Monthly Archives: December 2009

And More December Pictures



On the 18th President Mann and the Assistants came to RB  to have interviews and training. After they were done they came to Esikhawini so they could interview three people to receive the MP and be ordained elders. Two of the young men got their missionary applications. While the President was doing the interviews there was not much for the APs to do until Elder Wengert and his companion showed up. The last picture is the classic one – Not only does it include President Mann but it also includes the famous Ostrich scriptures. Elder Wengert even got to hold them – he is hoping some of their magic will rub off on him.


Although we originally came to make sure the young men arrived to be interviewed, Sister Pier ended up playing a game of Christmas Bingo with the Youth. You will notice how enthusiastic about it these two sisters were about everything, but we finally got everyone together to play Bingo. President Nyawo was also there to help out and talk to the Youth.

December Pictures Continue


Elders Binks and Nganda stopped on their way through to Durban from Swaziland with their damaged bakkie. It seems that Elder Nganda somehow managed to nail a cow while driving. It did significant damage to the bakkie but not as much as the bakkie did to it. This is not the first – or probably the last -time that the elders in Swaziland managed to run through a Swazi stopsign. The last picture is the amost completed puzzle that fell victim to a stiff wind that blew into our house when we open doors to let in some cooler air.


We have lots of wonderful chances to be with members and non-LDS in townships and in the country. These are just three pictures of those we come in contact with. The two young ladies are in Port Durnford. The group of children gathered when we went to see a family in Enseleni.


While we travel though the area we get to see lots of things – some which interest enough to take pictures. The large orange tree that stretches almost across the street caught my eye. Mary thought the big tree on the main road in Enseleni was worth a shot. You can not see very well the interesting trunk structure. We have looked through all our South Africa bird books and can not nail down the name of this very interesting one.


Mary continues to add things to our very African Christmas tree -we even have an angel at the top.

More December Pictures

Four of the five branches held their Christmas social on Saturday the 12th. We were able to visit all four but did not get to stay long at any of them until we reached the last one at Richards Bay. I was surprised to find that I did not take any pictures at the other socials – sometimes I just seem to forget I have a camera. I remembered at RB because there was another brother taking pictures.


I love the picture of the two little girls – to me it symbolizes the Church in South Africa as it should be. It reminds me of the time we went to a funeral in Port Durnford and the chief’s counselor mentioned it was the first time he could remember a white couple at a funeral there and praised the LDS Church for being in PD. I know now that there had been other times but he must have not been present.


President Baldwin took care of his grandson. There was lots of meat to cook on the braii. For once the Vezi’s did not have to cook the food.


There was a short program with Elder Nare singing and the children paying close attention. The elders were there fellowshiping the many investigators that came. It was a good activity with plenty of good food. BTW Elder Wengert can not make a decent paper airplane.

Pictures – Catching up December


All Zone in early December was a time for learning, friendships, sports, sharing talents, and of course eating.


Sister Mann decorated a Christmas tree with pictures of all the missionaries. The couples did most of the serving at meal time, but they also got a chance to eat.


Soccer – Grass and Sand, Basketball, and even a little Rugby worked off energy while working up an appetite.


The Swaziland zone stole the show with their ‘frog’ choir and you can see all the elders loved it. But there was a lot of other talent shared and enjoyed by all – at least most of it.


On Wednesday evening, after All Zone, the couples got to go to the theater and see ‘My Fair Lady.’ Thank you Sister Mann for taking such good care of all the missionaires.

22 December 2009

22 December 2009 – Tuesday

An interesting day where we basically had to work around making sure we were available to meet Sister Mann when she and her visiting family passed through on their way to St Lucia. She was bringing Elder Weaver’s X-Rays, 3 copies of ‘Joy to the World’ DVD, and assorted mail for the elders.

We started our day by buying two food orders for members in Enseleni and then delivering them. We picked up President Vilane along the way so he could take part in the delivery. The first one went to Mama Zulu who we found sitting on the floor of her living room knitting a dress that she can then sell to make a little money. She is the gogo who is taking care of her grandson that was dropped off by her son.

