I pretty much spent the day at the hospital from about 9:00 in the morning until midnight. There was a break for a couple of hours to get something to eat and pick up some things to take to Mary.
In the afternoon after waiting for 3 hours to find out when she would be operated on, we were told that it would be quite late. So we decided I should go home and get some dinner and then come back in an hour or so. I had just left McDonald’s when the phone rang and I was informed she was going to the operating theater. I made a quick U-turn and was back to the hospital in 5 minutes.
She had already been moved to the surgical waiting area but she was 2nd in line and they were working on an unscheduled emergency of an earlier patient. After another 2 hour wait she was wheeled off to the operating theater and I had another 2 plus hours of waiting before I got to see her for a very short time in the ICU ward.
The doctor told me that everything went well. The rupture occurred when the mesh from an earlier hernia operation failed. They say she will be in the hospital for 4 to 6 days and then there will be 4 to 6 weeks of recovery.
We will have to see how things work out over the recovery period but I will just have to do what I can do in working with the Youth and the leadership. Unfortunately I am sure it will be 3 or 4 weeks before she will feel up to giving piano lessons. The important thing is that she gets well so we can finish our mission and hopefully accomplish what the Lord sent us to South Africa to do.
Not the best day we have had on our mission. Mary woke feeling terrible and believed she had developed a hernia. To make a long day short, we spent all of it at the doctor’s office or in the Richards Bay hospital. After a number of tests and a CAT Scan it was determined she did have a hernia and they admitted her to the hospital so she could have surgery tomorrow.
Today’s Tender Mercies…
Although it was hard to see them while they were happening, there were many tender mercies showered upon us today. Elder Reeder, Tsegula along with Khulekani came down from Enselini and gave her a blessing. Khulekani anointed for the first time and it showed me that we needed to work with him on ordinances so when he will be prepared when he goes on his mission. I count that as two TM.
Dr. Kelling, Mary’s surgeon, is very nice and told her that he would give her some medication to try and reduce the hernia so he would not have to operate. It turned out not to work but it gave us a feeling that he would not operate unless he really needed to.
Dr. Kelling wanted to make sure it was a hernia so he asked for a CAT scan. The first nurse we talked to at the x-ray department said we would have to come back tomorrow, but another nurse came by a little later and said they could do it today and gave Mary a barium milkshake that she had to take over a 2 hour period. She also said that it would cost about R6600 – that is about $750 US. Later when we came back and Mary had the scan it turned out that they did not have to use the dye so it only cost about half that. As we were waiting for the scan to be ready so we could take it to Dr. Kelling, I decided I would speed things up so I asked if I could pay for it. As I was waiting for the cashier, a doctor walked by and asked what I was waiting for and when I told him he went up to the window and told them to help me right now. The scan had been sitting there just waiting for the cashier to get around to asking for payment. As I was paying I told Mary to take the scan and go to Dr. Kellings office. When she got there it was closed but a very helpful nurse paged him and he had Mary put in an emergency room until he could look at the scan. There are a number of TM in this part of the story.
The hospital will of course not let you be admitted unless there is some way you can guarantee payment. I was on my way home to get some things that Mary would need when she was admitted and they called to say that I needed to come back so they could work out how the bill would be guaranteed. I told them the mission would guarantee payment and gave them the office number. When they called wonderful sister Johnson told them the mission would be happy to guarantee the payment and I think sent them a fax to that affect. Since we have more than enough credit on our mission account to see us through the rest of the mission, the amount of the hospital bill should just about make us even by July when we go home. Another TM..
The last one was getting her a bed. The hospital was jammed but it turned out one patient went home late in the afternoon so all we needed to do was wait until they sanitized the bed and then they took Mary up. So all in all it was a day where we learned patience and where the Lord blessed us through our suffering.
As I prayed I remembered to give thanks for Christ’s love and for His taking upon Himself our sins and sorrows. While this will reduce what we can do over the next few weeks, it will not cause us to go home early so we can hopefully fulfill whatever the Lord sent us here to do.
Neither of us felt like doing anything that took a lot of driving today so we stayed in the Richards Bay area. We got a call from the Zone leaders asking if they could bring the district leaders over and use our computer to show them the weekly graphs. We said sure without realizing they would need to use the internet which was down because we used up all our bandwidth for the month.
