Monday, May 28, 2012

May 28, 2012

 Thomas Stokoe

Today is Monday, a sunny warm day.  Supposedly, June and July are winter months but there's not much sign of winter yet.  Sister S. spent P Day packing up everything.   Saturday we bought a bed and end table for the spare bedroom in our new flat.  As of June 1st we will be able to lodge senior couples who come to P.E. for activities and friends and family who come to visit.   The elders will help us move after district meeting on Friday.

I went to Kwamagxaki ward to meet a student and get a couple of his signed application papers for a PEF loan.  While there I met the ward employment specialist who has a daughter interested in obtaining a loan for school.  He showed me a copy machine that one of the missionary couples got for his office.  He was very happy to  have received it but didn't know how it worked.  He wanted to know how to copy things.  So I showed him and he was happy to learn.  Except, there was no ink in the cartridges.  So I went and bought a couple of ink cartridges and showed him how to put them in and he was able to make some color copies.  He was so happy.  Really happy.  I also gave him some food for lunch.  He was a very appreciative man.  I asked him his name and he said, "Thobile Headman Ntsetha.  My mother named me Headman at birth.  So I was born Headman and will die Headman."

Next Diane and I went to a store like Costco and she bought a desk for our new office. They will assemble it and deliver this Friday.  I talked to the delivery truck driver.  He is a Brown.  As you know in this country people are referred to as a Black, a Brown or a White.  I asked him his name and he said, "My name is Peter, Peter Benjamin.  My last name is Haynes.  But my nickname is Stan."  So I said, "If I were to go to the back of the store where your department is and ask your fellow workers, "I am looking for Peter.  Do you know where he is?  Could they help me?"  He said no because no one knows me as Peter only as Stan.  "What say I asked for Mr. Haynes?"  He said, "No, because no one knows my last name. They only know me as Stan."   I find the name thing here in Africa to be quite interesting.

In an hour we are going out with Elders Pack and Acton to visit an inactive couple.  We appreciate the young elders inviting us to their district meeting and to accompany them on visits to inactives and investigators.  It is good to see these elders in action and they give us a chance to make comments.  We enjoy our affiliation with the elders.  Thanks for e-mailing us.  You keep in touch with us more so than our own kids.  Diane did get a chance to speak with all of them on Mothers' Day and the day after and she felt good about that.  I talked with Neil and Corrine on Skype which was neat and on the telephone with David, Nikki, Cole and Sophie this past weekend. They were down at Lake Powell.

One thing I like about the internet is that I can get news of the NBA playoffs and other sports back home and can log into the Deseret News or Salt Lake Tribune for local home news.  Sister S. is excited about moving this Friday.  It's orange season now and sacks of oranges are for sale along roadsides by vendors. We thought of buying a sack but we couldn't eat 30-40 oranges so we didn't.  They have several varieties of oranges here in South Africa, also grapes. I've seen at least 8 different varieties of grapes in some stores.  Well, that's all for today.  Have a good day.

Elder S.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 2 - 25, 2012

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekend Post Articles - Saturday, May 19th

Font Page Article, “The forgotten people”

     Thousands of desperately poor people – some as young as five years old – are eking out an existence on rubbish dumps in and around Nelson Mandela Bay. Each day they converge on the putrid dumps to try and find something that may feed their families or bring in some money.
     The hopelessness of these people, who scavenge 12 hours a day for scraps – including fish more than a week old – clothing and plastic and tin cans to sell, is borne out by the fact that many have been doing so for more than a decade because permanent work continues to elude them.
     The situation has been described as “sickening” and a “ticking time bomb” by politicians who say it is a direct result of the government’s failure to address unemployment effectively through its ongoing grand system.  Despite moves by organizations like the SA Waste Pickers Association to utilize the dump scavengers in the country’s recycling programmes, an investigation by Weekend Post this weeks revealed the situation goes way beyond simple environmental concerns.

       At tips in Nelson Mandela Bay and the Sundays River Valley Weekend Post found that:
*  Children as young as six years old forgo school to scavenge for food scraps.  There are also waste pickers as old as 70 who are forced to scavenge despite receiving a social grant.
(When asked why these children were not in school, adults responded that education came in a “distant second” when a youngster was “starving.”)
* The unemployed at the dumps no longer care if they get sick, as long as they have food to give their desperate families.
* Many pickers are products of broken homes where the household breadwinner has either left or died, leaving a large family behind. (It is estimated that on average 100 people visit each individual tip in the province each day.)
* The most a picker can expect to make is about R80 a week, either through small change from people depositing rubbish or by selling bottles, plastic and other waste.
*Many scavengers have a high school education but have not been able to secure employment for years.
* Waste pickers operate from 6a.m to 7pm, seven days a week.    (Legislation dictates that dumps should be fenced in, although when a person is starving that will not stop them.  There is heavy machinery dumping all day and of course there are sharp instruments among the rubbish.  If a person gets injured they can get an infection.)
*The families of the scavengers are large and most members are unemployed at home.
*Those living off the dumps are regularly chased away because nearby residents blame them for crime in the area.  For this reason they live in shacks on the periphery of the dumps.
*contrary to public opinion those living on or scrounging from dumps exhibit a “sharing” mentality and seldom fight.

