Monthly Archives: April 2010

30 April 2010

30 April 2010 – Friday

Wow – where have the last 72 years gone? It does not seem possible that I am having my 72 birthday today but the calendar says that it is. Mary surprised me with one of Marais picture of a warthog. This ugly critter has become one of my favorite African animals.

It is amazing how many things we do that are not very ‘missionary’ oriented but are still important. This morning we bought some of the hard candy we give to the little children – it is amazing how much we go through. Then it was a trip to the municipal building to meet President Baldwin to pick up Musa’s mission call that came to him yesterday. While we were there I tried to get the map of Esikhawini that the elders had asked for but once again the office was closed with a sign saying they would be open on Monday. As I was walking out of the building towards the car, I heard someone call ‘Elder Pier.’ It was sister Mthalane and so I showed her Musa’s envelope – she was very excited but told me that Musa was still in Durban but she will call him to come home tomorrow so he can open his call and see where he is going.

While we shopped for the makings for Sunday night’s dinner with the elders, I had 6 copies of the missionary application made. I decided I would be positive about the branches needing them soon. If Sandile goes out before sister Nkhule comes home they will have 5 missionaries out from the district – what a blessing that will be.

We have been asked by President Nyawo to help with the Friday Youth meeting so we left for Esikhawini with what we thought was lots of time to get there by 3:30. Little did we know that the Friday traffic was backed up even on secret way so we got there barely on time.

We had a great time with the  those who came. Unfortunately none of the YW came but we had a number of YM and some younger boys. We worked on getting them to memorize the theme – including doing a puzzle using the theme cut up. I also got a chance to Sne about the YM/YW in the branch as well as those in the district. All in all it was good to be back with the Youth of the branch. Hopefully we will help build it up again before we leave.

We then stopped by President Machaka’s tuck shop to drop off a missionary application for Sandile Chirwa. Hopefully we will be able to get that turned in before we go. The family will need some help with expenses but there are a number of couples who have volunteered to help.

As we headed out of town we got a call from Musa saying that he had decided to come home today instead of tomorrow and was at their house. So we made a big circle and headed back. We had the wonderful experience of giving him his envelope and sharing with him and his family his finding out where and when he is going on his mission.

While waiting for sister Mthalane to come home we took a poll of where we thought he would go and Mary and I both said Zimbabwe.  It turned out we were right – he will leave for the MTC in August and will serve in the Zimbabwe, Harare Mission. What a blessing it is to be a part of these young men and women’s lives. It was almost like being with one of our grandchildren as they open their call.

We were going to go out to dinner for my birthday but I decided I would rather just go home and have corn and tomatoes and relax. It was a good choice and we had a relaxing evening. I spent a good portion of it organizing an album on Facebook and chatting with our neighbor Elaina Wendelboe about how our gardens are growing. When I asked about the tulips she said the deer ate them all. I was glad I was not there to experience that. I can see where it is possible to spend way too much time doing Facebook and other social networking.

So another birthday went by with us in the mission field – that makes four in a row and I am not sorry about any of them. I think being with Musa and his family is about as good a birthday gift as I could possible have. I know that God and my savior love me and that is also a wonderful gift. I also know that my family loves me and that me and my Eternal companion are where we should be at this time.

A truly happy birth day for me.

Musa Mkhonza Gets His Mission Call


Musa could not stand to wait until tomorrow to read where he was going so he jumped on a bus in Durban and made it home just in time to catch us before we left Esikhawini. He had to wait until sister Mthalane to come home and he was so nervous he kept getting up and looking to see if she was coming down the street. The whole family was there to share in his joy.


Finally he got to open the envelope and read that he is going to the Harare, Zimbabwe Mission. He was so excited that he forgot to read when he was to report to the MTC. He is to report in August. The long lead time is partly because he will not turn 19 until June.

What a wonderful experience it is to be part of helping these young men send in their papers and then to be there when they open their call. It is much like when our own sons got theirs.

