Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tender Mercies

Hello Everyone from South Africa,
It has been a different week.  More on that in a minute.  My daughter sent a wonderful email from
"Daily Closer to Christ"  the article is entitled Tender  Posted:23Aug2012 12:53 AM PDT.  It is an insightful article regarding Tender Mercies which the Lord sends to us daily if you look hard enjoy or just stop to reflect on the blessings in our lives.  What I wanted to share and encourage each of us to do daily is to "WATCH FOR THE MERCIES" "REMEMBER THE MERCIES" (write them down), and PONDER them in your heart. Christ is the TENDER behind the mercy. And lastly "To minister" means to tend to the "tender mercy".
I hope that each of you will remember and write down your tender mercies so that you will always remember that Christ is in your life and does love you and care for you individually.

As for our week:  For "Preparation Day" it was a day with the other senior missionary couples here in the East Cape and George.  We decided to enjoy a day doing the Zip line.  Elder Richins and I were wondering if we were ever going to get there.  We didn't know exactly where it was and to be perfectly honest  NO ONE IN SOUTH AFRICA gives addresses.  It's more like it is past the bridge, past the Engen petro station, look for the white wall and the orange roof.  Later in the week Sister Richins had a hard time finding a sister that was going to a Relief Society activity on Saturday.  She is on Daffodil off Hibiscusl,but of course all the road signs are missing. This is how most directions go when you talk to someone, turn left at the cactus, then go a ways and turn right at the ShopRight store.  Then take another left at the big pine tree.  HELP!  the GPS even failed me.  It couldn't locate Daffodil in Pacelstdorp.  Finally Sister Moyo and I resorted to asking some people in the area, Elder Richins would have been furious that I got out of my car to ask a stranger, but eventually Sister Moyo and I  found Sister Lucille and Sister Flora.

Back to our "P" day.  We did find the zip line and the other senior couples.  It was a beautiful winter day.  The sun was shining. It was perfect weather, I would say about 60 degrees.  About like a normal Ventura winter day. The water falls we passed over where beautiful.  I had to take a deep breathe as we went screaming down the cable.  You didn't dare break or you would end up in the middle of the run and have to go hand over hand along the cable to get to the other side.  Here are a few pictures. So you watched the guy at the end tell you exactly when to break.

Waiting for our turn on the zip line
Excilerating and it got my heart pumping for sure. It was way out of Sister Richins comfort zone, but Elder Richins he was the pro, feet up and brake just in time.

I  never enjoyed the breathtaking views until after I was on solid ground.  My eyes were riveted on the guy that told me when to brake.
Now if you thought this was an  adventure well just read on...

Monday night we had our last Family Home Evening with the Ngcanga family.  Several times a week we have been doing FHE with members of the branch showing them how to have a FHE and also it has helped us get to know the branch members and their families.  Sister Richins gave a lesson using an empty bucket. Each person was to think of something that would make them happy or "fill their empty bucket".  We used the visual of adding potatoes to an empty bucket. We then wrote down their responses so that when
one is down or needs a lift they can look at the list and see how really blessed they are.  For the last part of the lesson we asked them to look through the churches Gospel Art Book and pick out a picture and tell about it.  I would say the favorite pictures were Christ at the Door, and Jesus helping Peter as he was sinking in the water, but we had some wonderful discussions about their favorite pictures in each home.  We noticed they knew about Jesus and his ministry.  These are a wonderful people who know Jesus.  After the lesson we introduced the game Don't Eat Nephi and of course refreshments were served after the closing prayer.  We then presented each family with a bag of potatoes, a Gospel Art Book to help them with future FHE lessons.

Empty bucket
Filled bucket with wonderful ideas when you are feeling down

Gospel art book, Don't Eat Nephi game, and of course refreshments, in this case biscuits (cookies)

Tuesday morning we received a call from Elder Morris saying that Elder Dladla was feeling poorly, and what was the name of the doctor they should go to.  They ended up going to the hospital, and using all their excess money so they could go to the private hospital.  Elder Dladal had his appendicitis out about 3:00 pm.  The doctor said it was inflamed and that they caught it at a good time.  Elder Dladla has never had surgery before or been in the hospital, which he decided that he doesn't care for.  He was a trooper, though as you can see by the smile I got just before he went into surgery.

