Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lwazi Mpilo Mchunu

    Finding a book without a cover drew the curiosity of a young sixteen year old boy.  As he read the introduction he knew the book would change his life. Since then a lot has happened to Lwazi Mchunu, now twenty-four years old, who will be leaving on his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons),  January 9th, to serve in the country of Kenya.   When asked how he was feeling about serving a mission he said, "I have two feelings, first I am very excited because I always wanted to go on a mission and I believe this will be the foundation for the rest of my life, and also I am emotional that I'm able and worthy to pay my Heavenly Father for his kindness to me." 
    In December 2005, at 16 years old, he went to visit his mother in Durban, South Africa for Christmas holiday.  His uncle was a member of the church and had tried to teach Lwazi’s mother the gospel and brought her a book to read.  When Lwazi found the book it didn’t have a cover on it.  When he discovered it was the Book of Mormon he was curious and because his mother was at work all day, he began to read the book.  "I have always been interested in religion and attended the Catholic church as a child, when I read the book I felt the Spirit, but I didn’t know what I felt only that I had a special feeling. When I went home to my father's house after my holiday I took the book with me." He read the book in 4 months and knew that the message was true. He didn’t know what to do with that knowledge so he called his uncle who was so happy for him and told him to keep reading  the book.  Lwazi would wait until everyone went to sleep, then he would read it quietly.  He read the book three times until in 2007 his uncle moved to Pietermartizburg and he was finally able to attend an LDS chapel for the first time.  "I would go to my uncle’s house for the weekend and that is where I met the missionaries."  Lwazi was baptized on March 18th, 2007, two years after he first read the Book of Mormon.
     Finishing his metric at the top of his class in 2007, his parents expected him to enter college.  As the oldest child in the family he was expected to set an example.  He wanted to serve a mission, but his family thought going on a mission would be an opportunity wasted. After struggling with his families disappointment, Lwazi decided to go to work and in 2009 accepted a teaching position at the school where he graduated and later worked in sales at two large cooperate companies where he worked his way up to manager status. "The company had a vision to promote young black Africans and I was identified as one of those men.", said Lwazi "They wouldn't understand if I wanted to quit because of a mission."  During this time he was only able to go to church once or twice a month because of work and it took three taxi's to get to his ward.  Life was difficult with many temptations because of the type of people that he was living with in Durban.  "I knew the church cut off date for missionaries was 25 years old and I needed to do something.  I had a lot of responsibilities, it would be very difficult to resign and I didn't want to disappoint them." said Lwazi.  Shortly afterwards, the company started to take a different direction. "I think it was God that was preparing a way for me to quit. It was a good time for me to say that I didn’t think the company was going in the direction that would fit me.  I quit my job in 2013 and began to spend my time preparing for my mission,” remembered Lwazi
    Recalling the moment his mother wanted to go to church brought him great joy.  Not wanting to go to church alone he approached her to express his feelings.  She said that she had been thinking about going to church herself.  The next Sunday they all went as a family.  Since then, his mother and four siblings have been baptized.
    "I know there are a lot of people who have had experiences like me and they think there is no more hope for them, they think it is all over, but I may be able to go and offer them hope."  Lwazi continued with some advice for others. "Somewhere in the world, some young man or women have been experiencing something like what I experienced, they feel restricted because of their families beliefs or traditions, I would tell those people to continue doing right, not to fight with them but just continue doing right.  Trust in God and His timing, it is different than our timing and those things that happen are for our own good. I look at the four years I didn’t go on my mission, and I think if you would have taken that from me now you would have taken something very valuable.   It’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything, it has molded me and made me the person that I am. It’s going through those challenges and trials that have keep me going. I realize it was meant to happen it was not a coincidence.  It is what God wanted to happen and that gives me a feeling of comfort."




Friday, December 27, 2013

Ed Working in Our Home Office

Public Affairs Mission

What is a Public Affairs Mission?

Many of you have been wondering what it is we are doing here in South Africa. Many of the senior couples who come here have different opportunities to serve, some may work in the mission office as an assistant to the mission president, teach seminary classes, working with ward priesthood leadership as support for a ward, lend support to the young missionaries, humanitarian work, perpetual education , or family history  to mention a few.  They all work very hard and their service is needed and appreciated here.

