Sunday, October 25, 2015

October 9, 2015

We just got back from a five day safari trip.  A day going and a day coming were car travel. All along and on the road were many cows, goats, and donkeys.  Some people have a cow herder but the animals are mainly just loose and alone. There were many donkeys and cows pulling carts made out of old truck beds.  There were hundreds of kids walking along the roads by the schools.  They all wear uniforms.  Each school has their own colors of uniforms.

We went to Hwange National Park which is the third largest park in all of Africa.  This park has dug 62 boreholes (wells) so the animals come to those watering holes this time of year while their is no rain.  A guide took us around the park in a truck with seats in the back.  There is a canvas cover over head to block the sun somewhat. There were hippos, zebra, water buck, wort hogs, jackels, elephants, giraffes, elands, kudu, monkeys, baboons, ostrich, wildabeast, impalas, cape buffalo, crocodiles, lots of vulchers

At the Hwange Park Hotel we could sit in lounge chairs by the pool and watch the animals come to the watering hole nearby. Our friends got a picture of a baboon who came into the yard and was sitting on one of the lawn chairs.  The guinea hens were also so funny.  They ran in a big straight line, probably a hundred or so, to the watering hole.

The safari truck picked us up at the Zimbabwe, Botswana border.  We traveled on the highway to the nearest town, Kasane to pay our park fees.  In Botswana their money is called pulu and the exchange was about 100 to 1 US.  After we left town, we saw wild dogs (painted dogs) This safari is near the Chobe River which flows into the Zambezi which flows to Victoria Falls.  Right across the river is the country of Namibia.  There the water buck, cape buffalo and elephants were mainly on an island in the middle of the Chobe River. There are 65,000 elephants there.  We didn't see all of them, but several hundred.  They were mainly playing in the water since this is their hot dry season. The baboons and monkeys were playing in the trees.   The giraffes were munching on bushes right by the road, as were the kudu, impalas, and sabel.   We also saw every kind and color of bird you can imagine and some you can't.  After the ground safari they took us on a boat tour.  We also saw hippos and crocodiles all over the river bank.  We had one huge bull elephant come right up to the boat and stair at us for a few minutes and then turned and walked away.  We were stuck in the mud but didn't know it until she tried to move away from the shore. We were very grateful the elephant was friendly. We had a wonderful lunch on a floating hut in the river.  They had steak, chicken, sausage, scalloped potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrot salad, and dessert.  They took us back to the boarder.  It was easy to get out of Botswana but hard to get back into Zimbabwe.  They wanted a useless "dumb" form filled out which held the line up for everyone for a long time.

Victoria Falls was way different this time than when we saw it in March at high water time.  It is still very awesome and beautiful but a lot less water.  The rainbow was still magnificent at Rainbow Falls.  There were a lot less street vendors there this time and fewer tourists.
Huge male giraffe
 Zebras playing in the road

Elephants in the Chobe River

The Senior Missionary Gang on the Chobe River
Hermansens in the back, Diede in the middle, McMurdies in the front

Victoria Falls - Rainbow Falls

Wild Dogs - Called Painted Dogs

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

September 8, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Last Monday from 0830-1200 we taught the self reliance initiative to eight missionaries who had completed their two year mission honorably and were going to their various homes the next day. Four from Zimbabwe, one from Uganda one from England, and two from the United States.  It is a real treat to teach these missionaries who have served the Lord so well.  The missionaries from Africa, however, have a whole different world to come home to than the missionaries in other parts of the world.

The past weekend we were trained by Elder and Sister Ellis.  He is an area Seventy and member of the presidency for the Southeast Africa area.  He is here to boost the self reliance initiative.  They spoke at the Bindura District conference over the weekend.  On Monday they taught at the missionary zone conference and will do so throughout Zimbabwe all week.  We, of course, loved the messages they brought to the people and missionaries here.

We have been training facilitators and self reliance specialists throughout the three Harare Stakes, Bindura District, and the eight mission branches.  We still (after nine months) do not have enough manuals for everyone.  We do our best, but it is hard for the members to do the assignments required without their own book.  Another thing we hope will help is a newsletter with resources listed to help the people know what is available.

Another new thing that is being started is a new app called OPUS which is a Latin work meaning Work.  Our managers son and his friend wrote the app and a webpage so that the members here can advertise their businesses, services or products. The purpose is to help the members buy from each other and be advertised to the general population.  We think this will be a real asset if they will only use it.  Anyone can download the app for free on the play store.  The icon is the gold circle with a family in the middle and the six self reliance goals stated around the circle.

