Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Near Sentinel Peak May 30th

  On Saturday May 30 we went to Phuthadittjhaba to meet with the new branch president, President Moloi.  He has served for the last year as a counselor to President Bird, a Senior Missionary.  

The Birds  were given the responsibility of teaching and training the members in the Phuthaditjhaba Branch how to successfully run a branch with as many of the organizations as they could possibly support.  They started a young men's and young women's program which was a huge success.  The seminary and institute programs grew to include members and non member alike.  They had older investigators that attended institute as well.  The growth was remarkable.
 These beautiful blankets were on display for anyone to purchase.  They were beautiful.  We purchased the one I am holding.  The beautiful Lady with me is the Lady that made this rug.  The young man in the picture with here is her son.  He had some sand art and crystals that he was selling.  

We had a wonderful day enjoying the beauty of nature and God's creations.  We are so grateful for the opportunities to enjoy South Africa pup close and personally.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Phezulu Cultural Center

"PHEZULU SAFARI PARK is an exciting tourism venue, situated in Botha’s Hill, only 35 km’s from central Durban. This picturesque park has magnificent views of the world-famous Valley of a 1000 Hills. 

At Phezulu village, the world famous Gasa clan has over the last 30 years, allowed visitors to Phezulu the opportunity to savour the taste and feel the rhythm of Africa. Visitors are taken into traditional beehive shaped thatched huts, where the various artifacts, beliefs and rituals are explained, giving foreigners an insight into the fascinating Zulu culture. The Zulu dancing show is impressive with the dancers in their traditional garb, showing off their skills with grace, agility and humour- a truly unforgettable experience! Take park in Zulu spear and shield making."

Lesotho Seminary and Institute Activities

Very Early on a cold Lesotho morning, seminary and institute students joined Elder and Sister Huls, Elder and Sister Edington, their teachers sister Lineo Mosletsane and Sister Keiso Tuliraba, President Monesa the branch president, and the young missionaries for a kick off breakfast to start the second term of the year.  It was very early and very cold but the student came in large numbers.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Tamaran Van Der Leek

This beautiful young lady is Tamaran Van Der Leek.  Soon to be Mrs. Francois Koch.  We feel in love with Tamaran and all of the Van Der Leek Family right from the beginning of our
mission.  The Van Der Leek family was the first Afrikaans family we met.  Up until they moved to Bethlehem, they fed the senior couples and local jr. missionaries every Thursday night.  We quickly grew to love them for their kindness and loving spirit.

Angry Birds in South Africa

Last year it was the minions.  This year it is angry birds.  It is so much fun to look for these on the side of the road as we travel to Welkom.  These angry bird characters are made out of round bales of hay covered in colored plastic, just like the minions from last year.   Someone here is very creative.  It makes for fun on a long trip.  We are no longer going to Welkom most weeks like we use to.  We now go to Kimberly for DDMs.  (District Develop Meetings).

When we were coming home from one of our last trips to Welkom we decided to go down the road that is right by the angry birds.  We were surprised to find this minion in a helicopter.  He is so cute and so much fun to look at.  (At least we now know how the minions got here to South Africa.) Fun!  Fun!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Bloemfontein Zone Activities Rugby

One advantage of going all over the free state and Bethlehem and Phuthaditjhaba is that we get to be involved with missionaries from lots of different districts and three zones.  The young missionaries seem to like the Senior Missionary couple.  I am not sure if it is the fact we feed them so often or if we are mom and dad substitutes but they invite us to participate in their activities quite often.
On Saturday March 14, 2015 we got a phone call that proved to be an opportunity to check off one of the things on our South African bucket list.   Shortly after arriving in South Africa it became quite apparent that South Africans love their sports as much, if not more than we American do.  The two sports that appear to be top on the list are rugby and soccer.   Attending a professional rugby game became one of our bucket list items.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh My! (March 2, 2015)

Lions and tigers and bears oh my!  Well maybe not bears but plenty of lions and tigers. We had the privilege of going with the Welkom district for an activity to the Boskoppie Lion and Tiger Reserve near Kroonstad,We have been working with the Welkom and Kroonstad Elders for most of the last year so when they decided to go to the lion park for a district activity it was only natural for us to go along. 