Well maybe not his biggest smile but he is smiling.
Elder Richins and I have had Elder Dladla at our flat since Wednesday.  His companion is with the other 2 Elders.  Though on Thursday Elder Richins went out with Elder Morris and Elder Richins acted as his companion as they did missionary work.  Elder Dladla and I have been spending a lot of time sharing insights that we have been studying.  I have also spent the week cooking.  We have to make sure Elder Dladla gets his strength back quickly.  We, President and Sister Wood, Elder and Sister Richins and the 4 Elders (which includes Elder Dladla) are working hard to have him ready to go to Zone conference this Thursday and Friday.  He is a great patient and does just what he is told, cough, take your pills, go for short walks. take naps any of you that have had surgery know the routine.

Elder Richins and Elder Morris going out to do missionary work
Elder Richins preparing for institute, since someone needs to stay with Elder Dladla and it isn't a good idea for Sister Richins to be going to the township alone.  Did you know that the Ten Lost Tribes are going to bring back their own scriptures when the time comes?
Saturday was exciting to say the least for Sister Richins.  She was going to drive without Elder Richins to Mossel Bay to a Relief Society activity.  She picked up some sisters which took a long time because she got lost as she mentioned earlier in the blog.  We were merrily going along the N2 when all of a sudden she knew she had a flat tire.  Many tender mercies came.  1) She was in the left lane (right line if you are in the states) and just easily pulled off to the side.  2) Elder Richins had the phone but Sister Lucille had one so we could called Elder Richins,  3)all the Elders where at our flat preparing to go out on appointments.  The Elder's immediately got in their car and came to their rescue.  It only took about 40 minutes to get to us.  4) Elder Morris new how to change a tire 5) We were on an incline and there was a large rock, the only rock in sight, which Elder Spencer was able to put behind the rear tire 6)It was the front left tire (the one on the passenger side for those of you in the states) so the elders where away from the traffic  6) It was a regular tire they put on, not one of those emergency tires 7) we made it to  the RS activity to enjoy seeing everyone and of course in time for refreshments.  You might say that  is just life but I see it as an answer to prayer.  The Lord watching over his missionaries.

Everyone helped.  Sister Moyo provided the baby wipes to clean the hands, next picture, Sister Lucille Morris and I are good watchers, Elder Pearson got the good tire and put the flat tire in the boot, Elder Spencer found the rock. 

The Elders love to have their picture taken
Our Relief Society activity, Sister Skhosana and Sister Pangel making a floor mat

Sister Nthabi and Sister Voycaski and Sister Zanele also working on a floor mat
Today is Sunday and Elder Dladla and I stayed home from church.  I found a favorite missionary scripture Moroni 9:6.  Let me know if you think it is a good missionary scripture?    Elder Dladla and I went for a walk around the block.  His pain has gone from a 7, 10 being the worst pain, to 5 and today it was at a 1.  He is on the mend and is anxious to get out and back to work.

Pictures being sent home to Elder Dladal's mom so she can see he is doing well.

Look for the tender mercies in your life, write them down and ponder how much the Lord loves you and is looking after you, especially during the trials of life.

Have a great week.  We love each of you and appreciate your notes of encouragement.
Love, Elder & Sister Richins

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Perfect ending to a GREAT week

Welcome everyone to another addition of the Richins South Africa experience,
     Yes, today we had a wonderful baptism of Florentina Luiters, she is probably about our age.  Her sister Lucille was the one that was baptized in the river a few months ago.  Elder Richins and I were each asked to speak at the baptism.  What an honor, to talk about baptism and the Holy Ghost.  The one thing I really like about program that after the baptism the new members are giving the opportunity to bear their testimony.  They are very humble and heart felt expressions of love for their Savior.

