Monthly Archives: May 2010

30 May 2010


Some of the people we saw during the day. President Nyawo with his youngest. Khulekani looking very much like the missionary he will be in about a month. He has come along way from his dreadlocks days. Having the elders over for dinner is always a treat for us. Elder Lerios was in 7th heaven because just about everything already had catsup on it so he did not have to add much…


Elder Bentley’s big smile was a little forced. He has been fighting a cold for over a week but it never kept him from going out and doing his best. Elder Webster has just been in the mission for about 3 weeks now. He does not look nearly as in shock as he was when we first met him. His positive attitude and desire to work hard means he will be an excellent missionary. He is working in Enseleni with elder Dimene.

30 May 2010 – Sunday

It was a normal Sunday for us. While I met with the Esikhawini PEC, Mary met with sister Khumalo and started planning for the RS section of District Conference in July. We will not be here and the new couple will not have arrived , so Mary wants to help sister Khumalo get as prepared as she can.

We went to sacrament meeting at Port Durnford. It was President Vezi’s first meeting as branch president and he came a little closer to starting on time. Just having his family there adds 7 or 8 people to the congregation and hopefully he will get some of the less actives coming back to church on a regular basis. He did have one problem – he forgot to bring bread but brother Machaka brought some so things worked out. It would be interesting to come back in a year and see how the branch had grown.

After the meeting at Port Durnford we went to Enseleni where brother Chiliza had arrived early – President Vilane is still too weak to come – and the elders were helping him get prepared. He started the meeting just two minutes late with 12 members in the congregation and four of those were missionaries. By the time the meeting was over there were 41 in attendance of which 16 were primary children. I am going to work with brother Chiliza sometime during the week to better prepare him to conduct. He seems to have a little problem following the agenda as he tried to do away with the opening song and prayer and later the closing song. But he will learn and he seems willing to serve.

After the meeting we came home and took naps. I guess we are either getting old or lazy. We spent part of the afternoon preparing dinner for the elders. Mary cooked a roast which I sliced and put in a pan. Mary slathered it with her famous BBQ sauce and we heated it just before the elders were to arrive. There was also BBQ baked beans, corn, rolls and a big green salad. Everything pretty much disappeared except the salad which we packaged up and they took back to their boardings. One thing I really liked about the menu for the night was that there was a lot less dishes and pans to clean up after the elders had left.

As always the elders had a lot of fun as well eating more than they should. They also recount about attendance at all the branches. We counted up what the attendance at sacrament was for the district and with Kosi Bay added in it should have been about 265 which is about 55% of the district. Esikhawini is getting well over the 80 they need as average attendance to apply for a permanent building. They now need to work on getting the tithing up to where it should be.

Richards Bay had fewer people in attendance than any other branch. It is too bad the best chapel in the district is available to the smallest branch. Hopefully the day will come when they will start growing and be able to fill the chapel.  

29 May 2010


I finally got a good picture of a small truck load of logs. We see them everywhere but not often stopped where I can take the picture. This rather gray and black colored bird shows up from time to time at Esikhawini and was patient enough to stand still so I could take its picture. This was the last day the Bs would be in Enseleni and with president Vilane. They will miss each other.


These three pictures are from around the home of a woman in her early 40’s who is very well educated, speaks three languages, is computer literate and can not get a job. She has two children – one is in college and one is in high school. If you look at the wall at one end of their house you can see that there is nothing between the logs. It provides a nice flow of air in the summer but in the winter it is very cold. The middle picture is of their empty chicken coop. They had to eat the chickens that provided eggs. She cooks over wood in an outside kitchen because they do not have enough money for electricity to cook by. With all of this the family is always clean and neat and manages to stay together with love. For some reason hearing about the problems the US is having right now does not seem significant when you meet with such poverty.


Borrowed from Sister Mann’s blog:

NETHERLANDS: Goeden nagt
AUSTRALIA: Night, mate
USA: Good night
GERMANY: Gute nacht
SOUTH AFRICA: Are the doors locked, are the windows closed. is the car put away, is the alarm activated and have you fed the Rottweilers?

