Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 30, 2014

Sorry our internet quit working and we thought we lost this one.  Sorry for the duplicate.
Hello from Zimbabwe
We had a long grueling flight to get here, but we finally made it.  It took three long days.  We flew from Salt Lake to Chicago to London to Johannesburg to Harare with five to seven hours at each airport.  All our luggage arrived at the same time.  It was a long wait to get through customs.  Elder and Sister Hermansen (the office couple) met us as did our director, Brother Paradzai.  We were taken to our apartment (flat) which is a very nice, fully furnished two bedroom.  Hermansen's took us out to dinner, it began to rain, the electricity went off, they laughed and said "Welcome to Zimbabwe".  (The electricity is off here often.)

The young Elders gave us our driving test.  It didn't seem too strange to drive on the left side of the road.  Road conditions are very bad.  There are very few street signs and the street lights are way down low so if there is a truck ahead of you it is impossible to see the light until you get to it.  We call the streets "pot holes with a little pavement".

We've met with our director for part of two days then he went on vacation for two weeks.  He is moving his family from a city about three hours away to Harare on January 1.  We will meet with him again on January 2.  There will be people coming from South Africa from the 3rd-9th of January.

We went to several grocery stores.  They have everything we need except the packaging and names are different.  The fruits and vegetables are plentiful and very good.  Groceries are very expensive.

We went on an all day Safari to Imire Ranch on December 26.  Hermansen's had made reservations before we got here  It was awesome!  We were able to get up close and personal with all the animals. They served us a delicious lunch by a lake.  We saw every kind of African animal you can imagine.

We went to the "flea" market on Saturday (Dec. 27) with the other missionary couple, the McMurdie's.  You can find anything there.  They have a lot of the same stuff in every booth.  It is like hundreds of make-shift plastic booths with tarps over the top.  Going downtown to the police station was an experience yesterday.  We went by another flea market that made the one we had been to look very small.  We think that is where the million and a half people were.  By the way, Marlene had a little fender bender accident already.  That is why the visit to the police station.

Our mission president has given us the assignment to work with a District (6 branches) on Sundays.  It is an hour and a half drive from where we live in Harare.  It is called Bindura District and is a beautiful drive.  The people are very friendly and kind.  They all have to walk to church.  Some up to 7 miles or so.  They are very smart and well dressed.  The church meetings were well done.

There are fruit orchards on the way to Bindura (we couldn't tell what kind), lots of maze crop and farm land. Each family has a little plot where they grow their own food.  They stand along the road side selling whatever they have.

Our self-reliant calling will really get started on January 2 when our director gets back.  We will be moving our office to the new self-reliance center probably sometime in February.  The Bindura District already has self-reliance committee's set up and are meeting.

We are working to learn our duties and trying to do the Lord's work here in Zimbabwe.  We are called here for the purposes known by the Lord and as we listen to the promptings, we will figure it out.  We are happy and know we are where we are supposed to be at this time.  

Love - Elder & Sister Diede

First Week in Zimbabwe (December 17-22, 2014)

Hello from Zimbabwe,
We have been here in Harare for one week.  It was a grueling three day trip.  We started in Salt Lake City, then to Chicago (in the airport for 5 hours), then on to London (in the airport for 7 hours), then on to Johannasburg (in the airport for 3 hours).  With flight time, believe us when we say, it all adds up to three long days.  We were met at the airport by the office couple and our director for self-reliance, President Paradzai.  They took us to our flat.  We got unpacked, then they took us to dinner.  During dinner it started a pouring rain, buckets and sheets like we have never seen before.  It causes rivers to run in the streets, down the sidewalks (where there are some).  There is also loud thunder and lightning like we have never seen.  It is the rainy season and has rained every day at least once, twice or three times per day.  The electricity went out during dinner and everyone laughs and says "Welcome to Zimbabwe".

The next day we went to the mission office and took a driving test.  The young elders ride with us while we drove, not that we knew where we were going.  Driving on the left and the steering wheel on the right is quite an adventure.  We past our test, although I think most American do.  The natives do not have driver's licenses.  There is going to be a problem with drivers when the Elders start going home early next year.  There will not be enough Elders who can drive the cars.  The traffic here is "crazy".  There are vans they call "combis" which transport the locals to their work or wherever they are going.  We didn't know you could jam that many people in one vehicle.  Anyway they pull right out in front of you after picking up people on the side of the road.  There are no bus stops, they just stop wherever there are people waiting, waving them down.  Many people just walk.  They cross the roads wherever they want.  Vehicles do not yield to them as you would never get anywhere.  The streets are horrible.  It is impossible to dodge the huge potholes.

We met with our director on Thursday.  He trained us in the morning and in the afternoon he took us to a stake center where they are planning to set up a self-reliance center.  The church buildings are beautiful.  In the afternoon he took us to an outlying neighborhood to meet Stake President Makaza. He was rich to Zimbabwe standards, but the neighborhood was the poorest we have ever seen or could imagine.

We met the mission president and his wife, the Cooks, on Friday.  They held Zone Conference.  We helped set up the tables and chairs for the lunch.  There about 50 missionaries, 20 of then were sisters.