Our mission is unique to most senior couple missionaries.   As Public Affairs we work to bridge the community with the church. Providing opportunities for the public and community leaders to understand our beliefs, decrease misunderstandings, build feelings of brotherhood and sisterhood, so that the gospel can be taught to all who have a desire to learn.  When we have friendly relationships with the community and media sources it enables us to do more good together on projects than if we try to do it alone.   

In January we will be traveling to Port Elizabeth to train a new Public Affairs council, assist in an open house for a new building established in Phuthaditjaba ( I love saying that word),  Help with a hand over event for eye equipment  donate by the church to a hospital in Lesotho, Write an article for the  paper about a local missionary leaving for Kenya on a mission,  and have a plague and picture of Christ placed in a building that was donated by the church. 
We work by direction of the local priesthood leaders throughout the misison.  We help them achieve their objectives regarding the community such as; What are the major concerns of people in the local community and how can the Church help address those concerns?
I hope this is a help to understanding our mission call.  We are learning, and hope to improve ourselves as time passes.  We'll keep you posted.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cricket Game

Today, Elder and Sister Sutherland took us to our first professional cricket game.  India and South Africa were playing.  Two very nice men were explaining the game to us the whole time.  I liked it because its a faster pace then American baseball.  This is a five day event providing the weather holds out.

South Africa and India are the top two teams in the world.  On this day, India won 186/1.  I know, I know, the scoring is crazy!  The umpire carries a light detector and if it falls below a certain number he stops the game.  It was about 4:00 pm and the sky was gray, when we suddenly saw the players leave the field.  The game was over for the day due to dimished light conditions.  The crowd hung around, nobody was in a hurry to rush home on such a lovely day. 

Christmas Day

On Christmas Day we invited several missionaries for dinner at 3:00pm. Most started to arrive around 4:00.  Some ate, some had already had their meal and wanted to Skype their family or friends. At one point I believe we had 10 missionaries here, but it was hard to count because they were upstairs, downstairs, outside or at the senior couples flat next door.  All and all I think they had a good time.  We enjoyed their company and the stories about their missions. Seems everyone has at least one cockroach story.  Three of the missionaries were going home in two days, they were excited but nervous at the same time.  I could tell their lives had been changed by their service in South Africa and the clear understanding they now have of the salvation of mankind.  I told them they would be talking about their missionary experiences for the rest of their lives.  
Kwamashu, Umlazi, Mpumalanga, Phuthaditjaba, it's amazing how these names are starting to roll off my tongue. These are names of wards and branches in the area. Here's a hint, the "h" is silent. 
We finally had to chase the boys out at 9:50 pm because I worried about them getting in trouble. 
This reminds me of what it looks like at Grandma T's house on Christmas Day!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

This Is Where We Live and Work

This is Elder Cinquini standing in front of our "flat".  However I'm not going to call it a flat anymore because it is more like a townhouse.   This place has 3 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths. It's much larger then the other senior couples living space.  I was actually looking forward to a small place with less cleaning and no stairs, but I better not complain anymore and just enjoy the space.  I don't know whats going on with Elder Cinquini's tie, I must have caught him on his morning break.
This was a beautiful day.  We are expecting thunder and lighting on Christmas day.


There are two lizards that live in the tree in front of our flat.  They have a great flat of their own.  The tree is tall with several other types of foliage growing from it's branches, lots of hiding places, sunny area and shady spots.  I can picture them living there for a long time.

Oh, and did I mention we have mongoose in the neighborhood. These guys were a pack of 20 that we found in our driveway.  They seem harmless and are very shy.  They eat rats, so I guess we'll keep them around.

