Monthly Archives: November 2009

20 November 2009

20 November 2009 – Friday

Tires rotated, bought food for Sunday dinner, food order for Enseleni, met with President Vilane, English – 2 students, youth – well organized without much help from us, Mary stayed while I rushed home for pictures and clip board. Slow bus going. Home for evening watched Numb3ers.

19 November 2009

19 November 2009 – Thursday

Spent morning doing chores that did not get done on Monday. Rain – lots of rain. Afternoon teaching English and then Youth. Youth was excellent as we reviewed the first 14 pages of the Book of Mormon and talked about what was happening.

18 November 2009

18 November 2009 – Wednesday

Goodbye to the Wilsons and Knudsens. Victoria Market with the Mickelsens and Markums. Lunch at Ocean Basket. Drive Home and collapse.

17 November 2009

17 November 2009 – Tuesday

We went to Marko to give them our broken printer and found that we had a on-site service agreement and gave us a number to call. At least now we have our receipt so we can get service once we get home. By the time we were done, it was too late to really do anything with the Mickelsens and we knew they had lots of office work to do with all those Patriarchal blessings they down-loaded yesterday and the PEF paperwork that never seems to stop so we called the Johnsons to find out if they would like to go to lunch. The restaurant we went too was very slow in service and while the food was OK, I would not go back again. The best part of the meal was sitting and talking to the Johnsons about our mission experiences and family. 

Back at the mission office we were soon joined by the two sets of Wilsons and the Knudsens. Everyone was interested in which missionaries were moving in and out of their districts. As they look at the ‘I’ll Go List’ it is kind of like opening Christmas presents as missionaries they have learned to love move on to a new zone and perhaps a new calling, while others move in. We had seen the list yesterday so we already knew that Elder Babeeyo was moving to Swaziland to be Zone Leader where his younger brother was also serving. We also knew that Elder Nare was coming to Enseleni. He will be a strength there and he may be able to sing duets with Nonhlahla.

Mission Presidency meeting went for two hours and we covered many subjects. Some of them like tithing settlement, seminary and institute enrollment, etc. do not seem to be directly tied to missionary work but since President Mann is the PH leader for all the districts, he is responsible for all programs of the Church. We also talked about how to have a productive Holiday season. Since many of the people go back to their family homesteads and towns for much of December and into January, the missionaries in the past have at times used it as an excuse to slack off their efforts. If they do, not only is December and January affected but so is the first quarter of the year as they build the teaching pools back up.

This year the President is using this transfer and All Zone for training aimed at committing the missionaries to keep up the excellent work they have been doing. If things go as is indicated, there should be about 50 baptisms in November and 50 in December, with the year ending at about 450 baptisms for the year.

As the meeting approached 6 p.m. there came a rather loud throat clearing outside the door of the office. Not quite like the coughing sound a lioness makes when moving through the brush, but close. It was sister Mann reminding us that we had 6:00 reservations for dinner.

Dinner was at the French restaurant that we had gone to with the Sessions and Bartholomews a couple of months ago and I think a good time was had by all. After dinner we took Sister Mann’s friend Carol Draper back to the mission home so that the Manns could go to the hospital to see an elder who is quite ill and will need to go home to the US to serve out his mission. He has only been here for one cycle but in that time he has had the joy of working in the township and feeling the spirit of the mission.

When we arrived back at Little Haven we were invited to join the two Wilson couples and the Knudsens in a game called ‘Five Crowns’ that was a lot of fun and we managed not to be last – but also not the winners. It was a nice way to end a day of service and fellowship.

16 November 2009

16 November 2009 – Monday

The rain continued to fall almost all day. Although it did not make driving to Durban as enjoyable as it might have been, it did keep it nice and cool. In fact it was sweater weather in Durban in the evening.

Our first stop in Durban was the Mickelsen’s boarding. They have a lovely 3 bedroom house with a nice jungle filled with fruit around them. They have papaya – I ate one, mangos and bananas growing on their property. It is like having a fresh fruit stand right outside their door. Of course they have to compete with the monkeys and birds for the ripe fruit but they can get their share.

After a nice visit and making arrangements for them to pick us up for Family Home Afternoon with some of the other couples, we followed the GPS to Little Haven B&B where we will be staying for the next two nights. It is always a pleasure to see Grace and Vic and stay at their nice accomodations.

We had just enough time to get settled in and have a brief nap before the Mickelsens arrived. We first went to the Pinetown chapel where they met with the patriarch so they could download 12 Patriarchal Blessings that he had given over the last week. Sister Mickelsen transcribes them off the recordings and then they are carefully checked a number of times before the finished blessing is produced for the member and the Church records.

