Monthly Archives: December 2009

29 December 2009

29 December 2009- Tuesday

Mary continues to be ill – the cough is way down in her chest – but says she is feeling better. It is a bummer to have your wife and companion sick at the same time! Hopefully she will get over this miserable cold soon. I remember in the MTC when the doctor said that nothing you can do to cure the common cold. It is going to take about a week for it to go away and all you can do is try to make sure that you do not make it worse so that it turns into pneumonia.

I spent much of the morning running errands including getting my hair cut – I told the young lady to trim the back up and away from my shirt collar so when I sweat it does completely ruin my shirts. While I was there they asked where Mary was and I told them she a cold. I got a number of suggestions of what she should take to clear it up. (As I am typing this Mary is standing about 5 feet away coughing her head off) I decided that we should try something so I stopped at the pharmacy and got ACC 200 that is supposed to clear up mucous wherever it is.

My next stop was the Municipality office where I bought electricity. It is the only place we go to that has an isolation booth type entry and exit. You have to wait for a green light to go on before you can open the outside door. This lets you into a small bullet proof glass room where you wait until the outside door closes before you can open the inside door. The reverse is done to exit via another cubicle. I guess they do not want a large group of gun totting criminals to break in and rob the place.

My last stop was the bank where my timing was quite good. I did have to wait in line but not for long. I also go a teller who did not take forever to cash my three checks. Just checking and entering everything they have to takes 5 – 10 minutes.

After we had lunch, I went to Enseleni to meet with President Vilane and give him the forms for the quarterly report. We also went over the convert list for the last 18 months. There were a number of them that he could not recall by name but would have recognized if he saw them. I suggested there were two or three that should be encouraged to get ready to go on a mission.

I mentioned a couple of days ago that President Vilane’s father suffered a stroke and is partly paralyzed. I did not realize that the Vilanes had brought him home to take care of him while he recovered. I got to meet him but I do not think he understands much English. Luckily sister Vilane has just graduated from nursing school so she should be able to take care of him.

The elders got their move notices tonight. Elder Weaver is going to Durban and Elder Maremela is going to New Castle. The president is also moving in two extra elders to work the Empangeni area. Elders Kitili and Kekana will be split up with Elder Kekana and his new companion walking in Empangeni while Elder Kitili and his companion will have the car in Engwelezane. I do not know any of the elders who will be coming in but one has only been out 6 weeks.



On Christmas day Elder Weaver dressed up as Santa and went out with his companion to make some children’s Christmas day a little brighter.


The whole zone went to the beach on P-day for some soccer, braai, and finally a zone picture. Later they came over to our house where we found that elder Kitili could Hula Hoop and Elder Dishon could not.


Elder Reeder help Mary with her latest puzzle, Elder Vinson got into his e-mail, and Elders Weaver and Reeder got all dressed up as they should for when they are out on P-day but went casual on the shoes.

28 December 2009

28 December 2009 – Monday

It was not a very exciting P-day. Although her hip was not hurting as much, Mary’s cough sounded worse than ever. So while she, for the most part, enjoyed a day of rest and recovery, I cleaned the kitchen to try and head off the ants, did some laundry, and kept sweeping up the debris the wind blew in through the open doors. The breeze is all that keeps us from sweating all the time.

The elders came by to get the braai – they are having a zone activity at the Richards Bay beach. We had thought to at least drop in on them but Mary just was not up to it. Elder Vinson still has his upset stomach and Elder Dishon had a bad headache. I gave Elder Dishon some Alleve and told Elder Vinson to be careful of what he ate.

Later in the afternoon they all showed up to return the braai and so some of them could use our computers to do their e-mailing. It turned out that the company that usually lets them use their computers was closed for the holidays.

They also took the opportunity to exchange pictures so I asked Elder Weaver to let me have any of his that he thought we would like to have. I am glad I did because he had a zone picture as well as a couple of shots from the game parks that were very good indeed.

