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'.