Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Caves, Camels, & People of George

June 18 - 23
Here we are in the Congo Caves.  I have been in beautiful caves before but the massiveness is so apparent here.

Monday is our day to explore and that we did.  Deep in the Congo caves.  They were discovered in the 1700's.  You can enjoy the grandeur of the large rooms and the small opening called the mailbox, we didn't try that one.  A lady a few years ago got stuck in the mailbox and it took 11 hours to get her out and the whole group were behind her.  What an experience. In this next room we had the opportunity to sing The Spirit of God, and if I do say so myself we sounded pretty good and the harmony was amazing deep down in the cave.
This is the room we sang a spiritual song and then the Elder's pretended they were rock stars on the stage.  In this room they used to have hundred's of people come and enjoy concerts. 
On the way home we passed what we thought was a billboard of a camel.  Come to find out it was a real camel, which is not native to this area.  We had to stop and take pictures.
This guy loved to pose

The Elders decided they wanted to feed the ostriches.  Elder Richins was a little apprehensive.  The only problem was when we got in the car he and Elder Featherstone decided that they were feeding the stinking nettle because they both were experiencing pain on their hands. On well!

Family Home Evening with the Mtyobile Family, Elder and Sister Richins, Nendwe, Vuyokazi, Kwe-Kwe, Douglas, Faith and the youngest
I loved this picture.  This mother was so willing to let me take her picture with her 4 month old baby girl.

While we were in visiting with Eunice Alexander next door the kids where dancing.  Elder Featherstone and Elder Sheward went over and taught them a few moves.  The kids just cling to any attention given to them and "OH" do they love their picture taken.

Eunice with the Liahona.  As she was reading  it on her way home from work , several of the people in the transport where looking over her shoulder and wanted to borrow it.  She hung onto it knowing if she gave it up she would never see it again.  We told her we would get her a couple of more copies to share.
FHE with the Adendorff Family.  Sister Andendorff is a long distance horse racer.  She uses Arabian horses.
Outgoing George district, They have stripped the avocado tree on our side of the fence.  Dladla, Sheward, Speed, Featherstone
Incoming District - Elder Sheward, Elder Pearson, Sister Richins, Elder Richins, Elder Speed, and Elder Dladla - as you can tell Elder Pearson is the only new one, and he is our District leader.

The funny faces will continue.  Elder Pearson is from Enoch, which is close to Cedar City, Utah
Friday was institute, which is with the 18-29 young adults in the church.  We just finished the 1st half of the Old Testament so it was time for a party.  We played Hawaiian charades. Then we watched The Grace Card, which is a great movie and then had pizza and soda.  All had a terrific time.
A happy group of young people, plus the missionaries.
 We invited the Danjean's to a "simple dinner" of potatoe soup, Lynne Wysinger's famous rolls and peach cobbler.  We visited for a couple of hours.They are such wonderful friends.  They brought King protea   flowers, which is the South African flower.  It opens up just a little each day and we are so enjoying them.

We decided to try out the local fine arts and so tonight we are going to enjoy 42nd Street.  It is a very small theater so the chorus line should be intimate.  We are looking forward to it.

King Protea

Monday, June 18, 2012

Going Native

My good friend Noxola Mawindi, she is the one that dressed me up.  If you look real close the lady on my apron is smoking a pipe.  Oh my!
Branch cultural and talent night, They Thembuletu Relief Society sisters decided it was time I became one of them.  Elder Richins would rather I left the hat behind but the costumes are beautiful.  I just followed along with the dance.
June 11-17, 2012
It has been diverse week.  We have enjoyed so much this week.  Golf, 3 family home evenings, institute, and branch talent night, plus several visits with the elders.

Monday we enjoyed our first golf.  It was a beautiful day, you didn't even need a jacket.  Guess who won?  Yes, it was Elder Richins, he hasn't lost his touch, but remember Elder Featherstone has been on a mission for 2 years and only played a few times in his life, It was Elder Sheward's first time, and Sister Richins just loves being out and trying to hit the ball straight.
Elder Sheward, not bad for a beginner!

The Elder's know how to have fun, work hard, and follow the rules too be successful.

We thought you might like to see the way we keep warm when it dips to 10 degrees C or lower.

The radiators in the living room.  We keep all the other doors closed.

Mattress pad heater, notice the nice tiles.  The are super cold so we both bought warm slippers that we wear at all times.

     Tuesday is our Mossel Bay day.  We met a man at a coffee shop that was referred to us by a member that was recently baptized.  After which we had a few moments to enjoy the waves and the elders took some pictures.
The elder's resisting the temptation to get to close to the water!   Thank heavens looks can be deceiving, the picture doesn't show the other side of the rock with a large rock shelf they were standing on.

Two people taking home their finds for the day.

Wednesday is garbage day.  This is the recycle truck.  They pile the blue garbage bags onto this truck.,  This is the 2nd group that goes through the garbage.  The individuals take the first pickings.  You can hear the dogs barking late at night and early in the morning announcing the arrival of the savengers.  I don't think anything worth salvaging goes to waste.  The individuals always have something they are taking home.
Thursday we went to Knysna to inspect the Elder's apartment, which we do every 6 weeks.  Here are some random pictures of our travels.

You see this scene everywhere.  People thumbing or putting money out hoping for a ride. Notice the baby on the ladies back.  They carry the little ones like this everywhere.

Linda Stitler, can you tell me the name of this bird?  The birds here are so very fascinating. I love the red on the bill. 

One day I saw several workers putting together these retaining walls.  It is chicken wire with rocks piled high  in large square sections and then put together.  They are not cemented at all.  You see these all along the Garden Route.