Article, “Family in shock as death driver released”

     The family of a teenager who was killed in a hit-and-run accident on the Seaview Road last week are shocked and confused after the driver allegedly involved in the incident was released without being charged.  Rebecca said, “Someone should pay for Mpumelelo’s death but nothing will bring my son back.  I don’t have any grudges because I am a Christian. . .  We had such big dreams for our son.  He wanted to study business after school and now all those dreams have been ripped away."
     Rebecca said her son was a keen soccer player and runner.  "He loved his books and was always studying."  Walmer High School principal Lunga Dyani agreed.  “He was a good student because he was never brought to my office because he had done something wrong.”
    The youngster’s mother said she was angry because of the tragic way her son died and reports of the incident being a “race issue.”  According to police reports and witnesses a silver car slammed into Mpumelelo at about 9 p.m. last Friday while he and three of his friends were walking home to Bushy Park from Mount Pleasant.
    It has been reported that he was flung 16 meters in the air and landed in the bush.  Before the teenager was struck the occupants of the vehicle allegedly shouted at the group and threw a beer bottle at them.  The driver then reportedly swerved and hit one of the youngsters on the leg.
    The young men in the car allegedly hurled racial slurs at the victims during the incident. According to witnesses the driver then turned his headlight onto bright and sped toward Apleni, slamming into him before speeding off.
    Principal Dyani said the incident showed there was “something wrong with our society.  It is ironic that a boy of his caliber, a peace-,loving boy, died so tragically.  Hundreds of fellow pupils, friends, family and teachers gathered at the school on Wednesday for Mpumelelo’s memorial service.  His friends sang songs in honour of the young sportsman as his mother wiped away tears.
     A classmate described Mpumelelo as brave, obedient and always willing to go above and beyond what was expected of him.  “We wanted to grow old with you, share our dreams with you, but now you are gone.  Mpumelelo is survived by his parents and three brothers.  His funeral will take place today.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 13 -19, 2012

     This has been a very busy week.  We have had something going on every day.  We spent Mother’s Day at Kwa-Magxaki Ward.  We went there in order to get some PEF papers signed.  Monday night we enjoyed a fireside at Lorraine Ward presented by the BYU Young Ambassadors.  The talks were very spiritual.  We particularly enjoyed the songs as they sang several we had sung in the Utah Polynesian Choir.  Elders Pack and Acton had invited us to go along with them the next morning.  We met these young elders at 8:00 a.m. at the church and followed the touring bus to Motherwell Township where the Young Ambassadors presented a program to some high school  students.  That was also very inspirational.

     Randy Boothe, the artistic director, talked to those kids about staying away from alcohol and drugs.  He encouraged them to study hard and support their families.  Brother Boothe has directed this group for 34 years.  He was hired away from Disneyland to come to Provo and take over for Janie Thompson.  She is  an icon in BYU dance and variety shows.  Janie is now 90 years old and in a wheel chair but still plays the piano and sings.  Tom enjoyed running into the brother of one of his Mountain Ridge Students.  I had a discussion with two young men who asked about our church.  I gave each a pass-along card with a picture of the Savior.  One asked who the man in white was.  I said, “That’s Jesus Christ.  He died for us.  You probably heard about him at church.”  One boy answered, “I’ve never been in a church.”

     The assembly was held in Motherwell because we have members out there and the principal of the high school is LDS .  Church members are mostly inactive because it’s too far for them to walk over to the branch at Kwa-Magxaki.  So the stake is trying to open up another branch in Motherwell.  Our leaders hope that the Young Ambassadors would open doors.  I think it was the principal of the high school that got the Young Ambassadors scheduled.  Two other high schools were invited but were confused about the date and came on Monday rather than Tuesday.  Since they could not miss two days of school in a row they missed a truly awesome assembly.   

    We missed the freeway entrance and drove home thru the townships on the way back to P.E. which is why there are photos of shanties.  Unfortunate.   President Wademan asked for pictures of students interacting with performers and the only thing I had was the a.m. Smilebox.  Brother Ntshebe who teaches the “Planning for Success Class” in Kwa-Magxaki, was delayed at work last night so we only showed the BYU evening performance while we waited for him.  I suggested we also show the a.m. pictures but Tom did not want to because it’s not a fair representation of the township. There are some nice houses in Motherwell and I only took photos of the shacks along the way. 

     We took Elders Pack and Acton to lunch in Port Elizabeth on the way home.  I learned that Elder Acton had worked in furniture repair and delivery.  So I made a deal with him.  I told him I’d do their wash this weekend if he would repair my couch.  It looks okay but the springs are shot and you sink to the floor if you sit on the wrong side.  Our washer and dryer are quite old and it takes a long time to run a batch.  So we’ve been doing wash all afternoon.  The elders need a washer so I’ll give them mine when we move and bill the mission for a new one.  I hope to get a refund for the upgrades we made to this flat.  With that money I can replace the desk which is huge and old and takes up half the study.  Don’t know what I’ll do about replacing the dryer yet.  I’ve seen many that are much better at the second hand stores I’ve been checking out.  Since rent on the new flat is much more than on this I don’t want to run up too many bills.  

    Janette had surgery last week so I’ve been running over each day to visit and check on her.  She is doing much better and expects to return to work on Monday but is still having headaches.  I just borrowed her drill so Acton can repair my couch and Elder S. can take a frame to Elder Martin.  His frame broke and we found another at a second hand store.  We must get it there tonight as we are flying to Jo Burg on Monday for more PEF training.

     On Tuesday we sponsored a dinner with 8 senior couples at the Radisson Hotel before the evening performance.  Tom forgot all the tickets so had to return to the flat for them and so missed that event.  He met us at the Nelson Mendela University Theater.  Elder Wademan asked me to take some publicity photos during intermission so I moved to the front row and took several but nothing has appeared in the newspaper yet.

     Wednesday night Evita opened in P.E.   Tom had to pull strings to get tickets.  We went to the Savoy theatre in the afternoon to find its location using the GPS and to get tickets. A lady told him there were no tickets available they were all gone to dignitaries, invitees and the press.  Tom said, “I am a drama teacher from the United States, I’ve taught drama for forty-one years and directed over 130 major theatrical productions.  I really would like to see the show.”  She immediately got on her cell phone, called the president of the theatrical company, and we instantly had two reserved tickets on the front row. The production was outstanding, very well directed and the talent excellent.

