Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Hello Family and Friends,

Well, it's almost Christmas Eve in Zimbabwe. Someone asked me what the date was today and I said the 23rd of December. It hit me like a train! It's almost Christmas and I really didn't even go shopping. I just can't believe it. We always go grocery shopping but other shopping is almost never. We don't even have a tree or lights, but that's ok. We've watched "The Gift" and read the Ensign and scriptures, sang songs at church and zone conferences. That's good enough. Good food!
Today was a rather slow day. In fact, we are having Holiday hours in the mission office for the next week and a half. Walks in the morning and home before dark. There was not a lot of activity in the office, so we left early after our work was done. There is always work to do.

I do hope your trees are all trimmed and the house smells good with holiday cooking and friends and family. We welcomed 2 other couples into the mission last week. They both went through the MTC together, so we are the man out in the group. They are older than we are, but they are very active. In fact the second day for this one couple, the wife was driving and got into a car accident.  You can't be timed in your driving here, you'll get into an accident and she did. We got the car fixed today, so she can wreck it again this coming week. They were alright, some man ran into the side of the car. Good thing they weren't driving the car that was issued for them, a new Toyota Corolla. President might reconsider the car issue for them.

Today at the chapel next to the mission office, there was a double funeral. A mother and her only son were laid to rest. They were coming back from South Africa, Johannesburg Temple and the vehicle they were riding in, hit a pot hole, blew out the tire and the vehicle flipped 3 times. Every one was injured and they both died. I've never seen so many people at a funeral. It was very touching. The young man was baptized last January and his mother was baptized in March of this year. The young man was attending BYU and was home on school break. There is still a teenage daughter in a coma in the hospital. The lady driving has suffered a lot of broken bones and two little boys were thrown from the vehicle but they are recovering after surgery. Very sad . A tradition here when people die, the grieving family will have to provide food and lodging for all the friends and family that come for the funeral. This can last up to a week, a large hardship on the family that is grieving. No one brings food or flowers to the family. They just all mooch! Also last week a Stake President's counselor who was in his 40's just died and left a very young family behind. Just too much sadness for the church members here.

Our Mission president and his wife and two of their children are in Victoria Falls for the next few days. Today I forgot to turn on my beeper on my cell phone. He called me on the office phone and asked if I had deleted him from my phone. I just couldn't tell him that it was on vibrate. I do have a problem with turning my phone on so I can receive incoming calls. I'm just not a secretary. My children can verify that I don't answer a cell phone. But I do call out on it. Poor President Cook.

On Friday I made reservations for the "senior couples" to go out on a safari again. I just hope it doesn't rain really bad. One of the new senior couples likes to hunt big game animals. He said that his son's house is covered with head mounts. I do hope he doesn't ruin the atmosphere when we see these beautiful animals on Friday, and say something like, " I'm going to come back for a hunting trip". I just might not like him for a year or so! This Saturday we are having another party, at the branch building. After the 4 baptisms, we are going to teach the new members about tithing, home evening, temples, and anything else that might come up. We hope to have around 60 people to the event. So they are going to cook more sodza, chicken, rice and vegetables to serve. Last week during Sacrament meeting there were 6 confirmations. The missionaries just can't keep every one straight, with their names, and baptismal dates. Very exciting!

Last Sunday night Sister Cook invited all the office workers, and the new couples to the mission home for dinner. It was so wonderful, and the home is new and beautiful. At the end of the night, President asked each of  us to tell something about ourselves. Elder Hermansen and I didn't have much to talk about. We have an assistant to the president who is from Uganda. He told us about his conversion. He use to be a Muslim. He said that he is very nervous about going back to his home and meeting his fathers family. They are the Muslims, and they hate Christians. His father died when he was 12, so his mother has raised the family of 5 kids. She joined the church first and then he did and now all but his younger brother has joined the church. Alan asked what was it that interested him in the church and leave the Muslim practice. He said that this church teaches that we can repent and be forgiven of our mistakes and the Muslim faith teaches that there is no hope of forgiveness and life with Heavenly Father. He said that they believe that they have a different God, and that what he says is final. This young man is so sharp, and smart. I could have listened to him all night long. In one of our zone devotionals, a young man talked about the "gift " that has been given to him. He told us that when he was younger both of this parents passed  on. So he was on his own. Someone introduced him to the church and he studied and prayed if it was true. He joined, and is on a mission now. He said something that was so great, he said that because he'd been given so much, he too must give. What a great thing he is doing, teaching others about the gift of the Savior and life eternal. he said that he'd been given great parents , the church, and temple blessings. He wants to share those blessings with other people. I just kept thinking, you have no family waiting for you after your mission! I just know the Lord will bless him after his service.

On Christmas day, we are going to serve the missionaries by opening the office and letting them use our laptop and other computers so they can Skype home and talk with their families. I just wish that I could give every one of these missionaries a great big package of goodies, new shirts, and a family that loves them. But we can't do that, so this is something in a small way of saying we love them. One missionary received a small package last week, he's an orphan, he was elated! he shouted, that he's never received anything. One of the past missionary couples sent some packages to the orphan missionaries.

Enough about us, we hope that you're all doing well. Enjoy some homemade cheese cake for us. I found a bar of Philly cream cheese in the store today. $9.38 for a small brick of Philly cream cheese. I bought 2kg's of cooked ham for $57.00 dollars. I just had to indulge, because it's Christmas. I might even use my 8 dollar cake mix. Elder Hermansen bought a small bag of cashews for $12.50.

It's been raining about every day now. My hair has been so wild, it's so humid. I don't want to cut it short, but the rainy season has just begun. The maze fields are growing. The people are out gardening all the time. I wonder if they'll sleep in their fields when the corn gets ready. I'm sure there is a lot of stealing that goes on.

We love you all and pray that you'll all have a wonder Christmas. We'll be thinking of each of you. Hope you have snow and enjoy all the family that will come your way. We're doing well, and look forward to a new year, because this time next year, we'll almost be home. We love you always, always.

Merry Christmas,

Love Elder H. and Sister H.

short message

Hello family.
We hope you are all doing well. This afternoon we skyped with Russ and Christine and they are doing well. It was great to see them and also we visited with Rob and Whitney this week. So good to see them, Rob had a snow day, so he was home. Hailey is so cute and we loved hearing her say words, like "thank you" and "bye bye." It was so cute and soft. Just loved it.
On our P-Day, we were at the branch Christmas party. There is this cute little boy in the ward. He's just learning to walk so he's just a little unsteady on his feet. Well he started out walking towards us, then he stopped in his tracks and looked at us with his big dark eyes and started crying. I just think he saw his first "white ghosts". Even at church today he started to cry when he saw me. I just want to squeeze him and give him a hug. Our branch party was attended by so many people. There were over 300 people and half were investigators. There were over 150 kids and they had to wait hours for their food. I felt so bad for them. I'm not sure what the culture is, but they served the adults first, youth and then the young children. It was fun and these women cooked for hours over an open fire, preparing the food for everyone; sodza, rice, noodles, chicken , sausages, roasted potatoes, and soda drinks. Then the primary kids had a soup with rice and a little piece of chicken. So today at church, we started out the meeting with only 12  people. Then for the sacrament we had 31. After the sacrament, there were about 170 people. They all came on the busses. All in all, a good day at church.
This week we'll be having our zone Christmas devotional and dinners. I'm just a little stressed, because I've had to plan for 2 days of dinners. I just pray that the food is good and will be filling, because it needs to be special for Christmas. On Wednesday and Saturday, Alan and I will be going to the airport to get the 2 senior couples that are coming from the states. We have one apartment ready but the other apartment is empty. We need to have about 10 people working on this project to get it completed by Wednesday, but we don't have any extra people hanging around here. I know that I'll just be tired come Wednesday morning.
After our branch party, we were driving home and decided to stop and get some gas. We pulled up to the attendant, and we said to fill it up. Then he asked if we had any information about our church he could read. Out of the blue, he was interested in reading information about our church. We didn't have anything to give him. I now have a bag full of reading material in the truck. Elder Hermansen, said that is the first time any one has come to him and asked about the church. This young man looks and sounds smart and would be willing to read and learn. This referral goes to the Apps. in the morning.
I don't have a lot to talk about, just would like you all to know, we love you and pray for you all daily. Please be safe in the winter conditions that you are experiencing. The church is true and I'm grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ.
I'll write more in the next few days. Who is the new stake president in the Kanab Stake? I hear that Lex is doing better! Merry Christmas to all.
Love MOM

