Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 2011 thru March 2012

July 15, 2012 - We've been in South Africa for 4 months now. Life is very different and yet somewhat the same. We'll backtrack a little in time to provide more of a complete story. First we need to thank Rebecca for getting this setup for us and her friend for our background. 

July 2011 - The Boise Temple was closing for renovation and we decided we needed to do something better with our time. The plans started rolling. For the short and long of it, we met with the Bishop, filled out the forms, completed all of the medical included two eye surgeries, made initial plans for our homes, and completed our interviews with our Stake President, Pres. Zarkou, on October 2, 2011. He sent it in that night. We waited. We received a comfort survey a week or so later. Quickly we returned that. 

November 3, 2011 - We received a call from the missionary department asking if we had received our call. "No, has it been sent?" was the reply. Yes, it was in the mail and we needed to call them as soon as it arrives. On Friday, Nov. 4th, we returned from the Twin Falls temple with anticipation. We video recorded our mailbox visit, and opened our 'special' package from the Missionary Department. It was surprising and exciting to be called to the South Africa Durban mission. We were told to report on January 9th to the MTC and fly out on January 13th. Too late to call SLC. After telling family and close friends, we called the missionary dept. on Monday. Our entry to the MTC had been delayed. We were to report on Feb. 27th, 2012. He said it was to coordinate with the couple leaving. What we really found out was that there were too many things to get done before January 9th. Our FBI clearance took the longest.

Feb 27-Mar 6th: The MTC (Missionary Training Center) -
It is great to complete a week at the MTC. We are really pumped up about missionary work. We studied Preach My Gospel all week and did role playing to give us some practice. We had two great teachers, Elder Quinn Barney (mornings) and Sister Arce (afternoons). We are told to really use the Book of Mormon and that is our main source for scriptures in the lessons we teach. The emphasis is on teaching by the Spirit. We use the main discussions as a basis and adapt from there. We heard Elder Holland on Tuesday night strongly exhort us missionaries to come back as better people more grounded in the gospel and not to go back to our pre-mission ways. Today we had Sacrament meeting with the International branch. They almost all bore their testimonies. We had a mission conference and were trained by the mission presidency. At 5:30 we had a Departing Missionary meeting in which we were pumped up and counseled to be our best by the Mission Presidency. At 7:00 we had a fireside by Alex Boye’. He is a black convert from England and he sings with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He described a strange and touching conversion story along with admonition to be the best we can be and to be committed.

It was inspiring to be with the missionaries, all 2000 of us, in the auditorium/gym. The sea of missionaries was bubbling with enthusiasm. Everyone sang with vigor and it really lifted our spirits. Tonight, we did a version of Called To Serve in which we went from soft to medium to loud to full voice as we sang together. Our eyes were moist as we felt the Spirit and the love of missionary work swelled within us.

We gained many new friends and developed a quick bond and love for them. We will miss them as we depart for places across the globe. We will be traveled with two couples to Johannesburg and there we part company as they go south and we go east.

March 13th

We have not quite been in So. Africa for a week now, but we have seen and learned many new things. We met our Mission President Von Stetten and wife at the Durban airport and they took us to a lovely Bed & Breakfast where we promptly went to bed after 25 hours with not much sleep! The sun comes up at 5:30 a.m. and we were awakened by the squawking of the Hadeda birds. Welcome to South Africa as they say around here! We dressed and went to the Mission Home where Craig was set apart as a Counselor in the Presidency then we took a tour of the city and Craig had a chance to show his ability to drive on the left side of the road.
.After a long and busy day of orientation, we had the delight of dining with not only the other couple missionaries in the office but a beautiful young woman from South Africa. She came from the coast not too far from Mozambique. Growing up in a township meant she worked hard and struggled to get ahead. Tomorrow, she would be on a plane ride to Johannesburg and into the MTC. She was quiet and soft spoken and very respectful. Her smile, however, was the brightest we’d seen in a long time. Her height put her almost a head above all of the rest of the Zulu people. Her frame was thin but one used to hard work. Probably being a main financial support for her family, it was difficult for her father to let her go on a mission. Besides helping her family, she had saved most of the money to support herself on a mission. At 23 years old, her maturity was very self evident. Her savings alone was probably close to the cost of supporting her entire family for the length of her mission. It was an honor and privilege to be in her presence.
 Thursday we left for Newcastle in our car and we watched the scenery change from tropical to rolling hills and grasslands. We have had days in the 80’s with electrical storms and rain in the evenings to cool things off. We spent Friday getting things unpacked and put away. We have a nice roomy home and we are very comfortable. The missionaries all came by to welcome us and we enjoyed getting to know all 10 of them. We have ventured out to the grocery store a couple of times and have gotten lost finding our P.O. Box and other places. We found out that there are few street signs and most are printed on the curbs with grass growing over it. Thank goodness for the Garmin that helps us find our home!! Things that are new to me: Kilometers, Rand (our money with animals on it), driving on the left side of the road, toilet flusher on the right side, military time, Celsius temp on the oven, locking everything up (gate into our drive way, gate into our house, the front door) and bars on all the windows. Everyone is Zulu and we learned a new handshake when we greet them. They have names like Phakamani Mbokazi, Nkululeko Myeni, Xolani Mbatha and Sanile Msibi. They speak very quietly and fast so we try to repeat what they say and hopefully we will someday remember their names.
Madadeni is a township 20 Km outside of the city of Newcastle. A township differs from a city in that it doesn’t have all of the public services or at least as well developed. Sewer, water, electricity, heat, air conditioning are seen in a small percentage of the homes in a township. Madadeni has seven sectors, each sector itself equal or greater in size than the central town of Newcastle. Stores are sparse and just here or there. Very few homes had cars and those cars were old and worn well beyond their years. In the midst of this township, is the small LDS church. It is surrounded by seven foot fences of steel posts with pointed tips. Razor wire circled around the top of the fence on the sides and back of the property. Kids were playing and young men were standing around talking. Just like any other church site. Today was a baptismal day for seven people. The chapel was adequate and air conditioned to a comfortable temperature. Two of the baptismal candidates were young men, preparing to go on a mission. (Ages 21 and 22). Two young women, and two women also had committed their lives to the Lord. One of the women carried a special spirit with her and you could feel the Spirit strengthening your testimony as you were in her presence. The baptisms were simple and sincere. Non-member friends and family supported these six. The one person who didn’t show up, is the one who missed out. Luckily, there’s always another chance. Their short testimonies afterwards were a perfect way to experience our first Saturday in the mission field.