The also managed to finish off 5 liters of vanilla ice cream. Elder Dishon’s headache was cured but elder Vinson is still hurting. However he was not hurting enough to pass up the ice cream. Later in the evening he called to say that Sister Mann suggested he go to a pharmacist to get something for his stomach and if that did not work we would make an appointment with the doctor.

I spent more time than I wanted to trying to get rid of ants that were in the house and make it so they would not come back. I finally found one of the routes they were taking to get into the kitchen and hopefully cut it off for a while. But I am afraid it is like sticking a finger in a dike – they will just find a new way to get in.

In the evening I managed to get a call through to the nice sister who is making our travel plans for us to get home. Due to the World Cup, there is not a lot of choices but I think we finally found one that will be good. We will leave on the 8th of July and arrive in Chicago on the 9th, stay over night with Jim’s family, and then fly home on Saturday the 10th in the morning. That way Jim and his family will not need to go to SL to see us and rest of the family should be able to be there on Saturday to greet us. But I am going to call Jim and see what he things about this before making the final preparations.

I did have one great accomplishment for the day – I caught up both this journal and my photos on the blog. Now I must try to keep them up-to-date instead of always being a few days behind.

An Ant Rant –

For some reason the ants have decided that the best place in the whole world to congregate is around our kitchen sink. No matter how many I kill or how hard I work to ferret out how they get in, the next time I look they are back. On Sunday I found them swarming all over the area three times. Each time I thought I had not only killed them all but I managed to trace how they got into the house and gave it a good going over with spray. Finally after the third time they seem to have been stopped but maybe they only retired for the night.

Of course the sink is not the only place they appear – a stray crumb of a potato chip will attract them in what seems like minutes. Certain dead insects bring them literally out of the woodwork or any other crack they can find. I can see why people here have tiled floors – if they had carpets they would never be able to see them as they went after the tiny crumbs that seem to part of eating. The first time they would know about the problem was when the ants got so thick that the carpet looked like it was alive.

Darn – there go two more….

27 December 2009

27 December 2009 – Sunday

We decided last night that I would go to the branches alone today. So I bid my bride goodbye and headed for Esikhawini. I picked up president Nyawo and we had a nice 40 minutes to talk about his calling and what was going on in the branch before we were joined by President Thusi for PEC. The elders arrived 30 minutes late – something about the shower and the iron – just about the time I was leaving for Port Durnford.

The weather had made a 180 degree turn and it was even misting. It felt so good but I am afraid it kept a few more people home today. Actually about the regular number showed up at Port Durnford – mainly because there were a lot of children with sister Chirwa. Esikhawini had about 45, Engwelezane had only 29, but Richards Bay had 52!

With so many back at their homesteads, the missionaries did yeoman duty in three of the branches. In PD they spoke in Sacrament and taught the classes. In Esikhawini one of them spoke in Sacrament and they taught everything from Primary and Sunday School to a combined third period meeting. Elder Maremela did an excellent job teaching the four primary children that showed up. In Enseleni, the elders of course set everything up and then conducted the meeting. President Vilane had to stay in Matubatuba because his father had a stroke on Saturday that paralyzed his left side. Of course I did not find this out until after 10:30 but I called the elders and found they were prepared to handle the meetings.

I got off easy. About all I did, beside going to meetings, was to ordain Percy Zibani to the Melchezidek Priesthood and help President Nyawo do the same to Musa and Solo. But I must say that this was a very rewarding experience as the spirit was strong as we did this. Solo’s mother and Percy’s wife and child were there and you could see the happiness in their eyes – especially sister Mthalane’s.

She shared a touching story of how when she was very ill she asked Solo to give her a blessing. She said he had the priesthood so he could give her a blessing to help her feel better. Solo explained that he did not have the authority to give her a blessing because he only held the Aaronic Priesthood. What a blessing it is to see a family where the gospel is taught in the home.

When we were finished with the ordinations I headed for Richards Bay so I could ask Calwyn to enter them in the Church records and get him to make a duplicate baptismal certificate for the sister in Engwelezane that I have forgotten to do for a couple of weeks. I did not realize that the Baldwins had planned to leave right after the block for a family get-together but Calwyn agreed to stay long enough to get my needs taken care of. I felt slightly bad about inconveniencing him but not enough to say we could do it later.

