Thursday, April 23, 2015

slow week 4/23/15

Hello Family,
Like I said, this has been a slow couple of days. Sure there is work today, but I'm just not motivated. All the office elders and the Cooks are in Bulawayo and Gweru for Zone Conferences. So Elder A and myself have been keeping the "fort down". We had an experience last Sunday when we went to attend church in Chegutu. WE arrived early and thought we could remember where they met, but ended up getting confused and lost. So we called the elders and asked if they would find us at the stop light (it's called a robot here). We made a u turn waiting for the Elders and we hadn't been there a minute, and we got a huge spike strip but under our back tires. There were 3 men, saying they were the police and that we were parking in a no parking zone. That's a laugh because there are no such signs in the entire country. They were not going to let us go, or even reduce the fine of $35.oo. They said they needed to write us a ticket, Elder A, asked where their ticket book was and they said, back at the office. So then he asked for some identification. Only one out of the 3 could produce anything. It was very questionable, some thing from a cracker jack box. Then came the elders, and they spoke to them in Shona and still they wouldn't lower the price or just let us go. One Elder he said, "Sister Hermansen you know why you got this ticket? and then he pointed at his skin. " Yep! I know. So we paid the ticket, made it to church on time to speak. We spoke at this little branch, even before it was a branch and there were only 25 people in attendance. Last Sunday it was more than doubled. Such a great feeling to see the church grow. Elder A was asked to give the Gospel Essentials class and I gave the R.Society Lesson and then Elder A gave the Priesthood lesson. It was great to be there, even being $35.poorer.
This coming week we will be having another large transfer. We'll be having 13 new missionaries coming to the mission, so there is a lot to do. Then we have 14 going home, the same day. It should be rather confusing here on Monday and Tuesday.
We are doing well. I saw the dentist about my tooth a couple of weeks ago. He put an Iodine solution inside of the root canel. I go back on the 14th of May to see if the infection has cleared up. If it has he'll put a screw inside of the root canal and then fix my crown that he keeps drilling into.  I don't have a lot of pain, which is good. Alan should also see him in a couple of months to start his tooth implant.
We are keeping a close watch on the troubles in South Africa. It's sad what violence is taking place, especially towards the Zimbabweans that live there. But they are being forced to leave everything they've worked for behind and move back to Zimbabwe. WE had a church employee today, who needed to visit the embassy here in Zimbabwe to get his visa renewed so he can go back to South Africa and work in the area church office. South Africa is kicking everyone out. So Mozambique had a gold mine and workers from South Africa were working in it, they were asked to leave and they wouldn't so the country of Mozambique burned down the gold mine, so they wouldn't have a job!!
I keep our truck full of fuel just in case we ever have to leave, but it doesn't involve Americans, so don't worry about us.
We do hope your all doing well, and are healthy. Did spring ever come back to Utah? We went to the theatre last Saturday. It was Independence day here in Zimbabwe. We were told that the branch wasn't going to have any baptisms, but they did. So decided to go out. We saw the new movie Cinderella. It was really good. The theatre was so clean and new. I just couldn't believe it. I think the  country is trying to improve it's image. They have now painted lines on the road! Only a few major roads. Also the standing light poles have been painted, and some of the lights have been fixed. In  the richest neighborhoods they look really nice with nice robots and lights. We know where the money is in the country.
Well, I'm rambling on, and should get started on some project, or read something. Hope your all doing well. love to see the pictures of Hailey and Owen. WRite when you can and have a great week.
Love always Elder Alan and his wife Joy


Hello family.
Today was really spiritual. We had a zone conference and I was able to listen to almost all the talks. President Cook talked about the restoration and Joseph Smith. He told us about a man named Solomon Chamberlain, who lived in upstate New York. Are we related to this man. He said that he was a man that sent himself out on a mission before he knew about the church, he went around teaching that Jesus Christ would send a church on the earth. He met Hyrum Smith and Solomon asked him, if he believed in visions. WEll, Hyrum didn't know if he were someone who might harm the Smith's , but he said yes and invited him to meet Joseph Smith. He joined the church!
One of the assistants, who is from Uganda, talked about how he grew up on farms. He said that if we are not obedient, then satan will plant small seed into our lives ( like weeds) and they can choke off the garden( our spiritual growth). We need to be obedient in all things.