When they said they could not access their mailbox I remembered the problem and hurried down to the mall to buy some more gigs of web time. Monday is usually very busy at Telkom but when I got to their office there was only one lady in front of me and she finished her business quickly. Mine also got done in record time but as I left I noticed the line waiting for service was now out the door. I count this as the first tender mercy of the day. I was able to get the elders online before they ran out of other things to discuss and they were able to leave happy.
Our excitement for the day was to go to Meerensee to pick up my cleaning and check the PO box – nothing in the box today. We then went to the mall for lunch at Spurs and checking times of movies at the multi-plex. Back at our boarding I managed a short nap before returning to the mall to see Sherlock Holmes. We knew it was going to be different than Basil Rathbone’s Holmes – I just found out that he was born in South Africa to English parents but left when he was 3 – but did not realize how very different it was going to be. Although it was different it was quite good and except for a couple of sequences near the beginning where they put his thinking process on the screen we really liked it.
When we got home from the movie we found the Zone leaders boarding waiting for us. Elder Wengert needed to transfer some pictures off his camera so he would have enough room for the last two weeks of photos. He also got permission to call the US to solve some problem with his bank card.
While this was going on the elders from Empangeni boarding showed up because Elder Kitili needed to check something about an application to BYU. Then elders Reeder and Lemmon dropped by – they were working in the area – so we had 10 of the 12 here before they started to move out again. Since the Enseleni elders had come by early in the day to pick up a set of scriptures for their new convert we managed to see all our great missionaries for the second day in a row.
Once the group had moved out – it was about 6:30 I think – we settled down to a quiet night. Mainly we worked on the puzzle and read. It was a nice peaceful P-day for us. Just as I was getting ready to head to our bed, I remembered I forgot ….
We picked up Elders Vinson and Dishon in Empangeni and took them to Esikhawini for PEC. There we dropped off the elders and after PEC took the District Young Women’s presidency to Port Durnford. After sacrament the members break up into classes. The YW hold theirs under one of the trees. The last picture shows them under the tree and a good shot of one of the buildings on the homestead where one of the YM has a room.
Two of the young men – Lindani and Lungani – taught Primary under a tree in the front yard. With no more trees available, the PH spread out in the strip of shade along the front of the chapel while the sisters held RS inside. As hot as it was, I am not sure the sisters got a good deal.
After the Port Durnford meetings we dropped our District passengers off at the Richards Bay chapel to attend one of the two baptisms services that were held today. We then drove up to Enseleni where I took this pictures of four young girls playing a slapping game. It took me a while to realize that what they were chanting was the ABCs in English. After the meetings in Enseleni some of the branch took a taxi down to the Richards Bay chapel where we held a baptism service for a brother – Michael Mini Ntshangase. We thought we were just there to give support but Mary played the organ and since President Vilane was going to do the actual baptism, I conducted the meeting. I was once again struck by the beauty, simplicity and power of the ordinance of baptism and how this rather simple act changes the candidate’s life forever.
The latest addition to our boarding and a true tender mercy – Air Conditioning. We expected 12 elders for dinner but was surprised when Elders Lemmon and Reeder brought a guest – a three foot long snake that came into the house with them. It did not look dangerous but I used the broom and gently escorted it out the door and watched it hurry away across the lawn. After eating, Elders Lemmon and Reeder are calculating their statistics for the week – the stats for the zone were great this week.
Even Mary got a chance to taste the food she worked so hard to cook for the elders – the last picture in the row show Elders Vinson and Dishon enjoying their food after a great Sabbath day of service. They look different from the shot of them in their suits as they started the day.
We have lots of animal life around our boarding – also in our boarding. The Black Headed Heron was in the lot next to us. The young sparrow is sitting on our entrance rug. The gecko guards our garage door to scare away any robbers.
When we picked up the Esikhawini elders from their boarding we noticed this tree with these large, beautiful flowers.
One of the joys of being missionaries is being able to help the members. Mama Zulu lives in Enseleni and needed to borrow the sewing machine to make some dresses to sell. Sister Happy is a convert of about a year and we were able to help with her wedding a few months ago. We met her today at Esikhawini where she was taking her turn cleaning the chapel for Sunday services.
