Friday, December 26, 2014

Kyle Goes on a Mini-Mission

(Written by Kyle Nielsen - Grandson of Elder and Sister Nielsen)

Today, December 26, 2014, I had the opportunity to go with Elders Ghartey and Nkomo, one from Ghana and the other from Zimbabwe. We had arranged to meet at the South Africa Durban Mission Office at 2:00 today. Our first teaching appointment was with a non-member family. We taught them the first lesson which is about the Restoration of the Gospel. They seemed very receptive and the only real question was asked by a daughter who is in her mid-twenties. She asked, "How can I know that what you've shared is true?" She was encouraged to pray about it. Following the lesson they fed us a meal. 

We then went to our next appointment, which was a "no show." We decided to go tracting (knocking on doors) on the same street. The first couple of houses we knocked on, they weren't receptive to our message. About the third or forth house, one guy seemed very happy to see us. He invited us in and we taught a lesson about the Restoration of the Gospel. He seemed VERY VERY ready to hear the message we had to share. After about thirty minutes of discussion he, too, offered to feed us. We left stuffed, but pleased, with a follow-up appoinment scheduled for a week from now.

By then it was time to head back to Grandma's and Grandpa's flat. I loved the experience I got to have as a missionary!!!! I enjoyed it and I can't wait till I go on my Mission to Cleveland Ohio, Spanish speaking, starting in the middle of February. I leave for the Mexico MTC on February 18th.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

St. Lucia

Kyle and his dad J.D., as well as his grandparents, Elder and Sister Nielsen drove from Durban to the small town of St. Lucia on Monday December 15, 2014. We took the four-o’clock boat tour of the St. Lucia Estuary. The Estuary is the home of approximately 1200 crocodiles, 800 hippo’s, and bull sharks too numerous to count.

 Hippos can’t swim, instead they walk on the lake bottom and poke their head up to get air. 

             The next day we were picked up by the safari truck at 5:00 in the morning. We spent the next ten hours at Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park. Our first sighting was a pride of lions. We used the binoculars to see the lions because they were too far away to get a good picture. Next we came upon a giraffe eating leaves on top of the trees.

 The park also has numerous elephants. 

We saw numerous water buck. Note the target on the rear end, which makes it easier to follow one another in the thick bush.

We also spotted various species of antelope including the impala which can run at amazing speeds. We also saw a huge herd of over 100 water buffalo grazing on the grass as they moved across the meadow.

      One of our favorite sightings was of the zebras.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Modern Day Scriptures in the Zulu Language

As we were about to leave the Mission Office for the day, Elder and Sister Rowberry arrived with Brother Sibusiso Mathe (pronounced "Mot-tay")from the Berea Ward in Durban. They had come to the office to make copies of his SIX YEAR PROJECT of translating the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, and ultimately the re-translation of the Book of Mormon into the Zulu language. He had one, and only one, copy of the manuscript that he had worked closely to translate with another individual under the close supervision of a Church translation specialist in Salt Lake City. (See pictures of Brother Mathe holding the title page and a close-up of the title page itself.)

It was fascinating to hear of his experiences in working to achieve correct interpretation using a language which has by far fewer available words than the English language. He also described many of the difficulties faced by them to achieve the same distinctive writing styles of the original authors. It was  amazing to listen to his experiences in this overwhelming task. He is very excited to finally send it off to Church headquarters for publication. He is also anxious to finally get these modern day scriptures to his fellow Zulu brothers and sisters. He is confident that this will lead to even greater success in the missionary efforts among the Zulu people here in South Africa. Having the scriptures in their own language will continue to hasten the work in this part of the Lord's Kingdom.  "Now is truly the time for Africa...."

