Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Just a couple of monkeys on our porch

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26 May 2011
Waiting today for Elder and Sister Zweifel to arrive from Durban - a get a way from the office for them.  Went to the market, had District Meeting with Elders at our house.  All in all a very good day.

25 May 2011
Made an appointment with Stella Lukhele at an NGO to finalize terms to bring Sewing Machines project to Swaziland; then went to Mbabane to check on customs exemption for the Wheel Chair project - still not finished.  Should be finished this week.
                                                                                                   Patriarch Courtney with us
                                                                                             Elder and Sister Cox - CES Missionaries

24 May 2011
Received a telephone call from Ezulwini Elders they have been detained at the Ngwyene Border Post because their visas are expired.  We took some money and went to bail them out of their predicament.  The Customs Officials just wanted a bribe, which we paid to keep  them from being arrested.  This problem was caused by our Mission making the decision not to pay the money to get visas for the Missionaries without any of us knowing they had to leave the country every 30 days to stay legal.  So now we pay the price of time and money for this oversight.  We got back just in time to pick up the Mbabane Missionaries and go to the meeting at the US Embassy.  We met Ambassador Irving, a very gracious host, and he insisted that we meet his Security Chief and asked that we form a personal relationship with US Security so that they can watch over us and our missionaries.  We were very impressed with Ambassador Irving.  The meeting was very candid about the financial situation in Swaziland and the fact the country is close to an economic collapse.  It is a wait and see situation.  What will the King do?  Will he take the advice of the International Monetary Fund?  Elder Diseko was warmly welcomed, even though he is from South Africa,  one of the guards was one of their investigators, Elder Cooley, Elder Shelton and Elder Munger accompanied us.  The Ambassador and his staff were great with the missionaries.

23 May 2011
A few days alone again before company comes.  Time to do laundry, etc.  Elder Blackburn took money to Elder Ssesanga to pay for his dentist bill.  Elder and Sister Howell called and took us to dinner at the Chinese restaurant.  Mostly a day of rest.

22 May 2011
Picked up Elder and Sister Howell at Timbali Lodge and drove to Nhlangano for Church and Area Audit of the NHL records.  Elder Howell felt the Branch President is a good ecclesiastical leader but a poor bookkeeper.  The Branch has no computer, therefore all reports have to be done by hand.  We got home at about 6:00pm.  Too tired to feed anyone so we had a light supper and off to bed.  While in Nhl we helped Brother Motsa and Sister Hlope with their PEF paperwork, they want to enter school in Big Bend at the ITT College in July.  Called Elder Allen and explained some of the circumstances and he will take care of it.

21 May 2011
Elder and Sister Howell arrived today to spend time in Nhlangano to train the leaders in keeping the books.  Elder Blackburn left Patriarch Courtney in Mbabane and Elder and Sister Cox will take care of him and deliver him back to our house after he finishes tonight.  We met Howells at Timbali Lodge and took them to Manzini to do some shopping, they had some stuff to pick up for people in Johannesburg.  Brought them back about 5:00pm so they could rest for an hour, then all of us went to Calabash to have dinner together, Cox, Courtney, Howells and Blackburns.  We had a great dinner then came back to our house for Coconut cream pie for desert.  Busy, Busy day.

20 May 2011
Elder and Sister Cox made their monthy trip to Swaziland and brought Patriarch Courtney with them so he could give 11 blessings.  He went to Ezulwini on Friday afternoon as soon as he arrived.  Elder Blackburn does interviews and signs the blessings so the brother or sister can get their blessing.  He did not finish until about 8:30pm.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Elder Lyon and Musi after they had cleaned the school for Sunday services.
Dirt road to GeGE
On the way to GeGe, all the schools have vegetable gardens and they are so green and lush; this is to teach children how to grow their food.  We delivered mail and just wanted to check on the Elders to see how they are doing.  When we got there, Sister Malinga informed us that Elder Lyon, Elder Herrity and Musi were at the school cleaning it up and setting the chairs for Church today.  They are well and happy, anxious about transfers and if they will happen for them, we won't know until next week.

President Shongwe's Wedding

20 Aug 2011
President Thoko Shongwe's Wedding

Wheel Chairs & other past events

03 Sept 2011
Today would have been Doris' birthday; when we lose someone close in our families we always remember special times with them on special days.  We love and miss Doris.

We have had a really full day, today was the special event of recognizing the entities that took part in bringing 143 wheel chairs to Swaziland through our Humanitarian arm of the Church.  The Senior Prince was there, he is the half brother of King Mswati III.  We had all 16 Elders there to help with directing people and serving the Hor D Orves.  Elder and Sister Heninger was there, along with Elder and Sister Nielsen, Elder and Sister Richardson from the Area Office, they were very pleased with the program and the refreshments.  This is the finalization of a 2 year effort to bring wheel chairs to the poor of Swaziland.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Where we go to Church