     Thursday and Friday nights we had “Planning for Success” workshops in Kwanobuhle and Kwamagxaki.  We also did a short “PEF Fireside” for Catherine, the granddaughter of President Bray at Uitenhage Branch.  And wonder of wonders, we got thru the gate.  It helps if the meeting is scheduled with the president’s granddaughter who wants to qualify for a PEF loan.  We’ve been stood up there on two other occasions. Tomorrow we are meeting with President Barendse of the Cleary Estate Branch and we have a fireside scheduled in Grahamstown on June 2nd.  The biggest problems we face now is how to use the fax and getting the Internet and our land line working when we move on May 31st.   We enjoyed talking to our kids and their spouses on Mother’s Day and it was fun to Skype with Neil and Corrine. 

     Thursday morning I attempted to make crapes but misread the receipt.  I used four cups of flour rather than 400 grams (about 1 3/4 cups) which was called for.  Rather than dumping everything out and starting over, I called Janette,  who rushed over to help.  It took some time to figure out what to do as there is quite a difference in names.  Our crapes are South Africa's pancakes.  Our pancakes are called flap jack here.  Our scones are called "fat cakes."  Our biscuits are called scones in S.A. and our cookies are called biscuits.  At any rate, Janette and I made South African flap jacks out of my crape batter.  We had a good laugh and enjoyed eating breakfast together.

   Good News:  Elder Stokoe has opened an e-mail account at to replace the account that was hijacked.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

May "Planning for Success" Workshops

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Missionary Story

Note Mawethu Dlepu's pastor father paid for his LDS mission to Kenya.  Dlepu stands second from right in the photo above.


Last Friday we scheduled ourselves to attend the 1st session of the "Planning for Success" Workshop taught by brother Luvuyo Ntshebe at the Kamagxaki ward.  We were told ahead of time by our senior couple neighbors, the Taylor's, that in Africa people come to church, seminary and institute according to African time - which can be from on time to 1 and 1/2 hours late.  So we jumped into our economy Nissan and headed for Kwamagxaki some 45 miles away out in the rural countryside.  

It is a pleasant drive on good roads aligned at times with government built houses 12' x 12' and 12' x 16' for families mingled with "shanties." People are walking every where, walking for miles - young, teenage, adults and the aged.  I feel bad for the people and the distances they walk.  I can tell those that are tired, those that are struggling as they limp along, and those that are strong running with athleticism.  I feel bad for the young children 3, 4, 5 years old that have to walk these long distances.  The mission rules is, "Giving rides to people in your vehicle is prohibited."  There are valid reasons for this rule.  Anyway, the drive is one I enjoy and we have a GPS to guide us.

The class was to start at 5 pm.  At 5 pm one student was present, Mawethu Dlepu, a young man about 23 years of age, and so sister S. struck up a conversation with him while awaiting more arrivals.  It would be 30 minutes before the next person arrived so it was a long conversation.  He told an interesting story that I want to share,

He grew up in a religious family.  His father was pastor in a African protestant church.  As the son of a pastor there were certain expectations of him to include spirituality, obedience, and being a good example. He went through the local elementary school system and eventually into high school. There he became acquainted with some LDS teenagers, and as their friendship grew, they invited him to go to church with them.  At the time not everything was well between him and his family. The parents had reason for alarm and concern.  His attitude and behavior was rebellious, he did not always listen to what they said, he had a mind of his own and did whatever he pleased.

This young man started attending the LDS church on a regular basis.  He participated in church activities during the week, and attended meetings on Sundays.  His interest in the LDS faith grew.  He was offered a Book of Mormon and began reading it.  The more he read the more intrigued he became with the content.  He began to study and ponder it on a daily basis and it started to have a profound affect upon him.  He developed a genuine desire to learn more.  The full time missionaries asked if they could teach him the gospel of Jesus Christ and he willingly accepted.  During this period of attending the Mormon Church on Sundays and and participating in its weekly activities, a change began to come over him. He became more humble, more teachable, more thirsty for spiritual knowledge.  He was willing to listen, study, be guided and follow the doctrines of Christ.  He became a happier person, more considerate, amiable and pleasant to be around.  His parents noticed the change in him.  They were encouraged, pleased and joyful.                    

The day came when the missionaries asked him if he would be baptized.  For the son of a protestant father this could be a difficult decision.  His parents were devout protestants, they were regarded with esteem in the community, and cherished as exemplary spiritual leaders.  For their son to forsake the religion and parish over which his father presided as pastor, could be controversial and cause negative vibrations in his family and among his father's flock.  He prayed about his decision and received his answer.  He would ask his parents if he could be baptized in the LDS church.

It was a congenial meeting, one where the love of parents and the love of a humble, obedient, and spiritual son was manifested. Pleased with the change that had come over their son since attending the LDS church, they consented to his baptism and attended the special occasion. After a year of college and growth in the church, this young man received the Melchizedek priesthood and was called on a LDS mission to Kenya which was paid for by his father the Protestant pastor. 

Elder S.  

Fraud in the Education Department


The justice system here is swift.  Large sums of money disappeared from the Education Echelon.  An investigation was launched.  The investigators were killed.  The killers were caught, sentenced to 25 years imprisonment and are currently incarcerated serving their sentence - all this within 6 weeks. Back home the beginning - end of something like this could stretch over 5 years before the equivalent action would be imposed. Justice here is lightning quick in most cases - a most commendable system.  

Interesting banking system here.  Each time you deposit money in a bank you are charged a fee.  Today I got money from an ATM machine and deposited it in a local bank.  I was charged the equivalent of $2.80 for making the deposit.  So if I make 10 separate deposits during a week, that's $2.80 x 10 = $28.  I can see how this can be helpful to a banking system in a country where generating cash is most needful. Unlike New Zealand when I was charged $800 just to submit a teaching application plus they wanted an extra $320 just to evaluate my transcript of college credits. Then I would be placed on a waiting list for consideration. I paid the $800 but balked when they informed me I needed to pay another $320.  Interesting, when I returned home, NZ sent me a letter a month later informing me if I didn't pay the $320 within the next month my entire application would be negated and I would have to start over and pay another $800 to re-initiate the process.  Hence, I have no desire to ever return to NZ again.