29 May 2010 – Saturday

It seems that for the last part of our mission I am going to get a lot of opportunities to learn patience. This morning when I tried to open the garage the automatic opener stopped half way up and would not budge so I had to disconnect it to get it open and the car out. This is of course the third time since we got it back that it has decided to re-program itself. The other blessing I have is the rattle that is impossible to find but is always there to help me learn patience.

We went shopping for food for tomorrow’s dinner with the elders. We are trying to keep it simple so that we do have to spend too much time cooking on the Sabbath. Of course there will be some but for a good cause. Mary also had some things copied and laminated for he music students.

We thought that the Enseleni social was supposed to start at 12:00 so we picked up president Vilane at 12:30 and drove him to the library. Luckily it was not starting until 2:00 because by the time we got to the library it was obvious that he should not do anything but rest until he is feeling better. The Bs met us at the Vilanes and I took a picture of them with the president. We also arranged to meet this evening for dinner at the mall.

We then drove to Esikhawini where I dropped off Mary so she could teach piano and I drove over to see President Nyawo. I gave him one of our four remaining printers along with the CD for installation and some extra ink cartridges. Once he gets everything hooked up he should be able to produce the monthly home teaching and visiting teaching messages for his branch. We also talked about calling and other things about how to help the members grow spiritually such as family prayer, scripture reading, FHE and of course Home Teaching.

When we arrived and when we left, Sister Khumalo was working her garden plots. It is a shame that her healthy son is not working along side her but culturally it is just not heard of here. Some gogos with three or four healthy young men living in their house do all the gardening by themselves.

Sister Ndlovu was also at the chapel doing the weekly cleaning. They are again out of cleaning supplies and I am not sure how we will ever get them delivered on a regular basis. They seem to make it to the RB chapel but not to the Esikhawini. I need to call Ray Holder again and see if there is not some way to get a regular delivery.

Mary had three of her students show up so each got a nice long lesson. She feels that all of them are progressing. She does wish that she had longer to teach them. We are hoping that the new couple can continue the program when they get here.

The Griesemers were waiting for us when we arrived at McDonalds. We arranged to meet the Bs at the mall. As we parked at the mall, I kidded elder Griesemer about how dirty his car was. He then opened the boot and showed us a tire that had a big dent in the rim. They had been driving down the N2 and had hit a rock in the middle of the road and immediately had a flat. Luckily it was a back tire and so he did not lose control of the steering.

The six of us had a very nice dinner at Mugg and Bean. We talked about our mission experiences, the wonderful members we have come to love, if we were going on another mission and if so when, etc. Having the Griesemers come up most weeks has been a real blessing for us and having the Bs here for the last 10 or so days was special.

Since the Bs are going to the Richards Bay branch for church tomorrow and then heading down to Durban to head home. We gave them back their suitcase that was now full of many of our remaining souvenirs and said goodbye until we see them Utah. They are a special, loving couple who do good wherever they are. I will be surprised if they come back to Africa any time soon but they will be remembered here for many years to come.

With a last handshake and hug we all got in our cars and went back to our boardings. It was a good day for us in Richards Bay.

Borrowed from Sister Mann’s blog:

NETHERLANDS: Goeden nagt
AUSTRALIA: Night, mate
USA: Good night
GERMANY: Gute nacht
SOUTH AFRICA: Are the doors locked, are the windows closed. is the car put away, is the alarm activated and have you fed the Rottweilers? Sleep tight, and dont worry about the lights, Eskom will put them out.

BTW the US just issued the following  travel warning about visiting South Africa:

CRIME: The vast majority of visitors complete their travels in South Africa without problems; however, visitors should be aware that criminal activity, including violent crime, is prevalent throughout the country.  Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times, looking out for your own personal security.  While driving, keep doors locked and windows closed, avoid having purses, phones, bags and luggage in plain view, and when stopping at intersections at night or in isolated locations, leave enough space in front of your vehicle for a quick exit.  Be wary of street vendors at traffic lights, planted obstacles and staged “accidents” that may be traps for unsuspecting motorists.  Do not stop for cars with flashing lights unless they are clearly marked as police or emergency service vehicles.  Park your car in secure, gated parking lots or garages wherever possible, and do not leave bags or valuables in plain view.  Travellers to South Africa should avoid carrying or displaying expensive items or wearing eye-catching jewelry, stay in a group, and avoid walking at night.  Keep a photocopy of your passport with you, leaving the original in a hotel safe or other secure location.