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December in Zim

Hello Family:
I'm just a little slow at getting a letter off to everyone this week. We've just been busy and a little tired when we get back to our flat. Christmas here is rather different. This Saturday is our branch Christmas party and that should be very interesting. Tomorrow our branch president will be giving me the list of food items to buy, since we are the only ones with a vehicle in the branch. Oh, the elders have a car, but they are hands off for giving rides and helping out. I'm just glad they are not having a roasted goats head. They are killing the chickens that morning and bringing them all bloody to cook. On Sunday our little branch had 231 people to church. It was very amazing to see so many people come into the church. Every chair was taken and during the meeting they brought more chairs and set them in the isles. There are so many people who want to become a member. I hope it's not a fad!  We don't have a Christmas tree and I do hope I can find something for a great Christmas dinner. Oops, the power just went out! We were on such a sweet run for having power. I just hope they fixed our generator and we don't have any more sparks flying inside of our flat. That was a scary night a couple of weeks ago. So I need to hurry to finish this letter. Yesterday it rained, and really came down! It's much needed here. I just pray that our borehole doesn't dry up. I'll have to learn how to carry water on my head. Right at 5pm yesterday a set of sister missionaries ran into the mission office so wet, from the rain outside. We told them we would give them a ride home. Well, it took us hours to go a little distance. It is so crazy. The people here drive like everything is on fire. No thought for laws or rules, driving all over the road and on both sides. On top of that it was raining and flooding on  the streets. It was driving us crazy, but we couldn't let the sisters walk home. Finally it was all Elder Hermansen could take and he decided to turn off the main road and take another road to get to the sister's house. We were trying to drive through this little road through some metal poles on the side of the road and the truck didn't make the turn and we ended on this dirt side walk. The drivers side of the car, the tires just sank in to the mud. It was crazy to try to get out. The more we tried to get out the worse the tires sank into the muck. A long story short, we prayed that we would be safe and that someone would come to our rescue. I was outside of the truck and looked up and saw a man named Brother Banda walking towards our truck. It  was like seeing an angel to our rescue. He said that he and his wife were driving and they knew they had to come and help us. They have a truck and it was just what we needed.  His wife said they both received the same impression that they needed to find us, because we needed help. I was, and still am, very grateful to them for listening and following the Holy Ghost promptings. They didn't even live in the area that we were at. The traffic was something I've never seen before and they found us. We were off the main road by some bushes. Right after they came, here came some zone leaders and their district. The sister missionaries had walked to their area, found the elders and came back to our rescue. With everyones help, the truck got out and we drove home very fast. All I know is the Lord helped us and knew our needs. I'm so  thankful, just very thankful!
Our generator is going on and off, I guess it isn't fixed yet. We are getting ready for Christmas Zone parties and devotional for next week. I love to be with all the missionaries, they are so happy and leave me with such a great feeling. Our mission is growing, and our missionary numbers are shrinking.
Thank you all for writing and giving us those tender mercies when we needed them. Sorry to hear about John Allen. He has always been a kind neighbor to us. Hope you have a great Christmas season. Last Saturday, we spent most of the day at the mission office, so when we got home I asked Elder Hermansen if we could go to this one shopping area. I just need to find a Christmas card to send to everyone. Well, Elder Hermansen's prayers were answered. All the stores close at 12:30 on  Saturday's, so he didn't have to go into any stores. That was a happy day for him! I just need to take some time off and get out there myself. Elder Hermansen hates to shop, he's very concerned about finding some cold cereal that tastes good.
We are doing well, and don't worry about us! Let us worry about everyone back in the states. We had to send another missionary home today. He's an elder that has some great learning difficulties, so he just wasn't ready to serve a mission. It was a sad day to have to send him home. We just pray that his stake president will work with him and not forget him. The area office has said that if missionaries are too sick to work, they will be sent home. We have about 10, who are on the boarder of being sent home. This is my life in the office lately.
I'm grateful for the gospel and how it changes the lives of people for the good, if they will follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I'm glad to hear that cousin Lex is getting better. I wrote a letter to Quincy Robinson before he entered the MTC. I'm sure he thought I was some crazy lady. He did enter the MTC with a  group of Americans going all to the same mission. He should develop a great bond with them. Ok, the generator is running better. Elder Hermansen forgot to push the choke back in, now it sounds better and the lights aren't flickering on and off.
For Christmas we are going to open up the office and let some districts come into the office and call home and Skype to their families. I believe that's about all we'll be doing. I just would like to cook something good for the missionaries, but maybe I'll have to buy something for them as a treat.
We hope you're all doing well, and you're healthy and happy. Just remember, you all live in the best place on this earth. Hope you all enjoy your families and friends at this time of year. On Sunday, one lady said that they should spend the ward money and buy everyone a Christmas card. She said that she's never had one before and didn't really know what they look like. I was taken back by this comment. I take so much for granted. They asked me to help with the music for the primary program. They must have had 50 kids in senior primary and only 10 of them can read. So trying to have them read the words is impossible. I hope this sunday goes well in church. Let me know about the new stake president in Kanab.
Battery is almost done. I love you always and I'm so grateful for all of you and love you so much. Family is the best.
Love MOM, Joy

