On Monday morning, February 10, 2014, we got up at 4 a.m. and by 5 a.m. we were on the road to Nelspruit, South Africa, with Elder and Sister Hobson. We had been on the same road to Kruger National Park on New Years Day, but this time we went further to Nelspruit, South Africa, the closest biggest city to Maputo.
To leave Mozambique we had to show our passports and Mozambique ID at the border, and Elder Hobson had to fill out some vehicle documents for Mozambique police. Then a few feet further on the South Africa side, we had to show our passports to the South Africa police. It went smoothly for us, but there were caravans of cars and loaded trailers which made for long delays for travelers headed in the opposite direction.
We passed banana orchards, sugar cane fields, orange trees with green oranges. We even saw a group of 4 giraffes at the side of the road! As we neared Nelspruit, we saw rocky hills and mountainous terrain; it all looked quite different from the flat terrain near Maputo.
On the way we saw this old railroad bridge.
Within three hours we arrived in Nelspruit with malls, McDonalds, and beautifully landscaped roadsides, streets named “Waterfall” and “Rapids,” and people who spoke English!!! We were on an errand for the mission while we were there in Nelspruit: we were to purchase print cartridges and to price and buy sheets, pillows and pillowcases for the next groups of missionaries, if we found better prices than in Maputo. After checking into our hotel, we went to the Riverside Mall across the street. Mall shopping was a tiring but fun activity; it was certainly a change-of-pace for us. Sandy got her hair cut and styled. We took in the 5 p.m. showing of the film “Frozen” before we met the Hobsons for dinner. The movie turned out to be an “exclusive” showing, as we were the only people in the theater! We really enjoyed the music and the cute snowman Olaf. We wished some of you could have joined us there! It was a great movie. Outside the mall was this beautifully lit tree.
We stayed at Hotel “StayEasy” which was a quiet, clean, and beautiful place to stay. The hot breakfast was great and the service perfect. It seemed like we were in Hawaii or Florida with Birds of Paradise flowers and other tropical flowers in bloom.
The Hobsons had located a store on their last visit to Nelspruit, called Makro, which is very much like Costco in the USA. We ended up buying the bedding there for about ½ the price these items would have cost in Maputo.
Here at Baker’s Bin we discovered a treasure of mini dark-chocolate, white-chocolate, and caramel-chocolate chips along with other baking supplies which were fun to browse through. After our purchases we figured we may have enough chocolate chips to see us through the rest of our mission!
During our trip, we ate at a variety of restaurants, but the most unique one was called “Orange.” This very fancy restaurant, complete with tablecloth and linen napkins, was hidden away in a beautiful setting.
We thought the prices would be exorbitant, but they were reasonable and the tasty food was presented very beautifully.
In contrast to this high-end restaurant, we also enjoyed McDonalds.
We went to a fabric, craft, and housewares store, Valencia, which also had a café named “Seattle.” They had all kinds of yarn and fabric and there were mannequins dressed in fancy glittery sequined fabrics. They had an interesting way to display buttons. On the wall in bins were hundreds of plastic tubes, with a sample button on the lid.
On Wednesday, when we loaded all our purchases into Hobson’s truck, we realized how much space pillows take up. The truck bed was completely full and, in addition, we had to put a few things between us in the back seat!
As we traveled home we stopped for lunch at Wimpys. In the parking lot we met these 9 children who were on a school outing. Looks like they were having a good time!
We arrived home with plenty of time to unpack before our family history class. Unfortunately, we had a “no show” for class, so we went home and Sandy went to bed early.
We were back to the mission office on Thursday morning. At the mission office there are frequent training meetings. [On my mission I do not remember that we had so many training meetings.] It is a thrill to hear them sing together when they open and close their meetings. This is the group of elders and sisters in the Maputo Zone after their training meeting.
Thanks to our successful trip to Nelspruit, there is now a collection of sheets and pillows for the next 21 missionaries (18 Elders and 3 Sisters) who will be arriving through April 15.
We saw beautiful, unique clouds from our kitchen window.
When we were walking the other day to the chapel on the block in back of our apartment building, we saw a huge tree stump on the sidewalk and one stump partially dug out. We had been watching with interest the steady progress of the removal of these stumps. Hand digging has been the means of labor on this project. Then a few days later, we noticed the second stump was out of the ground. It must have taken many people working hard to get the stump out, because as you can see in the photo the stump is huge and they had no heavy equipment to pull it out!Not far from there, we saw that a small acacia tree had been planted. Someone was planning and planting for the future! It will take many years for that tree to be big enough to provide shade like the old ones represented by the old tree trunks. Planning and planting for the future is a good thing!
