Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Summary of Our First Three Months in the South Africa Durban Mission

We are loving it here in the metropolitan area of Durban, South Africa. We live in Westville, what we would call a suburb of Durban. We had a VERY rough start to our mission when I broke my arm four days after our arrival. It required 4 pins and 4 days of hospitalization, which meant little to no training from the one doing the job before me -- and the same for my husband since he was running back and forth to the hospital (a 30 minute drive away). After 6 weeks they took out the pins, but kept me in the arm sling for 6 more weeks to insure proper healing. They x-rayed and had me put the sling away exactly 3 months to the day after breaking my arm.

We are slowly learning our jobs, in spite of the extremely different economy, customs, languages, etc. They are probably about 30 years behind in most things, if not more. Yes, they speak English here, but since a high percentage of the population are of Zulu descent, Zulu is their first language, and they speak it by far more than English. A clerk in a store will repond to your question in English, then turn to another clerk and ask her opinion or speak to her in Zulu. Another large portion of the population are of Dutch descent (here as early as the 1600's) and speak Africaans, a language whih mutated over time from Dutch and German. Understanding ANYONE on the phone is extremely difficult, because of their "accent" -- but they say WE have the accent!

But the Zulu people are great! For our Sunday assignment, we work with a small group of 50 to 60 maximum, located about a 45 minute drive away. They are all Zulus and meet in a VERY old school building, typical of maybe the 1930's. I work with the children from 2 to 12 years of age, with one young woman who is about 20 years old assisting, and another woman who comes every other week to teach (due to her work schedule). Our attendance varies weekly from 2 to 16 children. Nearly all walk to church, with some walking nearly an hour to get there, one woman with her infant tied on her back with a blanket, Zulu-style. It is great to work with the kids; they are so loving and accepting. Since Zulu is their first language, ideally the young woman translates what I say into Zulu -- but of course, things aren't always ideal.

My husband and I work in the mission office Monday thru Friday. I am over the boardings, totalling maybe 50 to 60, dealing with contracts, furnishings, locating new boardings, etc. I am also over medical by making appointments, billing insurance, and making sure the right people know of the health concerns, from minor to major. My husband is over all aspects of the finances for the approximately 150 young male missionaries and the 14 senior couples assigned to work in the South Africa Durban Mission. As I think of all our responsibilities, it is no wonder we still don't have it all mastered, and get stressed at times.

The animals here are amazing, and the climate is ideal. But we try not to dwell on missing the birth of the 7th grandchild two weeks ago, our oldest grandson leaving for a mission in two weeks, etc., etc. We have had the opportunity to go on a couple of game drives (safari's) and seen giraffes, elephants, rhino's, etc up close in the wild. Everything is an adventure here -- but, of course, we ARE on the other side of the world!

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