Friday, March 16, 2012

Time to Catch You on What We've Been Doing!

We haven’t updated our blog in quite some time.  Here are some of the things that have happened:

January 6 – Elder Nuzman was called to serve as first counselor in the Richards Bay District Presidency.  It will be a six-month call as we will be leaving in June.
Richards Bay District Presidency
President Ted Baldwin, Elder Nuzman, Zacharia Moloi
January 16 – We took a break and spent the day with Elder and Sister Heninger, Public Relations Missionaries.  We went to Hluhluwe/Imfoluzi Game reserve.  As we were walking back to a hide to view some animals, it started to rain (harder and harder).  We all got soaked but we had a great time together.

Elder and Sister Heninger and us - a little wet
We weren't the only ones who got wet; this poor
baboon sat shivering on the side of the road.

The rhinos loved the mud!

January 22 - We had a transfer news dinner with our zone.  We found out that no one was being transferred, but Elder Atoya went home, having completed his mission.  Elder Lyon, from Alabama, came to replace him.

Elder Atoya, on left, completed his mission.  Here he is seen with
his companion, ElderWark.  They were our zone leaders.
We had our openening ZDM on February 7th.
From left to right:  Elders Sincreah, Moxon, Banda, Shelton,
Bangerter, Lyon (our new zone leader), Puso, Wark, Jallah and Shipp.

January 26 – We were able to attend a dinner in Durban with several of the couples in our mission.  It was held at the Roma Revolving Restaurant on the thirty-second floor of the John Ross Building.  The restaurant makes a complete revolution every 60-90 minutes.  The food was good and the view was incredible!

The Durban skyline.

The skyline with the Indian Ocean in the background.
Can you see the ships waiting to come into port?

The marina area at night.

Crocodile anyone?  It was delicious. 
Yvonne was the adventurous one!

February 11-12 – We went to Kosi Bay to conduct church meetings.
Although few were in attendance, we had great meetings.  The Spirit was very strong.  We stayed at Maputaland Lodge.  While in the restaurant, I looked out the window and saw a large Cycad in full bloom.  The Cycad is an ancient seed plant and is endangered.  Here in South Africa one must have a permit to have one.  It was a thrill to see one with such large blooms.
This is a Cycad.

The beautiful blooms.
February 18We had a career fair scheduled for today as well as a district social, and braai (SA barbeque).  Yvonne and I were in charge of the salad, rolls and drink for the braai.  We had checked the weather forecast early this week and it predicted heavy rain for Saturday and into Sunday.  I emailed President Baldwin with the forecast.  Yesterday morning he called me to ask my advice regarding having the activity.  We thought it best to postpone having it.  These wonderful people have no transport of their own and would have had to stand in the rain for a taxi and  we would not be able to have had the braai, in the rain.  There would have been few, if any, in attendance.  It started raining on Friday, a little early, and it rained steadily and heavily all day long.  Am I grateful we called it off!  The Gundersons, the PEF missionaries, were scheduled to come and give PEF presentations at the fair.  We called to check if anyone had called them and sure enough, no one had.  They were just about here, so they decided to go on to St. Lucia and see the sights.  We later ran into the Gundersons at the Crocodile Center in St. Lucia and joined them for dinner that evening. We also picked up the Elders' mail, which they brought from Durban.

We visited the Crocodile Center in St. Lucia with the Gundersons.
We viewed this one from a bridge above him.

The Dung Beetles were the largest we have ever seen.  They
flew all around us darting here and there at amazing speeds.
We delivered mail to the elders last night and early this  morning.  The mission doesn’t have a good process to get mail to the elders so we had requested that the office gather it up once a week and mail it to us and then bill us for the cost, but the mission president x’d that idea.  Oh well, we tried. 

It has been raining so hard that we just don’t want to be on the roads; too dangerous, so we've only gone out to deliver the mail and grab a few needed items at the store.  Yvonne made a (: delicious banana cream  pie.