They are still working on our new offices downtown.  They have been working on it for months.  Every time we ask about moving, they say "a couple more weeks".  We are okay with that, as it is further to drive in heavier traffic.  So, after nine months we finally received a projector and sound bar.  They are wonderful!

Our mission president has assigned the senior couples (3) to speak on the third Sunday at one of the mission branches and to see how they are doing.  We were assigned to Chegutu last month and they meet in an old school classroom.  Then they go outside for sunday school, primary relief society, and priesthood.  For September we go to Dombotombo where they have a beautiful building but they still go outside for some of the classes.

It has turned a lot warmer now, so we don't have to wear a jacket when we walk in the morning or in the evening in the apartment.  It is very dry this time of year here and the air is full of smoke from all the burning of fields and grass along the road.  They also burn their garbage and leaves in all the yards.  As we walk in the morning people stop us and ask for work and the "blue bible".  Some people think we just produce and manufacture jobs.  We wish we could!

Our adventures this month are as follows:
The spillway at Lake Chivero.  We saw men fishing with long nets attached to two bamboo poles.  They went in the water to their waist, cleared the thick lilies and slid the poles under the water  They opened the poles once under the water and closed very quickly catching small fish called breem.  They were yelling at us because we were taking their picture and they said they were "poaching".

We found a new lunch/dessert place.  It is called Classic Desserts.  They have homemade ice cream, cakes, brownies, cheesecakes, and all kinds of pastries.  Their sandwiches are also delicious.  Miles had a dessert called "I'm Not Sharing" which was a crumbled cone and brownie mixed with whipped cream and choice of ice cream sprinkled with nuts.

Well Drilling - Our friends, Elder & Sister McMurdie are the Charities/Humanitarian missionaries and they drilled several wells (boreholes" last week.  We went out and watched.  It was very exciting because they got water on both the drills we watched that day.  It is such a need here for clean water.
We have attached a picture.

Elder Ellis taught that self reliance is helping people help themselves.  He taught a few of My Foundation principles, mainly faith, honesty, and integrity. There are 12 foundation principles which can be found on reliance.  We know these principle, if followed, will help everyone become better disciples of Jesus Christ.

Well drilling 


Sunday, July 12, 2015

July 12, 2015

We never knew senior missionaries were so busy.  It is a good kind of busy.  We feel the work in self reliance is moving forward now that "some" books have reached Zimbabwe.  We spend a lot of time during the week in our office.  The self reliance/family history center is always busy with students.  We spend a lot of time "one-on-one" with people in the office teaching them how to interview, choose a school, and get a correct lds account log in.  We are still observing several self reliance classes per week.  This is such an inspired and great program.  Everyone should study the manuals and teach the Foundation principles to their family in family home evening.  We visit units as often as possible observing how the self reliance group meetings are being conducted.  We find all different ways of facilitating the groups.  Mainly people stop coming after about the fourth lesson because they are not doing the homework so they do not see any change for themselves and their family.

On the fun side we have been to Lake Chivero which is a big fresh water lake near Harare.  It is kind of like Holter in Montana.  We went back to the Lion Park, farmer's market, downtown Harare shopping, Mbare flea market, the movie, and restaurants on Friday night.  It may seem to you that we do more playing than working.  We'll let you decide.

We never get over the culture shock and amazement of the amount of people here. There are people everywhere you look or go.  Thousands of people are on the streets selling everything you can imagine.  They line the sidewalks downtown and are on every street corner.  The government has been trying to limit the street vendors to no avail.  They have had some minor protests downtown, but nothing has changed.  The people are just trying to survive.  They are very industrious and hard working.

We have attended church at a lot of different wards and branches.  Some have very beautiful chapels and others meet in homes.  Many of the chapels are fairly new with anywhere from two to four wards or branches meeting in the same building.  There are approximately 25,000 members in Zimbabwe. The geographical area here in Zimbabwe is about the size of Montana.  That isn't a large number since there are millions of people in Zimbabwe.

Wherever we go or walk, people will ask us for a job.  How they know that that is our calling, we do not know, but they know us.  Oh...that is right, we are white.  They ask for any kind of work, for example, to trim our trees, clean our place, or come to the office and be referred to a company.  Many think we will hire them on the church's behalf.  We have helped people find jobs.  Mainly security or fast food restaurant.  Better paying jobs are very rare with more business/companies closing every day.  Yes, it is a bit discouraging, but we just keep looking at the thank you note from the "one" who is grateful to be working.

We are having winter here right now so it is cool in the evenings and mornings.  We have a little electric heater that takes the chill off.  There are not as many things in blossom right now as the indigenous trees have mostly lost all their leaves.  The poinsettia bushes have lost their leaves, but the red blossoms are still hanging in there.  They have been blossoming since April.