29 April 2010

29-april-2010-rb-district-and-us.JPG29-april-2010-cows-coming-home-1.JPG29-april-2010-cows-coming-home-3.JPGWe got a chance to take a picture with the Richards Bay elders at KFC. Elders Lemmon and Zondi – the end two on the right – will be leaving the area on the 6th. Elder Lemmon heads home to the US and Elder Zondi goes home to Durban and at the end of May will report to the Joburg MTC for his mission. We will miss these two fine elders. You have heard of the saying about being out until the cows come home…well today as we were about to turn on our street we almost ran into the cows coming home.

29 April 2010 – Thursday

We again spent much of the morning just doing odds and ends. Mary worked on things for her English and music classes. I posted a lot of pictures to her Face Book account – I did not take the time to write any headings. I will do that over the weekend if I have time. I was still posting pictures when Melissa Hoyt (ne Fernald) commented on how great they were. Talk about a quick response.

Elder Kitili has been having headaches for a long time and nothing seems to help so I contacted Sister Mann and got permission to make an appointment for him at Spec Savers to see if it is a problem with his eyes. I took pants to the cleaners, visited our mail box – a piles of bills, and dropped the clean and folded (thanks to sister Mickelsen) baptism clothes off at the RB Chapel.

As we drove into the parking lot at the chapel we saw the elders’ cars and realized we had completely forgotten about the RB DDM! Talk about a senior moment. We stopped long enough to apologize to the elders for missing their meeting but we did have a number of other things to do. We stopped by Spec Savers and paid for elder Kitili’s exam as we can not be there when he comes in for his appointment.

As we were ordering our lunch at KFC, I called the RB elders and suggested that since we had not brought them any treats for their DDM and two of them are leaving the area – elder Lemmon is heading home next week and elder Zondi will go home to prepare for going to the MTC in late May –that they join us for lunch. This not only gave us a chance to give them a goodbye meal but also to have our picture taken with these four fine missionaries.

The rest of our day was spent in Port Durnford where Mary taught English to just two of the usual four women, having an excellent meeting with the youth, and Mary giving Lungani a piano lesson. I taught the lesson from Jacob chapter 4 about the importance of scriptures and got each young person to commit to reading the scriptures each day this coming week for 15 minutes. We will see what comes of this.

As we were driving around today and yesterday we noticed that there were cane trucks back on the road, so the harvesting of this years crop has begun. Soon the sky will be filled with clouds of smoke from the burning fields and we will be following more and more cane trucks as they take their loads to the sugar factories. We have now lived here for a full year’s cycle of life. What a marvelous time we have had and how much we have learned about the land and the people. It is an experience we could never have had – or at least we would not have taken – with out the opportunity of going on a mission together. The Lord truly has blessed us through our membership in the only true and living church on the earth.

28 April 2010

28 April 2010 – Wednesday

The first thing I did today was get the car washed. Two days of driving over gravel roads had turned our usually blue car to a shade of rusty red.  I was lucky because there were no cars in front of me so I was in and out in 30 minutes instead of the usual hour.

We went to an excellent DDM up in Empangeni. It was Elder Kitili’s last DDM but he did not show any signs that he is trunky. He did take a lot of pictures but that is understandable.

When we came out to get in our car, I saw that the passenger front tire was dead flat. Luckily there were three strong, young elders right there to change it for us. Talk about a Tender Mercy for us if not for them. But they are always happy to help us as we are to help them so everyone is a winner.

I did not want to take a chance on a second flat without any spare, so we went back to Richards Bay and dropped off the flat to be fixed while we had lunch.

After lunch we picked up the repaired tire and then it was back to Esikhawini where Mary taught an English lesson and I went to meet with President Machaka about a number of things. Just as I was getting ready to leave, the elders drove up and we took care of some more business.

I got back to where Mary was teaching before she was done and used the time to make a number of telephone calls. I found that President Vilane was going to Swaziland for a funeral and that President Mngadi was working on his reports that are due on Saturday.

We then had a number of errands to run including getting a new microphone for Esikhawini. It seems we have to replace it about every 6 months. I am going to tape this one in place so that they can not pull on the plug which seems to be the problem.

By the time we got home it was growing quite dark – I had forgotten how early it gets dark here in the fall and winter and we are still almost 2 months away from the shortest day of the year.