Elder Pearson and Sister Flora dressed in white for a very  special ordinance

Elder Spencer, Elder Pearson, Sister Flora and her sister Lucille
Sister Richins also had the opportunity to talk in church.  She talked on Trust in the Lord.  Remember we have this life as a limitation to our knowledge and the whole plan is know by the Lord.  He loves us and only wants the best for us, but sometimes the best means we need to grow and learn and be refined, as gold.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all they ways acknowledge him, and he SHALL direct they paths.   Pres. Benson said "Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can.  He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace."
That is our missionary moment for the week.  The Lord loves each of you wherever you are on the path to Him.

Our week at a glance:  Monday August 13, 2012 - P-day

The Elders came by to do their laundry and I had to take a picture of the ties.
Elder Morris, American style Elder Dladla, Dladal style
 We visited the George Locomotive museum for our outing today.  We also took Sister Dorothy with us who was waiting for her car to be fixed. She had returned to George to pick up her car that was stranded last Thursday.
We went to the George Locomotive museum.  It was amazing.  We
pass where this building is almost every day, but it is set back between
many buildings.  We couldn't believe that a building this size could
fit in that area.  It had 8 or more trains, all German made with all the cars attached, sleeper
cars, dining car, kitchen, regular seating and so forth

I thought this car was black until I got home and looked at the picture.  These cars where
nestled in among the trains.

I really liked this car.

August 14, 2012
On to Tuesday and Mossel Bay or Mosselbaai
I love watching people. It was a cold day and all these men were huddled in the back of the pick-up.  Somethings I
just can't get over, people riding on the freeway in the back of a pick-up truck.

Mosselbaai sunset

When there is a break in our appointments at Mosselbaai you will always find us at the ocean.  That is why you receuve so many pictures of sunsets and ocean.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Thembuletu is the best place to get pictures.  These two pictures of ladies who have opened their butcher shop on the main street.

I don't know what she is selling but it isn't something I am used to eating

This is all meat on the sidewalk for sale.  I only recognize the intestines.  They must have a strong constitution for this type of eating.  
Elder Richins sleeping on the hard tile floor trying to get his back back in order.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
This was a day of preparation.  Food for Zone conference Creme Brulee' French Toast, sacrament meeting talk and Institute class.  We ended the day enjoy an evening at the Danjean's.  They are prefect hosts and we truly enjoy their company.
If you haven't noticed by now, I love nature and people.  My camera has become my best friend next to Elder Richins of course!
I believe I am noticing more because I want to take at least 1 picture everyday.

Friday, August 17,2012 We had a wonderful Zone conference with the zone leaders in Knysna.  Keeping the mission rules, remembering that cars are a sacred trust and a privilege that not to many Elders in the church have.  Next came learning to study which was done very effectively and Elder Richins and I really enjoyed this part and learned a lot.

Saturday, August 18, 2012 - Helping hands -
This is a church wide day of service.  All over the world members of the church and others work together to perform service in each of their communities.  Elder Richins was incharge and he wrote up an article with pictures to tell about it.

August 18, 2012

August 18, 2012
It was a gorgeous day in George, South Africa, 48 Members of the George Branch, lead by President Matsaluka, assembled at the Thembalethe High School, to pick up trash to help beautify the Community of Thembalethu. Leaders from the branch along with families and Young Single Adults participated in the 4 hour long project. Children from the community passing by were interested in getting a yellow helping hands T-Shirt.  They were told that it is only for volunteer workers to wear during the clean-up.
 So they were given gloves and a trash bag and pitched in with the rest of the workers. A total of 140 Trash bags were filled and stacked for the Municipal City Workers to pick up on Monday.  We had bright warm sunshine for the entire project and temperatures in the 22 Celcius, not bad for winter day in August.  Afterwards, all of the workers were fed hot dogs, drinks and fruit.
Mr. Bongani Mafuya of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, who was instrumental in finding this project worked alongside with all the volunteers, and was well pleased with all that was accomplished.  He thought it was a good thing that we spent the entire morning in the service of the Community of Thembalethu.