March 10 –Last week we had a great visit with the Swaziland couple, the Blackburns.  They had some business here and then planned to go to Durban and so they stayed with us a couple of days.  We had members to see in Nseleni and so we took the Blackburns with us and then drove up to St. Lucia so they could see Cape Vidal.

On the road to Cape Vidal we came across these female kudus.

Aren't they beautiful animals?.

Later we saw the males as well.

The ocean here is so beautiful.

Looking north up the beach.  This is the Indian Ocean.
As the tide comes in hundreds of these crabs come in with it . . .

And then suddenly they dig a hole and vanish into the sand.

Our last trip to the beach with the Blackburns.
They are going home on March 20th.
The next day we accompanied the Blackburns to Durban as the office had forgotten to send Elder Sincreah’s visa and we needed it to work out some problems.  It was a much needed respite for us and the Blackburns. They are so much fun and have become wonderful friends.
This is the Soccer Stadium in Durban built for the 2010 World Cup.

We actually took a tram to the top of the stadium to view the city.

From the top we could see this country club and golf course.

It was very windy at the top of the stadium.

Another view from atop;  and another stadium.
We stayed the night at our favorite B and B, Little Haven.  Here
Elder Blackburn relaxes before breakfast.
Cyclone Irina has been off the coast.  It hit here last weekend and when we went out to Port Durnford for church it was all flooded.  We drove as close as we could but would have had to take our shoes and socks off and wade in.  We thought better of the idea and left and attended church in Richards Bay, as I had business there later on anyway.  It rained most of the day. 

Flooded Port Durnford

Since we went to Richards Bay Branch Yvonne was able to
be in Relief Society on Zinhle Ndlovu's last Sunday before
leaving on her mission to Kenya Nairobi Mission.  Here she
sings her favorite hymn to the sisters.

Sister Missionaries - the old with the new
Sunday the 4th was transfer dinner night, we had already put dinner on but thought perhaps we should cancel as we didn’t like the thought of the elders driving in the inclement weather.  We called them but they wanted to come.  It would be the last time they might see each other as tranfers were on Tuesday.  It turned out fine.  They really enjoy being together and it is fun to observe.  We lost Elders Shipp, Shelton and Moxon they had all been here close to 6 months.   We will miss them but they are needed elsewhere and a change is good for them.

Good bye Elders Shipp, Moxon and Shelton.
One of our elders, Elder Sincreah, was having visa problems and was illegal, no fault of his own.  It all started in the MTC when they only got him a one year visa instead of the needed two year visa.  He brought it up with the mission as soon as he came out but nothing was done and it was soon forgotten.  When the end of his visa was approaching he again reminded them.  When he asked about it again, his visa had expired and he was illegal.  It was in the hands of Johannesburg but nothing seemed to have been done.  I could see he was depressed so I talked to him and it was the visa situation that was wearing on him.  I emailed to the mission president an urgent letter.  The next day things began to happen and after having to have him leave the country, pay fines and a bribe he obtained a 30 day extension so we could get the required paperwork done.  Now we can work with Home Affairs.   We got done what needed to be done, so it was all worth it.
Assistant Elder Shumway, Elder Sincreah, Assistant Elder Masilela.
Assistants pick up Elder Sincreah to take him to the airport to fly to
Johannesburg and then to Lesotho to straighten out his visa.
Oh, yes, we received a call, a few days ago, that we will be released with three other couples on June 18.  Still 3 months and lots to do.  We will miss these wonderful people but we are also anxious to be with family and friends again, as well.