Next we went to Mama Rose’s – Thandeka’s gogo – who has taken in three abandoned orphans. She is a small woman who is as strong both physically and spiritually. She is not a member but Thandeka and one of the orphans are. She would make a wonderful member and I keep trying to figure out how to get her to come to Church and let the missionaries teach her.

Once we left Enseleni we decided to get some lunch at Mc Donalds – we figured that about the time we ordered, Sister Mann would call to say they were close and we would have to pick up our lunch and dash to the N2. However it turned out it was the elders who called and they came to get payment for our Zone T-shirts that had just ordered – we have no idea what we are buying but are happy to be a part of it. After lunch we came home to re-fill my wallet – it had been an expensive morning – and wait for Sister Mann to call. She soon did and we arranged to meet her at the Enseleni off-ramp of the N2. We got there just before she did and we happily got what she was delivering. (I do not know why the type style changed when I made a correction in the post…oh well.)


Her son and daughter-in-law got in Sunday for a two week stay and they had brought some children-size comforters that their 4-H club had made. They were taking them to Mtubatuba to an orphanage where they have some babies. We asked if we could have three of them to give to the orphans that Sister Rose is taking care of and they said certainly. I am sure the young ones will be happy to have them – at least once winter comes around again.

After saying goodbye to them we went to mall to buy another food order – this time for the Chirwas out in Port Durnford. We called elder Weaver to meet us at parking lot to get his x-rays and some mail. They pulled in right beside us as we parked. Talk about timing.

The delivery to the Chirwas went without a hitch and we happen to see the missionary’s car at the Zondi’s homestead so we stopped there to give them their mail. So everything worked out perfectly. By the time everything was finished it was time to head home.

During the day parts of Richards Bay lost their power. The RB elders said the power was out at their boarding and a number of robots were not functioning, but the power at our boarding was always on when we got home.

However at about 7:00 everything in the neighborhood went black and stayed that way for over an hour. We found flashlights and even lit a candle. Once we realized the power was going to be off for a while, we started reading by using flashlights. After a while of doing that I was ready to just nap through it, when the lights flashed back all over the place. We had been told that they had many outages during last summer as the consumption exceeded capacity – when that happens they have rolling black-outs through out the area. I do not know if that was what happened tonight but it well may have been.

21 December 2009

21 December 2009 – Monday

It was very hot and humid today. Luckily we spent most of the time in the house with the fan blowing, in the air-conditioned car, or in the air-conditioned theater. But when we were out in the open it was rather brutal – a taste of what they say is coming. I read in the online papers that the East is having a blizzard and I wish they would send some of that cold air our way.

We had kind of planned to go somewhere today but neither of us really got started this morning and by the time we had started thinking about what to do the gardeners had showed up and that meant we would stay home until 11:00.

So we decided to have a nice lunch at the small boat harbor. We found that the Thai restaurant that we wanted to go to was closed until dinner and so we went to Portuguese restaurant instead. I have now tried Portuguese food four times and except for some excellent swordfish we had the last time, I did not care for any of it. After lunch we went by the Zimbabwean carvers and found that William still did not have the sculpture the Bs paid for some 2 months ago. They should have not paid for it in advance because now William has no real reason to get it done. Mary bought a couple of carved animals from a rich green stone and another carver tried everything he could to convince me to buy something.

We spent the afternoon at the new theater watching Invictus. I was surprised that there were so few people at this showing. It is a great movie about the early days of the new democratic government and South Africa winning the 1995 World Cup.

When we got out of the movie we got a call from the Zone Leaders. They had been trying to call us but I had turned off our cell phone while we were in the movie. It seems that President Mann got a phone call saying that two of our missionaries had been kidnapped and were being held for a ransom so they were calling all the missionaries to find out if they were OK. Most were quickly found but they had problems locating two of the elders but eventually they made contact and found they were safe. That meant it was a hoax and President Mann could start breathing again.

At home we had a left over dinner, watched an episode of Numb3rs on the computer, read some, and then went to bed.

20 December 2009

20 December 2009 – Sunday

Out really early to pick up Esikhawini elders because the Zone leaders were in Kosi Bay. PEC at Esikhawini – had a nice talk with brother Malinga (hard not to call him President.) Sacrament at Port Durnford – poorly attended with many members just not coming. President Machaka talked about his decision to go on a mission and the problems he had with his parents. Had to decline the first call but went 4 months later – without parent’s permission.

