Sunday, May 27, 2012

Service / May 21-27

Good evening everyone,  It isn't always easy to think of what to say, but I know that if I don't communicate with each of you that the conversation will end.  We are so appreciative to each of you for your thoughts and comments.  It is such a delight to wake up in the morning and know that you are doing well and moving forward.  I have a very dear friend here in George who is going through a rough time.  She is always doing for others and feels like her lot in life is to just push on and doesn't think God is there or cares about her.  I have been blessed all my life and I am so grateful for my life but it makes it difficult to really relate and have the empathy that she needs.

Now that is a great way to start a blog, right?  Well, let me continue, I was listening to the news on my way to Curves, and it is so very obvious to me that what happens in the USA is noticed around the world even here in South Africa.  The crazy things people do in the USA like getting married in a cemetery.  The gay issue isn't helping us in the eyes of the world either.  All they see here is what is in the news, which is mostly the degenerate part of society and not the GOOD, WONDERFUL, PEOPLE that make up most of our beautiful country.  No wonder the USA isn't regarded highly like it used to be.

Now lets make a 180 and look at the SA we have come to know and love.

In Mossel Bay on Wednesday

This guy looks like he is surfing out instead of in.  This was the 1st day we saw surfers.  Of couse, we don't spend time at the beach, but we had lunch on this beautiful point.

We have spent most of our evenings this week doing Family Home Evenings with the members.  FHE is a weekly activity that we like to encourage the members of the church or anybody for that matter, to take time out from their busy schedule and spend quality time together.    Our format is a Song, Prayer, Short gospel lesson, Then the fun begins with a game of some sort, we are playing Don't Eat Nephi with everyone, and then prayer and refreshments.  Here are a couple of pictures of FHE's we have done this week.

These young men are all going to college and live in a little house together.  Our lesson was about 
filling your empty bucket, and the list we came up with and  our game Don't Eat Nephi.  Elder Richins is trying to say something but I couldn't understand what it was.

We are playing Don't Eat Nephi.  Families come in all varieties, friends living together, a family of all girls, mom, daughter, nieces and nephews, mom and son, just a single sister, husband and wife, husband and wife with children, if you live under the same roof, it is good to spend some "family time together".

We presented Muva and Ruva with the gospel art book.  The one in the middle is Blessia, she hasn't quite warmed up to us.  Brother Ruva is an artist and works with wire are a couple of his creations.

Today we had our Visiting Teaching Convention.  It was all about the Heart.  I hope that they will get the vision to have a desire to visit each other each month.  It is new to a lot of them.

I loved this picture, 2 little boys going home from soccer practice with their heavy packs, no shoes.  It doesn't matter the age  I've seen adults, teenagers and children go bare foot, in the store, walking on the street, playing rugby, riding a bike.  I think a lot of them prefer NO SHOES.

Our first really bad experience.  Our dryer was leaving black spots on our clothes so we saw this repair shop.  Lynn goes in and tells the owner our problem, he sounds knowledgeable and so we decide to do business.  He comes out to the flat and with two other guys just picks up the dryer and takes it away.  Two days later he says it is fixed and so Lynn goes in to pay for it.  He doesn't take any credit cards, only cash.  Lynn pays the cash 560 Rand and they say they will deliver it in the afternoon.  To make a long story short we have been promised for 3 days that it would be delivered.  Tomorrow at 09:00  Elder Richins, Elder Featherstone, Elder Seward, Elder Speed, and Elder Dladla are going to be on the their front stoop, to pick it up.  Wish us luck!

We had the Elder's and 2 wonderful young men over for dinner today.  I am usually the only female in the group and today the Elder's kicked me out of the kitchen and did the dishes.  It felt good but weird.

I'm being photo challenged today.   Elder Sheward and Elder Dladla doing my dishes.
Our dinner guests with Elder Richins
Lennon, Elder Richins and Marshall

Lennon has been working really hard to earn enough money to go back to Zimbabwe.  It is very difficult to get a job here , when you don't have a work permit.  He has earned the 800 Rand for bus fare, so Elder Richins will be taking him to the bus tomorrow for the 15 hour ride home.  He is going home to get ready to serve a mission.  Marshall is working to do the same here.  Lynn his helping him start the mission process this week.

I hope you got something out of my ramblings.  We love what we are doing.  It is the best retirement program ever.
Have a great week.
Elder and Sister Richins

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May 14-May 20/ Love from South Africa

Hi everyone,  I like to start off with a couple of our favorite pictures of the week.
The Indian Ocean has such a different wave action that the California coast line.  I am always in awe.

This little calf was just eating away in the front of a home in the township.

