We were introduced by the Hafens and Bartholomews when we started serving in Richard Bay to the tradition of having a last meal with the missionaries in our district just before transfers. We called them Last Suppers. When we got to the Florida Fort Lauderdale mission we had to change them to last lunches because we could not have dinner with the missionaries as it would take them away from prime time missionary work. Now here in Potchefstroom we kept the tradition alive by having a last lunch right after the last district meeting before transfers.
Todays was some what tempered by the fact that the Potch elders were at the temple as both will go home next week and so they got to have one last trip to the Joburg temple. Hopefully they will both be back to be sealed someday.
But there was also good news. Elder and Sister Dummer have been working in the office almost from the day we arrived so they have not been able to come to district meeting. But they are now back in the Klerksdorp/Jouberton area so they were able to come to the meeting and enjoy lunch with us afterwards. Elder Dummer insisted on spliting the cost with me and that was fine.
The shot of the Ikageng district minus elders Kelem and Msangi. Elders Larsen, Perkins, Mdletshe and Otieno. E/S Dummer join the group.
We join the elders. We were taking pictures with 5 cameras and that is why elder Otieno seems to be looking at a different world than the rest of us. The senior couples have a picture together.
Another picture of the group because I just love elder Larsen’s smile. We decided to eat outside because it was actually warmer and nicer then inside and we could all be together.
As we were leaving I saw this sign on the back of a truck and since I have an online friend named Henning I thought I would take a picture and ask him if he had family in South Africa.
For those who do not know anything about a District Meeting: It is a once a week meeting of the district where the companionships discuss their progressing investigator and can ask for help where they are having problems – such as how to answer a difficult question or over come some objection. Then there is a lesson. It is usually on some part of PMG – this week was on how the Book of Mormon can be used to answer questions. The last DM of a transfer usually also has the elders predict who will be transferred and where, who may train, and if there will be any change in District Leader. It is a fun little exercise and some elders are really good with their predictions. Elder Otieno says he is never wrong…it will be interesting to see how he does this time.
We were introduced to Lolo and George’s orphanage by E/S Knowles who we followed here in Potchefstroom. They have 13-15 orphans who they provide housing, food and a chance for an education. George works at a butchery – meat market – to help supplement the small amount of money they receive each month from the government. Mainly the orphanage is run on faith, hope, prayer and love.
The orphanage is out in an area that is mixed between houses and informal houses. Informal houses are usually single room shacks made out of tin and anything else they can find that does not cost much. The upper left picture shows a woman washing her clothes in a pan sitting on top of a washing machine. The lower left shows a sight that is seen all over South Africa. A house that is being built but not finished. They get some money to buy materials. Build as much as they can and then must wait until they can afford more. The pile of sand with bricks or rocks around it is a very common sight also. As we drove up the road that leads to the road where the orphanage is located there were chickens in the road. The young man on the side tried to get them to move out of our way. In Swaziland it was cattle in the road – here it is chickens.
As we were parking next to the orphanage I noticed these two young men searching through the dumping area at the end of the road. I think they were looking for something to play with and not for food – at least I hope it was not for food. The other picture is the front yard of the orphanage.
Some children are not quite sure what to make of a couple of white people. They do not see many as this is outside of the Ikageng township at the end of a road that most white people would never think of traveling to as there is no reason to be there. But the children always greet us with a smile.
I asked Lolo the age of the young lady with the beautiful cap. She told me she was two but since she was HIV positive she was not growing as she should. There are a number of HIV positive children in the orphanage which is one of the great problems that there is in all of Africa. Lolo and George try to supply the children with safe places to play but with limited space and money it is difficult. What a difference $200 – $300 a month would make to this wonderful couple and the children.
Lolo had a gas stove blow up in her face a number of years ago and it caused a terrible amount of scaring. But she does not let this get her down or feel sorry for herself. She just smiles and tries her best to take care of the children.
While we spend a good deal of our time visiting members, going to meetings, working with missionaries, and just taking care of missionary business, we also have everyday things we need to do where ever we live and whatever we are doing. Here is a few things that we have experienced this week.
We of course have to eat and usually once a day we get something from a fast food place. In a small center less than a mile from our house there is a number of them and one is called Chix. They are just across a driveway from a KFC and are little in the way of competition for the Colonel. However on Monday they have a great special. A nice chicken burger – great bun, generous chicken breast and tasty sauce – plus two pieces of their fried chicken. Since the burger is plenty to eat for lunch we save the chicken for a later meal. All of this cost about $2.50 US.
Now that it is winter here of course most of the trees are bare. Outside our flat is a tree where I noticed a couple of these unusual nest. I should remember what the name of the bird is that makes them but for not it escapes me but the nests are neat little houses to bring up a family until they can fly away.
Until yesterday our electricity was billed to the landlord who then billed the mission. But for some reason the owner did not like this arrangement so we now have a prepaid meter to contend with. This means we have to go to the store and buy an amount of electricity. Then the long number on the bottom of the ticket is entered into the keypad and we then have electricity – at least until the meter reads 0. This is something we do not want to have happen so every time we go into the garage we check the reading. Other than I have to pay cash in advance, enter a long number, and remember to tell elder Thompson how much we spent for electricity during the month so he can give us credit off our car charges it is not a big thing. However it was a lot easier when the bill went to the mission.