Goats and garbage pick up

Two boys wanted to help.  I think they just wanted gloves but they pitched in and helped all morning

It was a gorgeous day in George, South Africa, 48 Members of the George Branch, lead by President Matsaluka, assembled at the Thembalethe High School, to pick up trash to help beautify the Community of Thembalethu. Leaders from the branch along with families and Young Single Adults participated in the 4 hour long project. Children from the community passing by were interested in getting a yellow helping hands T-Shirt.  They were told that it is only for volunteer workers to wear during the clean-up.
 So they were given gloves and a trash bag and pitched in with the rest of the workers. A total of 140 Trash bags were filled and stacked for the Municipal City Workers to pick up on Monday.  We had bright warm sunshine for the entire project and temperatures in the 22 Celcius, not bad for winter day in August.  Afterwards, all of the workers were fed hot dogs, drinks and fruit.
Mr. Bongani Mafuya of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, who was instrumental in finding this project worked alongside with all the volunteers, and was well pleased with all that was accomplished.  He thought it was a good thing that we spent the entire morning in the service of the Community of Thembalethu.

Sister Skhosan, is showing us how to save the arms. Everyone who came was such a hard worker.

It was a lot of hard work but a wonderful success.

Have a great week enjoy serving others and make it a GREAT WEEK.
Love, Elder and Sister Richins

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Change of plans

Hello everyone,
Book of Mormon in Afrikaans, Xhosa, and English

This has been a week of change in plans.
Change of plan #1....  As the picture above indicates.  The Book of Mormon is printed in 55 languages.  This week as we were visited with the Jansen family they asked if we had a Book of Mormon in Afrikaans?  We said yes and the Elders furnished one for us to give to his lady.  She speaks English but her native tongue is Afrikaans.  It is important that each people have the opportunity to read and understand in their own language.  Xhosa is also a prominent language in this area.  There are about 9-11 languages spoken in South Africa but English is the common language, that is why in church we speak English. To read and understand the Book of Mormon and gain a testimony of its truthfulness having it your own language is best.  So our change is plans was to get and deliver an Afrikaans Book of Mormon.


Tuesday in our back yard

Tuesday on the way to Mossel Bay

Tuesday entering Mossel Bay

Change in plans #2...  Rain, wind, rain, blue sky, rain, wind, blue sky, rain, cloudy, ??? what's next I don't know.

The weather... Oh my! As you can see above it as raining very hard.  On Tuesday until we got to Mossel Bay we had heavy rain. Then as we entered Mossel Bay we could see blue sky. As we were finishing our last appointment it started raining again.  This has been going on all week.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.  The wind has been blowing so hard especially during the night.
I often think of the people in those shacks in the township, how are they surviving?  Our door mat is constantly being blown from our porch, and it is quite a heavy door mat.

Change in plans #3... Elder Richins received a phone call Thursday morning that a family from Port Elizabeth were stranded on the freeway and could he come help.  It was a mother and daughter going to Cape Town to deliver this car to her daughter who is in her last year of medical school.  The father, a member of one of the stake presidency's in PE had been working on it and thought it was ready to deliver.  Come to find out they need a new clutch.  After towing the car to a petrol station Elder Richins brought them to our flat.  We are going to put them up for the night.  I was preparing dinner, because we were having company, the Danjean's to dinner.  I was so greatful that we were having a soup that I could extend.  Deseree was bringing pate' and smoked trout.  So with that and a Lemon cake roll we were in business.  I have never not had enough when I have been feeding people.  I do believe with all the heart the Lord is looking out for us.
Dorothy the mom is a translator for the church and Joanne her daughter has just received a scholarship to go to Germany to get her Doctorate in Environmental Science focusing  on marine life.  The next morning it was off to the garage to get the clutch fixed.  It is now Friday.  They call about 3:00 and say they can't fix the car until Monday so they had to take a bus back to PE.  Many plans where changed this day, but everything worked out OK.