Missionary Christmas Party

  These missionaries are getting into the Christmas spirit. I dont know exactly what those things are hanging down from their christmas hats.
  1. Saturday we were invited to the missionary Christmas partySaturday we were invited to the missionary Christmas party. There were 85 missionaries including senior couples.  We sang Christmas songs, played games, and ate a wonderful meal with chicken, turkey and pork.  The boys were well fed .  They played a game where all the boys were given a new tie then sister Poelman read a story about Mr. and Mrs. Right.  If she said the word right they passed the tie to the right, if she said the word left they passed their tie to the left.  Well, she read it really fast and once in awhile someone would end of with two, three or four ties. When the story was finished you got to take home the tie.  Some of the ties were very nice and some were pretty interesting.

"Oops, how did I end up with two ties?"

Elder Norbert on the left is from Madagascar where they speak french.  He is learning English on his mission and is doing very well.  I thought his accent was easier to understand then some of the South African Elders.

Several of the Elders sang Silent Night in Zulu.  Their voices and harmony were very sweet and tender.  There are a total of 120 Elders in this mission.  Not everyone could come to the party because they live several hours away.  I helped the area office put together a small gift for the boys who did not get any Christmas packages from home.  They had a pair of socks, pen, toothbrush, rolos, yellow highligher and R150.00. The area office couples had written their families early in November and they donated money to help put these packages together.  Thank you to all my friends and family who took the time to send cards to some of the missionaries who do not get mail. The office was so happy this happened.  A special thank you to my friend Glenda who took the initative to take the list of names and hand them out at church.  It's so fun to get to know these young men.  I admire their dedication and obedience.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Death of a Cockroach

Yesterday we killed our first giant size cockroach.  I'm convinced it was pregnant.  I first spotted it while we were in the office at night.  After I freaked out a bit, Ed tried to kill it with a fly swatter.  He stunned the thing for a bit, so I went to get some newspaper to dispose of the body.  All of a sudden it jumped back up on its feet and started to run.  Ed chased it around the office until he got a clear shot to swat it again with several merciless swats that stopped it in its tracks.  After we wrapped it in some newspaper I jumped on the newspaper several times to make sure it was dead.  We've read they can have their head cut off and live several days, also they can hold their breath for 40 minutes!  It's possible we have a problem here, so we are viligant in our lookout for evidence of their taking up residence in our flat.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Family Home Evening

This evening we had Family Home Evening with some of the other senior missionaries.  They are very nice people and we are enjoying their company.  Tonight we watched a portion of the Christmas DVD with Natalie Cole and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  After we all had a good visit, Sister Sutherland brought out her homemade cinnamon rolls that were very tasty. On the way home at 8:30pm there were very few cars on the road because most of the stores close at 6:00pm.

Durban Beach

Saturday was a warm sunny day so we wondered down to the beach for about an hour.  I couldn't believe how crowded it was.  Someone had made a massive sand sculpture of Nelson Mandela.  It was pretty cool.  My camera ran out of battery, but beyond the pier there were about 20 surfers in the water.  The surfers would walk down the pier and at the end jump in the water with their boards.  The mass of people in the water you see here is one of about four we could see down the beach. Why they group together I dont know.  Maybe it has something to do with sharks!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

We've Been Invaded

We were at home upstairs in our office working when we heard a noise that we thought was coming from outside. Later Elder Cinquini went to the kitchen and found evidence of a monkey picnic. We don't know how many were here, but they ate Elder Cinquinis breakfast for the next few days. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

More Examples of Currency

This pack of  4 tomatoes would cost $1.29 US dollars the bananas would cost $1.49 US. We can buy almost anything here accept chocolate chips ( we heard that before we came so we brought some with us).  We are very fortunate that we can drink the water from the tap here, but I use a pitcher with a filter when I'm in our flat. 
This is the second lizard that has found its way into our flat.  Because we can't catch them they disappear somewhere inside never to be seen again.

Rand VS US Dollars

Learning to convert Rand to US Dollars is simple.  This pair of pants Ed bought cost R399.95.  All you do is move the decimal point one column to the left.  Making these pair of pants $39.99 US dollars.   