On way from PD to Enseleni stopped at Richards Bay chapel for two temple recommend interviews. Poor attendance at Enseleni but 7 good investigators there – mainly single men from 25-35. It would be nice to have a couple of good families but will settle for some dedicated PH so President Vilane would have some help. Khulekani gave an excellent lesson on Christ’s birth – many people participated and he also called on responses from the YM. He is a good teacher and is well prepared. Tandeka is back from King George hospital and hopefully will take her meds so she will not die. Gave Khulekani his mission papers…he has not cut his dreadlocks.

We get home in time to eat some lunch, relax for a while and then prepare dinner for the elders.

What does it take to fill up 10 elders – 9 lbs of mince (hamburger), 12 cups of homemade re-fried beans, 15 huge – 11″ – tortillas, lots of cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream and salsa, a large watermelon, 7 liters of pop and 10 ice cream bars.

The elders – especially the US ones – loved the burritos. Elder Vinson closed his eyes as he savored the first bite. I think most of the African elders enjoyed them also. Elder Maremela had two huge burritos with just meat – he said that beans just filled up space that could be used for meat. Elder Weaver said it was the first burrito he had since he left home 18 months ago. Elder Weaver and Elder Reeder had to leave early to go give a blessing to an investigator – President Baldwin’s neighbor.

Once they are gone there are lots of clean-up, dishes to wash, etc. When that is finished we settled down to catch up with e-mail and Facebook.

Any Sabbath day that starts with picking up elders, give me the opportunity to take the sacrament, hear gospel centered talks, and participate in a discussion of the importance of Christ’s birth and life,  and ends with watching a zone of missionaries leave full is a great one.

19 December 2009

19 December 2009 – Saturday

Out early to get food order for Port Durnford, then to Esikhawini for piano lessons that ended up stretching over almost 4 hours. 2 hours late to Engwelezane’s Christmas social but it was just really getting started when we got there. They did a good job entertaining the many children and then had a number of impromptu acts by different groups – including some fancy dancing by some of the older members including President Moloi. They had a nice dinner for everyone including chops and worst.

We were rather tired when we got home.

15 December 2009

15 December 2009 – Tuesday

One of the things you quickly learn as Senior Missionaries is that things seldom go as planned. A peaceful morning like today was supposed to be can be changed with a few phone calls. First we got a call from President Vilane saying that a family needed a food order. They had not needed one for a while because one of the daughters had a job but she was recently let go and the loss of income had made the help necessary.

While we were adding that to what needed to be done a call from the Engwelazane elders saying that their car died last night and they had to leave it in the township. I called elder Johnson and got the number for the GM service – thank goodness for warranties – and then passed it on to the elders. They later called to say it was being taken in but they wanted to know if we could come pick them up tonight in their area –for some reason the Esikhawini elders who were much closer could not do it. I suggested that instead of us making the long drive over at 8:30 at night they ask President Mngadi or President Moloi to give them a ride home. President Mngadi was happy to do that.

Next up was figuring out what we needed to get three young men on missions in the next 3 to 6 months. A call to President Mann told me what was needed and a call to the office got three sets of paperwork and 3 copies of the DVD ‘Joy to the World’ hopefully on their way to us via the Swazi Elders who are returning Elder Weaver to RB and then going on to Swazi with a repaired bakkie.

We went to the store to put together the food order and as we were arriving we got a call from the Richards Bay elders asking if we had a copy of ‘Joy to the World’ and if we did could they borrow it. We explained we were not at our boarding but arranged to meet them there in about 45 minutes. This meant that instead of eating our lunch at the mall after our shopping we hurried home, gave the elders the DVD and ate peanut butter and jam sandwiches.

Somewhere along the day we got a call from the Enseleni elders saying that they had a flat tire yesterday and when they called elder Johnson he said to talk to me about where to take it to be fixed. That was an easy one – Hi Q gets our tire business. Also later in the day we came across elder Maremela and brother Chirwa, so except for Elders Vinson and Dishon we had some contact with all the elders in the district. Elder Chirwa does not want his mini-mission to end and elder Maremela is going to ask President Mann if he needs anyone of a longer-mini mission.