Joanne and Dorothy in our little office.

Change #4:  The weather is so warm we don't even need coats.  When the sun comes out it is so wonderful. We even enjoyed a walk through the George Botanical gardens.

I was trying to capture a picture of a huge bumblebee, this is what I got.

The green stems on this plant were so interesting to me.  A beautiful warm day to enjoy the sun.  It did get cold by evening again.

Not everything is change.  It is Friday and our trunk is always full of food.  This is the fare for district meeting.  Then later tonight we will have chocolate chip cookies for institute.
Change #5 ... Fire after days of heavy rain???

I got up and went to Curves on Saturday as usual.  I was walking into the center I looked up to the mountains and their was a ring of fire around Craddock peak.  Of course I didn't even think I would need my camera to exercise so I didn't get the picture.  It was a picture perfect photo too.  The wind wasn't blowing and you could see the fire very clearly.  So I hope I explained it well. Here is a picture about 1 hour later showing the smoke.  Craddock peak is the higher peak behind George peak which is in the  foreground.

Change #6... Well this might really not be a change, just status quo for governments the world over.

Elder Richins has been working on the Helping Hands (a world wide day of service that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does each year) project for George for 3 months and as of Saturday we didn't know what we were going to do.  He had been working with the George government and they said they had something but were very slow to return his phone calls.  He started looking at Rotary, an orphanage, and also the Botanical gardens.  No one would get back to him.  Then on Friday Wani from the government got back to Elder Richins and we had a breakfast meeting on Saturday morning.  WE HAVE A PROJECT FOR NEXT SATURDAY IN Thembuletu at the high school.  We will send pictures next week.

Mrs. Bangile, Wani, Sister R, Elder R, Mr. Banglie breakfast meeting.

Change #7 ...  Why not start out how we ended.  Saturday.  You saw the burning mountain with the blue sky, well while we were eating breakfast it starts pouring outside.  None of us were prepared for rain, we got soaked going to the car.  It was so cold I went home and got my coat and raincoat to go to the store.  By 3:00 p.m. it was sunny again.  All night  the wind just howled.

CHANGE #8  In sacrament meeting the Branch president had been in Johannesburg all week and he was so excited to share that he saw, felt and stood in snow for the first time in his life.  He was like a little kid going out to play.

To end with for those who have never had the Mack family traditional open faced enchiladas.  Well today I fed them to the Elders.  Only 2 stacks high and they were full  and 2 of them couldn't finish them.  We topped of the meal with homemade Cookie Dough Ice Cream.  Thanks to Stacey.

Along with all the CHANGES we have  some wonderful missionary experiences:
We visited with the Janson home.  The whole family where their to watch a church video.  We felt the love in this home.  Lucinda is dying because of kidney failure.  She looks so frail but always has a smile.
Took dinner to the Meyers and I am going to help her eat on a very small budget so they can save money to go to the temple next year.
Visited the Frans family,  Sister Frans gives us food, I fill the containers with cookies to say thanks, she has more food for us to take home.  She is a wonderful giving person.
Visit Glorious, Elder Richins answers her concerns and she is ready to come back to church.  As we are having the discussion she is talking in Xhosa to her daughter in the back, come to find out she has never cooked before and Glorious was giving her instruction during the discussion, very interesting.  Just as we are ready to leave the daughter comes in with Brockworst and gravy for us to enjoy.  What do you do when people are so willing to share what they have with you.  Just say thank you and enjoy what is put before you.  It really was good.
Spend Wednesday and Saturday with Noxolo Mawindi as we continue to learn to read and write.  She just sent her 1st letter and has received replies from those she wrote to.  You should see her smile of accomplishment.

We love you , hope this wasn't' to much of a travel log.

Love, Elder & Sister Richins

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Mossel Bay at sunset

We hope all of you have had a great week.  It has been one that Elder Richins and I will remember, especially if we write it down and have a few pictures. Our memory isn't as good as it used to be and we don't want to forget this experience.  We hope you are enjoying this experience with us.  We recommend it highly and believe it is the best retirement program there is.  Serving others in some way.

