Friday, December 25, 2009

Our Home in Newcastle

Pictures of our Boarding (home we rent).
After a number of requests from our children to see pictures of where we are staying in Newcastle, South Africa, we have finally taken some pictures to show them the house that we are renting. Previous missionaries have done much to purchase furniture and make this a very comfortable home. We feed 8 missionaries each week on Sunday evening around the dining room table (and occasionally many more) and have them drop in on us throughout the week.

Here is the living room (we still have our Christmas tree up)

This is the Dining Room which is open to the Living room.

Our kitchen faces north (the sunny side of the house) and where our backyard is located. We have a garden and are raising zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, and beets. We give this food away to those in need but most have never had zucchini before so we need to teach them how to cook it.

This is the other end of the kitchen

This is the bathroom with the smallest sink that we have ever seen. This has the shower, sink, and toilet in this room.

Bathroom with tub and sink only

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas 2009

Nativity set from Swaziland.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

What a wonderful time of year! The temperature is running around 95 degrees and high humidity but the feelings of the heart are the same. We have been very busy with all of the work that needs to be done. We have included just a few of the things that we have been involved with below. Our children wanted to share Christmas with the kids in Madadeni and Osizweni so they sent us some money and we purchased a number of small gifts to hand out after Primary and at the homes of some of the people. Here is an example of what was purchased. We can't begin to explain the joy that the children had in receiving a gift. Most of them don't receive any gifts for Christmas so this was a major surprise. We packaged them in small plastic bags and had the Elders hand them out. One young man was still carrying his bag around four hours after receiving it.

Our missionary tree has added a festive spirit to our boarding. It is decorated with little cars, mini hangernade water guns and gift tags.

Our entrance safety bars held our Merry Christmas sign and stocking. Notice our beautiful yard.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Temple Trip Dec. 19, 2009

We were able to go on a Temple trip to the Johannesburg Temple. We were asked by President Mann to take two Elders (brothers) with us and this is a picture of the Temple.
The two Elders received special permission to attend the Temple and do the work for their brother that passed away on October 7, 2009. Elder Sichinga the one on the right had been out for about a year and his brother, Elder Sichinga Jr., serving in Ladysmith both went to perform the work. Elder Sichinga Jr. had just been out in the field for 1 day when word came that his brother had passed away. Their brother had been preparing to go on a mission as well and this is why they received special permission to do the work for him. They also gave Barb the information so that were able to do the work for their grandparents. Barb, the Sichinga Elders, and I were the only people on the session but it was really special.

We were needed to perform baptisms and confirmations for all of the Madadeni and Osizweni saints that came to perform work that day. We had about 34 people in attendance to do baptismal work.

Elder Sichinga serving in Newcastle is in the middle and Elder Sichinga Jr. serving in Ladysmith is on the right.

This is a picture of the Elder's Quorum President for Madadeni 1 and his wife (Br. & Sis. Xaba). She received her endowments and they were sealed in the temple.
This is the bus that brought all of the people from Madadeni and Osizweni to the Temple. They left Madadeni at 5:00 am and didn't get home until about 8:30 pm. It is about a 5 hour bus ride in each direction. This is Sister Khumalo from Osizweni standing in front of the bus. We had about 60 people on the bus with about half performing baptisms and the other half performing endowments. A few came to just walk on the Temple grounds and prepare to go into the Temple next time.

Everyone that went to the Temple had tremendous spiritual experiences there and are anxious to go back. They have such closeness to the spirit and such strong testimonies. We are so privileged to be able to work with them.

This is a picture of President and Sister Moloi. President Moloi is the Branch President of Madadeni 1

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December 6, 2009

On November 27, we were going to the Church in Madadeni to meet someone when we got a call from Lucky saying that he had a problem and asked if we could come to his home. We had to go to the Church first but as we got close to the township we saw white balls on the ground about the size of a tennis ball. When we got to the church we saw broken tile on the Church and on the neighboring homes and the lawn was filled with hail. A storm had moved through and smashed windows, windshields, dented cars and gone through roofs of homes. We spent all that afternoon until it was dark and the next week fixing roofs on houses and helping in any way that we could. As we would work on one home, a widow, or woman with children would come up and ask us if we could help them since they didn't have anyone else to help them so we moved from house to house working. All 8 missionary (Elders) and two sets of couples along with lots of members assisted in the work. These are just a few pictures to show the damage and what we were working with. We have many more pictures but this should give you an idea. Many of the homes we worked on (you can see them in the pictures were about 20 feet by 20 feet in size (one room and a small bathroom).
These are holes that the hail created in the ground...the hail had melted when the picture was taken.

