Hogsback Mountain

Hogsback Mountain
Hogsback Mountain Wilderness

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.

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