We took the food order up to Enseleni and delivered it to LDS row. There is a block where something like 5 out of 8 houses are members of the Church. Unfortunately only one is headed by a worthy PH holder. After dropping off the food and giving a hard candy to half the neighborhood children we left for Esikhawini.

I broke a mission rule and picked up a man who was signaling for a ride. I do not know why I did this but it turned out he was going to Engwelezane and we would pass close to it. Unfortunately he did not speak much English but we gave him a pass-along card with a picture of Christ. When we left him off he asked how much did he owe – many people are picked up by private vehicles after negotiating a price for the ride. When we told him it was free he said Halleluiah with a big smile. We will never know if someday he will remember the couple who gave him the ride or look at the card and want to know more. Maybe some day on the other side of the veil we will meet again and find why I felt a need to stop and offer the ride.

In Esikhawini we went to the Zibani’s house so Mary could update his CV. I was very surprised to find that he is only 22 years old and how well educated he is. Why he does not have a job I can not imagine but we will try to help him get one. He needs a income to support his family and get them ready to go to the temple.

We then met President Nyawo at the chapel and we had some training for about 90 minutes. He is a humble man who is just realizing how much responsibility the Lord has given him. I concentrated on him being a leader by example and gave him a book for him to put together a plan that will end with the branch getting a new building.

After our training we took him home. On the way we stopped to drop off a belated birthday card and candy bar at Wenzile Thusi’s home – his birthday was Saturday and we missed it. He was not home but his sister was. She said that the whole family missed his birthday so we did not feel so bad except for him. Later we got a call thanking us for remembering. As she hung up Mary realized that we had given a candy bar to a diabetic…not too bright.

We made a quick stop at Engen to get gas and some scones. Earlier I had stopped in Esikhawini to get air in our slow leak tire. It was really low and I must take the car in and get the spare put in its place tomorrow.

During the evening we got a nice call from Sister Bartholomew. Unfortunately she they still have not figured out what is wrong and so she continues to cycle between feeling bad and feeling terrible. We caught her up on lots of the things that are going on in the branches. She was happy that Khulekani is going on a mission and saddened by some of the other news. Hopefully they will find out the cause of her illness and they will be able to go on another mission. They are a great couple and where ever they go they will touch many lives.

14 December 2009

14 December 2009 – Monday

We thought we were going to drive to Durban to give the things the Knudsens left in our car to President Mann to take to them tomorrow. However when I called the President to make sure he was going to be able to do that, he told me that some elders in Swaziland was brining down a bakkie to be repaired – I imagine this the bakkie that recently ran into a cow – and they were going to met half way with a replacement. The President said that these simple plans became complicated when the elders first had to go back and get a police report so they could clear customs and then took a wrong turn and ended up going through Piet Retief which adds anywhere from an hour to two hours to their trip depending on if they have completed the road repairs that we ran into in April. But that did not matter much because the bakkie they are supposed to get was still being worked on – this one got side-swiped by a drunk driver – and it looks like the Swazi elders will be spending the night in Durban. In any case we will meet them out at the N-2 exit and give them the things for the Knudsens. This will save us 4 hours of driving but we can not do anything interesting until they actually get here. So we are spending the morning working on the latest puzzle, doing our laundry, etc.

We met the Swazi Elders – Binks and Nganda – at McDonalds and treated them to lunch. There is none in their area and Elder Binks does not like KFC so he said that they usually went home for lunch and dinner. Elder Nganda is from Kenya and is rather quiet but very friendly. He was driving when they hit the car. They must have been traveling pretty fast because the front passenger side of the bakkie was quite torn up. The cow did not do well either – it died.

We thought about going to a show but ended up staying at home and doing the puzzle, reading, house work, watched two episodes of Numb3rs and of course napping. So it was a nice quiet day for us. Just as we were going to bed we got a call from Sister Hafen and we chatted about what was going on in the mission. They are trying to recruit couples to come to South Africa and I imagine they will go on another one in a couple of years. They are young – at least compared to us – and have a business to run but I think missionary work is in their veins.