"The Molweni Group"

We have been asked to work with a small group of native African members (Zulu's) living in the remote township of Molweni. Their numbers are too few to even qualify as a Branch of the Church. They have been struggling for several years to increase their numbers enough to be made a branch. They are hoping to become a branch soon. They have some extremely strong members there. Most of them have to walk quite a distance, even up to an hour one way, to get to their meetings. We talked to one mother who had her baby tied to her back with a blanket, who had walked an hour that day to get there for church. (And we complain when we have to drive five minutes to get to our chapel at home in Utah!)
Sister Nielsen has been asked to work with the Primary and is having a ball. She recently discovered, though, that Sanae, the Sharing Time leader, will need to translate brief sections of her lessons into Zulu, since most of the younger ones know little to no English yet. She is trying to be able to pronouce each of their names (and with some of those names, it is impossible to tell if it is a boy's name or girl's name).
Elder Nielsen is working with the Gospel Principles Class. And from one week to the next, he doesn't know if the instructor will show up or not, so he must come prepared.
One Sunday we had 6 young people presented with their Seminary or Institute Certificate. They are a valient group of youth, and it was quite encouraging! That Sunday, there was hardly an enpty seat in the old rented school room where they meet.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Stake/Area Conference -- November 22 & 23

Mesages from Saturday Evening Session of Stake Conference:
*** God saved His STRONGEST children for our times, to face the STRONGEST temptations.
*** Musical Item: "When Love Leads the Way" (beautiful!!)
*** Are you TOO BUSY? "B" -- being "U" -- under "S" -- Satan's "Y" -- yolk
*** "African Crows": A family of crows were walking down the road. A man stopped them and said, "Father Crow, why are you walking? Don't you know that you can FLY?" With this new realization, Father Crow thanked the man for teaching him that they could fly. Then the crows continued to WALK down the road. Soon they were attacked by predators who devoured them.
Lesson to be learned: They did not heed what they were taught! Are we like the crows?
*** The Stake President announced that, due to growth, the two Durban Stakes are to be realigned to make three stakes in the South Africa Durban Mission.
*** Half way through the two hour meeting, the electricity went off and stayed off for the rest of the meeting. The speakers continued by using the light on their IPHONES and a small emergency light. It was a memorable experience, with powerful messages shared! A Counsellor in the Stake Presidency, a native African, told of his childhood memories of growing up in a strong LDS family. He remembered when he was about 8 years old, his father would walk with the family to the meetinghouse which was 15 to 16 kilometers away (quite a weekly journey to attend church meetings). There was much civil unrest with the South African people at that time. They encountered a mob that were fiercely fighting, with much bloodshed. As they approached the mob, his father kept moving the family along and the mob parted, so they could walk through, UNHARMED!
Years later, he asked his father about the encounter, "Weren't you afraid?" He answered, "No, I had faith that the Lord would take care of us."
He shared that in the 1980's, a young white LDS missionary brought the Gospel to he and his family at a time of the whites being in fear for their lives, due to apartheid. Yet, if that young white missionary had not had faith and trust in his Heavenly Father, he and his family would not have had the Gospel in their lives.
Messages from Sunday Morning Session -- African Area Conference taped earlier in Salt Lake City. Presiding was President Uchtdorf, with Elder Bednar of the Council of the Twelve, Elder Gay from the Seventies, as well as the current first counsellor in the General Primary Presidency.
Things of Interest:
*** The Area Conference was being viewed by ALL of Africa, being made up of 85 stakes and 64 districts throughout the entire continent.
*** It was announced that henceforth there will be THREE stake conferences per year, rather than the current TWO.
*** "Labola" or a young man paying the bride's parents a large amount of money for permission to wed their daughter, often taking YEAR's to acquire the funds.This practice is seen through most of Africa and was HIGHLY DISCOURAGED by all three of the presiding authorities at the meeting. (For more information, Google "labola".) They were emphatic!
*** President Uchtdorf encouraged the members to pray for the construction of the new temple in Durban to begin, which would increase the number off temples in Africa to 5. Rumors are that the location of the temple is soon to be announced, with groundbreaking hopefully to follow soon after. He encouraged members to work on being temple worthy NOW, even BEFORE the temple is completed.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

