Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Circumcision & Coming of Age Ritual

"Going to the Bush is a Xhosa ritual where boys in South Africa are initiated into manhood.    During the winter break from school a group of initiates go into the bush accompanied by an older man.  Once there they must build a hut and kill a lamb.  There they are circumcised and must eat or burry their foreskin.  Wounds are covered by bandages made from the leaves of some wild plants.   After being circumcised each must go to the river and cover himself with a white clay.  The young men spend the balance of their time either naked or wearing very little.  

They live on maize during their stay.  A tribal elder teaches them Xhosa etiquette and the proper way of paying respect to the spirits of their ancestors.  During this period each young man learns Xhosa chants and songs.  At the end of the isolation they return to the river to wash off the clay.  However some continue to wear it on the face for weeks as they consider it a badge of honer.  They want everyone to know they have "been to bush" and that now they are men.  Many buy their sons new clothes discarding the old.  

Before they return home they are anointed with the fat of animals from the top of the head,  down their body and across their shoulders.  They are wrapped in a new blanket and in line with heads covered, they are marched back to their homes.  However, no longer will they live with their family.  Now that they are men they move into a lean too or shack behind their family home.  

Initiates are then honoured with a huge party and another animal is slaughtered.  Friends and relatives come to congratulate them.  Everyone eats, sings, and dances until they drop.  A celebration can go on for many days.  It's a huge expense for each family.  

"Going to the bush" is discouraged among our LDS youth.  Some simply refuse to go.  Others go because of peer pressure or because an uncle or a tribal elder demand it of them.  Those who undergo the initiation ritual, it is not without risk, refuse alcohol during their stay in the bush.   One of our Grahamstown sisters bore her testimony on the anniversary of her brother's death.   He died during an initiation ceremony.  See the article below:

The Times, “Doctor tells of initiation horrors,”  Monday, July 29, 2013

 This is a grim time of year for Eastern Cape’s Holy Cross Hospital, at which mattresses are laid on floors to cope with the stream of young men severely injured in circumcision rituals.  The tradition, which goes back centuries, in meant to usher youths into manhood, inculcating them with the ability to take on the responsibilities of an adult who is a valued member of his community.  

But at least 60 boys have died since the start of the initiation season in May, 30 of them in Eastern Cape in the past six weeks.  About 300 have been admitted to hospitals.

Dingeman Rijken, a doctor at the Holy Cross Hospital, has treated so many cases that he is campaigning for more proficiency at the ceremonies and has circulated a training manual that calls for adequate medical precautions.  The manual contains graphic images of circumcision and illustrates the best way of performing the procedure. . .

“It is becoming a psychological issue,” said Rijen, who has treat 140 initiates in the past year.  “I have had to tell eight boys this season that they’ve lost their glands or another part of their penis. . . We can’t run away from it’ we need to deal with it.” 

 Rijen said the worst of the injuries were cased by botched circumcisions by inexperienced traditional “nurses”, who used one spear blade on many initiates without disinfection then covered wounds with tightly wrapped bandaging that cut off the blood supply.  

"After about 10 hours, the genitals could become gangrenous and, in some cases, permanently damaged."  But many initiates did no seek hospital treatment for another five to 10 days, Rijen said.  By this time very little could be done.  Doctors could not perform surgery because initiates suffered from sleep deprivation and dehydration and were not in a condition to give consent.

 In minor cases, Rijken cleans and bandages the affected area and gives antibiotics.  But sometime partial amputation of the penis is necessary.  In some instances, boy have done nothing and the entire penis fell off.

 Legislation stipulates that initiates should be at least 18, but parents can give their consent to younger boys being circumcised.  Rijken, who has monitored more than 60 ceremonies, said most initiates were aged between 14-17, but he had treated boys as young as 12.

Initiates rarely complained about pain because they feared being beaten by nurses and ridiculed by peers for not properly observing a tradition that encourages them to develop a tough demeanor, Rijken said.  

One patient had part of his injured penis “yanked off” as punishment for complaining.  He believes it will take the combined effort of traditional leader, provincial health department and the government to end the killings and save the cultural practice.  But he said it was time communities were education about the dangers of ritual circumcision.  

