Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Greetings from South Africa!

We spent two days in Durban getting oriented to the mission and receiving our assignments. Although we had a little practice driving on the left side of the road in Durban, driving to Newcastle was a bit unnerving.

Newcastle is a small city in the middle of a rural, farming area and located in the heart of Zulu country. It is about four hours northwest of Durban and about three hours south of Johannesburg. Most people speak Zulu or English and some speak Afrikaans. The people are wonderful and are very interested in discussing religion, especially when they see our badges. Most have limited income as there is high unemployment. For those fortunate to have a job the pay is very low.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is small in this section of South Africa. There are no stakes in our mission except for the two that are in Durban and one in the far west. We are in a district with seven branches, mostly in different towns. The Church in this part of South Africa is 99% black, while the population of the country is approximately 85% black. The people are dedicated and religious and are striving to build the Church.

Our primary duty is to assist the Newcastle District President with his responsibilities. This involves teaching leadership skills, providing shadow leadership for him and all who assist him, and visiting people in the branches who require assistance of some kind. We also work closely with the young missionaries helping with travel, teaching, and solving problems. We inspect their boardings (apartment or house) and vehicles. We also introduce people to the Church and see that they are contacted and taught.

The past week we went to a senior missionary couple conference and retreat at Nambiti Game Reserve which was about 1½ hours from Newcastle. (This setting is very different from our experience in Nigeria where there were no large animals because they had been eaten by the people living there.) The conference was inspiring and enlightening as we counseled together and were taught more about our responsibilities. In between the training sessions we went on animal drives which were amazing. The highlight was witnessing a baby giraffe being born…a once in a lifetime experience. We were told that no one at the game reserve had ever seen this before. We also observed various types of antelope, several lions, elephants, a cheetah, hippopotamuses and rhinoceroses.  It was great!

We love what we are doing! We are much more dependent on the spirit than our last mission because we set our agenda each week and must determine what our priorities must be as there is so much that needs to be done. The people we have met are humble, hard working and religious. We are welcomed, literally, with open arms and feel blessed to be among them. We may be giving some to be on this mission, but are gaining much more.

We miss our family and friends, but we know we are doing what the Lord wants us do at this time in our lives.

Elwood and Penny Brown

Our group in the MTC

Durban Lighthouse

Children in neighborhood in Newcastle

Newcastle District Center

District President Mashego

Our safari tent at Springbok Lodge, Nambiti, South Africa

Antelope on the game drive


Sunrise Africa style


Bull Elephant

Penny at gnarled tree

Safari snack time for senior couples


Cold early game ride

Our cruiser


Our guides

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Home, sweet home

The Browns finally made it to their place of residence - Newcastle, South Africa (about 4 hours northwest of Durbin).  This is their little home away from home.

Although I don't have tons of detail, they did attend 2 churches this past Sunday, and are currently on a retreat and conference with the other senior couples in an area called Ladysmith and the Nambiti Animal Preserve.  They will have some meetings, but will be going on animal drives as well.  They told us yesterday that they saw four beautiful lions (pictures to follow).

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Arrival in Durbin

My parents have sent a few pictures, but not much in the way of text for me to share, so I will provide my own commentary!  After I believe 27 hours of travel, they arrived in Durbin, South Africa late on Tuesday, Sept 27th.  The mission President and his wife picked them up from the airport.  While in Durbin, they received some instruction on their duties for their mission, and driving lessons (hold me).

Here are a few pictures of them outside the bed and breakfast where they stayed their first few days.


And... someone had a birthday in Durbin on the 29th!  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Heading to Durbin, South Africa

We just finished a week at the Mission Training Center in Provo, Utah. It was intense, but rewarding. There was a wonderful spirit there. Some of the "old" missionaries needed afternoon naps, but not us...We just collapsed each night! One evening we had dinner with the missionary couples who were with us in Nigeria. It was fun catching up with them.

Each of the two weekends, before and after the mission training center, we spent with Jeff, Angie, Gabe, Mia, Zoe and Gwen. They even treated us to a concert in our honor Sunday night.  In all modesty we can say they are excellent musicians...Zoe on the piano, Gwen on the violin, and Mia playing the classical guitar. Gabe is just learning the guitar and is already able to play several tunes.

We will miss our family, friends and all of you, but are excited about this new adventure. We are anxious to know what we will be doing in the Durban Mission and where we will be assigned. We are happy to be able to serve the Lord and to invite people to learn more of the restored Gospel and of our Savior.