We are really trying to do what the Lord wants us to do here.  He knows the people he has prepared to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We know he loves all of his children.  We have now been here over seven months and have seen quite a bit of change.  We have a new mission president as of the first of July.  His name is Mkhabela and is from South Africa.  Our former mission President Cook went to Inkom, Idaho.
On the way to Bindura, women washing their clothes at the dam.
Elder & Sister Robbins visited. We were at Pres & Sister Cook's for dinner.
One of the walls where the women and children lived at the Great Zimbabwe.
One of our self reliance training classes for missionaries going home.
This is "roughing it" at the movie theatre.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

We have been very busy the past month.  We finally received a token amount of self reliance books.  There were enough to give each stake one set.  We have trained all but one of the stake self reliance committees.  The stakes are to train their wards and branches, however they need our help and there are 60+ of those.

The job opportunities are starting to come for members in and around Harare.  We are not sure how many are actually hired.  We received requests to send 50 people for interview one day and 80 the next.  There have been several requests for 15 to 20 people at a time.  We need to contact more companies who are willing to hire the members.  We have sent people to a fast food company who expect people to work for two weeks without pay to see if they pass their test.  We have talked to several people on the street, when we walk in the morning, who have worked for six months without pay.  They cannot quit or they will never get paid.

We go to Bindura for church each Sunday.  It is a beautiful hour and a half drive each way.  We are working with a small branch there who is struggling for retention of membership and leadership.  The other five units we are assigned to are growing and doing fine.  Our Zimbabwe Harare Mission baptizes about 2,500 people per year.  That is equal to a whole new stake.

A month ago we went to a place called Antelope Park.  There were not a lot of animals except for lions.  We could hear them roaring from our cabin early in the morning.  We did see another amazing site.  They fed five male lions at the same time and in the same place.  There was losts of fighting, growling and stealing each other's food.  It was not hard to tell who was dominant ones.  We were right on the other side of a very large chain link fence.  It is amazing how "fast" and strong they are. They each weigh five to six hundred pounds.

From Antelope Park we went to Gwero and Bulawayo and trained three stake presidents on self reliance.  Otherwise we do not get to travel outside of Harare very much except to Bindura.

We took a short vacation from Wednesday to Saturday and went to Victoria Falls with the Hermansen's and McMurdies.  It was spectacular and is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.  The falls are nearly a mile wide and three times higher than Niagara Falls.  There is so much moisture that it causes rain to fall on the other side of the canyon.  We also went on a safari to the country of Botswana.  The place was called Chobe Park.  We did a ground tour, had lunch on a floating island, and a river cruise.  We saw lots of elephants, hippos, elands, pukus, baboons, monkeys, mongoose, crocodiles, water buffalo, large lizards, and birds.  All of these animals were in their natural habitat.  We were so close that we could see the eyelashes on the elephants.  We saw two baboons fighting.
Two dominant male lions at Antelope Park
Victoria Falls
Hippo with a dress and attitude on Chobe River
she came in the water after us
Primary in Bindura Branch
Small woman carrying 5 gallon water 1/2 mile to house from borehole (well)

It is a great adventure being in Zimbabwe.  We learn something new every day and have a new adventure.  We have a lot to learn from the wonderful, humble, and faithful people.  They have so little but are so happy.  We know we are in the right place doing the best job we can to serve the people of Zimbabwe.  We are preparing talks this week on the Restoration and the Book of Mormon for a small branch at Kadoma, about three hours away.  We Love you all!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

January 31, 2015

Masikati (Good day)
Hi Everyone,
Tomorrow is our two month anniversary on our mission.  What an adventure it has been so far.  Something new happens every day.  For example, we sent five ads of companies who are getting ready and have started to interview people to hire to the Bishops and Branch Presidents here in Harare and received over 300 applicants.  So for the past two weeks we have turned into an employment agency.  Some of the members here have never worked or interviewed with a company, so we set up interview training classes on Monday and Wednesday until everyone has attended. There is a Sister Leocardia Murenza who is teaching the classes for us.  She had done this for her business and is an excellent teacher.  She understands the people in English and Shona.  We are still trying to get a handle on understanding those who are supposedly speaking English.  Our part is to tell them about the companies we are contacting, the process of resume writing, and doing practice interviews with each one.

We have an office in the Highlands chapel building.  The internet rarely works there so we walk across the parking lot to the mission office and use a conference room to do our computer work.