“If you see so many boys are dying, then it’s time to talk about it.  We want people to do away with the secrecy. “

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 28 - Best of Both World

We have the best of both worlds each Sunday.  We attend Port Elizabeth Ward's  Sacrament meeting at 8:00 a.m.  Then drive to Motherwell where the meetings begin at 10:00 a.m.  P.E. Ward was the first to be organized here in the mid 1940's.  It is made up mostly of white Afrikanner second and third generation members.  There are a few black families.  I always learn something new from members like Herman Van Thiel who is an excellent teacher.  His Fireside on the What, Where, When, Why, and Why of the Book of Mormon last Sunday night was simply outstanding.  He had a mock up of the different plates that make up the Book of Mormon.  He suggested we begin by reading the the Book of Ether since the large stone that was translated by Mosiah using the Urim and Thuammim is the earliest book in the collection.   Then we go out to Motherwell where we find ourselves on the other end of the spectrum.  Since everyone is new we have lots of opportunities to teach and serve.   Yesterday Elder Stokoe led the singing and gave a talk at the baptism.  He was also one of the two witnesses.  Our baptisms in July included Brother Sonwabo & Sister Mzini on July 6th and the two Flakie's yesterday. 

Elder Nyophe and Elder Wilde baptised Nandi Voyokasi, 29, and her son, Silindokummle Flakie

  The Flakey's have five children including two sets of twins.  Nandi is their eldest.  I have three of the Flakey girls in my Sunday School class.  Twins Sinazo & Sinovuyo, and another sister who also has a twin brother.  That young man only came once.  He is the rebel who arrived in a white tee shirt and red pants.  His sisters always dress beautifully.  He is bright and asked a lot of questions.  He challenged me on some of our doctrine.   The next Sunday I asked his twin sister if there was anything he found appealing about Mormonism.  She said, "My brother thinks it's cool that we don't have paid ministers nor do we hassle people to make cash donations."   

Elder Stokoe taught my Sunday School class today and did an excellent job.  We handed out copies of, "For the Strength of Youth" and began going through that pamphlet.  Many of our 12 to18 year olds are investigators.  The others have been members for only a month or two so this material is rather new to them.
Twins Sinazo & Sinovuyo with newly baptised Nandi.

I find it amazing that so many of the youth who join the church here are the only members of their families to do so.  They are very devout, attend seminary and come to church regularly.  After graduating from high school, some like our Grahamstown missionaries, choose to serve missions rather than go to college.  Sifundiso who was baptised May 4th, has turned down a scholarships as he is preparing for a mission and his mother is none too happy about that.  Sifundiso was made an elder at last Saturday.  Today he was called to be  Motherwell Group's mission leader.

Elder Kenneth Wildskut, 2nd counsellor in the stake presidency spoke in sacrament meeting today.  He said that "the eyes of the stake are on you.  Many of you were called in the pre existence to bring the church to Motherwell.  Your are the pioneers."

Since these members have not been in the church very long they do not know the hymns well but they love to sing.  "How Great Thou Art" has become the favourite song of my class so we sing it often.  I have never told them that this hymn has always been sung in the most spiritual moments of my life.  It always reminds me that my Heavenly Father is mindful of me and that my parents are near.  They love me and know what is happening in my life.
Elder and Sister Van Sickle conducting their last Career Workshop in Motherwell before going home August 12
The Career Workshop we arranged was a big success.  Thirteen people participated.  Many were surprised that the church promotes these kinds of classes.  They liked the idea that our leaders are concerned with our temporal as well as our spiritual lives.  We are looking forward to Stake Conference which will be held on August 10th & 11th and our stakes annual women's conference which will be held on August 9th.  The Relief Society President asked me to help plan Motherwell's musical number.  I told them that most units prepare numbers that highlight their local customs and culture.  So Sister Zitsu suggested that each woman wear a native costume.  Since President Vosket called our group the "baby of the stake," I suggested that we sing "I am a child of God."  We practiced that number to get ready for the conference.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

George Billings in the Congo

Hello to our family and friends at home.
In the work that we are doing here we have encountered many obstacles.  I woke up the other morning and, while getting ready for the day and thinking of what lies before us, I thought of a name for our mission.  It is short, concise, and descriptive.  “Mission Impossible”.  That’s how I felt at that moment.  But we long ago developed a Moto for our mission.  “Nothing Can Stop Us”.  That seems to be the Moto here for so many people as they seek out an existence.  I am sending pictures of one man and four kids that signify that Moto.  The four kids are delivering water to our job site for our concrete mix.  The man is an interesting story. 

