Hogsback Mountain

Hogsback Mountain
Hogsback Mountain Wilderness

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Farewell to South Africa

Though it is impossible to believe, we have said our goodbyes to South Africa.  We departed our flat in Gonubie (East London) on January 10 after tender goodbyes to all of our dear friends in Mdantsane.  The past eighteen months of being in the full-time service of our Heavenly Father, as his ordained ministers, has been remarkable on so many levels.  While we were serving, teaching and ministering to others something very sacred happened within our own hearts that has changed us forever.  We will never be the same and rejoice in the time which we had to serve along side so many remarkable missionaries.     

Thanks to all who have supported us by following our blog and keeping us in your prayers.  So goodbye for now...until our next mission.

Elder and Sister Fowers

Mdantsane 1st Ward Farewell Celebration:

Farewell Dinner with Bishop and his Wife

Farewell Dinner

Sister Fowers wearing ceremonial doek 
presented as gift from ward sisters.

Goodbye Sentiments from young Elders

Visiting London on our way home:

Freezing in front of Big Ben during our London Layover

Stonehenge in the background blanketed with snow.

~Goodbye to our beloved South Africa~

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas in South Africa

It seems that time is speeding up as we near the end of our mission. I took a quick walk through my journal since my last blog post and it is amazing how many things have happened in the past month.  Not only have we been filled with the spirit of Christmas as we served Mdantsane families that we love, but also found time to see just a bit more of the this beautiful country before we leave.  Enjoy just a few of the highlights from our journals during the past month.

1 December: Finding Lost Members

Much of our time is focused on finding members who, for whatever reason, have become less active and their once bright testimonies have dimmed.  Often all it takes is to find out the someone missed them and came looking.  Today we visited Sister Thembeka who was baptized years ago, but quit attending when they built the new church far from where she lived.  She was so excited to see us and we felt the witness of the spirit as we share our feelings.  Thembeka joined us in church the next day!  A little miracle.

Knocking Doors...Finding Hiding Sheep

Sis. Thembeka came to church the next day!

9 December: Last Road Trip to George

One of the blessings of our mission has been to travel to the outlying mission branches and nurture their little flocks.  Elder Fowers presides as the first counselor in the mission presidency and we always speak in church.  As I spoke today in Sacrament meeting, I was filled up with all kinds of conflicting emotions knowing that it would be my last time with these beautiful people.  On our way home we took time to explore the beauties and wonders of the Garden Route-- finally stopping to see the things we always thought we might like to see.  More than the beauty we see around us, we know we have changed inside our hearts, our countenances and our minds, in ways that escape words.

Beautiful Buffel Bay
Garden Route Coastal View

13 December: Last Walk with Sister Wood

Sister Wood and I have walked 100's of kilometers together, sharing every part of our lives. Today was my last walk on Gonubie Beach with her. We have become dear friends.  Of all the people we are leaving behind in South Africa, Sister Wood is the one I feel the saddest about.  She has such positive energy even though she carries a heavy burden of responsibility, yet she always has a smile on her face.  As we walked today, I kept tyring to find the words to tell her of my love and respect, but they just didn't come.  I will miss this dear friend.

Walking Buddies

Goodbye Friend

17 December: Hogsback Mountain

Today for our P- day we took a two hour drive to the Hogs Back Mountains named for three mountains resembling the back of pigs. This dense old indigineous forest hidden in the Eastern Cape of South Africa was the inspiration for "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The rivers have cut through these old shale mountains to form several breathtaking waterfalls and we hiked to three of them today.

Madonna and Child Falls

39 Steps Falls

This was such a beautiful waterfall I decided to get a better shot of myself up closer to the cascading waters. As you can see, Sister Fowers did get a better shot, but it was not of the waterfall. I also became the subject of several other tourist cameras.

Taking a momentary dip in a cool mountain stream.

Enjoying Swallowtail Falls

20 December: Xosha Clothes Shopping

We visited a typical street vendor specializing in traditional Xhosa womens clothing.  I selected several item to try on and soon everyone was watching this old white lady dress as a native in traditional clothing.  The ladies were having so much fun. 

Dress up, Xhosa style.

 24 December: Chicken Christmas

Under the leadership of the Drapers, we received a surprise box of Christmas gifts for our african kids.  We added a few plates of Christmas cookies with some nice, fat chickens and began our Santa delivey route this morning. We went to the homes of some of our dear friends and brought them a bit of Christmas cheer.  It felt great to serve even if it was such a small effort.

Surprize gifts from the Chula Vista Institute

Playing Santa to Sister Margaret

Merry Christmas Mbiza Family

Christmas Cheer to Mama Magibisela

25 December: Christmas Dinner with Cima Family

When the Cima family found out we were eating Christmas dinner alone, they insisted that we join them.  I volunteered to bring some roasted chickens with dressing and they added traditional side dishes.  Most of them were tasty, but none of them are comfort foods for us. We stayed for a couple of hours and just chatted and laughed.  They became our surrogate South African family for Christmas as we have invited them back to Christ and his Church.

