Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My dear Brothers and Sisters….

There are so many blessings that missionary life brings.  One of the sweetest is becoming acquainted with our brothers and sisters in the gospel all over the world.  From Thanksgiving to New Years Eve, we have been able to enjoy so many of the good people in our church whose paths have crossed because of service to the Master.  

November 20-22 we hosted "The Great Gobble Wobble" at our flat.  Seven of the missionary couples from the Eastern Cape stayed with us.  We ate, we laughed, we shared testimonies, we cried, and then we ate some more.  Blatters, Silcocks, Kjars, Stapley's, Chase's, and Thomas's.  Love them all.  They serve with honor.

Nov. 21-27 was a visit from our daughter Loni and her husband Matt.  Ahhhh…..the joy.  The top picture is taken from our balcony and the bottom was a Christmas shot.  I told them they should use it for their annual Christmas Card.

This is a bit out of order, but on Dec. 4-6 we had the Zone leaders come for a visit and to do exchanges with our Elders.  All four of them stay with us for two nights and three days.   I have learned from them so many things.  They are valiant, they are smart, they REALLY know the gospel, and they eat A LOT!

Nov. 29 was just fun.  Our Branch Christmas Party was a blast.  Any time I can hang out with these wonderful Saints is a party to me.

Dec. 7th, the Young Women of our Branch #shared the gift on Facebook!

We experienced the "Bush" practice with four of the members of our Branch.  Here two of our boys are pictured with Elder Branch and the little guy who is the runner for them.  He delivers food and other commodities while they are away from home.
On December 15th we delivered nine of our youth to FSY….your EFY….in Port Elizabeth.  Oh what a wonderful week they had as they associated with youth from all over South Africa.  For two of our youth it was the first time they had seen another Mormon outside of Port Alfred.  On their return, one of the girls said…"Sista Wheela….I know why you cry when you teach seminary.  You feel the spirit.  I cried Sista Wheela.  I cried because I felt the spirit".  Good times!!!!

December 19th…you know you are close to Zone Conference when you round the corner and see this fleet.

Our Christmas Zone Conference was a delight. Any time we can associate with these fine young men, the Mission President, and other couples we are thrilled.  We were fed spiritually, and physically.  

Dec. 20 - 21 was an extra special treat as we hosted Elder Carl B. and Lynette Cook,  our area President in South Africa.  We laughed, we talked, we shared, we ate, we were fed spiritually.  An experience to be cherished by us and all of the Branch Members.

Dec. 21, 22 was a Christmas Open House at the Branch building.  What can I say about it.  "It was a successful failure".  We have evaluated.  We will change some things and try again.

Christmas morning on a walk through an area we had not yet visited we came across some Zebra.  I am thinking that is our last Christmas morning that will be seeing Zebra.  Only in Africa.  We love it!  I guess we can call the animals our brothers and sisters???

Christmas day was spent with President Paul Kruger of the Bellville Cape Town Stake.  He has only been a member for 10 years and is now a Stake President.  He came from Cape Town to pick up these three young men from FSY.  They were delightful. Sister Helen Dell was also with us on Christmas Day.  He prepared a wonderful stir fry for us and I prepared the side dishes and dessert.  What a treat.  I also loved that they like to play games.  President Wheeler does not, so when I find…"fresh meat" I am delighted.  Those of you who know me, are aware that I am not a bit competitive!!!…..and I NEVER cheat!!! They also graciously accepted an invitation to speak in Church on Sunday.  

Our last wave of company came the day after Christmas, Dec. 26 - 28.  I regret that I did not get a picture of the entire Wainwright family.  Peter and Louise Wainwright (Louise is pictured above) and there two boys Seth and Nathaniel came for three days.  Peter is the Patriarch in East London and Louise is the Stake RS President.  We had a lovely time.  Louise and I drove to Grahamstown on Saturday while the men went golfing.  Our purpose was to go to a fabric store.  It was closed, but we had a delightful visit.  I realized this is the first time I had been with a "girl" friend alone in a car in the last fourteen months longer than 10 minutes.  It was very fun to have some girl talk. On our drive we came across this patch of cactus in blossom.  

The beauties of this country are around every bend.  The greatest beauty lies in the members of the church who can be found wherever you travel in this world that God has given to us.  We truly our brothers and sisters in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are so blessed to have each other.  Happy New Year!  

Monday, December 29, 2014

A historic event...

Elder Carl B. Cook and his wife Lynette visited the Port Alfred Branch on December 21st.  This is the first time that a general authority has made a visit to our little branch.  Our members were giddy with excitement, and VERY nervous.  
We first met the Cook's  at a Zone Conference in the Fall of this year and invited them to visit if they could work it in to their schedule.  At Zone Conference we found out that he was from Liberty, Utah and my sister Ruth was his teacher in Junior High School.  He also knows my brother Jay and served with him for a short time in the First Quorum of the Seventy.  They are delightful people.  The best way I can describe them is to use the word "gentle", and "genuine".  
The Cook's were in Port Elizabeth to attend the FSY Conference the previous week.  Normally, he uses his secretary to do his scheduling, but with his visit to Port Alfred he made all of the arrangements himself with Elder Wheeler.  That proved to be a mistake in that we had him scheduled to arrive the previous week.  Our calendar had him coming in on  Sat. evening at 6:00 pm December 13th.  I had made all the preparations, the Thomas's were here, and the appointed time for arrival but no President Cook.  We started to worry and gave him a call.  He was in Johannesburg (12 hours away) at a missionary conference.  He was so embarrassed and apologetic.  We had put his arrival in the local newspaper and our members were so excited, but we pushed everything back another week and it all worked out just lovely.  We had a delightful visit.  He shared many experiences with us.  We talked and laughed and just had a nice evening together.  