In the first of these pictures there is a man standing at the base of a large tree with an axe in his hands.  This tree stood on our jobsite and the man had the responsibility of removing it so that we can build a church where it stood.  He has four tools to remove the tree.  They are his axe, his shovel, his pick, and a machete.  We watched for many days as this man patiently dug around the base of the tree and chopped roots, some of which were as big around as the old telephone poles at home.  As he dug it was apparent that, if he were able to topple it, the tree would fall on the forms we had erected for the work we were currently doing.  He assured us that only the upper branches would cover our forms and that he would remove them quickly.  Another picture shows the tree finally toppled to the ground.  And, sure enough the upper branches covered some of our forms.  With his axe he removed some of the larger branches.  With the help of his machete the branches were cleared away from our forms a week or two later.  Time doesn’t seem all that important to people in this society.  They just get the job done with whatever means they have to do it.  Nothing can stop them.

Speaking of names that are short, concise, and descriptive I have another interesting story.  To clearly identify groups that we are training the construction office in Kinshasa has referred to them with the name of the missionary couple trainers followed by a number.  For example, the groups we have taught are referred to as Billings 1, Billings 2, Billings 3, and Billings 4.  We started with ten students in Billings 1.  A few months ago the Billings 1 students approached me and talked about their desire to create a business of their own.  They, all ten, had decided to stay together and form a business.  They wanted some tips on how to make their business successful.  I told them many things but I emphasized the importance of being honest, obeying the laws pertaining to a business, and having a catchy company name.  I told them that the name had to be short, concise, and descriptive of the best that a construction company could offer.  They asked what I had named my company in the United States.  I had to swallow my words and tell them that my company was named after myself.  It was simply George Billings Construction.  Nothing more was said for several months.  Then, just before I left them behind in Kinshasa, they informed me that their business had formally been approved by the Government.  They had submitted all of the required documents, paid the fees, and registered their company name.  That led me to ask the name of their company.  Their reply:  Billings 1.

These stories are pleasing to us.  I hope that each of you can find them interesting and amusing.  We are doing well in the City of Likasi.  There is a new missionary couple here by the name of Atkinson who we will soon leave behind to train Atkinson 1, Atkinson 2, and Atkinson 3.  We are scheduled to move to the City of Kananga on August 12th.  There we will begin training for Billings 5.  There is couple in Kinshasa by the name of Gates.  They are finishing up with Billings 3 and Billings 4 and will soon begin the new group of Gates 1. 

Although we are aware of trials that some of you have faced in recent days we continue to wish the best for each of you in the future.  Your emails have been appreciated.      

With love,

George and JoAnn

Friday, July 26, 2013

Tickets & meeting Siba at the Air Port

Dear  Matt, 
    En route home we are touring the Holy Land for 18 days with "Fun For Less Tours" out of Draper.  We will join the Fun For Less group in Istanbul on October 18th where the tour begins.  On the 19th sightseeing gets under way. We have purchased our tickets from Cape Town to Istanbul.  The Isreal & Turkey tour ends in Tel Aviv on November 2nd and everyone flies home on Sunday, November 3rd. 

    However, being our leg of the journey begins in South Africa, and not with the Utah group.  Fun For Less was not able to book us on their special airline round trip rate.  So we have make our own flight arrangements. We have been looking at airlines and comparative fares.  

  Is there a chance you can locate the best deal and book tickets for us?  We note there are several flights leaving Tel Aviv on November 3rd and would prefer the best connections with the least stop over time.  The other people on the tour are flying out on November 3rd at 7:45 a.m.  

  We talked to our booking agent here who said the best rates from Tel Aviv to SLC are best purchased in the U.S. rather than purchasing them here in South Africa. Anyway, if this is a possibility let us know. 