Mbabane Chapel
Nhlangano Chapel
The tent in GeGe
The school in Ezulwini

President Mann was  not happy about the tent and gave instructions that Brother and Sister Malinga were to take it down and find another place to hold church. Church will probably will be held on the Malinga front porch.
2 June 2010
District meeting in Mbabane, nothing new; Brother Ray Holder came to check on the new property in Ezulwini. Elder Blackburn opened the property and building for him. He called someone for a bid to clean up the outside; Elder Blackburn drew up footprint of building and emailed to Brother Holder. The footprint will be given to Church Architectural department for decision whether to remodel building or tear it down and build a new chapel.
3 June 2010
Elder Davis called us and adivsed us that all missionaries must go to border through immigration and come back into Swaziland to pay a $50 rand road tax otherwise the Swazi law requires a 14% tax on all cars not purchased in Swaziland. without the road tax receipt the mission vehicles are subject to impound by the Swazi govt. We have to go to the border and immigration every 7 days to stay within the Swazi law.
4 June 2010
We expected President Mann today, however, he called and rescheduled to Sunday. He had some emergencies to take care of in Durban. Free day today and tomorrow. Purchased sheets and blanket for extra bedroom, has been very cold at night. Do not want our Mission President to sleep cold.
6 June 2010
Attended Church in Mbabane at 10:00; President Mann came to Mbabane at 1:00pm for interviews with Mbabane District Elders; then drove to Manzini for District Business; Interviewed a young couple for temple recommend, we are going to try to go to the temple with them. President Mann spent the night with us. We got back to our boarding about 7:00 then had dinner and everyone was so tired we went to bed.
7 June 2010
Interviews with Manzini District Elders at 8:00 am. After interviews President left for Richards Bay to do Elder interviews. Elder Blackburn had appointment at 1:00 with the people to give bid on cleanup of Church property in Ezulwini.
9 June 2010
Went to Mbabane to pay telephone bill; then drove to northern border to pay road tax, took all day. We lose track of the days except for Sunday.
11 June 2010
FIFA started today, we purchased satellite for 3 months so the Elders could have a safe place to watch the games. President Mann gave permission for the Elders to watch the games so long as they were in a safe place. Swaziland is not as bad for revellers as South Africa.

Elder and Sister Harms arrived today from Cape Town, they are the Public Relations Couple for South Eastern Africa. They will be here until next Thursday. They took us and Brother George Dlamini to Summerfield for dinner. George is the Swaziland National Director for Public Relations for the Church. They are training us as to what the Public Relations program is.
12 June 2010
Went to Swazi Candle market and Manzini market with the Harms. The key chains we had ordered for the different buildings were ready to be picked up. At 2:30 there was a training meeting at the Manzini Chapel with Branch Presidents and District Auxiliaries with the Harms. The Branch Presidents were impressed with what they could do. Elder and Sister Harms truly had the art of team teaching down, their presentation was very professionally done.  Went to dinner at Portugese restaurant, came back to the boarding for ice cream. A young woman came to the house and asked Elder Blackburn to pray for her, she was very sick and needed a job. She was invited in and Elder Blackburn and Elder Harms gave her a blessing. She was committed to pray herself to confirm her faith in the blessing.
13 June 2010
Went to Nhlangano for Church. The Nhl elder's car was broken so we picked them up in Manzini and took them home. Elder Blackburn had meeting with Pres. Balunga and feels that he needs lots of support and help from the District Presidency. Branch Presidents training meeting until 6:00pm. Elder and Sister Harms came for dinner, the same young woman came by with her sister and her sister's children and since we had company said she would come back tomorrow.
14 June 2010
District meeting in Manzini, held it outside the day was so beautiful. Picked up a carving at Manzini Market that Elder Blackburn had ordered. Monday is the Elders prep day, the Elders came over and we had a 'braai" for them. Sister Blackburn saw a snake scurring down the hill and said she would not do laundry at night again since the laundry room is in the garage and she has to walk along side the house to get to the garage and that was where the snake was.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dinner with Brother and Sister Silavwe

22 April 2012
We have spent the last month at doctor appointments, unpacking our boxes we had in storage, getting everything put away and today we gave our homecoming talk in Church.  We have been welcomed home by everyone.  On reflection, our mission was the best adventure of our life together, we had many challenges which Heavenly Father directed us in how to face and overcome.  He truly opened the Windows of Heaven and blessed us with health, helped our children take care of our financial needs, gave us some of the best friends anyone could ask for, helped us in our responsibilies the last 23 months.  He helped us to recognize the small things that he does to make our lives more comfortable, all we have to do is recognize his hand and his works in our lives, we are grateful to have this knowledge.  We know the Church is true and that Heavenly Father loves us, that Jesus Christ is our Savior and has given us the Greatest Gift that anyone could be given, forgiveness for our sins.  Our greatest desire is for our Children, grandchildren, and their children to be able to meet with us again one day in the Celestial Kingdom where we will be an Eternal Family together forever.

26 Mar 2012
We got up early and started home, then the snow started to fall and we had snow quite a way.  However, when we got past Cedar City the roads cleared and the day got warmer the closer we got to Saint George.  We are finally able to relax and unpack.

The suitcases are finally empty and we can get our house put together the way we want it.

25 Mar 2012
We spoke in Josh and Rebekah's ward today, we did not have very much time since on of their young missionaries had just returned fromt the Philipines and he reported on his mission.  He was so friendly and had such a good mission we enjoyed hearing his experiences.  Rebekah had prepared a dinner for us and the family including Josh's parents, we gave the gifts we had brought for them and had a wonderful day with family and friends.  We will leave tomorrow for Saint George.  On Friday Tom and I went to Deseret Industries where we were able to purchase a wedding dress for Portia, which we will mail when we get to St. George, Rachel modeled it so I could take pictures to send to Portia.