What is interesting is that there was an article a couple of months ago showing that for European visitors to South Africa unto 50% safer traveling in South Africa than traveling to Germany and some other European countries…

One problem visitors are going to have is buying a cell phone to use while they are here. To buy a phone in South Africa requires proof that you live here and have a street address. This means you have to have something like a utility bill showing your name and address. The Bs found this out when they tried to buy one and they would not sell it to them. They used Mary’s while they were here and it worked out fine.

28 May 2010

28 May 2010 – Friday

I forgot to mention the one problem we had yesterday. After the workmen had all left, I could not find the extra set of house keys. Both sets had been in use during the morning and I thought perhaps someone had accidently taken them. After we looked about everywhere we thought they could be, I called and asked if they happened to have them and they said they did not. So that led to more looking until it was time to leave. I was worried that one of the helpers might have picked them up and could get into the house. Of course the alarm would go off but even in a few minutes they could take computers, etc.

When we got home for the evening everything was fine and more searching did not turn up the lost keys. I decided that the next day I would get someone up to change the locks. Since I am writing this on Friday morning I can report that as I walked out to take out the rubbish bin for pickup, there glittering in the morning sun were the keys. They were lying in the sand just off the walkway. I do not see how we did not see them earlier and a thought came that perhaps Rob found them later in his pocket and tossed them there. However they appeared this morning, I count it as another of the Lord’s tender mercies. It is a good way to start the day.

Later in the morning we received a call from Solo Mthalane saying that the letter from the area that he needed to return ASAP still has not arrived. I called Joburg and the brother said that he would email the letter to us so we could print it and get it to Solo.

Our first stop of the day was to visit President Vilane. It was good to see him being able to walk around the house but he is a long ways from being well. I went through the order for next year’s supplies so I can turn it in. Three of the branches need very much because they do not have SS so they just need a few things for Primary, YW and YM. From there we went to see mama Zulu and take her some used clothing that we were given. She was happy to get it because she can sell it or use the material to make other things.

As we were leaving mama Zulu’s we got a call from the Esikhawini elders saying that they had locked the keys in the car and did we have a spare. Usually that would have meant going back to our boarding and getting the keys but because we had seen the Davises just a couple of days ago about what spare keys we had, Mary still had them in her purse. So we were able to drive to the KFC in Empangeni and solve their problem. Since we were already there we had our lunch at the KFC.

We drove back to our boarding to load up for Youth at Esikhawini. We decided to take the banana stalk that the Mickelsen’s had given us because the bananas were ripening very quickly. It is a good thing that we went to Youth because the YM had no representatives there and sister Nyawo is still too new to really take charge. So we had a short lesson on the theme – they still have not learned it – and then played some gospel related games. There was a good turn out today. A number of non-LDS young men who are really too young show up because they like the games and the treats. I am going to suggest that the elders drop by regularly if possible to see who is coming and who is not. We drove home in the semi-darkness that comes early in the winter.

I forgot to mention that the other day we finally got to see a cane field burning. It was a very large field and I am not sure that it did not get out of hand. It was right along the road from the John Ross to Esikhawini  and it was dark enough that the flames flashed against the sky. Unfortunately there is almost always a cloud of smoke hanging over the landscape. It clears up when the wind comes up but it is still not a nice sight.

27 May 2010

27 May 2010 – Thursday

Our morning was filled with Rob fixing our gate so it would open automatically and Martin fixing our garage door so it would open all the way. Both of these men are great people to know and I felt good when I said goodbye to Rob and mentioned that there would be another couple coming soon after we leave. He said that is fine but what if they were not as friendly as I was. I told them I was sure they would be.

We went to DDM at Richards Bay but I spent most of my time getting up to talk to people who came in or on the phone. A young white returned missionary who lives in Kloof but is trying to get a job at a college in Empangeni came by with his mother and we had a nice talk about the district. He wants to live in Empangeni and go to the Engwelezane branch. That would be a great help to the branch and president Mngadi could have a counselor who was raised in the church and knows how it should work. I am certainly going to try and pray him into the job.

