Monthly Archives: March 2010

29 March 2010

29 March 2010 – Monday

Elder Dimene being in the hospital made a radical change to our plans for the day. We were going to go to Durban so we would be there for Zone Conference tomorrow. But instead we spent the day relaxing, checking up on Elder Dimene, going to lunch at the mall and finally going to see ‘Blind Side.’  The movie was very well done and when we got home I looked up the real story on the web and found that the film was pretty close to sticking to the facts. Sandra Bullock deserved her Oscar but the whole cast was very good.

Elder Dimene was still having headaches and they found that he did have the less dangerous form of malaria – that is while it should not kill him, he still will probably have attacks every 6 or 7 months for the rest of his life.

We finished the leopard puzzle – you know a puzzle is hard when you only have 20 pieces or so to go in a 1500 piece puzzle and it takes you an hour or more to get them all in.

28 March 2010

28 March 2010 – Sunday

With the change in the wedding plans, our Sunday plans changed. We did go to Esikhawini for PEC and then sacrament as planned. We only go to Esikhawini’s sacrament meeting about every 5 or 6 weeks so it is always a treat to get to see our friends there. Since school is out, the youth that are away at boarding school were there. I was so happy to hear from Lisa Mathe that she passed her accounting exam.

Mary played the piano and since Yaya Mathe was not there, Musa got up from the sacrament table and led the singing. He is going to be an excellent missionary because he is always looking at what is happening and quickly rises to help where he thinks he is needed.

The speakers today were all sisters and they gave good talks. Each was different and one seemed to be mainly a condensed version of a conference talk but each of them used the scriptures and bore beautiful testimonies.

One of the exciting things about the meeting was Fortunate Shandu came all the way from his homestead as he said he would. Goodman unfortunately did not come with him but I think Fortunate is the more spiritual of the two. I just hope he felt the spirit while he was there. 

As we were about to leave I noticed that the blind sister was sitting by herself in the front while the rest of the people had turned their chairs around and moved to the back for class. I introduced myself and led her to the new front row so she could hear the teacher better. She is a lovely woman but does not come often because she is completely dependant on others for getting to church. I need to talk to President Nyawo about arranging someone to pick her up each week. I also need to check to see if she is getting the Liahona on tape or CD.

We stopped by home to get some things and then went to Enseleni. Even though there was no rain, there were less than 20 members in the room when the meeting started. I am proud of President Vilane’s determination to start as soon as there is enough priesthood for sacrament. By the time sacrament was passed, there was about 35 in the audience and by the time the meeting was over there was well over 50. There were not as many primary children as usual. Perhaps since school is out they have gone with their families to their homesteads.

When Priesthood started I noticed that Elder Dimene was not with his companion.  I found him in their car having another malaria attack. I immediately got Mary out of RS and loaded the her and the elders into our car for a trip to the hospital. Mary remembered that all the equipment and supplies that the elders bring each week needed to be taken care of once the meetings were over. So we gave the keys to the elder’s car to President Vilane and told him to please gather everything up and lock it in the car. I suggested that he take the car home so that we could pick it up later.

To make what turned out to be a long story short, they ended up admitting elder Dimene to the hospital. I now know Maggie, the admission clerk, by her first name and I signed a number of documents as elder Dimene’s guardian and guaranteed the cost of his treatment. I called the Manns and told them of the problem and Sister Mann sent a new fax so the bills will go to the mission.

There was a number of things we had to do to get elder Zondi , the car and elder Dimene’s effects all together but thanks to the Zone leaders – they had to come by our flat three times – and the Richard Bay elders it all worked out. It did make for an interesting afternoon but at least it happened during the day and not during the early morning hours.

27 March 2010

27 March 2010 – Saturday

This was another special day for us because we got to take the elders out to the Shandu’s homestead and help teach them and Bongani the gospel. Bongani is the man who has called us almost everyday since last Saturday to make sure he could meet with us to hear more about the gospel.

