Friday, August 29, 2014

Piano Lessons

I've been teaching piano lessons on Sunday after church.  I know enough I can take them through the first book that is provided by the church.  It's a very nice, easy to learn program.  The keyboards are a generous donated by J.R.  and Wauna O. Harman from Washington who saw a need and wanted to help individuals learn to play.  Many units in South Africa have no piano players and the congregations sing acappella. Having the keyboards makes a huge difference on how quickly they progress.  The keyboards are loaned to students during the course learning, but at the completion of the course, if they don't have the resources to purchase their own keyboards they can apply for a scholarship to own the keyboard.  I have really enjoyed watching their progress.

Week of August 25 - 29

Monday -  We attended a Religious Forum, with another senior couple, that included ministers of several different faiths.  When we arrived the gentlemen that helped organize the event recognized the name of the church on our name tags.  He said he'd been listening to Ukhozi FM and they talked all about their trip to Salt Lake City.  He was so curious that he looked it up online and read all about the Mormons.  We stood out because we were the only white people in a crowd of 350 pastors.  THREE times during the event they mentioned the full name of the Church, calling us their guests from America.  Once they had us stand up and wave to the crowd.
Mpontshane Sibongile and her husband.  She is the new Chairperson for the Interfaith Committee 

Walid Elsaadi Skeikh is the new Project Officer. Seemed like a very gentle, humble man.

Tuesday - We accompanied the Humanitarian to a  meeting with the Health Department  to work towards a wheelchair donation for the people of South Africa.  It was a very productive meeting with the Church being in complete agreement with the criteria required for wheelchair placement.  The Church also offered to supply qualified teachers who would train Physical Therapist to properly  assess and measure wheelchair recipients.  While waiting for the elevator to go up to our meeting a gentlemen was standing with us and noticed Elder Cinquini's name tag and repeated the name of the Church and said, "you work with education don't you? and I said, "yes, but today we are here to visit the Health Department.  "Are you in Education." I asked.  "No, that's too hard I work with medicine". After we got off the elevator he was kind to take us through the locked doors and pointed at his picture and said, "That's me".  Well.... he WAS the Minister of Health!  He escorted us to his personal boardroom to have our meeting.  It was not just coincidence that we ran into him.  It is good that he knew we were in his building attending a meeting.   

Wednesday - Cleaning in the kitchen and found a small nest of baby cockroaches.
I Immediately called the exterminator.  After he sprayed the house we thought we should leave for couple of hours because of the smell. At our next stop a friend noticed our tire was low so we went to have it filled with air and the attendant said there was a nail in it.  We go to the tire shop and they said we needed two new tires.  While we were sitting waiting for service, two missionaries came in to have some tire work done on their car.  We took them to lunch which helped pass the time.  In the evening the senior couples all met at the Mission Presidents house for dinner to greet a new couple to the mission, Elder and Sister Snell from the UK.  They will be working with self-reliance.

Thursday - We traveled to a township to participate in an interfaith prayer meeting in Umlazi K section.  We were invited by a lady pastor who we met at the Interfaith Summit on Monday.  Elder and Sister Rowberry and Zanele Hlongwane accompanied us.  First we met in a garage and sang together and then all of us walked to the community hall.  There were at least 200 people in attendance.  We were guest and asked to sit on the stage along with the other pastors who came to worship.  Most of the meeting was in Zulu, but we could tell that the loud preaching (yelling), excited everyone.  Four hours later they served lunch to everyone.  People seem to be glad that we came to visit. We made some nice contacts and it was a real experience to witness a traditional African prayer meeting.  Zanele thought it was good to experience these types of traditions because it would help us understand the people better.  

Friday - Today we went to a school to measure the length needed for a hose to reach the community garden.  Ed and I miss our garden so we thought we would help these young people who are learning skills (they are 18+ years old) for future employment.  The school donated the land and water but they need tools to finish the project.  Afterwards we worked on the focus group. The Area Presidency has invited  different groups to come and participate in a forum where church media will discuss the needs for South Africa youth, young single adults and young married couples.  

Saturday - Lots and lots of paperwork, some house cleaning, and grocery shopping.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


I found a few children at the Women's Day Event that could wear my hats I've been loom knitting this winter.
Yes, it is winter here, we are just heading into Spring, the raining season.  Hard to wrap my head around it when I look on facebook and see everyone out of school and going on vacations.


Sahara Women's Shelter Event

South Africa has the largest population of Indian people outside of India.  Today I attended a Women's Day Event at the Phoenix child & Family Welfare Society Building.  Below is my article explaining the event.