20 Mar 2012
Got to the Mission Office and had our exit interview with President Von Stetten, he gave us letters for our Stake President and our children commending us to them on our missionary service; also a letter for us.  President and the office staff took us to lunch at a nice restaurant then President and Sister Von Stetten took us to the Airport and stayed with us until we were all checked in and ready to go to the boarding gate.  A very good sendoff.  We slept all the way from Johannesburg to London and when we arrived in London the person checking us in at the boarding gate tore up a boarding pass and reissued us another one and had upgraded us to 1st Class, now that is true comfort when traveling.  It was late on the 21st when we arrived at SLC International airport and our family who lived in the SLC area were at the Airport to meet us, a very sweet homecoming.

19 Mar 2012
Our day to leave, we were up early finishing off the final touches to turn the house over to Elder and Sister Lombardi and finish packing our bags.  The Lombardis arrived and we went over the paper work and book we had prepared for them to help them with their first days in the mission, we tried to include everything they might need to do and places they may need to go.  The Ezulwini Elders came to help load our suitcases into our car, it is hard to believe we are really going home, after 23 months, this really feels like it should be home.  We will drive to Richards Bay today and spend the night with Elder and Sister Nuzmman and go on to Durban tomorrow where we will meet with President Von Stetten for our exit interview.  The Swaziland Zone of Elders presented us with a beautiful wooden tray with their names carved into it.

18 Mar 2012
We went to Ezulwini to Church where the Lombardis were invited to share their testimony, then we went to Manzini for the District Meetings and President Simelane invited Sister Lombardi and Sister Blackburn into the meeting where he presented the Blackburns with beautiful paintings of Swaziland and asked the Lombardis to share their testimonies. Sister Lombardi and I left the meeting and when the Meeting was over we all went to Brother and Sister Smith's house for dinner.  Sister Smith had prepared a delicious ham dinner with potatoes and vegetables and desert.   Brother Smith presented Elder Blackburn and I a DVD of the last 6 months of our mission, it included the Humanitarian projects we have been involved in, after dinner we and the Lombardis went to our respective homes for the night.

17 Mar 2012
Elder Blackburn started his morning with a telephone call from District President Simelane who wanted some information about who was speaking and where this Sunday, Elder Blackburn remarked, "I know the Lombardis are here and are taking our place, but I feel like they are just visitors and will leave after the weekend and I know it is because I am still receiving telephone calls and requests for help."  We spent the day showing Elder and Sister Lombardi Swaziland, how to and where to pay bills, get money; where the immigration office is located, where all the shops are located, where to get food, where the Chapels are, etc.

16 Mar 2012
We drove to South Africa to a place called the PetroPort to meet Elder and Sister Nuzman who were escorting Elder and Sister Lombardi that far on their way to Swaziland. We all had lunch there and had a good visit with the Nuzmans.   Elder Heninger had sent a wheel chair with the Lombardis and we were surprised, we had requested a chair a couple of months ago, not expecting to get one and in the meantime had found an extra one in the Mbabane Chapel, and not knowing how to get it through Swazi customs without paying a huge import fee, Elder Blackburn had the idea to put the wheel chair into the bakki and put 2 of the Lombardis suitcases on it.  We got through customs without a problem and when the Border Post Agents examined the cars they opened the trunk of the car the Lombardis were driving and just glanced into the bed of the bakki through the window of the shell.  Heavenly Father had surely screened that wheel chair from their view.  The Manzini Elders had just asked Elder Blackburn for a wheel chair just a few days ago for one of their investigators who was missing a leg.  When we got into Swaziland, Sister Blackburn sent the Elders a text telling them that "Heavenly Father has sent you a wheel chair via his servants the Senior Couple."  The Lombardis now know how to "smuggle" needful items into Swaziland.   These Tender Mercies certainly make serving a mission a joyous experience.  We met the Zawakys, Petersons (Humanitarian), Smiths at the Chinese Restaurant to introduce Elder and Sister Lombardi and we had an evening of visiting and laughter, after dinner we came to our house where Sister Zawacky picked up the dress she had ordered from Baobab Batik, the Lombardis walked through the house, then Brother and Sister Smith led the Lombardis back to their Bed and Breakfast for the night.  These experiences with the other Couple missionaries build such wonderful friendships and we plan on keeping those friendships when we all get home.

15 Mar 2012
Finished cleaning the house today; at 6:00pm we were invited to dinner by Branch President Shongwe and his wife.  They first invited us out to a restaurant to dinner because they live in a 2 room house and did not feel comfortable entertaining there, then he asked Elder Blackburn if  we would come to the Church and they would fix dinner for us there.  When we got to the Church, he had his nephews (2 returned missionaries) work as waiters, had a beautiful table set for us, he had cooked lamb chops with mint sauce, mushroom soup, vegetables, mashed potatoes and fruit salad for desert.  His uncle and aunt Jerome and Thoko were invited to join us.  We had such a special evening, we gave them the picture of Christ holding a black child "The Worth of a Soul".  President Shongwe is a chef at a very nice resort in Mbabane, this dinner was a sacrifice for their family in time and very much in money.