We then went to the Griesmers’ apartment for their regular Monday afternoon FHE. Their apartment is high on a hillside in a large complex that can be seen from the Pinetown chapel. They have a lovely view that we could have taken better advantage of it had not been raining.

We watched two segments of scripture discussions on BYU TV. Todays episodes included from D&C 35 to 42 and it is interesting to see how the participants tie what is given there to other parts of the scriptures and to what is happening in the church and the lives of the members today.

After the program we ate pizza, salad and the best Chelsea buns that I have had since we were here. Before tasting these, I thought the ones from Engen were as good as they got, but these were soft and moist and just plain delicious. As we were finishing up Elder and Sister Markum arrived. They had been in meetings about CES all day and were happy to relax a little with friends. The Markums are the couple that our friends the Coxes will replace early next year.

When we arrived back at Little Haven we stopped in to say hello to the Rawlings and were invited to their FHE lesson. Vic had prepared a very nice lesson on Doing Good for Others. It was nice to sit and share thoughts and scriptures about this gospel principle with these lovely people.

Even with the continuous rain, it was a very nice day. As Mary said it was nice to spend some time with other couples.

15 November 2009

15 November 2009 – Sunday

Sunday morning is always hectic as we try to make sure that everything we need is packed in the car. This morning we had a small crisis come up. As we were just driving away from our boarding we got a call saying the Engwalezane elders saying they were out of sacrament cups. Since we had some in the back of our car and the Mickelsens were going to attend the branch meetings we ran over to their boarding and dropped off enough cups to get them through the day. Hopefully the elders will re-load before next Sunday or President Mngadi will order some from Joburg.

Even with that delay we made it to the Esikhawini PEC meeting in time. President Thusi picked up President Nyawo and the elders also came. We had a good PEC meeting with Elders Musemare and Dishon giving the branch a very well thought out report on new converts, investigators and in-actives that they were working with and how the branch can help them in fellowshipping, home teaching, etc. Hopefully the leadership will use the report and in that way help the activity grow.

Because the Primary was supposed to put on the sacrament program, we stayed at Esikhawini for sacrament. Unfortunately the rain kept most of the children away or they came very late so they had to go to plan B which was to have Elders Maremela, Dishon and Pier speak. As I could see the lack of primary aged children in the audience – I think there was one when sacrament started – I was pretty much prepared for this before we were asked.

Both elders gave excellent talks and I was especially edified by elder Maremela’s as he spoke about how the Lord qualifies us for the work ahead. He gave examples of how Nephi and others were tempered – my word, not his – to prepare them for the tasks He had for them in the future. He said we also are qualified by the Lord for the work we have to do. Elder Dishon talk was on prayer and it was also filled with the spirit.

I spoke on four things that families needed to do to enjoy all the blessings that God has for us. I used Elder Maremela’s idea that we needed to be qualified for the work and the blessings. The four things I spoke on were: Family Prayer, Family Scripture Study, FHE and Tithing. I pointed out how Prophets had promised us if we did these things our family would be strengthened, we would not lose our children, and the family’s needs would be available.

I felt that I needed to keep my voice slow, quiet and calm – I tend to go into a Fire and Brimstone mode at times. But today I let the spirit do the burning and I think it went well. Most people stayed awake and as I looked out at the audience I could see that most of them were following me. I really felt the Lord blessed me so I could get this important message out to the members. It is something I have wanted to talk about for a few months and today the Lord gave me the chance to use the theme.

After the meeting President Nyawo said that he felt sometimes the Lord had different ideas on what needed to be shared than we may have planned for. He also said something that shows how it is only when we have the spirit with us that we really touch people’s lives. He said that today he felt the same spirit that he felt when he first started coming to Church. 

We left Esikhawini and after a brief stop by our boarding we went to Enseleni for their meetings. We were happy to find that a new church that was to start today and run from 10 – 12 had not used our part of the Library. However the rain really hit the attendance, which ended up under 30, as none of the usual supply of non-member primary aged children came. In fact since there were only 10 people – and four of them were missionaries – I suggested to President Vilane that he not start the meeting until 12:15. It felt strange to ask the meeting not start on time, but it was the right thing to do.

All of the speakers came but one had not prepared a talk and got up and apologized. That meant that even starting 15 minutes late, the meeting got over early.  Instead of breaking into groups, the three primary aged children and their teacher went out and the rest stayed together and were taught about the sacrament by Elder Tsegula.

After the meeting I had a good conversation with one of the investigators and bore him my testimony that the Church was true. I also spoke to President Vilane and suggested that he hold a special meeting of what they call PEC but is really Branch Council Meeting to see how the plans for the Branch Christmas Social was doing. This is important because with District Conference coming on the first weekend in December they do not have many chances to meet before then.

