Sunday, April 26, 2015

We've Been Busy :)

It has been a while since I have posted anything and that is because we have had a busy month. The first ten days are always filled with record collection and recording. This month it was especially important to get them completed accurately on time because our records are combined with others from all of the coordinators to create quarterly reports that go to the Johannesburg Area Presidency, etc.

We have also been visiting classes that we haven’t been able to get to yet, and conducting teacher orientations. We have twelve new teachers this year, of the twenty-seven total, and we meet with each of them to make sure they understand their responsibilities and to supply them with any materials they need.

This past week the area supervisor for Seminary and Institute was visiting from East London, so we had several meetings and spent one entire day with him in training, then meeting with him and one of our stake leaders (so that he can assess our working relationship with the stake we are responsible for) and then visiting one of our institute classes in the evening. We’ve worked with great leaders in our calling and have learned a lot in the fifteen months that we’ve been here. We figure we will be thoroughly trained just about the time for us to go home :)

Because another S&I couple had to go home early, we have been asked to take over the support of the stake they were overseeing as well, so it will probably remain extra busy from now until the end of our mission. That’s fine with us since that’s what we’re here for.
Records, records.
One of the classes we visit. We took this shot to show the institute class is in this teachers front room which is also the bedroom in the small city apartment. No walk in closet as you can see.
But look how many students come to the class! There were 24 on the night we were there. The teacher is an excellent teacher and the students participate with thoughtful, informed questions and answers. I don't know that you could find a better institute class anywhere.
We visited this seminary class which was also great. The apartment here (also one multi-purpose room plus a small kitchen) was on the 9th floor and the elevators don't work. Not only that, but they were experiencing "load shedding", i.e. no power, so the staircase was very, very dark. While I was huffing and puffing up the stairs, there were mothers with their babies on their backs and people older than me with groceries tripping up and down them like mountain goats :)
Another small seminary class. We have quite a few small classes because they put the classes where the kids are. Few families have cars and they can't afford many taxi rides so transportation is always a major consideration in any planning.
And this is the Institute class held at Wits University. These kids are from a number of places throughout South Africa, but attend the class there while they are in school. Also an excellent class.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dan and Rob in Africa

A couple of weeks ago, our second son, Dan and his wife Robyn came to visit us here in South Africa. They had been talking about making the trip ever since we received our mission call and we are very glad that they came. We stuffed as much activity into the week as we could and had an amazing time. We were especially sad to see them go since they will be our last visitors to South Africa, but thanks for traveling 10,000 miles to see us Dan and Rob!
This was in Lesedi Village, a cultural village with re-enactments of the five main African tribes. There's a great dancing segment and we had dinner there afterwards where they could experience some of the game meats. We also went to Carnivores which is known for that, but somehow, I can't locate the pictures taken there.
The Bush Babies Monkey Sanctuary is about an hour out of Joburg. We've been there about five times and love it every time. Dan and Rob enjoyed getting to know the little pick pockets.
We attended church at the Johannesburg 1st Ward which is in what is now the very center of the city. The building is the oldest one in South Africa.
After church we had a real South African braai (BBQ) with the wonderful von Tonder family who we rent from. They gave Dan and Rob a little run down on South African history and its current status.
On the morning we had scheduled our "canopy tour" (zip line) it was raining pretty hard and we thought we might have to cancel, but it cleared just as we were gearing up to go.
We all went on a zip line near Tzaneen that was amazing. It followed a beautiful river with several dramatic waterfalls. Dan had been to one in Hawaii and said this one was even prettier.
Rob getting ready to go and Dan on his way (or maybe it was the other way around :)
You can see one of the smaller falls in this picture.
We went on a game drive in Kruger National Park. We stayed in "tents" but they were pretty luxurious tents, complete with climate control and spacious indoor bathrooms.
Dan and me in South Africa! Hard to believe!
These little friends were grooming each other. 
Dan and Rob were lucky enough to see all of the Big Five on our game drives, including the beautiful leopard that is so illusive. He wasn't all that sociable for his picture, but we can definitely say we say him.
Wildebeest watching over his territory. 
This zebra was making sure to scratch all that itched.
And the wart hog was busy being a wart hog. They have such short necks that they have to kneel like that to graze. (seems uncomfortable)
Like Syd, Robyn loved the giraffes. They are such elegant, graceful animals. 
We've seen Cape Buffalo before, but not one lounging in the water by himself. He's a big guy!
There are lots of elephants here, but we never tire of seeing them. 
Another gorgeous animal--the kudu. We are told that each twist of the horn represents about four years growth so this is a mature bull for sure.
The birds play an important role in freeing the animals from ticks and other parasites. 
Can you see how the one bird is inside his ear, helping to groom him.
The regal rhino that is threatened because of their horns. Unbelievably, rhino horn is the more expensive substance on earth.
This was the closest we had ever been to a hyena. In that species, the females are the largest and the strongest.
A cool chameleon, that we saw in the headlights on a game drive.
And a beautiful African sunrise. 
On the road leaving from the game drive, this innovative bunch of kids had created a little performance. They skillfully did a tribal dance in their skirts made of leaves then asked for contributions to assist their village :) The oldest one was very savvy, asking if we had American dollars instead of rand (he obviously knows the rand is falling compared to the dollar)