President Vezi came by and I needed to talk to him about Port Durnford’s material order for next year. I had written a suggested one and asked him to look it over and make any adjustments he felt was needed. I also gave him a stack of Sacrament Meeting agendas because they were out.

From what I did take part in, I thought  elder Dimene did an excellent job as DL. It was well planned and informative. He is a fine and humble elder who is doing all he can to get the missionary work moving in Enseleni. Elder Webster seems to be coming right along and is gaining confidence each day.

After lunch we headed for Port Durnford with a short stop in Esikhawini to drop off some white baptism forms for the elders to pick up at the Mthalanes. Elder Lerios sounds much better today and hopefully is on the mend.

We picked up two of Mary’s English students and so she had a full house at the Nzamas. While she taught I tried to find the rattle that is bugging me greatly. I thought I had found it earlier when I discovered a loose bracket but tightening it did not solve the problem. I have one more place to look and if I do not discover the problem there I will probably just give up and live with for the next 6 weeks.

We had four of our 6 young people for Youth. We had a short lesson on reading the scriptures – Thandi Nzama could not be there – worked on memorizing the theme and then we played some games related to the theme and the Book of Mormon. Lugani once again did not show up for Youth or piano – he said that he has been staying late at school for music. I need to ask him if he is in the band.

I called President Mann to ask him about a couple of meetings and what was going on in the mission. I caught him at one of those rare times when he could talk. He said that he had seen Elder Nare – now brother Nare – and that he had lost almost 70 pounds. The president asked the Allreds to take him to a good doctor and it was discovered that he has TB with his lungs almost filled. Hopefully he will recover his health but there is a question if he can ever sing as well as he did.

After youth we drove to the waterfront and had dinner with the Bs at the Thai restaurant. We had a good meal and talked about a lot of things that are going on in the district and about some of the people who are trying hard to live the gospel in areas and a culture that make it very hard. It is really good to have them here even for just 10 days.  Not only are they good friends, they also give us insight to the people that we have not and will not develop.

While we were at home, Cindy called and just chatted with us for a while. We really enjoy calls from family and friends.

26 May 2010

26 May 2010 – Wednesday

We were just about to leave for DDM in Empangeni when we got a call from the Davises saying that they were on their way to meet the Swazi Wilsons at the petroport to exchange a young lady who is about to leave on her mission. They asked if they could meet with us and give us some registrations for a couple of  the elder’s car.

We met them at the RB Chapel and they gave us the registration and we gave them a report on the extra keys we have. They also asked us about going to the game park on the way back and we told them what we thought was the best part to see in the time they had.

DDM was good – elder Reeves is still trying to figure out just what he wants to do as a district leader. We talked about planning and how to improve it. Elder Lerios is still not feeling very well and I am a little worried about his fever. If it does not break soon I will insist he sees a doctor.

After DDM we had our usual Wednesday lunch at KFC. I called president Mngadi to see if we could meet with him but found that he had the flu and sounded terrible. Earlier I had called president Vilane and he sounded great. Hopefully he is no the way to full recovery.

We then went to Esikhawini where Mary taught English to sister Ndlovu and I went to see brother Machaka. I did not have a chance to talk to him on Sunday about his release and wanted to see how he felt about it. He mentioned that now he could go to Zimbabwe for his new passport because he did not have to be here each Sunday. Hopefully he can soon do this so he can finally get married.

I spent the rest of the time going through my phone and changing the names so they would make sense to the new couple. We will leave both phones for them – actually we will take them home so we can give the phones to the them while they are in the MTC.

After English we drove to Port Durnford and spent some time talking to Bongumusa’s mother to give her a copy of the book on running a small business. Mary then gave her a copy of the Proclamation on families and told her how important families are in the church. She tried to convince her that Bongumusa should be allowed to attend the Monday evening YSA meetings so he could have a social life.