St. Lucia Seniors Retreat -- Wednesday, November 5 to Saturday, November 8

All thirteen senior couples currently serving in the South Africa Durban Mission, along with President and Sister Zackrison, met at St. Lucia on Wednesday evening for dinner to start our senior retreat, a "South African Safari." Thursday we set out for HluHluwe Game Park (pronouced "shush-loo-wee" since "hl" is pronounced with an "sh" sound). Because of Mom's broken arm and the inability to ride in a safari truck with the other seniors, we rode with the Jaeger's in their car -- a much smoother ride than the bouncey safari trucks, and definitely easier to get into. The Jaegers serve in nearby Richard's Bay and had purchased a one year pass to all the state parks. We are posting a separate blog entry on the 3 different game adventures. This entry is meant to be an overview.
Thursday evening was jam-packed with instruction on the zulu language, zulu dancers who performed several dance numbers along with trying to teach selected senior couples how to perform their energetic movements, followed by a braai (what we would call a barbecue).
Friday we did another game drive, this time to Cape Vital Game Park and Beach. We were again with the Jaegers and saw more of South Africa's wildlife and a beautiful, beautiful beach. Following dinner at a nice local restaurant, we all gathered together for an evening devotional, with each couple sharing a memorable spiritual experience since their arrival to the mission. At the end of the evening, the Zackrison's presented each sister with a beautifu Zulu beaded collar/necklace an the men a ceremonial headband.
Saturday we finished up our Senior's Retreat with a Hippo Boat Tour at the lake near St. Lucia which is known for its over 1200 crocodiles, 800 hippos, and bull sharks which are too numerous to count. We all dispersed to return to our various areas of assignment throughout central South Africa and Lesotho. Had a wonder time and enjoyed the animals.
We are following up this entry with three separate posts: Hluhluwe Game Park, Cape Vital Game Park and Beach, and the St. Lucia Hippo Boat Tour. These posts will be accompanied by a selection of pictures taken at each of the game reserves. It was impossible to capture the beauty and mystique of another of God's Creations -- South Africa.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Just a Note

We are rushing to get our packing and preparations done to leave after noon tomorrow for the Senior's Retreat in St. Lucia, over three hours away. We have had activities nearly every evening until between 9 and 10:00, so have had little time for the emails we would have loved to put together. We are both dragging, especially Mom, and looking forward to a more relaxed schedule through next Sunday.

You have all been such "troopers" and came to the rescue with emails from all, helping to get us through. Your words of cheers have been a great help. And by the way, Mom's wardrobe looks nearly the same everyday, with this strange navy blue contraption around her middle and over the shoulder (her arm sling). But it makes for easier choices in clothing, but Dad has to help her in every step of the process of getting ready for work, or for bed.

We will try to send info packed emails upon our return, and include lots of pictures of the game drives (had to limit it to a self drive in a car to avoid most of the jarring) and sites to see in the Richard's Bay and St. Lucia areas.

Love to all,
Mom and Dad -- Grandma and Grandpa -- and Judi and DeVon

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Oops! Encountered a bump in the road!

FIRST OOPS:  Saturday, we moved from the Bed and Breakfast to our new flat late in the afternoon. After they showed us what we needed to know about our flat, we took off for the mall for a quick bite of dinner and grocery shopping. After eating, Dad decided to have us make a quick trip to our flat in the daylight to make sure we knew how to get there. Because of Dad's bad navigation skills, it only took us an hour and 45 minutes to find our way back on a path that should take us no more than 10 minutes. (Dad said it was because it was dark and he couldn't find his way -- and that was even with the Garmin, but it seemed to have a mind of its own.) We arrived back in time to join the other Senior Couples for the rest of Movie Night, which finished about 10 p.m. And then we had to unpack and put things away, which took until way late!