Sandy, inspired by our daughter Lyn, made roll-out Valentine cookies, iced them with pink frosting and decorated them with chocolate sprinkles. Needless to say, the sister missionaries, Hobsons and the office elders enjoyed them very much!
On Saturday at the leadership training President Kretly, Mission President, noted the growth of the church in Mozambique. He said that it is growing so much that when congregations report attendance doubling from a year ago some cannot believe the numbers. But it is true; it is growing. He reminded us of the importance of reaching out our hand of fellowship to the new and returning members that they will enjoy being a part of the church and keep coming as well as invite their friends. He noted the importance of home teachers and visiting teachers, being a friend, having a calling, and being nurtured with the word of God.
President and Sister Kretly took turns during this presentation. They talked about being well-prepared teachers, thinking about students during the week, and starting preparation the week before. As a teacher, you should not just read the lesson or have others read it but rather encourage participation, tell stories, share experiences, use the scriptures, use open-ended questions (those which can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no”), and love your students. Sister Kretly shared the video “Teacher do you love me?” (1980) as part of her presentation. When we love our students we prepare well, she said. When we received our call to serve here, she related, I prayed that I would love the people here. When I arrived I felt a great love for you, more than I knew I could have for anyone. You also can feel love for those you teach. We can make a difference in the lives of other people.
President Kretly spoke of the great power of members partnering with missionaries to find and teach the gospel to people. He spoke of departing from negative traditions and setting new traditions as the pioneers of the first generation of members of the church to create a legacy for descendants. The door to eternal life and joy is through the temple. If you only walk in the sand all your life, you will just die on the beach. Temple attendance and ordinances set the tone for your lives. Work towards attending the temple for the first time and then return often. He introduced the new Minha Familia (My Family) booklet, a simplified way to collect family history information. Booklets were distributed to each family in attendance.
On Sunday morning those who had been baptized in the last 12 months were invited to a special meeting. There they were shown the Joseph Smith film that had been shown in Salt Lake City at the visitor’s center to help them understand the history of the church and the level of sacrifice that was required for the church to be established.
On both days of conference, branch choirs, wearing matching clothing presented hymns. On Saturday the choir sang the first phrases of "Tal Como Um Facho" ("The Spirit of God") in English! It sounded so natural to Elder Tidwell, that he didn’t notice it was in English! One of the songs on Sunday was specially rousing, "Ide Por Tudo O Mundo" ("Go Into All the World"), a hymn that isn’t in the English hymnbook. Another group sang the first verse of "Vinde O Santos" ("Come, Come, Ye Saints") in English and the other verses in French, Spanish and then Portuguese!!! 22 young men were sustained to be Elders. The District President spoke about tithing and how eight years ago when he was having missionary lessons, he did not know how he could afford to pay tithing. He bore testimony that we pay tithing with faith and that we are blessed temporally and spiritually. God wants to bless us but we must act worthily before we receive the blessings.
A returned missionary spoke of the blessings of service. A new missionary leaving to serve in Angola spoke of his conversion six years before. A sister and her husband spoke about the blessings of being sealed in the temple and how they can do work for their ancestors.
Sister Kretly spoke about the sacred nature of families. She pointed out how important it is to understand the teachings in The Family Proclamation. We can teach the concepts to our children during family home evenings and have unifying family activities. It is a sacred responsibility to raise children in love and truth. As parents, we are examples to our children. When we live well we are doubly blessed by our actions and the righteous actions of our children. Let us make our homes a piece of heaven.
President Kretly explained that when we teach we learn. The church was restored with great sacrifice. Many sacrificed their lives that we might have the gospel today. He mentioned the difficulties that the church was experiencing in locating a place to build chapels in the Maputo area. He said to not despair, as the Lord would provide a place as we are patient and do our part. New chapels will be started yet this year to bless the saints. He invited all to pray that land would be available for chapels here in Mozambique. He spoke of the 33 Mozambicans serving as full-time missionaries and how he desires to have as many Mozambicans serving as there are full-time missionaries in the Mozambique Maputo Mission, about 100.
He spoke of the Spirit of Elias that leads us to do family history and turns the hearts of the children to their fathers and vice versa. The gospel is complete; it is like a banquet. Why do we sometimes settle for water when we can have the complete meal? With our living families we build a firm foundation in the gospel. Satan is attacking the family by sending false messages to confuse people. He wants us to think it is okay to mistreat your wife or child, that same-sex marriage is okay. In reality, these have no place in the gospel plan. Let us prepare well and go to the Temple.
Sister Tidwell was able to have a conversation with Elder Schacterle from Vancouver, Washington. It was interesting to note that Vancouver now has a number of Stakes and even has its own Mission, reflecting the great growth of the Church there.