Monday, December 30, 2013

Fish River Sun Historical Trail Hike

Monday, December 30th was our P-Day. We went on a fabulous hike at Fish River Sun.  I have posted before about this lovely resort.  I did not know it had historical value.  In 1846 the British were battling with the Xhosa Tribes to win the land on the Easter Cape.  The war was known as "The War of The Axe".  Now that conjures up some pictures in your mind I'm sure.  I will just say that axes, spears, and guns were involved.  

 One of the fallen soldiers was James Wheeler.  We know that Paul's ancestors are from England.  Hmmm…. 
 At one stop on the way there is a lovely hike that overlooks the Fish River where you can be on the look-out for a variety of birds.

In the Jungle….

When we hiked the Historical Trail at Fish River Sun, we walked through a jungle area.  Can you spot the monkey?

Or is this the monkey?  Now you may think that President Wheeler has two walking sticks in his hand.  Well you are wrong.  Before we left on the hike we checked with the resort to make sure the trail was open.  She asked if we had walking sticks.  I think when people see my white hair they question my ability to make a strenuous hike.  We informed her we did not have hiking sticks.  She then proceeded to tell us about all of the dangerous snakes on the trail.  I immediately sent President Wheeler to equip us with walking sticks as a pre-caution.  Luckily no snakes were found on the path.  Whew!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

More Fish River Sun Hike...

Fast forward from the 1846 war to 2013.  Fish River Sun now sports a Gary Player 18 hole golf course that is breathtaking.

The hike from the resort to the beach is about 2 miles.  It can get pretty steep.  This is the mode of transportation for the faint of heart…we walked up and back.  Yea for us!

Christmas break in South Africa.  Temp around 80 degrees.  Ahhhhh…..

View of the Indian Ocean from Fish River Sun.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

"Sea's" the day...

I Like To Look For Rainbows...

Our little branch in Port Alfred is growing.  President Wheeler had the honor of baptizing Nkosikhona (pronounced N-Ko-see-kona) Maata on Saturday, December 28th.  He practiced all morning long the correct pronunciation of his name and was so nervous he would blow it that he forgot the words to the baptismal prayer and had to say it twice.  Other than that it was a wonderful day.  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Signs of Home

As we have explored South Africa we have found many signs that remind us of home.  If you are from Logandale, the sign below needs no explanation.  If you are not, Wally's Chevron station is an icon in Logandale. 

This sign reminded my of my 15 silly grandchildren.  Teasing grandpa, pillow fights, knock-knock jokes and other goofy things.  (Hey D.J.  Who has the last touch?)

Another sign that reminds me of a great family in Logandale.

This is a sign that President Wheeler spotted in Kenton on the Sea.  Every day when he went to work at Nevada Power he would walk through the gate with his co-workers and they would say…."Well friends…it's just another day in Paradise!"

Visions of Sugarplums….South African Style

President Wheeler and I had a wonderful Christmas Eve Day.  In the morning we shopped and assembled several food packages to be delivered to ward members.  The missionaries were our elves so we were able to keep our gifts anonymous.  We spent the afternoon visiting ward members.  We learned more about some Christmas traditions in South Africa. Since most of our members entire homes are no bigger than a bedroom in your home, they have no room to store Christmas decorations.  Each year between Christmas and New Year's they paint their homes a different color to get in the festive mood.  Most families gather together on Christmas day and have a Braai (BBQ), play games, eat sweet treats that they usually do not have, and enjoy each others company.  Not many gifts are exchanged.  They enjoy the gift of family.

When we visited the members in the afternoon, we asked them if they sang Christmas Carols.  That is not one of their traditions.  We told them about Christmas Caroling in America and then we sang to them.  They thought it was pretty funny.  

President Wheeler invited me to a lovely buffet for a Christmas Eve dinner.  We drove about 30 kilometers (are you impressed that I know my kilometers) to a resort called "Fish River Sun".  We got there just as the sun was setting.  We were able to watch some monkey's playing on the roof before we went in to dinner.  We enjoyed a lovely dinner.  We will take you all there when you come to visit.
 For our Chrismas Eve entertainment we were serenaded with this talented pianist playing traditional American Christmas Carols.  Her skill on the piano was excellent.  She did sing a few song  That was interesting.
We found at Fish River Sun the most American Christmas Tree we had seen so far this year…and the tallest!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Hunt is On!

The hunt is on!  I will be on a 21 month search for an African Nativity.  I have found one in South Africa that is maybe the quality of a Dollar Store Nativity in America.  I was surprised.  A member let me borrow these beautiful laser cut wood pieces to hang on our window.  And yes…this is the view as we look out living room window.  Oh how we suffer! 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Close Encounters of the Port Alfred Branch!

