Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Road Less Traveled By...

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --

I took the one less traveled by..."

We stay in Tzaneen, a nice little city with paved roads. But we labor in villages with a few paved (tar) roads but mostly dirt roads. We enjoy our car, but sometimes we would be better off in a truck (bakki)!

This road can be difficult when it rains, but then, it hasn't rained in many, many months. Pray for rain in South Africa!

After so many months with no rain the roads get so dusty that our car becomes covered, and the dust even makes its way inside. After each visit to the Orphanage on this road we must wash the car inside and out.

Unlike the day these pictures were taken, most of the time this road is very well travelled by ... by pedestrians. A very few people have vehicles in these parts, so walking is the most popular means of transport. Some can afford to take a taxi once in a while. In the main village of Lenlenye there are more vehicles and a few tar roads.

The road to Nico's and Fina's house

Sometimes the tar roads can also be challenging-
hitting one at speed can blow a tire or break an axle

These pot holes are not uncommon in Lenyenye

In Memoriam

Esther Makapoko Lefa

Another funeral road as our friend and woman of great faith, Sister Esther Lefa, passed away unexpectedly on September 9, 2016. She was 74 years old.

She had been suffering for a few months, first with acute asthma, then with pains in her legs from diabetes, and then with extremely high blood pressure. Each week we would take Sister Lefa  to our Chemist/Pharmacist Lisa (introduced to us by the Elder and Sister Campbell).  Over the course of about six weeks Lisa was able to bring Sister Lefa's blood pressure down to near normal. We were all so excited, and that's the reason we were so shocked when we learned of her passing.

Prayer Meeting the night before the Funeral
Prayer Meetings can happen every evening for a week prior to the funeral
Sister Hall was asked by the Relief Society to help dress the body- a unique experience.

It was a typical African funeral, as discussed in the last blog, except this time the church played a large role. On Friday the church held an "LDS Funeral" at the Tzaneen chapel. We were honored to be asked to speak along with other church leaders.

Sunrise over the funeral - they start just after dawn

At the funeral services on Saturday morning President Moleli, from the District Presidency, and
President Matlou, the Branch President both gave talks. They both cited numerous scripture passages from the Book of Mormon. After the service, people swarmed the missionaries asking for copies of the Book of Mormon. One said: "I must have that book." The Elders gave out all 9 books that they had with them, and we presented one in person to a lady pastor who made the request of us.

A neighbor and friend of Esther, who is a Pastor
Requested a Book of Mormon from us.

Preparing "Funeral Potatoes" - made from powdered corn!

Kulani and Musso (Granddaughter and Great Granddaughter)

The Road to the Savior's Love

One of the roads we take every week is to the children's after school day care center. It is dubbed "the Orphanage" because the kids who come here after school have no where else to go... they are either truly orphans who are cared for by guardians (usually relatives), but who are not at home after school, or else they belong to a single mother who is not at home after school. The kids come here for a little social interaction and a hot meal.

When we come Sister Hall provides stories, and lately, missionary lessons about Jesus Christ and how we need to live as He taught us. There are lessons for them to learn, such as being kind to each other, not being greedy or fighting, etc. It is obvious that they do not get these lessons taught to them wherever it is they stay.

Visiting the orphanage has always been one of Sister Hall's favorite activities, but for Elder Hall, not so much. That all changed in October when, after being away for a couple weeks, we took Sister Hall's sister Tracy to the Orphanage to see the children. Seeing our car drive up, the kids ran to greet us. To Elder Hall's great astonishment, the children mobbed us with African handshakes, fist-bumps, and hugs.

The message was clear: These kids need LOVE! And more importantly, they need to feel the Savior's love for them (doesn't everyone)? So from now forward that will be the goal: Give them love and help them feel the Savior's love.

Mormon Helping Hands

The church's annual service to the community, Mormon Helping Hands, allows church members, especially youth, to do a service project that benefits the community. It also helps publicize the church as a Christian organization and help to "bring it out of obscurity."