     I went online to look for flights.  Booking at this time you will pay $1500.00 per seat for a one way ticket from Tel Aviv to Salt Lake City.. . the only way to save money is to book a round trip ticket from Tel Aviv to Salt Lake and a return flight and then not return . . .
 I ran a search on Kayak for a round trip ticket from Tel Aviv to Salt Lake Leaving on Nov. 3, 2013 and returning to Tel Aviv on Nov. 17th. The search automatically directed me to the Delta Site and I came up with this:  Delta Flight 269  (1 stop) departing Tel Aviv at 12:30 am Nov. 3, 2013 and arriving in SLC at 10:30 a.m. with a 1 hr 25 min layover at JFK in New York. (18 hour 15 minute total travel time) Return Flight (who cares?). . .  I can book these tickets for you, or if you have a computer with internet access, a credit card and 10 minutes you can book the exact same thing, let me know,    

Email to the family - Last night Matt booked Tel Aviv to SLC for us on Delta.  Trying to do it myself was making me crazy.  Melani at Pentravel booked Cape Town  to Istanbul   We begin our tour on October 18th and will fly back to SLC on Delta flight 1415 which lands at 10:30 a.m.  Dean will pick us up.   

Sometime there after we need to fly to Hawaii for a week as Grandma Stokoe will turn 98 on November 9th.  Who knows how long she will last?    We celebrated Pioneer Day with a dinner for our two Lorraine missionaries, David Pitt, our friend from the park and Sister Susan Rank.  Tom is busy practicing his talk for the baptism tomorrow.  The Van Sickles are holding an employment workshops at Motherwell Saturday and Sunday.  We would like to attend but Elder Zitsu asked us to at the baptism.  We visited six new members out there on Tuesday to give follow-up lessons.  It was very cold.  The wind was so strong it almost blew me away.  Winters here are rather strange.  Today it's warm and sunny. 

President Boyce called and asked us to pick up Sibabalwa Ngpoyiya who was returning from his mission in Uganda and drive him to his home in Grahamstown.  Later Sister Chase called to tell us that she was visiting with his mother and  that his sister would pick him up at P.E. International.  Still I felt impressed that we should be there.  He is one of the missionaries I wrote to when we were doing member service work in Grahamstown.  His father is on dialysis and as was not expected to live.  So Siba was released from his mission a month early.  

I'm glad he did not have to wait by himself until the others arrived.

We met him at the gate.  Lucky we were there as those who were supposed to pick him up arrived over an hour late.  All the other passengers had left the terminal. It would have been sad for Siba to wait there all by himself.  He used our cell phone to call his mother and sister who was coming to pick him up and drive him home. 

Elder Ngpoyiya said there are 80 zones in Uganda with a different dialect being is spoken in each zone.  Being transferred from one to another was difficult.  However most everyone there speaks English. Siba loved Uganda. But said it was good to be home.  His dad is doing much better.  He has been released from the hospital.  Siba will be such a blessing to the Branch. 

Elder Kani, who served in Uganda and was released to return to Grahamstown in June is on left.   Dumisani Pay, Grahamstown's ward clerk is next to him.  Siba with his sister are on the far right.

Grahamstown Branch hosted  a "Welcome Home party" on Saturday night.  Siba's mother wanted the party held at the family home rather than at church.  It was supposed to be a pot luck with the family and other women bringing food.  However only the Relief Society came through.   None of Siba's sisters helped.  Members of various churches, friends and neighbours all came including several pastors from their township.   Many speeches praising Siba for his service were delivered.  People sang and danced for seven hours.  Siba's parents were deeply touched by the outpouring of love from the branch. 

Dinner with the Woods & lunch for Zone Conference

The P.E. area couples with President and Sister Wood before Zone Conferences at Kwano  July 11 & P.E. on  July 12
Two senior couples were arriving in P.E. to help with the Port Elizabeth Zone Conference on July 12th.  (Neither are pictured above.)  I will call them couple A, who were staying with us and couple B, who were staying with the Van Sickles. Elder Stokoe and I were working at Motherwell the day they were scheduled to arrive.   I worried that we would not be at home so I left a key a neighbour and instructed her let them in should they arrive before we got home.  We had no word from either the A's or the B's.  We were famished after spending the day hanging curtains in the Relief Society Room.  We stopped for dinner on our way home.  Our cell phone rang.  It was Sister B wanting to know where the Van Sickles were.   (They are the couple on the far right.  The Sherberts are next to them.)   

"I don't know," Tom said.   "Likely with the Sherberts catering the Zone Conference at Kwanobushle."    Sister B said she wanted to invite us and the Van Sickles to dinner.  "Where are you now?" Elder Stokoe asked.

