Sunday, November 23, 2014

3-9Nov2014 CouplesConference,ReturnToMaputo,PreparingFish

The Church News had an article about last week's General Authorities visit to Southeast Africa.  He is the link to the article -

This week we had an exciting trip and time in Swaziland during our Couples Conference.  I think the best way to share our experience is to interleave pictures into our conference schedule!   The Beira couples arrived on Monday morning and President and Sister Kretly had us over to their home for a Barbecue.

Tuesday, November 4
7:30 a.m. 6 couples (2 each truck) leave Maputo and travel caravan-style to Swaziland.  We were warned that often there would be cows on the road. We must be in Swaziland. We were surprised by the well-paved roads and the mountains vistas.

The mangos are beginning to grow and they hang from the trees like Christmas ornaments.

When we missed the border crossing, we saw beautiful country including this European-style schoolhouse.

We were supposed to arrive at noon, but we were all challenged to follow the directions, so we didn’t get to Elder & Sister McEwen’s in Ezulwini until 1:30!  We missed turning at the car wash!

McEwens had a delicious braie (barbecue) ready.  Elder McEwen had cooked a variety of meats, and Sister McEwen had made salads and other side dishes.  The McEwens live in a nice home which is located in a beautiful valley.

After lunch, we traveled for 10 only minutes and arrived at the Summerfield Estates where the group of maids gave us “welcome” hugs, helped carry our bags past the peacock to the reception area, and then to our cottage where we would be staying for two nights.

We had only a few minutes to return to the Summerfield Restaurant where we met upstairs in their Conference Room for the “meeting” part of the conference.  President Kretly said it was like a dream to have all of us together.  He hoped that during these unique few days together we would not only enjoy the time together but also learn from one another.   We reviewed the mission goals, vision, and numbers; heard inspiring quotes from General Authorities on senior missionary service; discussed crucial training the branches need to become a Stake; discussed the unique role of senior missionaries and reviewed senior missionary standards and rules; shared Ideas about analyzing our roles and establishing a balance in our lives.  Senior missionaries are to clear the path for the missionaries to find, teach, baptize, and prepare members for the Temple and endure to the end.  In listing the ways we can clear the path for missionaries, we remembered Moroni 10:8,17.  Each person/couple has a gift. We must look at the necessities of the mission and then ask how your gifts can help fill these needs.  We will never forget the things we have shared together in this mission experience.  Our work here will make a difference in this country and for Christ’s second coming.

For the special dinner at the hotel restaurant, we could order whatever we wanted!  It was a very elegant place.  However, we had to wait an inordinate time for our orders and some weren’t served until 10 p.m.!  The restaurant manager apologized for the long wait and said it would not happen again. 

Wednesday, November 5
We had breakfast in this lovely setting by the swimming pool.

We had a little time to walk around the Botanical Gardens before we left for the day’s activities at 9 a.m.

We watched the craftsmen at the Silversmith shop.  That’s where our silver Africa necklaces were made.  At one of the craft stores I took a picture of a Queen Chair.  Remember the King Chair?

Next we traveled to the nearby Swazi Village.  We were just in time for the cultural show and tour of the village.  The Swazi people have a unique dance which features drum beats, whistles, and high kicks for both men and women. 

It was Elder Dille’s birthday and a group of women who were also watching the Cultural Show, danced for Elder Dille!

During the tour, we learned many interesting things about the Swazi Village.  I liked that the Grandmother’s hut was protected and it was a place of refuge and peace for their children and grandchildren.  Some of the dancers live here in the Swazi village, keeping the ancient life style alive.  We got to purchase souvenirs from the village Grandmother. 

Lunch at The Mugg and Bean.  While at the mall we saw a couple of our sister missionaries.

Next, we traveled a few minutes to the Glass Factory, where there was no entrance fee!  They knew you’d end up buying something!  All of the glass they use is recycled glass and the furnaces are fueled by recycled engine oil.  It was pretty impressive to watch the teams of workers blow glass and make a glass zebra. Yes, we did buy something!  Bought 4 small glass Christmas ornaments (African animals) and a cute little glass penguin.  We browsed the Ezulwini Craft Market and bought a few things there, too! 

Some of us decided to try out the Summerfield Restaurant again and take the restaurant manager for her word.  The service was much faster!  Who can resist getting brownies and ice cream!

Thursday, November 6
Explored some of the beautiful gardens at Summerfield on Thursday morning. 

After breakfast we checked out of Summerfield and headed for the Candle Factory, which was also free.   We watched as the artisan took a square of hot clay and covered it with 2 pieces of previously made patterned clay.  Within 15 minutes, he had made a hippo.

Waiting a long time for food seemed to be the usual experience.  This time we were at the Timbail Lodge restaurant. 

The next part of our Couples Conference included a 1½ hour drive to Hlane Royal National Park.  We arrived just with time enough to put our suitcases in our cabin #12.

 On to the game drive and seeing animals way up close!

After the game drive we enjoyed a buffet dinner at the Park Restaurant by lantern-light.   The following was served:  Butternnut squash & Feta Quiche; Impala Stew; Wildebeest Wors (sausage); Tomato onion relish; Pap (like corn meal), Beetroot salad, coleslaw salad and white rice.

The Hlane staff put on a Swazi Dance Program, similar to the one we had at the Swazi village yesterday.

Before we went to our cabins, we gave President & Sister Kretly our “gift” – singing the “Called to Serve” hymn with words about senior missionaries.

When we arrived at our cabins all the lanterns were lit outside and inside the cabins. A great welcome home as there was no electricity in the cabins.

Friday, November 7

We were up early for the 5:30 a.m. game drive.

We had  a buffet breakfast before we left.

Here are some Interesting photos we took on the way “home” to Maputo.  Watch out for the traffic bumps!  We arrived at about 1 p.m.

On Saturday we caught up with laundry and prepared for Laura’s family visit on Sunday.  She had sent rice and 3 caxuxu fish via the sister missionaries.  We didn’t know how to fix them, but Sister Bernardo did, so we readily accepted her advice and followed her instructions the next morning to prepare the fish.

First the fish needed to be descaled!   I’d never scaled a fish before, nor had I ever seen such big hard scales.  As I scraped the fish with a knife, the scales were flipping everywhere, so we moved the operation out to the kitchen balcony.  I taped a couple of the scales onto a page in my journal!  Sister Bernardo came and helped us complete the preparations:  she pulled off the small fins, cut off the top fins, took out the gills and the mouth and then cut 2 slits on the side of each fish.  She put salt into the slits and then squeezed lemon juice over the fish.  A sliced garlic clove and olive oil were the rest of the marinade ingredients.  The fish were ready to bake after church.  Elder Tidwell and I enjoyed the fish, as our friend texted me early Sunday morning explaining she couldn’t come because she had woke with a stomach ache.

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