Here is a picture of the hail that had come down and had melted for about 30 minutes so it is smaller than it was when it fell

Here are the holes left in the roof looking at the roof from inside the home.

This is in the middle of the work experience as we were moving the ladder from one house to another in order to set missionaries on each house to do repair work on each roof.

Here are the missionaries working on the roof of the house that they eventually fell through.

Here is the hole caused by the 3 missionaries falling through the roof.

Here is the inside of the house after the missionaries fell through. The missionary on his back was very sore that night but was back the next day working on roofs. The family took it well but we didn't finish the roof until the next afternoon.

This is the house after we had replaced about 3/4 of the roof on one side with galvanized steel to fix the hole that was caused when the 3 missionaries fell through. The picture is taken from inside the home.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dundee Baptism October 11, 2009

Last week we had a meeting of the Mission Presidency just prior to the arrival of 16 new missionaries from the Johannesburg MTC. This transfer changed someone in every companionship in our zone except one. We how have about 25% of the mission as new missionaries straight from the MTC so many of the missionaries are training new companions. We feel like we have lost members of our family as the elders that we have grown very close to us are transferred or go home and new missionaries arrive but we grow to love them and still miss those that leave.

Today we had a meeting in Ladysmith for the District Presidency and we attended Church there prior to leaving for Dundee to attend Church there as well. We needed to handle temple recommend interviews for some people in Ladysmith as well.

We arrived a little late for the start of the Sacrament Meeting in Dundee because the District President was riding with us and needed to talk with some people before he could leave Ladysmith. We drove faster than normal (translate this to the speed limit plus) to Dundee and they were singing the opening song when we arrived. All of the seats were taken so we had to set up more chairs in order to be able to sit down. Later during the meeting we counted and there were between 79 and 81 people in attendance. This is quite a change from about 14 that were attending when we first went to Dundee about 4 months ago. Some of the young men that were baptized last month were passing the sacrament and many bore their testimonies. Right after Church we went over to the place where we rent for the baptisms. There were 14 people baptized today.

This picture shows a remarkable man that was baptized today. He has been attending Church for a number of months but he only speaks Zulu. Church is conducted in English and he can't understand any English. When he was asked why he attended, he said (in Zulu) because I feel something inside when I am here. He has attended regularly from the time of his first visit. He was taught by one of the people investigating the Church translating for him into Zulu. This is only part of a very remarkable experience. What a humble and nice man with a giant spirit. He is always smiling. Elder Zeeman is the missionary beside him.

This is the facility that we rent to hold the baptisms. It was raining lightly a few minutes prior to the baptism so we moved into the covered area but the sun came out and we moved outside.

Here is a picture of those that were being baptized along with the three elders that performed the baptisms.
These are the three happy elders that performed the baptisms, Elders Zeeman, Levois and Holmes. They are all from the Johannesburg area and they are excellent missionaries.

We have a great love and appreciation for all our Elders. It is amazing the strong feelings that we have for these wonderful Dundee Saints. Guess you could say our hearts are full.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Baptisms in the Dundee "Twig"

We had the wonderful opportunity of working with starting a new branch of the Church in Dundee. The attendance would run between 30 to 55 people with only a small portion of them being members. Elder Zeeman and Elder Parry have done a great job in finding and teaching people but they have been led to such wonderful people that it is amazing to be part of that in some small way. When the first group of investigators were baptized we rented a conference center for a few hours so we could perform the baptisms in the swimming pool. This is the place that was rented and the people were just beginning to come.

Following the baptisms, you could tell that Elder Zeeman was very happy and so was one of the young men that was baptized.
Elder Holmes conducted the meeting and we had anticipated that only 35 would be in attendance but we found that over 60 people came that evening to be part of this historic event.

Here are all of the people that were baptized that evening. A large part of them are from the same family. It is amazing how many of the investigators have come from referrals from this family. There are another 12 people that are scheduled to be baptized in October in addition to the nine that were baptized that evening. We couldn't be more excited for them and all that they have learned.

September 20, 2009

Barbara made a lasting friend after feeding the giraff and it decided to follow her to see if he could get some more food. Barbara really enjoyed making friends. Now she would like a giraff for a pet. It shouldn't be hard to see where the giraff is but I doubt that he would like the snow in the winter.
This was fun watching Barbara feeding the giraff and having the giraff lick her hands. The platform is up in the air so it was a lot of fun to be up close to the giraff.