I like it here.  They call it the friendly city and I have found it to be so. The job calls for a certain amount of driving around which I enjoy.  Self motivation is the name of the job.  The same for the young elders.  You've got to find people.  In our case, finding RM's desirous of further education and involvement in the program.  The ward we visited last Sunday had 50/150 active and no RM's or prospective missionaries of eligible age. The booming branches are in the outlying areas.

The gated compound we live in has 39 houses, is surrounded by a brick wall varying from 7-8' tall with 5 strands of electric wire circling on top at least 8 inches apart. Anyone trying to climb over is naturally electrocuted. One of the senior couples brought an African bishop and his family to visit us in the compound.  He said "You people live in a prison!" It's his ward we are going to visit tomorrow. He's a good man with a nice family. A woman came with her rental agent to inspect our flat.  The first question she asked was about security in our compound.

The Africans walk all over the place.  For many, walking is their main means of transportation.  Those who can afford taxis ride in taxis - vans.  Some travel by bus but a good number walk and literally walk miles. As in other countries in the world there are those hawking their wares at intersections; young boys, men and women with tin cans begging for money.  Then at shopping centers in the parking lot, even though it is not necessary, along each aisle is an African signalling you to an empty spot.  When you leave he is there guiding you as you back out.  Some people give them 1 or 2 rand some give them nothing. There are 8 rand to a dollar so one rand equals 12 and 1/2 cents. These "parking lot attendants" have to pay the shopping center a fee in order to do this. So it becomes their full time job, 8 hours per day.            

The pepperoni pizza tastes pretty good.  We are getting tired of fish and chips.  But there is lots of other  interesting food.  We went to a restaurant for lunch and on the menu was monkey kidneys.  That's twice now I've seen that on menus.  It must be a delicacy, a specialty in demand or else it wouldn't be on the menu. MacDonalds hamburgers taste ok.  This is an interesting country and we are becoming more acquainted with things each day.  This is it from the African connection.

Elder S   

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Mystery of Missing textbooks solved"

Article from Sunday Times, May 13, 2012, "Three tons of books sold to Eastern Cape warehouse owner in cleanup'"
     As thousands of Eastern Cape pupils struggled through last year without textbooks, three tons of new books -- worth millions of rand -- were dumped at a warehouse for recycling.  The Sunday Times found the books at a warehouse used by King Box Manufacturing. The discovery comes on the eve of a high court bid by public interest to force the national Department of Basic Education to supply textbooks to the province's school.
     Some of the books in the warehouse have been replaced by ones in grades 1 & 3, and Grade 10, as a result of the implementation of Curriculum and Assessment. But books still being used by pupils in other grades were also in the building.  Teachers and teachers' union official Sadtu has described the dumping of the books as "scandalous."  He asked why the Eastern Cape Education Department hadn't distributed them last year?
    Warehouse owner Riaan Erasmus said 20 to 25 bakkie-loans of books were sold to him in mid-November. . Primary School head in King William's Town, said it was "a shame" that books which could have benefited pupils were dumped in a warehouse.
   "It's millions of rands down the drain," he said.  "The books were unopened -- they were still in their plastic seals.  It's really unbelieveable to do something like that."  The primary school finally received its English workbooks on Thursday, after the Sunday Times had twice highlighted the fact that the English-medium school had been given books in Xhosa.
   Erasmus said:  "In November, a lot of these brand-new books were returned to us by guys claiming they were old curriculum stuff."  He said one of the drivers had told him they were clearing them out the offices to make way for books issued for the new curriculum. . . Maybe those who got the contract should be held responsible."  He said he was offering the books to schools because teachers had said that they could still be used.
   "They're delighted.  One teacher said she had had two books for 40 pupils, now she can give a book to every one.  It's my personal responsibility to do something with them instead of throwing the stuff away."  Erasmus said he would have to go through old paperwork to established how much he had paid for the books. .  Eastern Cape Education Department spokesman, Loyiso Pulumani, said the department would launch an urgent investigation, and added that the destruction or recycling of textbooks was not a policy of the department.  Meanwhile, section 27 will be hoping the High Court in Pretoria will on Tuesday grant an order forcing the Department of Education to supply textbooks to Limpopo schools by no later than May 31.

