Saturday, March 28, 2015

Bird Sequel

As a little sequel to the post on birds here in South Africa, I wanted to post a few pictures of the birds that we have outside our kitchen window. Since we have loved the beautiful, bright birds here, we decided to get a bird feeder, which we adapted slightly so that only the smaller birds could land. Our most frequent visitors lately have been the bishops and the weavers. The males of the weavers are bright yellow, and the males of the bishops are brilliant red. Females of both species are brown/grey. Both birds build the cool woven nests that hang from branches of the trees. (I’ll include a picture of their nests.) Even though they are very handsome, they can also be very contentious. Sometimes, in order to stop their noisy squabbles, I’ll purposes walk in front of the window to make them fly away and cool off for a minute.

Our favorite bird is a little handicapped weaver that I named Captain Dan because he has only one leg. He can’t land of the perches and eat like the other birds, so he has to do this little acrobatic one-legged-pull up maneuver, but still, he manages very well as you can see.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Our Fine Feathered Friends

In addition to all of the amazing animals that live in this part of Africa, there are some beautiful and interesting birds. (There are also a few that are pretty annoying like the "Go-Away" birds and Ibis that start squawking around our flat about an hour before sunrise :) Almost a thousand species of birds have been recorded just in South Africa, so if I posted pictures of all of them you'd have to keep scrolling for quite a while, but here's a few of the ones that we've taken pictures of. My favorite is the first--the Lilac-breasted roller. The colors, especially in flight are amazing. They are also difficult to catch in flight, and my flight shot isn't that great, but you can get idea of the colors. Click to enlarge the fourth one, just to see the detail of his feathers.

We are blessed to have such beautiful creatures living on this planet!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tim and Syd Visit Us in Africa

Our son Tim and his wife, Sydney visited us in South Africa this past week. The pictures will illustrate the great time we had together. We visited a cultural village (Lesedi); laughed at all "the little pick pockets" at the monkey sanctuary; sampled game meats at a famous restaurant aptly named Carnivores; spent three wonderful days at the Madikwe Bush Lodge; went on four game drives where we saw many African animals; went to the Johannesburg Temple (unfortunately it was closed for a public holiday that we weren't aware of); and had a hot air balloon flight. On Sunday we attended church at one of the little branches that we work with that meets in a "container chapel" and then before Tim & Sydney flew away, they enjoyed a real South African braai with the VanTonder family that we rent from. The activities were all great, but the best part of the week was having family here and being able to introduce them to some of the people and places in our mission where we have spent the past fourteen months.
Lesedi Village where we learn a little about the five most prominent South African tribes and see performances of their traditional dances.
Monkey sanctuary where some of the residents will check out pockets and unzip purses. Frank's handkerchief is now somewhere in the monkey sanctuary.
This one lounged on his head for a while and checked his hair carefully for any tasty bugs. 
Carnivores where they sampled lots of wild meats including kudu and crocodile.
The temple was closed, but we got to walk around the grounds.
Cool "Balloon Safari"
The Bush Lodge and game drive.
Syd was pretty much this excited the whole time, especially when any baby animals were involved. She was more fun to watch that the animals!
There was an amazing water hole and hike on the property where we could see the animals coming for water. (baby wart hogs)

It's a dry year so the animals were continually coming because they knew they could find water there.

Little baby got tired of trying to use his trunk like the big guys, and just decided to suck the water up into his mouth instead.
Lazy cheetah
White rhino--they are all gray, the term "white" came from "wide." They are "wide mouth" rhinos as opposed to the more pointed mouth in the "black" rhino.
There are always lots of zebra and impala, but they are still beautiful.
This was the old patriarch lion--you can see that he is a little scared and tattered, but still the king.
One of our favorite animals was this little chameleon that we all held for a minute.
Beautiful kudu--the guide said the curving horns become a liability when they are being chased by lions because they get caught in the bush.
She lion looking for breakfast. She was big and powerful; I wouldn't have wanted to be strolling past.
giraffe trying hard not to be lion's breakfast--they drink very briefly in between checking the landscape because they are so vulnerable in that spread leg position.
Wildebeest which looks like he is an animals made from the parts of other animals.
Even the insects are beautiful. This one wanted to have dinner with us.
And for the last picture, a gorgeous African sunrise.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Goodbye to the Clowards

Anyone who has served a mission knows that one of the blessings is the associations you have with the people that you work with. When we arrived in South Africa fourteen months ago, the couple that picked us up at the airport was Elder & Sister Cloward. Since that day, we have spend many hours together. Both of us couples are CES missionaries (Church Education System) working with the seminary and institute for the youth so we've gone to many of the same meetings and been involved in the same work. We also worked at the temple on the same days so we've shared rides there and always had a nice lunch together somewhere afterwards. In addition to all of those connections, just by chance we ended up living across the street from each other so there have been a lot of dinners together and sometimes played games in the evenings. And we've walked together almost every morning so there are few days that have gone by without seeing them.

Even though we worked in different stakes, there would not have been two CES missionary couples in Johannesburg except for the fact that the Clowards were sent out of Botswana with a lot of other missionaries when their temporary visas expired. (Botswana is still being very restrictive about who they allow in because we were supposed to switch with the Clowards but the missionary department gave up on the idea.) Having two couples here presented some challenges for the CES department but it has been a blessing for us as we got to know this special couple, Elder & Sister Cloward!

They were scheduled to go home a little before us, but this past little while, a medical situation became evident that required them to go home early. So goodbye Clowards! We miss you already and will be praying that all works out well at home so you can resume your life plans that you were always so busy thinking about :) Thanks for all of the walks and talks; the meals shared, ESPECIALLY those you created; the laughs and adventures; the crazy Garmin experiences; the Scripture Mastery, Boggle, and Mexican train games; the projects and work we accomplished together; and especially your friendship!