Tuesday we received three new elders (new to us, anyway) elders, Elder Maring, from Germany, Elder Simkins from Rexburg, Idaho and Elder Ellis from Australia.  We have only met them briefly but feel very good about them.  More great men to add to the list of those we have grown to love and respect.
Elders Simkins, Maring and Ellis
We have been presenting the temple preparation classes to a family that we have worked with for close to a year and a half now, the Sanchaze-Alvana family.  I was privileged to baptize Gabriel (the baba) and Shaka (the son).  We are taking them to the Temple on April 3 – 5.  A whole family, Gabriel (baba), Gugu (the mama), Shaka (the son) and Mellissah (the daughter).  What a super blessing!  Both Greg’s family and Nicole’s family have been able to meet them.  We took the family to dinner today to celebrate Gabriel and Mellissah’s birthdays, which were last week.    

Sanchaze Family birthday dinner.
left to right:  Shaka, Mellissah, Gabriel, us and Gugu
March 13 – Yesterday was our preparation day but we had to work on one of the elders visa’s and that took a major part of our day. Then we had to go out and fill a food order and get it delivered. Next it was on to one of the branch presidents to pick up financial paperwork that needed to be turned into the district.  The day was gone and none of our personal things were done.  So today, we worked on our income tax, getting everything ready for our accountant.  Now we need to scan it all and get it emailed to him.  That will be a load off our minds.  

March 15 – We had Zone Conference in Durban.  We stayed the night at Little Haven.  We met Elder and Sister Lombardi, who will be replacing the Blackburns in Swaziland.  We had them follow us up to the Petrolport today on our way back from Durban.  They will be another great asset to our mission.       

Our Zone
top l to r:  Elders Puso, Banda, Ellis, Jallah, Lyon, Wark
bottom l to r:  Sister Nuzman, Elders Nuzman, Maring, Bangerter
Sister Von stetten, Pres Von Stetten, Elders Simkins, Sincreah,
Brown AP, Shumway AP.

Grace at Little Haven

Elder and Sister Lombardi with Grace

 The Lombardis and the Blackburns
    Following are a few pictures of interest:

How about some cow heels or sheep tripe for dinner?

Even the grasshoppers are colorful in Africa!

If you have to have a gate, why not make it beautiful?
We pass this gate in Empangeni when we go to the Elders.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ready or Not, Here Came 2012!

Can you believe it, 2011 is over and in our past now.  Welcome 2012!  We last wrote approximately a week before Christmas and we thought we should probably write again.  The school year here ended the first week of December and it is now summer vacation.  People leave for holiday during Christmas so we have had a lot slower pace and things don’t pick back up here until mid-January.

Our Christmas Eve breakfast at Mugg and Bean.
Starting at the left:  Elders Shipp, Wark, Bangeter, Wynder (hidden)
Shelton, Moxon, Puso, Jallah, Atoya and Shibambo

left to right: Elders Wark, Bangeter, Sincreah, Wynder,
Shelton, Moxon and Puso

Who are you reserved for, Elder Puso?

Going out for breakfast is easier than cooking for twelve elders!

We had the priviledge of having these two traveling elders join
us for our Christmas Eve breakfast.  Elder Shibambo from South
Africa (on the left) and Elder Wynder from Australia (on the right).
Both these elders will be going home soon.
We had a very quiet Christmas, basically alone, we didn’t even put up a tree this year.  Yvonne put out two African nativities but other than that there wasn’t much to indicate it was Christmas.  I mentioned that we were not exchanging gifts and we stuck to that but several members remembered us, which was so sweet.  We do have some wonderful people here and will truly miss them when we return home but we don’t want to think of that now.  We still have much to do.  They have told us that seminary has to be taught 5 days a week to be counted.  That is impossible for us to do as the two classes we have been teaching are too far apart to make it work and the K (mileage) limitations we are under makes it impossible to do.  We are sad about that but we will teach once a week in one branch if they want us to. We did hold a seminary graduation and recognition activity this year. The free time opens us to other work and so we will step up on the reactivation of less active members. 