Our members walk anywhere from three to four miles one way to attend church each Sunday.  When someone is there with a vehicle to transport them it is a sight to behold how many can squish in together for a ride home.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

At the end of the day....

Disappearing Act....

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have nothing over these Elders.  How fast can 48 Elders eat 60 pizzas?  "Gone in Sixty Seconds"  It was a sight to behold!

Elder's Got Talent

Zone Conference Reports were sure a surprise.  They sang, they danced, they rapped, they wrote poems, they turned their reports in to scripture text.  It was so fun.  We laughed and laughed.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Lot of Eating = Happy Elders

Oh yea...there was a lot of eating going on.  A breakfast snack of banana, granola bar, muffin and skittles?  Lunch was Roast Beast, potaoes & gravy, homemade rolls, vegetables, Christmas jello, and peppermint ice cream brownies.  Now you would think that peppermint is easy to find at Christmas time.  Not in South Africa.  There are NO candy canes here.  Sister Boyce had candy canes flown over from the states and she couldn't find them so she sent to Johannesburg and had 60 canes custom made for the Elders.  

Christmas Zone Conference 2013!!!

Our Christmas Zone Conference was over-the-top.  We drove to East London Monday, Dec. 16th.  It is about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Port Alfred.  We stayed in a lovely B&B right by the ocean called Amanda's.  It really was lovely.  There were 48 Elders in attendance along with President & Sister Wood, President and Sister Boyce and two other couple missionaries; Elder and Sister Chase and Elder and Sister Thomas.  

The morning meetings were amazing.  We were instructed by the mission AP's who taught from PMG Chapter 6 regarding Christlike Attributes.  An excellent presentation with a challenge to choose one and work on it.  President Wood then taught on the Atonement.  I could sit at his feet and be instructed all day.  I really believe he has a photographic memory.  He can call up any scripture and it's reference at any time.  We were taught by the spirit through him.  

Sister Boyce gave us the challenge to memorize "The Living Christ".  She spoke on how it has changed her life.  President Wheeler and I have both accepted this challenge.  

I made 240 + cookies for the Elders Christmas goodie bag.  Each bag had socks, a temple recommend holder, the SACTM (South Africa Capetown Mission) patch, cookies, a picture of the Savior and a few other surprises.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Two new members of the Port Alfred Branch

It was a perfect day.  These two sisters (both in the gospel and biological) being baptized means the entire Magawu family are now members of the church.  Sonwabile (we call him SoSo) was the first to be baptized.  He had a great influence on bringing his mother to the waters of baptism and now his two sisters make their family circle complete.  This was SoSo's first time to perform a baptism.  He is so very valiant.  President Wheeler challenged the Priest's quorum one Sunday to memorize Section 4 of the D & C.  SoSo came back the next week with it memorized.  The following week he challenged them to "work" on memorizing the Articles of Faith.  The following week, SoSo had memorized them all.  His greatest desire is to serve a mission.  

From left to right...President Wheeler, Elder Andersen, Sister Magawu, Liyema Magawu, Ayandiswa Magawu, Sonwabile Magawu, and Elder Krieger.

Baptism of Ayandiswa and Liyema Magawu

07. December 2013
Presiding: President Wheeler

Opening Hymn #341
Opening Prayer – Elder Andersen

1st talk – Sister Wheeler

Baptism of Ayandiswa and Liyema Magawu
Performed by Elder Krieger and Sonwabile Magawu


2nd talk – Brother Mabaso

Welcome remarks by President Wheeler

Closing Hymn # 2
Closing Prayer – Brother Josiah

Confirmation in sacrament meeting Sunday the 8th December

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I Hope They Call Me On A Mission.

A message to our friends in America.

This Christmas season, as you consider which charitable organization to donate to, please consider donating to the missionary fund of the church.  Pictured below are nine members of our branch who one day "hope" to fill an LDS mission.  The missionary fund that is administered by the church changes lives and is their only "hope" to go.  The group of nine that you see here have NO hope of serving without contributions from members.  Unemployment rate in Africa is 50%.  Average monthly wages for a family is $80.00 per month.  There are families of seven who live on that income in our branch.  We know there are needs everywhere and there are great places to contribute. 
 This first generation of LDS members in Africa are pioneers.  These youth that you see will affect the lives of generations.  They are the Parley P. Pratts and Eliza R. Snow's of today.  