We found out that a man from our Domboshava branch died today. He has been very ill, but it was sad to here about him. Most people die from Aids, or  something related to Aids. Tomorrow is the funeral out in the bush. I would like to go, just to see what a funeral is like. We taught him in our temple prep class, and he really had a strong desire to some day go to the temple and be sealed to his wife. His wife died last June. So between them they had 3 children. I believe that our mission president would like to sponsor the teenagers and have them come to the united states. They are so bright and now they have no one to look after them.
It's turning winter, and it's getting colder. But it is also raining a lot! totally different from last year when we arrived.
WE saw pictures of the wicked wind and storm that has hit Utah. I do hope you are all doing well. yes, Lindsay see if Chad can help out with the sprinkler problem. Did the snow come to southern Utah?
WE are speaking in a different branch this coming Sunday. Should be interesting, but the branch is really growing in numbers.
 Are you all healthy and fine? Alan's uncle Wayne had a heart attack, we hope he is doing well. How is uncle Jon and cousin Lex? Our prayers and thoughts are with them.
Ok, I have to admit, we have been watching the show "Downton Abbey". We are hooked. Elder A has been calling me, my lady. If you don't know what we are talking about, just watch the show.
We get to watch conference next Saturday and Sunday the 25th and 26th. Our power is out yet again. WE';ve spent a lot in generator gas lately, but very grateful for that generator. Mugabe must be in town. I do believe that he just tries to make people suffer.
So grateful to be associated with the missionaries that serve here in Zimbabwe. They truly are special missionaries.
I believe that I've caught up on my letter writing. Keep safe, and I do hope that not all the fruit trees were damaged in the latest storm. wE love you all and keep you in our prayers and thoughts.
Love Joy and Alan
Please send grand children pictures!!!!!

Victoria Falls 4/16/15

Hello Family,
I've really procrastinated in writing. So I've decided today I would do this early in the morning while my brain is still fresh and alert, somewhat. Last week we had our couples outing to Victoria Falls. That is some amazing natural wonder. The water level is real high right now, so the falls were just gushing with water. The actual falls are a mile long. The canyon they fall into ,lets just say is really deep. The mist was so heavy it created it's own rain system. so even with long plastic rain coats (with hoods), we were wet. I've seen pictures of when the water is low and people and animals can walk across the river. That would be an awesome picture to see also. I do wish somehow the country of Zimbabwe could collect the water and distribute it to the people who need the water. IT just goes to waste. So we spent a long day at the falls. If I ever figure out my camera, and learn how to send pictures, I'll send them your way. Alan and I are the ones in the baby blue rain coats, rather gay!
The next day was our trip into Botswana to take the safari drive and go down the Chobe River. That was so incredible also. Botswana is a place I could live . The country is clean! and beautiful. Our guide said that every week, the people stop what they are doing and  pick up trash. I believe it, so clean. There was a military presence in Botswana, more than in Zim, which w as different. When we crossed over the border, we had to walk into this solution, an d also the vehicle had to drive through the same stuff. It is to clean our shoes off, they don't want hoof and mouth disease to come to the animals. WE saw our share of animals. Before I tell you about them, I just thank God for all his creations, they are amazing. WE didn't see any animals until we drove close to the Chobe River plains, then we saw antelope, Cape Water buffalos, and an old elephant eating. This elephant was in the swampy water pulling up the tall grass, then it would wrap it around it's trunk and  with the grass beat it's self with the grass, to knock off the mud. Then it would eat the grass. I could have watched this elephant all day long. Next we saw a zillion baboons. They were running all over and chasing each other all over. Then there came an outsider into the group and the fight and chase began. This poor lonely baboon just wanted to be accepted but the older monkeys really took into this lonely monkey. They chased it for a couple of miles and the noise the baboons made was , really mean. WE saw mongoose. They are funny and fast little creatures. Then we came closer to the river bottom itself. There were wart hogs, more baboons huddled together , they could hear the other baboons chasing the lonely one. Then the hippos ! They are something else. I thought that there were these huge rocks on the banks of the marshy river, but they were Hippos!!!! we counted about 60 of them, all with there heads in the mud! WE did see many of them eating and swimming. later in the day we saw them walking into the river and snorting at us. That was when our guide punched the motor on the boat and we took off quickly. They swim very fast and tip boats over. Ok, back on land. We also saw the biggest Nile crocodiles ever. Even our guide took out his binoculars and said he had never seen them that huge. Some looked like big tree logs but they were crocs. One had it's mouth open, it was cooling it's self off. Rather neat to see. We then saw a herd of elephants come running out of the hills down to the water. Our guide stopped the truck and said for us to be quite. They were like a pack of kids running to jump into the swimming pool and play. We heard them roar and dunk themselves in the water, swish their trunks around and spray water. Then after about 15 minutes the mother in charge, said something and they all came out. Well, they came out and started walking right by us. I was looking at them so close to us, I could see the eye lashes of this one elephant. I was waiting for the trunk to come in the open truck and swipe me. A little to close for the driver, and we drove down the road just a little to watch them from a distance. The bigger "bulls" were off in the river eating, so we don't get close to them. Awesome! Don't you all want to come for a vacation now. WE didn't see any giraffes or zebras, they were in Namibia grazing on the grasses there. From there we went to a place where the guides stop for a brake, they even created a sign," rest stop". but there were elephants there and the guide wouldn't let us out. He said that one day he stopped there and put out a table and put his lunch on it and was taking a break. Then the elephants came and shoved his table over and stomped on it. He learned that this area is for them and they humans have to respect it.