 Monday we spent the afternoon with the Elders.  I forgot my camera so I haven't any pictures of us playing pool and bowling.  Now the bowling was different, I think it is a new sport in this area.  We didn't have to rent any shoes, but we did have to take our shoes off and either bowl in stocking feet or be barefoot, Elder Richins and I chose stocking feet.

On Tuesday we had the opportunity to go to Port Elizabeth for a seniors couple dinner and enjoy the Young Ambassadors from Brigham Young University.  A little tidbit about the people in SA. The show ticket said the show would start at 7:00 p.m so we were there about 6:15 to get good seats.  When we talked to the guy that handled the arrangements he said that the show really started at 7:30.  The Africans are always late so if if the ticket said 7:00 they wouldn't be in their seats until 7:30.  That is really true, I've seen it many times. No one shows up until at least 1/2 to 1 hour after the event, program ect has to start.  Of course, it just promotes tardiness. Thank heavens it doesn't apply with church.  Even if some are late the services start on time.
While we were waiting for the show to begin we met some new friends the Carr's and Annatjie.  They were delightful to visit with.  The two ladies love to dance for exercise, Dave Carr loves to fish for competition and then he shares his catch with friends and neighbors.  He is number nine in the competition that he is in.  It is a big deal.  We are sending them this blog so they can see their picture.  So a personal note to the Carr's thank you for letting us take your picture and for the delightful conversation before the show.  When the show ended we were all exhausted just watching their dancing, flips and turns and their incredible voices.
Bunty  and Annatjie

Dave and Bunty Carr and Annatjie, they found out about the Young Ambassador program from the newspaper.

The Young Ambassador band

The Young Ambassador's singing "I Am A Child of God"

After the program we stayed with the Taylor's, they are from Wyoming and we stayed up and talked until 1:00 a.m..  Now, if you know Elder Richins this was way out of the ordinary.  The Taylor's are becoming great friends.  They also came to George on church business on Saturday and Sunday so we got to enjoy their company over dinner at The Rose.

Wednesday, Elder Richins played soccer with the kids while I gave an English lesson.  The kids play with a rag ball, and they are very good. They also sang Follow, Follow, Follow for me again.  They are great singers.

Here are a couple of pictures that Elder Richin's sees on his walks in the morning.

I loved this picture, this is a bougainvillea intertwined with a regular tree.

You can see the truck and bougainvillea intertwining in this photo.

It is starting to get cold here in SA.  We thought this  air conditioner might work as a heater, that is what the manual said. Elder Richins tried it with not much success.  This particular machine requires an exhaust so he put the hose in the garage. To keep the door closed, we searched for a bungee cord.  They aren't easily found so the string, as you see had to be used as a substitute. My ingenious husband.
Sunday was a special day.  We had our first baptism and since the font at the ward wasn't ready we had the opportunity to have the baptism in Wilderness.  It is a beautiful place, as you will see.  Prior to the event Lynn and I gave talks.  Lynn talked in sacrament meeting and I talked at the baptism.  TM you would be proud, we are using all the skills you taught us here in South Africa. I didn't even use notes!  Lynn timed me so I would stay within the time frame I was given.  Lucille is so very happy.  It was a cold day, but when she came out of the water she just stopped, smiled and just relished the moment.  Enjoy the photos

Elder Sheward and Elder Dladla getting their camera's ready for a timed shot.

The members of the branch who came to witness the baptism.

Elder Featherstone and Lucille Morris

Walking into the cold river.  Elder Featherstone said that after the  initial shock of the cold it wasn't bad, of course he was so excited for this opportunity nothing would have stopped him, even if they had to break through ice.

A most memorable moment, entering the gate.

We are experiencing so much.  We will always remember this time.  We hope you are enjoying it even a little.  I love the hugs I get everyday, I love the smiles I share with the people I meet in the stores and where ever we go.
Love, The Richins

PS Dave Culton I wish I could come up with catchy titles, like you shared in TM with all your talks. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's day to all who have had an influence in a child's life.

This is what the ward is giving to the mothers in our branch tomorrow. Lynn was the man behind this thoughtful

 The children here in South Africa are happy, beautiful, and enjoy everything.  Lynn is the piped piper on the street where I do my English lesson. When I come out from teaching Sister Mawindi, he and the kids will sing to Sister Mawindi and I, then Lynn and I will do the round Horsy, Horsy.  The kids then follow by singing what we sang, and they are pretty good singers.  Yes, the suckers are a draw but they really do enjoy Lynn.  He has played kick the can, red rover red rover with them.  He has even started to teach them "I AM A CHILD OF GOD"
Horsy Horsy on your way.