March 24th

The Zulu's are very loving people, humble and theygreet us with an embrace. They have a special handshake that we learned quickly. The women’s hair is corn-rowed in swirls around the head or in clumps or tiny braids down the back. We soon found out that they have several wigs or extentions so each week at church they have a new hairdo.  The children are beautiful, a Hershey chocolate brown.

Shopping at the grocery store is hard. The Rand freaks me out when you pay 22.99 for a bag of oatmeal! Brand names and quantities are all so different. We had to buy an iron (529.98) and fry pan (110.00) for the Elders and a hair dryer (129.00) for me.

Our elders are great, we have 10 in our area that we love and care for. At zone conference we met the 8 from the down south of us in our Newcastle Zone and 16 more from Swaziland. Pres and Sis Von Stetten from Durban and the Hudson’s from Ladysmith attended and we fed all 43 Pizza for lunch.

We have had our power shut off twice and also our water. It seems to be a frequent occurrence around here. We went to the municipality to find out what the problem was concerning the power and hopefully got it resolved for the future. Everything is hard, but we are learning.

Relief Society Birthday commemoration: Madadeni 1st branch. It was a 4 and ½ hour ordeal with the District RS president reading from Handbook 1, 14 pages starting with the wearing of the temple garment to sealing adoptive children to parents for 1 ½ hours. We had singing practice for ½ hour and finally at 2 pm we had lunch and cake. Our first experience with African food: Paap, Chocolatca, and chicken. The cakes we decorated in Relief Society colors and was very good.

P-day Braai with the Elders at NCandu Falls. Luckily I made a big fruit salad and a chocolate pudding cake. The meat was provided by the Elders and looked like they butchered the cow on their way to the braai and brought these great big cuts. We had our own Russian sausages that we grilled. We had a great day together.

I have been busy sewing up Elder’s split out pants. Also they buy pants that are 4-6 inches too long and I have been hemming them up.

We had our first service project at the local Red Cross. We mixed up cement in an old wheelbarrow, sand, gravel from the driveway and water and concrete. The project is a fence to keep the cows out of the garden in back of the building. The Elders and Elder Miller set three posts in preparation of making the fence.



  1. Yeah!! Glad this is up and running, it is fun to see all your great missionary moments

  2. It is wonderful reading your posts. Keep up the good work! I will say to you the same thing I say to my Marine son: stay safe, be strong and keep the faith! Love you two!

  3. Your mission post is so inspirational! I'm glad you're enjoying your experiences. What an adventure!

  4. This blog is fantastic! Thank you for sharing your missionary experiences with us. They strengthen us and lift us....and make us laugh, too! You two are in our prayers continuously. We love you guys...Jared & Joy :-)

  5. Great blog! It had been so great to hear from you guys! Love you so much Tutu and Grandpa!

  6. You two are awesome! So great to hear from you.

  7. Your blog brings back lots of good memories of our time in South Africa. I'm sure you're well used to the rand, wrong side of the road, Zulu handshake and the way the country works. Do the members SMS you on their phones and ask you to call them so they don't have to pay for the calls? We'll be looking forward to your blogging. Jack and NaDee Davidson

  8. Oh how happy I was to get this blog from you!!!!!~ What a terrific experience you are having. Our best friends, the Dyers, are serving in the Philipines and having a very difficult but wonderful mission there. You will truly be blessed for your cheerful and diligent service. Thanks so much for sharing with us. Missions are the best! We just returned last night from the Mediterranean with Brian, his wife Lauren, and Lindsay. Wonderful trip, but surely not as meaningful as the service that you are doing. You are awesome! Love and best wishes to both of you.....keep us on your list! Love you, Linda and Bill