We experienced our first trip to the grocery store.  Everything in the store is different.  Prices are very high.  Fruits and vegetables are not so high.  The stores are very busy with very slow checkouts.  We will need to figure out the metric system if we want to know how much something costs.

Our electricity was off again Saturday night and Sunday morning.  Miles started the generator so we could take a shower for church. We went to church about 30 minutes away with the office and humanitarian couples.  The people are so friendly and they held an excellent church service.  Sunday night we were invited to the mission president's home for dinner.

December 30, 2014

Hello from Zimbabwe –
The trip here was grueling as it took three days.  We started in Salt Lake City on Monday, December 15, 2014.  We flew to Chicago to London to Johannesburg to Harare.  There were layovers from 5 to 8 hours at each airport.  We arrived in Harare on Wednesday, December 17 at about 1210.  Elder and Sister Hermansen,  who work in the mission office picked us up.  We also were met by our director of self-reliance, Brother Paradzai.  They took us to our flat (apartment) which is a two bedroom, fully furnished, secure, gated area.  There are lots of trees, bushes, and flowers.  There is a park area and pool (which no one swims in).  Hermansen’s took us out to dinner.  Just before we got our food, it started to rain, thunder and lightning.  The electricity went off and they laughed and said “Welcome to Zimbabwe”.  The electricity goes off often.
We came to the mission office on Thursday.  The young Elders gave us a driving test.  It didn’t seem as strange as we thought it would to drive on the wrong (they say left) side of the road.  After that we met with Brother Paradzai.  He trained us for part of two days then left on vacation for two weeks.  He is moving his family to Harare from a city three hours away on January 1.  It will be nice to have him here full time.  There will be a self reliance center at one of the stake center’s about 20 minutes from our house where we will be working.  We hope it will be finished sometime in February.
The first Sunday we went to church with Hermansen’s.  That night we were invited to President and Sister Cook’s house for dinner.  They live in a beautiful place. 
Monday, Dec. 22, we met with President Cook in his office.  He assigned us to the Bindura District.  It has six branches.  We attended two of the branches on Sunday.  It is about an hour and a half away from where we live.  The drive was beautiful.  There were rolling hills with lots of farm land, orchards, maze fields, and trees.  The people are so friendly.  They are very smart and dress well.  The church services we conducted very well.  The teachers did a great job.  They ask questions like “How does that make you feel knowing that?”
Christmas was celebrated with the two other senior couples.  The McMurdie’s hosted, cooked a turkey, potatoes and gravy, jello, and homemade rolls.  Hermansen’s brought ham and a relish tray.  We brought stuffing (no stovetop here), pumpkin and coconut cream pie and corn on the cob.  The corn is not sweet here lie it is at home.  We ate at noon since everyone wanted to go to the mission offices to skype with our families.
 On December 26 we went on our first safari to Imire Ranch.  Hermansen’s had made reservations for all six of us to go a couple weeks before we got here.  It was awesome!  We were able to see, up close and personal, every animal you would expect to see in Africa.  They fed us a delicious lunch out in the wilderness by a lake.  We had our first taste of sadza ( a tasteless cornmeal mush).  The sauce they put on it made it good.
Last Saturday, Dec. 27, we went to a flea market and the white peoples mall with McMurdies.  The mall was just a very high priced tourist trap.  The flea market was hundreds of booths made of plastic walls with tarp roofs.  There was everything you can imagine there plus more stuff.
We went downtown yesterday to the police station.  Marlene had a little fender bender the first day of driving in Zimbabwe.  We are fine and the car has already been repaired.  Downtown is one big flea market.  We saw where the rest of the million and a half people are.
We know the Lord wants us here and has a purpose for us to accomplish.  We hope to find out what that purpose is as we work serving the people of Zimbabwe.
There is a place at the bottom of our blog to comment if you so desire.  We would love hearing from you.

We Love You all.  Take Care

Sunday, December 14, 2014

All missionaries at the MTC have their pictures taken in front of the world map. Miles is pointing to Montana and Marlene is pointing to Zimbabwe.  Our flight begins in the morning, Monday, December 15.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hello from the Missionary Training Center,

Our Stake President, Mark J. Lies, set us apart at Mark and Catherine's last Saturday morning in Riverton, Utah. Oh how grateful we are for our wonderful Stake President and his wife. Mike, Karilyn, and their family were also there, except Miles B. who is Elder Diede, serving a mission in South Korea.

Our son, Mike, drove us to the MTC this morning.  We were early so had to wait about a half an hour. We have had our first day at the MTC.  There are 133 new senior missionaries going all over the world.  We met another couple going to Zimbabwe at the same time as us. They are from Green Bay, Wisconsin. There are about 8 or 10 couples going on PEF/Self-Reliance missions to all parts of the world who are in our training group.

We have had many trials getting ready to go, but we know this is the right time and the right place.  We are sorry to miss our grandson, Miles' return home from his mission and our grandson, Hayden's high school graduation.  

We have homework assignments already for tomorrow's training from "Preach My Gospel" book. We feel we are getting a great start on our training and know it will be very helpful throughout our mission.  Everyone here at the MTC are very courteous and helpful. We were instructed to "endure to the endowment" as we invite others to have faith and come unto Christ.  We testify that Jesus Christ restored His gospel to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith.