First of all, Richard reported on his last weekend’s trip to Maxixe.
Last Saturday through Monday Dad and Elder Hobson went on a trip to Maxixe to make a visit to the Maxixe Group. A group has a group leader and holds church meetings each Sunday. When a group has enough active members and priesthood holders it can qualify to become a branch. Branches can eventually qualify to become wards when a stake is organized in the area. So, a group is the very beginning of the growth of the church in an area.The Maxixe Group had attendance of 29 on the Sunday we were there and 7 of them were investigators. I helped bless the sacrament and Elder Hobson gave one of the talks. After church we, with the Group Leader, opened the donations for the day so Elder Hobson could take the donations back to Maputo to deposit them in the bank.
This was a significant trip for me as it was the first time away from my companion and for Mom as well to be away from me. She and Sister Hobson were companions while we were gone. Maxixe is a 7-hour road trip to the North one-way. So, we did a lot of traveling with Elder Hobson doing the driving.
On the way out of town from the big city of Maputo it took about an hour and a half before we actually were outside of a significant population area and into the country-side. It was nice to see a lot of green space, but still there were towns frequently with names such as XaiXai, Quissico, Zanana, Chissibica, Imhambane… In each town there were lots of people with road side stands selling everything from fruits and vegetables to fire wood. The road was all two lane highway, but I am told the road surface was some of the best in Mozambique. Further up north the roads have pot holes and rough surfaces. The mission uses four wheel drive trucks for most of its vehicles. We did see some water in various bays and rivers along the way.
There were people always along the road walking, selling, carrying things. Typically things are carried on their heads at which they are very skilled in doing.
There were piles of coconuts for sale. Clear bags full of cashew nuts, also for sale, hung from trees and were blowing in the breeze. Neatly stacked piles of firewood were also by the side of the road. Housing was very modest and humble.
Interestingly enough, we stopped at KFC for lunch in XaiXai both going and coming. It is the only type of American franchise store that I have seen here in Mozambique. It was kind of like at home, but the menu seemed to have been altered a bit. However, I still was able to have a good tasting piece of chicken.
After the long trip, the hotel was a welcome site. It was clean and quiet, though I missed having Mom with me. We ate at the hotel where we were the only guests. The food was ok but the menu selections were limited and we had to wait a long time before we were served. The dim lights and windowless bedroom unfortunately looked very bleek.
On Sunday we attended church. We were told that it had rained the previous Sunday and only 6 people attended. Now it was raining again. The group leader, Andre Chambal, was worried that few would attend again, but he was favorably surprised when 29 were in attendance. The meetings went well. In fact the investigators in Elders quorum, each without being asked, told how much they wanted to know more about the church.
After church Elder Hobson took home two families in the truck. Both families were very happily living in very humbling homes. Our return trip to Maputo was uneventful, seeing the same things as we did going. We did have the two Elders who were working in Maxixe ride with us so they could attend zone conference in Matola on Tuesday. One Elder was from the Cape Verde Islands off West Africa, and the other from Sao Paulo Brazil.
This is a view of the water – note the goat tied onto the truck:
The next day's zone conference meetings were conducted in Portuguese with translators helping those who were still new to the language. Interesting thing is that when I served a mission in Brazil, all zone conferences were in English because there were no native speaking missionaries serving at all in those days.
----------------On Monday, while our husbands were traveling back from Maxixe to Maputo, Sister Hobson and I went on an adventure, walking to KFC for lunch. I had a chicken sandwich and it was so delicious! Sister Hobson’s favorite is their popcorn chicken. We shared French fries. Then we walked down to the fabric store. I wanted to get more blue fabric to make more curtains for our bedroom.
On the way to the fabric store, we saw children playing a jump rope game. One of the gentlemen nearby told us the name of the game: Pidjonsa. I tried looking it up on the Internet, but couldn’t find it. As you can see, two girls put a thin rope around their ankles and another girl jumps in and out of the stretched rope, twisting and turning. Sometimes they step on the rope. Another time I watched some older girls play it and they were chanting some words as the girl jumped. Everyone wants to be the one who is jumping! They raise the rope higher and continue to jump, with bare feet, up and over and onto the rope onto the hard pavement!
Ermedie, one of the employees at the fabric store, helped me match the small piece of fabric I brought to the right bolt of material! The apartment building is supposed to put up roll-up curtains in our windows, but until they do we need to have our bedroom to be dark at night. Since we are in the city, there are bright lights outside the windows and in the morning it gets light SO fast, that it is hard to get a good night’s rest.
For a few days we taped up towels to block the light coming from the upper windows, but Saturday we bought black thick material and taped it up. Now, when we turn off the lights at night, it is REALLY dark! This morning we either both slept through the alarm or we didn’t set up. We usually get up at 6 a.m., but today we slept ‘til 6:50 and hurried to get ready for Church at 8 a.m.!
Tuesday was Maputo Zone Conference. President Kretly began the training by showing a very touching video of "Eu Quero Ser Um Missionario" ("I Hope They Call Me On a Mission"). The entire day was full of inspired instruction. Since the President wanted everyone to understand everything 100% since all the training was done in Portuguese, there were translators by every person or couple of people who didn’t have a command of the Portuguese language yet. It was great to be able to learn things in English and not have to struggle like we do on Sundays at Church to understand what is being said. I loved the little buzz of low voices I heard after the President talked and the translators did their work. Richard and I were both able to talk to the visiting speaker Elder Van Gass, a psychologist, who goes all over Africa talking about Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Health and how they relate to each other.