Ambassador's Morning Performance

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Friday, May 11, 2012

PEF Work & Life in Port Elizabeth

Pictured above is Kwamagxani Ward's teacher, Brother Machete, flanked by two returned missionaries from Kenya, Mawethu Olepu, and Sabata Minakara, a seminary teacher.  Three siblings are taking the class:  Robera Madimo, a policeman who needs a loan to become an attorney; Sisipho Mandimo is waiting for a mission call but plans to become an accountant, and  Hlubikazi Somlota, who designs and makes clothes but needs to make more money to support her daughter.
Everyone has a story
 I finally found a place to have my nails done.  Anneli, a cute 19 year old Afrikkaner, did them.  She said her father was paralyzed in a diving accident and her parents met when he was recovering in hospital.  After they married they moved to her grandfathers farm.  She and her brother were conceived invetro and their mom bore twins--the first  successful invetro births here.  Her parents lived on the farm until they were two when the grandparents were murdered by men who came to buy produce.  Then they moved to Uitenhage, a village nearby where it was safe.  Her 48 year old Mom now works as a police woman in P.E.  Her dad passed away 4 years ago.  Since it was such an upscale spa, I asked Anneli about aids.  Do the kids her age use any protection?  She said "no" most of them just sleep around.   I find this rather strange as South Africa has a highest number of people with Aids than any other nation of the continent.
Life in Port Elizabeth
  Yesterday we went to the library.  Most of the books were old, out of date and had been heavily circulated.  We could not check anything out as we did not have our pass ports and we needed something with our name and home address on--a letter or a bill.  So someone send us a post card.  Address it to Elder and Sister Stokoe, 16 Turnburry, Montmedy Rd, Lorraine 6070, South Africa.  (That's our physical address.)   Our phone and internet bill goes to our P.O box in Sunridge Park.  Since it's a hassle to make changes our bills come under the name of former missionaries.   Our electricity is purchased at any market.  We check a meter located  in our garage and make a payment when the meter indicate that we are low.  Our flats are unheated.  A space heater uses lots of electricity.  The missionaries used up all their electricity on a cold night.  When the lights went off they called the landlord.  He paid 160R to get the meter on.  The church will reimburse him.
PEF Challenges
  We went to Uitehnage to present a PEF Fireside Wednesday evening and spent an hour sitting in the car in front of the locked gate.  Know one showed.  This is the second time that's happened at Uitenhage Branch.  We left after discovering a text message from one student, sent earlier, saying she had informed the teacher and wanted us to know that she would not attend.  We heard nothing from Sister Mandu who set up that Fireside on Sunday and promised to attend.  Last night we were in Kawobuhle where Brother Stokwe did a great job teaching.   Tonight we will be in Kwamagxaki for another class.  Brother Nshebe is also a good teacher (see photo above.)
Afrikanners Begging
  It never ceases to amaze me what we run into here.  We see men and boys peeing at the side of the free way and on main roads.  Where else, when they have to walk for miles? Yesterday we saw a tall, white Afrikanner with a beer belly standing in the middle of the road at a stop light.  He was scratching his privates and holding out a cup.  Since it's against mission rules to hand out money, we give small packets of raisins and peanuts. It's protein and something to sustain them.  I handed  him one.  We saw a middle age Afrikanner in a clean shirt and dockers, with a fold out cardboard sign.  He opened it and flashed a request for financial help.  Maybe he  lost his job and/or is a victim of reverse discrimination.
Offering Rides
  We are also discouraged from offering a ride to anyone.  One young girl who is lame really wanted to attend institute.  So the Taylors offered to pick her up and take her home each week.  The next week her sister jumped in.  The third week another sister joined them.  (Since the Taylors had invited the lame girl they were not in a position to protest.) The following week their mother crowded in.  The church does not want us to encourage dependence nor do they want us in harms way.
Crime in Johannesburg
    The young elders in Jo Berg are always getting robbed.  So the president told them to carry just  20 rand (about $2.50) in cash when they were out and about.  The thugs started stopping them and demanding their 20 rand.  There was a story on the nightly news about the police in Jo Berg.   It is estimated that one in four people paid a bribe rather than their fine.   We are finally getting accustomed to life here. We are trying to do our job and not get offended when things turn out differently than we expected.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Senior Couples Activity - May

Dear Eastern Cape Senior Couples,

It is hard to believe that it is already time for our next Eastern Cape Senior Couple Activity.  Time certainly flies when you are having fun! We bid a fond farewell to the Robinsons who will be leaving on May 13, with sincere appreciation for their incredible work with Port Alfred Branch. We wish them well in all of their future endeavors. 

We are also excited to welcome a new couple, Elder and Sister Stumm who will be replacing the Robinsons in Port Alfred. Our upcoming activity with be a wonderful opportunity to get to know them.

A big thank you to Elder and Sister Stokoe who have made arrangements for us to attend the Young Ambassadors performance:
"Harmony - The Music of Life" featuring the BYU Young Amassadors.  
Ticket price:  R50.00 per person
Performance Date:  Tuesday, 15 May, 2012
Time:  19:00 hours or 7 PM
Location:  N. Mandela University Theatre, Port Elizabeth.

If you need driving instructions, you could check this link:
If you have not yet picked up your tickets you can get them the evening of the event from the Stokoes.

We thought it would be great to meet for an early dinner.  Unless anyone has a better suggestion, we will plan to meet at 4:00 p.m. at the Blue Waters Cafe (Hobie Beach, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth). That should give us plenty of time to get acquainted, share our latest adventures and get to the venue in plenty of time for great seats for the performance.

We (the Fowers) will drop by Port Alfred and pick up the Stumms.  Could anyone host them for the night of May 15 after the performance? We will be driving back the next morning.  If not, could you recommend a good B&B?

Look forward to seeing all of you again.

Sister Fowers

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Community Service

Hello Neighbors,

      My husband and I are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on assignment to promote education in the Eastern Cape.  I love to read, share books and dance, either Zumba and/or Dance Exercise, in my garage. We will be moving from #16 into #17 Turnburry on June st. I wish to share our good fortune and larger flat by offering the following:

1. Dance Exercise and/or Zumba every Saturday morning at 7 a.m. in my “dance studio,” my double garage, beginning June 9th.

2.  Bible Study- the New Testament (King James version)  on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.

3.  Monthly Book Club.  I have read several books lately which I would like to share with some like minded readers: They include:  Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mendela; Pale Native - Memories of a Renegade Reporter by Max Du Preeze, An Inconvenient Youth, Julius Malema and the ‘New” ANC - by Fiona Forde; Safari and  African Dawn- “A country in Turmoil, a Family torn Apart.”  By best selling author Tony Park.  I would like to consider:  Heaven is for Real - a little boys’s astounding story of his trip to heaven and back by Todd Burpo.  Chronicles Brothers Series is fiction based on bible sources.  Author Wendy Alec is the programming director of her husband’s Christian TV network. Book One,  “The Fall of Lucifer,” Book Two, “The First Judgment,” Book Three, “Son of Perdition.”  This is the story of Three Royal Brothers... Three Archangels... One Turned Renegade.  The book selection for our first gathering at the end of June will be determined by the interest of participants.  Date and time will be announced later.

4.  Turnburry Book Exchange.  I am happy to share any book that I am not holding back for review.  If any one has backs they want to exchange or donate please bring them to #16 or to #17 after  June 1st.

5. In conjunction with the above my husband will offer READERS THEATRE - reading from plays or SELECTIONS OF POETRY on Monday nights.  We will also announce some community events you might enjoy such as plays or live theater.  Note that "A Million Colours," has opened in Walmar and the BYU Young Ambassadors will present a program at the Nelson Mendela Theater at 7:00 p.m. May 15th.

