Thursday, January 22, 2015

Amie in Africa

This past week, our daughter Amie visited us here in South Africa. She had talked about coming even before we left so we were really happy that she made the arrangements to be gone from her family for a week to come and spend some time with us. Below are some pictures with short explanations of our adventures for the week. Thanks Amie for flying all of those hours to get here and then having to fly home, and thanks to her husband and three children for doing without her for a while so we could enjoy her being here with us!
She's here!!! Our first visitor to South Africa.
As soon as she landed we were on our way to a safari camp--Mosethla Bush Camp in Madikwe
The rooms are comfortable tents, raised on stilts.

We went on a game drive each morning and each afternoon for the three days we were there. Amie was really, really lucky to see all of the "Famous Big 5" on her first game drive. Some people go on many and aren't able to say that. We have been on several and this was the first time we saw the leopard.
#1 of the Big 5 is the elephant. We caught these two having an argument.
#2 is the elusive leopard. He didn't stick around for a photo op, but this is evidence that we DID see one!

#3 is the lion. They don't run from anything. Things run from them.
#4 is the rhino that faces extinction due to illegal poaching for the value of the horn.
#5 is the Cape Buffalo or African Buffalo, not to be mistaken for the Water Buffalo which isn't in Africa. 
The cheetah is not one of the big 5, but he should be 6 He is the fastest land animal for short distances.

Big daddy elephant.

Little baby, already about two years old. They are very small when born and grow slowly.

Some frisky zebras--young boys who like to fight.
Giraffe snatching a quick drink--because in this position they are very vulnerable.
There are some really cool birds here in Africa.
On another day, we went to the elephant sanctuary near Johannesburg. Amie, the dog trainer, tried her hand at elephant training.
After seeing all of the big 5, these six week old meerkats were Amie's favorite animals.
One of the pictures Amie took of the cute little baby meerkat
Amie and I at Lesedi Cultural Village--it's a little like the Polynesian Cultural Center
Amie and her daddy with one of the very energetic dancers.
We thought she should try some of the game meats here--crocodile, ostrich (which are both farmed) but also several of the "venison" animals.
On the last day we shopped for souvenirs, then lunch at one of our favorite places
Finally, a session at the Johannesburg Temple and then to the airport

Monday, January 19, 2015

One year anniversary! 2/3 Done!

We started our mission on January 20, 2014, so today is our one year anniversary and, since we are serving for 18 months, it also our 2/3 mark for our mission. We're celebrating the day with our daughter, Amie, who is visiting us and Africa. I'll post some pictures from our adventures soon.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Pre-School Convention 2015!

At the beginning of each year, there is an opening in-service for seminary and institute, called a pre-school convention. Planning for the training began several months ago when the curriculum was ordered and wards and branches began to assess their need for new teachers and to gather students that should be registering for the year. Students ages 14 to 18 or until they graduate register for seminary and those ages 18 to 30 register for institute. We had our pre-school convention this past Saturday and feel it was a good success. All but a few of our 28 teachers came plus most of bishops and branch presidents. During the first hour we served lunch and distributed materials and then the training itself lasted for two hours. We are really grateful that it went so well and also that we are done!!!
Classroom setup. A slide show was going with the pictures we had taken of all of the classes during last years visits. We provided pizza and cold drinks in another room before the meeting, but I forgot to take pictures of teachers enjoying lunch.
 We separated the teachers manuals, student manuals and other materials by teacher so that they could be picked up easily and everyone would get the amount they needed.
We had a good turn out. There were 36 present, which included almost all of our teachers (a few called to be excused) plus priesthood representation from all but two of our units.

President deKock, the stake president, opened the meeting with encouragement and counsel for the teachers. The stake has set a goal that every student who registers will complete successfully, so we will be busy this year trying to make sure that goal is met.
Elder Davie giving explanation and instruction.
We referred to this display during the meeting so that participants would understand that the new changes for the year and even the administrative tasks are all designed to help us better accomplish the big purpose.
My turn. Each inservice I'm the one to give the information on the administrative things--attendance reporting, pacing guides, curriculum. Since there are new requirements this year, including two assessments for students, people had a lot of questions.
 Some of our participants. We have a number of new teachers so we will be working with them to orient and support them during the year. We visit all of the classes, but will visit classes of the new teachers more often. Classes are bigger this year which is good and teachers seem really committed to teaching in a way that will help students complete successfully.