Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas to All. . .And to All a Good Year!!!

Greetings and Warm Wishes from South Africa!
"Sani Bonani" (ZULU for greetings to all of you!)

Another year has quickly gone by as we continue to serve our Lord and Savior in the South Africa Durban Mission.We are enjoying our assignments, with Elder Nielsen as financial secretary and Sister Nielsen as medical and housing coordinator, as well as baptism recorder.

Our days are filled assisting the Lord's missionary work from "behind the scenes." We ensure all financial, medical, and housing needs are quickly and quietly completed to allow the young missionaries to bring the Lord's message to His children is South Africa. We love serving in the background.  We enjoy hearing the members' and the missionaries' stories of their spiritual experiences. It has increased our testimonies "ten-fold!"

We have had the spiritual confirmation that this is where and how we are to be serving the Lord at this time in our lives.We've encountered several "bumps in the road" but the Lord has seen us through them, with a calm, peaceful assurance of His love for us.

This has been a wonderful opportunity to be here in South Africa and enjoy the uniqueness of this country and its people . . . the Zulu's, the Africaans, those of Indian and Asian descent, as well as those of many other cultures who have come to this beautiful part of the world. We've had the thrill of seeing God's creations which can only be found in this part of the world. For example, we have been within ten to twenty feet of huge elephants, lions, rhinos and hippos, and not much further from cape buffalo, cheetah's, and giraffes. . .  and also the monkeys who reside in the "jungle" surrounding our boarding complex. The monkeys often are just outside our door wanting a handout. And then there are the Ha De Da's (their national bird). We never need to set the alarm clock because just before daylight they begin their loud cries which are more effective. But during the summer months, this is about 4:30  in the morning!!! A few months ago we noticed Ha De Das nesting in a tree not far from our back window. And soon there appeared three tiny birds, which we watched grow to maturity, and finally left to venture out on their own.

On Sundays, we meet with the Molweni Branch, whose members we have grown to love dearly (especially those adorable Primary kids that Sister Nielsen works with). A few months ago, they had been a "group" and were finally made a branch. Our average attendance is 30 to 40 people, all Zulu's except for the Branch President, his wife, and Elder and Sister Nielsen. The 2 missionaries assigned to the Molweni Branch are typically from the U.S. or from various parts of Africa. Since the Branch members do not have transportation, nearly all of them walk to church, which for some takes up to an hour one way. We meet in a rented one-room school building, with two tiny portable classrooms located next to the school building.  Efforts are underway to secure a better facility a short distance away, which we hope will take place just after the first of the year.

We have extended our mission by 2 months, until early June, which will allow members of our family to tour some of South Africa with us prior to our return home. It will be difficult to leave behind a country and people we have come to love.

As we reflect on this past year, we are grateful for the Lord's blesssings to us and all our family and friends during this time of separation. We are grateful for the love and support we have felt from those we serve with, as well as each of you who have supported us in various ways during our service in the South Africa Durban Mission.

We wish you joy and peace as you think of the life of our Savior at this Christmas time and begin a promising New Year. We love our Savior and bear testimony of His life and atonement for each of us.

"Unkulunkulu anibusise" . . . . Zulu for "God bless you all!"

Elder and Sister Nielsen

p.s. It is now 1:00 p.m. local time on Christmas Day, with temperatures in the 80's, and  a light breeze accompanied by a gentle, misty rain.
AND NO SNOW!!!   We love it!