Elder Thomas Stokoe was a Drama, Speech, and History teacher for 41 years.  He has directed over 130 major theatrical productions and coached students who competed in humorous and dramatic reading.  He  managed a 3,000 seat auditorium and has performed in over 40 productions.

       If you would like to participate in any of these activities please call 083-272-1202 or stop by  Flat #16.
                                                                   Sister Diane Stokoe
                                                                   Master of Arts Degree
                                                                   Political Science, Family History
.                                                                  Retired High School Teacher and Librarian

Begging and Theft


Today was P Day.  Just got home.  We came out of a movie called “A Million Colors” about South Africa and apartheid. We were the only ones in the theatre.  Adjacent to the theatre was a pizza place.  I ordered a small pepperoni.  We hadn't eaten dinner.  Got the pizza and hopped in the car.  It was 10 p.m.  Drove out of the parking lot on to the deserted street and stopped at the first traffic light which was red.  A young boy about 11 or 12 years of age came begging to Diane's window.  We carry packets of trail mix for such occasions.  We gave him one and he started eating.  The thought occurred to give him a piece of pizza but I blew it off thinking the light would turn green any moment and it did.  There still was enough time to have given him a piece of pizza.

We came home.  Diane wasn't hungry so I ate half the pizza and was full. I thought of that boy the whole time I was eating, increasingly feeling bad with each bite.  I remembered what Stephen, David and Neil looked like when they were 11.  They didn't have to stand at a street light and beg at 10 pm at night.  As I gazed at that remaining half of the pizza I was remorseful. Why didn't I give the kid a piece of pizza?  I should have given him the whole pizza. I didn't have to eat.  I really wasn't that hungry.  That kid was or he wouldn't have been begging at 10 pm at night. It's tough for some kids.  You don 't always know their circumstances. But 10 p.m at night at a street light begging, a boy 11 or 12 years of age, hands clasped in the attitude of prayer -- I feel bad, but he feels much worse.  I have something, he has nothing  - only hope in the kindness of strangers.

The kids start young over here, some begging before the age of ten.  By the time they are teenagers and have stayed with it, they are professional beggars. Hands clasped in the attitude of prayer, a nod of the head, and a slight dip at the knees is the customary manner of begging. I have seen begging every single day since being in Port Elizabeth. You see the same faces on the same street, the same look of anguish, the same begging attitude. This same form of begging we saw on our trip to south east Asia and in movies about India.  Begging is a sad thing but undoubtedly typical in countries throughout the world. For some it is the only form of livelihood they know. In comparison, we have much to be thankful for.

Elder S.

Reply from Lilian Makaiau

Aloha Tom and Diane...what a story....I am not sure I can handle seeing all that you both are daily. I am sure that the next child who asks for food will be well rewarded based on your experience.  All is well this way. Keep sending those stories and smile boxes! Much aloha! Lilian

Stealing   - Article from the Port Elizabeth Press , May 2, 2012- "Residents fear 'alley is shortcut to hell'"

Ward 31 DA Councilor Penny Naidoo wants to warn residents and those who pass through the area of danger that lurks in the alley in Silver Oaks Street, Algoa Park.  The alley leads to an open space.

The residents are complaining that they are being robbed and assaulted by criminals who hide behind the wall of the alley.  This problem has been here for years and the attacks take place even in broad day-light.  She added that the alley is not only posing a safety risk, it is also used for illegal dumping.  The residents would like to have a meeting with the sector police and the CPF to address these issues, because there is zero police visibility in this are and they expect the police to patrol this vulnerable area.

A resident who lives close to the alley said that there are regular break-ins at his house. “The thugs who sit behind the wall also break into the nearby homes.  I caught some of them red-handed in my garage, trying to steal from me.  Something needs to be done immediately, because it cannot go on like this.  The people who use this alley see it as a shortcut, but I say it’s nothing but a shortcut to hell,: the irate resident said.

Another resident said the robberies and assaults take place any time of the night or day.  “From my house I can hear the women screaming when their bags are grabbed on their way to work. Even the school children are robbed of their cell phones and money.  No one is safe when passing through there.  I wouldn’t even advise my worst enemy to walk through there. The only solution to this problem would be either a satellitee police station or, the alley must be closed completely,” he said.

 Colonel Conrad Botha, station commander of the Algoa Park Police station, said that the alley in Silver Oaks forms part of their normal area of policing, and that he would work with the councillor to discus the residents’ grievances.  The residents spoken requested to remain anonymous out of fear of victimisation from the perpetrators.  by Zeldre Swanepoel

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Planning for Success"

    We enjoyed participating in two  "Planning for Success" workshops.  It was fun to act as co-operating teachers. Tom and I just sat observing like college professors training new teachers.  It was the first time either of these black leaders had taught  PEF.  They related well to the students and could understand them better than either of us could had we been asked to teach.  We prepared refreshments and made positive comment at the end of each class. Tom hung up a sheet to use as a screen for Brother Ntshebe and brought our Eiki for the PEF power point presentation.  (Neither library had a projector.) We were late getting to the class at Kawobuthle on Thursday.  After waiting for 15 minutes outside the locked gate at Kwamagxaki, Tom called the instructor and discovered we were at the wrong building.   We quickly drove over to Kawobuhle where two students and Brother Stokwe, were waiting for the workbooks.  No matter.  This is Africa.  A third student was just arriving.   Brother Stokwae showed the video and then decided to reconvene next week since there was evidently a missunderstanding between Kawobuthle 1 and 2 ward.  The time had not been announced nor posted so none of the participants from Kawobuthle 2 came.  
    Only five students of the seven showed the following night at Kwamagxai--the three siblings, two sisters and their brother along with Mawethu Olepu, the preacher's son and Sabata Minakara, the seminary teacher.  All had done their homework and were prepared.  The other three young men, who had attended the previous week, were no shows.  Tom noted that each had trouble reading.  Perhaps they dropped out because they were embarrassed and/or did not think they could complete the work--a common problem here in S.A. where graduation requirements were lowered from 70% passing to 35% passing in 1995.  Many blacks simply do not have the skills necessary to for technical training or success at a university.
   We have flat inspection on Tuesday as the Elders have transfers on Wednesday.  One set will go to Nimibia.  (All the Elders there were taken out of Nimibia a few months ago when the government failed to renew their visas.)  The flat on Diggerdy will be closed.  Thank goodness!  It's the worst in the area.  There is a cockroach collection pinned to their map and they hear termites chomping away at their roof at night. We will dispose of all the old furniture and see that the flat is clean so that the cleaning deposit will be returned.  We are moving to flat #17 next door at the end of the month.  The transaction among buyer, seller and  the mission office finally came together just hours before the lease on our flat would be renewed automatically.  What a blessing!  
   We are looking forward to meeting all the other PEF senior couples in Africa in a couple of weeks.  We will be in PEF training in Jo-Berg from May 21 through May 24th .  Brother Mindela has asked us to prepare 10 minute devotional talks Tuesday morning.  Tom and I are looking forward to getting information on our program and clarity on our role here in Port Elizabeth.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Life in South Africa