Thembisa, Sister Fowers, Cathrine

Brothers~Elvis Cima and Elder Fowers

We had a peaceful, stress-free Christmas.  We focused our celebration on the Savior as we served in quiet, simple ways.  We love you all.  May you be blessed with a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fun Never Ends

Where does the time go?  As I was reading back through my journal and reviewing the hundreds of pictures that we have taken it is amazing what we have experienced. Our camera doesn't always go with us when we are out in the Mdantsane township talking to the people, encouraging, lifting and teaching, so most of our photos are of our adventures and rather than our day-to-day service as senior missionaries.  However, I decided to try to include pictures of some of our dear friends from the Mdantsane 1st Ward.

Mama Keya our Relief Society President

Mdantsane 1st Ward R.S. Sisters

Fowers and Lubelwana Family

Sis. Fowers teaching the neighborhood Children 

Elder Fowers teaching the Young Men

In late October we traveled to Knysna, about 400 miles up the coast, to train their leaders and speak in their Sunday meetings. On the way home we took an extra day and went exploring in the Storm's River Wilderness. Further on down the road we took a detour to explore the St. Francis Bay Lighthouse.

Spring Waterfall 

Craggy Storm's River Coastline

St. Francis Bay Lighthouse 1878

Majestic Skies

Our daughter-in-law, Nikki and the grandkids along with their friends from their cooperative home school sent boxes of toys, books and school supplies to Asanda's Creche (Preschool).  We were blessed to deliver the treasures to the little ones as they explored the new toys.

The Children say Thanks!

Discovering new toys.

There are 12 senior couples currently serving in the South Africa Cape Town Mission. Last week we all gathered in Cape Town for several days of training from President and Sister Wood. The conference conveniently coincided with Thanksgiving Day so we celebrated with our mission family. We all have so much for which to be thankful, especially the friendship of such dedicated people.

Gathering for a Group Picture

Thanksgiving Feast

Pres. Wood training in Cape Town Mission Home

Our last day in Cape Town we explored the beautiful Arderne Garden which was planted in 1845.  The 167 year old trees from all over the world towered over the serene, peaceful gardens. We continue to marvel and the beauty of South Africa and know that God took a bit of extra time when he decorated this part of the world.

Standing in the majestic roots of a fig tree.

Huge tree dwarfed Elder Fowers

Arderne Garden Bridge

Allepo Pine (Mediterranean)

So Peaceful

We love to travel and see the sights, but the most beautiful sight of all is the sun setting on Gonubie River Valley that we see from our back door.

Gonubie Sunset

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Random Sampling

The richness of our opportunity to be missionaries is enhanced by the wide variety of activities and experiences that come our way each week.  One day we might guide a missionary's family to a rural school to present donations to the children.  The next we are at the airport sending off a missionary from our local ward because he has no family to join him on that momentous day.  The following day may bring the crazy activities of "transfer day" with 20 new Elders arriving in the South Africa Cape Town Mission and many others moving to new locations; so we could spend our day at the airport as the welcoming committee.  We may volunteer at the Phakamile School's cultural fair selling traditional foods at a fundraising event.  Quite often we meet the other senior couples that are serving in our area for some grand new adventure.  These are all sandwiched between our regular missionary responsibilities to teach and reach out to those that have lost their way.  

Following is a random sampling of some of the experiences we have had during the last month.  As you can see, we are never bored and greatly enriched by these opportunities.

Assisting Elder McDonald and his family as they make  donations to Silverdale School, an impoverished rural school:
McDonald Family and Principal Mpine with Students

Presenting a gift of school supplies to each child.

Happy day for Silverdale students.


Preparing lunch of boiled corn meal and sour milk.

Saying goodbye to Elder Lihle Lalendle, a 26-year old young man who joined the church one year ago who is leaving for his mission to Zimbabwe with no family to bid him goodbye: 

Elder Lalendle and The Fowers

Goodbye...Joining God's Army in Zimbabwe

Joining the our Phakamile School friends at their annual Cultural Day where we helped by selling traditional foods to raise money for future programs:

Dressing in traditional Xhosa dress.

Only 2 Rand for each boiled chicken foot

Traditional treats!

Phakamile Cultural Day.

Every six weeks we greet a new group of "Greenie" Elders at the airport during transfer day.  We serve as the welcoming committee and bring along snacks to get the missionaries through the day:

Waiting for Greenies.

Welcome to SACTM!

Missionaries leaving for their new areas.

God's Army!

We had close up and personal experiences the animals of Monkeyland and Birdland with another senior couple. The beauty and variety of His creations were amazing!

 Spotted Lemar (Close enough to touch!)

Too Cute!

 Ring-tailed Lemar with nursing babies.
Mr. Mischief

Monkeyland Suspension Bridge

 Chinese Golden Pheasant


Hyacinth Macaw

Weaver Bird and Nest

Kissing the Cockatoo