We then drove to the town of Kasane  Botswana, where we got on this little boat to start our river trip. The weather was perfect, and the river was so nice to look at. But we had to remember it was full of crocs of all sizes. The company that did the trip also had a floating restaurant on the river, so we drove up to this round barge and they 2 ladies and 1 man cooked lunch for us. It was  really good, and almost American food. After lunch we were off to see the animals from the river side. We saw the most beautiful birds ever, and a lot of them. Then we saw the huge monitor lizards, that were waiting to eat the birds and baby crocs. Our guide said that the really big crocs that we saw were 125 to 140 years old. I didn't even think that we could be in any danger, but that was foolish thinking. We saw hippos in the river, crocs on the side of the banks, two large elephants came out of the bush(trees) with there horns locked and they were fighting. That was really neat to see, our guide stopped the boat so we could take all that fighting in.  The one thing we did see, were two people. They were fishing. One man was in the water near( the bank of the river and the lady was in the boat( the boat was a wooden tree dug out boat) They would put their fishing net in to the water and then pull it back out. The guide said that most people don't survive such outings because of the crocodiles in the water. He said that these people live in Namibia and take their fish to the market in Botswana to sell and buy food and take it back to Namibia. The Chobe River is the natural border between the two countries. Our guide said that the two countries fight over  where the boarder is all the time. Infact some one has placed a flag pole out on this island. He said that every day some one will change the flag from Botswana to Namibia.
Our trip was nice. The people in Victoria Falls are ready to be taught the gospel, the church doesn't have a branch there. We had people ask all the time about our name tags and they wanted to know more about our church. I did tell President I wouldn't mind starting up a branch there, just give it a shot. The city is very expensive to live in , because it's tourist driven. So workers migrate to other communities when the tourist season dries up, and then they come back to vic falls to work. There is a bridge that connects Zambia to Zimbabwe, and that is at Victoria Falls. WE did not have permission to cross over into Zambia, sure wanted to.
We made it back safely and grateful for the protection the Lord feely gave to us.. One thing about our trip. ON the roads, there are elephant crossing signs. Only in Africa!. Our hotel was awesome, we got a great deal on the rooms, because they were running specials. It's the off season. Our dinning area is all open with a huge thatched roof covering it. So the baboons would love to run into the place, and swing on the open beams. They hired guards to only take care of the baboons. They would us sling shots, and just the sound of them being fired off would scare the baboons away. Ok I've really talke a lot, so my next letter will be more spiritual. We love you all and please take care of your selves. We pray for you always and day dream all the time , about our family.
Love from Elder A and Sister H.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Happy St. Patricks Day

Hello family.
How has your week been? I do hope you all remembered your Irish ancestors on the 17th. I really enjoyed reading Lorraine's link to "James Little" on family search. I really liked learning about him. We've been blessed with great people to call family.
We are doing well. This week is almost over, and it's been a very busy and tiring one. We had transfers this week, sent 16 missionaries home(there time was up). I really wanted to hug each of them, but they were still missionaries. WE have 2 elders whose families have come to Zimbabwe to join them on their flight back. One elder's visa expired on the 16th, so the gov't gave him a one day extension  and then get out of the country. Well, his family is traveling here for 10 days. As of tonight it has not been resolved, so I hope he doesn't get caught without a visa. All the missionaries leaving were top notch missionaries. I do hope to see them one day, probably in heaven.
