Sunday, December 28, 2014

Week 30 - Dec 21st - 27th, 2014

Sunday, December 21st to Saturday, December 27th

Our week started with the Winter Solstice here in the Southern Hemisphere which is opposite of what we are used to from home.  Today is the longest daylight hours of the year and the daylight hours will now begin to shorten until the Summer Solstice which marks the beginning of winter here and the shortest daylight hours.

In any event, it is still the Christmas season and we truly hope that all who read this enjoyed drawing close to the Savior and sharing the love and kindness that accompany the celebrations and His gift with all who fall within our circles of influence.

Lest we forget.  Let us not from day to day all year long.

We had a most memorable time here celebrating Christmas with the Elders, about 170 of them.  

We fed them breakfast, had Santa pass out some humble gift packages to them, watched a movie with them "Meet the Mormons" (which was terrific in and of itself), then we played some sports with them as they slowly departed to find their way to dinner appointments and to make their Christmas calls back home to their families.

All the way from the North Pole right?

We also were blessed by the opportunity to make some video calls home to our kids and grandkids and experience some love and joy and Christmas happiness with them.  Of course we love and miss them but as a substitute this year, we were able to truly enjoy a much larger 'family' here with whom we shared similar circumstances and enjoyment.

Two other noteworthy events this week:  1) taking Melanie for a 'root canal' visit to her new girl friend a Hindu dentist who is finding lots of other work to do for her even besides the fun root canal; 2) took an Elder to the airport for an early release and a return home on Christmas Eve, he left here about 9:00 p.m. and will arrive home on Christmas Day a little after noon at his destination.  He had a lot of nervous anxiety but seemed okay and happy as we parted company at the airport.  It was still a heart touching experience as are all of these early release departures.

Anyway to end on positive wish again of a Merry Christmas and now an upcoming Happy New Year to you all!  Our love to you.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Week 29 - Dec 14th - 20th, 2014

Sunday, December 14th to Saturday, December 20th

This was quite a different time comparatively.  The week before Christmas at home would be full with family, shopping, and other activities.  The week here in South Africa was full of mission office work for both Melanie and I.  Many routine housing, utility, and phone issues to address and to train.

Additionally this week Melanie had to make a couple of trips to see her new dentist Dr. Raheema Suliman to deal with some aching pain which has also turned into a root canal to be finished next week along with maybe some additional repair work.  She's been brave enough to handle it and the dentist is a good one who has been used by the Area Presidency over some years now so we have some confidence in her.

We've enjoyed some fun video calls back home as usual which have been so good for our spirits, especially the one to see the new grandson Henrik Odin Hansen, Cody and Tiffani's newborn son.

This happy Dad Cody bought the knit viking hat for his newborn son Henrik who wears it peacefully at this stage of his life.  Just watch out in a couple of years!

We also enjoyed a visit and a lunch meal with Elder Ben and Sister Jill Jones.  We are coordinating the activities and schedule for the upcoming February visit by their two Curtis and Alleson and our two Wendy and Annie.

This first six months here in South Africa has sped by so quickly!  It is still amazing to us each and every day when we wake up and find ourselves here together on a mission.  We couldn't be happier and wouldn't trade this experience for anything.  We are truly blessed and pray that our service is acceptable to the Lord as we try our best.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Week 28 - Dec 7th - 13th, 2014

Sunday, December 7th to Saturday, December 13th

Fast Sunday to start the week.  We enjoy the Sabbath Days here very much.  The Roodepoort ward is becoming more and more a part of us now, just in time for us to prepare to leave for our transfer up north to Polokwane to do Member Leadership Support for the remainder of our mission.

We held a YSA Christmas activity at our flat with some nice treats Melanie made.  We truly enjoyed the company and the visits with these young people with whom we have grown fond more than we could have ever known.

A great group along with our two Italian Elders.

This Elder Garnica has a cool hat, but the real reason I took this picture is because of the Lord's blessings for his missionaries.  He and his companion were kidnapped and robbed at knife-point by three drunks who put them in the Elder's car trunk and then took off driving crazy.   The car was crashed and rolled and then driven off again and rolled again.  The Elders were blessed to escape unhurt but for a few bumps and bruises.

This week was full of things to accomplish with the quarterly Zone Conference / Mission Tour which took up three days of the week at various locations around Joburg and in Pretoria.   Melanie was busy with meals, serving, etc. I assisted and also helped with car inspections which we do quarterly as well.