I spent most of the evening working on pictures from our drive. Elder Mickelsen had downloaded what his to one of our thumb drives so I had his 130 plus our 80 or so to go through. After about 3 hours of staring at the computer screen and making adjustments I called it quits for the night.

It was a good day for us and as usual we were blessed often by the Lord.

Elder Zondi Gets His Call


On Saturday the 24th we came back from Durban with the mission call envelope for Elder Zondi who is serving a 6 month mission in Enseleni while waiting for his call to arrive. We invited his companion and him over to get some other things we brought from the mission office without telling him about the call arriving. You can see how excited he was about getting his call to serve in the Johanesburg misson and reporting to the MTC on May 27th.

On Sunday he was able to baptize two new members of the kingdom that they have been teaching: Mduduzi Ntshangase and Fatima Mlungwana. He is going to be really prepared to serve even before he goes into the MTC.


26-27 April 2010

26 – 27 April 2010 – Monday and Tuesday

Our good friends and fellow missionaries the Mickelsens go home on the 17th of May. For the last four months we have tried to come up with a time when both couples could take off one or two extra days and so something special together. Due to many things coming up, including Mary getting ill and the Mickelsens trying hard to make sure that no PEF loan is left behind, it just did not happen until now.

We had two wonderful days together enjoying the beauty of South Africa – especially its wild animals. On Monday we were up before the sun and off to Umfolozi Game Reserve. Sister Mickelsen’s wish list of animals to see included cheetahs, lions, elephants and of course leopards, but she would be happy to see almost any animals.

At one of our first stops – a look-out at the top of a hill – we stopped the car and got out to see if there were any animals on the hills before us. As we were walking around we all of a sudden saw two wild dogs on the road we just came up. They were no more than 10 yards away from where we were standing.  This was the first wild dogs any of us had seen. The two, soon became three and then a pack of 10-15 appeared. What an exciting start for the day.

Throughout the morning we saw the usual collection of impalas, warthogs, zebras, giraffes, wildebeests, cape buffalo, rhinos, and even some nyalas which are not always seen in Umfolozi. These animals with the special sighting of the wild dog pack made it a good day. Then as we headed back to where we came into the park, we saw some cars parked looking at something under a tree. We asked one car that was leaving what they saw and they said there was a cheetah lying in the grass. So we were able to add the elusive cheetah to our list of animals seen on the drive. Of course this was the first one we had seen and in talking to a guide later that day he said that he had spent thousands of hours in Umfolozi and had never seen one. What a great morning.

After a quick lunch we then drove through the Hluhluwe Game Reserve on our way to Leopard Mountain Resort where we were to spend the night. We did not stop to look for animals but just as we were almost to the Memorial gate, we came across a boggy area that had buffalo, rhinos, zebras, warthogs, and giraffes all mixed in together. We had never seen anything like it. We had just passed this menagerie of animals when we came across a family of baboons sitting in and on the side of the road. Dad was getting his fleas picked by what looked like a grandson and really did not want to move so we got some great pictures. What a wonderful way to end our morning.

Leopard Mountain turned out to be a wonderful resort with excellent accommodations, food and staff. The only weakness is the game drives but we were already aware that this might be so before we came. The evening drive was pretty much anti-climatic after what we saw in Umfolozi  but once the sun set, it seemed animals came out of the bush and we got to see some interesting animals in their night time mode. The best thing we saw was a very old, very big rhino that was no longer strong enough to have a place in a herd so he will spend the rest of his life wandering around alone.

Dinner was served outside and we found that Nyala was a very tasty meat. By the time dinner was finished all we could thing about was getting to our room and beds – it had been a long and wonderful day.

Tuesday again started just after 5:00 a.m. as we got up to get ready for the morning drive. Once again there were few animals to see. Johan, our fine guide, tried his best to make things interesting by talking about birds, spiders and plants, but after wild dogs and a cheetah it was not very exciting.

We had a nice late breakfast while looking out over the beautiful landscape. Then we packed up, checked out and headed back for Hluhluwe. Yesterday we saw a lone elephant high on the hillside that looked more like a dot with large ears than a might elephant so I was determined to find an elephant for Sister Mickelsen before we left the park and headed home.