We met elders Lerios and Nkosi at the Esikhawini chapel and drove them out to the homestead. We had called earlier and asked if someone could stand out at the turn off the sand road that we needed to take to get to their boarding. I thought I knew where it was but did not want to get lost.  I guess I was not clear about where they should meet us because we came across Fortunate Shandu walking out to the main road to guide us. Since it was a very hot day I apologized for his extra walking. It turned out I knew right where to turn but his effort was greatly appreciated.

The lesson went well and the elders and us answered many questions. I think perhaps we answered too many and did not teach as much as we should. But I got a definite commitment from Fortunate and Goodman to come to church tomorrow. Bongani said he had a funeral to go to so he could not come. Even that was encouraging because so often people commit just to be polite while they know they have no intention of actually doing it.

After our meeting we took the elders to KFC in Esikhawini for lunch. They insisted that it was not inconvenient for them at all. By the time we drove them back to the chapel to get their car it was time for Mary to start her piano lessons. Only Sazi and Musa showed up so they got long lessons. Sazi is doing very well and is really trying to be able to play for sacrament before we go home.

By the time Mary got through with her piano lessons she was very tired. The heat in the chapel just drained her. Even having a fan blowing right on her did not help much. However she perked up for our dinner appointment with the Griesmers and we enjoyed a nice meal and light conversation with this delightful couple. Their weekly visit to Engwelezane and getting together with us makes us feel less isolated.

We then had a quiet evening at home with some of the time working on the latest puzzle. There was one disappointment for today. I called President Machaka to tell him that although we would not be at their meetings tomorrow we would come out to get them and take them to be married. When I called he said that there had to be a change in plans and that they could not get married until he goes back to Zimbabwe and get a new passport. I guess we will just hang on to the wedding rings until they finally get married. When I called sister Hafen to tell her about the latest news, she was very disappointed.

26 March 2010

26 March 2010 – Friday

We started and ended our day’s activities at the hospital. In the morning we went to have Mary’s incision looked at. While she was doing that I went to mall to look for packing boxes – we decided we should start packing up some things and send them home now so we do not have to worry about it later. They should arrive about the time we do. I did not find any good boxes at the grocery store, but Is stopped at Ken Trade and was able to get everything I needed there –including a huge roll of bubble wrap that I think would wrap up the whole outside of the house if we wanted to ship it home.

When Mary came out of the hospital she was happy to tell me that she didn’t need to come back again. We then ran a lot of errands that needed to be done before coming home for lunch.

As we were packing up to go to Enseleni to have English lessons and to help with the Youth activity, we got a call from sister Mann saying that Elder Dimene was having a bout of malaria and was going to the hospital. She asked us to just make sure he was OK and we said we would keep tabs on him.

It turned out that he was so sick that he could not drive so president Vilane drove him to the hospital. This meant that there would be no English class so we dropped off the apples and what was needed for dunking for apples and headed back to the hospital.

They were having trouble getting Elder Dimene registered. Sister Mann had sent a guarantee by fax but they still had not let him into the emergency room. I got the lady to agree to let him go in for treatment while we finished up the admittance paperwork. I signed a dozen places as his parent/guardian and guarantor before he was official.

I spent the next two plus hours sitting with him while they got his temperature down, gave him a shot for the pain he was having in his chest, and re-hydrated him. The first blood tests did not show any malaria so they took an x-ray and told him to come back tomorrow. By the time we got him out his temperature was down and he looked good.

Along the way the Richards Bay elders were a great help. They got the car back to the boarding, president Vilane back to Enseleni, gathered up Elder Zondi, helped with the branch activity in Enseleni, and then came back and got Elder Dimene and took him back to their boarding.

The doctor was very disturbed that Elder Dimene had first got the symptoms on Wednesday and did not come in until he could not function any more. This is not unusual at all. Most elders will not stop serving as long as they can walk and talk.

