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?