Our last stop was at the Chirwas where we gave her the new lock and keys we bought yesterday so she can lock up her house and everyone could have a key. We talked to her about how Sandile’s mission application was coming. We then took the new short cut back to Esikhawini and home. There is an interesting section that I would not try if it was really wet but it cuts about 5 minutes and a K or two off the trip.

In the evening I went to the RB chapel to pick up some certificates that President Nyawo really wanted for members. President VanThiel was busy teaching a Seminary lesson on being a missionary so I sat in and added a few thoughts.  It was good to sit and listen to the president teach and to share the time with some of the RB members.

After the class President VanThiel found out that the certificates were not there for him to sign. In the past I would have probably been unhappy about this but I guess I am learning some patience because I told him I understood and we made arrangements to get them tomorrow. This obviously counts as a tender mercy.

Later I called the Mickelsens and surprised them by being the first call on their new phone. They had sent us the number earlier in the day via email. It sounds like they are settling in well and will keep busy.

25 May 2010

25 May 2010 – Tuesday

We were busy all day but we did not really do much as far as the mission is concerned.

Early in the morning I got the car washed and had another opportunity to make a good contact with a working father who has a wife and three children. I gave him an Article of Faith card and my phone number. Maybe something will come of it. I really think that the car wash is one of the best places to meet fathers with jobs and a car. I think 80% of the time I get into a gospel discussion with someone like that. I imagine my gray hair and name tag help a lot. They see Jesus Christ and are often immediately interested in starting a conversation.

Some of the other things I got done was to get my hair cut so my collars stay cleaner, have 100 copies of the sacrament agenda printed for the branches, and buy a lock with four keys for a member’s house. Mary started on the task of putting together all the hospital and doctor bills from her operation.

As she went through she found that she was missing the bills for the last two stays in the hospital and there were no bills for the surgeon. We decided we really needed to get that straightened out so while we were doing other things we stopped into the hospital.

She got the hospital to give her copies of the bills and made sure they were sent to the mission to be paid. We have plenty of money in our mission account to cover them. She then went up to see the doctor and when she asked them for copies of the bill she was told Dr. Kelling had told the nurses not to bill us anything for his work. She was dumbfounded – we guess that the fact that we were Christian Missionaries touched him and he kindly gave us a gift of a few thousand dollars. We doubt if that would happen in the US – even in Provo with an LDS doctor. It is just another of the blessings we have received as missionaries.

In the evening we went to dinner with the B’s. They are having a wonderful time and really needed this visit to let them kind of let go. I imagine they will always have contact with some of the people here but I would guess that the hole in sister B’s heart has started to heal. They are just plain good people.

24 May 2010





24 May 2010 – Monday

We had a wonderful day with part of it being with the Bartholomews and part helping Sandile Chirwa work on his application to go on a mission.

The morning and early afternoon was spent going to Umfolozi game reserve with the Bs. It was another gorgeous day and while we did not see lots of animals we did have a couple of experiences that we had not had before.

The most interesting was watching a team of game wardens tranquilize a huge rhino so they could work on a wound that he had on his back. It appeared to me to have had to have either been caused by a gunshot or in a terrible battle with another rhino. It was an interesting experience to see the men edge their way to a point where one could shoot a tranquilizer dart in the resting rhino. As soon as it was hit, it stood up and I got a good picture of the dart sticking out of its rump. It took perhaps 5 minutes for the drug to take effect and then the wardens came out to clean and take care of the wound. We left before they were finished and when we came back a couple of hours later they and the rhino were gone. It was good to see that they take care of the animals and try to keep them healthy.

The second experience was watching a good size group of vultures eat a dead animal. It did not seem to be anything very large but the birds gathered around and at times fought over it. Nothing goes to waste in nature. What the vultures do not clean up the crows will and then the ants will take over. While some of the birds ate, one big vulture sat in the top of the tree watching. We were not sure if he was just a sentinel – he did not make any noise or fly away when we approached – or king of hill.

We saw our share of impalas, zebras, lots of warthogs, some wildebeests, three elephants – they were mainly hidden in the bush –a couple of Cape buffalo, and a good selection of giraffes. Sister B said she did not care what we saw, she just wanted to go through the park one last time so she could take the memory home with her. They are a great couple who love to do good. Hopefully they will be able to go on another mission so they can have the experience of another country.

