Saturday, June 27, 2015

Victoria Falls

We are getting pretty close to our time to go home (only three weeks!) and one of the things we wanted to do while we were in Africa is visit Victoria Falls, which is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. After being there, you can certainly see how it got that designation! We went to the Zimbabwe side and stayed in the town called Victoria Falls but the falls and the Zambezi River that creates it are in both Zimbabwe and Zambia.

"Victoria Falls" was the name given to it by Europeans to honor Queen Victoria, but the natives call it Mosi-oa-Tunya which means the Smoke that Thunders which I think is a much more descriptive name. It is neither the widest or the tallest of waterfalls, but when all things are combined including the flow rate, it is the largest curtain of falling water in the world with a width of 5,604 feet and a height of 354 feet. To give you a little scale, that is about twice as high and about 30% wider as Niagra Falls.
We went a couple of days and one morning we were lucky enough to catch some of the rainbows that Victoria Falls is famous for.
Here's another one
Even the grassy areas had rainbows because there was so much water mist.
You can see how misty the falls looks here, but we were told that during the rainy season, you can hardly see the falls because it is so misty.
Maybe like this part of the falls, but even more misty they say.
This is the Lodge we stayed at which was very nice.
There was a watering hole that we could watch from our balcony
That is when the monkeys weren't on the balcony. They were aggressive little things. This one was baring his teeth at me and lunging at the window. Forget lions, I'm going to avoid monkeys!
They put out food a couple of times a day and hundreds of vultures would come to try to get some of it. It wasn't nearly enough to feed them all, but just enough to keep them in the national park where they were protected.
They came in every evening to put down the mosquito netting--it was a mosquito area (hence malaria), but not the mosquito time of year so we didn't see any at all.
Bargaining at the craft market which was no fun. There were about 50 vendors and each one was begging to be "supported." They really do need the money since the currency in the two countries collapsed a few years ago. Now what little cash they get are American dollars or South Africa rand.
We went on a nice sunset cruise down the Zambezi.
Frank took this sunset picture through a hole cut into the back of the deck chairs.
We also did a helicopter ride above the falls which was amazing. My first time in a helicopter and, since I was the smallest passenger, I got to ride in the front.
This picture gives you an idea of the width of the falls. I asked why the river didn't cut a deeper, narrower channel like other rivers and learned that the river flows across very hard basalt from an old volcano.
This one gives an idea of the height of the falls.
And here you can see the mist in some parts even during this dryer time of year. The pilot said that at some times, they can't fly because the visibility is too low, and anyway, I'm sure you couldn't see anything anyway.
For those thrill seekers, there are two pools in the rock at the very top of the falls where people are taken by power boat to swim (and no! this picture is not of us :) From our safe place at the bottom, we could see people walking on the rocks and just the sight of it looked crazy.

This is the video that we purchased that shows the helicopter flight. It's a little long and I'm not sure about the music, but you can experience the flight above the falls!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Support from Priesthood Leaders

Dear Family and Friends, 

-Sister Davie (Maxine) has been the only one to post on this missionary blog for the past 17 months of our wonderful mission. I thought before all this great experience comes to an end, that I would make an entry or two as well.

-In our work with the Church Education System (CES), Seminary & Institute (S&I), there are four important elements: 1) Priesthood Leadership, 2) the Parents, 3) the Teachers and of course, the 4) Students (approx. 250) themselves. This has been a great work to be involved with and we have certainly seen some growth and changes in the lives of those who we have been privileged to work with. I might add, our lives have been influenced for the better as well.

-Of importance of which I wish to share is the support that we have received from our priesthood leaders.  Our assignment is primarily with the Johannesburg Stake and recently with the Bedfordview Stake since another missionary couple has returned home.  Without this priesthood support, we would not have accomplished all that was done. So we express our appreciation to them. Yes, the parents play a significant role and well as the teachers.  Of course, if it were not for these amazing young people in the Church (ages 14-30), we wouldn't be doing this work at all.  They are to be recognized as well.

Stake President Andrew DeKock, Johannesburg Stake attending the Seminary Super Saturday Event
President Sehloho, Second Counselor, Stake Presidency attending Stake Cultural Event...
Elder Khumbulani Mdletche, Supervisor of CES Department here in Johannesburg area...
Elder Tasara Makasi, Director of CES Department describing one of his traditional, favorite foods....
Bishop Molombo, Johannesburg 1st Ward attending one of our Saturday Inservice Training Meetings
Bishop Cedras, Weltevreden Ward describing potjie (Dutch oven) recipe that he put together...
Bishop Gqibitole, Johannesburg 2nd Ward dressed in traditional African clothing...
Bishop Molombo and his wife...dressed for Sunday sacrament meeting...
President DeKock providing talk at the Annual Seminary Super Saturday Event for teachers and seminary students.
Finally, Bishop Makasi attending the annual 'Helping Hands' Service Project for the Johannesburg community.

While not all Bishops and Branch Presidents are accounted for here that we have had the privilege to work with, there is such a wonderful spirit about all the many good things that are being accomplished under their leadership and direction. We have greatly appreciated their support throughout our mission!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Traditional Clothing

Since we arrived, I’ve been wanting to add a post about the clothing in South Africa. For the most part, people wear what we would wear in the United States, but they also have their traditional dress, which they often wear. We have seen very specific traditional clothing in cultural events and performances, like leather skirts or woven hair hats or leg ornaments made with animal skins or seedpods, but there is also a more combined and westernized dress that we see often. Most of these images come from an event that was held last Saturday at the stake center. People from each ward brought foods from their cultures, wore traditional clothing and did some fun performances that they all understood. We just enjoyed them. Here are some pictures of clothing you might see in South Africa. All of you young women might enjoy the one of the woman lying down on the mat. That is the pose that a married woman must take in some of the tribes when they have a visit from their mother-in-law. Somehow I can’t picture my three daughter-in-laws lying down on a mat when I come in the door. :)
What you would typically see on the street--it's a mixture
This lady was a tour guide and wore a western/traditional dress.
This is the mother-in-law pose; a sign of respect
We see lots of bright colors
This is Jessica, one of our cute institute students. In the bowl is pineapple with curry powder; not too adventurous (it was an Indian dish)
The face painting was once specific, but this lady told us that now you can just make up your own design.
Sisters from one of the wards.
Even the handbag is coordinated; I'd say that's a modern touch.
The head dresses are common and they tie them in all different ways.
This was part of their performance.
You can see that this is a pretty westernized dress
Sister Mukanga, one of our seminary teachers
Some ladies from the Alexandra Branch.
Joburg 1--the fellow on the right is Bishop Gqlbitole. Can you say a g, a q and an l in succession? Well neither can we!
Sister Radley, another of our seminary teachers.
A guy from the Cosmo City Branch
An institute student--there is a big Indian population here so we often see Indian dress.
A very pretty headdress. The picture doesn't do justice.
A cute seminary student; she has an identical twin sister.
We often see people dressed all in white on Sundays.
or in this uniform
Lots of muslims here also