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.
Love Elder H. and Sister H.