Monday, September 22, 2014

Spring has Sprung

It's finally spring here and the flowering trees are blooming. There are trees here that I've never seen before--they may grow in the US areas more like South Africa like California, but I don't remember seeing any. Anyway, I took a bunch of pictures. In a couple of days, I'll do another post to show what happened to all of the blossoms on the day that I took some of these pictures.
This is a banana tree blossom!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Weaver Birds

A while ago, I told our family about a bird here that the kids were fascinated by, so I thought I would post this video that shows one of them busy feeding her chicks. They are called weaver birds or sometimes weaver finches and there are several varieties here. The ones we see the most are bright yellow and black and we understand that the colors are more vivid during breeding seasons. The male weavers build these elaborately woven nests with the narrow, tube entrances facing down to discourage other birds from raiding the nests. The completed nests are used to attract the females, so I suppose the guy has a good incentive to be a good builder. They build from leaf fibers, grass, and twigs, and while these are very neatly woven, there is another variety that builds really messy nests that are quite a bit bigger. We most always see the nests in groups so in this spot there were probably twelve or fourteen nests grouped together for safety. You can hear the little chicks in this video and we understand that there is sometimes more than one group of chicks in a single nest.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Post Script to the Beauty Post

I got a few comments on that beautiful baby that I included in that last post so I thought I would add this one. The counselor in the stake presidency that we work with blessed his new little son last Sunday and Elder Davie was asked to stand in the circle for the blessing. Here's a picture of the baby with his proud sister. Doesn't she look delighted with her new brother?

Beauty is No Respecter

One thing that we have noticed as we have worked in areas that vary so widely in economic advantage is that beauty is no respecter of income. Even in the most financially depressed areas we see absolutely gorgeous people who would not look out of place on a stage or in a movie.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Soweto Stake Institute Activity

For the past couple of Saturdays we have been helping with an activity in the Soweto Stake. First of all, if you've never heard of Soweto, you should Google it; it's a place with an amazing history, especially during apartheid. The activity was organized by some friends of ours, the Clowards, who are Seminary and Institute missionaries like we are, but they work in the Soweto Stake while we are in the Johannesburg stake. Twenty or so kids from each institute program competed as teams against the clock to try to move the entire group across the cultural hall while only touching eight small carpet squares. You can read the rules on one of the included pictures, but the analogy was to try to get to "zion" all together without losing anyone. The participants tried many kinds of approaches before they all came to the conclusion that they had to share space and cooperate completely to get across. (for example, piggy backing was hard on feet and legs and did't work) Each of the teams took at least a couple of hours to finally get everyone across the hall. After the activity, we fed the hungry participants an American breakfast with pancakes, egg and fruit, so we have flipped a lot of pancakes in the past couple of weeks! We found that Africans don't like syrup much--too sweet, and they like their fruit room temperature, not refrigerated :)