Tuesday, December 7, 2010

With Gratitude in Our Hearts

Serving here in South Africa continues to be a learning experience for us. On November 13th we were asked to speak at a District YSA Fireside. We attended the planning meeting, prepared our talks and helped publicize the fireside throughout the district. We arrived early and greeted the young people as they arrived, mostly via taxi. We had a good attendance. At the conclusion of the talks a question and answer session was held and during this part of the meeting, the YSA president approached us and asked where we had put the refreshments. We were stunned! No one had informed us that the senior couple always brings the refreshments. We were in a township and all the stores were closed. So we had to beg forgiveness. It was most embarrassing. We are trying to help them understand that we are here to train and lend support, not do everything. We are willing to help but we need them to ask for the help.

The following day, Sunday, there were several baptismal services. We attended the service in Richards Bay as we had worked with the Elders and the investigator, Prince.
Elder Mwita in sweater, next to him, Prince and Elder Shumway in suit
On Monday, the 15th, we had a zone activity with the Elders. We went to the Hluhluwe/iMfolozi game park. Our friend, Steve Killick, helped with transport. With our pass and his pass we were able to take all the Elders into the park at no cost. We had lunch at Hilltop, a beautiful restaurant in the park. Everyone had a great time.
Steve Killick and us

Our stripling warriors of Richards Bay
Elders Jensen, Ndhlovu, Meistre, Mwita, Hall, Rainibe, Shannon, Ssesanga, Shumway, Denning

Anyone for a swim with this crocodile?

Check out the horn on this rhino!

On Saturday, the 20th, we had a District Relief Society Conference. Our theme was “Feed My Sheep”. We had a luncheon, served by Elders Nuzman, Shumway and Mwita. In the meeting that followed a sister from each branch told of a visiting teaching experience. One of the RS Presidents told how to be a better visiting teacher. We concluded by watching Sister Barbara Thompson’s talk on visiting teaching from this year’s Relief Society Women’s Broadcast. We had worked very hard to make it a beautiful event and were pleased to have nearly sixty in attendance. But wearing too many hats that day, the one that was forgotten, was the photographer. So you can’t see the beautifully decorated tables and the happy faces. I should have delegated that to someone else.

Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated here in Africa but we had a dinner on Friday with all ten of our Elders. We even found turkey and cranberry sauce! The stores are stocking up for Christmas. We served turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and pumpkin pie. The Elders brought side dishes and dessert. A big hit was Elder Shumway’s fruit salad! Everyone expressed gratitude for our many blessings.
They were thankful, but mostly hungry!
On Saturday we headed for the Kosi Bay area, where a small group hold church. (Kosi Bay is located 3 ½ hours north of here, about ten minutes from the Mozambique border.) Brother Iris Ohite and his wife escaped from the DRC (Congo), joined the Church in Tanzania and are now residing in the township, KwaNgwanase. Brother Iris, the Presiding Elder, has a tailor shop and presently the group is meeting in his shop. There is one other priesthood member who serves as his counselor. Our Elders go there once every six weeks to teach the investigators. There were twenty-three in attendance – eight adult members, three of whom were visitors, four adult investigators and the rest were youth and children. We had purchased a CD player to aid them in singing the hymns. Brother Iris had hymns playing early Sunday morning and a young man, a peace corp volunteer serving in a remote area, was in town, heard the music and joined us. He is from Oklahoma and is a member. Brother Iris is in the process of building a cinderblock building so that they can meet there for church. He is truly a man of faith. His goal is to return to the Congo but he wants to leave the group in Kosi Bay with a place in which to meet.
Brother Iris' tailor shop

Max Avery (peace corp volunteer), Elder Nuzman, Elder Iris and a young woman setting up for church

Most of the group

Elder Nuzman and Elder Iris in front of the "future church"
While we were in Kosi Bay we stayed at the Maputaland Lodge.  Our room was the end unit next to the driveway and a bamboo fence.  About 10:30 PM drums, chanting, shouting and dancing began on the other side of the fence.  This continued all night long until 5:30 AM!  It was some kind of celebration honoring their Zulu ancestors.  We didn't realize that a cemetary was on the other side of the fence.  Our sleep was somewhat disturbed.  At one point I awoke with visions of cauldrons of water boiling and us on the menu.
Actually we were in no danger. This township is more what you would expect to see in Africa.  As we left Kosi Bay and were heading toward the N2 (the main highway) we found giraffe in the field next to the road. There were zebra off in the distance as well.

One block off the main street they were doing their laundry.

Our lodgings.  Note the white dog that befriended us.
The dark coloring on this giraffe is beautiful.
December 2nd was transfer day.  We said goodbye to Elders Shumway, Ssesanga, Meistre and Ndhlovu.
They were here when we first arrived.  They taught us so many things.  We will miss them so much! We are welcoming Elders Adams (from Las Vegas, NV), Tualufo (from Mozambique), Castleberry (from Salem,UT) and Fisher (from West Valley City, UT).
Goodbye Elder Ssesanga and Elder Shumway!
The weather continues to be pleasant. When it rains, it cools things off. It is hard to realize that Christmas will come in the summer here.

We thought you might find the following pictures of interest:
A hibiscus tree in Nseleni

A snail African style  -  escargot anyone?

A new meaning of hands free
At the Boardwalk Mall in Richards Bay.  Women carry all kinds of things on their heads.