"Somewhere by the ocean, near Walmar," she replied.  Tom declined saying we would see them later.  We were tired and had yet to shop for the luncheon the next day. 

It had been several weeks since we met with the A's ad B's to agree on a menu. I was a little foggy about what we had finally decided for a main dish.  I knew we had each agreed to make part of it.  We also agreed to buy french bread, fruit and to bring a pan of brownies.  I thought we had decided to serve spaghetti.  Sister B had called the previous day to say she had e-mail me a receipt but had made a mistake in her ingredients.   "Sister A will explain what you need to know when she arrives."   I never received her receipt for lasagne.  Since I know how to make spaghetti I never gave it a second thought.

After finishing dinner we went shopping and bought ingredience for spaghetti. Tom insisted on buying much more french bread than I thought we needed.  But it's hard to find french bread in S.A.   When couple A arrived, I discovered that the main dish was lasagna and not spaghetti.  What to do?   By then all the stores were closed and we were scheduled to be at the church by 9:15 the next morning.   Tom suggested that we cook up all our spaghetti and serve both dishes.  But Sister A feared that the elders would like our spaghetti better than the lasagne. I called Sister Van Sickle.   She donated everything I needed to make one large pan of lasagna.

Sister B had wanted all the fruit cut up but by midnight, it was much too late to do anything about that.  Neither Sister A nor Sister B had bought napkins, paper plates or plastic cups.   We had everything including the flatwear, so we boxed it all up saying, "Don't worry.  We will take care of setting up the tables and we will provide all the paper products."  

Couple A worried about couple B being late and delaying them.  This had happened before.  The As always drive the Bs since Elder B had his drivers license stolen.   Most likely the B's would once again cause the A's to be late.  "Don't worry!" I said,  "We will go early and get everything ready.  Then we can all attend President Wood's talk."

We arrived at 8:30 just as President and Sister Wood drove through the gate.  The elders helped us carry in all our boxes and set up tables.  Both the A's and I had cooked our pans of lasagna that morning so it was just a matter of keeping it warm until noon.  Sister Wood and I attended the A.P.'s training while President Wood conducted some PPI's.  Couple A & B finally arrived one hour late.   After they found that we had everything set up and in good order, they joined us to hear President Wood's talk.

Sister B pulled me aside and whispered, "Sorry we could not make it on time today.  We are staying with the Van Sickles and we needed to give them their space.  They had to leave early.  So we waited until they were gone before we got up.  Then I put my pan of lasagna in the oven.  Of course we had to wait until it was cooked before we could leave."

Then she announced,  "Sister Van Sickle told me to be sure to cut eight pieces per pan or there will not be enough lasagna for everyone."    This really bothered me.  Sisters A & B had never catered a Zone Conference before yet Sister B was calling all the shots.   We have always prepared enough food for the elders to have second helpings.  

Tom had buttered all eight loves of our French Bread.   Sister A had brought only four small loaves.  Sister B had forgotten to buy french bread.   Still we had plenty, as well as a lot of fruit, and brownies. Tom bought three cartons of ice cream when he left to purchase ice to serve with the water.   We needed at least three more pans of lasagna.   I kept apologising to the elders when they asked for seconds,  "Sorry, but we did not plan very well."  Guess I should have done as Tom wanted and cooked up all the spaghetti we had in the house. 

At noon Sister B took over in the kitchen.  She started giving everyone orders.   I was so annoyed that I walked out and began filling up the water glasses and placing the bowls of fruit on the tables.  The small servings of lasagna looked rather lonely on the plates which the A's and B's handed out.  Sister B finally cut the last four pieces into haves.   Eight elders got another mouthful. 

When it was time for dessert Sister B moved over to the table where Tom was cutting up brownies and I thought they would come to blows.   Elder Stokoe said in a very loud voice, "Don't be bashful elders!  Come on over and dish up as much ice cream as you can eat. " 

Then Sister B. announced, "Those who don't have dessert would you raise your hands" while continuing to place a tiny scoop of ice cream on each brownie.  She was not successful in getting any of the elders to line up.   They all went to Tom's side of the table where they scooped up ice cream for themselves.  He looked directly at her and said, "Here we let the elder's help themselves."   But Sister B kept on scooping.