Elder Michael Khoza (waiter) Sister Blackburn, Elder Blackburn, District President Shongwe, Sister Shongwe, Branch President Shongwe (in the Kitchen), his wife Sister Shongwe.

14 Mar 2012
Today has been a very busy day; picked up tourist items we had ordered for ourselves and others.  Sister Tembe Zulu at the Manzini market gave Sister Blackburn a special necklace she crafted and to Elder Blackburn a tee shirt that says "Kingdom of Eswatini".  These gifts represented a great sacrifice of money and time for her and we are truly humbled by her gift.  She gave us letters for Elder and Sister Wilson and for us also.  People coming this weekend are Zawackys, Petersons and Lombardis.  Going to be busy.  We were treated to dinner at the home of Brother and Sister Lydia Silavwe.  She cooked the best stew, rice, salad, potatoes and fruit for desert.  Then surprised us with going away gifts.  Beaded sandals from Kenya for Sister Blackburn, a tee shirt that says "Kingdom of Eswatini" for Elder Blackburn.  Brother Silavwe has a PhD in Chemistry from Columbia University in New York, and teaches at the University of Swaziland, she is an excellent homemaker.  We had so much pleasure in talking with them about a wide variety of subjects.

13 Mar 2012
We left at 8:00am to take Elder Christenson and Elder Nthombela to New Castle for Zone Conference tomorrow.  With the Mbabane bakki wrecked there was not enough room in the 3 bakkis available to take 18 missionaries.  It was a very long day.  We got twisted around in Ermelo and Elder Blackburn lost his sense of direction and we were driving south instead of north, anyway we ended up 2 hours in the wrong direction and had to go through the Mahamba Border Post instead of Mbabane, we did not get back until after 10:00pm.
While in New Castle we had lunch with Elder and Sister Hudson.  They have become very good friends.

11 Mar 2012
We went to Church in Mbabane today, Sister Blackburn was asked to share her Testimony and everyone bid us goodby.  In Relief Society, Sister Blackburn was asked to say a few words, and she encouraged the women to work on their Humanitarian project and to introduce it to the their community.  They were listening to what had been done in Manzini, we can only hope they will give of their time for this Sani Pad project.  It is very much needed in Swaziland.

10 Mar 2012
Manzini Relief  Society held a homemaking meeting with the Young Women and they were working on the sani pad Humanitarian project, there were about 30 women there and many of the were non members, (exactly as we had envisioned it happening).  They had an assembly type situation where some sisters were cutting fabric, some were marking the pattern, some were sewing.  It was great.  Sister Ntshalintshali asked Sister Blackburn what "to chill" means.  Sister Blackburn had given her a recipe for Ranch Dressing and the instruction said "chill for 2 hours".  She had so enjoyed the luncheon we had put together for her Relief Society Training last year and wanted to know how some of the dishes were made.

06 Mar 2012
We drove 3 Elders, Elder Musau, Elder Thatcher, Elder Maring to the PetroPort, they are being transferred to the Southern area of the Mission.  This took all day and we did not have any problems at the Swazi or South Africa border posts.  These trips take all day.

Monday, March 5, 2012

TRANSFER WEEK, and we thought all the immigration problems were fixed!!  We took Elder Van Scheltema to Piet Retif and picked up Elder Castleberry.  When we got to the South African Border Post and passports stamped the immigration officer who stamped Elder Castleberry's passport came out and asked for it back so it was given to him and he went in a back room then a woman came out and said there was a problem with the Lesotho stamp and he had overstayed his visit to South Africa and we pointed out that Elder Castleberry had a 25 month visa for South Africa so she went back in the back room, then after a while the man came back and said we must pay R3000. since Elder Castleberry overstayed his visa then the woman came back and said yes we must pay.  Sister Blackburn then said, "we will go back into South Africa to New Castle and call the Lawyers".  Then the woman said, "he can go." we said,  "but he will be back tomorrow will he have a problem" she said, "no more problems, he can come back tomorrow and no problems".  Why they would think we would just hand over R3000. is beyond our thinking. R3000. = about $500. american dollars.  So we got Elder Castleberry delivered to his companion in Mbabane, he will be Zone Leader here.  Tomorrow we take 3 Elders to South Africa and as they say here, we go "the other side" of the Country.
Elder Van Scheltema just spent 6 months in Swaziland.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

04 Mar 2011
We went to Church in Manzini today and what a surprise; the sisters in Relief Society sang God Be With You Til We Meet Again to me, sometimes we feel that we are  not making a difference, then Heavenly Father gives us these moments where we can share our love for each other.  We were able to say goodby to the Saints there.  Elder Blackburn brought me home and went back for his District Meetings, about an hour later the phone rang and Elder Zweifel had been trying to reach Elder Blackburn, I was able to reach Branch President Mahalele to get a message to Elder Blackburn,  it seems 2 of the Mbabane Elders had an accident in the truck.  These 2 were not even supposed to be driving they are in a walking district, they always seem to find a way around rules when it is something they want to do.  It seems that most of the vehicle accidents happen at transfer time, they are trying to say goodby to their investigators and new members.  So Elder Blackburn left his meeting and went to Mbabane to take care of everything and get the truck towed to the garage.

