Sunday, October 26, 2014

Week 21 Oct 19th - 25th, 2014

Sunday, October 19th to Saturday, October 25th

We had a Senior's Family Home Evening and Melanie put it together with a Halloween theme and did a terrific job.  It is fun to be with some of the other Senior missionaries who are close by once in a while for some FHE and food and visiting.

Other than the usual office work and shopping for supplies, etc. we did go north to close a lease on a new flat for some Elders who had been burglarized a couple of times.  We needed to get them into a safer area.  Then on Saturday we made the big move with two trucks (bakkies) each with a trailer full to overflowing.  Had to put extra air into some tires to make it work okay.

Two bakkies each with a trailer, Melanie is not driving, she's in the passenger side.

Elder Hansen supervising (not lifting today) with Elder Allred arranging and Elder Wambua loading.

Six great Elders (happy too) Four Senior Missionaries, and four little boys who were happy to join in the picture.

Elder's Pulley (Oceanside, CA), Watenga (Uganda), Wambua (Kenya), and Tukia (Tonga).

Some interesting African metal art work for sale along the road-side.  These were beautiful and about 6' tall.

Can you believe gray pumpkins?  These are not unusual here.  We saw these in a Dutch shopping area market.  They look normal on the inside though, probably like people who have different skin colors look the same on the inside I suppose.

This windmill is also a restaurant and has a very beautiful area with shops and gardens.  The Dutch influence is rather pervasive through South Africa even to the Afrikaans language.

Our jacaranda tree in the front yard is looking nice and purple then the blossoms will fall and the ground will have a purple cover for a while.

Remember Mr. Magoo?  They use him over here to advertise these 15% returns to lure those who are willing to invest in housing.  With inflation and with typical annual rental increases in the 7 to 10% range I suppose 15% would be possible.

Melanie would have loved the metal birds, but we don't have the money for them nor the space so she bought this little warthog of welded metal.  He's about 6" tall and 10" long.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Week 20 - Oct 12th - 18th, 2014

Sunday, October 12th to Saturday, October 18th

The Sabbath is such a nice day for us each week.   To be able to go to the Roodepoort Ward and meet there and be a part of the ward and partake of the Sacrament each week.  It is a special assignment we have as well to teach the Young Single Adults Sunday School class together.  We are learning to prepare together and teach together and enjoying our experiences doing this and the spirit that we feel with these young people.

This week was full of activity as we finished up flat inspections, prepared for and experienced another transfer day, searched with some earnest prayer and desperation for a new flat for four Elders, did more shopping and passing out supplies, phones, etc., worked on leases and renewals of leases and last but not least we took a day off on Saturday to experience Elephants up close and personal with some of our other Senior Missionary friends,  the Jones's, the Thompson's, and the Allred's.  It was a great week for us.  Along the way and during the week many more pass-along cards and missionary conversations wherever we were and with whomever we could.  A great week!   Here are a few of our favorite pictures from the week.

Happy Elders who did a great job with keeping their flat clean.  Notice:  None of them are from the US, one from Finland the others from some nations in Africa.

We think we've got a new flat in what seems to be a nice area for four Elders.  If all goes well, we will be moving their furniture and appliances next Saturday.  It is new construction, a little home, 3 br, 2 bath and rents for about $700 mo.

This is a typical scene from the road of a shanty town of shack houses made of scraps and whatever materials they can find to create a shelter.  Then they put rocks or old tires on the roof to hold it down when the winds come.  Usually no plumbing, sometimes electricity, usually outhouses if they're lucky, they usually carry their water.  Unusually, sometimes you will see a satellite dish on one now and then though???  Makes you wonder.

We got a few new Elders in this week, only one from the US though.  We now have missionaries from 33 different countries and most of them are not from the US.  Makes our lives more full and interesting.

This transfer we had about 120 of the 190 missionaries moving around so it was a big one.  A very special and spiritual transfer meeting.  A lot of work to prepare and get things ready for them.  Fun to see them interact when they get this opportunity to see each other.

First, we get to know him.  African elephants are brown not gray, this surprised us!  He liked my hat.

Then Melanie took a ride with the trainer and her new elephant friend, a neat experience.

Then it was my turn to enjoy a trip around the circle a time or two.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 19 - Oct 5th - 11th, 2014

Sunday, October 5th to Saturday, October 11th

The week started much different than we've ever been used to.  We had Fast Sunday and regular block meetings.  Here in South Africa they don't see General Conference on the same schedule as in the US.  They view DVD's of it later in the month.  We were really happy that our young guard Mike would attend Sacrament Meeting with us today.  We hope the Elders can teach him and help him keep moving along the path.

God speaks to the eyes as well as to the ears!

We understand it's getting to be fall back home but the spring flowers are bursting out all over the place here in Africa.  Melanie caught some of them to share.

These purple jacaranda trees are blossoming out everywhere now.

