Sunday, February 23, 2014

Joburg adventure

This is the Motel that we stayed in when we were at Johannesburg.  It was pretty fancy for us.  They had a really nice breakfast each morning with lots of fresh fruit, muffins, yogurts, danish, cereals, cheese, crackers, eggs, amazing bacon, sages and I don't remember what all else.  

The parable of the Fickle Garmin

Once upon a time there was a missionary couple from a small town in Arizona called to serve in the South African, Durban Mission in a "small town" called Bloemfontein.  (Of course the term "small town" is relative to what you know.  Bloemfontein seems pretty big to me.). This couple had a third companion, lovingly called Elder Garmin, that they trusted and depended on a great deal.  Well, at least at first they did.  

Elder and sister Edington where given the keys to a car, that had the steering wheel on the wrong side, and were asked if they wanted to drive to their new home or be driven.  Sister Edington respectfully declined the opportunity but Elder Edington said, "There is no time better than the present to learn".  He took the keys and climbed in on the "wrong" side of his new car.  Elder Edington drove away being coached by Elder Carlile and Sister Edington climbed in a car with Sister Carlile and off they went in search of their new living quarters.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Our Home Away From Home

 Our Home Away From Home

 Welcome to our new home.  This is looking at the front of our apartment.  To the left you see our Garage.  It is closed in on two sides.  In the middle is the gate and path to our front door and to the right is the outside of our yard.  The window you see is the bay window in our bedroom.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What's In A Name

We had a challenging day.  The wards and branches are beginning to send us the names of the students enrolled in seminary and institute classes.  The program we have that officially signs up the students for a class uses the church's membership records.  If the student is part of the ward or branch it's an easy process to enroll them.  If not, we have to have the birth dates, and gender.  It is almost impossible for me to tell from the name if the student is male or female.  Here's some examples:

Ts's epang

And I thought family history was hard.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


The Missionaries and a future missionary in the Masianokeng Branch.  Their Chapel and classrooms are mobile units brought in by the church.  They sing beautifully without the use of an organ.  They have a keyboard but no one who knows how to play it.   We gave our first unexpected introductions and testimony today.  We talk about our family and our mission.  It was much easier than I expected.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

At the MTC

The MTC was the most amazing place in the world.  From the moment we got there to the moment we left we were treated like VIP's.  The young Elders and Sister must be told to be very respectful of the Seniors Missionaries because they say hi, open doors, let us go first through the door and even at the food lines.  All kind of nice things that don't usually happen in the real world.

This is our district or groups that worked together in the mornings to learn about the Preach my Gospel Program. Left to right are Elder and sister Arnett heading to Spain, Elder and Sister Crayan heading to California to serve in one of the mission offices, our "single and very sweet" trainer Sister Brown, Elder Edington and I and then Elder and Sister Widmar who are serving a home mission in Reno Nevada.

This is our same district or groups with our afternoon trainer.  Left to right are Elder and Sister Crayan heading to California to serve in one of the mission offices, Elder and Sister Arnett heading to Spain, Madrid Mission, our "single " trainer Brother Herman, Elder Edington and I and then Elder and Sister Widmar who are serving a home mission in Reno Nevada.

One one of the first night of the week Elder herman took a girl out on a date.  From then on out he was receiving dating advice from all of us, but mostly the Widmars.  They bought and presented him a book all about dating.  

This is our Mission Map picture showing where we are going on this huge map on the wall at the MTC.  We will be serving in the South Africa, Durban Mission in Bloemfontein as CES Specialists.

These are all the missionaries that where trained together for the first week we were there.  We had training using the Preach my Gospel Book.  I was wonderful.  This was an unusually large group of Senior Missionaries, but not the largest that has been at the MTC.   It was such a thrilling experience to rub shoulders with so many talented and experienced people.  There were people who were on their first or second or third missions.  Some had served as Mission Presidents, Stake Presidents, Bishops and then there were a lot just like Dalen and I, just regular members of their wards.  These people come from all walks of life, but we had one thing in common.  We were all there to serve the Lord in what ever capacity He needs and believe me the Lord need Senior missionaries in the worst way.  There are several thousand opening for Senior missionaries so if you are thinking about going on a mission I hope you will get your papers together and come join us for the experience of a life time.                                (Dalen and I are in the bottom picture 9 over from the left. )

Here are all the senior CES missionaries that stayed over the second week.  Little did we know what we were in for.  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

On Our Way

After finally dropping into bed at 11:00 last night I thought I would fall right to sleep because I was so tired, but not me.  I stayed awake most of the night.  I think I must have dozed for a while from about 2:00 to 4:00 but I'm not sure.  Up again at 5:00.  Pop tart, an apple and sparkling cider for breakfast.  (Cider left from Christmas that we never got around to drinking and figured now or never.)

In the Beginning

We are finally here in South Africa.  After arriving on February 1, 2014 Polly and I are reflecting on the process that resulted in our mission call.  Getting here was not easy but we have seen many tender mercies that allowed us to arrive on time.

We first sent in our papers at the end of June 2013 only to have the Stake President call us to inform us that we could not apply for a mission until the surgery on my feet was completed.  At first it seemed like a rejection by the church.  Neither of us knew of anybody who had been told no, but then we realized we were just being told to wait.

After surgery and finally an okay from the doctor our papers where resubmitted the third week of October.  We waited impatiently, checking the mailbox daily.  Finally on November 19, after two previous trips to the box that day,  we found the big white envelope staring at us from its dark tunnel.

With shouts of excitement we hooped and hollered and then I told Dalen he had to wait until everyone could get to his mothers house to open the letter.  He thought I was crazy but then seeing how serious I was and just how much I wanted the kids and grandkids to be there when we opened it he agreed to have patience and wait.  We call everyone and told them there would be pizza and root beer floats at Great Grandma Buck's house so they needed to hurry as quickly as they could get there.  Again we waited as some families could get there early and others later.   After the feeding frenzy at nearly 7:00 Kevin and Kim got there with there kids.  All were accounted for except Jason who would be participating by using Skype. What a crazy, wonderful, loud, and excited crowd we made as we all anticipated the opening of "The Letter".   Dalen deferred to me to open and read it aloud to everyone.  It finally got quiet as I started to read then exploded again when I said the words "called to serve in the South Africa, Durban Mission". 

When we got the call it seememed the date of our departure was a long way away but then as shots, Thanksgiving, more shots, a baptism, Christmas, our final talk in church and even more shots kept happening the time flew very fast.  Family kept coming and going through the rest of the months of November and December.  It seems like one big wonderful blur of excitement and before we knew it it was time to go and we still had no FBI clearance for visas. On January 18th when we left it was an act of faith that everything would turn out so we could leave to South Africa on time.