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving 12/3/14

 Hello family,
Well, we do hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Your letters and messages sounded really great. Isn't family wonderful! We are very blessed to have such great family support and love. We had a great Saturday, our little branch had six baptisms. A husband, wife, and daughter were baptized. Then two brothers and then one young man (who we thought was already baptized). I've noticed that Africans don't like to get wet and submerged in water. So the elders had a different way to get them totally underwater. Our little branch has really caught on fire with sharing the gospel. In fact we had 167 people to church on Sunday. So, I sit up on the stand and play the keyboard, and a bus drives up and out comes 25 + people in to the church building. It was quite thrilling to see. Elder Hermansen looks quite good among all these African people, we really do stick out in a crowd.  We are back to teaching the temple prep class, but with new people in the class. In fact one couple have only been members for a year, and they are already planning to attend the temple and their son just submitted his mission papers. Really great families. Our third hour at church was, the fifth Sunday, so our branch president lead the discussion about tithing. One man asked the question, "Since we are so poor, do we have to pay tithing?" My heart sank inside of me, and then President Mutize called on me to answer that question. Instantly, I could see the picture of the widows mite and that's what I talked about. In our Area Conference last week, Elder Bednar reminded the saints, that you don't always have to use money to pay tithing. So I reminded the people about that, but what ever we have we must pay a tenth. Then Elder Hermansen was asked to bear his testimony about tithing and he said that it was a commandment, and we must follow that commandment.
I look around and saw that only 3 people have a bike to ride, 1 car, and all the rest walk to church and take the bus. Our church building is surrounded by gardens and they are praying for rain to water their gardens so they'll have food to eat. I wish I could video tape a day here in Africa, it is so different and humbling, but it's a learning experience.
Today and tomorrow is Zone Conference, so all the zone leaders are here and then leaving back to their different areas tomorrow afternoon. I met one Zone leader and he's from Salem. Just down the hill from us. He's a friend of Brady Badders, that lives across the street from us in Elk Ridge. Small world. Our next door neighbors are leaving the mission on Thursday. It will be sad to see them leave, but this is their 3rd mission to Africa and they want to go home and see their kids and grandkids. In fact, she said that she has one little granddaughter, who has never really met her and gotten to know her. Her granddaughter tells her friends that she has a "black grandmother in Africa". I certainly hope that Hailey and Owen don't use that on us. This couple have been on the LDS Charities mission. They get to make the bore holes, fix schools, and they get to publicly show how great the church is to other people. They were here in Zimbabwe when a loaf of bread was one trillion dollars and still people couldn't buy it. Times are so much better than that. Unfortunately, they still don't have their travel plans. Just hope someone lets them know when to fly out.
We might  trade apartments when they leave. It is really much nicer than ours, is that greed, or common sense?
Our next couple arrives on the 12th of December. President Cook has assigned us to take care of them for the weekend. I can't wait to see their total shock and hear their thoughts about Zimbabwe.
I saw a picture of a hot air balloon in Kanab. That would be a great place to have balloons. The beautiful red cliffs and farm land. Hope it works out for this spring. Mom, I did receive the envelopes with the letters. I thought they were beautiful and heart felt. As I read them, I felt they were for me, giving me support to stick it out to the end. It only took 10 days to get here in Harare. Please tell the young women, they will be blessed for their sweet letters and thoughts. Thank you for sharing them.
We love you all, and pray for you daily. Hope you all are getting ready for winter and can relax next to your warm stoves and fires. Always know that we love you, take care till later. 
MOM and Dad (who never writes a word), Hermansen 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Hello Family,
I can't believe that this week will be Thanksgiving. There is so much to be thankful for. I'm thankful for a wonderful country (sure it's having severe problems right now). I'm really thankful for my family. I love you all so much. I'm thankful for jello, pudding, and whip cream (because they don't have it here). Just so much to be thankful for.
Yesterday we attended a 4 hour meeting to kick off the Zimbabwe Harare EFY activity that will take place in August 2015. It was very informative. But today we attended a 2 3/4 hour meeting on the same thing. This meeting was for youth, parents, and leaders. After an hour and a half, it became so painful. We are praying that the activity will be more upbeat than the meetings were. Down here they call it FSY.... For the Strength of Youth. I'm going to have a lot of work to do for it. Our mission president is grateful he'll be released by August, so he'll not be involved, just the new mission president. Elder Hermansen is so tired of being fed Elephants in Meetings, they just talk so long and they loose the congregations attention. The people are more tolerant than we are... Just need to work on some patience.
Elder Hermansen and I survived the week without the mission president and his wife. Just really glad they are back, because there was some stuff that took place over the week, now we might have a mission cleansing take place.
On Saturday I invited myself to the Lion Cheetah Park, with President and their friends from the states. I really just opened my big mouth and they invited us to tag along. What another fun day at this park. Saturday, we just arrived in the lions area after they had come to feed them. Boy was that interesting to see these huge lions tears apart chickens and then spit out the feathers. Those animals are so large and beautiful. This one friend of the Cooks, opened the van door just a little, right in front of one lion. Oh boy, her head came up and stared us down hard. She had the look of, "Try taking my food, and your a dead man." look. The man immediately closed the door. Then we drove to the animals that were enclosed in a fenced area, like a zoo. We were just in time for feeding there also. I've never heard lions roar before. They were going wild, with the roaring and the fighting for possession of their food. I wish I could have recorded that noise, it was so loud and real Africian.... We learned that the female lions eat last and the males will drive them off until they are done eating. We saw that first hand. They had chickens also. We really enjoyed ourselves that night. Then we went to a chineese restaurant for dinner. Just a fun afternoon in Zimbabwe.
Today for church we had a Africa Area Satellite Broadcast from the Brethren in Salt Lake. Elder Gay, Elder Bednar, President Uktdorf, and Sister Stevens spoke. Their topics were directed to the problems of Africa. They discussed unemployment, Ebola, keeping covenants, lobala (that is like the Johnny Lingo movie, paying for a bride), personal responsibility and the regular topics, prayer, scripture study, and temple attendance. It was really good and helpful to those that I spoke to. We just pray that Ebola stays on the other side of the continent. 
Our little church building was so full with members and  non members. In fact the church has given permission to start another branch with the old apostle and his group. That will be interesting and I do hope it works out. I could see more missionaries out in our area teaching the people the gospel. There is another group that is getting to be made a branch this week also. I've done a ton of baptismal records this month. Monday I get my weekend baptismal records handed in. So exciting to see the church grow here.
Our neighbors, the Steven's, are leaving on the 4th of December. It will be hard to see them go home. They have been so helpful. They tend to "watch" over us and help us out. The other couples will be arriving in the middle of December. 
This past week, we've had a lot of rain and it felt so good to have some cooler weather. But with rain comes the bugs, and this week we've had termites. They are huge. 1 to 2 inches long and fat, with big wings. I did a lot of sweeping and killing last night. Elder Hermansen says that I should just think of this mission as a big camp out. And accept the bugs and critters.  That might be good advice, if I didn't have a roof over my head..... Also we walked into our flat last night and our ceiling was dripping water. A pipe broke in the ceiling, just hope it dries out and no mold.
We are doing well. This week will be 4 months on the mission.  I'm just so glad we are busy every day, time goes by a little faster.
Sure hope you all have a great Thanksgiving with family and good friends. We love you all and have fun in the snow for us. We are very grateful for you all, and we love you.
Love Sister H.(MOM, JOY)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Hello Family:
Thank you for the notes and letters, I really look forward to reading everyone's little messages. Well today was Sunday at the Domboshave branch. We had a baptism this morning before Sacrament meeting. Then all the songs for church were Christmas songs. Just a little early, but our branch president said, "It's the Christmas season and we'll be singing Christmas songs". So I'm glad I practiced before we came on Mission. Then after the 3 hour block , we had a 2 1/2 hour Self-Reliance meeting. That was so hard to sit and not pass out. It has been so hot and humid here. But the push is to train the Africans that they may be poor, they don't deserve to have hand outs. They need to work for their food and do all they can to earn a living. We'll see how this works out.. No one has employment, so it's hard to have any money. It's put upon the ward council members to help out the other ward members. So during the meeting a sign up sheet was passed around the room. I thought it was just a roll, but next to your name the ward council members wrote down what type of food they liked. So when it came to Alan he wrote "tacos". I had Ieft mine blank.  After the meeting, our branch president came over and told us that he would have to call the United States and order the tacos and left that comment just like that. We got in our truck and headed back to our flat, then it occurred to us, that during the Self-Reliant meeting they had ordered out food to eat after the meeting. We were so hungry!! We didn't get any because I left my line blank and Alan wanted Tacos. Now we understand the comment by the Branch President about Tacos, and ordering them from the States. If someone would have just clued us in on the food list.... In our hunger drive home, I forgot to tell Alan that I had promised this young man a ride home. So we go into his community and immediately turned around and went back to get this young man. He got into the truck and we were headed back to this community. We came around the bend to see in front of us a large group of people and 4 ambulances, a vehicle turned on its side and a big bus. Driving was at a crawl , and we could see that everyone was looking at this accident. I can't help but think that we were inspired at that moment to turn around and go back to get that young man. We pray for safety all the time, but he really does look out for us. This area is a shopping area and people are always jaywalking and cars going fast. I'm just so glad we turned around!
This week should be interesting, our mission President and wife are going to South Africa Johannesburg, for a mission presidents seminar. I just pray that no one gets sick or injured, no car accidents, no one runs away from the mission or any thing like that! I don't even know where the hospital or doctors offices are at. We can handle the calls from the missionaries about no water, no electricity, and no money on their allotment cards, but the other stuff could be rather interesting. I do know where the Advil is and the malaria pills and band-aids.
We received our new curtains. They are too short for the windows. I could fix them, if I had a sewing machine, but I'm not sure what to do about them, open for suggestions!
This afternoon we had rain, hail, lightening, and thunder. So thankful for the rain. Our borehole was getting very low and we've been trying to conserve our water usage. Now we can flush the toilets and do our wash.
Oh, yes, I noticed that this weeks Church News was about Africa. Please someone save that addition. I recognize people in the pictures. Especially the little girl with the beads and braids in her hair. After the meeting she came up to me in the parking lot and grabbed my hand and then she gave me a green vine garland. She is so cute!
Our missionaries are doing well and so are we. Last week was difficult, President had to send home 3 missionaries. Just wish they would be obedient! I do wish Alan would write some time. He sees the mission in a different light than I do. I guess you could say that he's more "Upbeat and Positive". That's just Alan! Sure hope Lowell and Juanita you're doing well. Wish we could be there to help you out.
Lindsay, Ayanda's mother is coming in December to Utah. She is coming for Ayanda's graduation from BYU-I. It's so fun talking with her, she is such a neat lady. She is coming with another lady who works in the same office building as we do.  They'll be in the states for a month!  Maybe you'll get a call from her.  She's just great.
Yesterday we had a baptism at the branch.  A really sharp young man was baptized, he has a strong understanding of the gospel. The 1st counselor in the Branch Presidency gave the closing prayer.  In his prayer he prayed that the Lord would humble the members. I was humbled and ashamed, because they are so humble and they have hardly anything to speak of.  The prayer was probably directed to Elder H and myself.
Well sure hope you are all doing well. Lorraine have fun with your Ping-Pong table. Sounds like you'll be having a great Thanksgiving in your new home. Rob and Whitney, it was fun talking with you two the other night. Wish we could give Hailey a zillion kisses. Lindsay, tell Todd your father in law, to give us a chance with little Owen when we get home. I'm already worried that he will only love his grandpa Todd.... Russ and Christine, keep us posted about your new experiences back in Philly.  We are sorry to hear about Brother Richard Russell from our Santee Stake. Send our love to his family. We love to hear from you all. Take care and you're in our prayers and thoughts.  