I had told couple A that it might be better if the B's drove when they came to P.E. together  even though Elder B. had his license stolen.  If the B's drove then the A's could be dropped off at our house and go to the meetings with us.  Then the B's could come at their leisure.  

Sister A asked if I would please tell Brother B about my experience of driving without a license in an effort to nudge him to share chaffering responsibilities.   So when everything had been cleaned up and put away and they were preparing to leave,  I told Brother B. that President Wood said it was okay for me to drive without a license.   If I were pulled over I should say that my license had been stolen and pull out my pass port which would suffice. 

Elder B replied,  "I know countries like South Africa with police looking for an excuse to get a bribe.  I'm not going to risk it."  Elder Stokoe and I are not looking forward to catering another luncheon with these people.  We leave on October 15th.  Hopefully there will not be another Zone Conference before we are released.

Xhosa Members & Cole's Pen Pal

I asked Ambesa Tokwe if he would like to be Cole's pen pal but he did not know what a pen pall was.   I said, "It's someone you e-mail or write to.  It's a friend who lives in  another country."  I think Ambesa is a good choice for Cole as he speaks English fluently and writes well. They are close in age and they have a lot in common.   We see the Mdledle family every Sunday and at least once during the week when we pick up Brother Mdledle, Ambesa's grandfather, to translate for us when those we visit can only speak Xhosa.
Hi Ambesa,
This is Cole, thanks for your email!  I am excited to have a pen pal in South Africa.
Can I please get your mailing address?  I will be 8 yrs old on Aug. 29th.  I am getting baptized in September and I am very excited.  I live in Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States.  I like to play soccer too!     From, Cole
Hello Cole,

Ambesa is Cole's new pen pal
My name is Ambesa from South Africa. Thank you for being my pan pal. I am very happy.  I want to tell you about my family. I live with my grandparents, 3 aunts and 3 cousins. That is a very big family.  I hear that it is very cold in Utah and I would love to play with snow one day. There is no snow here. I saw a picture of the Salt Lake temple and I would love to visit one day.

I take a bus everyday to school. We live by the ocean. I love to play in the water. We go there when it is warm.  My cousin is Busisiwe Angel, she is 9 years old. We were babtized on the same day. Her little sister is Ruby but we call her pumpkin.  Achumile (Tuma) is the little boy.
Brother Mdledle with Thandokazi, Pumkin & Achumile

Sister Stokoe writes,
As to the family Ambesa's father is the son of Sister Mdledle but he seldom visits.  Ambesa's mother died when he was very young. 
 Grandfather Mdledle has had several management positions over the years and was working as an executive in an automobile company  until the company changed hands and the new managers fired him.  Mdledle had spent years building up that company. Now he worries about providing for a large family of nine. 
All three Mdledle sisters went to private schools in Port Elizabeth paid for by their father's company.  Libby and Thanokoizi (Zim) where going university when they came in contact members of the church.  They were the first to be baptized.  The family live in a comfortable home in NU #5.  There are 33 native units in Motherwell.   There is a huge potential for growth.   We take Brother Mdledle with us when we go fellowshipping as he knows the areas well and speaks Xhosa.

Ambesa is ten years old, very friendly and gregarious.   He attends Swartkops Primary School and is in the 4th Grade.  His soccer team is called "the scorpions."  Steven Sika is his favourite movie.  It's an action story about "police shooting people. Steven Sika is the good guy." Brother Mdledle explains that his name means  "covered over" or "covered with goodness," in  Xhosa.   All the clans give their children names with special meaning.  Two cousins live with them, Ruby (called pumpkin) and her sister Busisiwe.  They are children of Sister Mdledle's sister, who lives and works in Johannesburg.  But Sister M. loves the the Angel children so much that their mother gave them to the Mdledle's to raise. Little Archimile, orTuma, is the son of Libby, the Mdledle's oldest daughter. 
We also visited Buzelwa Norongo who we helped apply for her national identification number.  We discovered that since doing more research she is now calling herself  "Minieka Toban," -- not the name on her baptismal certificate or on  any school records.  When I asked about this she explained that Minieka, (meaning beautiful day)  is the name her mother gave her at birth.  Her grandmother told her that her was "Buzelwa Norongo." I hope all this can be sorted out.  Having two different names and no national I.D. number will cause huge problems.