We had to get up early Sunday morning to ride with those we are replacing, the Andrus', to meet the church group we have been assigned to work with -- the Molweni group -- a 40 minute drive from our flat. We arrived jst after 8:00 to join with them on watching General Conference. We watched both the Priesthood Session and the Sunday Morning Session of Conference for just over 4 and 1/2 hours, counting breaks. We meet most of the group and took pictures, but that's about all. Please note the pictures of some of the members of the group, along with pictures of their meeting place, extremely small external classrooms, and the multiple school buildings there where they meet. They rent their one building, along with two external classrooms, from the city. Almost all the members walk a great distance to get there, up of them up to an hour walk -- and it was raining when church was out!

We returned to our flat with the Andrus' who decided to introduce us to Premie, our Indian neighbor who lives above us.  What a delightful lady!

SECOND OOPS:  While coming down the stairs following the visit, Mom slipped and fell coming down the rain-slick stairs and broke her arm! At first we hoped she had just dislocated her shoulder/ Then we decided we had better take her to the emergency room to the recommended private hospital 30 minutes away. After we checked Mom in, they took her away for X-rays, only to discover she had broken her arm just below her shoulder and was in quite a bit of pain. They gave Mom something for the pain, and put her to bed. The doctor came in, showed us the X-rays, and discussed the situation. We had two choices: (1) immobilize her arm for over 6 weeks and let it heal on its own, (2) go through surgery to realign the bones since they were slightly displaced, pin the break, and immobilize the shoulder for 6 weeks.  We didn't have to make the decision until Monday, the earliest they could schedule the surgery. By this time, we were all tired and worn out. Mom wanted to rest and told Dad to go back to the flat, with it being about 8:00 at night by then.

Early Monday morning they tried to take Mom off to surgery, before Dad's arrival and a joint decision on what to do. Meanwhile, Dad contacted the Mission President's wife, who inturn contacted the Area Medical Advisor who definitely recommended the surgery because of the displacement.  So Dad drove to the hospital and told the doctor of our decision to have the surgery, which didn't occur until after 6:00 that evening. Dad was asked to go to the "Comfort Room' (their waiting room), until Mom was to be brought back to the recovery room. Dad went to have a burger in the cafetria, then returned to the Comfort Room. He was so exhausted from lack of sleep that he kept dosing off. Finally just after 9:00, Dr. Rahjah came out and told him that Mom was in recovery and that he would be summoned when she awakened. He explained that they put 3 pins in her shoulder, to remain 6 weeks until removal in minor surgery. Dad waited until about 10:00, but no on had come for him.  We walked out into the hall just as a nurse came along, who asked if she could help him. He said he was waiting for his wife to come out of recovery. The nurse said, "Oh, there is no one left in recovery. What's your wife's name?" She checked on it and came back to say that Mom had been taken to her room, and NO ONE had come to tell him!

(By the way, CASUALTY is what they term the Emergency Entrance here.)

Dad checked on Mom, talked a few minutes with her being in a groggy state, and left for home. Wednesday Mom was released from the hospital and returned to our flat, rested during the afternoon, and again enjoyed the company of many of the Senior Couples for dinner, this time at a Thai restaurant. Today, Thursday, her first day back at work, she was tired and wore out by the end of the day, but made it to the end of the day. SURPRISE: another Senior Couple was waiting for us at the flat with a deluxe pot-roast dinner they had prepared. It was delicious, especially since Mom didn't have to fix it. So far Mom's doing OK. She is very frustrated with her hairdresser, however. (Dad) Not to worry, however, Mom is doing fine.

Maybe we are through with the OOPS! Love ya all and hope all is OK on the homefront. We will try to keep you updated. Our next big adventure is our trip to Rhino Coast in St. Lucia next Wednesday. We discovered that JD and Kyle need to get reservations for their excusions ASAP since they are coming during the Christmas Holidays, which is summer break for them, and accommodations fill up quickly.

Love ya lots,
Mom and Dad -- Grandma and Grandpa -- or Judi and DeVon

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Arrival and Training in Durban

It is now Friday morning and we thought we would recap the major events between our arrival Wednesday and this morning. We flew into Durban about 1:30 Wednesday afternoon to be met by President and Sister Zackrison, as well as a huge group there to meet the returning Sister Matthews who had served in Manchester, England. It was great to finally arrive at our final destination -- Durban, South Africa!