This was our Monday to clean the flat.  Lynn is such a "RED".  He cleaned the car inside and out, he vacuumed the couches, then sweeped the house, then on to the garage, and back yard.  He isn't a happy unless he is busy doing.  That is a good thing.  We very seldom have to worry about what we are going to do because Lynn has called and made appointments with members, or we go out with the missionary's.  This week we were able to present 2 family home evenings.  We have bought a case of the Gospel Art Books and we teach them how to use them and then present each family with one at the end of our visit.
I didn't take any pictures of our visits this week but hope to get their pictures at church.  Most of the people live in very humble homes.  It reminds me of the pioneer days when most everyone lived in a 1 room home.  They make it work.

Tuesday, We started the day feeding the Elder's breakfast.  It was Elder Featherstone's 21st birthday and he requested, Creme' Burlee French Toast and Vanilla syrup.
Can you guess who Elder Featherstone is?

The rest of the day was pretty slow  so I prepared for institute, where I teach the Old Testament to Young Single Adults (18-29 year olds)  This week we studied Judges 1-12, Oh, how soon the Israelites forgot what the Lord had done for them. I wonder if we don't sometimes forget also the many blessings the Lord gives to us. We often forget to stop and just look around at all the many blessings we have.  When we rely on the Lord our lives go so much better.  With the Isarelites  the Lord just had to sit back and wait for them to call on him again then he comes to the rescue, but often he lets them really suffer some so that when he does come they will KNOW that it is the Lord who came to the rescue.  Of course it is through whomever he has chosen, like in Judges, for example, he chose Gideon and Deborah who were very unlikely people to lead a people out of bondage.

In the late afternoon we picked up the Stumm's who have just started their mission.  They are from Spokane, Washington.  We took them out to dinner and when we were being seated, Elder Stumm's went over to a man sitting by himself.  They new each other very well.  They worked in their home stake together on the high council. He has taken a job here in SA as a CEO over the pine tree forests in SA.  If you look in the back ground of this picture you will see one of the forests.  He has been here since October.  They had no idea if they would ever meet, and they met in the back of a little restaurant in George.
Notice the logging pine forest in the picture.  You will see these farms all along the Garden Route along the southern part of South Africa, George is in the background of this photo, Thembuletu is in the upper left area.  This is the town ship.

The Stumm's from Spokane, Washington.  He will be branch president in Port Alfred
We took them up in the mountains over looking George.
Wednesday May 9
Elder Speed received a new companion today.  He will be a trainer of a new "greenie" missionary.  Elder DlaDla is from Johannesburg.  He has been a member for 2 years.  He is a very knowledgeable Elder.  We are looking forward to get to know him.

One of my favorite pictures of the week.  This is from our front yard.  Notice the lone  deciduous tree in beautiful autumn  red.
 Thursday - We did a FHE (Family Home Evening and Visiting Teach)
My lone picture for the day.  On my walk.  Isn't this a stunning morning sky?

Friday and Saturday here are a potpourri of sights we saw and also some details about our flat.

District meeting every Friday.  We love these meetings.  Elder Featherstone is the district leader
and prepares them every week.  

I have tried for weeks to get some pictures that give the full scope of people walking.
They walk to work, they walk home from work.  These people walk everywhere.

pictures just don't give the full scope of what we see each day.

HUM! I think the grass is greener on the other side.

Junior and Elder Richins making the mother's day gifts.  This is the meeting hall we meet in
at the police station every Friday for institute.

Our water heater

Grandchildren, have you ever seen anything like this before hanging your clothes on a clothesline? We are
using the sun to bleach Elder Richins shirts.  

I found this little guy on the bedroom floor this morning.  He is no bigger than a small paperclip.

Our front door.  Notice the cracks in the door, middle right panel and lover left panel.  With no central heat, whatever the temperature is outside is what it is inside, now I know why.

The crack in the panel and if you look real close you can see the suns reflection on the tile.

The pineapple's here are the best, sweet, cheap and delicious. If you look at the pen you can see their size. Right now I am getting 3 for 20 Rand or .87 cents each. 

My avocado from the tree out front and the 5 I bought at the store today @ .50 cents each or
5 for 20 Rand.

We love you all,  Your correspondence is much appreciated as always.  Have a wonderful Sabbath.

