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.

Thanksgiving Day in South Africa...

It is 80 degrees in Cape Town today.  Our B & B has a pool.  What's a boy to do???

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Girl's Choir

Rustenburg Girls' High School Chamber Choir and "A Touch of Madness"

After arriving in Capetown, we had two activities.  The first was a concert performed by the Rustenburg Girls' High School Chamber Choir.  This is truly an instance where a picture does not do justice to the event.  Think of the scene in "The Sound Of Music" when the nuns are singing in the cathedral.  That is the same sound that came from these girls.  Their voices were so rich and so mature.  It was lovely.  I did get a recording and will try to figure out how to Youtube it and Post it.  I will have the Elders help me.  They can figure out anything.  

That afternoon, we went to Makro.  Makro is South Africa's version of Costco, Sam's Club, Home Depot, and Bed Bath & Beyond all rolled in to one.  I should have taken a picture.  Just imagine chaos and that is what we found at Makro's.  We went, we saw, we will never go back.  CUCKOO.

Dinner that evening was at a restaurant in Cape Town called "A Touch of Madness"  It was kind of an Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant, but the food was yummy.  There are twelve couple missionaries in Cape Town and we were all there.  They are all AMAZING people with years and years of church service under their wings.  We are learning from each of them.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Birds of Eden

President Wheeler and I left Monday, November 25th for the "Couple's Conference" in Cape Town.  Cape Town is a 12 hour drive from Port Alfred.  We were grateful to have Brother and Sister Chase with us on this long drive.  We broke the trip in to two parts and stayed in Knysna (pronounced Nice-na) Monday night.  This is a charming little town on the Indian Ocean. There are many, many things to do in this town.  Monkeyland, riding the elephants, a snake farm, and this beautiful Bird Preserve.  When you come to visit we will definitely make a trip there.  We only had time to choose one thing and we are glad this is what we chose.  There are over 3000 birds here.  This is just a sampling of a few.

This one below is for all the BYU fans.

This was an amazing suspension bridge.  It was 150 feet long.  Being in the reserve reminded me of the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland or the Tarzan House there, but the sounds were not recorded.  It was so still in there and it gave you a reverent feeling for the beauties of the earth.  

This one below is for all the Ute Fans.

Sister Chase's hand by this lily gives you an idea of the size of these beautiful lilies.

And this one is for Grandma Wheeler.

The Heads at Knysna

We had supper at a Restaurant in Knysna called "Senza".  It was lovely (a new term I will be using frequently that is used by the people here which means fantastic).  The scenery at this little inlet was amazing.  Scuba divers, kayaking, tour boats, trails.  It was breathtaking.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Jack and Edith Barris...Faith in Action!

Jack and Edith Barris are members of our Port Alfred Branch.  They live 45 minutes away in Alexandria.  Jack is 84 years old.  Edith is 76.  Six months ago Jack suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed on his right side.  He has had a remarkable recovery with Edith being his primary caregiver.  Because of is disability, they are only able to come to church once a month.  They have been given permission to hold sacrament meeting in their home each Sunday.  They faithfully do this along with study and prayer.  They are the only members in Alexandria.  They are a great example of "enduring to the end".  Theirs is a sweet love story.  We had the honor of spending two hours with them in their home on November 20th.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Army of Helaman on P-day...Boys will be boys!

Out of the 80,000 missionaries serving in the church we think we have the very best ones right here in South Africa.  They are AMAZING.  They work hard and they play hard!  


On the patio at the Fish River Hotel and Club we found this sign.  On each table was a bottle of monkey repellant.  I thought it was a joke.  The workers there assured me that it was no joke and to use the repellant generously as needed.  We spotted a few monkeys there but none would let us get very close.  And, those little critters are too fast for the camera.

WAHOO!  It's Breakfast time in Port Alfred.
Literally.  We ate at the Wahoo Restaurant for breakfast.  The restaurant is located inside of The Fish River Sun Hotel and Country Club.  Our Elders along with the Elders from Grahamstown invited us to an all you can eat buffet.  We thought, maybe an I-hop experience was in store, but we were surprised.  This was a lovely five-star restaurant.  Fun new things to try.  Paw Paw fruit, strawberry juice, all the chicken livers you could eat in a really scary kind of sauce, a variety of meats I had never heard of, and more.  Pictured below is our omelet chef, and the egg chef.  All this for only seven american dollars.  In Rand our bill was $140.00 which translates to about $14.00 american dollars. 

