Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 24-30, 2012 - Finding a little California in SA

A beautiful rainbow in the mist of the rain.
Hi everyone,   We are trying to have spring here in South Africa. We have beautiful California weather temperatures in the high 70's, the in plunges to the 50's.  Yesterday we say a complete rainbow it was awesome. My photos couldn't quite get the whole thing.
Elder Richins and I had a cancellation to day so we decided to go for a walk.  On the walk I saw some beautiful golden poppies and they reminded me so much of home.  Going up the Grapevine to Bakersfield especially.

It has been an interesting week.  We had some sadness here in George, one of our missionaries had to go home, really in chose to go home to take care of some things.  We hope he will be back.  That has made our 3 sets of Elders in to 1 companionship of 3.  They have a lot of extra work to do because they must take care of Thembuletu and the George area. At the moment I can't remember if I told you that 1 set of missionary's flat was broken into and they stole all their electronics, cameras, and suit coats, watches and sunglasses.  They didn't care about anything except the camera that had all his photos for his mission.  Now that is said, you can't replace them.

Monday we had the opportunity to go golfing and this rake caught my eye.
It looks as ancient as the golf course.
Well lets not dwell on the sadness, lets look at all the good stuff that we had done.  Golf was a good thing, it got us out and about.  Elder Richins was able to buy about 20 balls @ about 1 Rand each which is about .14 each.  I guy in the field next to the golf course came over and Elder Richins was going to offer him 20 Rand for 6 balls and they said here and gave him the 20 balls for 22 Rand.  Good balls that people have hit to far, including yours truly, Elder Richins.
We also were able to to go Mossel Bay and have a great Family Home Evening with Eunice Alexander.  Her daughter who is 8 is precocious and outgoing.  We told them to invite whomever they wanted, just let us know.  We had the lesson with 4 extra children and 4 extra adults.  When we got to the game Don't Eat Nephi each time someone had a turn we seemed we added a couple more children.  We ran out of Smarties (M&M).  It was a fun and successful eveningl  Sister Alexander even fixed us dinner, a yummy rice dish and a meat patty of some sort.  It was good.

Don't Eat Nephi
Sister Pangel and Sister Moyo
Tuesday was a hard day.  We didn't go to Mossel Bay because of the 3 elders.  I went visiting teaching with Sister Moyo to help her get started.

Sister Day and the missionaries.  She invited us all over for tea, sandwiches and cake, yum!
Now this is an interesting story.  Sister Day has been a member of the church in George the longest.  It has been about 35 years.  She and her husband raised their children on a farm here and then she moved to town.  Their were 4 ladies that belonged to the church and the would get together each Sunday praying that some missionaries or priesthood would be coming through so they could administer the sacrament.  They would have an opening song and prayer and if no one came they would have Relief Society.  She remembers that often their prayers where answered.  She is in her 80's and still comes every Sunday to plays the piano for sacrament meeting.  She has arthritis in her legs but not in her fingers.

I am out of GB for photos on this website.  I will have to figure out how to either delete some of the old blogs or something.  Any help will be appreciated.

It blog won't be very interesting without pictures I'm sure.

Any help will be appreciated.  You know me and technology.

We hope everyone has a wonderful week.
Love, Elder and Sister Richins

PS Is there any way I can save my old blogs and start fresh?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Spring Fling - September 17-23, 2012

To all our family and friends:  As you are going into fall and winter, we are experiencing spring and summer.  Some day's we enjoy warmth but like this weekend we are back to cool weather.  I even put on an  extra quilt, but as you know that isn't unusual for spring.

Lemon Merguine cake for our Spring Fling

Saturday night the George branch had their 1st dance EVER!  We didn't have a huge turnout but those who came had a wonderful time.  It took a little while to put the right missionary in charge of the music.

Each elder took his turn at the play list.  Elder Mwkandie got it right, but of course he is from here!

You had 2 American elders, 1 Canadian elder  and 1 elder from Africa.  The African Elder knew what they liked to dance to and when he started to play their music everyone was up and dancing.  Even the husband's who said they couldn't dance.
They were really into the dance.
 On Saturday we also went to Knysna to our first funeral.  It was a member of the branch presidency who had cancer.  It was a regular funeral that we are used to except 1) the casket was very small, narrow and I couldn't see how they got a full grown man in it.  2) they had the gospel talk first, which was an amazing talk on where we came from, why we are hear, and where we are going.  3) the eulogy was last.

