting President Vilane started asking me questions and we spent over an hour talking about different things going on in his branch. For a number of them I just got out the Church handbook of instructions and we went through the relevant parts. We did talk about some callings he was thinking of making and I explained to him that the presidents of Auxiliaries should be given the opportunity to choose their counselors subject of course to his agreement. I also mentioned that when you released a president you also had to release their counselors and so the whole new presidency needed to be sustained.

He is a truly excellent and humble man and wants to do things right. I enjoy working with him and he is so eager to learn and do things right. I encouraged him to have the AP come early to fix the sacrament and not have the elders do it each week.

Youth was rather unorganized and when Khulikani came in where President Vilane and I were working  to mention that, I told him that he was the YM president and needed to get things moving with a song and prayer and then play some games. A few minutes later we heard them singing and when we finished our meeting we found them playing a game.  All Khulikani needed was someone to tell him it was up to him.

After Youth we did some shopping and it was raining fairly heavily. Of course we did not have an umbrella – I had taken it out when I thought I was going to have a tire changed – so we managed to get rather wet. But as Mary often reminds me, we would not melt.

So it was a good day. Often I feel like we could do more and we probably could but I think that is true no matter how much we do. I feel that we are touching lives and making the branches stronger. That has been my goal since we came on our mission. To help prepare the branches to stand on their own so if there are no couples here, they will still move forward.

26 November 2009

26 November 2009 – Thursday

Our errands for the morning were to go grocery shopping and try once again to cash my check. So Mary went shopping and I went to the bank. Since the line was long and the manager who helped me yesterday was not in evidence, I gave up my task.

We went to RB DDM – that is Richards Bay District Development Meeting. While we were waiting for the elders to arrive Mary made copies for the English class and I read D&C 50 again. As I read verse one I realized that it was because the assembled Priesthood had come to a unity about what they wanted to know and then asked with sincerity that this great lesson on how the Spirit was necessary for true teaching came about. Although as individuals they were not perfect, as a unit they had a power or strength that brought about a great experience.

After DDM we took our groceries home and fixed a light lunch before heading out again for Port Durnford. As we drove through Esikhawini we saw Bongomusa walking along the road so we picked him up and gave him a ride home. Then we stopped and picked up three of the gogos that are attending the English class at the Nzamas. We had 4 of them and Thandi for class. Gogo Nzama and Tembe did not come – it is probably a good thing since there was no where for them to sit.

Mary taught four of them while I taught the gogo with almost no English in another area. I decided I needed to teach her the ABCs because she had no idea how to sound out a word so she had to memorize it and this was not working well. Since we really could not communicate, it was lucky for both of us that Zinhle – a young woman who is a long time investigator – came over and took over the teaching.

After English we took the now four gogos home and Zinhle to Youth. This is the first time she has come to Youth since the Roadshows. I must say getting four large sized gogos in the back seat of Tiida was really something and I drove very slowly over the dirt road because I was pretty sure there was not much clearance under the car.

When Youth started I thought it was going to be a disaster because it looked like only one or two could work on the banner at one time. However Mary got things started and then I managed to come up with a way that almost everyone ended up with a brush or a pen in their hand. In this way everyone had a part in the creation and was kept busy. I was disappointed that a couple of they young men did not make it until very late and one did not arrive at all. But I am learning to just love them for who they are and try to help them gain a testimony that will carry them through the hard parts of their lives.

We ended up spending two hours at Port Durnford so by the time we headed home, the over-cast skies and light rain made driving not a lot of fun. But we arrived safely and fixed fried eggs sandwiches on Portuguese rolls for our Thanksgiving dinner. I decided this is the first Thanksgiving in my life that I did not have a turkey dinner with either family or missionaries. But it did not seem like a sacrifice at all – it just seemed that we did what was right and needed to be done.