When we drove away from Enseleni at 2:30 I felt very good about the day and what we had accomplished. It is just too bad that when it rains so many of our members who have to walk to church tend to stay home. But it was encouraging that out of an attendance of less then 25 – not counting missionaries – 7 of them were investigators.

When we reached our boarding we had a light lunch and then I took a way too long nap. I did not have any idea I was that tired and it certainly blew the afternoon. We discussed how we really needed to come up with a plan to use Sunday afternoons and evenings more productively.

Elders Weaver and Reeder showed up unexpectedly to pick up a new cell phone – elder Weaver laundered their last one – and some mail. As they were leaving Elder Reeder asked if he could have an ice cream – I thought that it was great that he felt he could ask so I gave them both one for the road.

It is fun to read the other Durban mission blogs –especially that now with the Mickelsens coming up a number of times a month. Sister Mann’s main mission blog is always filled with news from the mission and great pictures – especially of strange signs. This week she had visitors and gave them a tour of the game parks including St. Lucia and Umfolozi which are among our favorites.

Other sites that we love to visit is the Church News and Mormon Times sites where there are always uplifting stories about LDS members as well as reports on talks by General Authorities at the Church Colleges, CES, etc. We also read where it is snowing in Utah – I wonder what it would be like if they got 6 inches of snow in Richards Bay – pure chaos I am sure.

It has been an excellent Sabbath with the Lords hand clearly seen in a number of ways.

14 November 2009 – Pictures


While Mary was teaching piano to Zama and other, Sister Ndlovu and her son showed up to clean the buildings for Sunday services. We are going to start holding English classes at her house on Wednesdays.


As I was locking up the chapel after Mary’s lessons I noticed this on the board. It seems the Esikhawini youth were discussing the Youth Convention that is coming up in just 2 weeks. The Torch is the symbol and I think the list on the right must be the activities they are planning to hold.


As we were leaving Zinhle’s homestead on a little used pair of ruts through a field, I noticed this single beautiful lily growing out in the middle of all the grass. I walked out through the wet grass to take a close up. As we were driving away we discussed how that bulb got out in the field. There were no other ones around and it certainly was not planted there on purpose. However it got there, it was a treat for us to see.

The last picture is of the Esikhawini/Port Durnford elders. Perhaps the last picture of all four together in their suits at Esikhawini. Elders Wengert, Musemare, Dishon and Melamare – good elders who are working hard to build up the branches.

14 November 2009

14 November 2009 – Saturday

The morning again slipped away quickly. We had originally planned to go to the soccer game in PD between the elders and the branch but that was postponed because four of the elders could not be there. The RB elders went out to the deKlerk’s farm and the Empangeni elders had a service project. So instead we ran errands including getting pictures of the Enseleni youth printed, getting ink for the printer – where are the re-fillers in South Afrcia – and going to the pharmacy for some of Mary’s meds.

Sister Khumalo SMS us that she would not be able to come for her computer lesson but 3 out of 4 of Mary’s piano students said they would come. So while she was busy teaching piano I got to take a nap in the car. Before we were through dear sister Ndlovo came to clean the chapel. It was a good thing we were there because she did not have keys to get in so I opened everything up for her.

While Mary was teaching, it had started drizzling a little harder so we drove Zama – her last student – to her house. We then drove out to Port Durnford where we recovered the missing bag of games from the chapel – they were under the pulpit – and then drove to the Kanyile homestead to give them the picture of their family we had printed today. We did not think anyone was home but as we were leaving the son came out and so we were able to complete our task. The father seemed very pleased to have the picture and I was very careful not to mention anything about the church while we were there. Hopefully by showing them our love they will someday be open to hearing the missionaries.

As we drove pass Bungumuse’s house, we saw the elder’s car was out in front but we did not stop because we did not want to interfere with their teaching. Then about 30 yards further down the street we saw his mother and stopped to say hello to her. She is a very nice woman and we need to do more to help her get a job.

On the way out of Esikhawini we stopped to make sure the chapel was locked up – we had arranged for Sazi Mthalane to come over and do that – and drove up just as sister Ndlovo and her son were leaving. It had started to be quite wet so we picked them up and drove them home.

By the time we had finished it was still an hour before we were to meet the Mickelsen’s at the harbor for dinner. This gave us time to do our little bit of grocery shopping and still be on time. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant that the Bs introduced us to. We ended up taking almost 2 hours to eat and talk. It did not seem anything like that long because the company was so good.

We talked about the branches, some of the problems that needed to be worked on, stories about our first missions – theirs to Florida and ours to Indonesia – and we did some planning for our trip down to Durban on Monday.