Nothing much going on today. except A SHOPPING CART at the grocery store is called a trolley, an escalator is called a lift, when you use your credit card to buy something you are asked, "Straight?"  I don't know what that means but I always say yes.  Once I said no and my card was rejected so I have said, "Yes, straight." ever since.  At the grocery store the cashier always asks, "Packet?"  The first time I went through a grocery line here I said, "What?" and she replied "Packet?"   Then she pointed to the plastic bags.  So I say "Packet" each time I go through the line.  We each have a debit card.  When you give it to the cashier you have to say, "credit card."  If you say "debit card" it can be denied.  When you go to a gas station and say "Fill it up with gas." they put air in your tires.  You have to say, "Fill it up with petrol unleaded."  Then they ask, Water ok? Tires ok? Oil ok?  They always wash your windshield and do a very thorough  job.      Traffic lights are referred to as "robots." as in, "Go down the street to the third robot.  Then turn left."

I was wrong when I said 12 dots on a piece of paper equal the size of an ant.  It's more like 4 dots.  They have to be the smallest ants in the world.  At street lights there are vendors selling their wares, the most common - packages of plastic garbage bags. Second would be hand flax woven bags. third would be cords that plug into your cigarette lighter.  The most common tin can used by beggars - a coke can.  The most common beggars at traffic lights - Blacks.  2nd  Browns, 3rd and very rare - a Whitie without a shirt and in bare feet.  A common sight - Blacks walking every where.  There's no public bus transportation system except an occasional bus that goes around picking up workers.  You might see 3 or 4 of these buses a day.  A rare sight?  A donkey pulling a cart.  Cost for a hair cut male?  $5.  The most common head?  A bald head.  The Black male adult, teenager, and kid.  The most common means of lawn cutting - the weedeater, and at a hamburger place I saw a sign that said, "Tiger burger."   The most common type of pie?  Steak and kidney.  Restaurant special of the day - monkey kidneys. Grocery deli - garlic snails.   The most common type of dog?  A small white terrier.  Speed limit?  130 kilometers per hour.  Maids working for whites? Fat Black women over age 40.  Build of average African Black male?  Slim and lean about 5' 9".  I have yet to see a fat Black, African male.         Baby carrier?  Child tied on mother's back.  Most common way of carrying things - on the head.   Money exchange?  8 Rand to a dollar.  Seemingly most popular car?  Volkswagon and Nissan.  Length of an average Black African funeral service?       4 hours.  The most popular colors worn by Black African women?  Blue, red, green.  Smoking?  3-4 men sharing a cigarette.   Cause for Internet disruption and disappearance? Thunder and lightning.  Most popular religion?  Christianity.  Sister Stokoe's major complaint?  "I'm cold."  The weather is mild but there is no central heating. Winter months are June and July.

Why Africans are Late

  Seven students attended the "Planning for Success" class.  Only one came on time, the last arrived at 6:35 p.m. - 1 hour and 35 minutes late.  But this is how it is in Africa.  There are those who have to walk long distances and consequently it takes a long time to arrive at their destinations.  I have sat in a sacrament meeting and seen women walk late into the meeting with beads of sweat on their faces having walked a long distance in the sun to reach church, some carrying a baby on their back. Or see members arrive late during Sunday school for the same reason.  It is understandable why people don't come to church when it rains.  If it takes them 1 hour to walk to church in the rain, sit soaking wet in the meetings, then walk home  another hour in the rain - why come to church?  Two weeks ago it started raining early in the morning and literally rained all day. So rain affects church, seminary, and institute attendance.  However, not everyone lives long distances from the church.  There are those who live close and distance is not the only reason for coming late or not coming to meetings at all.

The past 2 days I have been on a rescue mission -- rescuing stranded young missionaries.  Elder Taylor, our neighbor 3 houses away, has a case with spare keys to every vehicle in the Port Elizabeth mission.  He has permanently given me a set of 2 keys to his house -  1 key to open the rod iron door protecting the wooden door to his house, and one key to open the wooden door to get into his house.  This is the procedure:  if a couple of young missionaries misplace, lose, or accidentally lock their keys in their car, one of the 3 senior couples closest needs to go rescue them.  Usually, it is who is available and the closest.  I got the calls, was the closest, and so opened elder Taylor's house, picked up the case of vehicle keys and went to the rescue.  One set of elders were 45 miles away, the other 6 miles away.  Three weeks ago I also went on a rescue mission.  The battery died in a missionary car.  They were stranded after visiting an inactive.  So I got jumper cables and was able to rescue them.

The young elders are very dedicated.  It is neat associating with them.  We have 5 sets of elders that we buy supplies for and help if needed. Well, this is all for now.  I can't wait for the grocery store to open so I can buy a stick to eat for breakfast.