In the meantime the new feature movie "Meet the Mormons" opened.  We didn't get to see it, but a very dear friend of ours must have and sort of showed up in this exclusive photo op.

Who's it with Mitt Romney and Elder Holland?  Could it be Elder Carl Cook of the Seventy?

But we did get to go over to the President's mission home on Sunday evening to see the Sunday morning session live on his BYU-TV.  We had a nice get together meal with the other Senior Couples here too and watched it after we ate.

This week I worked on lease files, renewals, etc. and continued hunting for a flat up in the Pretoria area.  Maybe this one can turn into something that will work?  It's a 3 bedroom home owned by a member that hasn't been lived in for over 6 months and needs a little tender loving care before we would plop our four Elders in here, but at least it's in a safe area.

Melanie and I also did a few flat inspections to make certain the Elders are taking care of their living quarters.  They actually did quite well this time around, at least in the Pretoria area where we have the duty there.

Something a little unusual here.  We rarely if ever see a cemetery but while up north in Pretoria we actually saw two of them and got this picture of one of them.

Also, it might seem strange to us at home in the USA, but here in South Africa many of the locks use 'Skeleton' keys.  And they are all numbered and readily available at most any hardware store just buy them by their number and your in!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Week 18 - Sep 28th - Oct 4th, 2014 - Start of Month 5

Sunday, September 28th to Saturday, October 4th

Sunday we attended a baptism for Jennie Cooke a woman who has been working as an interior decorator on many Church and Temple housing projects for about 20 years.  Melanie and I went with the AP's to see her on a teaching appointment a few weeks ago and today she was baptized and confirmed.  There were about a hundred people in attendance to support her, she's so happy!  We were happy too because our young guard we've been working with, Mike attended the baptism with us.

Monday we took the Allreds with us to get a flat ready to close on the 30th.  Sadly, even with notice and reminders, the Elders had not done much in the way of preparing or moving anything (they were just going up one floor to another flat in the same complex).  So, it was a lot of hard work for the four of us.  We did get both sets of Elders going though and they hefted the heavy stuff while we, especially Melanie and Sister Allred, cleaned the flat.  Unfortunately we see some showers that look much worse than this before picture and not too many that can be cleaned up this much as in the after picture.

When Pres. Dunn heard about how it went he wasn't happy and told us never to do such hard deep cleaning again, just make the Elders do it.  Works good in theory, now somehow we'll have to see how to get it to happen in practice.

Tuesday Melanie and I took the keys to the agent.  The flat is about an hour's drive north of here on the way to Pretoria.  We took many pictures of the flat after we prepared it to turn back.  It looked better than when we first got it.  We took the time for a nice lunch at a new mall that was close by, enjoyed the lunch break which we don't normally take.

Wednesday Melanie finally drove off by herself and on her own to do some shopping.  She did well, so well in fact that on Friday she drove herself quite a ways further up to her hair appointment too.  Now she's mobile she will be even more happy to get around and away from the office occasionally.

It's common to see beautiful displays of food in the grocery stores.  Labor is so cheap here it seems like they have 3 or 4 times as many workers to stock, straighten and clean the stores.

Thursday was a regular day in the office but it was spruced up a little bit with some birthday celebrations and treats in my honor.  Shared with the Elders and the guards and gardener, Mike the guard said he wanted to attend church with us next Sunday, we're happy to be able to help him along.   Melanie and I even took another lunch break, you know the jingle "You deserve a break today, at ....."  

On top of all of this she even made my favorite breakfast, creamed eggs over toast as well as mac and cheese for a light dinner, yummm!  I can't remember eating three meals in a day since we arrived here.  Also enjoyed some Elders calling and singing to me and video calls with Jeremy and Wendy along with some great emails and facebook wishes from all of the kids, grandkids and friends.  A great day it was in Africa!

Friday Melanie and I were invited to attend and assist in teaching a segment of the Soweto District meeting about tracting and street contacting.  It was good to meet with the 12 Elders and fun to participate with them in their weekly District meeting.  All of the Districts have lessons on the same topics mission-wide each week.

In the afternoon Melanie needed some mission supplies so we went to lunch a third time this week, unheard of for us, and then shopped at the warehouse Makro, which is part of the Walmart chain sort of like Sam's.

A happy missionary with a new hairdo.

Finished up the week with chores, laundry, and flat cleaning.  Melanie does most of the work but I try to help by doing the dishes and vacuuming.  Sadly, the vacuum broke down after I was part way done and spent a half an hour trying to clean and fix it.  Guess we'll have to get a new one.

Helped some Elders get a bed for one of our YSA boys later this afternoon.  Sort of a wild ride out toward Soweto in the bakke with the trailer but it was nice to help them out.

YSA Chris, his Aunt's guy and Elder Nicotra

The Aunt, Elder Xalabile with the others.

Chris was so happy to get something to sleep on.  He said he would just clean them up.  He walks about two miles to church.