Sunday, April 6, 2014

24 - 30 Mar 2014 Rainbow,Yara,Vanessa,Tete,Baobab,Orphanage

Early Monday morning I saw a faint but beautiful rainbow in the southern sky.  In Portuguese the word for rainbow is “arco-iris”. Arco means an arch or a bow and iris is a colorful flower. See if you can see the rainbow. I had to take a picture of it as it was the first rainbow I had seen in Africa.

Then that evening a lizard decided to climb the inside of our patio door. He was quickly escorted out!

Most of our P-day, and most of the rest of the week, in fact, was spent preparing for our assignment in Tete.  Sandy had to prepare what she was going to say as the PREZI slides, which the AP’s had put together, were displayed.  She also had back-up PowerPoint slides to assemble for Minha Familia training, and the R.S. lesson on “Purity of Thought” to prepare.   Richard had his Temple Patron Fund training and the young men lesson “Why do We Need to Forgive Others?” to prepare. Then, we both had Sacrament Meeting talks to prepare.  A full week of preparations.

At Staff Meeting on Tuesday, 25 March, we were asked to prepare the same kind of sandwich lunch that we prepared for last Zone Conference.  The two housekeepers, Matilde and Isabel, would help us make the sandwiches on Tuesday, 1 April, the day before the conference.
Sandy had a short bout with some kind of sore-throat and fever causing virus Monday and Tuesday. Sandy related:  “I didn’t have time to be sick!  I was so thankful for the Priesthood blessing Richard gave me.  I felt so much better on Wednesday!  Elders Robinson and Heaton, Zone Leaders, invited us to attend their zone leader training.  Richard was too busy, but I decided to attend the training, which was held downstairs. Singing songs with the Elders and Sisters is always a joy!  “Firmes Segui – Press Forward, Saints”  “Semeando – We Are Sowing”.  They talked about the importance of visiting and serving the members – creating a relationship of trust so the members will want to give referrals.  They reviewed the mission goals, stressed the importance of taking an active role in council meetings, bearing sincere, simple, but strong testimonies.  They did role playing demonstrating how companions can work together to contact, teach, use direct questions, promise blessings, and bear testimony.  The following slogan was introduced:  “The Goal is the Temple; The Door is Baptism; The Key is the Member.”

Yara came to our Family History class for the first time. She came with Vanessa who used to work at the Distribution Center. Both of these Sisters have desires to serve a mission.

On Friday afternoon we did a lot of shopping with the office elders.  We shopped for appliances for the new sisters’ apartment.  Two more sister missionaries will arrive mid-April, making 11 sister missionaries. President Kretly found out there was another apartment, on level 6, available in our building!  So they will split the sisters:  6 in one apartment and 5 in the other.  In addition to things for the new apartment, we also bought the “buy-ahead” food for the zone conference lunch.
Sandy completed the pillow case for our grandson Kaedric who is being baptized on 29 March.  She embroidered designs and favorite things using his favorite colors. We sent him pictures plus letters with thoughts from Sandy and I about his baptism and confirmation – very special events for him.

On Saturday, we got up at 4:30 a.m. and the Elders came to get us a little after 5 a.m. to take us to the airport for our flight to Tete.  Our trip was fast and very interesting. Our airplane was a 72 passenger “Bombardier Q400” which can fly 670 km/hour. Note the propellers.

The patchwork landscape below was very picturesque. We had a brief stop in Beira about 700 miles north of here. 

At Beira we went to the boarding area and the place was full of Elders!  They were returning to their areas (Tete, Quelimane, and Marromeu) after the Beira Zone Conference.  Even President Kretly was there!  He was also going to Quelimane and Marromeu.  The only way to get there is via Tete. We also met President Gonçalves at the terminal.  He had been on our flight from Maputo, but had not seen us.  Most of the 30 passengers on this “Embraer 120” propeller plane to Tete were missionaries or mission leaders.

After arriving in Tete, which is about 300 miles west of Beira, those staying in Tete headed to get baggage and the others went into the terminal for a quick break before they continued on their way.  Here you see President Kretly and his counselor in the Mission Presidency, President Samo Gonçalves, who was staying in Tete with us for the Branch Conference.