We were fortunate to have Elder Carl Cook and his wife Lynette as visitors and presiding at the meetings.   It was great to see them again and to share a little bit of time with them during the week.  They are such good people, we love them.

The work with phones and flats and utilities and shopping and furnishings continues, but now it has fully taken on a new dimension with the focused cross-training of the Allreds who will succeed us in the Mission Office.   We have grown to love them very much and are so happy to have had these months together to work with them and to get to know them.  We will miss them.

We were thrilled, and excited this week to have our daughter Annie graduate from Weber State University with her MBA.  She has worked so hard to accomplish this goal with challenges and a burden that many people would never attempt.  But she did it and we are so pleased, proud and happy for her.

And to top off the week it is such a blessing to be able to video call the family back home, to see their faces, to hear their voices, and to stay in close touch with them.   We love and miss them so much.

Meanwhile back at home here's a few pics that Cody put up since his son Henrik Odin Hansen is now a week old.

Outfit Melanie bought for him.

Cody's Viking image.

Knit viking hat isn't too dangerous at this point.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Week 27 - Nov 30th - Dec 6th - Start of Month 7

Sunday, November 30th to Saturday, December 6th

First the biggest news of the week.  We have a new Grandson!  Henrik Odin Hansen, was born on Saturday, December 6th to our son Cody, wife Tiffani, and his sister Elizabeth.  Blessed we all are, everything went well.  Mom and son are doing well.  God has blessed us in a wonderful way.

In other news, we moved another flat of Elders this week.

We began training the Allred's to become our Office Couple replacements for when we transfer in January up to our new Member Leadership Support assignment in Polokwane.  We've been blessed to have them working close with us since they arrived in September.  They will do a great job!  In the Sisters shopping trip picture below, the Allred's are standing on the left side.

We assisted with the Mission Leadership Council Meeting lunch for the Zone Leaders.  These are some of the best of the best Elders in the mission!

And we took a little p-day shopping trip with some other Seniors to a place that only the Sisters would love.

But all in all, it was another great week, crowned with the happy sights on our video call of our new Grandson Henrik, 'Henry', 'Rik', or as Elizabeth his sister would say 'Watermelon Guy'.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Week 26 - Nov 23rd - 29th, 2014

Sunday, November 23rd to Saturday, November 29th

Monday the 24th, our dear little Plain City, UT granddaughter Marlie (Jimmy and Amber's oldest) celebrated her 11th Birthday.  She turned us into Grandparents when she was born!  Happy Happy Day.

Tuesday, the 25th was the biggest transfer day in the history of the mission only a handful of the Elders were not affected by change this week.   It was a wonderfully spiritual experience in the meeting and a very electric and excited parking lot afterwards.

These twelve are going home now and are waiting to walk the new Elders over from the MTC to the chapel.
Ready, set, go to work!
Some real excitement follows the transfer meeting in the chapel.

Thanksgiving Day and Friday Senior Couple's Dinner

Aside from the nail prints and lest we forget, He has the whole world in His hands.  (Well maybe for some parts of Africa, South America, etc. but He's got them covered too.)

Melanie's thankful tree filled with leaves written by all of us and many of the Elders.

At the mission home with many other senior couples.  No turkey though.  A small one over here about 7-8 lbs costs about $40.

Christmas Decorating African style with some things Melanie got from a Carver and a couple of shops.

Carved nativity - closed then opened.

Carved gourd - closed then opened.

On a sad note we were informed of deaths in the family this week.  The first was our Daughter-in-law's maternal Grandmother McKinley.  The second was my cousin DeLone Smith Haye's husband Roger.  Our heart-felt condolences and regards to them and their family as they deal with their loss.  God bless them!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Week 25 - Nov 16th - 22nd, 2014

Sunday, November 16th to Saturday, November 22nd

Taught our YSA SS lesson on Daniel and Esther.  We enjoy being able to teach and associate with these YSA's here.

We moved some Elders from a sort of bad situation to a better flat hopefully.  Their old one wasn't exactly a healthy setting.  Now they have clean water flowing through their pipes also with enough pressure to shower.  

Trip one with p-day help from the Elders and the Ward YM's presidency.

Trip two with a little help from the Senior moving couple!