This year the Lenyenye branch decided to use the event to build a fence around the orphanage. Even though the orphanage was founded and is run by a church member, only one or two children are members of the church, so it is truly a community organization.

Digging Post Holes

Just like home - one works while three watch!

Sometimes 4 watch!

Is it straight?

Helping Neighbors Get Water

When the Young Women noticed some neighbors going for water they gave a helping hand.

Maripa and Thatoe manning the wheelbarrows

Elder Burgess helping out

The water comes from a small stream
You can also do laundry right at the stream

Women Helping Hands

Anna, Jermina, Marcia sweeping...
... and getting ready to fly.

(Sweeping the dirt around houses makes the place look better, but more importantly, it helps prevent the bugs from nesting and infesting).

Back Row: Sis. Hall, Anna, Maripa, ?, Sis. Kekana, Jermina, ?, Nthabiseng  ?, Bro. Letsoalo, Mpho, Austin
Bryan, Pres. Kekana, Elder Burgess, ?, Humphrey, Elder Bagoole, Elder Machia, Elder Griffey
Front: Sophie, Tatoe, Dimpho, ?, Bro. James

The fence is needed because one weekend thieves broke in and stole food. It isn't hard to do given the crude construction. And we don't think the fence is going to deter anyone who has evil intent. But it is a step, and it does keep vehicles from driving through the property.

We hope the thieves didn't realize that they were actually taking food out of the mouths of needy children. Otherwise, you know, the millstone...

The Road to the Temple

With help from Jason and Manal's ward youth, and some generous friends and neighbors, about 20 youth from the Lenyenye branch will be going to the Johannesburg temple to do baptisms for the dead on December 7, 2016. For nearly all of them it will their first opportunity to do this. It is hard for us to convey their excitement.

Molatelo Letsoalo - Age 21
Hazel Malatji -Age 15

Dimpho Anita Shokane - Age 12

Nthabeseng Molele - Age 23
Maripa Shokane - Age 17

Sophie Keletso Letsoalo - Age 17

Thalita Mmasebula Moema - Age 15
Esther Shanbel Machopa - Age 16

Hazel Malatji -Age 15

Judas Makgoba - Age 19
John Modiba - Age 27

Koketso Rapatsa - Age 15

Sister Anika - Y.W. President

Tumelo - Age 19

Austin Mokobi - Age 20

Humphrey - Age 21

Sylvia Molele - Age 12

The Requirements:

1. Must be worthy of a temple recommend.
2. Must be at least 12 years old.
3. Must be "active" in the church - meaning attending 75% of meetings and seminary/institute.
4. Must earn and save 150 Rand (about 1/3 of the cost of the trip).

YSA and FHE Roads:

Seminary is finished for the year until January, when the new curriculum will be the New Testament. Elder Hall has enjoyed teaching the Motupa Seminary and Lenyenye Institute classes. It is sobering to think that he will only be able to teach one half of the next year, before returning home. The search will be on for a replacement. The Lenyenye Institute has grown - average weekly attendance is in double figures. The youth are hungering and thirsting for the word.

The Monday Family Home Evening for the Young Single Adults (and anyone else who wants to attend) continues to be successful, with attendance between 15 and 20 each week. One week, after the lesson on the Goliaths in our lives, the kids enjoyed "slinging" plastic rocks at our homemade Goliath poster.




Elder Burgess

This FHE has been successful in building bonds and relationships among the youth, and gives them opportunities to teach gospel lessons and plan activities. Most of them do not have member/active families and would not otherwise have FHE.
It has been so good that we have started a new FHE group for the members in neighboring Tickyline. These members are not able to attend in Lenyenye due to the distance, although they do attend Sunday services. They will meet on Tuesday evenings so that we can attend both groups.

The Road to Service

One of the best, and constant, service projects that the missionaries provide is getting water for members who otherwise would have a struggle to get it themselves. Just like camping at home, many people do not have water piped to their homes and therefore must get it for themselves every few days.

