We are now serving in the South Africa Durban Mission and have been here 8 months. We are straight across the wide Indian Ocean from the grand city of Perth, Australia -- on the same latitude line. Once again we are working in the Mission Office here in the city of Durban. Elder Nielsen does the finances and Sister Nielsen does boardings, medical, and baptism recording. There are approximately 135 young elders (no sisters) and 14 senior couples serving here. Never thought serving in the Mission Office could be so busy!
South Africa is just as different and wonderful as we found Perth, Australia to be. Upon experiencing a Game Drive with the other Seniors, we discovered that the animals unique to South Africa ar just as amazing as what we found in Australia. But the BIG FIVE of Africa (cheetahs, lions, rhinos, cape buffaloes and elephants) are much more dangerous to man than kangaroos, koalas, ostriches, kookaburras, etc., etc.... HA, HA
Durban, South Africa is not at all what we expected when we got our call. In fact, our flat is surrounded by "jungle" which is home to many monkeys who continue to raid our garbage cans. The area is made up of thousands, upon thousands, of hills, so they tuck homes and buildings everywhere! There is hardly any flat land, and no straight roads; they all twist and turn! And Elder Nielsen STILL has a hard time driving on the left side of the road!. Sister Nielsen has yet to build up the courage to try driving here. But according to her, "All the major roads are expressways, with speeds of 80 to 110 k's, while sharing the roads with pedestrians walking, jogging, or crossing the roadway." But then there are the TAXI'S which can stop anywhere along the sides, to pick up or discharge passengers! (TAXIS are vans similar to the old volkswagen buses, and pack in up to 16 passengers (four across each row).
The population in South Africa consists of those of the Zulu race, many immigrants from India and Asia, and of course, the Africaans (descendants of the original Dutch and German settlers who arrived in the 1600's). We are assigned to attend a small church unit, which was a "group" until it was made a branch just over a month ago. Its members are all of the Zulu race, except for us and the Branch President and his wife. He was released as a Bishop of a ward in a neighboring town about 30 or more minutes drive away, to lead the Molweni Branch, since he has tremendous leadership experience. The members DO speak English, but it is still difficult to understand what they are saying, and they often slip into Zulu during talks and testimony bearing.
We, along with the other Senior Couples, have had numerous spiritual experiences working with the people of South Africa, whether Zulu, Indian, or Africaan. The Lord has prepared many of the people here for the Gospel, but Satan is trying his hardest to thwart the work. But it is still going forth!
We did encounter a few bumps in the road, however. Sister Nielsen fell on wet stairs outside the flat 4 days after arriving and broke her arm. We took her to the hospital and they directe us to check into "CASUALTY", which here means Emergency, which kind of unnerving to us! She spent 4 days in the hospital and 6 months with it in a sling. Her total recovery AMAZED her orthopedic surgeon!! He said it could only be through our prayers that her arm is now stronger than before it was broken...and no diminished use of her left arm. Then Elder Nielsen developed severe stomach pains, which was contributed to his gall bladder. He had surgery 6 weeks ago to remove the gall bladder and is recovering well.
Our greetings to all....and apologize for the email, instead of the requested video. We still don't have super technology skills! We know the Gospel is true. No matter where in the world we are serving...it is the same.
May God bless you,
Elder and Sister Nielsen
(DeVon and Judi Nielsen)
(DeVon and Judi Nielsen)