While lying on his hospital bed running a temperature of 103F or better, Elder Dimene asked me if once they got him feeling better, could he go back to their area tonight. I told him that was not an option. Later when we were getting ready to leave the hospital he asked could they go back to their area tomorrow. That is the kind of dedication that the young missionaries are always showing.

During the day we found out that the Machaka wedding was put off until Sunday. That of course meant we had to re-think what we would do on Sunday. We decided we would go to Esikhawini for sacrament and then go out and get the happy couple at Port Durnford, take them to RB to be married by President Baldwin and then take them home again.

So while our day did not go as planned, the Lord did keep us busy.

25 March 2010

25 March 2010 – Thursday

It was a very, very, hot day today. I think it was the hottest and most humid day this year. But perhaps it felt hotter than other days because there were almost no breezes all day. Usually at Port Durnford if you are in the shade there is a cooling breeze that makes things bearable but that did not happen today.

We had a nice busy day which started with us driving to Esikhawini and picking up President Machaka to take him wedding ring shopping for his wedding on Saturday. We brought him back to the RB mall and after looking at a number of shops we found some nice bands within the price range we were looking for. They had to be re-sized so we will comeback tomorrow to get them. Since by the time we were finished it was time for lunch we all went to Maxi’s. Not only did we get to have a nice lunch but we also got to know President Machaka and about his family a little better.

After lunch it was back to Esikhawini. We left president Machaka at the Esikhawini mall and since we had some time before we needed to be in Port Durnford, we visited the Zibanis to see how they were doing. Percy still has not found a job and part of the reason is that he feels he knows what he should be doing and just has not found it yet. They are such a powerful young couple that it would be a great advantage to the branch if he could find a good job.

We then headed out to Port Durnford for English class, Seminary/Youth, and piano lessons. As I mentioned above it was very, very hot so we had Youth on chairs in the shade of a large tree. It made it at least livable if not comfortable. Unfortunately a couple of the youth did not show up but the rest seemed to enjoy the class. After Youth, Mary gave Lungani  a piano lesson. It is too bad that he started so late because I think with enough time and if he would practice he would do well.

Fall is rapidly moving across the land. The cane fields are starting to turn so soon the skies will be filled with the smoke of burning cane and the roads will be clogged with filled cane trucks heading to the mills. The sun disappears before 6:00 so it is often dark when we get home. We have been here in Richards Bay for almost a year so we have been through all their seasons which are much like Southern California but with lots more humidity.

24 March 2010

24 March 2010 – Wednesday

We had breakfast with the two Wilson couples and the Knudsens. We realized that this would be probably be the last time we got to see the Ladysmith Wilsons as they head home very early in May. I am sure we will see them on one of our trips to Southern Utah but we will miss them until then.

We decided that we would take a small – 150K – detour on the way home and so we drove to PMB and then towards Greytown. I have to say that for the most part it was like driving through lots of other areas in South Africa with tree farms and cane fields running down each side of the road. However there were a couple of surprises along the way. We saw our first commercial corn fields stretching over the countryside. We also came across a Khulekani Primary School that we were sure was not named for Khulekani in Enseleni but made a good picture to show him.

Although the drive was worth doing once, I was very happy to swing back on the N-3 and head for home on a lovely multi-lane toll road. I was also very happy to finally pull into our garage and get out of the car after too many hours of driving.

23 March 2010

23 March 2010 – Tuesday

We had breakfast at Little Haven with the Harms and the Ericsons. We invited them to come to Richards Bay and talk to Sister Mathe to see if they could get to see the King and Queen. Sister Mathe is related to the Queen and she might be able to arrange something.

We decided to do a little site seeing before Presidency Meeting so we drove to an area outside of Durban known as the 1000 hills. From the pictures I saw on the web I thought we would be traveling through a preserve type area with perhaps a few scattered homesteads. Instead we found that the area we went through was well developed and popular with those who wanted to get away from the heat of Durban that was just a few kilometers away.

However we had a good time visiting some small gift shops and having lunch at a restaurant that sat on the edge of a cliff and looked out over kilometer after kilometer of green hills. Some of them were table top hills that looked like excellent places to have homes or small towns. There was a wonderful breeze that made the temperature almost cool. Besides the view, the food was very good and not very expensive.