We also visited Brother Sonwabo, a single man who was baptised on July 6th. He lives with his sister and her children.  He speaks good English but he is very shy.  His niece explained that he was abused by an Afrikaans family who imprisoned him on their farm.  He worked for many years without wages.  Until his sister, a high school teacher, found him.   His niece, a member who teaches Institute, is completing her degree in civil engineering.  In the group he is simply known as "uncle."

Elder Stokoe is none too happy about all the people who have been asking for money lately.   Church policy is that we should not hand out money.  If a member should ask, we are to refer them to their bishop.   Elder S. did make an exception for the Toises, who are both PEF students.  He bought them groceries and drove Michael around to look for a job.  Whey they asked for taxi money to attend Charlene's graduation from nursing school he provided it.  Since they are among the few who have actually applied for a PEF loan, he wanted to help them through their programs.  Another member called three times wanting to borrow money to repair his truck.  He promised repayment in Sept.  We are not a bank.  
Ambesa and cousin,  Busisiwe Angel
 When we were in Grahamstown picking up the curtains from Edward and Lalita's laundry, Tom visited Lional, who was existing on rice until he received a check for work done at the Art's Festival.  A member of the branch presidency happened to be at Checkers while Elder S. was buying his groceries.    Later he suggested to Elder Chase that if he would not pay for the branch temple trip, that he would call Elder Stokoe and ask him to since Elder S. has lots of money.  Every member should pay their own way according to the church hand book. We normally adhered to the rules but have found that Motherwell Group has no budget.  They are a group and not a branch.   So we have been generous in providing for them.   We bought curtains to replace the ones that were stolen for the Relief Society room.  He purchased waste baskets, a weed whacker for Sifundiso to use to earn money for his up coming mission and we bought lots of cleaning products for them.
Ambesa's cousins, Pumkin & Achumile
Add caption
There is more I would like to share but I must get this out now as my g-mail account is having problems and I cannot post anything to my blog.   However, I'm still able to post to face book.  Janette Lake has promised to stop in Saturday morning and fix this.     
In S.A. you buy electricity at the super market and enter the amount into the meter in the garage.  When the electricity goes off you know you are out of watts and must buy more.  When we got home late Saturday night we had no electricity.   I lit candles and use a flash light until Elder Stokoe went to  the store.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Art's Festival & Mendela is now critical and on life support.

We enjoyed returning to the Grahamstown Arts Festival on Monday.  However after nine days of festival I came back to P.E. feeling exhausted.  Tom saw over 30 shows.  I went to many native dances but got so tired of the "stomping Africans" that I opted to spend my time watching various movies.  I saw the academy award winner "Searching for Sugar Man."   Also Bailout, the Age of Greed; The War Around Us; Sleeper's Wake and Elelwani, which is a film about a young girl who returned to her village after completing her education only to discover that her parents had promised her in marriage to a tribal king.  Filmed in Limpopo, this S.A. film featured incredibly beautiful scenery and a rather disturbing plot.  However it is typical of how many Africans still arrange their daughter's marriage.
In the projection booth with Janadie Cupido.
Alan Bamford introduced me to the projectionist for films.  His father was born in Nevada and served in the U.S. military until he arrived in a small boat in S.A.  He married a South African citizen and they had eleven children.  Janadie asked if I could get some genealogical information on his father who died many years ago.  A very talented African Janadie lectures on film making and teaches classes in music at a university in Cape Town.  He selects films from all over the world for the film section of this festival and has opperated the booth for 29 years.Well,