Came home to find that Mary’s hip was feeling better but she was still hacking away. I told her I had asked the Richards Bay elders to please come by and give her a blessing and she felt good about that. Elders Reeder and Weaver came and anointed and blessed her – once again our lives were blessed by the restored Priesthood that earlier today we conferred upon the three men at Esikhawini.

The rest of the day was spent doing nothing really productive. Some paperwork got done, the newest puzzle got worked on, we read some, sent some e-mail and the best of all caught up my journal and the blog both in word and picture! Yeah.

So a busy morning was followed by a quiet afternoon and evening – hopefully Mary will be better tomorrow so we can do something interesting for P-day. I would like to go to the beach with the elders but that can only happen if Mary is feeling better.

26 December 2009


The elders spent part of Boxing day painting a member’s house. I was lucky to get four of them in one shot – Wengert, Kekana, Dishon, and Vinson. They put elder Kitili on another wall and I found elder Maremela hidding behind some bookcases.

26 December 2009 – Saturday

Mary still had her cold and her hip still hurt so we did not do much today. I had received a call from President Machaka last night asking to see me today, so we drove down to his boarding in Port Durnford to see how I could help. It was very hot – it turned out to reach 104 with about 28% humidity. People were pretty much out of their houses looking for any shade or slight breeze to cool them off. For that reason we had our talk behind the house in a strip of shade.

I thought that he wanted to talk to me about something like he was going to move or that there was some problem with his business or in the branch. So I was greatly relieved when I found out that he wanted to know what they needed to do to get married in the temple. We talked about the steps and what needed to be done, including Phumzile taking the temple preparation class. They do not have a firm date but as soon as they do I told him I would help him schedule a time at the temple.

After we finished there we went down to the Nzamas’ where the elders were painting their recently re-modeled house inside and out. There were six of them busily painting away and I felt bad that I had not come prepared to help them – I think I may have used Mary’s illness as an easy excuse. However as hot as it was, I probably would have not lasted very long.

After giving them some moral support and taking a few pictures we came back to our boarding where Mary spent the day resting and I used the time to catch up a months worth of pictures and a few days of writing for the blog. I hope to be completely caught up by the time I go to bed tomorrow.

25 December 2009


Our Christmas tree with presents on Christmas morning. Notice my stocking is stuffed but Mary’s is empty – she had a poor excuse for a Santa getting her presents. The elders came over and spent some time with us. We had party poppers for them – it took some practice to get them to give a good pop. Elder Maremela had fun practicing.


Although most of them had been eating at member’s houses all day long, some of them still found room for a little more food. The chocolate cake and ice cream all disappeared. Having the elders visit made our Christmas. They bring with them a special spirit – even when they are relaxed and eating. They are our temporary sons who will not forget.

25 December 2009 – Friday

It was an unusual Christmas for us. First Mary managed to catch a cold that causes her to cough often and sound strange. To add to that she did something to her right hip that only hurts when she moves – like walk, sit, get up, go to bed, and other things like that. This did not stop her from making a ton of potato salad and a great looking chocolate bunt cake for dinner with the elders later in the day.

We opened our presents – she did much better in getting gifts for me than I did for her, but I tried to make up with quality over quantity. That is my defense anyways. It is the first Christmas that we basically spent alone since we were married. Even in Indonesia there were branch Christmas Parties on the 25th to go to and then dinner at the mission home. But today we basically just sat around and enjoyed the day – because of her problems Mary thought this was a great idea.

In the evening we called and talked all our children except Tom and most of our grandchildren. The elders started arriving about 6:30 but most of them had been fed so often during the day they were not really hungry. However as the night went on they ate a lot of the meat we bought for sandwiches and all of the cake. Potato salad was not a great success – at least they did not eat much.

Elder Wengert was the only one who used our Vonage phone to call home. His family was going to call to his cell but it was having some problems so he had a great time talking on ours. We pushed the last elder out the door at about 9:15 which meant they had to hurry to get home by 9:30. They all made it safely.