We stayed at the Arcadia Bed and Breakfast on Sunday and met the Elders at the Shell station in town.  We caravanned in a group with Elder Belnap in the lead.  It was a good thing we had someone to follow.  We had tried two times before to get to the park but we had never even got close, as we discovered when we headed out.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Parnell's Practically Perfect B&B

We have been privileged to have a wonderful MLS missionary couple, Elder and Sister Parnell, who live in Maseru in the country of Lesotho.  Having them living in Maseru has been a tremendous blessing for us.  We have teachers at the university of Lesotho in Roma,  Masianokeng, Maseru and in Leribe.  It is difficult to see every teacher on the same day because of the distances to travel.  It can be done but it makes a very long and tiring day.  The Parnells have been so gracious as to play host to us on many more than one occasion.  They have made our trips to Lesotho pleasant adventures rather than trying obligations.  Knowing that we did not have to travel home but could stay overnight in a pleasant and inexpensive environment was a comfort to our spirits and a blessing to our physical well being.  We have often teased Elder and Sister Parnell, telling them they have the best Bed and Breakfast in all of Lesotho.  In fact, it is the truth.

Parnell's Practically Perfect Bed and Breakfast
The events of this past week have brought about disappointing consequences.  Sister Parnell has suffered some serious medical setbacks that will require them to return to their home in Utah.  This is a grave disappointment for us all.  They have been a vital part of the care and support system to the missionaries in Lesotho as well as a tremendous support to the Maseru branch.  We will miss their friendship, their willingness to help with Seminary and institute and of course the gracious hospitality of their B&B.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Temple Wedding and More

President and Sister Kwaikwai

Our weekend started out Friday morning with an almost 5 hour trip to the Johannesburg.  We had the wonderful privileged of attending the marriage and sealing of two beautiful young people. Brother Kwaikwai is the President of the Potchefstroom branch and Sister Kwaikwai was a YSA in Welkom before she moved to Spring.  In our last 15 months of working with YSA's this is the first wedding that has occurred and it is so exciting that is was in the temple.  There are many difficulties here with trying to be married and sealed in the temple

Joyce Malerato Rantsho

This is an article I wrote, for the S&I website, about a very special young lady that just happens to be one of our Institute teachers.  We love and admire her for her sacrifice of time and energy to serve the Lord.  This is the kind of wonderful teachers we are privileged to work with.  Lucky us.

 Sacrifice?  It does not feel like a sacrifice to me but a privilege to server”.  Joyce Malerato Rantsho joined the church at age 16.  After her parents had passed on she and her three siblings were moved from place to place and school to school finally ending up in Welkom with her grandparents.  During this upheaval Joyce kept looking for something without really knowing what it was.  She attended many churches and even joined one but she still was not satisfied that she had found what she was looking for.  “No church was there for me,”  she stated.  

She passed by the LDS church in Welkom almost on a daily bases because she lived so close.  She often saw people outside and wondered what it was all about.  On one particular Sunday she saw one of her classmate that she knew well and asked her if she attended this church and how could she find out more.  November 22, 2009, her baptism day, was the beginning of her total commitment to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

She has served as Young Women’s advisor, Young women's teacher, Relief society visiting teacher coordinator, assistant ward librarian, helping hands committee member, and now institute teacher.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Mosa: Piano Student Extraordinaire

This is Mosa.  She is a beautiful and very talented ten year old girl from the Bloemfontein ward.  She has been asking her mom for a very long time if she could take piano lesson.  When Sister Carlile left to go home she gave Elder Edington two keyboards and books to teach piano to those who are interested in learning.  When Mosa's mom found out that Elder Edington could teach her daughter, the lessons began.  Mosa is amazingly bright and talented on the piano.   She is not afraid to try anything and practices like crazy.  She has already played for family home evening.  The students are given a keyboard with the expectation that they will learn, practice and then play for their ward or branch when they have learned how to play.

We have told her that she will be expected to play for church meeting and also to share her knowledge with others by teaching them what she has learned.  Mosa is already sharing what she has learned with another young lady.   She has to stay after piano lesson while her sister goes to young women.  We stay to teach seminary and one day we saw and heard Mosa teaching a young man (late teens early twenties) what she was learning.  She does not seem to be afraid of anything.  She will be a great asset to her ward as she becomes able to play for church meetings.

Birthday Surprise

Two unexpected birthday surprises came on my birthday March 29, 2015.

First, we attended the Bethlehem Branch Sunday meetings so we could visit the Van Der Leek Family that moved from Bloemfontein to Bethlehem.  Brother Van Der Leek was recently called to serve as the branch president.   After meetings, many of the members of the branch sang happy birthday to me.  Sister Louise Van Der Leek gathered them up and asked them to help sing to me.  It was very fun and not expected at all.