Pictures on the way home from Knysna

Don't have a clue as to what the guy is in, but it almost looks like a space ship.
Our zone leaders with George and Knysna elders, work hard and play hard!

Our 45th anniversary gift, a new very hard mattress! Elder Richins believes that it is the answer to his bad back!
This is a small version of the really large avocados they have in Zimbabwe  according to Elder Mkwezelamba
Have a great week.  Keep the faith.
Love, the Richins

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Birds, Monkeys, and Baptism

Hello from South Africa, the Garden Route.
I know you have all seen a peacock before  but he was putting on such a show I thought you might enjoy it. 

Spring has definitely arrived.  Today we thought it must be summer with temperatures in the high 80's.

Sunday was such a special day.  Elder Richins had the opportunity to baptize Brother Richard Mawindi.  His wife has been a member for about 5 years but he wasn't interested for a long time.  The senior  sister missionaries over the past several years have been teaching Sister Mawindi to read English while the senior Elder's have been getting to know Brother Mawindi, helping him with projects that he had going and becoming friends.  He said he observed the goodness of the people and how they treated his wife.  Elder Richins and I were at the end of a long line of wonderful senior couples and Elder Richins had the privelege of being the Elder to see all the hard work of the senior missionaries come to fruition, with the addition of the Elder's who taught him the discussions.
At Brother Mawindi's  baptism he had the opportunity to bear his testimony. He read Alma 5: 13-14 and the mighty change that has come to his heart.  It was a powerful and simple testimony of his journey to do as Jesus did.   The branch was very supportive and stayed after church to witness this most important ordinance.
Elder Richins, Sister Mawindi, Brother Mawindi before his baptism
Now after the climax of the week we are going back to Monday where we enjoyed a day visiting Monkey Land and Birds of Eden.  Both are sanctuaries that came into being because their were monkey's and bird's being abandoned by owners or the zoos had to many.  Each is helping the monkey's and birds feel like they are back in their natural habitat, thought being in your natural habitat with food put out for you everyday isn't quite natural but none the less it both were remarkable.

Monkey Land - We had a guided tour for this one. We walked among the animals and as you can see from the pictures we got real close, ONE TIME a little too close for my comfort.   

Black and White Puffed lemur.  He kept getting closer

and closer

and really close.  See how narrow the swinging bridge is?  We were in the center of the bridge.
Ring-tail lemur.  To mommies had 5 day old babies clinging to the chests.  They were feeding at one of the many feeding stations so I was able to get some pretty good shots.

A full view of the tail

See the little head sticking out?

I loved the little ring tails.  All babies are cute.
Can't tell you what his name is?  Anyone out their know?
So many pictures to choose from. I took 385 pictures and used up 2 batteries, so you are only getting the few I really liked, and I might had it was hard to pick them.

Gibbit Monkey

Grey Langur

Lar Gibbon golden ape
2 of the human's who invaded the monkey habitat and enjoyed every minute
Bird's of Eden:  We walked across the parking lot down a wooden walkway into an unbelievable aviary.  The canopy was so extensive and I didn't get a picture to show you. We spent about 4 hours walking around and just enjoying the birds.   One thing we learned was that if you just walk through you miss so much.  If you just stop the birds will often come to you otherwise you would miss so much.  Here are 10 of the 100's of pictures I took.

I couldn't resist the beautiful eye.  Green Turaco 

Mandarin Duck

Golden Pheasant

Proud mama / Carolina Wood Duck

Pastels/Alexandrine Parakeet

We loved the black beard

He just shimmered in the sun / Royal Golden Breasted Starling

The Hyacinth Macaws, look at the details around the eye.  This guy kept
taking chain down that said "employees only"!
Scarlet Ibis / our favorite color

The blue bill caught my attention/Eurasian Wigeon

Mute Swan / She might not talk but she can swim as fast as a motor boat and leaves the same wake.  She was after a black swan. It was amazing to watch.

Crowned Crane
 So there was our Preparation day adventure.

It is very fun to have adventures but please remember we do know why we are here and so Tuesday it was back to missionary work.
We had a busy week with transfers.  We lost Elder Dladla and Elder Pearson went home just in time to go bow hunting.  We have Elder Mkwezalamba from Zimbabwe and Elder Hughes from Mesquite Nevada.