Nelson Mandela 1918 - 2013

Both the black and white people of South Africa are saddened by the loss of this remarkable man.
He walked and talked peace and freedom. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Beautiful Drive

As you can see the six hour drive from Johannesburg to Durban was filled with beautiful landscapes. The time went quickly because we were so fascinated with everything we saw.  Our flat is larger then we expected with 3 bedrooms (one bedroom is our office), 2 1/2 baths, large living and dinning room. We are learning our way around the area.  We've discovered a shopping mall within walking distance with several restaurants and grocery stores.  The only thing its missing is a movie theater.  This is the rainy season which was a big surprise to us. It rains almost every day, but the air is thick and warm.  I find myself turning on the fan in the afternoon.  We've had some great experiences meeting the people. 

A few young missionaries we met at a zone conference. 

Elder Cinquini visiting with  Mission President Zackrison

 This is my Baobab Christmas tree. We were given the tree as a gift from our trip and I found little Christmas bulbs in he apartment left behind from the previous missionary couple.  The tree is most notable for its wide trunk and in the winter when the leaves have fallen the tree limbs look like a root system above the ground.  That is why it is sometimes called the" Upside down tree." Baboons, monkeys, elephants, eat the fruit of the tree which is high in vitamin C. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Good-Bye Baobab Ridge

At the end of our conference Elder Hamilton addressed us again and said,"Unity is the precursor to revelation."  I know as Elder Cinquini and I stay united we will receive the revelation we need to do this work.

Tuesday evening we went on our last bush drive.  The sky was turning dark and it wasn't long before we were in the middle of a lightening storm with pouring down rain.  We were surrounded by thunder and lightening and I thought the driver would take us back to the lodge, but he kept on driving.  We were all soak and wet... but he kept on driving.  It ended up that we saw some amazing animals.  It was well worth the uncomfortable drive.  When we returned we had a hot shower and Sean had made two African stews in dutch ovens over the fire (that had a cover over it because of the storm).

Wednesday we left Baobab at 7:30 AM and returned to Johannesburg to attend the temple at 5:00 pm.   There was a couple going through the temple for the first time, all the Public Affairs missionaries went with them into the sealing room to witness  their sealing for time and all eternity.  They had a darling 4 year old boy with them.  I don't think they spoke much English, but they were all smiles and  seemed happy we were there.

Thursday we had Thanksgiving with several couples at the Area Presidencies home.  Afterward several Public Affairs couples went shopping at the mall because they were leaving the next day and needed some supplies they can't get in the Congo, or  Angola.  Next we went to the movie "A Long Walk to Freedom.  The story of Nelson Mandela.  I highly recommend it.  It was awesome to be in Johannesburg watching this movie knowing that these events happened right where I was staying.

Monday, November 25, 2013

We have been in the bush for 5 days and have enjoyed every minute of our stay.    Game drives are every morning and evening.  Every time we go out we see something new.  We've had a wonderful beginning to our mission, although it has felt more like a vacation so far.  I know the hard work is coming and we are anxious to get started.  We won't arrive in Durban until November 29th, and the Kyles will stay with us a few days for training, then they will go to Johannesburg to work.

We had Sunday meetings in the lodge and sat it recliner chairs.  We heard some wonderful stories from the Jensens, a PA couple from Kenya.  Sister Jensen told us a story about a sister who was in the elevator at church headquarters and President Monson got on the elevator and sang her a song.  Elder Hamilton   from the Seventy addressed us and bore his testimony. Brother Murdock provided our music on his harmonica.  In the afternoon we went on a game drive and saw a hippo, white lions, giraffes, and jackal.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

We're On Our Way!

This is my first post, so I'm not sure how it will turn out.  We left Salt Lake City, Utah on November 18th, and arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa 32 hours later.  Because I was so sick the flight was miserable and I don't recommend it.but..... I MADE IT!  The first two days I was still pretty ill and spent a lot of time in our hotel, but now that we are on Safari I have perked up and I'm enjoying myself.
                                                         Good-Bye Salt Lake City, Utah

This picture is out of place, but it is the couples that were in our land rover on our AM Safari.  They are all PA missionaries serving in different parts of Africa.  Some of their stories are remarkable!
This is the hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa

Beautiful open breeze way between lobby and hotel rooms.

Ed standing in front of the entrance to the lodge

Once the elephants came to close,so they started there engines and the elephants stepped back

So beautiful!