Love always, 
Elder and Sister Hermansen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day 2014

Hello family.
I guess I should write my weekly letter, since the week is half over. I've just been really busy. We've had transfers, new missionaries, and sister's conference in the last 2 days. President Cook also put me in charge of the transfer sheet. That is stressful, It has to be perfect and I struggle with getting it right. so my brain has been mush for the last several nights, pure oatmeal mussh!!!.
Lindsay so glad you've had a fun time at your baby shower. Wish we could have been there to enjoy it with you and everyone else.
We are doing well. Dad is busy meeting with the water department lady in downtown Harare, going to the bank, buying more phones for the missionaries because they are getting stolen and broken. So he's been really busy all day, every day.  I think I've come to the conclusion that I really annoy my mission president. I'm the first to admit, I'm no secretary...Hope he doesn't send me home because of lack of knowledge, or worse, send me to the "Bush" area. That would be death....
Our little branch had a good branch conference. Just need to get people to pay their tithing and come to church and it will be a ward soon. I lost my table that placed the key board for sacrament meeting. They gave me a chair to set the keyboard on. That was a challenge on Sunday, but it all sounded great. The Lord did provide a miracle on Sunday.
How are you all doing? Lorraine how long are you in Kanab? Is this a week that Greg is gone? Jeri how are you doing? Any more drives up Johnson Canyon? Mom still waiting for the package. Maybe by Christmas, or if it was good we'll never see it and some one in customs is liking it now.
Last week there were 3 Elders sent home. That is sad to see, and see the look on their faces. But we did receive 4 new missionaries this week, and that will help the mission and put us at 200 missionaries again. Sister Comp returned home today. We will all miss her. She was a great missionary. We look forward to skyping with rob and whit this weekend. With the time change now it's a 10 hour difference with family in California. We should Skype early in the morning our time, and it's night time on the west coast. Rob, write when you'll be home and tell us. Russ and Christine are doing well. We talked with them on Sunday. Happy and relieved that they made it safe to Philly.
Thank you Dad and Lowell for serving in the military. We appreciate the freedoms that you've fought for. We have certainly missed having those freedoms in our lives. We are truly blessed in America, and I'm so grateful for that tender mercy. Also for my husband who served in the Air Force and National Guard.
We are fine and I'm grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows us and our desires and needs. It's hard to eat some "humble pie", when you're an adult, but it helps us grow and hopefully keep moving forward in life.
Thanks for all of you. We love you and love your letters. My brain has turned to mush again, better end. Take care and we'll write sooner.
Love mom

White Ladies

Hello family:
Well we had a good Skype session with grandma and grandpa Chamberlain, aunt Leslie, and uncle Arlon on Sunday night. This time change is a killer for Skyping. We might have to Skype you guys at night and it will be morning on our end. Yes, Lindsay we can Skype on sunday. Tell us when!
Sounds like you will have a fun time with a lot of company this week. I wish we could be there to see every one. Let Stephanie and Shane know, we're hoping the job interview goes well. Russ, sure hope you guys are doing well. How is Temple University?  Where exactly is the apartment, in comparison to the downtown chapel in Philly. Let us in on how you're doing. Rob and Whitney, Hailey really looked cute in her Halloween outfit. Loved the ponytails and cute little face. Hope you guys are doing well also.
Last week, Sister Cook and I went to a all White Ladies craft fair. It was really something. I've never seen so many white ladies in one place, while here on mission. It was at this persons house, which has about 2 acres of the most beautiful green grass and plants. There were white tents set up, wine tasting, tea tasting, leather couches to lounge on, and catered food. It was really something. But it was fun! to just shop and see something I might really like. There were about a thousand cars parked on the road for this affair. It happens every Oct/Nov. So I'm saving up for next year. Just have to find someone to go with! I believe this event helps out a local orphanage here in Harare.
Also, I went downtown with a lady who is going to sew up some new curtains for our flat. We drove downtown and that was such a different experience. The fabric store was really nice and clean. But we had to walk from the fabric store around the corner to another fabric store. The Africans just walk out in front of cars and  weave in between cars. Here I am waiting on the corner for the light to change, while the lady that I'm with is just walking real fast across the street. The street is a street with 2 lanes on each side. It was crazy. So glad I survived that experience. Now can't wait for new, bright curtains... Before we moved here the mission painted the entire flat for us. Well, the painter, also painted the floor, the new curtains and baseboard, with drippy paint. Now we just have to figure out how to get rid of the huge spiders that linger around.
The mission office was fun today. The zone leaders and their companionships were in the office for Missionary Leadership Conference tomorrow. It's great to feel of their spirit and enthusiasm for missionary work. I saw Sister comp again. She is getting ready to head home next Tuesday. We'll all miss her.
Sunday was good also. The preacher that used to have his own congregation was there at church, with his family and about twenty other people, who were of his old congregation. They seemed to like church, and we'll see what happens next week for branch conference. Our mission president is over the branches, so he had suggested the branch have a choir. Well, the branch council will be the ward choir on Sunday. I do believe in miracles! They like to sing with their own rythmn and pitch, should be very interesting. Even Elder Hermansen sounds great with this group.
I just received about 80 new baptismal records today, just for the month of November. Also a large stack for October.  Just a lot to do, which is good!
We just pray that you're all doing well. Hope all your halloweening was fun. Lindsay you're right about the grass. I'm just a bit weird about that stuff. Please go out and roll down the hill, and tell us how it feels. (This is Lindsay, I'm not going to do that...)
The weather is really hot and sticky. I turn the air on in the office as soon as I get there. Maybe I can just sweat off the pounds. I'm just rambling on, so it must be time to sign off. We love you all and pray for all the happiness in the world for each of you. Dad and I are memorizing all the scripture mastery scriptures. Second week, so far and I can remember last weeks.
Take care, and let us know how you're all doing. Thank you Jeri and Lorraine for your letters. They really are uplifting and fun to find out about your families.  Love you all, Sister Hermansen

Monday, October 27, 2014

Weekly Update

Hello family:
I wrote a letter yesterday and I saved it in a file somewhere, today I can't find it. So here goes letter #2. How was your weekend? We now have an internet device, so it might save us some money down the road. Our day has been very busy. Last week wasn't so bad, but I'm so glad we get to be busy. Time just flies some days. Yesterday was our General Conference. It was great. Of course we were late, because we thought church started at 10 am. So when we drove up, the chapel was full and conference was being played. Mud in our face! The kids were reverent, and almost to the end of the morning session, all the kids got up and quietly left the chapel. Then and branch presidency left. They went to the next building and fed the kids a snack and drink. It was so orderly and quiet. We finished watching conference, but we could hear the kids singing primary songs in the building next to us. Rather cool.  There is a new family in the branch that are new converts. The man was a leader of another church, so he has been teaching his followers about the church and now he wants the church to start a new branch with his followers. It doesn't really work like that, he needs to bring his followers to the chapel and have them see what our church is like. It's causing a disturbance in our little branch. Time will tell what happens.
We drove to Bindura on Friday to give and serve lunch to the zone up there. It is such a nice drive. We saw a field of baboons, eating stuff in the field. They were really big. I thought they looked like big goats or something. We were driving so fast we didn't get a picture. I also saw a group of African adults taking a bath, in the bottom of this washing area. I always like to look at the momma's washing and bathing their little kids. What a shock to see adults down there. Maybe I shouldn't look next time we drive by. We got home just in time to have it rain and clean off everything. When it rains it , really pours and lightning. The vegetation is getting greener and more beautiful.
Dad has put pictures in drop box. Our wildlife adventures!
Russ and Christine, we're sorry that we didn't get in touch with you too. Sure do hope and pray that you'll be safe on your travels to Pennsylvania. That is so far away, we'll have to visit when we get home. Please keep in touch with us and give us your address. Rob and Whitney, little Hailey is so stinking cute. Can't wait to see her and see how much she's grown up. Hope your job is easing up on the weekends. 
I just can't believe that there are bears in Elk Ridge. Just don't leave food in the trash cans outside. We'll have a big mess to clean up. This week is Halloween, keep the kids off our grass. Last year they were running and jumping off the rocks and just going wild.  Trying to get as much candy as possible. Lindsay I saw little Owen's full name. That is such a great tribute to my grandfather and your grandfather, to carry on the name of GUY. He'll be a wonderful man with that name. You and Curtis have got to be excited to have this little man come into  your family. You'll be great parents, remember to build a strong foundation for your family.
Dad is enjoying watching "24" again. It's like a whole new series. Age can really do something to the mind, like lose things. We are doing well. Today is a day that we get to talk with the elders and sisters, as they come in to the office to pick up mail, talk with the president and just enjoy a day off. I wish that I could give everyone a letter, some of these kids will never get a letter while they are on mission. My heart goes out to them. While the kids from the states and South Africa (white kids), get all the packages and letters. Just isn't fair!
We just want all of you to know how much we love and appreciate your prayers and letters. You are the best around. Please enjoy the beautiful fall colors and feel the cool weather. I so miss that! I need to get a picture of our home, when it snows, so I can show the Africans what my home is like. Also the mountains. We don't have mountains here. One thing we hope to do and see is Victoria Falls. We might just sneak away and take a 4 day weekend and see it. We'll have to see it, not in the rainy season, because we've heard you can't see the falls because there is so much water running over. We'll have to just do it!
We hope you're all healthy. How is cousin Lex doing? Hope you're all happy and doing well. Just think Thanksgiving is in a month. Hope you all have a place to have dinner at and with loved ones. Keep in touch and  we'll do our best to respond. Oh yes, our mission baptized 60 people over the weekend. That will keep me busy for a while getting all the records up to date before the 5th of November.
Love you all. GoGo Hermansen. (gogo is a grandmother in shona language).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Apostle Weekend