Later in the evening we called our children and talked to almost everyone except Brian and Ryan. I was happy to find out that Bob and Cindy’s family were having dinner together. Jim and his family were in Michigan with Kristy’s family. Tom and Shauna were at home and we think Brian was at his girlfriend’s. The news that Brian had a girlfriend was a nice surprise for us. Cindy said that although they were not coming for dinner with the family, they were coming to Taylor’s reception later in the week.

All IS well.

25 November 2009

25 November 2009 – Wednesday

Funny Story – Part 2 – I forgot to tell about the other funny thing we found out about yesterday. Since we drive by or come to their house about 4 times a week, the children associates us with our car. The youth told Mary yesterday that every time they see a blue car drive by they say “There is ‘How are you.’

As usual our day had successes and disappointments. I went out early to get the car washed and was happy to see only 3 cars in the line. While I waited, I read from D&C 50 and made some notes. This section has become my favorite and I just wish I could remember everything it says. I think one of the reasons I like it so much is that it so personal – that is the Lord talks to the gathering of elders ‘face to face’ and reasons with them to answer a question that is causing great friction in the young church.

Of course the meat of the section is about the role of the Spirit in teaching and hearing the Gospel message. Something that will never change and I am afraid not really understood by many of the missionaries for much of their mission. They have a hard time distinguishing between a convert and a person willing to be baptized. A convert is not just willing to be baptized they feel they must be baptized. Anyway it is a great section for missionaries and all teachers of the Gospel to study.

We went to the B’s boarding and told Hans that we would not be keeping the boarding after the end of the year. We then started moving things to our boarding or took them to the RB Chapel so they could be used there. We only took a very small bite out of what is going to be a lot sorting and moving. Our PO Box got us 4 advertisements and the maps to be used to plan for a branch up in Kosi Bay. This will not happen any time soon but perhaps by the time we leave it can at least be considered.

As we just reviewed the rest of the day I realized we mainly bounced around between the Richards Bay Chapel, the mall, Esikhawini, Enseleni, the mall, the harbor and home. We did get the yarn to Mama Zulu where we found that her grandson has been ill. We got the sign for Enseleni, had a meeting with President Machaka, made a couple of dozen phone calls and got more permission slips for the Youth Convention to Sne. We were bunked on our English lesson, we missed President Vilane, and the restaurant where we wanted reservations will be closed all day for a wedding. Oh and after waiting for 30 minutes, I did not get a check cashed because they could not verify the signatures. For the last one I managed to keep my cool – maybe I am learning a little patience.

High on the positive side is how well the District YM and YW leaders are handling the Youth Convention that will be held on this coming Saturday. We have been calling the leaders regularly to see what help we could be and they keep telling us that they have things in hand. When I ask them about different aspects of the activity they have already addressed them. I am not sure how the Convention will turn out but much like the YSA activity that was held just before the Bs went home, it success will be the result of the District and Branches efforts and not ours.

I should mention some excitement or lack there of in our driving experiences of the last couple of days. Yesterday as we drove between Enseleni and Esikhawini on the N2, we came upon a very recent accident where a log truck dropped one of his trailers’ load of logs across about 2/3rds of the lanes. Luckily the cab and one of the trailers stayed upright but the rest of the load looked like a very large stack of Lincoln Logs.

Today as we attempted to drive between Richards Bay and Enseleni, we managed to get behind a huge truck that was transporting what looked like a 50 foot long, 10 foot in diameter tower. It was escorted by a number of police cars that blocked traffic so that it never had to stop. It was moving at about 10-15K an hour and we could not get by it, so we decided that we would be better off going to Esikhawini and then to Enseleni and hope that we did not run across any other obstructions.

We did have one more experience when in Esikhawini we found that there a new way to get from one side of J section to the other. All the maps we have show the streets dead-end but they are wrong. This is important because it means we do not have to go out to the ring-road every time we have appointments on opposite sides of the section.

24 November 2009

24 November 2009 – Tuesday

A Funny Story – The chapel at Port Durnford is behind a member’s house. In the home are three small children who are always happy to see us -  probably because I give them hard candies. From early on we have greeted them with ‘Hello! How are you?’ and they reply the same. This is repeated almost each time we see them even if we are not just arriving.