As soon as we got home and saw them off we hopped back in our very dirty car and headed for Port Durnford where we picked up Sandile and brought him back to RB so he could have his TB test check. Since he had no reaction at all, we were sure he was fine but the hospital has to check themselves.

We then went over to the doctor in hopes that we could get the results of his blood test put on his records but after a half hour of looking they could not find our file so we asked them to call when they did and we took Sandile to the taxi rink so he could head home. Just as we did of course the office called to say they found the misfiled file and so we went back. Unfortunately all the report was not back so we will have to wait a little longer to get it done.

We then got a call from the PD elders saying they needed to see us and so we arranged to meet them at the mall. Elder Lerios had bright red cheeks and had almost every piece of clothing he owned. I told him I was worried about him having a fever and strongly suggested he go to the pharmacy for a free check-up. He is much too valuable to the zone to be down for a week.

By the time we got home I was pretty much worn out so we had a quiet evening. I did start to work on pictures but even that seemed to take more effort than I could muster so I stopped and went to bed. It was a good day for us. A nice combination of adventure and service.

23 May 2010


Elder Hill got to meet and have his picture taken with the YW of Port Durnford who were having class under their usual tree. Elder Hill asked what they did if it rained and I told him they all have to meet in the one room chapel. At Enseleni brother Larry Bartholomew passed out hats while elders Dimene and Webster changed his flat tire. Soon everyone had a hat – except it seems elder Webster.


I noticed I did not show any of the YW with hats. Nonhlahla got a great looking red one but it seems Thandi could not find one she liked.

23 May 2010 – Sunday

 We had a very nice and for the most part unplanned first part of the Sabbath. Everything started fairly normal as we picked up the Nyawos and brother Nkosi for PEC. Then things started to change as the elders were 15 minutes late getting to PEC. Then I got a call from President Baldwin saying that Elder Hill had a flat tire and would be late for Esikhawini’s sacrament meeting. Because of this, President Baldwin went directly to Port Durnford to make a change in the branch presidency.

We stayed at Esikhawini for sacrament and were surprised when Elder Hill arrived about 40 minutes into the meeting. He came just in time to be the last speaker.  He told how he had borrowed his son’s car to come to Esikhawini because he did not want to drive his double cab into the township. Along the N2 he drove over something and got a flat. When he went to change the tire he found that he had no jack so he did a U-turn and hoped that he could get to a town he had recently passed on what was left in the tire. However this was not to be but he found a man with a bakkie who had a jack and a spanner that would work on his lug nuts so he could change the tire. Back on the road he tried to hurry to still make the meeting and of course got pulled over for speeding. He explained his problem to the police and they let him go without a ticket – which was why he made the meeting at all.

After the meeting I introduced us and asked if he would like visit Port Durnford or maybe go to Enseleni for their sacrament meeting. I told him a little about Port Durnford and he asked us to lead him there. We tried to call President Baldwin to tell him we were coming but he had his phone turned off during the meeting.

We got to Port Durnford – we went on one of the sand roads – soon after President Baldwin left for Esikhawini and they were just breaking into classes. The primary was setting up under one tree, the young women under another and the RS and PH were still inside. Elder Hill said hello to each group and I elder Hill was asked to talk to the adults for a few minutes until it was time for us to leave for Enseleni.

As he started that President  Baldwin called and I told him where we were and we were sorry to have missed him. He was in Esikhawini to interview and call a new branch clerk. Before I went back in to the chapel I stopped and told the YW just who Elder Hill was – they did not realize he was a general authority. They made me promise to take a picture of them with him.

Elder Hill gave a completely different talk to the group in Port Durnford from the one he gave in Esikhawini. He told of when he and his family were baptized in Zambia and were the members for quite some time. Now there is 3 wards and a branch in the town where they lived. He said that Port Durnford could be the same if the members have faith and live the gospel. After the meeting he kindly stood with the YW for a photo and then we left for Enseleni.

The Bartholomews were at Enseleni when we got there. Khulekani and Nonhlahla were working on getting a program organized.  They asked the Bs to speak and then Elder Hill. By the time brother Chiliza arrived the program was set and when enough PH finally arrived they were able to start only about 8 minutes late. When we sang the opening hymn there was hardly anyone in the audience but by the time sacrament was over there were about 50.