Sunday, he and his wife spoke in church.  He was interviewed by the newspaper and actually taught the plan of salvation to the reporter.  After church we took this group shot.  

I love these good people.  What a treasure this day was for us all.  

Coming out of the Bush!

As noted in a previous post, four of the boys in our branch participated in "The Bush" practice.  A sacred tradition of the Xhosa tribe where a young man is moved from boyhood to manhood through a series of ceremonies.  One of which is circumcision.

On December 20, the boys came "out" of the bush.  Some of the ceremonies attached to that are the burning of the huts that they resided in for three weeks.  They wrap themselves in a "blanket of manhood" and they are washed from the white clay that has been smeared on their bodies and now use an orange clay to paint their faces with.  

When they return home, the entire family, (and I mean entire…aunts, uncles, grannies, cousins, or anyone else who claims relationship) come to greet them.  The boys are then placed in a room of their home where visitors are allowed to greet them.  We were permitted to enter.  First President was taken in by the "Ubuntu" or the Elder that has been supervising.  We are not allowed to touch the boys.  They hold a stick that we can take hold of and shake it with them, but they are still not "purified".  We put some money on a plate and then we are allowed to give advice.  Sister Thomas and I sang "How Firm A Foundation" and quoted D & C 4.

A huge celebration is held.  Usually an animal is slaughtered.  The greatest honor is to have a cow slaughtered, cooked and served.  There is dancing and music and much alcohol.

These fellows had a bit too much to drink and just laid down and went to sleep.

I am pictured here with the Ubuntu who took me back to view Sonwabile.

Most of those attending paint their faces and wear traditional Xhosa clothing.

After the celebration and the washing the boys then wear a costume similar to the one below with their faces painted in orange clay.  This is to let the Xhosa world know that they are now a man!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

For the Boy Scout in all of us…and especially for Jed!

So, what do you do when you find you have a few hours free on a Wednesday afternoon.  Paul Wheeler says…"Let's check out the taxidermy shop".  I say, "Wahoo!  It's just what I had on my mind too". (not)  I must confess, it was amazing!

Rhino, waterbuck, Nyala, Buffalo (wildebeast), Impala, Zebra, Cheetah, Bontebok, Springbok, Bushbuck, Ostrich, Reedbuck, Grysbok and more.  The Rhino below was fiberglass, but nevertheless, very impressive.

Can you pick out which is who…or who is which?

 I am more adept in the kitchen with the process of making things, but I must confess, watching them work was amazing.  What boy scout would not love this field trip?

 Most of the animals here are being shipped to America.  

 I gained a new appreciation for the art of taxidermy.  I must say that I could not have this guy below hanging on my wall and smiling at me every day.  Just a little too creepy for me.

Seven Eleven…South African Style!

They are charming, they are quaint, each one is different, and they are one of my favorite things in South Africa.  Farm Stalls are a cross between America's seven-eleven stores and  craft boutiques.  They are located along the highways and byways here, but you can not buy petrol.  Only treats, eats, and fun stuff.  Below are three of our favorites.

Owned by the Nanga Family, it had a humble beginning 43 years ago when the owner of the farm started selling cabbages out of the boot (trunk) of her car.  It has now grown in to one of the largest farm stalls on the Eastern Cape.  Some of my favorites to purchase there are homemade whole wheat bread, roosterbreit, fresh pineapple juice, and (of course) hand churned butter.

Padstal (Farm Shop in Afrikaan) has a very whimsical feel.  We had a yummy lunch there.  The interesting thing was most of the products sold there were very American or shabby chic.

I tried to get my husband to sit on the "loo", but it had things growing out of it so he declined.

Which one of us mommies/grandmommies would not like one of these three-sided centers.

Ahhhhh….and now for the really good stuff.  Everything from vinegars, jams, dressings, olives, oils, and more.  A chef's paradise.
These pies are sooooooo good.  These little puppies are sold everywhere in S.A.  Most of them are filled with gravy and not much meat.  Not these guys.  They are as yummy as they are pretty.  I still have not tried the "monkey gland" pie.  They say it is just gravy.  I don't believe them.
And pictured below….drum roll please….are worth the plane trip to Africa.  Traditional South African Roosterbrood!  This bread is de lish.  It has a fantastic consistency, slightly chewy, faintly sweet and salty.  Toast it with butter and jam, fill it with meat for a sandwich. I must learn how to make it before coming home.  Um, Um good.

Farmstalls are Fabulous!