03 Mar 2011
We went to the grocery store this morning and Elder Blackburn had to buy air time for the Elder's phones and he always receives paper coupons from  the receipt machine, well, he bought 16 coupons and 3 of the clerks thought the machine had broken and they came over, when they found out that it was cell time, Elder Blackburn told them, "when you come to church, you get air time", of course all of them wanted to know where the Church was and what time.  He finally told them the air time was for our missionaries and they all got a very good laugh. LOL Those women would have shown up at Church tomorrow if he had not told them differently.

02 Mar 2011
We got up early, had breakfast at Mugg and Bean, went to the mall to exchange a hat and then headed back to Swaziland, it took us about 5 hours; Elder Blackburn then went to a baptism interview with a young man who had paid for an abortion for his girlfriend.  He was 18 at the time.

01 March 2011
When we got up this morning, we had a very nice breakfast at Little Haven, Grace is always so happy to have couples there she can visit with.  We packed the car and left for Richards Bay, Sister Nuzman was not feeling very well so when we got to Richards Bay she laid down for a while and Elder Nuzman, Elder Blackburn went to the mall to purchase a particular hat he wanted.  When they got back Sister Nuzman was feeling better and wanted to go to a Thi restaurant for dinner, then we watched the movie "The Help".

29 Feb 2011
We drove to Durban this morning, we needed to pick up Elder Sancree's passport, the office forgot to give it to him when they delivered him to Elder Nuzman yesterday, we also picked up the mail for Richards Bay and Swaziland Elders.  Then we picked up Elder Blackburn's suits and went sightseeing with the Nuzmans, they had not seen the landmark soccer stadium so we had a fun day after all.

28 Feb 2011
We got up this morning and the phone rang,( always happens) Elder Nuzman must drive half way to Durban to pick up a missionary who was having visa problems and had to leave the country for a day and was now back.  Sister Nuzman and I went to get our hair cut and we got back about the same time.  then we decided to go for a drive to an area called Cape vidal - it is probably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

The Cape is part of a nature reserve with some of the big animals, hippo,zebra, kudu which is the picture above - a young kudu.

27 Feb 2011
Today we spent on the road driving to Richards Bay to spend a few night with Elder and Sister Nuzman, they had dinner waiting for us - then a nice visit before bed.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

25 Feb 2012

26 Feb 2012
We went to District Conference in the Mbabane building.  Elder Blackburn and Sister Blackburn were asked to share their Testimony - Sister Blackburn shared that she and Elder Blackburn had over 100 years of service in the Church and that is why Couples are being asked to serve missions;  all the couples have that much time in service and they did not serve 50 years as the Relief Society President or as a Primary Teacher, they have served in all the callings of a large Ward and that is what makes them such wonderful mentors for the mission field where most members are first generation in the Church, she also shared her love for the Swaziland Saints and thanked them for the friendship and love offered.  Elder Blackburn shared the great love he feels for the Saints and working with the young men to get them on missions; 6 are currently serving with 6 more leaving within 3 months.  A District Choir is now functioning and the music was beautiful; and after Conference, "all the Sisters are talking about the gossip you showed them could happen when they talk".  They were determined to not be like that.  We received some dinner invitations we are going to try to fit into our schedule before we leave.  Elder Blackburn drove Elder Usi to the airport, President and Sister Von Stetten drove back to Durban.

25 Feb 2012
District Conference Leadership Meeting today with the first session of Conference starting at 4:00pm.  Sister Von Stetten and I conducted the Women's Auxiliary Leadership Meeting.  We did not watch the time and so Sister Von Stetten did not have time for her final presentation.  Sister Von Stetten explained the importance of following the Counsel of the District Leaders - they are there to help establish correct procedures.  Sister Blackburn had the Sisters play the gossip game, where some phrase is repeated many times and then the final repetition is given and compared to the first statement.  Then Sister Blackburn gave a lesson on being friends with "the one". To make sure everyone is made welcome and feel that they are with family.  Our Area Authority is Elder Usi, a member of the 3rd Quorum of Seventy, he lives in Kenya.  Everyone really enjoyed the messages given.  The District Presidency with their wives, Elder Usi, President and Sister Von Stetten, Elder and Sister Blackburn all went to dinner at a Portugese restaurant in Manzini.  We all had a wonderful evening visiting and eating.  It was good to see the support the District women gave their husbands.

Friday, February 24, 2012

24 Feb 2012

224 Feb 2012
President Von Stetten called this morning and I told him Elder Blackburn was on the phone and he said, "what makes you thing I am not calling you", I said,"no one every calls for me".  He then expressed the reason for his call.  He wanted us to take him to see some of Swaziland that he has never seen;  We set a time for him to pick us up - after a quick trip to see Elder Brown who had also called us just before to tell me that "my teeth are rubbing my tongue and my tongue hurts".  Anyway, Elder Brown is just fine, no broken teeth,  just a sore spot on his tongue.  We told him to rinse with warm salt water a couple times per day to promote healing.  President and Sister Von Stetten picked us up and we drove to the Ngwenya Glass Factory where glass bottles and jars are recycled into beautiful art objects, vases and stemwear-; we spent most of the morning and had lunch there; then drove towards Piggs Peak until we had to turn around so he could get back for a little rest then pick up Elder Usi, Area Seventy from Kenya,  at the Matsapha Airport.  We have District Conference this weekend.  Next week we have to start getting all the Bakkis through the border and back so they will be in the country legally.  We found out that the Church Welfare fund bought a coffin for the Sister in GeGe who died and the Elders of the GeGe Community were so impressed that a church would do such a good thing.  The people there are so poor that they are just wrapped in a blanket and buried somewhere on the homestead.  We have gained such a good reputation in that small community, they are not used to Churches not passing the collection box and being willing to help their members.

