Monday, May 28, 2012

Well we are here in South Africa safe and a little in SHOCK, ok a LOT in shock. We left the United States on Friday the 4th of May at 9:00am and arrived here in Durban Saturday night the 5th of May. We first flew out of Salt Lake City, Utah then on to Atlanta boarding another plane going straight to Johannesburg South Africa and then catching our final plane to Durban. It was a very long flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg it was 16 hours through the night. Once we landed in Johannesburg we only had a quick flight to Durban about an hour and a half, arriving in Durban at 10:00 pm.

We were fetched (that is what they call it here) by Elder and Sister Zweifel, and taken to our boarding at a B&B called Little Haven. We stayed there for two weeks until the Zweifel’s headed back home we were to move into their flat (here that is what they call apartments). It was a very small place to try and live in with 5 suit cases and 2 large carry-on bags. We barely had enough room to walk around the bed to get to it.

  That first night here was very difficult to sleep and to just relax. Sunday morning we woke up bright and early and got ready for church. We were fetched again by the Zweifel’s and they took us to church, it was stake conference here so we went down town to a very large beautiful city building to attend. The building reminded us of those really old Roman buildings that we saw in Israel and Jordan. The conference was so amazing and it just seemed surreal to actually be here. It was quite difficult to understand any of the speakers African English accents. We had to really listen and then try to figure out what they were saying. They had an all-black choir and it was so amazing to hear them sing, seriously they were incredible. The stake president called them the Durban Tabernacle Choir. They were all from one branch here in our stake. There were about 30 members in the choir. This was the highlight of our day. While driving through town to and from conference we were totally given a good dose of CULTURE SHOCK! We were so surprised at the poverty here and how run down things were. We thought we knew what we were in for but we really did not. After conference the Zweifel’s took us to their flat and we were able to meet two other senior couples, the DeLaMare’s and the Heninger’s. Sister Zweifel made a delicious breakfast it was good to finally eat something decent after looking at and smelling gorse airplane food for two days. That first day here really humbled us and gave us a lot to think about and be grateful for. It is still so hard to believe that we are here.

Monday morning we started our day off with breakfast at our B&B then to the office for our first day of training. It was a good day there and after the office training was done for the day we went and did a little bit of sightseeing. The traffic here is CRAZY AND UNBELIEVABLE, it totally is. Rory was in a daze just trying to think about him having to drive us around here. I know that, even though he would not admit it, he was having a panic attack!!! They drive on the opposite side of the road even the steering wheel is on the other side of the car and there are a BILLION cars on the road and they all drive CRAZY! Everything about the driving is so backwards here. The stop lights are on the side of the road on posts and the Africans think they are just suggestions.  There is not a straight road anywhere, up hills and down, sharp curves and windy roads it is so thick and wooded here you cannot see where you are or where you are heading. I am definitely NOT going to EVER drive here that is for sure.

All week we were trained in the office, we start our day there at 8:00 and go until 5:00. Each day after work we were taken around to see places and to try and orient ourselves on the lay out of this city. Rory was given a car the second day here and we’ll all I have to say about that is now I had a panic attack!! We did survive the first day of driving but I am sure WE gave other drivers heart attacks this time!! I sure hope it gets better and we make it are entire mission accident free. Say a prayer for us please.

The weekend came quickly and on the weekend we once again were so spoiled and taken to some fun places to eat and to see some beautiful scenery. I am having a hard time with the food thing here, on the other hand Rory is not. I just do not like the strong flavors. There is a lot of Indian influence here and they use really strong seasonings and the taste is so different that it is hard for me to eat the food. I am sure that I will get used to it but until then AWE (another prayerJ). We went to a place called 1000 hills, it is a very small little place about an hour form our home up in a very hilly place. It was so beautiful and it was a very nice and quiet place away from the city. That was good to get out of the big city craziness. We had a nice lunch there looked around in some fun little souvenir shops, enjoyed the quiet and beautiful scenery and then headed back into town to go to dinner with some people that wanted to meet us. We ate dinner with the couple that runs the panel beater (the body shop) that does the repairs to all the mission vehicles. And as you can probably tell by now there is A TON OF REPAIRS!! Accidents and accidents constantly, once again the driving thing is difficult for everyone. That is one thing that keeps the Mission President up at nights is the driving and worrying about all the missionaries and the possibility for serious accidents. There has been a few but overall “not too bad”.  Rory is in charge of all the vehicles and the phones. He constantly gets calls about accidents, stalled cars, brake inns, armed high jackings, stolen vehicles and all kinds of problems that come with big city driving and poor countries. Does that seem “not too bad”J? (And again another prayer for us)??  No wonder the President stays awake at nights worrying. We are both also over the flats (the apartments) for all the missionaries in our mission along with so much more. We really like working with the missionaries here they are so amazing and excellent missionaries as well. It is so fun to be around them and to feel of their spirit and see them grow and lead this amazing work.