Tete was much smaller than Maputo but there are a lot of similarities. When the Hobsons heard we were going to Tete they said we should watch for Hippos when we cross the bridge over the Zambeze River.  No one let the Hippos know we wanted to see them so we just saw water as we crossed the "hippo watching" bridge.

As we rode around town we think we saw some Baobab trees.

According to Wikipedia: 
“Baobab is the common name of a genus of trees (Adansonia). There are eight species, six native to Madagascar, and one each to mainland Africa and Australia. It is the national tree of Madagascar.

Other common names include 'boab', 'boaboa', 'bottle tree', 'the tree of life', 'upside-down tree', and 'monkey bread tree'. The trees reach heights of 5 to 30 metres (16 to 98 ft) and trunk diameters of 7 to 11 metres (23 to 36 ft). Its trunk can hold up to 120,000 litres of water. For most of the year, the tree is leafless, and looks very much like it has its roots sticking up in the air. They have a large trunk and have a lot of green leaves.”

Shortly after we arrived in Tete, we went to check into our hotel room.  Then we were on our way, with the Branch President, President Duarte, to participate in a Humanitarian project.  The Humanitarian Department of the Church had purchased school supply kits and backpacks for an orphanage and we, along with about 15 members of the Tete branch, got to deliver the materials.  Donned in Helping Hands vests, we all surrounded the truck which held the supplies for the school kits and helped carry the boxes to a covered patio area where the children and the main teacher of the orphanage were gathered.  We had a sort of "opening" and Sister Paula spoke and showed the main teacher the different things we had brought (backpacks - pink and blue and larger black ones; rulers, books, pencils, pens, pencil sharpeners, etc) and who they were from.  The children sang "Thank you" songs in their native dialect and in Portuguese, then President Gonçalves had a more formal "opening" and invited one of the older girls to say an opening prayer.  Then the children sang more songs.  President Gonçalves presented the items for the school/orphanage to the orphanage leader.  As he held up each item, the children, in chorus, told him what each item was.  The school leader expressed her great gratitude for all of the items and she led the children in more gratitude songs, some with clapping and hand motions. President Duarte gave some comments and then President Gonçalves.  Elder Tidwell remembered the following about President Gonçalves' remarks:  He told them they had a great future ahead.  They would be doctors and teachers and judges and lawyers.  He admonished the children to study hard and use the materials to help them learn.  He asked some of the children what they wanted to be and the first boy said he wanted to be a doctor - another responded "a teacher."  He wanted them to have a vision of their future. After their remarks we had a closing prayer by Sandy!  Then President Gonçalves went around and shook every child's hand and wished them well.  It was a very nice and humbling occasion.  I was able to get a lot of the singing recorded on our flip camera.

We ate lunch at a near-by restaurant.  The buffet included this pretty spaghetti dish.

Our Hotel, called the Majestic Guest House, was just up the street from the chapel.  It was fairly nice and was about $117 for the night. The room was clean and air conditioned and they provided an adequate, but not fancy, breakfast in the morning.

This is part of a wall not far from the hotel – the colors have faded, but the designs are very interesting.

The training meeting was held at 3 p.m.  The chapel is located on the top floor of this building. 

Sandy presented Minha Familia booklets to those present, used the PREZI slides and videos to explain the use of the booklets to fill out their family history information, and answered questions. Richard used PowerPoint slides to explain how members prepare to go to the Temple for the first time and the availability of the Temple Patron Fund to assist members financially to pay for passports and traveling costs to/from the Temple in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Then President Gonçalves used PowerPoint slides to define Public Affairs and explain the role of public affairs in creating a positive image for the Church.  He emphasized the importance of public affairs events and in developing contacts with “opinion leaders” in the community.  All of these work toward preparing others to want to know more about the Church. 

While we ate our breakfast early Sunday morning, we heard some noise from outside – we watched as a huge group paraded down the street in front of the hotel holding political banners and flags.

Sandy taught the Relief Society lesson on “Purity of Thought” to about 30 sisters.  She related: “With pictures and scriptures and using the Portuguese skills I had, I felt that the sisters understood the message.  I felt comfortable and not on edge about teaching – I love to teach.  In the course of the lesson, I talked about memorizing the Articles of Faith.  I gathered from the sisters’ look that they hadn’t heard of the Articles of Faith before.  I showed them where they were located in their scriptures and a sister read the 13th Article of Faith, which pertained directly to the lesson.  The sisters were challenged to memorize a hymn, scripture, or other righteous thought to have in reserve to use when their thoughts stray from the good.”  Here is a picture of almost all of the women who attended.”

