Monday, June 11, 2012

May 31 to June 11

The past two weeks have been hectic but I’m happy to report that we are now comfortably settled in our new flat.  Elder Stokoe went to Telcom two weeks before our moving day and  paid a 700 Rand deposit to get our land line in his name and to have our Internet connected on June 2nd.

On Thursday, May 31st, Byron from “Just Letting,” called and informed us that the new tenant’s truck had just arrived from Cape Town and that we needed to be out before 2:00 p.m.  We had scheduled the Elder’s to help us move the next day.  Although Talanna & Dave Evans were not out, they agreed to let us start moving in.  Three sets of elders canceled their afternoon appointments and arrived to help.  Luckily I had everything in boxes.  They moved all our stuff into the Evan’s living room.  They also helped Talana and Dave load the rest of their ceramic flower pots, clothes and kitchen items. I recruited Talana’s black maids to go back to #16 and clean so the church would not lose the 3,750 Rand cleaning deposit.  We finished by 5:00 p.m. and then took the elders to KFC for dinner.

Our “Planning for Success” Class at Kwanobuhle that night was cancelled. Brother Stokwe, the instructor, had the flu.  So we had time to set up beds and put a few things away.  Meanwhile Byron, the rental agent, called Cape Town to complain we were not out when instructed to leave.  Elder Oldham reviewed the church’s rental agreement with him which stipulated that we had until 8:00 a.m. the next day, Friday, June 1st to vacate.  We met Byron at #16 the next morning.   He went over the “condition of the flat” paperwork that indicated #16 had been rented by the church in 2008.  He carefully ticked off every scratch he could find.  He even complained that there were flecks of paint on the garage floor. Then asked me for the key pad which opens the front gate.  I said I’d paid for that pad myself and was not willing to surrender it until “Just Letting” reimbursed me for all the improvement we made in #16 (about $200.) Byron finally talked me out of the gate key claiming that the new tenant needed it immediately so she could move in.

All our new furniture arrived as promised on  Friday, June 1st.  However, the couch was too big to fit thru the front door, so we sent the three piece set back to the store.  (At the moment we are  using the blue couch that Elder Acton from Washington repaired and the large red chair that the people from the second hand store refused to take off our hands.)  Smitties, a buyer and seller store of second hand furniture, paid 200 Rand for the old desk and a book case.  This  was enough to pay the maids that did the cleaning.  Andre, a technician from Telcom arrived that afternoon and reported that #17 had no internet connection, that we would have to petition the Turnburry Body Corporate to run a line to connect our flat to the Internet box across the street.  Andre promised to return and hook us up as soon as that was done.  Our Friday night Class in Uitenhage on June 1st was cancelled so we had a few more hours to settle in.

Richard, the electrician, stopped by on Saturday morning and we told him about our Internet problems.   He explained that the entire compound was wired for Internet when it was  built and then showed us our internet connection.  It is in the garage.  Andre had missed it.  Tom called Telcom back and was told that they could not get out again until June 11th.  We spent the rest of  Saturday, June 3rd, in  Grahamstown which is about 130 miles up in the hills above Port Elizabeth, where we presented a PEF fireside and got home after dark.  Sunday, June 4th was spent at three different wards seeing students.  Monday night we visited the Clarkes, an inactive couple, whose records are in P.E. Ward.  We had visited them the previous week with Elders Pack and Acton.  Sister Clarke had the flu so we only stayed long enough to give her a priesthood blessing.

Every morning I wake up and thank the good Lord that we are in this flat and not the one next door.  It’s so spacious and beautiful.  We love it.  Talanna left two lawn chairs which I spray painted black.  We spent Friday morning while the weather was still nice out on the patio reviewing the PEF material which we received in Jo Burg.

Other than getting sick the second day of training there, that trip was sooo helpful.  We discovered that all the other PEF couples felt lost when they first arrived in South Africa.  Everyone agreed that a training manual would be helpful.  I’ll type up my notes from those meetings and forward them.  Technology was also a huge challenge for the other senior couples.  Since church headquarter is moving toward paperless accounting, new software is impacting everyone.  The joke in Jo Burg is that the security officer on the top floor where the seniors live is there to keep the office couples from jumping.

We had a zone conference with President and Sister Wood on Tuesday and along with the Taylors, prepared dinner for 40 young elders.  President and Sister Woods took us to dinner at the Blue Wave that evening.  President and Sister Woods began their mission as an office couple in Jo Burg and Kathleen Wood said she was counting the weeks until they could go home.  Then they were asked to serve as the new mission president in Cape Town. Sister Woods had her purse stolen as they sat on a bench on the beach when they arrived in P.E. last Monday.  It contained her pass port and all her credit cards so she screamed alerting everyone on the beach..  President Wood is a distance runner.  He took off after the thief and chased him across the street.  As he gained on him, the young man threw the purse into the gutter.  But President Wood did not stop chasing him.  Others helped run the thief down.  He was white, about 20 and certainly not in need.  He was likely on drugs.  As they hauled him off to jail the youth said, “I’m not that kind of person.”  President replied, “You must be or you would not have taken my wife’s purse.”  President Wood is a judge and agreed to press charges believing that people should be held accountable for their actions.

So far I’ve spent about $1,200 for furnishing including $193 for a new desk; $546 for a double bed with headboard, mattress and night stand;  $200 for curtains, towels & a  rug.  I spent about $70 at a garage sale for 4 paintings by a local artist, a vase, picture frame and other decorations and $20 for a map of Africa.  I’m going to buy a washer tomorrow which the mission has agreed to pay for.  I’ll give the old one to Elders Pack and Acton.  I’ll  look around for some used living room furniture to insure our continued comfort and help the senior couple that follows us.  As I would not want anyone to run into the situation we inherited when we arrived.

Veruschka, the colored ancologist (cancer specialist) who rented #16,  moved in a few days ago. I visited her on Saturday  night and invited her to dinner.   She said she had been living in P.E. for a month and had been staying with her cousin while looking for her own place.  She worked in Saudi Arabia for two years before being transferred to Cape Town.  She now works for a private company here and will travel to their other offices in Port Alfred and in George.  She asked if I would watch her flat while she is out of town.  I was glad to see that "Just Letting" had repainted, repaired the cracked tile in the living room and made the other repairs that were sorely needed.  I expected to host she and Janette Lake for lunch yesterday. Janette came but Veruschka had other plans so took a rain check.

Speaking of rain, winter is finally here.  It’s very cold.  It rained Friday night, all day Saturday and Saturday night.  Lorraine Ward Relief Society had planned an activity to make baby blankets for newborns but it had to cancel because of  flooding in Walmar.  I went to church with Janette Lake yesterday while Tom was out  helping students in Kwamagxaki Ward apply for PEF loans.  Wish we could have started our mission in this flat with the knowledge we have rather than going though the frustration and stress of our first three months here.  Two Telcom technicians arrived this morning and hooked up our Internet.  They found that our land line had been blocked which is likely why the phone never worked when we were living next door.  We are very happy to be in this flat and all our technology seems to be working now.

P.S.  On June 13th we visited Just Letting's Office and discovered that they had reimbursed the mission office in Cape Town for half of the cost of the improvements we made at #16.  However when we asked to be reimbursed for the gate key they said Byron told them that it would not work so no refund was due us.  Tom demanded to see Byron saying he would produce Richard, the electrician who sold us the gate key, to verify that it was working.  Shortly thereafter the company reimbursed  160 Rand, ($20), the cost of the key. 

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