One of the things we miss serving here in Potchefstroom is access to a real game park. We were spoiled by being in Richards Bay on our last South African mission because we were just an hour away from two wonderful parks. To make up for this lack of seeing live animals, I spend some time each day looking in on the Tembe Elephant Park webcam. The other day I was happily surprised to find a pair of lions at the waterhole. It is only the 3rd or 4th time in over 5 years of checking Tembe that I have seen lions so I thought I would share. Hopefully we will get a chance to go up to Kruger National Park and see them and many other animals live! But until then these pictures will have to do.
I wrote this on Facebook in 2011 – it refers to a talk I gave back in 2008. As I read it I realized I would not change anything that I wrote. But I would add a sixth thing that I learned. For all my missions I have had the perfect mission companion!
I was looking through our Indonesian mission blog and came across some notes about a talk I gave after we got home. Now after going to South Africa I think they still sum up my thoughts…Bill
“Five Things I Learned on My Mission.”
1. The Lord knows where I needed to serve. I included the thought that we teach young members “I’ll go where you want me to go” but when we get older that many decide that we know better where we should serve than the Lord does.
2. I really do belong to the Household of God – a Fellow Citizen with the Saints. (Ephesians 2:19) That no matter what branch we went to, we were immediately accepted and felt welcomed.
3. My Mission was more about learning than about teaching. I learned to have more patience, more faith, and to listen to the Lord. I learned from the leaders and the members on what it means to be faithful in adversity. That you do not need lots of money to be happy.
4. There are no sacrifices in serving a mission. (Mosiah 2:24)
5. Missions are like potato chips – one is not enough. Home is a wonderful place to visit between missions.
While we were out visiting members this week we got to see some very cute children. The young lady with her bowl of pap was at the creche we often visit. She was sitting in a pool of sunlight because it was cold in the shade. Actually it was not all that warm in the sunlight but it felt much warmer.
We visited the Tlotleng home to check up on sister Tlotleng who had been in the hospital because of a major illness but was happily home and feeling very good. While we were there I played peek-a-boo with the young man in orange. He would not let me pick him up but liked the game. He obviously did not have the same problem with Mary. Notice that the children are wearing sweaters and hats inside the house. Most homes here are not insulated and often have just single layer tin roofs with no ceiling at all under them. Elder Kankkunen and elder Raymond are companions in the Sebokeng area. They were recently moved there because the area in Joburg where they were serving was a little too dangerous for them to stay. The safety of the missionaries is always one of the greatest concerns of the mission president and the Church.
We had the opportunity to go to the Johannesburg temple with the Vaal Zone. The first picture is of elders Ryan and Flynn who are the zone leaders and who both will be released in just two weeks. We also had our picture taken with elders Msangi and Kelem who are the Ikageng elders who we work with every day. They also will be leaving for home at the next transfer.
The Joburg temple is a bit of heaven that we are able to go to regularly. To add a little color to a rather colorless winter season I picked up these beautiful African Daisies for just $4.00. If we were home they would be planted where they could be seen from the kitchen window. Here we keep them inside on the kitchen counter.
Serving in South Africa is a great blessing but this experience is much different from our first mission. Here in Potchefstroom it is much colder and dryer. In fact we were blessed to be here for a record low temperature of 15 F the other morning. A record we just as soon have not been a part of.
We spent the 4th in Johannesburg where President and Sister Collins were are hosts. The Collins started serving here in January after having served as mission president in Russia and PEF missionaries in Columbia and Ghana. President Collins broke in a new grill with hamburgers which we ate along with potato salad and other goodies. We sat with our good friends E/S Dummer and E/S Taylor. It was the last time we saw the Taylors before they left for their service in the Botswana mission.
While we were at the mission office on Thursday I took some pictures of companionships. these are missionaries from the Ikageng district as well as those of elders Harris and Rogers who we were privileged to serve with earlier in our mission. I love elder Larsen’s smile which is how we usually see him. He is one happy elder. On the other hand the pictures of elder Kelem and Msangi are not typical because they also are usually smiling.
President Dunn has been in the communications industry for many years but from what I can see and read in their blog, sister Dunn has lots of talent also. Anyone who wants to see lots of pictures and how President and Sister Dunn is experience their mission will want to check their blog regularly…
On July 3rd we were able to go up to Johannesburg with the Vaal Zone and have a very nice meet and greet with the new mission president and his wife. I must confess that I was less than diligent in taking pictures so I borrowed the Church News photo to post.
While waiting for the meeting to start the elders played some pingpong and our powerful Vaal Zone leaders handily beat the assistants to the president. This in spite of the fact that the assistants have had lots of practice. With the pingpong match going on behind him, elder Cummings tried his hands at Fussball.
I posted all four pictures of the zone with the president because one never catches all the elders and sisters – our good friends E/S Dummer were there also – at their best.
President and Sister Dunn introduced the missionaries to the 7 maxims or general guidelines for the mission and explained what they meant.
1 – We believe it is a sacred and special opportunity to have been called to South Africa.
2 – We are a Doctrine of Christ and PMG Mission
3 – Joyful Obedience Brings Unimagined Rewards and Gladness
4 – If we are not failing once in a while we are probably not trying hard enough.
5 – We are a dynamic mission that will continually seek innovations through inspiration.