Our 1st robbery.  Someone popped the back tail light and stole our  back lights. They new what they were doing and cut the wires so they could take the lights out whole and use them again.  They did such a great job we didn't notice it for a couple of days.  The Chevy dealer said they were real pros.  Elder Richins at first thought the GM plant had sent the car out with out any tail lights.  

I've been trying to take this picture for a long time.  I'm sure the picture doesn't do the situation justice, but notice the robot's(traffic light) color?  It is green and the people have decided it is time to cross the street, some are finishing and some are just beginning to cross.

This is also a picture I have been trying to capture.  This is a speed bump or hill would be a better term.  These speed bumps are all over George, but Elder Richins and I are sure that this is the highest one.  

This is the entrance to the N2 the freeway that goes along the southern part of Africa, or what everyone calls the Garden Route.  The entrance is always full of people trying to get a ride.  I guess it fascinates me so much because you would never see people sitting at the freeway entrance, thumbing in such large numbers and walking, crossing the freeway at any point.

Outside the police station this sky was so beautitul.  I was sorry I had  this power line in it but  Iwas inside the compound, enjoy the pictures.

 As I mentioned at the first of this blog we had a branch talent night.  Elder Richins and I were the first act.  We did a swing to the tune of Bloody Mary.  I believe we did OK because we have had several comments and big smiles.  It was fun, but so glad that we were first on the program.

The skit

Homemade and they did a great job, notice the blue plastic bucket and stick for a drum

Sister Richins doing a native dance

The branch presidency singing a hymn in harmony and then...

Rocking out, shades and all

Our very own elders doing the Magical Dance

The choreographer was of course Elder Featherstone

We had a great time and I made 4 Texas sheet cakes for refreshments.  They went like hot cakes. It was such a fun way for the branch to get out and have fun.

Sunday was Father's day and Elder Featherstone's last Sunday on his mission he goes home on Wednesday.  His family is sooo excited.  His mom said in her last 3 letters.  Elder Featherstone don't do anything crazy, come home in one piece.  He is following orders the best he knows how.  The Relief Society gave the father's a Lunch Box candy bar for being such great dad's, of course all men over the age of 18 got one.  Encouraging them to prepare to be great dad's some day.

We love you all,  Have a great week.
Elder & Sister Richins

Sunday, June 10, 2012

South Africa land of diversity

Elder Richins standing next to the cheetah.  Someone asked if they were tame?  They were born and raised in captivity.  If you want to you can spend the whole day with them, walking them, brushing them, fixing their food, feeding them, ect.  We where only there for 1 hour so all we got to do was go into the cage with them and take pictures.  I was so close I could have touched her.  They were so relaxed sitting in the sun.  This fellow is also a member of the church.

These little muskrats are my favorite, what personalities they have.

On the way home from Port Elizabeth we went through a lot of mist.  Here is one picture.  It reminds me of the scriptures that talk of the mist that covered the earth (Genesis 2:6.  Also, it could remind us of the mist of darkness (2 Nephi 12:17).

Something you don't see in the USA is people having prayer at the beginning of an exercise auction.  I was at a Curves event and before it began they had an opening prayer.  What a wonderfully novel idea!

Sister Richins at a Curves event, where they began with prayer.

Elder Richins is hard at work filling out papers for Namibia.  We have been asked to submit the documents for visas.  We will just wait to see if they go through.  Mean time we are busy enjoying George and the people here.
Elder Richins with Dr. Dower.  He has been the doctor for the missionaries for years.  He didn't charge us anything to fill out our Medical visa papers.  Side note:  His mother 23 years ago housed the missionaries for free.  She just used them as protection.  After the doctor we went and had our chest x-ray at the hospital.  We were in and out of there with a CD disc and signed papers and doctors appointment 1 1/2 hours which is a record time I would say.

Elder Richins busy filling out Visa papers.

Ramdom thoughts:
We have established an institute program in Mossel Bay.  We are excited that the people up there will have the opportunity to study the scriptures on a regular basis.

Table cloth
We were visiting the Franz family and they are ulta- rubgy fans.  ALL-Black are their team.  It happens to be the New Zealand All Blacks.  Elder Sheward is from New Zealand and when we go there the love talking rugby.  They have every kind of fan gear you could think of.  Table cloth, flags, sheets, pillow cases, onesie, booties, place-mats, toilet seat cover.  Here is the happy group.

Notice the NO THUMBING  sign,  yes that is a hand with a thumb sticking up

If you look carefully, you will see a line of people thumbing.  This is so common, but it always amazes me all the people that travel along the side of the freeway and cross 4 lanes of freeway whenever.  If you look real carefully, you will see a baby or the pack of the women in the foreground.

On Saturday we were driving through the township in  Mossel Bay.  As we came down the street this group of people were fixing their dinner and trying to stay warm.  The lady with the blanket has a little one underneath that big blanket.

FYI:  People here are designated by where they live.
If you live "in town"  you are either:
white or colored
If you live "in township" you are

I have decided you can't look at a person and know where they live.  Some of our members live in the township, but they dress, act and work in town.   Each person's home is there castle.  You love them for who they are not where they live.

Our district:  Transfers are next week there will be changes.  It is so hard to see them leave.  These Elders are the cream of the crop and such wonderful men.
Time is going by so quickly.  We must take advantage of each moment.  Have a wonderful week.  Look at the good, find something positive to rest your mind on, stop to reflect on those little miracles or tender mercies that come into your life.  The gospel is true, the Lord loves each of his children, that is each one of us.
Love, Elder and Sister Richins