Today Mary found out from some of the youth that the children think our name is “How are you.” How she found out was that while we were having youth one of the children was squeezing past where Mary was sitting and the other one said something in Zulu that made the youth laugh. When Mary asked what had been said, Ayanda told her that he had said: ‘Be careful, don’t step on ‘How are you.’ Out of the mouths of babes….

By 9:00 when we are getting ready to leave for the day, the clear sky and bright sun is heating up the world to a point where I know it is going to be a two handkerchief day.

We had time before ZDM to get a number of errands run – it is amazing how many things that need to be done almost everyday and how much time is eaten up while taking care of them. I finally approved the sign for Nseleni so this Sunday Elder Tsegula can hang it up.

ZDM was well done by the ZLs – I do wish the elders would come prepared to take notes and did not just listen and hope they remember everything. I think both ZDMs and DDMs would be more productive if this happened.

After ZDM we came back to our boarding so the Zone Leaders could get the activity charts off their e-mail and so Elder Maremela could finally replace the bible he gave away to a new convert. Then we loaded up the car with some material and yarn that we had inherited from the Hafens and took it up to Enseleni to give to Mama Zulu. Unfortunately we did not call to make sure she was at home – she wasn’t so we will try again tomorrow. We then took the N-2 to Esikhawini to get gas, air in one of the tires, and pick up KFC for Port Durnford.

Because of the promised KFC we expected that everyone would be there at 3:00 – Wrong! There were 3 young men on time and the rest straggled in over the next half hour. I guess there are times when even food is not enough motivation to be on time. I took the left-overs to a family we know who does not have much and the son is investigating the Church.

While Mary worked with the youth that were there on getting the banner designed and at least started, I took care of a couple of problems that we had been made aware of by the missionaries. I was able to run down some of the answers but others will take some time. We are always saddened when we find that some of the youth are led away by the ways of the world.

I had the opportunity to talk to Siya about going on a mission. I think that he would be an excellent missionary and want to work with him to build up his testimony and desire to serve. While we were talking he told about the young man whose funeral he attended on Sunday instead of coming to Church. He was 22 or 23 and was just finishing up his Master’s degree. He was at home working on his thesis when he heard a noise and went to investigate. It seems when he opened the door he was shot in the face and killed.  Another tragedy that probably came from the poverty and lack of hope that is so predominate throughout much of the country.

As we were finishing up Youth, I got a call from Elder Johnson that quickly changed our plans for the evening. Elder Barker, a missionary who has been in the country about 7 weeks, needs to go home because of health. He had left some important papers in our Zone Leader’s car and Elder Johnson asked if we could meet he and his wife in Stanger to hand over the folder. After making sure that the ZLs actually had the folder I said sure.

So after wrapping up Youth and delivering Bungomusa to his home, we went to Esikhawini and got the folder. We then drove to Stanger – about 45 minutes from Esikhawini – and waited for the Johnsons to arrive. The exchange was quickly made and we turned around and headed home. By that time it was dark and I was reminded how much I did not like driving after dark – never had and never will. It is especially hard here where the headlights on low are set too close to give a good view of the road ahead and the high beams blind people traveling the other way.  But we made it safely and ended up at the mall for dinner. Then it was home where we basically  collapsed and within the hour we were in bed.

22 November 2009

22 November 2009 – Sunday

35 at Port Durnford, 88 at Esikhawini, and 62 at Enseleni – a good turn out on a nice sunny Sabbath. We had a normal Sunday morning with PEC at Esikhawini, Sacrament at Port Durnford, and a visit to Richards Bay to get a second signature on the checks that I could not get cashed on Friday.

While we were at Richards Bay I found out that Calwyn Baldwin had fallen and broken his left wrist. It was serious enough that he was being operated on this morning. I thought how hard it would be for him to keyboard with only one hand. Later in the afternoon we learned from President Baldwin that he fell while he was putting up Christmas lights for a neighbor who did not have a husband. I remembered the adage – ‘No good turn goes unpunished.’