23 January 2010 – Saturday
We really did not get much done today but what we did get accomplished helped people and that is what missionary work is about.
The men arrived promptly at 7:00 to put in our A/C and went right to work. Unfortunately they ran into a number of problems that caused them to go back to their supplier in Empangeni to get the right parts so when noon rolled around and we really had to leave, they had only put in one of the units. But that one turned out to be a life-saver as the weather turned hot and very humid.
While Mary stayed home to keep an eye on the house, I went to Port Durnford to pick up the Youth for Seminary and Institute day. Because I did not like the idea of Mary being at home alone I called the Richards Bay elders to come over and stay with her. Since they were going to come over anyways so Mary could produce a program for their baptism tomorrow, it killed two birds with one stone. Elder Lemmon is looking and sounding great and the companionship is working hard.
My trip to Port Durnford was somewhat disappointing as only Fufu, Ayanda and Lungani ended up going. The other three decided not to go. One of them suggested that they did not want to go because brother Maqca said the same thing all the time. While the four of us were driving back to RB, I asked the young people about this and they agreed that he did often say the same thing but Ayanda and Fufu pointed out that all he was trying to do is keep the Youth on the straight and narrow path. This led to a discussion of how much AIDS educations they get and it turns out that they get lots of it in school.
On Sunday when I asked those who went how the meeting was, they said that it was different from other ones and they really enjoyed it.
Back at our boarding we got ready to go to Esikhawini and piano lessons while they finished up getting the one unit installed. When they turned it on a wonderful stream of cool air flowed into the room. It felt great. As soon as they bundled up their tools and left, we were right behind them. We drove up to Empangeni and picked up Elders Vinson and Dishon to take them to their area. They had used the morning to do the planning that they could not do yesterday because Elder Vinson still felt very ill. But today he was fine with only a small headache remaining.
It turned out that Mary got bunked on all of her lessons. That is the first time no one showed up. We tried to contact each student an hour before they were supposed to start but only got through to one who said they could not come.
However it turned out that our time was not wasted. As we were waiting, sister Happy came to clean the chapel and other rooms for the meetings tomorrow. The key they share opens most of the doors but there are two it does not open. We had the keys to those doors so all the rooms got cleaned.
We were also able to help sister Happy with another problem that was very important to her family so our being there was a true tender mercy for her. I do not know why I still find it amazing how often we seem to be in the right place, at the right time, but not for the reason we thought we were there.
After taking care of sister Happy’s problem we headed back to our boarding so I could drop Mary off and then go get the car washed. Due to the fact that it has rained or sprinkled almost every day for the last week it was rather dirty inside and out. Even though it looked like it might start drizzling at any moment, I decided that we really should not drive such a dirty car to our meetings tomorrow.
We had a very nice, and thanks to our new A/C cool evening. I spent much of it getting caught up again on pictures and even got some of them on the blog. I still have not figured out how to get good pictures of the African missionaries and members. I was looking at how great they look on the Mann’s and Mickelsen’s blog and how poor the detail is on ours.
The yard crew showed up at about 8:00 this morning and that meant Mary got to stay home and relax while I went up to Enseleni to pick up Khulekani to have his TB test check. I took one look at the spot on his arm and knew that he would need an X-ray to go with his papers. We ended up going to the hospital twice and the doctor’s office twice. Luckily we could walk back and forth between the two. We also spent quite a bit of time sitting until it was Khulekani’s turn.
After a couple of hours I left him waiting to get his X-ray and drove back to our boarding to pick up Mary and the sewing machine. We arrived back at the doctor’s office not long before Khulekani finally got a clean bill of health from the doctor. Now all we need to do is wait for his pass-port and police clearance to send in his papers. With the Lord’s help this should all be done by the middle of February. He is very excited about getting on his mission. He is going to be a fine missionary.
We treated him to lunch as a bonus for his patience in spending so much time just sitting and waiting. We then took him back to his boarding in Enseleni. We then went over to see Thandeka and talk to her about eating better. However once again we found she was not home but in Durban. I could not quite understand why she went or when she will be back. We are going to have to take Khulekani with us when we visit people so we communicate with them. Our last stop was at Mama Zulu’s where we dropped off the sewing machine so she can make some clothing to sell.