Today during the sacrament song the word Magnify hit me hard.

Behold the Great Redeemer Die
Although in agony he hung
No murmuring words escaped his tongue.
His high commission to fulfill
He MAGNIFIED his father's will

Father from me remove this cup.
Yet, if thou wilt I'll drink it up
I've done the work thous gavest me.
Receive my Spirit unto thee

He lives - he lives we humbly now
Around these sacred symbols bow
And seek, as saints in Latter-days
To do his will and live his praise.

It is amazing how one word gets your mind going.  I looked around at all the faithful saints who magnify there callings each and every week.  Then I looked at myself and hope that I am doing the same.  

Elder Richins and I have been blessed beyond measure to have this opportunity to serve others, but I have to admit that in serving others we are the ones that are blessed. Just the simple act of helping someone write their first letter, or doing a Family Home Evening, where we get to share things that make us happy or fill our bucket when we are down, and to see that list we made being used when a sister is having a hard time and it helped to lift her spirits.

We have done this in many homes and here are a few of the ideas that the family members have come up with to fill their buckets when they are down:
letters or emails from home - guess who's suggestion that was
the mountains and the ocean
gospel music

This is the mission we were sent out to do, to help others. But we can't help noticing that no matter what we do we are also being lifted and helped along the way.  This wonderful circle of love and service is what will help this world get back on the right track, and to see the people who are doing it is what we get to enjoy every day. All of you who are our friends are the same kind of people, thanks to each of you for Magnifying your callings whatever they maybe.  Be it mom or dad, business owner or employee, friend or neighbor. The list is endless.  Thank you, thank you, thank you

This week in a nut shell.

P-day going the back way to show the Elders the Map of Africa

We have seen people coming out of the woods for days, betting wood to keep themselves and their families warm at night.

Elder Sheward ust before he lives to East London, he will be missed.  He was always the one to say Sister Richins what can I do to help.

Victoria Bay

Look at those smiles especially from Elder Speed, in yellow.

Tuesday, I came across this turkey in full show.

Wednesday, we spent doing FHE's and teaching Noxolo Mawindi to read and write.  She is doing such a wonderful job.  She wrote her first letter, she is amazing.
Elder Sheward has been on 3 interesting exchanges.  1) He had to be sent in a buggy out to the plane that was taxiing on the runway and their luggage came a day later 2) Elder Bangerter was to go by bus to his transfer they went to the bus stop and they had no record for him, they then took him to the airport and they didn't have him flying either, then back to the bus, no luck again.  Then the mission office just had him fly to Cape Town and sent him by air from there.  (come to find out because of #3 transfer, there are 3 areas in George that you can catch a bus), live and learn.  3) We had the same problem with the bus, so Elder Speed and Elder Sheward stayed an extra day and they got a physical ticket and got on the bus with no problem, though it was 3 hours late in arriving to pick them up.

Elder Speed and Elder Sheward are taking a 10 hour bus trip to East London. Their hearts about sank when they thought they were going to take this bus.  Luckily this bus was going to another destination.

Friday, we had district meeting with our new district.  New faces and new goals.

Elder Spencer from Canada, Sister R, Elder R, Elder Dladla, from SA, Elder Morris from Las Vegas
Elder Pearson from Eden, Utah

Marshal's last institute class in George, he is returning to Zimbabwe to send  in his mission papers.

Saturday: We went to Mossel Bay and had 2 wonderful meetings with members there, Meyer's and Nthabiseng.

Sunday: I mentioned at the beginning of the letter but these pictures are after dinner with Marshal, doesn't he look just like a missionary in his new suit?

Marshal Bomba

Everyone is full and happy

Elder Richins and Marshal have a very special bond.

Kind of a travel log this week.  Hope you enjoyed the pictures.  Don't forget to Magnify.
Love, Elder and Sister Richins