Monday, February 20, 2012

20 Feb 2012
Busy day today, cleaned part of our closet; if we do a little every time we get a chance we just might be ready to go home in 1 month.  We did a lot of errands today, got frames for the pictures we are giving the District leaders, that was a huge worry for us, we finally found someone who was willing to make them for about $5.00 each.  We were surprised that pictures are not of a universal size all over the world, after all Kodak developed this market.  We are not expecting company again until Friday when President Von Stetten and wife with Elder Uzi arrive for District Conference, we will prepare one dinner for them.

This is the picture we are presenting to the Swaziland District Leadership.

We received the following sms from one of our prospective missionaries, Ayanda Mabuza:  "Hi Elder and Sister Blackburn, Id jst lyk to thank u for your sacrifices nd the efforts that u've put in gettn i nd Thulani goin on mission..i knw the lord i mindful of u nd hes happy of the gud choices u've made to come here nd bless his children..i knw he has many blessings in store for u"  One of the boys asked Elder Blackburn today, "Can I stay longer than 2 years" so Elder Blackburn told him he signed up for 2 years and that is as long as he can stay.

19 Feb 2012
We went to GeGe to Church today and had to talk along with the District Council member who was assigned there.  We picked him up and took him with us.  Sister Blackburn also showed the Sisters how to make a simple scripture bag.  They carry their books in a plastic grocery bag.  There were 45 in attendance in this little group.  They have a baptism planned and hopefully 2 adult men will be baptized.  Patriarch Courtney left after us, so he locked up our house when the Zawackys picked him up to return to Durban.  We were so tired, we went to bed at 7:00pm and slept all night.

18 Feb 2012
Elder Blackburn and Patriarch Courtney went to Nhlangano, there were 8 people to receive their Patriarchal Blessing.  Sister Blackburn stayed home and read a book all day.  Elder and Sister Zawacky had Seminary inservice then came over to prepare dinner for us.  Brother and Sister Smith also came for dinner so we had a good time.  Navajo tacos. Yum, Yum.  Rebekah and Barbara kept trying to connect with us and we had an opportunity to introduce them to Brother Courtney.  They sure look like sisters.  We could  not believe how much they look alike.  Brother Courtney was surprised that Barbara had 6 children she looked so young.

17 Feb 2012
Elder and Sister Zawacky brought Patriarch Courtney with them for more of the Swazi members to receive their Patriarchal Blessing; he and Elder Blackburn went to Mbabane where he gave 4, then they came back to the house for a very light supper and bed.  Long hot day.  Everyone was exhausted.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


15 Feb 2012
Sister Buhlebzwe, her little son and her 19 year old brother;he lives in SA and is getting ready to serve a mission.  Sister Buhlebzwe joined the Church first, then her husband, then the rest of her family.
This morning we went to Siteki to meet with Phyllicia Buhlebzwe and her husband Mdyiniso; he is a counselor in the Manzini Branch Presidency he also works in Swazi Bank in Siteki, we called them yesterday about starting a Sunday School there and Sister Buhlebzwe said we were an answer to her prayers, she has been praying for a Branch of the Church to be organized in Siteki and we felt that now is the time.  They will hold Sunday School on their veranda and invite the members living in Siteki to join them.  Siteki is a beautiful little city on the north eastern border of Swaziland, in the tops of the Lubombo mountain range.  We looked all over for a KFC for lunch and could not find one, that really surprised us, so we found another place, Futis Chicken and it was quite good.

Then we drove to the homestead Brother and Sister Hall live on; they are peace corp volunteers and live and work in a community over there.  They teach school and work with a refugee camp.  Sister Hall is going to teach the women in the refugee camp and the young women in the high school how to make the washable sanitary napkins; we took her the fabric and all the sewing notions she will need.  These two stops took us all day; we got back to Ezulwini about 5:30pm.  This is their little 2 room home, no running water, no indoor toilet; they have to use a mosquito net they are so close to Mozambique and a Malaria area.  They have had a beautiful little garden, they filter all their water with home made filters.  These kids are having the "Adventure" of their lives and doing great good too.  Brother Hall is a returned missionary and will be invaluable in getting the Sunday School started over there.

Monday, February 13, 2012

13 Feb 2012
The Couples from Johannesburg, Webb and Lewis came and picked us up at 10:30 so we could take them to some of the tourist shops, at about 1:00 they were finished and headed back to Johannesburg.  Sister Blackburn spent the rest of the day at home designing and sewing a scripture bag to show the District Relief Society President so the sisters can make one in homemaking meeting.  We were informed that the Branch President of Manzini would not allow the sisters to take their lesson books home, they had to leave them in a cabinet at Church so Sister Blackburn informed him that they were entitled to have the books at home.  Sister Ntshalintshali suggested that they sign for the books and if they lost them they must buy a replacement book.  They carry their scriptures in a plastic grocery bag in all the Branches.  Elder Blackburn went to Mbabane to find a reasonable priced internet cafe for the Elders to do their emailing.  When he got back he notified the Mission Office and informed the Elders that they were to stay in their District when going to the internet cafe so they would not be tempted to play soccer as a zone every Monday.  We notified President Von Stetten about where the Swazi missionaries were being sent.  They will be recognized at District Conference in two weeks.