Our mission president assigned us to go to Bindura District on Sundays.  There are six branches in their District.  We have now visited all of them.  Two branches meet in one building, three in another and one branch meets in a little community center which is sort of like a cement hole.  There are two different churches meet right next door.  They sing and shout to the top of their lungs during our Sacrament meeting.  The Primary meet outside under a tree.  We have never been so amazed at the fine talks and singing in their meetings.  They sing beautifully without a piano, organ, or keyboard. The chorister sings the first restrain and then everyone sings.  The talks are awesome.  Some of the people have been members for only a year or two, including some of the bishop's and branch presidents.

Last Saturday for fun we went to the Lion and Cheetah Park.  We couldn't find it at first, but came back to the mission office and got directions and went back and found it.  They have 31 lions.  One of the places you just drive your car through and the lions are loose.  In another part of the park the lions are in cages.  Also in the caged area were hyenas, crocodiles, a pair of white lions and a monster size tortoise that they said is about 300 years old.  They also have a place to drive through where there are giraffes, zebras, elands, ostrich, monkeys, baboons, water buffalo, and lots of birds.  Some of the lions were sleeping way up high on some rocks.  One great big male was just laying in the road in the shade.

Last Sunday we took a few pictures of some of the places people live on our way to church in Bindura.  Many do not have indoor plumbing, but there is a satellite dish on the roof.  Many walk for very long distances to get water and go to church.  We see women carrying five gallon buckets on their heads filled with tomatoes and other garden produce taking it somewhere to sell.  Many are out every morning hoeing in the maize fields.

We are still waiting for the new self reliance books to arrive.  It is very frustrating as we were promised they would be here the end of January.  We are going to make an attempt to train Bindura District on the new curriculum tomorrow at 4 on the computer without the books.  That should be interesting since this new curriculum is "hands on".  The people here need this training desperately. Everyone here buys something from somewhere and tries to sell it on the street.

Today we went to the Chinese mall.  It is a huge store with all the China junk you can imagine.  We did find a few things for our office like a stapler, paper clips, white board markers and eraser.
 Lion in the road would not move
Large male baboon 
Biggest lion 
Us and Debbie & Larry McMurdie 
 Homes  on the way to Bindura
Homes on the way to Bindura 
 Beautiful trees on the road where we walk each morning
 Modern Zimbabwe dish washer (the water is Very Hot)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

We have been very busy the past two week.  Elder and Sister Adams came from South Africa to help us contact businesses to recruit jobs.  We were able to find a lot of businesses who were willing to talk to us and let us refer the members for job openings.  Then, Elder Sitati from the First Quorum of the Seventy came from Salt Lake and Thabo Lebethoa, the self reliance manager from South Africa came.  They met with us, the Adams, and Binghams who came from Zambia.  Elder Sitati had leadership training meetings all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  All of the meetings were to introduce the new curriculum and self reliance.  He met with the young adults, and had a fireside for all members of three stakes.  There are six stakes and two districts in Zimbabwe plus a mission district with six branches. There are 60 wards and branches all together.

Our electricity is off about half the time, so if we do not respond to your messages it is because we have to start the generator to have electricity.  It hasn't rained this past week.  It's been in the mid 70's every day.  It's just a little warm at night.  Sorry to those of you who are freezing in Montana.

We drove around town trying to get a little more oriented as to where everything is.  We came to an area which had a much larger flea market than the one we had been too.  It covered the area of about five blocks long.  We didn't stop, but it looked like mostly cloths.  We also got lost (again) and found ourselves in the outskirts of downtown where it was very difficult to drive through the streets because there were so many street vendors (in the middle of the street), plus solid cars and people shopping or wandering around.

We walk every morning at 0530 for an hour and found a sign that made us feel like we were home.  The picture is attached.  Also Miles is standing by a sample of beautiful flowers which are everywhere you look.  We also tried the poached corn that they sell on street everywhere.  It really was pretty good for "field" corn (maze).  We have tried sadza (really thick cornmeal mush).  It is tasteless, but they make a "sauce", which is kale with spices which makes it pretty good.  I won't be cooking much of it however.

We took Binghams to a "western" restaurant where the "guys" had a steak and "gals" had a hamburger.  It wasn't too bad for Zimbabwe.  They played "old" western music which made us feel closer to home.  We eat out three or four times per week, as the food is just about as cheap at restaurants as it is to buy it in the store.

We found Hayden's business competition.  Notice the bow tie, necktie, and scripture cover made of beads.  We are trying to figure out how to send you the bow tie so all you older boys can take turns wearing it to the prom.

The people who are members of the church are so friendly, kind, and humble.  They are all first generation members but they have really strong testimonies.  We have had two people approach us wanting to be taught about the church.

We love you all!

Elder Sitati on the right