Sandy related:  “I was told that there was only one sister who understood English, and I prayed that she would be there!  I asked the sisters if anyone could understand English and a sister raised her hand!  Wonderful!  She was there!  I invited her to sit next to me and help me understand and answer questions.  All was going well until I asked a question and a sister gave a lengthy response in Portuguese.  I turned to my helper and asked her to explain what the sister had said so I could respond.  She said, ‘I’m sorry, sister.  I don’t know what she said.  I don’t speak Portuguese!’  I had obtained what I had prayed for – someone who understood English!  We both laughed and then helped each other understand sisters’ comments together. She was so good-natured about it!  Afterwards, I talked with this Sister Placidia Mabalreignward.  She was a member of the Church from Harare, Zimbabwe.  She came to Tete now and then to trade jewelry, bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen items.  I told her she was an answer to my prayer and she asked how.  I said I’d prayed that someone would be there that understood English and could help me.  She said, but I didn’t help you!  I assured her that she had given me confidence and just being next to me helped me.  She explained that when she woke up that morning she felt like she needed to attend Church.  Now she knew why!  She said she got so much more out of the lesson, because she could read my lesson pages as she sat next to me.  I had English words in one column and the Portuguese translation in the other.” 

I taught the young men (rapazes) on the subject of “Why do we need to forgive others?” to 6 young men.  The lesson reviewed the story of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt by his brothers, and the reuniting of Joseph’s family to him.  One of the young men was particularly helpful, because he knew the story very well.  Other examples of scripture stories about forgiveness were also included.  During the lesson, the missionaries, who were also present, helped by adding a few comments.  The young men were challenged to forgive someone in the coming week.

We both gave talks at Sacrament Meeting. Sandy talked about the importance of the Family and how the Family Proclamation explains practical things for families to do to be successful. Parents teach first by example and have responsibilities to teach their children in the home and in the Church environment.  We need to take advantage of every golden opportunity we have to teach and show love to our children so we can become eternal families.  She very briefly mentioned the Minha Familia booklet as a way parents could record and then share with their children the information they learn about their ancestors.  She invited those who were not at the Saturday training to get a Minha Familia booklet from her after the meeting.

 I spoke about preparing for General Conference and the great blessing it is for us to hear from living prophets and apostles.  To prepare, we should:  list specific questions and/or challenges you need answers to; listen to the talks while in tune with the Spirit; write down and then follow the promptings we receive.

President Gonçalves conveyed the love of President and Sister Kretly for the Tete saints.  He stressed the importance of keeping the first great commandments:  Love God and Love Your Neighbor.  We also attended branch council after the meeting where the branch leaders commented on and evaluated the branch conference.

Sandy met two families with twins during the day.  The infant twin boys were strapped one in front and one in back with capulanas!  The set of boy/girl twins were about a year old!

Checking in at the terminal for our flight home took about 45 minutes.  We had the suitcase wrapped in plastic for about $3 to prevent anyone from tampering with it.  When we went through security Sandy noticed she didn’t have her cell phone!  Seems like there is always something that comes up to baffle us a little.  She found the phone in the back seat of the car which took us to the airport.  It has slipped out of her pocket!  Our plane home was a direct flight to Maputo and it was a real jet. It was a very nice flight.

Sandy relates:  “I watched the beautiful sun rays piercing the clouds and shining on the land and meandering rivers below.”  Notice the Zambeze River, a major river in Mozambique.  It is the fourth longest river in Africa, and it is the largest river flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. It begins in Zambia near the border of Angola and flows 1700 miles to the Indian Ocean. The Zambezi's most noted feature is Victoria Falls. It is classified as the largest, based on its width of 5,604 ft and height of 354 ft, resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America's Niagara Falls. We will not likely visit the falls but we have seen the Zambezi river which flows over it.

“As we neared Maputo, I watched a lightning storm in the clouds!  Very magnificent!”

Here are the night lights of Maputo.  We live, as far as we can tell, across from the black-looking island to the left of the city.

We got home early Sunday evening. It had been a fast trip, but full of experiences. Thank you, President Kretly, for this opportunity.

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