Monday, April 27, 2015

Our First Full Week in Queenstown.

We arrived in Queenstown on Friday afternoon, April 17, 2015.  We were met at the East London Airport by Elder and Sister Stapley, who we replaced in Queenstown.  We were driven to Queenstown, which is about a 2-hr. drive north, and unloaded all our luggage in our new boarding.

Our Boarding In Queenstown

After we were shown our boarding, we were taken to dinner with the Stapley's and President and Sister Merrill.  We had an enjoyable meal and were able to tell all about ourselves and get to know our Mission President.  After dinner, we retired to our boarding and were able to unpack our clothes and try to get some sleep.  Sleep was a little strained, mostly because it was the first night in new surroundings, with strange noises, scents and just trying to adjust.

On Saturday, April 18, we were taken to the Queenstown LDS Ward building where President and Sister Merrill were conducting a Zone Training.  As Senior Missionaries, one of our duties is to prepare the lunch for the Elders during these trainings.  This was good for us because we were able to meet all of the Missionaries who are in our Zone, and they were able to meet the new "Senior Couple."

We had a little break after we put the luncheon on and were able to go to the store and get some needed groceries for the rest of the weekend.  Later in the evening, we were again taken to dinner with President and Sister Merrill and Elder and Sister Stapley.

On Sunday morning with the Stapley's, we drove to a town called Sada, which lies 45 minutes southwest of  Queenstown, to attend church.  This is one of the wards we will be working with while we are here in Queenstown.  We met the Bishop and some of the members and then spent the first 2 hours of Church watching the Sunday morning session of April General Conference.

The Sada Ward Chapple

After church, the Stapley's had us drive around Sada and we were able to lock in the locations of some of the ward members, and Sister Farnsworth's keyboard students, into our "Garmin."  Later Sunday evening, we went to the home of Brother Jabanga and his family where we had been invited to have dinner with them.  Brother Jabanga was the first black convert to the Church in Queenstown. He has served as a Branch President, Stake President, and is now serving as a Counselor to the Bishop of the Sada Ward.

On Monday, April 20, the Stapley's had us drive to Illinge, which is the other ward we are assigned to work in.  We drove around and entered GPS coordinates for areas of importance as we did in Sada.
We then returned to Queenstown and drove around the town and continued to enter more GPS coordinates for locations of importance to us. At about 2 pm, the Stapley's departed for East London and our independence began. 

The Illinge Ward Buildings

Tuesday, April 21, we drove to Sada and Sister Farnsworth and I accompanied the Relief Society President, Sister Gevesa, and her two counselors to the home of Sister Maselo whose young daughter had passed away. The rest of the day we spent finding our way around Queenstown and getting stocked up on groceries.  

On Wednesday, we went to Sada again and Sister Farnsworth began giving keyboard lessons to the young members who are taking the classes. These people look forward to these classes and they are showing promise.  We drive to Sada on Wednesday, the Illinge Ward on Friday, and the Queenstown Ward on Saturday to give these lessons.  

Sister Farnsworth with Anelisa and Siphelele
 during a keyboard lesson.

On Thursday, April 23, we met the Elders Thayne and Freitas in Ezibeleni, where we went with them on splits.  We visited with a couple of investigators and gave a short lesson at each home.  The highlight of the evening was when we stopped into the home of a member who was sick.  After visiting with her for a while, the Elders asked her if she would like a blessing.  She said she would and asked Elder Thayne to anoint her and asked me to give her the blessing.  This was a special time for me, because I didn't expect something like this to happen to me so soon into my mission.  I was also asked to give a blessing to another sister on Friday evening when we again met with Elders Thayne and Freitas.

Elder Thayne (L) and Elder Freitas (R)

On Saturday, April 25, we went to give keyboard lessons at the Queenstown Chapel, but the students were in a seminary class.  The Bishop was there and after talking with him, he told us that he would make sure that the seminary would be over in time for keyboard starting next week.

On Sunday, April 26, we attended the Illinge ward for church.  This was the first complete ward meeting block we have attended here in the mission field,  The meetings are conducted in English with a mixture of the Xhosa language.  It's difficult to understand at times, but I decided that I just need to listen with my heart and be patient until the language and the accents get easier.  After the meeting block was over, the Elders conducted a baptism of a young sister.  All in all, it was a great day.

This is a great mission to which to be called. The people are wonderful, so full of love for the gospel and for each other.  They have accepted us into their hearts and lives like we are part of their families. The next 18 months promise to be full of many opportunities for growth and testimony buildng.

Monday, April 20, 2015

We are in the Mission Now!

Wow!  What a whirlwind.  We entered the MTC on April 6, spent the week there studying and practicing with "Preach My Gospel".  Went home for the weekent to finish packing and then flew out for South Africa on monday, April 13th.

The Flight was long and tiring.  We were able to spent a couple of hours in the Portland airport visiting with Kay's daughter Tracie and then we had the long flight to Amsterdam.  When we arrived in Amsterdam we had an hour and ten minutes to make it from one end of the airport to the other end, go through security again and board our flight.  That was like running a marathon while carrying heavey bags.

The flight from Amsterdam to Cape Town took 11 hours and 15 minutes.  The seating was tight, not much leg room and the cushions in the seat were hard about 5 hours into the flight.  All-in-all, we were glad to finall land in Cape Town.

We arrived in Cape Town about 9:15 pm local time, went through immagration, then through customs and then met with the Halversen's who were at the airport to pick us up.  The Halversen's had parked the Mission Van on the upper level, but the elevators were not working so we had to push our luggage carts up to the second level on the esclator.  We loaded the van and finally made it out of the airport.

We were driven to a B & B called "The Links".  It was a nice place and "Mick" the owner treated us like we were royality.

Time is short for right now so I"ll end here for now and continue our journey in my next posting.