Standing on the left is Sam Talihati.  He is the first missionary from the Port Alfred Branch.  He arrived home on Sunday.  He is waiting for a member of our Mission Presidency to come and release him, so he is with our Elders until that happens.  

 There was a Nelson Mandela Conference going on at the 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Springtime in South Africa...

Springtime in South Africa and the flowers are all in bloom.  It is a glorious sight.  These lilies grow in Sister Helen Dell's front yard.  She also has grapefruit, lemons, and limes nearly ready to harvest.  Sister Dell has been a member of the church for over 30 years.  She served a mission in England.  She was so happy when the branch was formed here in Port Alfred seven years ago.  Her knowledge of the gospel is deep and given the fact that most members in the branch have about three years under their belt, she is a great source for them.  Yesterday in Relief Society, the lesson talked about early church history.  Terms and names that we take so for granted such as Nauvoo, Thomas Marsh, Printing Press, etc. were lovingly explained by this good stalwart member.

Finding Donatello...

A previous mission couple left a set of golf clubs in our flat so on P-day today President Wheeler took the Elder's Golfing at Royal Port Alfred Golf Course.  Out of 100 courses in South Africa, it is ranked 84th.  That pretty much sums it up.  They spent a lot of time looking for lost golf balls.  But look at Paul's new golf partner.  He played about as slow as his new friend.  From left to right is Elder Krieger, Elder Arthur, and Elder Andersen.  Elder Andersen smoked them all.  They had a blast.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I did it!  I made my first solo drive on the left hand side of the road all by myself.  I made one mistake.  I entered a roundabout going the wrong direction.  Luckily there was not another car in sight.  Driving in South Africa is an adventure.  The roads are very, very narrow with none or very little shoulder. The roads are generally just two lanes.  If for some reason a car needs to stop...they just stop right where they are.  Right in the middle of the road.  When we were coming home from East London, we saw a pickup stopped right in the middle of the road with passengers relieving themselves for all the world to see.  No shame here.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What I have learned about Port Alfred, South Africa in five days!
(in random order)
  1. Driving on the left-hand side of the road is pretty cool and not as hard as I thought.
  2. Watching whales, dolphins, and porpoises out side our window is soothing and makes you realize all of God's creations are amazing.
  3. Paul Wheeler is my friend, my hero, and the best missionary companion ever.
  4. I miss Target.  I miss Kneaders.  I miss chocolate.  I miss hamburger.  In South Africa they call hamburger mince.  It really will take some getting use to.
  5. All teenage girls are the same regardless of race or religion.  They like music, dancing, boys, and sports.
  6. I did not know the true meaning of humble until I saw the Townships of South Africa.
  7. You can feel the spirit while teaching the gospel in a 7 X 7 building with rats running through.
  8. No school teacher in Clark County can complain again about class size.  Our YW president has 93 students in her class.
  9. You haven't heard the hymns unless you have heard them sung in Africa.
  10. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  It lifts people and heals them.  

We have three amazing Elders in our mission.  From right to left, Elder Arthur from New Zealand.  He speaks Maori and has a great accent.  Elder Kreiger from Draper, Utah, and Elder Andersen from Denmark.  They have been such a great help to us.  They are all very committed to the cause!

Finding Turbo and other Creatures

Look what I found on my walk this morning!  Creatures from Port Alfred!!!  I found Turbo.  He was about 7 inches long and the shell on his back was as big as my fist.  He was not moving Turbo speed.  He was crawling.

The second picture is some kind of black worm.  He was only about 7 inches long, but he was a fatty.  He was as big around as a quarter.

Yesterday, President Wheeler did splits with the Elders.  I was in our flat for five hours by myself.  I opened the doors that look out on to the ocean.  All day long as I was working, I could look out and see whales, dolphins, and porpoises.