We then went to Enseleni for Sacrament. The elders came early enough that they had everything set up by the time the members started to arrive. It is nice to have the room ready, but I thought that it would be better if they young men got there early and helped with the set up. When President Vilane started sacrament only about 4 minutes late, there was not enough AP there to fill the sacrament table. Mainly there were investigators and non-member Primary children who were on time. The elders had 7 investigators to church including a young couple they are teaching. The branch is doing well but there is a need for families headed by strong priesthood fathers.

Between meetings President Vilane and the two elders gave heath blessings to Baba Justice and another man. It is good to see the priesthood being used. It is also good to see the branch have YW – which includes many of the YSA sisters, PH, RS and Primary. I made sure that after the meeting I told the Primary teacher what an excellent job she was doing. But we do need to get the children to learn more songs.

Speaking of songs, while people were gathering at Port Durnford for sacrament, a primary aged young man sat quietly singing hymns to himself. It was sweet to hear this young voice singing hymns of the restoration.

After the meeting we said goodbyes and drove to our boarding for lunch and an hour of rest before we drove to Esikhawini for a meeting. President Mann came up from Durban for some interviews and we were there to help where needed. One of the highlights of the day for me was listening to President Baldwin talk about how the gospel got started in Swaziland when four LDS families came together to work in a pineapple plant near Matsapha just outside Manzini. He told how when the unit grew too large for their rented building and they moved to Mbabane. He said they fasted and prayed about it because this meant the members in Matsapha – where almost all of the members lived – had to drive 30 to 45 minutes to church where if it was in Manzini it would have been only 10 minutes away. But most of them knew this was what the Lord wanted and the branch quickly grew.  

Our evening was spent with dinner, cooking the meat we bought so it would not spoil before we use it next Sunday, and watching two episodes of the second season of Numb3rs on the computer. It was a good day.

21 November 2009

21 November 2009 – Saturday

We had a busy Saturday with Seminary graduation in the morning and piano lessons in the afternoon.

We went to Seminary graduation to make sure the taxis got paid and to fill in where needed. When we arrived at 9:30 most of the people were already there but we were the first with keys. So we opened everything up and got people settled in.  Unfortunately President Maglaca to lost and the meeting started 40 minutes late. Mary played prelude music for about an hour. I found out that there was no provision for plates, cups or napkins so I ran to Ken Trade to get them. I should have known enough to have them in the car – the Bartholomews would have been prepared – but we are still learning.

Once they got started President Van Thiel conducted the meeting and once started it went well. Sister Khumalo and President Van Thiel  gave talks and then three younger members spoke about the importance of Seminary and Institute.

While the program was going on I put out drinks, signed for the pizza, and got everything ready to feed 40 hungry youth. Sister Khumalo and Mary helped serve the food and everything went well. Unfortunately we had to leave before the taxis came to pick-up the youth so I left money with President Van Thiel to pay for them.

We had to go to the Empangeni elder’s boarding to drop off sacrament cups – the order came in this week –and the announcements. We stopped at a small store to buy sandwiches and just made it to the Esikhawini Chapel in time for piano lessons with a young lady who called and asked if she could come early. Of course after all the rushing, she came 45 minutes late and by that time some of the other students had come.

Sister Khumalo called and said she could not make it to our computer lesson so while Mary taught piano for two plus hours, I got to read and take a nap. After her lessons we went to President Malinga’s so I could meet with him, do a little training, and see how he is doing. He is a very fine man who has more than his share of problems but does not dwell on them. He just keeps doing what he feels is right and trusts that the Lord will bless him. 

We had dinner at Spurs. It was rib night so we both had them. They turned out to not be as good as Mary said they were and I wondered if they use a lesser quality rib on their special night. It does not seem like a good idea to me and perhaps it was just an off night. Either way next time I will stick to my rib burger which is always good.