Monday, July 28, 2014

Together with family…Our favorite place to be!

We have been so looking forward to a visit from Mark, Lisa, Spencer, Dallin, and James Astling.  After weeks of counting down July 17th FINALLY came.  And may I just say….WE HAD A BLAST.  
Here is a run down of the places we visited:
  • Kragga Kamma Game Park in Port Elizabeth (Rhinos, Zebras, Cheetahs, Warthogs, Kudu, Bontebok, Springbok, Ostrich, Wildebeest, Water Buffalo, Giraffe)
  • Exploring the Indian Ocean
  • Fish River Sun
  • Hiking the Hogsback (The forrest that J. R. R. Tolkein roamed when he was a young boy)
  • Spotting a herd of wild giraffe
  • Many monkey sitings
  • Dinner at the oldest tavern on the Eastern Cape, "The Pig and Whistle"
  • Sunday Branch Meeting in Port Alfred and meeting with the great members there
  • Staying in a Farmhouse at the Crags
  • Monkeyland Park
  • Birds of Eden
  • Plettenberg Elephant Sanctuary
  • Tenikwa Wildlife Reserve
  • Plettenberg Game Reserve
  • More Indian Ocean
  • Visiting the World's second highest Bungee Jump (otherwise known as "A Dope on a Rope)
  • Riding Segways through the Tiksikama Forrest
  • Ziplining over waterfalls in the Tiksikame Forrest
  • Eating a lot
  • Teaching my grandsons how to play "Nertz"
Mark took over 2000 pictures.  We took over 600.  I will only post a few!

Who does not love the ocean?  We found our first real live Starfish while exploring!

A highlight for me was when Marked screamed from the back of the van…GIRAFFE!  We thought he was "pulling our leg" (not that he has ever done that before) but he was serious. As Paul and I have driven through South Africa, we have wondered if we would ever just see these animals running wild.  It happened!  This could have been a holding tank for some preserve, but we are going to pretend they were running wild.  It makes a better story!

A family of baboons were playing alongside the road!

Two of our friends at Monkeyland!

This little friend landed on Lisa's shoulder.  She motioned us over and he decided to take a turn with Grandma.

A dream come true for all of us.  Walking with, touching (even rubbing his other end), and riding an elephant!

And a small sampling of some of the other game we saw.

"I had a farm in Africa"….well at least we stayed in a Farmhouse.  It was charming!

Zipping through the trees and over the Falls in South Africa!

Whew!  We made it.  What an amazing adventure.  President Wheeler and I felt so blessed to have our family with us to share all these adventures.  This was the first time we had taken a break from our branch in nine months.  "Oh the Places we Go" in South Africa.  The beauty and bounty of this country is astounding.  We are blessed.  Thank you Astlings!  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

South Africa National Arts Festival….or "Hoofin' it to the Fair"

The Cape Town, South Africa Mission covers an area as large as three states of Texas.  In our mission we currently have nine couples serving.  We are very spread out and do not often get a chance to meet. The South Africa National Arts Festival was a great excuse to meet and visit.  Elder and Sister Silcock from Idaho are seated on the cart.  They are from Idaho.  Elder and Sister Chase are on the far left and their home town is in Northern Utah.  Elder and Sister Blatter are from Montana.  Sister Blatter is in the white and Elder Blatter is behind Elder Wheeler.  Sister Gardner is in the middle.  Her husband was MIA.  The Thomases had not yet arrived for this picture.  None of us dared to ride in this cart, but it was a great photo opportunity.

The National Arts Festival is the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent.  It is held in Grahamstown and runs for 11 days.  It is comprised of drama, dance, theatre, comedy, opera, music, jazz, visual art, film student theatre, street theatre, lectures, crafts, and surrounding historic places.  My favorite art form are these beaded creations.  Each piece is made from tiny little beads that are threaded on to wire or string.  

Here is the grand prize.  A full-size cow.  All hand-beaded!

A sampling of the many plays/performances available.  

These baskets are weaved from telephone wire.  These women are FAST and creative.


Africa's version of a Mime!

The food was unbelievable.  Some of our group had a Kudo burger.  No thank you.

I found a quilt!  Yea for me!

Logandale Five is Alive in South Africa!