On the 16th of May we had a couple’s conference with all of the other senior missionaries that serve throughout our mission. We got together in the Drakensberg area about a 4 hour drive up north from Durban. We were able to go to an all-male choir group. It is a boarding school for boys from the ages of 9 thru 15. It is a really hard school to get into from what we understand and it is very expensive as well. They are a famous group known all over South Africa. They performed and put on a great show for us. After the show we had dinner then off to bed. In the morning early we all got together and the President gave us some great council and instructions that would help us. The conference lasted until 12:30 and then we were off to some more fun filled experiences. The senior mission life is a very difficult sacrifice to make. J Rory went golfing with Elder DeLaMare while I went on a hike with several other couples. We stayed another night there in the Lodge, it reminded us a lot the of Sun Valley resort. The next morning we got up packed up and headed to another place called Nambiti for a game drive. We stayed in the coolest place ever. We were each in a tent that was put on a foundation with hard wood floors in it. It was just a one room tent with a bed, a free standing tub, a toiled and a door in the back of the tent that opened up into an outside shower. It was so much fun to stay there. We arrived there at 2:00 in the afternoon, unpacked then at 3:15 we all meet back at the main lodge for an afternoon game drive. We headed out on our game drive that lasted until 6:30 that evening. When we got back they had a great big bonfire for us to sit around, drink some hot chocolate and look at the stars. The southern stars are so awesome!! They are a billion more stars in the southern sky than what we have in the States. They are so bright and beautiful. Then we had a nice dinner and headed back to our tents for the night. When we had gotten back they had turned our bed down and it was all heated up. The beds have heated mattress on them. It gets really cold at night in this part of the country. They had the tub filled with bubbles and hot water and rose pedals scattered around and lite up with candles. I know what a sacrifice but we will do it. Once again it just seemed surreal to actually be here in Africa and experiencing this stuff that we have read about all of our lives. The next morning at 6:30 we were able to go on another game drive. On the game drives we saw so many different kinds of animals native to Africa. We saw zebras, rhinos, lions, giraffes, elephants, wildebeests, warthogs, koo-doos and many different types of antelope some weighing up to 900 pounds. There was so much to see there and we had a great time.

The Zweifel’s headed out and back to their home in Idaho Falls so we were able to move into our place on Monday night. We had a very nice time with them and they sure gave us a great start to our amazing adventure. We will definitely have big shoes to fill and hopefully we won’t make a totally mess out of the office they worked so hard to organize.  It does feel really good to not be living out of a suitcase and to have an ironing board, a mirror you can see out of, and a washing machine to do some laundry and a stove to be able to cook some of our own American food!

Our front door is the second one up on the right hand side.
Oh.....The Safety Issues in Africa...

Our home for the next 2 years.
Our friends just outside in our yard, we see them all the time.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Week two at the MTC was another good week. This week we trained on the church office computers. The first couple of days we went over Microsoft word, outlook, and excel. The last couple of days we were trained on imos the church’s office program. It was really interesting how that works. The work that the church has put into the missionary program is so unbelievable .There is no other organization in the world that is as organized as the church.  To all missionary parents, if you think for one minute that our children are not taken care of or if they don’t have their best interest in mind we are here to tell you that the church is so in control and they are led and directed in everything that goes on in the mission field. It has been so educating to us to have had this opportunity to see behind the scenes of how the missions work. What a testimony again of the truthfulness of this work.
The training that we have received here has truly been a great experience and a tremendous blessing, one that we will never forget. The days sometimes were long but we have really learned a lot. On Tuesday night we were able to attend another fireside where a member of the first quorum of the seventies came and spoke to us. It is always a treat to have a general authority come and talk to you.
 We enjoy seeing all the missionaries in one room at the same time it is so awesome to see.

 We finished up our training on Thursday afternoon and then we headed back to our hotel and started packing up .Shortly after we got back Ron and Michelle came to our hotel and we had a very nice visit with them. It was so good to see them and we are so grateful that they would take time out of thier busy day to come. We love them all so much. Thursday evening Mom, Shellie, Renae and Shannon surprised us to by coming down  and seeing us also at our hotel, taking us to dinner and visiting us. We were so excited and happy to see them. They helped us take our luggage to the airport and gave us a farewell goodbye. Thanks to them for taking time out of their schedule and coming. We love our family more than words can express .We are so blessed to have the great support from them and to have their prayers and kind words of encouragement.   Friday we got up early in the morning to be to the airport at 7:00am. We caught our first flight at 9:30am going to Atlanta, then from Atlanta to Johannesburg South Africa and then on to another flight to Durban South Africa. We arrived in Durban at 10:00 pm Saturday night. A very long two day flight!  It feels good to finally be here in South Africa and to be able to serve here among some of the most amazing people in the world. We have truly been BLESSED! We love this work!!!!