The second surprise came later that evening after we had gotten home from Bethlehem.  Elder Edington and I were watching a movie when we heard a knock at the door.  It was Elder and Sister Hulls and Elder and Sister Woolston carrying a cupcake cake.  They came in and again sang "Happy Birthday" to me.  We each enjoyed a very delicious chocolate cupcake with fondant frosting and a wonderful visit with friends.  It was a pleasant surprise that made me feel very loved.

Time With Brother McMillan, Our Supervisor

 On Tuesday, February 3, 2015 we had the opportunity to have training from our wonderful supervisor Brother McMillan from Cape Town.  We picked him up at the airport just before one in the afternoon.  He came to our home and spent his precious time that afternoon and then again on Wednesday, training and teaching us how to better fulfill our mission call as S&I specialists.
We served him a light lunch and then got to work.

We are so very grateful for Brother McMillan and his willingness to teach and train and answer questions.  He has been a valued friend and leader who has made our job here so much easier than if we had had to try to learn and do all that is required by ourselves.  On Tuesday evening we went to the Longhorn Restaurant for dinner.  It was a nice evening with good food and great companionship.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Short and The Tall of the Mission

This is a perfect example of diversity in the mission field.  On the left is Elder Brimhall from Mississippi USA.  He is our new Zone Leader (6'7')  The Elder in the middle is a new elder from Madagascar, Elder Rokotomanana. He is closer to my 5' height.  Elder Rokotomanana has a great spirit about him and wears his hight well.   Elder Huls is the senior missionary on the right side.  

Three of the finest stifling warriors

Most everyone makes me feel short but I can walk under Elder
Brimhall's outstretched arms without even trying to miss them.  I so
identify with Elder Rokotomanana.  He is my new hero because he
has a giant spirit in a short body and yes he is taller than me but
 not by much.   He has such a positive attitude and a wonderful smile.

Bloemfontein District Activity

On February 2, 2015 we had a Mission District activity.  It is always fun when the younger missionaries include us in the District activities.  This is a great time to get to know the young missionaries and to spend some time in a less confined situation.  We have had some wonderful opportunities.  On this Monday which is preparation day and the day District and zone activities are usually help, we had the opportunity to go to the Cheetah Experience here in Bloemfontein.  We had the Elders from Bloemfontein, Rocklands, Blomanda, Kimberly, Botshebello, and Thaba Nchu with the senior couples Elder and Sister Huls and Elder Edington and I.

They had various kinds of wild cat in different cages.  It was
neat to be able to go right in with the animals.  I guess it is a bit
like a petting zoo back home but mostly for older folks.  It was
exciting to be up close and personal with "wild African Animals".

Ketse Dam

On January 22, 2015 we went with the other Senior couples to Ketse Dam in Lesotho.  Elder and Sister Huls and Elder Edington and I got up early and left Bloemfontein for Ficksburg to meet President Johns of the Durban Mission and Elder and Sister Bird who are in Bethlehem.  We met at President Johns house in Ficksburg and then travel across the boarder into Lesotho were we met the Parnels.  They are the senior missionary couple that live in Maseru which is in southern Lesotho.  We traveled together to Ketse Dam

It was fun to see the animals as we traveled.

The weather was beautiful and the landscape was amazing.  The skies were blue and the hillsides were green and water was everywhere.  We often saw sheep on the sides of the hills and more than once we saw a donkey on the side of the road carrying a heavy load.  The people were friendly and the village sparsely space.  The slow pace of the world around us gave us the feeling of a world gone by.

Elder Edington had planned to fill up the car when we crossed the boarder into Lesotho but they would not take a credit card so we continued on our journey only to find that it was a great deal farther than we thought and we were in grave need of fuel.  We asked around and were told there was a place to get fuel but that they were only open certain times of the day.  We went looking for the "Gas Station" or something that might look like a gas station but we could not see anything.  We asked several people and they kept indicating in was up this hill.  We started up and soon discovered the hill was barely passable for a four wheel drive or a side by side but we had little choice.  We had to get some gas.  Elder Huls offered to drive and Elder Edington gladly gave him the wheel.  The wind was blowing and it had started to rain some.  The cars scraped bottom more than once and I was sure we would high center or fall in a deep hole.  Elder Huls finally maneuvered the car up to what appeared to be a little store.  Behind the store and to the right was a small tin building in which we were told the fuel was kept.  There was no way were were going to try to get to the fuel so the man that was in charge of the fuel got a can and brought the fuel to use.  When we were fueled we paid an extra big tip and headed down the mountain.  I am not sure if it was worse going up or coming down.  I did not like either.  It was unbelievable and needles to say not my favorite part of the trip. 

By the time we finally made it to the dam the weather had turned colder and it was raining but it felt good after the heat we had been having.