The Bs gave great talks about their love for the people and gave some council about being an example to others. Elder Hill gave another great talk that was perfect for the branch. He talked about tithing and then about helping each other be strong. That if they would stand shoulder to shoulder that they could be kept safe like the 2060 stripling warriors. He also told a story about how a call from his wife probably saved his life as he had fallen asleep at night on the freeway.

After the meeting Elder Hill talked to many of the members. I introduced him to Khulekani and told the story of how he was able to go on a mission when it did not seem possible. When we went out to the cars Elder Hill said goodbye and headed back to Durban.  The Bs had a tire that they knew was going flat and by the time the meeting was over it definitely was. But the Elders and others pitched in and soon got it replaced so they could be on their way.

In the evening the Bs came over for dinner and we spent 2 delightful hours talking about our missions, the wonderful people, and how much they mean to us. I said that it did not seem like they have been gone for 6 months. It just felt natural to be with them. They mentioned that it felt different to them because they no longer could wear their name tags. They brought them with them but were not going to put them on because they were no longer missionaries.

On the great news side, President Vilane was released from the hospital in Durban. They found that the medicine that the public hospital was giving him was causing most of the problems. They cleared out most of the accumulated liquids and gave him a new prescription that should solve his problem. Now if Sister Vilane can just get a job as a nurse they can have both a good income and real health care.

It was a wonderful day. To see and hear the way Elder Hill was able to give just the right talk to three very different groups of members without really knowing anything about them testified to me of how the spirit leads his chosen servants. I know he was called of God by revelation to serve as an Area Authority 70 for Southwest Africa.

22 May 2010


The two lions puzzle was the hardest we have had here. Mary was a true champ and got it done with little help from me. I took this picture of the van because they managed to fit four seats across the back of a standard size van conversion. Those people really have to be friendly or will become friendly by the time they get out. These rooms at Khulekani’s home in Enseleni caught my eye. Notice how the window is almost identical to the one out at the Chirwas that is shown below. Only this one has had a couple of ‘repairs’ done.


This picture does not capture the true beauty of the white tree in Khulekani’s yard. Notice how part of it still has the green leaves while the rest if covered with small white flowers. Over the rooms above is a large naartjes tree. The fruit when it ripens is almost identical to what we know as tangerines and is just as tasty.

Mary finished this puzzle last night. It is by far the hardest puzzle we have bought. I was almost no help except for dividing out colors and even there I did not do much. Mary said that the only way she could do most of it was to look at the shape of the pieces because the colors changed so quickly and were so close to being the same it was almost impossible to know what color the next piece would be.

22 May 2010 – Saturday

When I got up this morning I noticed for the first time that there was a coolness in the air. Winter continues to slide over Richards Bay. The second surprise of the morning was that the internet was down. If it does not come up soon, I will call and see what can be done.

We got an early call saying that our Saturday appointment to teach had been cancelled so we decided instead to go to Enseleni where Mary would teach piano to Mbali and I would go around with Khulekani and put some more member’s homes on the map for the new couple. Before we left I took some pictures of where Khulekani lives to show how it is not where you live but how you live that is important. We managed to visit five homes before going back to get Mary at the Seokas.

We just had time for some lunch before going to Esikhawini for piano lessons. Actually we got there early enough to go visit sweet sister Tembe where we found that she had fully recovered from her fall but her daughter had to have an operation because of some internal problems.

While Mary was teaching piano, the Relief Society sisters started coming to have a meeting. There was a problem with one of the sisters not getting a ride so I went and picked her up. She was very important for the meeting because she was giving the demonstration.

Mary had four of her five students show up – she has not had all five come on the same day for a long time. By the time she was done we needed to leave to hook up with the Barts and the Griesmers for  dinner. We decided  to  eat at Mugg and Bean  which was a good choice because it was quiet so there was no hurry to stop talking. We spent the better part of two hours talking about our missions, the people and why more couples did not go on missions.  I was encouraged when elder  Griesmer  said that he was over  73 when they came out. If we stay home for a year before going again, that is how old I will be when we leave.