Hello family:
Wow, what a weekend. I can only say that the church is true, Jesus Christ is at the head of His church on the earth. We have a living prophet and church leaders are called from God. Now some of the things that we were able to experience this weekend. Friday night the missionaries held a light dinner before meeting with Elder Quinten L. Cook. Every thing was going well, until an office elder called and said that he'd just wrecked the mission van. Then he received another call and a truck clutch went out. So we had elders stranded and broken down vehicles all over the city. We were late with the food. But the Lord provided a way for the elders and sisters to make it to the church building, have their dinner and listen to a prophet's voice.
What a great, sweet feeling of love appeared into the chapel as we waited for Elder Cook. He was presiding at the meeting. Mission President Cook stood up to start the meeting and Elder Cook said, that he wanted each of us to look into his eyes and that would be the interview. Row, by row the missionaries stood to shake hands with him, his wife, Elder and Sister Carl B Cook, of the Africa Southeast Area Presidency. The faces on the elders were priceless, as they returned to their seat. There were thumbs ups, and huge smiles. They have had such a once in a life time experience. Elder Hermansen and I were the last ones to shake hands. Elder Cook, stopped us and talked briefly and asked where we were from and we told him, then he said that we would be blessed for our service. Wow, what a great experience. The talks were very heart felt, and I 'm glad I wrote them down in my journal. I know the Lord knows each of us personally, he loves us and desires us to be happy.  The meeting was memorable, and the missionaries all returned to their homes or to the transfer house safely.
The next morning on Saturday, I was assigned to pick up two sisters at the Holliday Inn and take them to the Women's conference. These women were wives of branch presidents, so I had not met them before. One husband said, how will my wife know you. I said, that I would have my missionary tag, and I would be the only white missionary. He just laughed. These two sisters were so beautiful and sweet.  They were so grateful to see me, with big smiles and hugs. We had an enlightening experience at the women's conference. It took a lot of money for these sisters to come to this church building. They rode in comvee's or walked. Most women don't drive and they don't have cars. they loved to just linger at the building after the 2 hour meeting. So priceless to see their culture, and see how different it is from ours. Some were dressed in the traditional African dress and head dress, while others dressed in a normal dress. All were there to listen to Elder Cooks wife and see the other general authority wives. There were Bishop Stevenson's wife, Elder Clayton's wife, Elder Cook's wife, President Cook's wife, Area Authority Cook's wife. A meeting of instruction on how to have home evening, make music a daily part of gospel learning, how important your spouse is, and how to invite the Holy Ghost into your home. It was awesome and humbling to see these African sisters of faith coming to this meeting.
 This morning we had the privilege to drive Area Authority 70, Carl B. Cook and wife up to a district conference. What a wonderful experience. We learned a lot about the calling of a 70, his family, his service in the church and we witnessed how inspiration is received to members of the church. Elder Cook told us a story about his first area meeting and President Packard was presiding at the meeting. Let's just say, that these men are inspired in what to say, at each meeting.
We were late getting them back to Harare, they missed their scheduled lunch, and went directly to a meeting for the youth of the church. It was held next to the mission office, so we stayed and listened to that meeting. Elder Clayton and his wife were there and we were able to meet them also. I just know I need to repent a lot before my time is up on this earth, to be in the Lord's presence will be soul searching. This weekend has been a very uplifting experience. There have been many prayers answered, and miracles have been witnessed.
We are doing fine, back to work in the morning. Just a few items of discussion for our Monday morning meeting. Like will the elders be able to drive any more? It should be interesting.
We sure love you guys. I'm going to stay on my mission and complete it. I know that there wasn't a mistake by sending us to Africa, we need to be here for a big reason.
No temple was announced, just messages of be a faithful tithing payer, prepare to serve a mission, be self-reliant in every thing you do.
  Hopefully we can get our internet hooked up this week and we'll be able to send pictures. we love you all.
Grandma Chamberlain, you are on Facebook, that is awesome...... Take care and our prayers are with you all.
Love MOM

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day Off at the Safari

Hi All:
We hope you are doing well. I needed to do an update on our mission. Today we took a day off from our office duties. Our mission President and wife planned a senior missionary day off. So Alan and I and the other senior couple took the day off. The mission president was sick and so he and his wife stayed back in Harare for the day. Well  us and the other couple went out on a day safari. We drove to a place called Marondera about 2 hours from our flat. The drive was really beautiful. The other senior couple drives out there every week for church, so they knew a lot about the community. WE went to a place called, IMIRE safari resort. We drove up to the most beautiful resort, oasis area. IT is also a place that you can spend the night. IT was so clean and green and just lush. We had our meeting time, and met our personal guide, and we were off around 10: am. WE were sitting in the back of pickup truck with  lifted bleacher seats, and a canopy top to keep the sun off. WE were off, and hoping to see 4 out of the 5 of the big game here in Zimbabwe. Well, it was worth the money that we paid. We saw a lot of antelopes, small ones and big ones with horns. The best were the elephants. They were incredible and huge. With each stop, the guide brought some food for the animals, so it was sort of a staged animal photo opp. but it was still really neat. Our guide drove us right up to the elephants and we watched them eat, use their trunks to break off limbs to eat and then the older ones would bump tusks with each other. Just so national geographic like.
WE saw giraffes and they came over to the truck, and our driver feed them also. It was funny how they would spread their legs to get close to the food and bend over to eat. Zebras, are interesting. The younger zebras could not come into the circle to eat, for fear of getting kicked in the face by the older zebras. So this herd of Zebras were eating and the cute little zebras were standing afar off. They were really cute and really fuzzy with fur.
WE saw rhinos, they were all guarded with men carrying rifles. The rhinos are an endangered animal in Zimbabwe, poachers will kill them for their horns, so they are guarded 24 hours a day. WE saw 3 black rhinos and they are really huge, really huge.While they were eating then here came a group of warthogs. They are so ugly and they scrounge on everything. When they eat , they kneel on their front legs, like they are begging.  WE also saw 2 white or wide mouth rhinos. They were sleeping under a tree, but their lips are wide and their heads are so much larger than the  other rhinos. They were also guarded with an armed guard. These guards just follow these rhinos around all day and night.
 We have been educated so much on the wild animals of Africa, so much to learn today. The country side of Africa is really beautiful and unique. It will start greening up in the next few months when the rains start.
We drove to this really rocky place, and it was up high so we could see down on the valley to see the  animals. WE ate our first true sodza, not real special. We had a really nice bean salad, and other vegetables. this place was really nice, while we were eating all of a sudden a warthog wanders into our eating area and turns and runs off. WE took our picture near the edge of this big rock mound, our guide told us not to go to far on the rock. He told us that an elephant and cape buffalos were coming up the rocks to come into our eating area. sure enough a guide came first and then this hugh elephant came up the hill behind him and then the buffalos. So awesome to see. This was our photo opp, with the elephant. WE were able to feed the elephant and get right up next to it. Our guide told us that the elephant has never had any children, and it has adopted this herd of cape buffalos. Sure enough it bossed those buffalos around like a real bossy lady. That was really something to see. On our way back to the starting point we saw 2 older larger giraffes just out in the open walking. WE saw a bird, called a Secretary. It was a rather large bird and it just walks in the tall grass looking for snakes. That's it only calling in life, to kill snakes! WE did see a large male lion, in an enclosed area. I asked if there was a female lion, he said that at one point there was a female lioness, but the male lion killed her one day. Just like that! Now he's a lonely old lion.  We also 2 laughing hyiennas. They are really ugly also, with short back legs. They were enclosed also. Apparently there are these animals still wandering the country side, and not in reserves and enclosures. Just hope they keep their distance from our flat. So we saw, elephants, lion, giraffes, rhinos, antelopes many types, warthogs, cape buffaloes, monkeys, oh yes a crocodile, and many zebras. I believe it was really worth every penny. So if you'd like to come for a visit, we'll make a reservation and take any one there.
Enough of the  tourist stuff. Sister Cook took me shopping yesterday to a place called, Avondale. It was a shopping place like something you'd see on a cruise stop. The people here are not as pushy as other areas, but the shops are still the same. I don't know where they get the same stuff to sell in every shop. It must be the junk clearing house some where in Africa. Not much for shopping here yet. Last night we went out to dinner for our anniversary. WE tried a Chinese restaurant that was across the city. WE had to drive through rush hour and that was nervous for me. So many people just walking on the streets and out in the streets waiting for a bus home. The food was good, but then we had to drive back across, in the dark. I was really glad we made it home and safely.
The mission work is rolling forward. The office missionaries were having a party today in the office, because no older adults were in there today. Hope it's still in one piece when we get back there on Monday.
How are all of you? Russ and Christine, how are you guys getting a long? Is there a place in Philadelphia yet? WE hope there is something that will come available soon. I see pictures of fall colored leaves in Elk Ridge. Lou, did you get the cushions off the outside chairs yet? Hope there are not any bears in Pine Mountain any more. WE do love you all. We have a very busy week, Elder Cook is coming on the 17th. We are on High alert here, so I do hope all  will go well with our planning for these events.
I'm sure you all get tired of me talking about this mission, but it's all we do, day in and day out. Dad is loving every minute of life here, just hope he doesnt' think about extending his time here. WE are doing our best with the branch that we go to. It is struggling with members, but they do have strong testimonies and love the gospel. WE pray that you're all healthy and doing well. We love your pictures and comments on facebook and emails. You are all in our prayers and thoughts always. Have a great week, and enjoy the cooler weather for me. We've not been able to listen and watch conference yet. I know the lord has blessed us with so many tender mercies. Every time I get discouraged, there is someone sent to cheer me up. Or we read a letter and we keep going. When I was driving with Sister Cook, we noticed how beautiful the jacaranda trees are. They hang over the roads on both sides and it is like this for miles in any direction. Another tender mercy. Conference statements are tender mercies, they uplifting and helpful each day. Well, we love you all, hope you are all doing well. So grateful for our families. We love you so much and are thankful for your love and support.
Love MOM