Following the sealing we took the couple to the Lion Park and saw a number of animals. We enjoyed being able to pet the lions.

We took a couple to the temple to be sealed. It was a wonderful experience for them and for us. This is Sibusiso and Nosipo after they were sealed in the Johannesburg Temple. They are a great couple. Sibusiso has returned from a mission in Kenya.

Friday, August 14, 2009

St Lucia – Hippocampus, Crocodiles, Rhino, and Impalas

This is a beautiful cottage with a thatched roof that we saw in St Lucia. We loved it and couldn't resist taking a picture.
While in St Lucia we stayed at the Avalon Guest Manor. The following is their web site if you would like to see what it looks like: We took a walk in the evening and it was getting dark when we came to this warning sign. That was enough to make us turn around and go back. We returned the next morning to get this picture. There were hippos in the background but you can barely see them in this picture.

This is how close you can get to the wildlife in the reserve. Sometimes it is much closer than you would like but for these Impalas it was great to see them. This is the favorite food for the lions.

This rhino was very close and he was huge. We were lucky to get this close and have such a good picture. What an interesting animal...but we didn't want to get any closer than about 50 yards and we stayed in the car.

We decided not to swim here.

We went to beautiful St Lucia with three other senior couples and enjoyed their company and the wildlife. We took a Hippo and Croc boat tour and were able to see these animal from the water side and get much better pictures. We went into a nearby game preserve and saw many other animals and have just selected a few pictures for you to see.

Christmas In July

The zone wanted to celebrate and have an activity that they would all remember and since it was the middle of winter in South Africa they decided they would like to celebrate Christmas in July. They had all 12 Elders come over to the Klingler’s home for dinner along with the three senior missionary couples. The three senior missionary couples cooked a fabulous turkey dinner and after that they watched a video (Elf) and slept over at the Klingler’s home. We served Swedish pancakes and all of the other trimmings for breakfast in the morning and then we played the gift game, sang Christmas songs and they dug into their Christmas stocking that the Wilson’s put together.
It was a great experience and these are just a couple of pictures of the group and what happened there.

Dundee Meeting House Now

Here is the new meeting house that we found in Dundee. The missionaries found this school and were able to get it for the rest of the year and we can continue it throughout the coming years. It has a much larger hall and separate rooms that we can use for primary and for the youth. It is much more comfortable and can handle the growth that we are experiencing in Dundee.

At present we have about 40 attending of which 2 are members. We are expecting 10 to be baptized early in September. The missionaries are finding a lot of new people that are interested in addition to what is referenced here. Elder Zeeman and Elder Parry are doing an amazing job.

Dundee Branch Meetingplace

Here is the first meetingplace that we had in Dundee. Elder Zeeman and Elder Parry are standing in front. This store was sold and they had to find a new location to meet in. One Sunday we had to meet in a member's back yard. It was a sunny day so we enjoyed it. Since it was still cold we had to move to stay in the sunshine. One person was just walking by and heard the singing and came in and sat down. The Elders taught him later in the week.

Friday, July 24, 2009

July 24, 2009

We thought it would be helpful to give a brief description of the work that goes on here and some of the things that we are involved with. There are so many opportunities to serve others here because there is so much need that exists. We will describe some situations to try and give some clarity to what exists. The unemployment here is about 40% and we are sure it is much higher in the townships than it is in the towns. We know of people that work and support all of their extended family, in some cases that is one person working and maybe 8 others that are dependent upon them for food, clothing, and basic needs. The vast majority of people are more than willing to work if they can find a job, even if it is menial labor. We know of one man that walks about 4 hours into the city to do yard work three days a week. One of the good things about South Africa is the willingness to take care of the extended family. In essence it functions like this: if one person has corn they all have corn.

We came across an orphanage where the woman who runs it sold all of her assets and bought a place out of town by a stream. She started taking in children that weren't wanted and basically trusts the Lord to supply her with the things that she needs. She has people just bring a child to her and hand it over the fence and she takes them in. She has about 8 children there currently as far as I could count. We go there weekly to help in any way that we can. Sometimes the government services will bring out a child that they can't care for but the funds that are provided are minimal and it doesn't even provide enough for food for the children. When she first bought the place she carried water from the stream for drinking and washing but gradually she has gotten running water and even propane heat that is used on the coldest nights. Some of the children were abused but she just loves them and takes care of them. Quite an example of service to others.

