Today is the 20th of July 2015 and we entered the Provo MTC on 20 January 2014 so that means that we are at the very end of our eighteen month service here in Johannesburg. Our clock definitely thought so when it stopped just a few minutes after midnight last night. It seems that everything was saying it was time to go home—every bottle or jar or package of everything seemed to run out almost perfectly so the universe must be in agreement. Although we are both definitely ready to get back to our family and our home, we know that serving here has been a great blessing in so many ways. This past week has been filled with preparation, but also with so many comments and acts of appreciation that we feel a little overwhelmed and undeserving at the attention and love we have received. Here are a few pictures and explanations of some of those activities.
As you can guess, there have been some days of cleaning--here's Elder Davie in his apron. Our kids think buying an apron for their kids might be the magic bullet to get them to work like grandpa. Interestingly, one of our teachers asked specifically if when we left she could have Elder Davie's apron. She had seen him in it at our Super Saturday event and thought it was interesting that a guy would have an apron on (highly unusual here) and said that it would always remind her of us.
How often do you clean your oven? Well I clean this one only when it's time to move. It's the oven that is practically Easy-Bake Oven size as our daughter said so that's all it deserves.
Lots of packing too--I can't tell you how many times we have weighed these bags. Still we know we'll have to pay an overage for one and the rest we will keep our fingers crossed because they are very close to 50 pounds by our scale. There are enough clothes in them to put in a small grocery bag. Everything else is souvenirs and gifts for our family :)
We gave away almost all of our clothes and anything that we bought for ourselves here (like the appliances) to the Alexandra Branch. We figured they could use it more than another relatively rich set of Americans who can more easily buy their own appliances :)
One of the bishops invited us to dinner with his family to say thank you for our service.
This was the dinner at the CES (Church Education System) office that they held in our honor.
Dinner with this cute family of one of our Seminary teachers. They are Zambian and eat with their hands, (a basin and a jug of warm water are passed around first so everyone's hands are freshly clean) but they kindly gave us American missionaries some forks :)
A dinner was also held at the home of the mission president to say goodbye to us.
We were busy right to the end--this Mid-Year Convention for the new stake that we have been working with was held only two days ago. The attendance was great by the time everyone arrived. (Clocks and appointments are more flexible here in South Africa :)
This was from the Saturday just before that--our great stake president who gave the concluding message to the students.
This is Glory who graduated from Seminary last year and will be going on a mission soon. She gives me a big hug whenever I see her as do most of the students in the stake. We gave her the keyboard that I was learning on while I was here because she is learning to play the piano. The baby is her nephew.
Like I told my own twins, these are my South African twins. They are from the Alexandra township and are such intelligent, capable girls. I hope I can know what they do in the future.
We attended the Alexandra branch on our last Sunday (yesterday) This the young women's class and most of the girls are also in the seminary class there. They sang a special song for us.
And in a few minutes we are leaving the apartment for the last time and going to lunch with President Sehloho who is the counselor in the stake presidency here that we worked so closely with. After that, we'll go the office, turn in a few things and then on to the the airport. We are a "test couple" who will give feedback on our experience flying a different direction that missionaries from here have traditionally gone. We'll fly Etihad Airlines to Abu Dhabi, then to Los Angeles and finally to Las Vegas where part of our family will meet us. The others who are further away will be coming soon for a family reunion in early August. Goodbye South Africa! I'll post at least one more time when we arrive home.