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Lion and Cheetah Park

Hi Family and all:
Tonight, is wonderful. For the last 5 days I've not been able to get on the internet. We've not had any service and I've been very grumpy. I love communicating with people that I love. So I opened up Facebook, and I watched my dad talk about the Glen Canyon Dam. Talk about tear flowing, just to hear dad's voice has meant so much. Thanks dad for doing the interview. I loved every bit of it.... Then to read the emails, was wonderful. Thank you so much for thinking of us. Lindsay, dad read me your email about your last doctors appointment. Just can't wait to meet Owen. Sounds like he'll be very active and keep you running in circles for years to come (maybe some pay back). Lorraine, how's the new house? Post some pictures so we can all see. I'm sure it's really beautiful.
 Well, we've been busy as usual, and the power is always out, as usual.
Last Saturday we took the day off. We went to the Lion and Cheetah park that is close by. We made a mistake and went during the middle of the day. Lions don't move in heat!! It was a park that you drive around and look at the animals. Yes, we were in the cage (truck) and they were in the wild. We saw some really huge lions and lioness. The teeth and paws on those animals were really something to see. Since the lions were so sleepy, we were entertained by the monkeys. They were in the trees, so we decided to feed them our lunch, so little cookie biscuits. Only one monkey was smart enough to slide down the tree and feast on the cookies. Then I threw out a potato chip. The monkey got it and put it in one hand, then with it's other hand it brushed it off. Then it switched hands and brushed off the other side of the chip. It wasn't a very good chip, so it only took a small nibble then continued to brush off the chip. It was so funny to watch. So we left the lion enclosure and drove to watch the giraffes, antelopes, ostrich, zebras, and other big horned animals. It was awesome. The giraffes walked right in front of our truck. We could see the spots on the baby giraffe and see how beautiful these creatures really are. The zebras don't like the heat either, they were just standing and not moving. We drove right up to them and they just stood there. It's correct, no two zebras are alike. Their stripes are there but some are small and thin and others are big and beefy.  Then we went in to a little zoo area, and saw more lions sleeping, two white lions, a bunch of baboons that were just wandering around the zoo. It was nice and something that was really an African adventure. I took some pictures of the rocks and trees, We are fascinated with the landscape around here.
 We gave out our first church pamphlet yesterday. It was to our gate guard. He saw my missionary tag and he said, "I want one of those tags". I said to him he'd have to earn it! We talked for a while and then gave him a missionary booklet, about the restoration. He told us that he wanted to join a church that believes in the same Jesus Christ, that created all people. The same that was in the bible and that there is only one Jesus. We told him we did believe in the same Jesus, that created the world and created all people of all colors. When we went home that evening, we gave him a Book of Mormon and more pamphlets, to give to his friends. It's amazing how ready these people are to have the true gospel of Jesus Christ come into their lives. It really makes perfect reasoning to have the gospel upon the earth now.
This morning I gave out another  church magazine to a man who just wandered into the office, he was looking for reading glasses. We just happened to have some on hand to give out to people. He said after his vacation he'd come back so the Elder missionaries can come and talk to him about his questions. Then there are many who just turn their backs to us. Just regular life.
Last Friday we had a miracle angle come to our office. It was the lady who was from the U.S.Embassy. Her name is Megan from Idaho. She didn't forget me, and brought a bag of goodies. A case of A&W root beer, salsa, tortilla chips, Bisquick mix, and pancake syrup. I took a picture of them, to remind me to be nice to other people. We shared our root beer with our neighbors, they had vanilla ice cream that wasn't melted.
We are doing well and I'm glad we're really busy, so I can't think of home, but I do. Mom and dad, it sounds like fall has arrived. I'm sure you're getting stocked up with wood for the winter season. Dad hope you can plant your fields and the rain stops for a while. Are you going out on the deer hunt? So glad you went to the Homecoming parade. I remember just a few, the bonfires that we use to have and all those good memories of long ago.
We now have over 200 missionaries in the mission. Our mission board is almost full, no more space for pictures. Our mission president and wife are getting ready to pass the mission life over to a new presidency in July. Their family is coming out during the holidays so we won't have much to do. Now we have to find something to do during that time.  We are so excited to hear about all the babies that will be coming soon, to the Chamberlain family. It is growing with numbers, yeah!!!
Lindsay don't complain about the spiders in the basement. We have a lizard in our bedroom. I saw it one night, and I've not seen it since. I just throw back the covers and check real close and pray that it doesn't run over me in the night time. I do hope you all enjoy conference this weekend. We might get to read some of it later during next week. We get to watch it on the 25th weekend. Tell us if they announce a temple here in Zimbabwe, ok? How was women's conference? We just don't get that good of reception on the internet, and it costs a lot of money for us.
The church is spending a lot of money sprucing up church buildings and yards, for our big show to Elder Quinten L. cook and many other church leaders. It is needed and it looks great. The weather is getting really warm. It still is dark at 6pm every day, and light about 6am. I did get my hair cut, and it was so over due. now I just need to remember how to get back to the same lady, so she can do it again.
On Sunday morning our little branch had another baptism. A lady about my age was baptized. She told me that she had a dream, that two white people came to see her. They stopped at her fence and talked with her about religion. She told me that her dream made her feel good for days. Then our two missionaries stopped by her house and started talking with her about religion. She knew it was a sign from God, that this was the church she should  join and study about. She is really a sweet lady. she is caring for her late sister's two young daughters. They are 11 and 8 years old. This lady has never had children, so she is now a mother and she loves it. This lady lives out in the bush, and it's very primitive how these people live. I'm picking up a few Shona words, but it's nothing impressive.
We do hope you're all doing well. We love you and pray for you all always. Our address is: Elder and Sister Hermansen, 65 Enterprise Road, Highlands Harare, Zimbabwe. I get to type up the new missionaries testimonies for their files. Today I typed the most humble testimonies. They are thankful for their trials, life, and their humble circumstances. They know that God has answered their prayers, because he has given them life and food each day, let them feel warmth when they were cold. They have such a humble and powerful testimony of the Savior. They have taught me to be more humble and searching of the scriptures.
Well, enough spiritual talk, we love you and I pray that my internet will run for the next 16 months. Love you all. Mom, Sister H, and white lady........Hey Rob, what is your email?

Friday, September 26, 2014

First Car Accident

Hi all:
Well, your dad's motto is: Drive to Survive!!!
 Yes he's gone very local with his driving. Last night was our first fender bender, and not our fault. The lights are always out when we drive back to our home. The intersections are just jammed packed with cars. Well, we were approaching this horrible clogged intersection and I could see this man was stuck right in the middle (oh yes, the lights were working last night). This man was trying to get out of the intersection before it turned red, but he was stuck in the middle. We were able to turn left on to the road, the light was yellow, so we did. Just as we got on to the road, this man, who was stuck in the middle of the intersection came speeding by and shaking his finger at us and we could tell he was upset. He pulled right in front of us and then slammed on his brakes and stopped. We could do nothing but run into the back of him. He got out and started using the worst language ever. He came up to Alan's side and just flew into him. Good old mother bear that I am, started back into him and said that we did not go on a red light, it was yellow and we had the right of way. That didn't help the man's temper. So Elder Alan, said that we should call the police, because we were blocking traffic. The man got so upset at the idea of the police coming he yelled some more and got in his truck and drove off. Swerving in and out of traffic. That really ruined the spirit of the day. He really dented and tore off one side of our license plate. We had to tie it on with string when we got back. That man was so upset, the funny thing is that he's a white Zimbabwean, with an attitude!!! Just hope we don't run into him ever again.
     We are doing fine and, I just wanted to tell you LOU, to have a great day at the Doctors office tomorrow. We are praying that you're doing well and Owen is healthy and strong. We might ditch the branch baptism on Saturday, so we can visit the Lions place. Sure hope you all stay in touch and are doing well. Hey when you send us our package, send it UPS. Put Jesus stickers on all the seams. Then they won't cut Jesus's picture open to see what's in the package. Just use the middle size box, or less. Well, conference is just a week away. I can't believe that it's coming so soon. We won't get to view it until the 25 and 26 of October, maybe sooner. We have 8 new transfer's coming on Tuesday, not that many but we're getting all prepared for the day. Transfer's are always busy, missionaries coming to see each other, getting their mail and moving into a new place. These Zimbabweans always ask if they have any mail, they never do. My heart goes out to them. So I give them candy. Not a very good trade off.
 We love you all, and hope you're all doing well. Russ tell us if you get a place to live in Pennsylvania. Robert, another truck????? Almost two months down, and counting..... Love always MOM