At the presidency meeting President Mann started with the statistics for the first quarter which were basically off the charts – the good direction. If the rest of the year continues in the same manner – and there is no reason why it should not – the new expanded mission could have over 900 baptisms this year. Also there will be over 60 missionaries serving from the old mission area which means in a couple of years these powerful elders and sisters will be returning to their branches and wards. If put to use they will be a great strength to the church here in South Africa.

After our presidency meeting the couples went out to dinner together. The Harms and the Mickelsens joined us at RJ Steakhouse almost across the street from the Hillcrest chapel. We got to sit across from the Harms and learned about them and their calling in public relations. The only thing that kept it from being a perfect evening was that the Manns could not be with us. They had missionaries coming in and then transfers. President and Sister Mann seem to sleep with their running shoes on.

One funny thing was that elder Swazi-Wilson ordered a ‘lady size’ steak and then a pink milk shake. He even did it in a falsetto voice to everyone’s amusement. We really miss being up in Swaziland with Wilsons as our neighbors. They – like all of the couples that are serving or have served while we were here – are just plain good people who are happy to give something back to the Lord for their many blessings.

22 March 2010

22 March 2010 – Monday

We started the week by packing up for our trip to Durban for Mission Presidency Meeting. But before we could leave Richard Bay we had to stop at the hospital where Mary got to take off her last bandage. The drive to Ballito was beautiful as ever.

We got Dr. Pepper for Sister Mann and got some grocery items for us that we can not get in Richards Bay. We then had lunch before getting back on the N2. About 40K from Durban we took an off ramp that put us on the M4 and we took that the rest of the way to the N3 in Durban. It is not a very scenic drive because it is pretty much all developed. But at least it was another way to go and we did get to see the new soccer stadium.

When we stopped at the mission office to drop off some things – including the mission papers for Solo and Musa – we met the Harms and Ericsons who are the country and area public relations directors. They were in Durban to try and get interviewed by some of the radio stations. We also got to meet the Davis who are the new office couple replacing the Johnsons who were leaving for home this evening. Unfortunately we did not get to see them for a final goodbye.

As we were saying hello to the Davis’ I kiddingly asked elder Davis if he had anyone run into a cow yet. He said while there had been a couple of accidents, he was happy to say none of them included a cow. Little did I know when I made the joke that later that evening he would get a call from Swaziland telling him that the elders had ruined one of the bakkies by running into a cow on the road to the Shongwe’s homestead.

When I heard this I apologized for jinxing him but was really surprised that the elders could be going fast enough on that road to do more than bump the cow. Later when we met up with Elder Swazi Wilson and talked about it he said that was the first thing that came to his mind – how could they be speeding on that road that is more like a creek bed than a road.

We checked in at Little Haven and then went over to the Griesemers to join them, the Coxes and the Mickelsens for FHE. It is always great to be with other couples and share their spirit. We are thankful that we get into Durban fairly regularly and that the Griesmers are now coming up most weekends so we can have Saturday night dinner with them.

21 March 2010

21 March 2010 – Sunday

Our Sabbath day started very normal as we went to Esikhawini for PEC and then to Port Durnford for Sacrament. None of the speakers showed up so Elder Lerios gave an excellent talk on missionary work. From Port Durnford we headed to Enseleni but I felt a need to stop at the Richards Bay chapel. I thought it was to make arrangements to interview the Baldwins and another member for temple recommends.

 It turned out that the chapel had been broken during the evening and somehow the thieves got into the vault. They pried the safe off the wall and took all the computers. They also took the sound system out of the chapel. However they must not have had any way to carry all their loot away so they put the computers and the new TV in plastic bags and hid them in the gully behind the chapel where they were found by the police. Unfortunately it rained during the night and some of it might have been ruined.