Elder Pearson on his way home.  He was a great Elder and worked hard til the end.
Elder Jones, Elder Richins, Elder Morris, Elder Hughes, Elder Raharizoandrinirina from Madagascar,  Elder Dladla on his way to Cape Town, Elder Morris and Elder Mkwezalamba
Nothing else new this week.  We are enjoying this opportunity to share the gospel and to be of service to the George branch.  Look next week for your Spring Fling!
Love, Elder & Sister Richins

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Spring is almost here

To all our friends and family,
I took this picture a couple of weeks ago in Knysna.   This made me excited for Spring.

Notice the year 1855
I missed our weekly blog last week because we had no internet service.  We have been using a ton of gigabytes.  Elder Richins dicovered that we were on automatic updates.  Not a  cool way to loose money.  Hopefully we have solved that problem, though we never know when we run out, it just happens.

To recap the last two weeks, via pictures.  Oh, how grateful I am for pictures otherwise I could not remember what we did yesterday, because the days go by so quickly.
Elder Dladla is still recuperating from appendicitis. 
The Elders were so nice to spend part of their Preparation day with Elder Dladla.  We are playing Phase 10 and enjoying a little popcorn.  Elder Dladla and I spent a lot of time together since he was staying with us for 2 weeks.  He was an excellent patient and through the pain and discomfort he was always smiling.  He and I enjoyed sharing what he had studied each morning.  I don't think he missed a day of study.  HE LOVES TO LEARN!  Elder Richins was often out with Elder Morris so he could still work.  Elder Morris also stayed with the George Elders and went to their teaching appointments.  So even though 1 elder was down the others kept busy.
What a fun bunch of Elders, always ready to give you a smile when the shutter clicks.

Elder Richins and Elder Pearson going to Mossel Bay.
It has been a while since we have seen baboons, On this day we saw a whole family.
September 29, 30, 31 the 6 elders from George and Knysna caravaned down to Port Elizabeth for Zone conference.  The 29th was spent in travel and that evening senior couples in the zone were invited to dinner with President and Sister Woods and Elder Cook and Sister Cook.  He is serving in the African continent area presidency and he is a member to the 1st quorum of 70.  He was amazing and everyone learned so much.  He is from Ogden, Utah and will be serving in Africa for the next 5 years. Elder Cook talked about how each person needs to KNOW, FEEL, and then DO something about what they KNOW AND FEEL. That is real commitment.
                                            Dinner with the Woods, Cooks and Senior Couples
Sister Wood, Elder Richins, Sister Cook, Sister Taylor, Elder Taylor
President Wood, Elder Stokoe, Sister Stokoe, Elder Cook, Sister Van Sickle, Elder Van Sickle

On the pier on Port Elizabeth.  I want you all to notice Elder Richins hair.  It is perfect and it is blowing really hard has you can see by my hair.

After the Zone conference our George district was able to get a picture with Elder Cook and his wife.

It is nice not being the only women.  When it is just our George district it is always me and 5 elders.
This picture is priceless.  Everytime we go to the Mawindi's, Tons of kids come running yelling,
Elder Richins keeps the trunk of the car full of lollipops or as everyone in SA says "sweets".  Each time we go as you can see the kids come running from many streets away.  The last time the older kids abused Elder Richins generosity and kept getting back in line, so he will not share any for a few times.  He wants them to at least learn honesty.

Monday night Family Home Evening.  We hope all of you are having this special program each week.  We played the animal game and everyone was showing off their animal.  Can you figure out who is who? Owl, lion, pig, elephant, chimpanzee, donkey, snake.

Elder Spencer knocking on the door of an investigator.  Elder Spencer isn't very tall but you wouldn't know that  by looking at this picture.
Going Visiting Teaching with Sisters in the George branch trying to help them learn how to do it. It was a successful day.
The flowers are gorgeous this time of year.

I was listening to a song today and one of the lines says how the child learned to love flowers because her mom had had a love for the flowers and she passed it on the her child.  I know my mom loves flowers and when we would go on trips she would always point out the flowers and say their names.  I didn't appreciate it until now.  Since I have been on our mission.  I want to remember this land of South Africa, that is why I have been taking so many pictures. Along the way I have come to really look and notice the beauty around me.

This was made out of cement as part of a wall in the front of someones home.
I know I am rambling with my pictures but that is what it is.  We are working hard but are working at being even more productive.  I hope you enjoyed the pictures and the updates.  Life is good, work hard, enjoy every day.  Look for the good.

Thanks so much for your emails we appreciate so much learning about what is going on in your lives.  You are still important to us even though we are 1/2 way around the world.

Love, Elder and Sister Richins