I sent this information to my friend Joyce, a professional genealogist   Her reply, "I made a stab at Isaac Cupido from Nevada.  It sounds good, but I doubt if it's true.There is no Isaac Cupido in ANY census record anywhere in the U.S.  I did find an Isaac Cupido as 2nd Baker (crewman) aboard a Belgian ship named "Lubilash" which docked in the U.S. twice in 1957 -- once in April and once in June.  The Latter one gave Cupido's Nationality as Z Afrikaans.  If he married in 1914 in South Africa, he likely was born about 1880.  He is not in the 1880 census in the U.S.  The 1890 census was lost.  I didn't find him in the 1900 census nor the 1910.  I finally decided it would be best to try for his death certificate to see if that gave any information.  Someone suggested we try the web site (which I told Janadie to consult:)
There were three "hits" when I clicked on KAB (Cape Town Archives Repository)."  I printed this information and placed it in an envelope.  I passed it on to Sister Wood at Zone Conference the following week.  She will give it to the Mitchell's Field Missionaries, in Cape Town to hand deliver to Janadie Cupido.
We loved "Beautiful Creatures," a free Childrens Concert put on by the Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, and "Frank Sinatra & Friends" featuring two singers backed by the Orchestra.   We also enjoyed "Art Behind Bars" a song and dance production by prisoners from the various prisons in this country.  The number I liked best was a Las Vegas style production featuring women in red evening gowns and black sweaters and men wearing black pants, white shirts and red ties.  Photography of any kind is "strictly forbidden" at the festival, so Elder Stokoe refused to give it to me the camera even though the guards there were taking pictures on cameras and cell phones on both sides and in front of me.  The following number included 40 prisoners in native costumes singing and dancing with four guards on stage to keep an eye on them. We stayed three nights with the Chases and four nights in the visitors flat in Alan's retirement complex.  
Dr. Marais told me not to do anything too strenuous for at least seven weeks but this was a golden opportunity so I hung in despite the fact that I was rather tired and I had a bad cold.  It was well worth the effort.
 The news here is all about Nelson Mendela and the in fighting among his large family.    They had a meeting two weeks ago to inspected and prepare his grave site.  Then last week his oldest grandson from the first marriage collected the bones of three young children from that marriage and buried them in his own family burial ground and erected an iron fence around it.  

  Wife #2 and Wife #3 then protested the removal and went to court demanding that the bones be returned so they could be buried where Mendela will be laid to rest.  The court had the bones dug up and placed in the original graves in his compound.  There is a lot of ceremony,  custom and superstition around death and burial here in South Africa.   Since Nelson Mendela is an international icon, every member of his family is showing an interest in his estate.  Philip Clark told me that one of his daughters is negotiating to sell the rights to broadcast his funeral to CNN.  An unnamed chauffeur has revealed that Mendela has been senile for over four years.  This information has never been released to the public or the press.   Many Africans believe that he wanted to die at home and did not want to go to the hospital which is why the ambulance broke down while transporting him.  Others feel his spirit will not find any peace nor can he die while his family continues to argue and fight.  

Mendela's condition is critical now and he continues on life support.   This information came to light during the court case on Wednesday.  Meanwhile his doctors have been assuring the press  that he is  "responsive" and the nation continues to pray for a speedy recovery.   My hair dresser wondered if responsive means that he is breathing in and out?  She asks, "What does the rest of the world think about all this.  Isn't dying at age 94 good enough for the people of S.A. rather than keeping him of life support until his 95th birthday next week?"  The Fine Art's Festival was "toned down" in the event of his passing and the press here reported that Michelle Obama wore "subtle colours" during her recent visit rather than the bright coloured outfits she usually wears in order not to offend anyone here.
A Local Vendor
 Venders came from all over Africa to sell their goods at  the Festival which ended on Sunday.   Elder Stokoe and I were at the Masonic Hall on July 5th to see the dramatic play entitled "Mamela." An excellent play which featured stories of eight women's experiences in post-apartheid South Africa.
 Elder Stokoe enjoyed many of the shows that feature native dancers.  They reminded him of various Polynesian dances including an African version of the slap dance which is done here done in moon boots. He also liked the native instruments, the rich voices of many of the male performers and the colorful costumes.

It was fun to go through two large areas for venders.  The one near the university included many free shows.  Another was located in the center of the city with lots of African food and native products for sale.  There were also many displays of art and crafts in several buildings.  This was a wonderful opportunity to meet people from Johannesburg,  Cape Town, Durban and many other parts of Africa.  People from Europe also came to attend the festival.

July 25th.  My g-mail account is back up today and I can now access my blog.  I was down from July 10 through July 24th and unable to post anything.  We just returned from Incredible Connections where a very talented technician resolved this problem.   We hosting a dinner tonight for Sister Rank, David Pitt (our friend from the park) and the Lorainne missionaries but I'll bring you up to date as soon as I have more time.  Love and Blessings, Sister Stokoe

Native Entertainers warming up for their performance
Elephant Art at the University venue.