We had some time before English lessons so we drove back to the mall and checked up on what happened to the solid inter-tubes that the bike shop was supposed to get for us. They said the supplier was out but I think that they had just forgotten to order them.
We then went down to Meernsee to check our PO box – not even an advertisement – and stop in at Williams shop – that is a piece of grass along the road to the ocean – to pick up Ladysmith Wilson’s Nephi statue. We also picked up some salt and peppershakers that have carved animal heads on the top.
Mary had both of her students for English class in Enseleni. President Vilane needs to be more diligent in his studies – I told him he needed to sit under his tree and read aloud to improve his pronunciation. We checked with Nonhlahla and Khulekani to make sure they were prepared for Youth. They said they were so we decided to let them run with it. Next week we will suggest we provide the games and treats. But since we have no idea if there will be a couple called to replace us – or any of the other two proselyting couples going home in May and June – they need to be able to run their own program as much as possible.
On our way back to the boarding, we stopped and did our week-end shopping. With the elders coming for dinner Mary pretty well filled the shopping cart. Food is the one of the things that is not less expensive here than at home. The other major item is fuel which is only slightly less than in the states.
After dinner we pretty much relaxed until Mary did a baptism program for Engwelezane. There are baptisms in three of the branches but unfortunately there is only one candidate each. While it is wonderful to see anyone go into the waters of baptism, what is really needed are families! The elders find them and teach them but hardly ever do they come to church and get baptized.
On the health side, elder Vinson called last night and said he was feeling much better and is going out today. We will pick him and elder Dishon on our way to Esikhawini and piano lessons. Elder Harmsworth went to the doctor today – I made the appointment while I was there with Khulekani – to try and find out what is causing his problems. Hopefully the blood tests will turn up something that can be cured.
Another cool morning – hurrah for Israel and Richards Bay.
The morning was a combination of the spiritual and the mundane. On the mundane side was returning the non-functioning air-conditioner to Games for a refund. I thought I might run into some resistance when I asked for a full cash refund, but it took only a few minutes and no hassle to get a slip that I could take to any cashier and get the cash. However since the store had just opened they did ask that I come back later when they would have money in their till.
We then went to DDM where I gave the spiritual thought on D&C 4. I suggested that while we have it memorized, we should take the time to read it carefully and ponder just what is said. I discussed a few of the verses and ended with pointing out that the last verse – the promise of what would happen if the missionaries did what the Lord asked in the rest of the revelation – related to everyday missionary work. ‘Ask and you shall receive’ reminds us to ask for referrals from EVERYONE as emphasized in PMG. Then ‘Knock and it will be opened unto you’ could relate to Prime Time when they should be knocking on gates and doors.
After DDM we stopped at McDonalds drive-up and got some lunch to bring home. We then filled up the car with the things we needed for English class and Youth at Port Durnford.
There was one more mundane thing that needed to be done – cashing the four checks I got from the District last night. I never know what it will be like when I try to get a check cashed. There can be anything from long lines and multiple people who have to approve or there can be no lines and the check quickly cashed. Today it was the latter and it was made even faster by the fact that the same teller who helped me yesterday, helped me today.
On the drive to Port Durnford we noticed that the cool morning was slowly giving way to a warmer afternoon. The clouds had thinned and the sun was finding holes to shine through. Since we got to PD earlier than we needed to, we drove up to see if Thandi Nzama was coming to Youth. It turned out that she was gone but we did get a chance to see how the re-model was doing and it looks great. They have a new roof, an expanded front room and for the first time they have ceilings so you do not look up at the underside of the roof. It looks really nice.
Mary had a very reduced English class of one. Only sister Mlondo was there but in some ways that was good because she knows less English than the others. Mary found out that she never got to go to school because her father did not think women needed schooling. So any education she got was on her own.
Youth went well. We registered them all for Seminary or Institute, gave them their manuals, gave a short lesson, and then played the spoon and bean game. We have 6 stalwarts – we found that Blessing was staying with family away from PD and of course we still have not seen Gabi since before Christmas. She is supposed to be getting home from Durban this week and we hope to see her on Sunday.
