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.