Phoenix Branch Helps at Women’s Day Event

August in South Africa is Women’s Month, where women are celebrated and honoured throughout the country.  One event took place on August 20th at the Phoenix Child & Family Welfare Society building in Phoenix, KZN. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined with Sahara Women’s Shelter and Family Welfare Society to have a pampering day for women.  The ceremony included speeches, video, music, dance, and various booths which included massages, manicures, make overs and ended with a lunch.
For this year’s celebration, church members sponsored sixty toiletry bags for women currently at the shelter.  The Young Women in the Branch helped during a mutual activity to pack the bags.  The bags included toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, wash cloth, lotion, nail clippers, ear buds and tissues.  The committee organizers of the event expressed their thanks to the Church for the donation and the support of the women at the shelter.
Sister Merlini Muthu, Phoenix Branch Relief Society President said, “The Sahara Women’s Shelter is a non-profit organization that relays only on sponsorships. The Phoenix Branch reached out to Sahara Shelter last year during Mormon Helping Hands Day where they cleaned the area, painted window frames and door frames, put new plastic sheeting in the cub boards, and welded the burglar guards on the windows.”
Julie Gopual, a social worker at Sahara said, “Women are abused all over the world; race, religion, or economic status makes no difference.  People don’t want to talk about it because it is painful or they want to hide because they are ashamed.  We need to get the information out to women that domestic violence is not acceptable.  We want people to talk about domestic violence.” 
Domestic violence is the most common and widespread human rights abuse in South Africa. At the Sahara Women’s Shelter they can house twenty-four women and children.  The shelter works with social services agencies and the Phoenix Police Department for placement.

Sister Muthu said, “We take our lives for granted because we come from good homes and yet there are sisters out there who need our help.  We are part of a great sisterhood in Relief Society, but it felt good today to be a part of a sisterhood where we could do some good.”

I had such a good time with the women.  My Bollywood dreams came true when a very handsome young man sang a song in Hindi and the women (including me) got up to dance.

 Sister Poelman, Sister Muthu, Sister Cinquini attending the Women's Event

The women were pampered with manicures, neck massages, and make overs.

Couples Night Out

The senior couples went to dinner at the Revolving Restaurant (similar to the Space Needle) to welcome a new couple that just arrived.  I heard that 40% of couples called to Africa turn it down, but 80% who have been on a mission to Africa will return if they go on another mission. Most turn down the mission for fear of coming to a wild untamed country.   It's interesting what fear or the unknown can do to a person.  The first two months we were here, we made sure we were home before dark, now we come and go whenever we please.  I can see how fear can stop progression in a persons life or hold them back from their potential. I'm learning and growing just like the young missionaries.  Sometimes that's good and some days it's hard.   Elder Cinquini and I are doing our best, but one thing for sure, we have been so blessed to be here and met such wonderful people.

 Eating dinner at the Revolving Restaurant.  This is our view of the city.

That's Ed's steak in the background.  The best he's had in South Africa.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Helping Hands Day

Saturday, August 16th, was the Mormon Helping Hands Day in South Africa.  Elder Cinquini and I made it to three events taking pictures and recording interviews for the local newspaper. This is a day that Church members help improve and uplift their communities.  This year the theme was  "Hand and Hand With Government."  It was a real joy to see all the projects and the many people who turned out to help.  This was happening in 32 countries in South Africa
Umlazi BB Ward at a Daycare for disabled children

Pinetown Ward at a a home for senior citizens
Bluff Ward making repairs and trimming trees for a home for disabled children.

Elder Cinquini interviewing a ward members who was helping prepare the ground for a garden.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Mother of Peace Orphanage

We visited the Orphanage, Mother of Peace, about 30 miles from Durban.  One of the senior couples had their family visiting from America and they had a granddaughter, along with family and friends, that made 68 hand sewn stuffed animals. Along with the stuffed animals she wrote stories that gave a particular uplifting message.  The children live in family groups with a full-time house mother. They take the children from birth to 18 years old.  At eighteen they help them get jobs before they leave.  I was impressed with the clean environment though very modest.  Lots of room on the property to run and play.  The children come to the orphanage if they have lost their parents or are abandoned by parents who are unable to care for them.  Some of the children suffer illnesses such as HIV. Lots of different organizations contribute and volunteer their time.  An Irish group came and built some of the houses the children live in.  The area looks like a little neighborhood.  Everyone works together to create a family oriented lifestyle for the children.  It brings home the message, "It takes a village".

Elder and Sister Poelman and their family 

This particular home has seven children plus the house mother. 

Elder Cinquini playing with the children

Friday, August 1, 2014

Welcome Home Ukhozi FM

After spending seven busy days in Salt Lake City, Utah, learning about the Church, the welfare program, visiting agricultural farms, meeting with young people,and many more other activities, the delegation arrived back to Durban.  Waiting for them at the airport was a 40 member choir from Umlazi BB ward who sang songs and presented Mroza with flowers.  It was a paparazzi moment as cameras were flashing back and forth.  The Ukhozi presenters Mroza and Sbu spoke very kindly toward the church during their programs in the coming days.  Ukhozi FM is the largest radio station in South Africa.  We hope their listeners will take this opportunity to find out what the Church is all about.

Mroza glad to be home

New Church Building

A beautiful new building has been dedicated in Ezakheni, South Africa.  The members were very grateful. President Hamilton of the Area Presidency said, "Although the outside of the building is beautiful, what is going on  inside the building is what matters.  Where Saints come together that is where the heart of the Lord is "  
Old meeting house

New meeting house recently constructed and dedicated to the Lord

Members of the Ezakheni Branch