12 Feb 2012
We delivered Mission Calls to Mbabane and then to Manzini, the young men receiving them were so happy to find out where they were going.  They are all staying on the African continent -Thulani Mabuza and Nkosi to -  Johannesburg, Sizwe Shongwe and Musi Dube to Zimbabwe, Thulani Simelane toKenya.  Sister Blackburn went to Relief Society and was just shocked when the Relief Society President modeled her new black skirt and one of the other sisters did too; it seems that they took some of the material designated for the Humanitarian project to make washable sanitary pads and made themselves "new skirts".  So Sister Blackburn just got up and told them the material was not for that use and told the Relief Society President she must use the material in the way it was designated to be used. Sister Lewis was trying so hard not to laugh out loud about the whole thing.  she was telling Elder Lewis about it after the meetings and he said it was too good to pass up and he must share this with Sister Nielsen the Humanitarian missionary who put the whole thing together for us.   A meeting will be set where Elder Blackburn will meet with Sister Matsebuela and Branch President Mahalele to discuss her actions and that she must administer Relief Society the way it is supposed to be administered. We got to meet with Elder and Sister Smith from the Temple, and their two sons who are here on a very short holiday and they took us to dinner.  We hope we can keep a good communication with this wonderful family.  They are from England and will go home sometime in the winter months.

11 Feb 2012
We went to the Ezulwini Branch to attend homemaking meeting and waited over one hour and no one ever showed up not even the Relief Society President, Sister Blackburn felt that she asked her to attend Relief Society so that she would be able to stay home and Sister Blackburn would have to do the sewing training. We met up with the Webbs and Lewis for dinner at Summerfield, they paid for our dinner which was very generous of them.  We were so happy to meet Elder and Sister Lewis and to reacquaint with the Webbs.

10 Feb 2012
Elder and Sister Zawacky left early this morning, we have had such a fun week with them, it is hard to see it end. Brother Smith came early to record an interview with us about what we have been doing in Swaziland and about our mission here.  He is doing a documentary which is scheduled to be shown between Conference sessions in April, it would be nice if our interview is included with everything.  He has a contract with KSL to show his documentary, however KSL will do the editing.   We did laundry all day, that is something we have neglected all week.  Elder and Sister Webb and the Lewis's got in late, they had traffic problems and bad weather all the way from Johannesburg , we were supposed to meet them for dinner at Summerfield and when we were ready to leave we received a telephone call from Nhlangano Elder Paulo, he was taking Elder Dutson to the hospital in Hlatikulu, he had taken him to the doctor in Nhlangano and he had been referred to the hospital for a scan of his stomach, so we told him absolutely not to go there to turn around and come to our house, Hlatikulu is a government hospital and from the outside looks very dirty and  the area doctor has not approved the government hospitals as being desirable for the Elders to use.  Fortunately, they had gone to a clinic where Doctors without Borders were the doctors on staff so Elder Dutson did get a good diagnosis and paid $1.00 american dollar for the visit, we jokingly told Sister Von Stetten that maybe we should use Doctors without Borders all the time, even though there was a big hole in the roof of their clinic.  We took him to Ezulwini Clinic for the scan and he was given 6 prescriptions so we looked at them and decided he only needed two.  He had severe acid indigestion and stomach pains.

09 Feb 2012 
What a day, we had scheduled to go to Hlatikulu and beyond to deliver a wheel chair and say good bye to Bishop and Sister Mamba, go to GeGe to deliver 2 sewing machines to the high school and go to Nhlangano to check on the Elders there.  We went to GeGe first and had a good visit with the school and delivered the sewing machines and supplies and toured the vocational classes, it is a large school.  Sister Malinga was not home so we could not bid them goodbye.  We started back to Nhlangano and got almost there and had a flat tire, Elder Zawacky and Elder Blackburn got it changed so we went to the Elders flat and did an inspection then went to the Church to take care of the internet.  Lugelo Motsa was there and said the telephone company was going to shut off the phone because it has not been paid since last July, so we went to the telephone company and got copies of the bills, Sister Zawacky and Sister Blackburn saw some beautiful umbrellas and decided to buy a couple and when we asked Lugelo if his daughter had one he said no so we gave him one for her.  She is 5 years old and walks to school.  We told him that he should let her dance with it too.  By the time we got all this done it was 3:00pm and we did not feel like the 2 hour drive to Bishop Mamba's home so we came home and collapsed.  It was after 5:00 when we got back.