The first animals we saw were three Cape buffalo rolling around in a big mud hole. Behind the buffalo were two giraffes eating their breakfast. This setting made for some great pictures. We went another kilometer or so and found ourselves literally in the middle of a herd of 40 – 50 cape buffalos that wandered across the road in front of us. Once again we were able to get some great close up pictures of mature and immature animals. As we drove around the loop, we came across more groups of buffalo – there must have been at least 100 in the area.

By the time we were finished with that loop our time was getting short so we decided to do one more loop and then go home. As we were driving along we saw some cars stopped with people pointing down the mountain to a valley. When we looked through the binoculars what at first we thought were rhinos turned out to be a very large herd of elephants. We quickly made our way down to the area and for 30 minutes or so we were able to watch and take pictures of over 50 of these remarkable animals. There were everything from the smallest baby we had every seen – about the size of very large dog I would say – to full grown males and everything in between. They drank, ate, tossed dirt on their backs, rolled in the dirt, sucked, and two ‘teen-agers’ played tag. It was a wonderful experience and sister Mickelsen certainly got to see her elephant.

As we were driving out to the main road to head for home, a lioness and her cub came down the road and walked into the bush. It happened so fast that the only picture elder Mickelsen and I could get was a poor shot I got of the cub. So no good pictures but sister Mickelsen did get to see a lion. We had just started up again when what do we see walking down the middle of the road towards us but daddy! He was just strolling along checking out the ground in front of him.

This time we were able to get pictures of him coming at us, then walking pass the car on the berm on the side of the road and finally heading into the bush. I have to say that seeing a free ranging lion that close gets my heart pounding.  

By the time the lion had disappeared it was getting close to the time we needed to leave if the Mickelsens were not going to have to drive home really late at night, so I hurried out with only a stop to take a picture of a very large white rhino that was not far from the road. We did not even slow down for the young giraffe that watched us drive by 50 feet or less away.

We left the park and drove to Richards Bay where we had dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant, down-loaded the 150 plus pictures that elder Mickelsen took on our trip, and said goodbye until we see them just before they head home in May. We were so glad that the two days turned out so well and we saw so many beautiful and exotic animals.

We got calls from a couple of our elders. We found out that one of the elders had been very ill for the last 18 hours. His companion told us his symptoms and so as soon as we said goodbye to the Mickelsens we drove to Empangeni and dropped off some medicine and counsel. We were happy to hear he seems to have stopped loosing liquids. However his head ached and his stomach was churning. We will check with him again tomorrow morning.

Later in the evening, Elder Dimene and elder Zondi stopped by so I could solve a problem for them. While they were here elder Dimene mentioned that he was getting a headache. In the past this was the prelude for a full on attack. I told him that he knew exactly how he felt when an attack came and if he felt the symptoms coming on that he must call me immediately so we could get him checked out at the hospital.

It is good to be needed – but I always feel bad when an elder gets sick – especially since they try to work through the illness until they can not possibly go out. We worry about each of them while they serve here. They become like our own children and we try to take care of them as we would hope other would take care of our children and grandchildren if we were not there.

25 April 2010

25 April 2010 – Sunday

It was a very eventful day in Richards Bay. It started with us picking up the Esikhawini walking elders because the Zone leaders were up at Kosi Bay. I then went to Esikhawini’s PEC and I think we got quite a bit accomplished.

President Baldwin had called me yesterday to say that he wanted to show conference in Esikhawini and asked me to have Port Durnford join them. I called president Machaka so he could let his members know and arrange transportation.

President Baldwin came well prepared for the meeting – he even brought black plastic bags to cover the windows. There was an amazing turnout – 101 for the first two hours and 67 for the second. Anyone with small children really could not stay for the second hour.

After watching some of the first session we went to Richards Bay to take part in the baptisms. What a wonderful day with 8 baptisms from Engwelezane and 3 from Enseleni. I got to help get all the Engwelezane candidates and PH clothed in white and serve as a witness with Elder Reeves as the other. There was a great spirit at both baptisms. Elder Zondi got to do one of the Enseleni baptisms. What a great weekend for him. He got his mission call last night and got to baptize someone today.