To our disappointment the electricity was out so we could not go on the tour of the dam.  We enjoyed going through the visitors center and hearing about the dam but the electricity never did come back on so we finally had to leave.

We went to a nearby resort to eat.  There were o other options. (No Burger Kings or fast food joints of any kind.)  It was a lovely place with a beautiful view of the dam and the lake.

After we ate we headed back down the windy road, grateful for the beautiful scenery and grateful the even though the road was a bit narrow in places it was a well paved road.  We finally got back into South African after dark.  We had planned to stay in Ficksburg so we headed to the Imari Guest House for the night.  We were sure glad we did not try to go the nearly 3 hours it would have taken us to go home.  We were tired and a good nights rest sounded really good.

The next morning we had a leisurely drive home.  We stopped at two farm stalls. (Little touristy places) and really had a fun time. We found Old fashioned root beer that almost tasted like home.  We all really miss root beer.  We finally got home in the afternoon.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

New Year Teacher Training

January was a very busy month for us.  We put over 5 thousand kilometers on our car and visited every unit and almost every seminary and institute.  By the end of the month we did visit with every teacher.  Some weeks were hard and made us wonder what in the world we were thinking when we set up the visits.  It is always easier on paper than to actually do.  When we were not traveling we were preparing for training or contacting teachers about training.  It was a good and productive month but it was a hard month.  Glad it does not get that crazy every month.
This is a picture of a map of the Durban South Arican Mission.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Elder Agyman

These wonderful people are Elder Edington's parents, Colleen and Milton (Buck) Edington.  They were missionaries in Ghana Africa.  They arrived in Ghana on May 2, 1986, nearly 30 years ago.  This young  man that is standing between them is Agyeman.  He helped them in their home and made sure they could communicate and get the things they needed while they where there.  They have a special place in their hearts for him.  We have often heard them speak of Agyeman in a loving way.

Welkom Christmas

On Tuesday December 23, 2014 We had District Development Meeting with a bit of a twist.  We had made and hidden these stockings full of goodies in another room waiting for them to be discovered by the missionaries after DDM and lunch was over.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Triple Zone Christmas Party

On Saturday December 20th, 2014.  We had a big triple zone Christmas party for the missionaries.  We ate and had a gift exchange and later acted out the nativity.  We did not go to the nativity because our kid were calling us.  All of the kids went to Grandma Edington's for Christmas Eve dinner and the nativity.  They did the nativity before they ate so it would not be so late for use.  It was wonderful to be able to participate through FaceTime and see all the grandkid playing the parts of Mary, Joseph, angles, shapers, wisemen and donkeys.  It really made it special and much easier to handle the fact that we could not be there and that our christmas had not come from most of the kids.  But that is another blog entry for later.
 The Carliles left for Durban on December 29th and then left for home on January 5th.  These are only some of the young men they have been responsible for as MLS missionaries.  As you can see they are truly loved by the young men.  The Carliles have been a wonderful example to us of what services in The Lords kingdom looks like.  They served righteously and unceasingly right up until the very end. They were and are loved by the people of South Africa who they loved and served so completely, as well as the missionaries they served.   We, as Senior couples love and miss them more than they will ever know.  I hope to grow up and be as good of missionaries as they are.

Triple Zone Meeting

OnDecember 19th, 2014 we had a triple zone meeting consisting of the Bloemfontein, Lesotho and Bethlehem zones.  As usual it was a great day to learn and grow as zones.  President Zackrison taught as well as Assistants to the President Elder Farrin and Elder Manhanha.  Both of these missionaries Elder Edington and I have close ties to.  Elder Manhana Served in Welkom where he did a marvelous job helping us with the institute program there among many other things.  We love and appreciate all he did to help there.  Elder Farrin is close to our heart because he is from the Farrin Family from Pima AZ.  He left with his family as a young man but returned to Pima each summer to visit grandma and grandpa.  He loves the area and is planning to go back to EAC to study.
We have grown to love and appreciate these missionaries so much for their hard work in serving The Lord.  The Welkom Elder, the last 8 elders on the right of the picture above, are especially dear to us because we work with them closely as Welkom is the assignment we have from President.  We attend as many of their DDM's as we can.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Family Home Evening in Thabang

 The Thabang Elders started a group family home evening that has become a big success.  Elder and Sister Carlile gave the lesson.  Elder and Sister Huls and Elder Edington and I had the privilege to be in attendance.  Home Evening was held in the garage of one of our seminary teachers in the Welkom branch. I was surprised at how many members were in attendance.  I later found out that almost everyone that was there was part of an extended family unit.