Sister Ntshalintshali - a really special lady, she teaches at the High School
Home Economics Class

08 Feb 2012ope
The Zawackys and we got up early and headed to Hlane for a Safari drive, it is summer and we really hoped we would see some animals.  Our driver was really good and we saw a lion, giraffe, antelope, rhino, hippo and elephant.
07 Feb 2012
We and the Zawackys went to Zone Development meeting, we took brownies, their emergency kits, flashlights and instructions from President Von Stetten on flat inspections and instruction to be dressed in white shirt and tie when they are studying.  The Elders accepted all this very well.  It was a good meeting.  After we did our part, we left and went to Mlilwane Game Reserve to do an afternoon game drive.  We saw zebra, wildebeast and antelope it was a slow drive and we enjoyed.  On the way out we saw the Baobatik factory and stopped to see if they had a show room and they did, Sister Zawacky and Sister Blackburn ordered two blouses to be made.  We had a fun day.

Monday, February 6, 2012

06 Feb 2012
We bought 2 beds for the Nhlangano Elders, they said, "we are sleeping on springs",  We can't have that, they deserve a good night's sleep.  Elder and Sister Zawacky came today to spend 3 days with us, so we will just have fun for the next few days, after Zone Meeting and going to visit Bishop Mamba and his wife.  They live at the end of the earth on a dirt road.  We do have some fun things planned though.  Elder Zweifel called and the bandit on one of the trucks showed that it had gone through the border into South Africa and we had to remind him that we have to do that every 30 days.

05 Feb 2012
We went to Church in Nhlangano, the Branch President was not there and neither were his counselors, so the 19 year old Elder's Quorum President took over and conducted.  The BP came just as Sacrament was getting over.  After Sacrament we went to GeGe and there again the leadership was not there, just the Elders and youth.  It was amazing how the youth of the Church have the ability to step in and do the work when they are needed.  The RS Leader and other women and Brother Malinga were giving comfort to the family where the mother had died.  We got back to Manzini in time for Elder Blackburn to attend to his District meetings.  We got back to our house at about 6:00pm.  The Primary Leader is now 16 years old, she has been leader of the Primary for 2 years.  The Young Women Leader is 23 years old and been a member about 6 months.

Our 16 year old Primary Leader
04 Feb 2012
We went looking for 11 X 14 inch document frames for our pictures and there was not even one to be found in this country.  We will check next week at a special frame shop and see if we can have some made; if not, we will have to have the daughters mail us some for our pictures to give as gifts.  We did not see the Peterson's, they were in Nhl today.  We had the Elders take their trucks through the border today.  They took Elder Stark's passport because he just had to say the wrong thing to them.  They called us, then we called Nathi Dlamini to get their work permit number, when they gave the work permit number all was well and they did what they were supposed to do and got back to their areas for their appointments.

03 Feb 2012
We received a call this morning from Branch President Bulunga, a recent convert in the GeGe group died at home.  She had 7 children and all the adult family members have died.  All her brothers and sisters, her husband, his brothers and sisters and the parents.  President Bulunga wanted to know if the Church could pay a Kombi (van that is a taxi) to come to the house and get the body and take it to the mortuary.  Elder Blackburn told him that he should do what needed to be done but to call his District President to find out what he recommended.  District President told him the same thing, "do what needs to be done".  They will see what can be done with the children, the oldest is 18 years old.  There are so many, many orphans in this country and children trying to raise children, (death from a disease that is 100% preventable).

02 Feb 2012
Elder Blackburn went to get a haircut today; he told the girl to take what he called a (1) a go up the side, well she went up the side all the way to the top on both sides; so then he told her, "better just finish the whole head this length."  Now he has an African haircut.
The hair has not been this short since his Army days.
28 Jan 2012
We drove home from Richards Bay after going to the Mall and buying 7 sets of plastic african animals to take home for 5 of the great grand sons and Boston and Evie.  It was fun finding and buying them.  Sister Nuzman also bought a couple of sets.  Uneventful drive home, just long.

27 Jan 2012
Today we went to get a fitting on the new suit Elder Blackburn is having made; we will pick it up in about 3 weeks.  We also went to the African Market and bought special indian spices we wanted to take home; just hope they let us through customs with it.  When we were going down the steps at the African Craft Market there was a young man eating his lunch.  He was sitting on a crocodile skin and had a head on the steps beside him.  He had brought them to sell.

26 Jan 2012
This morning we went to the tailor in Durban, Elder Ward wanted to go with us so he and Elder Blackburn ordered a new suit; the tailor is supposed to put a special lining in them representing Africa.  It will be fun to see what he does.  The tailor is from the Indian community and very easy to communicate with.  The men then went to their Presidency Meeting, we met Sister Von Stetten at the uShaka center, which is on the beach.  We also went to the new Soccer Stadium which was an awesome tour.  We went up the side to the top where there is a platform for the view of a lifetime.

We had dinner at the only revolving restaurant south of the equator, the served quite a few exoctic dishes; we were not so adventuresome as to try them.  Lots of visiting and laughter.
We left early to travel to Durban, Brother and Sister Smith followed us down, we needed to make a few stops on they way.  We stopped at Ilala Weavers to get the nativity dolls for Sister Hudson, we spent about an hour there with everyone looking around.  Next stop was Richards Bay and lunch with Elder and Sister Nuzman, we always enjoy that.  Then Ballito to get Dr Pepper for Elder Ward, we got to Durban at 6:00pm.  The mission office had made reservations for us at Little Haven Bed and Breakfast; the Smiths were staying in a backpackers lodge somewhere on the beach.  All the couples who were invited to Durban stayed at Little Haven.