Since the last entry, a few things have occurred, many seemingly routine at the time. The Blantyre 2nd Branch Seminary class organized a tripto a nearby Game Preserve Park, most trees and mountains, with a few monkeys and baboons, plus reported hyenas (rarely seen). There were 24 students plus 4 adults, being a great turnout. It seems that our vehicle was needed to transport 5 persons, so it went to take people out there and then again to pick them up. In the middle of the night, on March 27, the burglar alarm went off twice, with no explanation or real problems. This happens from time to time, but certainly makes one lose sleep for awhile, just wondering. Sometimes, the security company calls, to see if there is a problem, other times, nothing happens.
On Sunday,March 24, we had the privilege of watching Jared Shields, be ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood via skype. It was not a perfect rendition, but we got the essential parts. Congratulations to a fine new, young priesthood holder. Potentially, only 6 years away from a Mission call.
We had the Greens, auditors from the Area Office arrive on March 27, a Wednesday, staying until Saturday March 30. We would drive them from their hotel to the various audit locations (at Branches), as well as pick them up at the airport and take them back. It is about a 15 minute drive, unless the President happens to be coming or going on the same flight. There are currently only two flights a week that we know about, both coming and going from Johannesburg, Wednesday and Saturday. Otherwise, the airport is rather quiet.
On March 30, the Mission President, his wife, the Pretes, the Lookharts and the Assistants to the President all arrived in the afternoon, in preparation for Zone Conference the following Tuesday. It was Lookharts one and only visit to Malawi. We took them to the Ndirande Branch for Church on Sunday, March 31 and that Branch was happy to have 2 sets of visitors. It was Easter Sunday, but the talks were not related to the day.
On Monday April 1, it was Preparation Day, so everyone, but the Mission President and wife, got in a four car convoy and traveled to the Majete Game Park, about 70 Kilometers from Blantyre. It is an inspiring drive down a steep escarpment, but there were heavy clouds, so the visit was not as good as on 2 other trips. At the Park we divided into two groups of two cars each, and each drove in opposite directions, to see the animals. When you have multiple cars, the 2nd to 4th cars often miss the animals, so it worked well. As before we enjoyed a lunch there and hurried back to the City, in time for the missionaries to do emailing and grocery shopping.
Tuesday, April 2, was Zone Conference, held at the chapel. Sister Shields was the main cook, with Christopher Sitolo helping out. Elder Shields got to take the Assistants to the President, shopping for a car battery during the Conference and transported food and related items back and forth from the house to the Chapel.
We were able to watch most of General Conference "live" this time, only subject to an 8 hour time difference. Most of the time the Internet co-operated. We hope that many of you were likewise able to see some or all. We receive DVDs of conference, to be played in the branches by the end of April. They rarely see more than one or two sessions. All members receive a copy of the Liahona (foreign version of the Ensign, within a month or so. The Liahona is similar to the Ensign, but with a local content section.
Much of the time is repairing plumbing related problems. Most of the time it is with the help of a local contractor member. We have to drive all tradesman, to and from, as they do not have vehicles. Often we supply the tools. We spent parts of many days, being present while "burglar bars" were being installed on one of the missionary apartments. This is in addition to the security alarm systems. The missionaries generally feel much safer, even when there are false alarms to contend with.
Other regular activities included taking a sister missionary to the hospital for stitches to her arm from a fall in the shower, landing her arm on the sharp end of a squeegy handle. It was a very long an deep cut. We made two subsequent trips to the hospital, to have it checked and remove the stitches. We pick up mail from a private mail box, deliver contents of same, attend various missionary meetings, drive the Elders mainly to and from various places, to grocery shopping, and anytime it is after dark when a meeting concludes. In this country, all proselyting, etc, ceases at dark, because there is no public transportation after dark, and it is considered to be unsafe.
We have done "driver training" for two new Sisters from the States. They have drivers licenses, but have never driven "standards" and never driven on the "left" side of the road. They are now driving on their own, leaving us shuddering at the potential consequences of mishaps.
Some pictures follow that demonstrate things happening at our house.
|This "dirt" known as fertilizer. It is the duty of the tenant to fertilize the lawn and flower beds|
|A few loads of sand, delivered to repair part of the driveway and build a base for the water tank (yet to be built)|
|The load of bricks, to be mixed with the sand and maybe cement for the water tank tower (10 - 15 feet high?)|
|These are poisonous mushrooms (in the yard), so our full time gardener (guard) removed them all|
|These are bundles of charcoal, being taken to town to sell, pretty heavy and awkward.|