Like we said, Christmas was quiet.  Christmas morning we woke up to no internet, thus no Skype; that offered to be very disappointing.  We had been downloading conference so we could watch it at our convenience and that used up our internet.  (We just found out that Telkom decided to take us down to 8GB from 20GB without notifying us - thus the problem!)  The missionaries were to come over after meetings and call home but that was out.  We did the Christmas program out in one of the branches, Nseleni, as it was only an hour sacrament meeting.   It went fine.  The elders all used the district internet to call home and ran the district out of internet for the remainder of the month; good luck with tithing settlement!  We were blessed by the Dave and Sam Gardner family when they invited us to use their internet to make calls home to our family.   

The following morning, Dec. 26th, we started for Swaziland to be with our good friends the Blackburns, the missionary couple there.  On our way we went to Kosi Bay where a group meets and they needed their supplies for the new year.  It was about four hours out of the way and we got lost once but we made it!

This is main street in Kosi Bay.
Some of the local businesses
Typical open-air shops along the street.
When we arrived at the Blackburns they had prepared a beautiful Christmas dinner.  They  saved Christmas dinner so we could have it together. 

Christmas dinner with the Blackburns!

Tuesday morning we left for Johannesburg to be with a young couple from Kenya who were being sealed.  The young man had been a missionary here and served in Swaziland.  He had been home for 4 months; his bride also a return missionary is a girl he had dated before his mission.  It was a wonderful day.  We attended a session and the sealing of three couples, two with children. 

The Christmas Nativity in front of the Johannesburg temple.

So great to be at the temple again.  We have missed being there.
We stayed at the Saffron Guest House which is
about ten minutes away from the temple.
Clyde needed a rest after all that driving!
Mr. and Mrs. Victor N'ganda from Kenya.  He
served a mission here; she served in Zimbabwe.
The Ohanga family from Kenya who were sealed. 
He served in  our mission a few years ago.  His
brother is serving here now.  This family would never
have been able to come if it weren't for the new patron
temple fund to which many of you contribute.
Great families, great friends, a great day!
We all went to Mike's, a local institution there, for a wonderful meal!  The food is excellent and portions are way too large!

This is Mike's Kitchen.

This is a hamburger at Mike's!
Johannesburg is a very large, beautiful, city.  It is known for all the beautiful trees.  We are so grateful for our GPS.  We went to the distribution center there and stocked up on many needed items.   We also took in the African Craft Market and the huge Chinese Market.  The Blackburns are great traveling companions and good sports. 
We thought we'd try breakfast at the Chinese Market.

Eggs, sausage and something kind of between a tortilla and a pancake.

This place is huge!  Probably 8 buildings . . . prices are fantastic;
quality is about what you pay for.
The following day we drove to Pretoria, an area Elder Blackburn served in 50 years ago.  Much of the city had remained quite unchanged and we found his apartment across the street from the Union Building (equivalent to our Capitol).  Pretoria is another beautiful African city.

This park is part of Church Street Square.  Note the beautiful
old  building on one side.

This is a monument to Paul Kruger who in 1898
as president of the Transvaal Republic named a
government wildllife reserve which later became
Kruger National Park

This building is on the opposite side of the park.

This is a view from the grounds of the Union Building.

This is a very small part of the Union Building.

Another view from the Union Building.  The red-roofed building
on the left in the first row of buildings in the distance is where
Elder Blackburn lived fifty years ago as a missionary.
We left Pretoria and headed southwest to the Ndebele Village (Mapoch).  The people were moved there in 1953.  It was a very closed society and did not welcome people outside their tribe.  The women wore copper rings around their necks and legs. This village was a major tourist attraction in the past.  Now it is nearly abandoned with less than 200 inhabitants, many of them women and children.  They do occasionally dress in native dress but use plastic rings instead of copper.  When we arrived it appeared that no one was there; but very quickly ladies started bringing out their mats and blankets and all their beaded things to sell.

The village of the Ndeble tribe

One of the things they are known for are the colorful designs
painted on their fences and walls.  Originally this was done with
a mixture of cow dung and water and dye.