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Another Sunday

Hello family:
Well, we've really had a great day today, and it's not even finished. Hope to get to see and talk with you guys tonight. Today our mission branches added two more branches. We drove 1 1/2 hours out of the city, the opposite direction from last Sunday. We went to a small community called Bindura. The drive was really something. We saw farms, grass huts, ladies bathing their kids in a river and then doing their laundry in the same water. We saw 3 ladies carrying the most beautiful plastic containers on their heads. I'm sure they had water in them. They were so colorful in their dress and the containers matched what they were wearing. One was green, blue, and yellow. Just wish I could of taken a picture. This area also had acres of orange groves. They smelled so sweet and reminded me of California. We saw people out gleaning the corn fields and trying to cultivate dirt with only a hoe. We finally arrived into Bindura, and it's a mining community plus farming. They mine for gold! Just wishing for a little.
We got to the Church building and it was awesome. We were greeted by 6 sister missionaries, and then by 5 elder missionaries as we walked into the chapel. It was so reverent. so not like the states. No prelude music just members waiting for church to start. The two branches that meet there were being divided and making 3 branches. I counted around me and there were 240, but I don't know how many members were in back of us.
Everyone was dressed in their best, they were just so glad to be at church. Today the prayers were really neat to hear. They prayed for those who were in the hospitals, in jail and those who were to speak. Since they don't have anyone to play the piano, the chorister just sang 3 measures of the song, and then we all start at the beginning. Love it!
The meeting was filled with strong testimonies of the prophet Joseph Smith, how he was an instrument in the Lord's hand in restoring the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a real sacrifice for these people to get to church. One lady after church told me that she and her husband walk 17 km each way to church and they do it every week. So we took pictures of the new branch presidency and then drove to the other branch meetings. There were two branches that were being divided also. This meeting was held in a school auditorium. I bet there were about 350 members to this meeting. The new branch they formed had the most members stand up. The new branch president has only been a member for 4 months. The church is growing very fast here in Zimbabwe.
We had to compete for sound again with another church. They had loud singing again, and loud music. Just really makes it hard to listen to anyone's testimony let alone the sacrament. The spirit was extremely strong in the meetings this day. Our mission President is a very spiritual man, and he really has a vision for the church in Africa. There are 16 missionaries serving in this little area, they baptize on a regular time frame.
 On our way home we took with us Sister Cook and President Chesa. He is a counselor in the mission presidency. What a sharp young man. He's 34, a counselor in the mission presidency, has served in a stake presidency when he was 26. Works for the church, family and just a bright man. We think he'll be the next mission president. He told us about different things in Africa, while we were driving back to the city. he told us about the government in Zimbabwe, killer snakes in  Zimbabwe, his opinion about why people burn the countryside every year (because it's a tradition). Today was a special treat. I needed this experience, it helped me understand why we are here. We all come from a loving heavenly father and he wants us all to be happy, but it's only through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yesterday we worked many hours in the mission office, yes, on our P-day. We broke away in the late afternoon. Elder Alan wanted all day to go for a walk, so I said yes, lets do it now. So we went for a walk. We walked so far, got lost, had to use our GPS on our smart phones to find our way home. I have to say, I wasn't happy, just tired and just wanted to get back to our flat and relax, but we still needed to buy groceries and get gas for the truck and the generator.
Before we came out here, I've had a scene in my mind. A lady on the side of the road selling fruit. I've thought that I should help this lady in some way. Well, we get here, and there is a lady selling fruit and veggies on every corner street. Am I suppose to help all of them? I just don't know!
We got a treat to see the mission president's home this afternoon.  Like I said, we took sister Cook home from Bindura, so we went in to see their home. Wow, it's so nice and new. 4 bedroom, 3 baths, and just really nice. It's in a gated area, only 2 years old. The church makes their home really nice. Really made me miss our home in Elk Ridge. Their home is air conditioned, huge generator which automatically comes on  when the power goes off, big new kitchen and a dishwasher. We are back in our cave, but would never covet a mission presidents life! A busy and hard life.
We finally have next Saturday free,  we are going to the White Lion and Tiger Reserve. I just can't wait. Lots of pictures for sure.
We hope that you're all doing well. So fall is approaching? Best time of the year. Lindsay and Curtis, keep the trick or treater's off the new grass. Put up yellow caution tape every where, or pray that it snows and is really an ugly day. Maybe they'll stay home. I see that BYU is doing very well in football. Maybe this will be their year to do some unbelievable things. On Friday and Saturday we had the Church Public relations people in our office. They are getting everything ready for our October treat from Elder Cook. What ever happened to "just having an apostle just show up"! There is so much planning and stuff going on. I'll be ready for a vacation after they leave. If they go on a safari, I want to go with them!!!!
I broke down and purchased a $5.75 dollar cake mix, yes it was a Betty Crocker brand. I'm saving it for a very special occasion. Natalie Dahl is very inspirational. I'll have to get involved with her diet workout before I come home.
 On the 30th we have transfers' in the mission. We'll have 7 new missionaries. then in November we get 4 new ones. We are way over 200 missionaries. Our allotment is 147, but after that we won't be having any come in and a lot leaving in February.
We are  hoping that every one is healthy and doing well. We'll be home before you all know it, and some of you will wish we would go away for another stay.
I did not get my hair cut. On Thursday it was a very slow day in the office, so I called the lady and asked her, "Can I move my appointment up?" Thinking that I could get in to see her earlier on Thursday. She moved my appointment up, to MONDAY!!!! There is a different way to communicate and I'm learning their English way.
Russ and Christine, sure hope you can sell your car and the moving plans are working out. Rob and Whit, I just love the pictures of Hailey. Stay away from those California fires. Love the grass at the other Hermansen home (Chris and Kristine).
Parents, hope you're all doing well and staying out of trouble. The jacaranda trees are coming in bloom. They are every where. That is the tree we had in our front yard that dropped purple flowers every where (our flag pole tree). Dad is watching some weird TV show and it's really loud!!  We get all the African news. We hear about the Ebola problems and just pray that they don't come our way. I'm going to try to make cookies one last time tonight. They just don't turn out at all. I'm still making mistakes right and left in the mission office. trying to get the baptismal records up to date. Can't figure out a long distance phone call on our phone system, and the assistance lost their key to the office.(Can't wait to hear all that in the office tomorrow morning, they are already in hot water).
Now I'm rambling, we love you all and pray for you all daily.
Love always, MOM