From left to right:
Elder (President) Paul J. Wheeler, Sister Wheeler, Elder Cam Stratton, Elder Austin Prisbrey.
Four missionaries all from the same home ward all now serving in the Port Alfred Branch!
 Logandale 5th Ward, Logandale Nevada Stake.  
Elder Wheeler was their Sunday School teacher and then their Advisor in the Priest Quorum.  Elder Stratton received his call first.  He entered the mission field July 24th, 2013.  We entered on October 21st, and Elder Prisbrey followed in December.  We mentioned to our Mission President that we would love the opportunity to all serve together.  He took it to the Lord, and felt good about it.  We hope we will be together for at least two transfers.  
These two fine men are a credit to their parents and to L5!  It is an honor and a privilege to serve with them.  (Not to mention how fun it is to have a brainful of Moapa Valley stories to tell and share)

And this is just the best bonus of all.  Elder Prisbrey "rocks" on the piano so the branch does not have to listen to all of my mistakes each week.

"Trip" to the Temple!

Elizah Ncibi-Nobebe will never forget her first "trip" to the temple.  We had just finished gathering all of our group for photos on the temple grounds and we were walking back to our accommodations.  One of the youth came running to find President Wheeler. "Come quick President!  Sister Elizah has fallen!"  Her husband massaged her ankle and we sent for the golf cart.  After a Priesthood blessing she was resting well.  Unfortunately she was unable to attend any more sessions.  We thought all was well until we got home.  The pain persisted and three days later she went for X-rays.

FRACTURED!  After a surgery to put in pins and a metal plate she is healing nicely.  
Ahhhh….the memories!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Standing in Holy Places…Port Alfred Branch Temple Excursion.

July 2, 2014 ~ July 5, 2014
The Port Alfred Branch, Cape Town South Africa Mission Temple Excursion came to a climax.  A climax in this case is defined as a point in a certain chain of events which change occurs.  For these 25 people, this spiritual change happened in the Johannesburg Temple.

Months of saving money, arranging work schedules for days off (sometimes at the risk of losing their jobs), temple classes, parental permission, arranging transportation (only two members here have a driver's license and only one member here owns a car), preparing  meals for the journey, arranging for child care for four days, making acceptable sacrifice, obtaining temple recommends, and more.  All that for this….

Two eternal families….

Vuyisile and Noxolisa Matshotyana and their two children in the above picture.

Ncebazakhe and Thembeka Hola and their two sons in the picture on the right.

For Vuyisile, Noxolisa, and Thembeka this was there first time attending the temple.  While waiting in the instruction room I asked Noxolisa if she was nervous.  She said, "Yes Sister Wheeler, but I feel the spirit so strongly."

Elizah Ngcibi-Nobebe and Monica Vulindlu also attended for the first time for a total of five new own endowments.  

And these absolutely amazing youth performed hundreds of baptisms for family members.  From left to right is Ayabonga Mgadi, Ayandiswa Magawu, Sonalo Nteyi, Magret Tunye, and Bouso Thiam.  They were also the babysitters on Friday so the adults could attend the temple.   

Regrettably, I did not get a good picture of the transport that 21 of our members and two drivers rode in to Johannesburg.  It was very similar to this picture.  The transport was supposed to tow a trailer to hold the luggage.  "Suppose to" being the key word.  They squished in to this bus with all of their luggage and traveled 14 hours leaving at 6:30 pm, driving through the night and arriving at the temple (after getting lost in Johannesburg which is a city of 52 million) the next morning at 9:00 am.  They sang songs, and when they sing I am surprised that you can not hear them in America, they read scriptures, they laughed and talked and were filled with anticipation.

President Wheeler and I drove our little Chevy with two passengers as a follow-up car.

Thank you to all who so generously donate to the temple funds of the church.  Your contributions change lives.  Meals are served in this lovely facility.  

The youth enjoyed a Disney movie on Friday while the adults were in the temple.

All of the single women stayed in a room together.  On Friday night they had a Family Home Evening.  They opened with a song and prayer.  Each shared a favorite scripture story and then they laughed and giggled until the wee hours of the morning.  It was a great "girl party".  Saturday morning we started our journey home at 6:00 am.  We wondered how many would show up to church the next day knowing they would be so tired and that they have to walk 45 minutes to get to church.  Come to find out they had made a promise to each other that they would all show up….and they did.  All but one came.  Elizah took a bad fall and had twisted her ankle and could not walk.  

Each of them bore their testimony.  Our testimony meeting went for one hour and 45 minutes.  Some of the comments.  
  • "It was glorious."
  • "I still feel the peace today.  I want to feel it always."
  • "My family is with me forever."
  • "I want to teach my girls to be worthy to kneel at the altars of the temple with their future spouse."
  • "My marriage will be stronger because of my experience in the temple."
Climax:  A certain chain of events where change takes place.  For these 25 members, the Johannesburg temple trip was life-changing.