Back at the boarding we had a couple of quiet hours before heading off to bed. Looking back I am not sure how much we accomplished in furthering the Lord’s work.

13 November 2009 – Pictures





13 November 2009

13 November 2009 – Friday

I went to bed late because I was not really tired and so woke an hour later than usual. Even the sun shining through the windows did not bother me.

My reading for the morning was again from Church magazines. The story about the Cosme family of Paraguay and how their baptism almost 50 years ago affected their extended family of now 60 shows that missionaries seldom see the true affect of their efforts in helping others accept the restored Church. The same issue included an article about the annual temple trip of the youth in Aberdeen Scotland, how it affects their lives and how they prepare for it all year. The final article I read was about the 70s and how their organization has changed over the years – line upon line – until they now minister and administer around the world. I remember how excited Elder S. Dilworth Young was when the First Quorum of the 70 was reconstituted in 1976 – he said he had prayed that he would be alive to see it happen. Elder Hartman Rector Jr. was also a member of that new Quorum and was the one who ordained me a bishop.

It is interesting that since at the time I was called only a General Authority could ordain bishops so I had been serving for a couple of months without being ordained. Soon after I was ordained the policy was changed and Stake Presidents could ordain bishops.

As we planned for the day we found that somehow we had left the boards for our BofM Bingo at Port Durnford. Since we thought we needed it for Youth at Enselini we made a quick run out to get it. Of course when we got there we could not find it. Hopefully someone found it and is storing it for us. We wondered if Friday the 13th was to blame.

After that things went well until we arrived at Enselini and did not find President Vilane waiting for his English lesson. When we called we found that he was not feeling well and had gone to the clinic. We went over to see his wife and found out that he had not slept well and had gone for some pain medicine.

We tried to visit sister Seoka, the Relief Society President, but since the houses did not have any numbers on them we were not sure which was it. Later we found out that we could have knocked on almost any door in that block and found an LDS family. Someday we will learn the town and the members.

With still time on our hands we decided to do a little exploring so we followed the main road out of town until it became a dirt road. We continued along the road until we got to the top of a hill where we could look out across the rolling hills. We were surprised to see every green hill supporting two or three homesteads. It is a very beautiful area once you are outside the city.

The Mickelsens had called earlier to say they were coming for the weekend and when they found out there was Youth at Enselini they decided to come and try to meet with two of their PEF loan applicants. We were sure glad they did because they were a big help when it came time to play games.

As usual about half of the youth arrived nearly on time and by the time we got to the games close to 20 were there. We had decided to take pictures of each of the youth and have them give us their names and addresses so we could find them in the future. I am thinking that we should create a page for each of the youth and have them tell us about themselves, their birthdays, telephone numbers, etc. We could then make it into part of an area book for future missionaries.

Elders Otieno and Tsegula came and also helped out. Since no one had prepared spiritual lesson I spoke for a while but I think I was too preachy. I am going to have to correct that in the future or they will not listen to me. They need stories that build them up, not lectures and preaching. They need lots of love and attention like any young people. I am just not all that good at this but Mary is sensitive to their needs.

We played three different games with the youth rotating from one game to another. They seemed to have lots of fun and I think played all afternoon. We asked Sister Mickelsen to run the bingo game while Mary and I over saw two BofM Match games. After the games we had treats – they are called pillows and are made of soft dough with cream centers. The youth – and the elders – really like them.

After we had semi-cleaned up, we left the Mickelsens talking to their two applicants and hurried home for a few minutes to take care of a couple of things. We then went down to the Arterial to wait for the Mickelsens to come by so we could go to dinner at the harbor. As we were almost to where we agreed to meet them, Mary discovered she had left the phone back at the boarding. Since we did not have time to go back and get it we just had to sit and hope that they found us. When they pulled up along side us Mary was very happy.

When we got to restaurant row at the harbor we were surprised to find that everyone was booked up. It seems that just like in the US everyone goes out to eat on Friday night. We must have looked very disappointed because one of the restaurants brought in an extra table to accommodate us. That is what I call an excellent manager.

We were early enough that we did not have an over long wait for the delicious food to arrive. It was also quiet enough to talk to each other. But then the crowd arrived and the volume of noise increased greatly. There were two or three large parties including one right behind us where 15 or more women were celebrating one of their birthdays. They came in strange costumes and my picture of them does not do the actual scene justice.

The swordfish was very good. The fillets were thin but large where we are use to thick smaller ones at home. So while they were not as juicy, they were still tender and tasty. All in all it was a very nice meal and even with 14% VAT and a generous tip the whole meal was about $25.

When we got home I almost immediately started on editing the pictures I took today. This ended up taking over an hour to finish but we can now get them printed and ready for the Youth by next Friday.