Right now in the Africa Southeast Area we have 177,000 members in 33 stakes, 11 missions, and 25 districts.  Given the trajectory of the past five years, within 20 years, the Africa Southeast Area will likely have over 300,00 members and over 100 stakes. 
 Putting your contribution in an envelope may not be tangible to you.  We did not see it until we began our service here.  It is real.  It is needed.  But most importantly it would help fulfill the Lord's mandate of "Preaching the Gospel" to all nations.     

Pictured left to right is Sinalo, Sonwabile, and Josiah. Today in our branch, Sinalo and Sonwabile team taught gospel doctrine.  President Wheeler said they were awesome.  Last week President Wheeler challenged them to learn the 13 Articles of Faith.  Sonwabile came this week with all of them memorized word-perfect.   Saturday, Dec. 7th, Sonwabile will baptize his two younger sisters.  His mother was baptized four months ago.  Army of Helaman...oh yes!


Friday, November 29, 2013

Couple's Conference

We received a FULL day of training on Friday from our mission president.  We were inspired, motivated, encouraged, and enlightened.  Our mission covers an area that is like unto the span of space from Omaha, Nebraska to San Diego, California.   Elder David A. Bednar is the general authority over our area.  The focus of our mission is on Real Growth, Retention, and Rescue.  We currently have more than 177,000 members in 33 stakes, 11 missions, and 25 districts.  Church growth is explosive in Francophone Central Africa and high in other regions.  Since 2010, an average of three stakes/year has been created.  The statistics for the Africa Southeast Area show favorable increases in the last five years:  Sacrament meeting attendance by 53%, endowed adults with a current recommend by 66 %, adult full-tithes payers by 74%, youth attendance by 52%, (we see such positive things in our branch happening with the youth!!!!!), Melchizedik Priesthood holders paying a full tithe by 42%, and adults sealed to a spouse by 44%.  Given the trajectory of the past five years, with 20 years, the Africa Southeast Area will likely have over 300,00 members and over 100 stakes.  

President Wheeler and I are honored to be even a tiny part of this miracle.
President and Sister Boyce.  First Counselor in the Cape Town Mission.
I regret that we did not get a picture of President and Sister Hogband, our Second Counselor.  They are originally from South Africa.

President and Sister Wood.  This man is amazing.  He speaks in scripture.  What a treat to receive instruction from both he and his wife.  

Onward...ever onward!!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Took a little Wobble to walk off the Gobble!

The Arderne Gardens in Capetown is the perfect place to wobble off all the gobbles.  The Gardens, is a uniques collection of over 300 exotic trees of South Africa.  It includes one of the largest trees in South Africa, the vast Moreton Bay Fig (or, Wedding Tree, as it is commonly called) and quite possibly the largest Aleppo Pine in the world.  

After our stroll through the park, we returned to the mission home for pie and a sharing time experience with other couples.  I will share with you one story that illustrates that the Lord has his hand in placing missionaries where they need to be.  

The Thomas's are a mission couple serving in Queenstown.  He was an explosive technician in the mines in Johannesburg, South Africa for thirteen years.  They moved back to the states eight years ago.  While living in South Africa he served as a bishop.  When they received their mission call, they were initially told they would be serving in Port Alfred, but soon learned that their assignment had been changed to Queenstown.  

One evening, Brother Thomas was out visiting less-active members in their branch with the missionaries.  While visiting with one family, he asked the man where he had lived prior to moving to Queenstown.  He stated that he had lived in Johannesburg.  Brother Thomas asked him if he remembered who his last bishop was.  The less-active member recalled who it was.  Bro. Thomas then asked him who his Bishop was before that.  He stated the name of a former Bishop.  Then he asked if he remembered the Bishop when he was baptized?  He said he did not recall.  Brother Thomas then stated,  "I was your Bishop".  Brother Thomas bore testimony that he felt the Lord had placed he and his wife there to bring this man back in to the church.  

Giving Thanks in South Africa

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

It was a feast!  To our stomachs and to our spirits.  I learned that even though my thoughts were on Lisa's sweet potato soufflĂ©, Ryan's adventures in the desert of Nevada, Loni's walnut pie, Jed's food fights, and Jesse's endless work hours, and the joyful noise of fifteen grandchildren that being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints brings with it the blessing of being with family no matter where you go in the world.  

We had a lovely day with 12 other couple missionaries.  The traditional meal was enjoyed.  We were even able to find cranberries (or a close substitute).  

Each couple here has a sweet story to share.  Each with different backgrounds.  Interestingly four of the couples serving here come from either Southern Utah or Southern Nevada.  In a previous life some were janitors, doctors, lawyers, judges, explosive technician, teachers, bankers, and more.