We were leaving the PD building when I realized that we had not given them their snacks. Siya had been trying to get away to study with his friends but I had convinced him to stay for Youth. As soon as youth was over he started to hurry away. But when I mentioned there were treats he immediately turned around and joined in eating the goodies. Some things are more important than friends and studying.
Some days I wonder if we are really doing any good here and then I think about the young people we have the opportunity to work with and decide that if we can help just one or two of them to stay active in the church, go on missions, get married in the temple, or just keep the commandments and stay pure, the time and effort is more than rewarded. We may never know what good we did until we meet some of them on the other side.
We woke to a beautiful cool morning – a true blessing for us.
Sister Mann posted this excerpt from a letter from Elder Mbithi who recently returned to Kenya after serving here. We got to know him well because he served in RB and also as an assistant. I really enjoyed kidding with him but I also enjoyed sharing spiritual thoughts. He is planning to go into politics so he can make a major difference in Kenya. I have no doubt he will be successful in his goals.
“Dear President Mann
I’m happy to say that I arrived home well and 30 of my friends from my youth group were there and after sharing my mission experiences with them I could not fail to extend a commitment for them to come to Church, and I’m excited to be involved in their conversion process and their families, too, as they are excited to join the Church.
Sunday I was called as the Branch Mission Leader and I talked with the Branch Presidency and they gave me the last Sunday of the month to do How Great (Shall Be Your Joy) training and they ordered Preach My Gospel for every family as I intend to introduce PMG Member, and also they agreed to make sure that there are missionary moments in the auxiliaries every Sunday.
President, its fun doing this and I can’t wait to show them the PEC Action List so their PECs can be productive…”
We went to the Empangeni DDM and was happy to hear how much the four Engwelezane elders are doing with becoming involved with the branch and working with President Mngadi. They have a number of ideas and hopefully some of them will work out. We only have time to work a little bit with the youth to make sure they have a good experience on Wednesday, so the elders will need to pick up some of the slack.
After DDM we rushed home to get the computer so we could show the introduction to the new theme in Youth later in the day. I was not feeling very well so after we ate lunch – good old peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – I took a short nap.
While Mary was teaching English to sister Ndlovu I went to see President Machaka about some things. They still have not set a date for their wedding but they are always together so that is good. I think it is a shame she did not keep her job as a teacher but maybe they have other plans.
I got back to the Ndlovu’s house before Mary was done and was sitting in the car when a man walked up and asked what I was doing parked in the township. I explained I was waiting for my wife and then we got to talking about our mission. It turned out that he was a teacher at the local school and he mentioned he was worried about our security. He was especially worried that we came to the same house on the same day and at the same time. He said that having consistent patterns was not a good idea. I am always grateful that there some of the citizens are concerned for our safety. We do not feel insecure but it is there town and they know it best so I think we will change our teaching habits where we can.
When Mary was finished we drove up to Engwelezane and helped with Youth. There was no one there when we arrived but two of the elders and some of the youth came by 3:40. We showed the introduction and worked on the theme. While the video was on I called President Mngadi and asked if he was coming to do Seminary. He came over but did not have the materials so I guess they will start next week. Since I had a district meeting, we left soon after the video was over and left the president and the elders to have some activity and pass out the bananas we brought. I encouraged them to be on time next week so we could have a lesson and still have time for games and snacks.
The district council meeting went on for almost 2 hours but since we had lots to discuss and learn, it went quite quickly. I have decided that President Vezi will have to work with Esikhawini – except of course for PEC on Sunday morning – and President Moloi will need to work with Engwelezane while we try to help PD and Enseleni. That does not mean we will not do what we can in all the branches but they need to be prepared for the day when there might not be any couples to depend on. There is still no word of any new couples for the mission. This means other than the two that we know are coming, there may not be any new couples until May at the earliest.
So it was a busy but good day for us…I think we did some good.
Birding…this morning as we looked out at the empty lot next to our boarding we saw a dozen or so Ha-de-das looking for breakfast. Then Mary noticed a much bigger bird just standing in the lot. It turned out to be a black-headed heron and we got a couple of good pictures. It was strange how it would just stand in one place. The only movement was when it slightly turned its head to look at some thing.