Eventually we’ll add a better picture that Krety’s had taken at Zone Conference with everyone who was there!
I know to some of you it is strange that I put in pictures of bugs, but I have grandchildren who LOVE bugs! Here is one we found in the apartment. No, this isn’t a tire rim – it is a close-up of our kitchen sink drain with a little beetle!
Wednesday evening was my first family history class, from 7–9 p.m. Although we didn’t have “quantity” we had “quality” in the attendees! Lumiana, one of the first young women I met in the ward, came (she's about 14). She has a luminous smile to go with her name. Then the counselor in the branch presidency, Brother Machoie, and one of the brides that got married a week ago, Victoria, came. Three other girls came with Lumiana, but they didn’t stay long. For the lesson I reviewed the 3 basic steps for Family History: 1) Gather information; 2) Record information; 3) Perform Temple Ordinances. Elder Tidwell and I learned how very limited these people are in the resources they have to compile information about their family. When I asked if they had any pictures, one girl said the picture they have of their grandfather is on his identification card. That was very humbling. In the United States, we have mountains of photos and videos and documents about our family. Sometimes, as Elder Tidwell shared with me, the abundance of things can be a burden - sometimes we don't know what to do with all the pictures and videos, etc., that we have.
I introduced them to the Family Group Sheet and they began filling one in. Two of our sister missionaries, Sister Baldwin and Sister Olander, stopped by and we were able to help people one-on-one. The attendees were eager to take their Family Group Sheet home and fill in more information. Next week, we’ll introduce Pedigree Charts. On Sunday, Brother Machoie announced the class again (from 7-8 p.m. from now on) and encouraged people to come. He is the sweetest man.
We had a “date night” on Friday and watched the animated movie “Madagascar” on our computer from a hard drive which contains lots of movies Elder and Sister Banks downloaded. It was a fun diversion!
There are purple flowering trees now blooming. They are called Jacaranda trees. I read on the Internet that Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, is also called the Jacaranda City because they have so many of these trees there. Here is a picture of one jacaranda tree growing in the city. I’ll try to get a better one.
On Saturday morning we took a ride with Elder and Sister Hobson to the "Jardim dos Normorados" ("Garden of the Sweethearts"). It has a beautiful view of Maputo Bay and has huge trees and arched pathways. This is the place where, on 29 October 1999, Richard G. Scott dedicated the land of Mozambique for the preaching of the gospel. According to “History of Mozambique: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” there were only 40 members of the Church in Mozambique then and the country was part of the South Africa Johannesburg Mission. It was under this huge tree that Elder Scott knelt and said the dedicatory prayer.
We saw many groups, dressed in their finest, holding weddings there. There was lots of dancing and rhythmic, chanted songs.
These two girls approached us and wanted us to take their picture with Sister Tidwell!
I took my binoculars and did some bird watching there. I saw a group of Speckled Mousebirds, two African Yellow White-eye, and a Dark-capped Bulbul – fancy names for fancy birds. Sorry, no pictures. You can look up these names on the Internet and find great pictures! The "white-eyes" look like a wild canary with a very definite white ring around each eye; the mousebirds have long tails and buffly heads; and the bulbul is about the size of a robin and has a black crested head, white tummy and yellow under it's tail. A little boy came up and looked at me using the binoculars in a questioning way. I explained that with binocular “coisas la ver mais perto” ("far away things look closer") and held out the binoculars so he could use them. What a smile came to his face as he looked through the binoculars! Later, he brought his sister over and she, too, got to look. They traded the binoculars back and forth as they looked and giggled together.
There were lots of boats in the bay. How would you like to be out in a boat like this?
On the way home the Hobsons wanted to see a big hotel they had been told about. Across the street we discovered the Natural History Museum.
We’ll be going back there next week to actually go in. The grounds had interesting big replicas of dinosaurs and we’ll put pictures of them on the blog next week.
Can you see the lizard in these picture?
Today was fast and testimony meeting, and, again, the songs in each of the Sacrament Meetings were sung with enthusiasm by all. There was a steady stream of people of all ages who chose to bear their testimonies. The courage and confidence of the young Primary children is amazing.
This is the first time in many years that we have not listened to all of the sessions of conference! On Saturday evenings at 6 p.m. we watched the 10 a.m. Saturday session. We both watched part of the Saturday’s 2 p.m. session (10 p.m. our time), but I succumbed to sleep before Richard did – we needed to get up in the morning for Church! Sunday evening we watched the 10 a.m. Sunday session and then part of the 2 p.m. session. It is really amazing to me that we can watch the “live” sessions via the Internet. We are in one of the 197 countries Elder Robert D. Hales mentioned in his message and two of over 80,000 missionaries in the world that President Monson mentioned in his opening remarks. The Mozambique Maputo Mission has been emphasizing that missionaries and members need to work together and always have a member present when missionaries teach a principle of the gospel such as Tithing or Chastity. We have been strengthened by all of the conference talks about meeting challenges through the power of the atonement, and not faltering in our resolve to do our best.