21 May 2010


As we were getting in the car we noticed that a row of dark clouds accented by the soft sunrise looked like a row of trees or mountains behind the actual tree line. Later at the Chirwa’s homestead I took this picture of a neighbor’s group of houses somewhat shrouded by the morning fog. The morning was perfect, soft and cool and very quiet. We will miss this beauty when we leave South Africa.


I noticed the contrast between the traditional round house with the thatched roof and the modern concrete toilet that is provided each homestead no matter how rural. The rising sun pulled out the details of the construction of the main house. Notice how almost anything is used as fill. I also noticed one of the windows and its simple details. It was probably used when it was installed in the house.

But from this humble house five children of different ages leave for school each morning in clean neat clothes with their faces shining. They are the hope of the future.

21 May 2010 – Friday

We were up very early because we had to be out in Port Durnford by 7:00 to pick up Sandile Chirwa so he could have his medical and dental exams for his mission application. As we drove there, there were pockets of fog hanging over the land. Sometimes it was quite thick but it never went on for long. It was a gorgeous morning – cool and calm and clear.

As we drove along the back road towards Esikhawini, we came across Blessing walking with his brother to school. Blessing did not need a ride because he was almost to his turn-off but we gave his brother a ride to the Esikhawini mall.

Sandile came through his physical and dental exams with flying colors. Between them we went to the mall and had his passport pictures taken. We now know what needs to be done and this will save some time. We talked to the Port Durnford elders and they are going to help him get his application in for a police clearance. We also need to get him started towards a passport.

While we were doing this, the Bs picked up president and sister Vilane and took them to the doctor. We stopped in to give them some things and found president Vilane even weaker than he was yesterday. Later they called to say that the doctor said that it seems the valve they put in his heart a couple of years ago is not working properly and that if it is not fixed he would die.

The Bs took him and sister Vilane to the hospital in Durban where he had the original operation and somehow talked them into admitting him so the surgeon who did the operation could see him. They think that he will be transferred to a government hospital and be operated on. I believe the Bs were prompted to come so that they could save this humble man’s life. We did not have time to do this and I doubt if I could have got him into that hospital in Durban. They really are special people with very large hearts.

After dropping Sandile at the taxi rink with money to get some lunch and transport home, we came back to our boarding so Martin could get the opener back on. This time everything worked perfectly. It will be nice to not have to struggle with opening the doors manually.

During the morning we found out that the library in Enseleni wanted to cancel our Sunday services because some political group wanted to have a luncheon. We decided to see if we could not at least have the room until 1:00 so we could hold sacrament meeting. When I talked to man who seemed to be in charge, he said that he thought that would be OK since they were going to be at the sport complex until 1:30 or 2:00. Later he called and said that would be fine as long as we were completely out no later than 1:30.

We then drove to Esikhawini for Youth. Because the problem of the library was solved so quickly, we got to the chapel early. After talking to Sister Mathe – she was of course working on one of her many garden plots – we went to visit Sister Tembe and deliver some books we have been carrying around for a few weeks. She is a lovely lady and really has great faith in the Lord.

To make the next couple of hours shorter than they seemed to me, we found that the youth were going to work on cleaning up the chapel. What was interesting about this project was about a dozen young men showed up and except for sister Nyawo, no young women.

I got to make three trips to while Mary stayed and gave encouragement. First I went to see president Nyawo at his house and told him he really needed to call president Baldwin. They had not been able to contact each other because president Nyawo’s new phone had stopped working.

Then I took Solo Mthalane to his PO Box to see if an important letter from the area office about his mission had arrived and it had not. So we called the area office and found they had mailed it to his street address and they do not deliver to homes here.  Solo gave him the PO Box number and hopefully it will arrive early next week.

My third trip was to the mall to get some window cleaner. The windows were a mess and they only had about an inch left in their bottle. I think I must have put on 30Ks and never left  J section.

By the time we got home it was growing dark. How nice it was to just push a button and see the garage door go up. I pretty much walked into the house and immediately laid down for a nap. It seemed like I had been running all day. But it is good to be tired from doing service in the Kingdom.