One young couple had their computer stolen out of their business and it was their source of income since they produced announcements, brochures, programs, etc. They didn't have the funds to purchase another PC.

The senior couples help missionaries get ready for their mission in ways they couldn't afford to do themselves. Like taking them to the dentist, doctor, filling out forms that are needed for a passport and many other kinds of things. I know of some that have outfitted them with the clothes that they will need on their missions.

It is a wonderful place to serve and help in any way that we can, in addition to the other responsibilities that we have.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July 8, 2009

We thought that we would try and describe what we do so you would have a greater appreciation for the work that is going on here. However, to do that we need to describe the living conditions of the people. We live in Newcastle which is a town of about 30,000 people. The homes are modest but nice and most homes are fortified in some way to protect against burglars. This generally includes walls with sharp pointed things on the top or fences in some cases having razor wire on top. Many in Newcastle have cars. Though there are some that have a lot of wealth, most are working to keep food on the table and pay for their homes. Most homes are fairly small (1,000 to 1,500 sq. ft). However, transportation is one of the main problems here. Since many do not have cars, there is a thriving “kombie” service and most people walk long distances to get where they need to go. Kombies are vans (or what we might call taxis) that stop and pick up people waiting along the road and charge them a fair. These are generally packed with 12 or more people in them. There is a large mixture of races in Newcastle consisting dominantly of Zulu, Indian, Africans, British, and Dutch. There are 11 different languages recognized in South Africa but the language of business and politics is English.

There are two townships outside of Newcastle with a total population of estimated 1,000,000 people. Very few of these people have cars. The homes vary from tin walled buildings to a very few large spacious homes. The vast majority of the population is Zulu. The townships are about 5 to 10 miles away from Newcastle. The majority of people use kombies for transportation or walk. Some ride bicycles. Cattle and dogs basically run free in the townships.

The people here are humble, warm, and open. We have grown to love them. Religion is openly discussed and we are stopped on the street and asked questions. An example of this was when we were leaving a store, one of the sales people walked up and asked us where they would find a scripture about hypocrisy in the Bible. He had been having a discussion with some of his friends and talked about a scripture that he remembered and his friends didn’t believe him and he wanted to show them. We asked if he had a Bible and he said that his mother did. We told him we would bring him a Bible and show him the scriptures so we got his telephone number to set up an appointment. Barb went back in and gave him a pamphlet on the Plan of Salvation that he gladly received.

We plan out our days but they seldom go as planned. We are called upon by missionaries to help with various activities. There are 12 missionaries (19 to 24 year old) that support Newcastle, the townships, and the surrounding area. There are two senior missionary couples though the other couple will be leaving in September and we don’t know if there will be another couple coming in). We do car inspections and apartment inspections once a month. We take the missionaries to the doctor, dentist, or optometrist as needed. We feed the missionaries about once every two weeks as a group and more often when they just drop in to take care of some business.

We assist the members in many ways. We train them in positions that they are called to. This is a district and so it is under the Mission President. They have a District presidency but not many are called to district positions under that. There are currently six branches and we are starting up Church in two new areas but they are dependent branches. We help to teach classes of speak in meetings. We assist with the PEF senior couple and the Church Employment Couple since we are a long ways from where they work (about 4 hour drive).

We help with audits, make deposits, assist with financial support where needed. Most people don’t have much money and so we help by purchasing supplies for Church events. There are lots of areas of needs that we find out about and assist where appropriate. These cannot be adequately described or communicated but there are always service opportunities that consume most of our days. We fix plumbing, electrical and other types of problems as they come up.

A new location that we are starting to hold meetings is in the town of Dundee. There are about 6 members in that area. We have a set of missionaries there and they have had meetings there for about 3 weeks. Last Sunday there were 34 in attendance with over 18 being investigators. We had a baptism there last Sunday as well.

Most of all, we love the people and the work. We originally thought it would be nice to show the people how the Church works in larger areas but we have come to believe it would be really nice to show the people back home how the Church works and the wonderful people get along here. We can't say enough about how strong their testimonies are, how loving they are with each other, how humble and happy they are even when they have so little. It must be seen and felt to truly understand.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Namtibi Reserve June 29, 2009 #1

We had a wonderful morning on Namtibi Reserve that is divided into 2 parts. The animal we liked best were the Cheetahs.

I am not sure what the name of these beautiful animals are but I believe they are some type of large antelopes.