The Mickelsens came up this morning and went to the Enseleni meetings. They said that the room was packed. They then came to Richards Bay to join in their baptisms. After the baptisms I loaded all the clothes – and there was a pile of them – into our car so we could wash them.

The Mickelsens followed us back to our boarding where we enjoyed a nice dinner and then played Mexican Train. After that we worked on our blogs before heading off to bed.

I called President Mann to tell him about elder Zondi’s call and then sent him a text message about the baptisms. I did not mention that next week there will be five or six more baptisms. We are winning.

24 April 2010

24 April 2010 – Saturday

We start the day with one of Grace’s delicious breakfasts before heading to the Essenwood craft market. It is always a mistake for us to go to a market like this – especially if we are already primed to buy.  We ended up with more than we should have bought but we did not buy as much as we could have in the two hours we spent there.

The morning was overcast and quite cool – I loved it – and by the time we approached the Empangani turnoff we were getting some rain. We caught a quick lunch at KFC before going to the Esikhawini chapel so Mary could teach her piano lessons. Only three of her five students came but one had sent a SMS saying they could not come and the other does not come while it is raining because he has to walk a long distance.

While Mary taught her students, I had a chance to talk to some of the RS sisters who arrived for a meeting. It was not very well attended because of the rain and the lack of transportation. After the lessons we headed home, stopping only to buy some things we needed for Sunday dinner with the Mickelsens.

During the day we called Elder Zondi and asked him and his companion to please stop at our boarding before they went home for the evening. We also invited the RB elders to stop in so they could be here when he opened his mission call.

Elder Zondi had no idea that his call had arrived so when I gave him the enveloped he was shocked. We called his parents so they could share in the experience. He was of course very excited about opening the envelope and reading the call to us and his family. I got some great pictures of his face as he found that he was going to the Joburg mission and has only about a month to get ready. 2 of those weeks will be spent still on his temporary mission here in RB.

It was a wonderful way for us to end this day. Another righteous son of God willing spending two years of his life in serving the Lord by bringing the gospel to his brothers and sisters.

23 April 2010

23 April 2010 – Friday

We drove to Durban today so we could drop off two boxes that the Manns were kind enough to allow us to put in their container and to pick up some Elder Zondi’s mission call and other things that the elders needed. Also so we could go to Essenwood Market to get some things to take home to our kids and grandkids – also of course a few things for ourselves. We made our usual stop at Ballito to have lunch and to pick up some food items that we can not get anywhere else. We also were able to get things for Sister Mann.

It was a beautiful day for the drive down the N2 with miles after miles of green fields of cane or trees. The sea shows up from time to time on our left reminding us that we are just a few miles from the beach.

After stopping in at the mission office to do the necessary dropping off and picking up we went to Little Haven to check in for the evening. As always we were greeted like family by the wonderful Rawlings. We will miss this fine couple who after Sister Mann was the first members we met in South Africa.

We had decided to go to a pub where we really love their food and started calling the other couples to see if they wanted to go with us. We were happily joined by the Mickelsens, Coxes and Davises for an evening for good talk and good friends. We love to share the experiences of the other couples. Each of us have different calling so many of our experiences are unique to one couple but there are of course many that we all have. We did not want to stop but we finally broke up the party went home.

21-22 April 2010

21 April 2010 – Wednesday

We started the day by going to the hospital for what we hope was the last time – at least the nurse said Mary did not have to go back. Then we went to Esikhawini to solve a problem for Sbongele Nvlovu before going on to the DDM meeting at Empangeni. It was a well run meeting that concentrated on training on the ‘How Great Shall Be Your Joy’ program for working with members .

After lunch I spent way too much time on the phone solving problems and then letting people know what was going on. During the afternoon we found out that the nationwide strike was finally over so we might get our trash picked up some day. Unfortunately the office that prints maps had closed down during the strike and will not be open until Monday.

In the evening I went to the Richards Bay to meet with Calwyn Baldwin for a couple of hours to catch up paperwork.

22 April 2010 – Thursday

It was a very usual and unexciting Thursday for us. We went to DDM with Richards Bay, ran some errands then on to Port Durnford for English class, Youth and piano lessons