PS. This is Lindsay. My mom got her hair cut and she loves it, in case any one was wondering about that.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Hi family:
Well this week has been one of continual blackouts. Every day we wake up to no power and go to sleep when the power comes on. On Friday we read in the newspaper, that the country of Zimbabwe did not pay the country of Mozambique 7 million dollars for power. So all the people have had to suffer for failure to pay a power bill. When will people wise up around here. But today we woke up to power and it's still on. Yeah!!!! Happy dance day.
Today we went outside the gate, and went for a walk. We just walked up the street. When we go for a walk, we really can't see houses, except it we peek through a fence. The homes are really large and beautiful, but every home is surrounded by a large wall, or fence, with electric wires. Rather a scary thing to look at. There aren't a lot of white people, so black people are trying to keep out black people, not white people. Hope that didn't sound too bad. There are also every type of tree here, tropical to pine trees, to desert yucca plants. It's very dry now, hopefully the rains will come and green every thing up.
This morning we went out to the Domboshava branch and met the missionaries and branch mission leaders. From the branch building we drove to meet an older couple. The sister who is in her 60's wants to get baptized, but her husband who is 91 doesn't want to get married. He doesn't believe in marriage. I just wanted to tell him, "Hey you're going to die soon, so give your wife a really nice gift before you leave this earth". Of course I did not say that, but said  how wonderful married life is and to be  married and sealed to my soul mate.  He said that he would think about it. The elders even offered to give him a ride to church in the morning, but he refused and said that he would walk to church and no one was going to give him a ride. One stubborn old bird!  But he softened up, and told me that if I would come to his wedding he would make some cake! So I just said, tell me and I'll come to your wedding.  Now the funny part of this whole experience was, I had to sit on the ground with his wife, during the missionary discussion. She pulled out a plastic canvas painters tarp and we sat on it under a lowly tree. There were ants all over and I hate ants!!! So I wrapped my long skirt around my legs and held them off the ground, so the ants wouldn't get to me. She told me to put my legs down, that African women put their legs straight out on the ground when they sit. I told her I don't like ants...... She really laughed and then her husband laughed and so forth. She asked her granddaughter to go get a pillow so I could put my legs on it. What a white person I am!!!. The sweetest little lady,  but she wants to get baptized. She comes to church all the time.... Their living conditions are really different than what I saw and wrote about last week. she lived in a little rectangular brick home, with her husband, daughter and two grandchildren. No outside kitchen building. Their home is about the size of our family room in Utah. They did have a building out house with two doors.  No garden, but a well. They lived about two miles off the main road. Good thing we have a truck. I appreciate my home so much. No Lindsay I will not sell it when we get back. I will love it more.
I do have pictures that we'll post. Me and the lady under the tree, sitting on the ground.
When we arrived back at the church, we had a baptism to attend. A single young girl was baptized. She bore her testimony but no one translated for us. This young girl also has a little baby boy. Very cute baby. During the baptism, in the sacrament building there was a young single adult conference. There were about 30 youth that attended. They seemed to be having a lot of fun. So after the baptism, the young single adults were just about ready to have their lunch, so our branch president announced that everyone from the branch was invited to have lunch with the YSA group. Talk about feeding the 5,000 with one chicken! There was plenty of food for everyone! There were 3 ladies that were cooking the food. They built a fire outside and cooked their rice, chicken, and then a sauce to go over the chicken and rice. It looked really good, Elder Hermansen did eat it, but I just couldn't bring myself to food this afternoon. Eating utensils are not for everyone here. Most people eat with their hands. And then they clean utensils and plates with not clean water. Just having a problem with that!   So after the meal was over, about 2:30 this afternoon, then we witnessed a wedding. The second counselor in the branch presidency was married to his child's mother. This couple is so cute, and very active in the church. I don't know why people don't get married first, but they are now. They each had to sign 3 different papers, and put their thumb print on the same papers. Then our branch president read to them the wedding arrangement. This is all government controlled, so it was different. We have pictures also of the wedding.  The branch president did add a few church words to the ceremony, but it is cheaper for them to be married through the church than to go to a government building.  They have a tradition yelping after the ceremony, we just clapped. So it has been an eventful day. Now tomorrow we are driving about 2 hours outside of the city to a small community to see if this little group of people are going to be faithful to make a branch. That should be another story to tell.

Well,the power has gone out, my talk for Sunday isn't written. Elder Hermansen is going to turn on the generator, so life will be good.
This week has been really good and fast. Still learning a lot. On Wednesday my young Elder trainer came to the office for the day. He really misses his cushy office job. But he is baptizing many people where he's at. When he goes home in 2015, I'll miss him. Cute little guy from Idaho.  I love reading everyone's posts on Facebook. It keeps me updated on life in the states. In fact a cute girl came to the office window and started talking to me on Friday. I noticed right off she didn't have an accent. She was from Idaho, and works at the US Embassy. She asked me if I missed anything yet, from home, I said just about every thing. She said she'd be back with a surprise. I hope she doesn't forget about me.... The weather is getting very warm, very fast. I don't have mosquito netting over my windows. There is a lady here that I need to talk with about that, so I can open our windows at night.
You are all in our prayers. We love you  and pray that the Lord is with you always. Last week I recorded 50 new convert records, in one week. That is only from a few of the zones in the mission. The lord is really Hastening the work, just pray that we are a part of it.  Well, time is flying by and my talk isn't getting done. Love you all. I'll write about our Sunday tomorrow. Love you MOM. No I don't have braids yet, but have found a hair cutter.....

 Here is the link for their pictures

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Humbling Experience

Hello family:
   Well, another very busy Monday at the Zimbabwe Harare Mission. Today was Zone leader interviews and they came from all over Harare. They all wanted to get their mail. I must run the only efficient post office in the country. But busy is very good. Elder Hermansen told me tonight that our mission baptized over 50 people just last weekend. I'm so toast, my stack of records is getting higher and higher.
   On Saturday we had to help out at the mission office, so that was some time to get caught up, only put a small dent in the work pile. We met Elder Chitorie, an area seventy from South Africa. Very nice man. I guess he comes up here a lot. Then after the office we found Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was packed on a Saturday afternoon. This is the only fast food place (American) food in the country. We tried some fried sodza. It is like really thick cream of wheat cereal but really thick. It has no flavor at all. The people here dip it in some thing like gravy sauces, or roll it in vegetables. It tastes like the stuff you put on it. Not a fan! 
Sunday was really special. First off, we were 15 minutes late for church. In the morning our generator ran out of gas, so we filled it up. That was before the power went out. Our neighbors are so kind. They bought some gas for us. They really keep an eye out for us. Hate to see them go home in December. So we are on the road to church, and we had to go through 4 police stops. They just stand out in the middle of the  road and flag people over. Yesterday they were flagging over just the comvees and checking their stickers and tires. We should just wave and speed on through. but we do have to obey the laws here to some degree. We made it to church and they had the key board programed to some really fast beat song. By the time I got to the stand, the key board was playing a wedding march. Quickly turned it off and started playing the hymns. Church as yet hasn't started on time. It was fast and testimony meeting and it was really good. There were only men that bore their testimonies. They all said how grateful they were for joining the church, and they all testified about the book of Mormon and how it testifies of Jesus Christ. Very heart felt and strong members. After sacrament meeting we had our usual Temple prep class. I've noticed that when I teach, the men don't look at me. When Alan teaches they all look at him. I think it's something of a cultural thing. After our branch counsel meeting that lasted an hour and a half, we took a member home. He had invited us to come to his home a couple of weeks ago. Since we have a four door truck now, he could ride in our vehicle and we drove him home. He lived just down the road from the chapel., on a dirt road and we came to a fenced area that was his home. He has a red brick small rectangle building, windows, and a door. That was their sleeping area.  Then he invited us into a round red brick building, That was the kitchen. His kitchen didn't have a thatched roof, but a tin metal roof (just sheets of tin laid on top). We walked in and it was such a humble feeling in their home. His wife brought out two nice chairs from their sleeping area into the kitchen so we could have something to sit on. The brother sat on a woven chair next to us. His wife and two children sat on the floor on a woven bamboo mat. The floor was cement, painted black. But very clean. The entire kitchen was about 20 feet in diameter. Straight across from the door, was an open fireplace. It had a grill to cook on. They had a small fire on it. On either sides of the fireplace were board shelves that held their pots and pans on one side. The other side held their plates, cups and bowls. Then next to the door Elder Hermansen noticed a lot of big bags that were stacked very high. He asked if that would be their food storage, and they said yes it was. Then the brother told us that he has been out of work for15 years. During that time he's done farming and just trying to find work to support his family. His wife does some sewing for people, but they just didn't have anything as we would have. He told us that he has some chickens, and he would like to buy more so he can sell the eggs and chickens. He showed us a dry plot of land that he said he's going to be planting some beans and maze for the upcoming season. Mind you they don't have a tractor to plow the ground , so it's all done by hand, to till the earth and get it ready to plant. We walked outside and saw a young girl who we saw at church. She must have been in her late teens. Very beautiful young woman. She was at his well ready to draw some water from the well. The brother whose home we visited, said that he dug out the well. It was about 8 meters down. We looked into the well and could not see the bottom. Anyway, this girl put this rusty bucket down into the well and cranked the handle and brought it back up. The rusty bucket had holes in it and then she poured it into her own big plastic containers. Out side their home they had a washing area to wash clothes. This home is so much better than the majority of homes. The man was so proud of what he had. He told us that the gospel of Jesus Christ is so important to him and his family. He said that he receives so many blessings, they try to keep the commandments, so the Lord will continue to bless him and his family. They were happy, happy to see us and come in to their home, and just happy to have the gospel in their lives. He did desire to have a borehole someday. That would help not only him, but his neighbors and then he could plant a very big garden and sell his produce and help out other people. These people want to work, but there are no jobs. The government is so backwards. Very rich people, and extremely poor people. I've noticed that every time they offer a prayer, they always thank Heavenly Father for their life and living. So hard to even understand how they just survive each day.
    Just so grateful for the little things in life. I'll be showing you a picture of the mission office soon. Also a garden. It is all hand  tilled, with a hoe. Our building janitor had tilled the entire acre of land. It is incredible and such a productive garden. 
    We just need to have a weekend free, so we can go walk with the lions and see the tigers and all the fun stuff in Africa.
Hope you're all doing well.  We keep you all in our prayers and thoughts daily. Love you all Mom