On one occasion even Sister Hall helped out!

Elder Griffey

Roads to Walk

 Speaking of missionary service and dusty roads...

Back Row: Elders Baldwin (Idaho), Hamon (Austrailia), Nielson (California), Burgess (Logan), Griffery (Tennesee)
Front: Elders Malemo (Uganda), Tuci (S. Africa), Bagoole (Uganda), Saiah (S. Africa), Mothajana(?)
These 10 Elders comprise the two districts in the Tzaneen area. Sister Hall feeds one district each week, meaning we feed all 10 within two weeks, or 20 missionaries in a month!

They do clean and polish their shoes, but it is a losing battle against the roads they travel. We are so grateful to them for their desires to serve here and their sacrifice of personal time and pursuits in order to help build the kingdom in this part of the vineyard. As Elders Bednar and Hallstrom have recently said: "The Lord's hand is in Africa."

The Road to Baptism

Sister Emily, an aunt to Humphrey, has been a long-time investigator. She works 3 out of 4 Sundays and didn't feel she could be a faithful member. Finally she decided to be baptized and will attend church on the Sunday that she does not work. She bore her testimony that she has waited a long time and is happy to be a member of the church. She is a lovely lady.

Humphrey Moagi and Mabjala Emily Moagi

Elder Matlanyane, Humphrey, Emily, Elder Griffey
Elder Shorthill (Orangeville, UT), Elder Matlanyane (Soweto), Humphrey, Emily, Thalita (niece),
Elder Griffey (Tennesee), Elder Malemo (Uganda), Judas, Pres. Kekana,
kneeling Kebelo (Ward Mission Leader)
There are only 4 white faces ever seen in Lenyenye, South Africa; two of them are in this photo!

The Road to the "Big Five"

The "big five" animals in Africa are Lion, Rhino, Elephant, Leopard and Cape Buffalo. They are designated thus because they are the most fierce. They are not necessarily our favorite animals (we like giraffe, zebra, monkeys, impala, kudo, and hippos too), but we have now seen them all. Here are a few pictures from our trip with Sister Hall's sister Tracy including our most recent trip to Kruger Park:

Deep in the heart of a diamond mine

Diamond Mine from ground level - Open pit mining back in the day.

Tracy getting her pocket picked at the Monkey Sanctuary
At the Voortrekkers Monument in Pretoria

View of Capitol City Pretoria from Voortrekkers Monument
Hartbreesport Dam from top of the tram

Panorama Drive

Pot Holes

God's Window - Camera won't do it justice!

Sister Hall praying at God's Window

Leopard - One of the "Big Five"


Baboon not particular about where to sit

Neat place to spend the night in Kruger Park


Cape Buffalo - One of the "Big Five"


How many Hippo's can you count?

Pretty Big Teeth

Afraid to get out because of the Croc

Lazy and Slow Hippos - but I guess they are happy, happy!





Rhinos - One of the "Big Five"

Eagle with a rabbit or some other prey - one talon holding onto the tree and one on the prey

Elephants - of the "Big Five" - rule at the watering hole

Even the Buffalo wait for the Elephants to leave the watering hole - Zebras peacefully co-exist
Zebras finally get their turn

Wart Hogs - Ugly creatures!

The Lovers

At Sunset

Sunset at Kruger Park

Some favorite people on the roads we travel:

Mapesi and family of the triplets
Rosemary, Fina, kids, & Tracy poking in

Racing Elder Hall to the Orphanage

The Road Not Taken

Most literature experts agree that Robert Frost was wondering about the road he didn't take, rather than the one he did take (less travelled by), as the title of the poem would suggest (The Road Not Taken). And we too realize that there are many wonderful and good roads to take, especially mission roads. We are so grateful all missionaries, even those who serve at home! We know you are travelling on sacred roads! Sometimes we wonder where other mission roads might have taken us. But for now, this "road less travelled by" has made a huge difference for us.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Thanks to everyone for your love, prayers and support!