It was a quiet but enjoyable Christmas for us.

24 December 2009


We had the privilage of delivering the comforters to the three orphans that a sister in Enseleni takes care of. I would guess that they used them on Sunday when the temperature fell into the low 50’s. That is cold for the Richards Bay area.

24 December 2009 – Thursday

I have to say we were not too smart for waiting until today to do our shopping for dinner with the elders tomorrow. We went early but it did not matter. A trip that would have taken us 40 minutes yesterday took 90 today. The grocery stores were packed with people who were filling carts with food for tomorrow and Saturday.

By the time we were finally able to get clear of the mall, we thought we were late getting to Sister Ndlovu where the elders were painting her living room and hall. But when we got there we found the elders had started late, left the keys to the chapel at their boarding and had to run down someone to get in and get the paint and equipment. We dropped off a stack of newspaper to help keep the floor from getting painted and headed for Enseleni. Once we got there we went to Sister Rose’s and gave the donated comforters to the three young ladies. They were thrilled with the presents – probably the only ones they will get this Christmas.

After finishing there we went down to the waterfront where we found the Thai place once again closed so we ate at a Swiss restaurant. Once again I was disappointed in the food and the service so that will be the last time we eat down there unless the Thai restaurant is open. The only good thing about it was that there was a nice breeze to keep us cool on a hot day.

23 December 2009


We got the opportunity to deliver some food orders that will make Christmas a little brighter for a couple of families. At the Chirwas we found the family all sitting in the shade outside one of the houses. This young lady was using the time to style hair.


Sister Ndlovu is collecting glass so she can get a fence across her back yard. As you can see most of them are beer bottles – they are abundant in the townships. As we were leaving the Ndlovu’s home, I noticed another family spreading out under a large shade tree – it was hot and few have air-conditioning. What was probably the last picture of this group of elders as the Empangeni District. Notice they are also gathered under a tree.

23 December 2009 – Wednesday

Clear skies this morning which means we are now officially into summer and the heat.

A strange thing happened this morning – I found the missing piece of the puzzle. We had been up for a couple of hours and I was just about to sit down and work on a short lesson I am to give in DDM. As I looked down at the chair, I noticed that there was an upside down puzzle piece sitting right in the middle of the seat cushion. I knew immediately what it was – what I can not figure out is how it got there. The only explanation I can come up with is that after my shower and before I got dressed I sat somewhere and the piece stuck to me. Later when I sat in the chair reading, it got transferred to the cushion. Either that or the puzzle fairy decided that she would restore the piece so we could finish the puzzle.

The subject of my talk is ‘Being bold but not overbearing. I found lots of good scriptures and ideas to use so DDM went well. Elder Kitili is a good DL and moves things right along. We had some good training on being bold, including some role playing by the elders.

After DDM and lunch we went to Esikhawini for our PEC with President Machaka. By then it was very, very hot and so we met outside his tuck shop. He has his tithing report done – the first one to get it finished. After we finished there we went to sister Ndlovu house to teach English. We have noticed that someone has been collecting empty bottles – mostly beer bottles – and stacking them neatly against the house and fence. It turns out she is saving them so she can break them up and sell them to a recycler so she can get money to pay for putting in a fence across her back yard so people will stop walking through her yard as a short-cut. She needs R800 for the materials –about $95 US.

Once Again December Pictures

On the 19th Engwelezane held their Christmas social and, after piano lessons in Esikhawini, we were able to be there for most of it. Everyone got into action before stopping for eating. It was great to see every age group take part – even the investigators joined in.


While waiting for things to get started the children sat in a big circle and sang songs. Mary taught them Popcorn popping on the apricot tree…


The branch has lots of Youth and YSA who like to sing and dance.


The older members also love to dance and sing – that is President Moloi of the district presidency showing off his fancy steps. These four ladies were introduced to us as investigators and included in all the activities.


Everyone sat in a big circle and then moved to the center when it was their turn to participate. President Mngadi was in charge and kept things moving. He is an excellent branch president and really cares about the branch members.