We were brought straight to the Huntley House, a quaint Bed and Breakfast and the most gracious and friendly hostess ever! They left us to settle in and get some much needed sleep, with plans to pick us up to join with the office staff for dinner. We were taken to Lupa's for "high class food" and the eight of us (President and Sister Zackrison and all the office couples) struggled to hear each other as we tried to get acquainted over lots of background conversation. We shared appetizers of calamari, french fried zucchini, and other seafood treats new to us. Definitely a friendly bunch who were eager to make us feel welcome.

We dropped into bed, exhausted, between 10 and 11:00. Both of us awoke about 1:00 a.m., with Dad solving the worlds problems as he tried to get back to sleep while I listed to John Bytheway on the MP3 telling me how to enrich our marriage. We both probably drifted off to sleep again about an hour later, to be awakened by a pesky alarm clock, along with the noisy birds and monkeys on the rooftop at 6 a.m,.
Jane, our delightful hostess, treated us to a made to order breakfast for just the two of us. You can't believe the quaint home and cottages in this bed and breakfast, set in this tropical paradise. Then we were off to training at the office, when Elder Andrus arrived to begin teaching us how to get around  and find our way to the office.

Thursday, we spent the day in training and still don't get it all!! Immediately following work, we headed over to Elder and Sister Rowberry's, another Senior Mission couple, still being chauffered by Elder Andrus. All the  seven Senior couples serving in the metropolitan area of Durban gathered for a potluck dinner to welcome us. We left there stuffed with fabulous homemade food.
From there, we attended at concert performed by the Durban Philharmonic Orchestra, along with a youth choral group and a full mixed choir at the beautiful, historic City Hall --  the one in the slide show we had put together prior to departure without knowing we would be able to see it so quickly. Dad had to keep poking Mom to keep her from nodding off. She seemed to suffer from whiplash.  We had not overcome jetlag yet. Dad is still kind of "dopey." He almost goes to sleep standing up and is still extremely tired (and this is Saturday when this paragraph is being written!!)

Friday, more training, and more training and more training, then Mom and Sister Andrus went shopping to totally stock 2 new flats (Mom and Sister Andrus, who she is rplacing as housing coordinator). They needed to purchase EVERYTHING, from spoons to washers and refrigerators. They went to a huge store, much like a stepdown from Sam's Club or Costco. They accomplished the OVERWHELMING task in just 2 hours, arriving back at the office past closing time. We rushed to dinner in the Hillcrest area at a restaurant called Oscars, for some authentic South African sandwiches, wraps and salads. Across the street, we went to the Hillcrest Stake Center for a youth talent show. It was obvious the hours they had put into preparing for their performances. But the amazing part was the support the audience and other performing groups gave to those onstage. They even had two very young performers, maybe 3 and 5 years of age, dancing and singing to everyone's delight. It was engaging enough that Mom didn't have to keep Dad awake this time! Again we fell into bed about 11:00. Dad's internal clock woke him up about 3 a.m. and had a hard time going back to sleep before we needed to get up for another of Jane's fantastic breakfasts in her "island of paradise."

Saturday, this morning, following breakfast, we had to pack so we can exchange accomodations with Elder and Sister Andrus. We sure hope we get settled soon. It is now mid-afternoon and we are sitting out on the patio enjoying the beautiful tropical setting. (Are you jealous yet? We will send you a picture.) Hopefully, we can get into our flat and get organized before this evening's event -- several Senior couples getting together to play games. Hopefully, we don't fall into bed, exhausted, again this evening because tomorrow's plans are to attend church and be introduced to the Molweni Group we have been asked to work with.

Don't expect so many details in each update from us, but wanted to share with each of you, our introduction to life in the South Africa Durban Mission. WOW!!

Love ya all!