The toddler in this photo taken many years ago is now the
Sangoma (medicine woman) of the village.  Note the
copper rings on the woman behind her.

Sister Blackburn, the Sangoma (the child in the previous picture)
Sister Nuzman and the Sangoma's mother

Some of the wares they were selling.  The Ndeble tribe were the
tribe that started the beading that the Zulu women have adopted
and are known for today.  Originally the beads were dried berries
and small stones.  Now they use small beads.
These are the kind of roads we had to navigate to get to the village.
Outside the village we saw many of these corrugated iron houses.
We drove back to Johannesburg as we had been invited to have dinner with a humanitarian missionary couple, Elder and Sister Nielson.  They live in Duke's Court, an apartment complex near the temple where Carolyn and Nate Adamson lived when they served their temple mission. The Nielsons serve the whole southeast area of Africa and have travelled everywhere.  Sister Nielson took the following picture.

Isn't this an incredible picture?
We left Johannesburg on Friday morning, December 30th, and headed for Swaziland.  On our way we went to the Cullinan Diamond mine, where the world's largest diamond was found.  It was found in 1905 and was 3106.75 carats.  It was given to King Edward VII on his birthday.  He had it cut into 9 pieces.  The largest stone (the Star of Africa) was set in the King's Scepter and the next largest piece is in the Imperial State Crown. They are part of the Crown Jewels, which we viewed in London several years ago.

All aboard for the tour.

Entrance to the mine area.
One of the walls of the hole.  The Cullinan Diamond was found
where you see the heart shape.
The tailings from the mine have created large mounds.  They are
now in the process if reprocessing these tailings as the technology
is so  much better today.  They have actually found some large
 blue diamonds in these waste mounds.

This kudu was standing with his herd on top of this mount.
We arrived back in Swaziland and spent the night before heading home on New Year's Eve.  We awoke to monkeys on the porch of the Blackburn's boarding.

We never tire of watching the monkeys!

We arrived home on New Year’s Eve and did see 2012 make its debut here.  A few brave souls did set off fireworks; it was lightly raining and we enjoyed the coolness the rain can bring.  We decided to stay off the roads in the evening as festivities here include much drinking and some drivers are very reckless.  Sometimes the mini-van taxis are referred to as coffins on wheels.  Around 1200 people lost their lives on South African highways during the month of December alone!

The next day, being New Year’s Day, we attended the Richards Bay Branch.  Attendance was down as so many families were out of town.  We had a baptism.  Since the meeting was only an hour long, the font couldn’t be filled in such a short time so we used the Gardner’s swimming pool.  Actually, it was very nice with a small group of people in a beautiful setting.

left to right:  Elder Sincreah, Dave Gardner, Sibusile, her mother
(Khethwe) and Elder Moxon
It has been a somewhat difficult last couple of weeks for us.  It has been slow as was mentioned and the heat and humidity are also getting to us and the worst is yet to come.  Oh well, these people thrive, so we will most likely survive, as well.  We will never again take central air conditioning for granted!  We both managed to catch colds and haven’t felt quite like we should but we are getting so much better!  It is starting to be very smokey as they are burning the sugar cane fields everywhere and that will go on for months.  We have been missing home but now that the holidays are over, we can get back on track and focus on what is really important right now.  We had a Temple recommend interview with our mission president and then went out to dinner with him and his sweet wife.  We had Thai food which was good and also had a very enjoyable evening with great people.  Being a Mission President is a very difficult calling; visiting with him makes us thankful for our callings as simple missionaries.  Elder Nuzman was requested to participate in two District disciplinary councils with the hopes of reinstatements.  He has been involved in many in the past but from the other end of the process.  This was a much more uplifting assignment.  We are so grateful for the Gospel and the promise of happiness it has for all people.  If only all people could just see that.

We love beautiful Africa and know that our lives will never be the same after having served here.

One of the beautiful South African trees now in full bloom.