Elder S.
P.S. Just a reminder:  my e-mail is dead.  I can no longer send or receive anything on it.  Instead I use


                                                             PEF REPORT
                                                          Port Elizabeth Stake
                                                   By Elder Stokoe, 1 May 2012

Kwamagxaki Ward, Bishop Nqisha
PEF Orientation Fireside presented 10 minutes after conclusion of church, 40 minute session.
Attendance: 30 + to include parents, young adults, and pre-matic.
Bishop Nqisha had advertised fireside in advance over the pulpit.
Brother Lavuyo Ntshebe announced  Planning For Success class, to start Friday, April 27 at 5 p.m.

Preparation for Success Workshop, Lesson #1 given, a 1&1/2 hour class.
Instructor: Luvuyo Ntshebe
Attendance: 7 students

(Note from Sister S:  This class was scheduled to start at 5:00 p.m.but got underway at 6:00. Mawethu Olepu was the only student who arrived on time.  His pastor father, impressed by positive changes he saw in Mawethu after being baptized, paid for his mission to Kenya.  Maweth currently holds an entry level job in a hospital but wants to become a pharmacist.  Roberta Mandimo is a police office.  She works at the peer inspecting imports.  Roberta wants to become an attorney which will enable her to advance in police work and better support her young daughter. Her sister, Hlubikazi Semlato, designs and sews clothes. She had a small clientele but could not make enough to support her child.  She was hired by textile company but was later dismissed because she came in late.  I did not  talk to their brother Sieipho Mandimo who also attended the class. Three young men,  Sabgata Mhingkars, Thembalethu and Sihle Ntei-Mango came in after the class started.  One is a non member.  The instructor told us he was nervous as this is the first "Planning for Success" class he has ever taught.  He did not show it.  Luvuyo, is the 1st counselor in the bishopric.  He did an outstanding job and concluded by admonishing the students to complete their homework and come on time.  We were told in Johannesburg that we would be teaching all the workshops.  But the P.E. Stake has called teachers to do this.  So we will attend and support the teachers even though Pres. W. said the stake would take care of it.  Our only PEF duty seems to be to schedule ten one hour Firesides each year, assist students who ask for help in filling out forms, get signatures, close out loans by getting the signatures and filing all hard copy. Jberg process all loans and does the follow up and Salt Lake disperses the checks.)

Kwanobushle 2nd, Bishop Grootboom
PEF Orientation Fireside presented 3 p.m., 40 minute session.
Attendance: about 25 to include parents, young adults and pre-matric.
Bishop Grootboom had advertised fireside in advance over the pulpit plus posters were placed on bulletin board.  He gave the opening prayer and assisted in answering audience questions.
Announced Planning for Success Workshop to begin Thursday,with Kwanobuhle 1st ward, instructor Luthando Stokwe.

Kwanobuhle 1st, Bishop Mahaluba
PEF Orientation Fireside presented 4 p.m., 40 minute session.
Attendance about 25  to include parents and young adults.
Bishop Mahaluba had announced fireside in advance over the pulpit plus posters were placed on the bulletin board.  He gave the opening prayer and assisted in answering audience questions.
Announced Planning for Success Workshop to begin 5 p.m. Thursday, May 3 jointly with Kwanbuhle 2nd ward, instructor Luthando Stokwe.

Uitenhage branch, met with President Bray and a PEF interested adult. Fireside Orientation and planning for Success workshop dates to be set.

Port Elizabeth ward was scheduled for the PEF Orientation fireside on April 15 but did not occur with  re-broadcast of General Conference.

Knysna was scheduled for the PEF Orientation fireside on April 22 but cancelled.
Grahamstown - President Nye and branch council are working on a PEF  fireside date.
Port Alfred is on hold with the Robinsons returning to the U.S. in 2 weeks.
East London, the Fowers have given phone number of counselor in stake presidency for PEF contact.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Colgate Nangu

Hi Deween,
   So good to hear from you and discover that you are one of the 4 people reading this blog.  I enjoyed hearing about your daughters and their volunteer work in Africa.  Thanks for suggesting Desmond Tutu’s No Future Without Forgiveness.   I’ve read 7 books in the past seven weeks and need to find a lending library before I spend all my money on paper backs.   Today I struck up a conversation with Colgate Nangu after having a Thi massage.  He graduated from an area college in 1976 at the height of student unrest and was one of the student  leaders that helped end apartheid.   He taught high school for five years, got a degree in sociology and then went to work with Nelson Mendela and other black leaders after they were released from prison on Robben Island.  Colgate is currently New Market Development Manager for an African fertilizer company.
    He noticed my accent and wondered where I came from and what I was doing in Africa.  I told him that I’m from Utah, a state in the U.S. He had never heard of the place. I said, “It’s inland from California.”  I explained that I am an LDS missionary on assigned to promote higher education.  He proceeded to tell me that all the schools for blacks here in the Eastern Cape were originally established by white missionaries.  In his day, black students came here from all over Africa to get the education denied them by white leaders in their own countries. He said that white missionaries brought love, light and learning and learning to Africa.
   I told him about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He thought we were like all the other Christian denominations. (There is a different church on every corner here in P.E.)  I said “We are not like the others.  We believe in the bible but have other sacred scriptures.  We have prophets and the same organization that existed in the church Christ established when he was on earth.  Because of the Book of Mormon, we are often called  “Mormons.”  I asked if had ever heard the term Mormon?  He said “No.”  I pointed out that Mitt Romney, who is currently running for President in the U.S., is a Mormon.   Tom arrived, joined our conversation and took down Colgate's contact information.  He lives in Johannesburg but has family here in P.E. and so comes here often. He was accompanied by a young female who he said was a friend of the family, who works in banking.  Colgate Nangu is one of the most influential, well connected blacks we have met so far.  We exchanged e-mail addresses and he will meet with the missionaries in Jberg.   Love and Blessings, Sister S.