We ended up staying at Richards Bay – I called President Mann to tell him about the problem and tried to call Ray Holder but he did not answer. I left a text message for brother Holder telling him about the problem. Since I was there and they were available I interviewed President and sister Baldwin for their recommends.

By the time everything was done it was too late to get to Enseleni so we headed home and started getting things ready for dinner with the elders . We had tacos, refried beans, a huge fruit salad and ice cream for the crew. For once all of them came fairly early so they finished with plenty of time to make it home on time.

I have to mention that elder Lerios ate his tacos open face with catsup (tomato sauce here) and with a knife and fork. I told him that I do not think I had ever seen anyone put catsup on a taco before but there is a first time for everything.

20 March 2010

20 March 2010 – Saturday

A good, hectic at times, day for us. We left early to go shopping for a food order to take to Port Durnford and to pick up a few things we need for feeding the elders tomorrow. We have filled so many orders over the last 14 months that we can do it rather quickly. Elder B used once told me that he could fill a food order in 10 minutes – it takes us more like 15 but he is younger.

We went back to our house to unload the things we bought for ourselves because we would be gone all day. I then loaded up our braai and a drink dispenser that the Hafens had left and took them to the Richards Bay chapel so Theunis DeKlerk could use them for the YSA beach party that was planned for today. We had asked him how we could help before we had to go to Esikhawini for piano lessons and he said that he had it under control.

We delivered the food order and was greatly surprised to find that the elders had been working on a section of the trail to homestead that we always worried about getting hung up on. It certainly made the trip more enjoyable. As we were driving past the PD chapel we saw Quintin, Fufu and Siya waiting for a taxi to take them to Richards Bay and the beach party. We told them we would take them to the Esikhawini Taxi Stand when we finished delivering the food.

Since there is a KFC right next to the taxi stand, we decided to eat there. As we were ordering we started getting calls from some YSA asking to be picked up at the Richards Bay Taxi Stand as the weekly announcement advertised. I gave each caller Theunis’ phone number and hoped he could handle them all. For the next hour or so we were making regular calls to him saying where people were waiting for him to pick them up…he did an amazing job of doing just that.

While we were eating I called the Esikhawini/Port Durnford elders and invited them to have lunch on us. I wanted to talk to them about the two young men we taught yesterday and to thank them for fixing the road. We also told them about a call we got from a neighbor of the young men who they told about what we had taught and wanted us to teach him also…it is pretty good when new investigators invite their neighbors to hear the gospel.

After lunch we dropped by sister Tembe’s house to see how she was and to look at the service the missionaries had done earlier in the day for her. I really should have taken a picture of the pile of weeds and debris the elders had gathered up from her garden area. They have more to do but they had made a good start.

Sister Tembe told us that she can now walk around the outside of the house four times without her walker or even her cane. This is a real miracle as at one time she was told she would never walk again. She is a very determined woman – she says that she is going to get well enough to go back to work as a nurse. If anyone could it would be her.

We then went to the Mthalanes where Mary checked Solo and Musa’s mission papers to make sure everything was OK . We think they are now complete so we will take them to Durban on Monday and let President Mann look them over. Mary then taught 3 piano lessons in a very hot chapel.

As we finished at Esikhawini I called Theunis to see if we could help ferry the YSA from the beach to their taxi stands. He said he could use the help so we enlisted the Griesmers to come with us and we each packed four young people in our cars and drove them to where they could catch taxi’s – think vans – to their home areas. It was a very successful activity with about 40 YSA coming together for the afternoon. As we were leaving Theunis talked about the next one he wants to have in a couple of months. I am very happy to see the YSA program moving forward with little help from us. It means if there comes a time when there are no couples in RB the program will probably keep right on going.

Once they were delivered the four of us went to the mall for a nice dinner at Ocean Basket. What was better than the food – which was very good – was the chance to spend some time talking to the Griesmers about what they had done today and other things. They are a great couple and are enjoying their weekends working in Engwelezane – I told them they should move here for the last four months of their mission – but I think they will just come up for the weekends.