Love, Elder and Sister Richins

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Farm life in SA

May 6, 2012
To our friends and family,  It is so good to have a reason to keep in touch.  We love you all and appreciate each of you.  We see our notes and always get excited to hear from you and remember all the wonderful times we had with each of you.
Selling apples along the road.
This week started with the opportunity to go to a "farm" belonging to a member and her husband.  We really didn't know what to expect.  It was 1 1/2 hours away, we were wondering after an hour if we had passed the exit.  We were about to turn around but decided to call them, thank goodness we did because we were almost there. We were getting worried because we were about to run out of gas.  WE SAW NOT ONE PETRO STATION as we were driving along and wondering how we were going to get home.  Just before we got to the "farm" exit there was the Petro station.  Why I didn't take a picture I don't know.  No one spoke English, they had to go down the street to find someone to help us.  If you are as old as we are you will remember the gas stations in the desert or the small communities that looked deserted, rundown, and scary to stop at, well that is exactly what it looked like.  Our big fear was our fleet gas card not being accepted, after about 1/2 hour Lynn was successful!  As I sat in the car I watch these men caring bags through the barbed wire, come to find out they were taking them to the road.  The bags were filled with apples.  These people looked so much poorer than the people in George, even in the townships.  This man was one caring the apples.(see above)

Before you look at the pictures we took of the "farm", we want you to know that the Deajean family built everything themselves using only the stones from their property. The property only had 1 tree on it. They started this project 12 years ago and they have maybe 8 people working for them.  Gerard is Lynn's age and is French.  His wife is a member of the church and is a hard worker. She has become a dear friend.   It was amazing to us to see what they have accomplished.  The goal of this "farm" was to have events, weddings, birthday's, ect.  Also, just a wonderful get-away.  Gerard thinks his dream  was about 10 years to late.  They are struggling to get people to come out this far.  They would love to sell it, if anyone is interested.

This is what you see as you come over the first rise.  Deseree grew up on the other side of that mountain in the background.  The farm is behind the large trees in the upper left, the main house is behind the tiny white chairs, and the
brown door in the upper left corner, the entrance is on the other side.

I hope you can see the details of the tile work on the fountain.  This was all done by a professional

Deseree takes care of the green house.  In their garden they get to harvest it  2nd, the baboons get the first pick
of the fruits and vegetables.
The animals on the farm, including the pig you see, plus cattle, chickens, geese. 

The front entrance to the main house.  This dog was amazing.  You could kick this ball and the dog would catch it even when you  tried to trick him.  The man is Gerard.  I hope you can guess who the man in the white hair is. Remember each stone you see was picked from their property.

A friendly spider, they didn't even remove it from the guest room.  Now if it was Elder Richins, he would have gotten rid of the spider immediately.  Gerard even picked up a cockroach with his fingers and put it in the garden. 

 The farm cat, lounging on the ostrich couch. What a life! 


Elder Richins plays with the kids while I am teaching English. He was so excited to give the kids in the township
some suckers.  They are such happy kids and they love to having
their picture taken.  They say "Elder, Elder, thank you, thank you Elder"

Thursday is inspection day & the end 6 weeks before transfers.
Sister Richins doing Elder's inspection.  Her favorite job, NOT!
The elder's keep a clean flat so it isn't so bad.  Now on the other hand
Elder Richins inspected the cars, and they are each on probation to get them
cleaned up within the week.  He is a hard task master when it comes to a clean car. Elder Richins motto "cleanliness is next to Godliness"

Elder Sheward on the right couldn't even stop eating for a picture.
Congratulations your the winner including a terrible tummy-ache. 

The last supper at Spur's before transfers,  ALL YOU CAN EAT CHICKEN WINGS AND RIBS!  Elder Sheward won the prize with downing 4 plates of ribs and chicken, and to congratulate him feeling very sick, a chocolate fudge Sunday.

Saturday - service
Lynn, Azola, painting his home with varnish to protect the wood from the rain and moisture.  Sister Mowindi in the background.  And yes this little home does have a window.  This little place cost 7500 rand or $970.

We see these donkeys all over Thembuletu.  They can be on the side of the road, at the school, next to the revival tent you see below, just munching away and moving on to better grass.

We are seeing both sides of everything, the rich, the poor the beautiful and ugly, the happy and sad.  Because of this we have the opportunity to serve in many areas.  This is truly one of the highlights of our lives.  The weeks seem like days and we go to bed each night exhausted.  We love it and would rather be doing this than anything else.  Thank you all for your love and support.  It really means a lot.
Have a wonderful productive week.
Elder & Sister Richins

The Touch of the Master's Hand

'Twas battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.
"What am I bid, good people", he cried,
"Who starts the bidding for me?"
"One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?"
"Two dollars, who makes it three?"
"Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,"
But, No,
From the room far back a gray bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said "What now am I bid for this old violin?"
As he held it aloft with its' bow.
"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?"
"Two thousand, Who makes it three?"
"Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone", said he.
The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
"We just don't understand."
"What changed its' worth?"
Swift came the reply.
"The Touch of the Masters Hand."
And many a man with life out of tune
All battered with bourbon and gin
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters' Hand.
Myra Brooks Welch

    was about 10 years to late.  They are struggling to get people to come out this far.  They would love to sell it, if anyone is interested.