We had one other experience with birds today. We were eating dinner – fried egg sandwiches this time – when I saw something rather large move across the floor. I thought it was some large bug but when I went to look I found it was a young bird – a sparrow I think. It had walked in through the open door and did not know how to get out. I did not want to pick it up – I had heard that is not a good idea – so I got the broom and gently directed him to the exit. It was large enough to fly a little so hopefully it found its way back to mom and the nest.
Just one year ago we walked into the MTC to begin the adventure of a mission to South Africa. We were seasoned missionaries and knew what our MTC experience would be like. We certainly had no real idea what experiences serving in the South African, Durban mission would bring.
Today was a typical a-typical day for us. We received calls in the morning from two missionaries who needed doctor’s appointment for different ailments. Neither one is major but in both cases 2 sets of elders will be taken out of their fields – both are walking elders – for a few hours. Also today we took Khulekani for his dental exam – he does not need any work done and then to have his TB test. The test took much longer than expected as there was a mix up on just what test was needed and how it would be paid for.
While he was getting his teeth fixed, we bought a new fridge for one of the boardings so the four elders did not have to try and stuff all their food into just one. After that we had lunch with the Mickelsens who were up here for the morning working with some of their PEF loan applicants. It was interesting to hear about their problems and their successes. They care for each of their students and feel it personally when something does not work out. There will be a big hole here if they are not replaced with another couple.
I needed to get a check cashed so we went to the bank and I had the best experience ever. I walked right up to a counter and in 2 minutes I walked away with my money. That has never happened before – I will not expect it again.
On the way to take Khulekani home, we stopped at Mama Zulu to say hello and tell her we missed her at church on Sunday. She told us she had not been feeling well. She had things she wanted to talk to sister Pier about so they stepped out into the yard to talk about them. Some things just take a woman’s touch.
After dropping Khulekani off at his house with clean teeth and a headache – dentist are the same where ever you live! (Just kidding Shauna) – we went over to President Vilane’s where I tried to help him with the 4th quarter report. We were having a tough time reconciling the numbers the Church has on their forms with those people who live in the branch. We finally gave up and will work on it again on Friday after I get a new branch list from Calwyn on Wednesday.
Some thoughts on the weather: It started out being a hot and humid day. When I got out of the car at the bank, it reminded me of the time I walked out of a hotel in New Orleans, hit a wall of heat and humidity and went right back into the air-conditioned lobby. Today I walked into the wonderfully air-conditioned lobby of the bank.
When I came out I ran into the guard I have talked to before. We said hello and he asked me if we had a church in Richards Bay. Since he lives in Port Durnford I felt that was strange but told him I would have the elders call and talk to him.
As the day went on the clouds moved in and by the time we left President Vilane’s house it was actually cool. Not long after we returned to our boarding the cool, breezy weather became a short rain storm that further took away the heat and humidity so we ended up with very enjoyable weather for the rest of the evening. We have been blessed with cooler weather so far this January.
A further thought that should have been in Sunday’s entry. While we listened to president Mthalane teach the lesson on pre-mortal life for Sunday School at Esikhawini, it came to me that Lucifer was not rebuked for coming up with an alternate plan or even for his pride in wanting the glory for himself. What he is punished for is refusing to accept God’s decision and then leading a rebellion. It reminded me of Amlici in the BofM when after being rejected as king of the Nephites he leads a revolt that leads to the death of so many people. In the kingdom you have a right to your own thoughts and ideas, but when you try to get others to agree with your ways over the way of your leaders you open yourself to disciplinary action.
The aerial boadwalk goes through a forest to a tower that allows you to look over the forest to the hills beyond. There are some wonderful trees to look at – this one is entertwined with others. At first we thought it was just it’s own branches but later we saw the base and that it was two or three trees wrapped together.
The chapel near Fort Nongqyi is still used for wedding and receptions. The fort itself was built in the late 19th century and only has three corner towers because they ran out of bricks before they could build the fourth. There were agapanthus in bloom everywhere in Enshowe and it reminded us of them blooming at my aunt’s house in the SF Bay area many years ago.
When trade beads became available they were soon put to use by the Zulus and other tribes. Each area tended to have their own patterns. Very elaborate dresses and wraps were decorated with beads. This large, beautiful pot is decorated with lines of beads.