Had a little down time due to sickness this week, but it sure does make homemade chicken soup taste wonderful and feels so good.  Better than the fate of this guy though:

So while we still got some office work accomplished it was sort of a week of rest and recuperation with some meds too.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 24 - Nov 9th - 15th, 2014

Sunday, November 9th to Saturday, November 15th

Big things of this week:

  1. Our 44th Anniversary was on Thursday.  It was a fairly regular office day but we did take a break for lunch at a Pizza Hut place not far from here.  
  2. The Temple session on Friday was a very nice way to follow-up on our anniversary celebration.  Afterwards we had a nice lunch with the Joneses and Allreds.
  3. Bid farewell to our friend Elder Martin who finished his mission and returned to his homeland in Switzerland.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Week 23 - Nov 2nd - 8th, 2014 - Start of Month 6

Sunday, November 2nd to Saturday, November 8th

In matters of taste swim with the current and compromise as you will, but in matters of principle stand fast on the rock of your foundation with unfailing courage!

Melanie stays busy at the Mission Office reception desk when she's not out buying and preparing furnishings and supplies for over 100 apartments.

This week Melanie made a 'thankful' tree for the Elders, etc. to fill out on a leaf what they were thankful for.  Sort of a Thanksgiving Day activity mainly for those who will miss this holiday at home.  But, many of our Elders are from countries in other places of the world where this is not celebrated.

I am thankful that we have running water available so we don't have to find alternate means of carrying it around to where we need it.

We are thankful to have each other to help load, lift and move furniture etc when we need help (and all dressed up with badges on too).

We are thankful for a car and a truck to drive so we don't have to run across dangerous highways where drivers might not pay close attention to the signs warning of running pedestrians.

We are thankful to avoid hitting these street vendors 'hawkers' who try to make a living while dodging cars and trucks on freeways and busy highways.

We are thankful for Public Safety warning signs to help us know we are entering in or passing through a dangerous crime area.

We are thankful that PETA doesn't exist here in South Africa or how else could we get a picture of these lovely 'dead' animals of all types and variety.

But most of all we are thankful for the Savior, Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice and resurrection that gives us meaning in our service as full-time missionaries and that also gives us hope, along with all of the rest of the people ever to have been born on this earth, for an opportunity to return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father as eternal families to enjoy each other forever!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Week 22 - Oct 26th - Nov 1st, 2014

Sunday, October 26th to Saturday, November 1st

Another busy and happy week in Africa for us two missionaries!

First off close one flat where the burglaries were and turn the keys over to the landlord.

Watched a great video that Pres Dunn wrote the screenplay for "Only a stonecutter" about Moyle the amputee who walked twenty miles back and forth for years to work on the SL Temple.  Talk about dedication to your calling, he set the bar very high.

Melanie spent some time making dozens of great donuts for the Elders treat when they came in for Zone Leader's pick-up day.  They were a big hit and got gobbled up quickly.

Went over to the west a ways from Joburg to Randfontein to find a new flat for the Elders there whose place is less than healthy and not the best weekend environment.

I spent some time this week working on an assignment for Pres Dunn to prepare a draft Emergency Operations Plan for the Mission and some Safety/Security/Emergency policies and guidelines for the Elders.

Friday, was Halloween.  The only one that came in costume was Pres Dunn, the rest of us were dressed up as missionaries.  He was wearing some SF Giants gear in celebration of their winning the world series, his favorite team.  Of course he had a shirt and tie under it we found out quickly after we got a couple of pictures. 

They don't really celebrate this nor Thanksgiving either. Everything has been building up towards Christmas though for some time already.  But back at home the Grandkids had a ball.

We did our usual shopping and support work in the office all week for the Elders.  We love getting to see them come and go and to be able to help them.  We also enjoy getting to hand out pass-along cards everywhere we go and to people we meet.  

As we were getting groceries Saturday we were in the store at a very busy time and a lady I passed by saw my badge and said Hansen was her maiden name as well.  I stopped her and gave her a warm 'well hello cousin' greeting.  Her family traces to Norway.  That led to a conversation about why we were here and what we were doing and the Church, the Choir, and a good pass-along card for her of the Savior.  She said she is a Methodist, loves our family history focus etc.  Another example of the many conversations and opportunities to share the Savior's love.  Try it some time, you'll love doing it and feeling good about sharing and inviting people!