So now it's catch up on the work and getting the next batch of missionaries ready to leave at the end of April. Last Saturday we enjoyed witnessing another group of 7 people getting baptized. It was really great. One of the elders who left this week, worked in the same branch as us. He said that he taught 63 peoplein out little branch, who all got baptized. He also told us that he baptized 102 people on his mission. Our little branch broke the record in attendance last sunday, 254 at sacrament meeting. All time first for the Domboshava Branch. We really need a new building. Also at the baptism, there was Sister Sande. She told me that she was going to get baptized next week. She is  the little lady who had to get married first before she could be baptized. Her husband is 90 years old and didn't want a civil marriage, but he gave in and now she will get to be a member of the Jesus Christ's church. She was so thrilled that her husband consented to the marriage. Now I have to bake him a cake. The Church has a rule in Africa, that all married people have to be married civily before they can be baptized. A tribal wedding isn't enough to be baptized. All the branch presidents and bishops have gone through a marriage candidates course, so they can perform civil weddings. Just another miracle. But last Sunday, Alan and I attended the Bindura District conference. It was really good. One thing that was a tender mercy, when we were walking into the school, where church was being held. These little boys grabbed onto Elder Alan's hand and wouldn't let go. They sat by us during the conference. 3 little boys on one chair for the entire meeting. The oldest boy's name is Washington Chapadzit, then there were Proud and Pride, twin brothers who sat next to Alan. I guess the Lord knew we were missing our grandkids on Sunday. I've talked about Bindura a lot, I really like driving there. the way is green, but this trip, the corn stalks were so tall, you couldn't see the fields and mountains. It is starting to dry out, and then the people will burn all the weeds, trees and fields. I don't look forward to that again.
Last Friday night, the Cooks invited us to dinner. it was interesting. WE went to this restaurant that was outside. All the tables were on the grass, and they had these open brick ovens and they cooked the pizza outside. Reminded me of Italy, but the food wasn't as good. There were only white people there. I've come to the conclusion , that the white people here are mostly alcoholics. they love their liquor.
I can't remember if I have written about our office Elders. Any way, Elder Ojok,from Uganda works in the office. WE asked him about his conversion story. I won't repeat myself, but he is really a great missionary. he use to be an "Alma the Younger" before he was baptized. he said that he really persecuted the Mormon's and their missionaries.
Sister Cook and I have realized that there a lot of missionaries that have no parents. they have died. WE have a new Elder from Zambia, this week, who told us that his grandmother's  sister is raising him, since his parents died when he was 10 years old.. They truly are valiant young men with a great purpose in life.
Here are some funny things that have been said to me this past week.
Sister Mashati, told me, that she thinks she has "worms". I just couldn't contain the laughter. She said that she eats all the time.
Elder Burnham, said that some one told him, if you "pee" on your feet, it will take care of atheletes feet. I said that he needs to scrub out his shower, keep his feet dry and buy some ointment.
Oh,yes, the other night President Cook received a call from one set of sister missionaries. One Sister was crying and he said, Sister what is wrong. Sister answered, "My companion told me I was stupid". That brought a silent laugh.
Today, we had a delivery man with some papers run into the office. He said that the papers needed to be here before 5pm. Well, we congratulated him, because it was before 5pm. I walked with him to another office in our building and he handed the papers to the secretary. The man was so proud and announced that he was here before 5pm. The secretary responded back, yes you are , but the papers were due yesterday before 5pm. His bubbled had been burst!
We are fine, and Alan's tooth is healing and now I need to see the dentist next Monday. Not looking forward to this appointment.
I hear that Spring has come early. Dad I do hope that you will be able to get out to the fields and spin around in the tractor. WE talked with all our kids last weekend. what a treat for us. We did miss Whitney and Hailey, but maybe this weekend. We love you all and love the letters and pictures that are posted. The church is true, the people of Zimbabwe are truly blessed with the ability to feel the spirit and act upon its promptings. Yesterday a Lady came up to the mission office window and said that she needed to talk with Bishop Spencer(he's a bishop that serves in the  building next to us). This lady had a look of panic and desperation. She was so skinny and I noticed that she had some very small children outside. She really was looking for the Relief Society President, who was late. She was there for welfare assistance. I really felt bad for this sister. When I see this look in their eyes, I wish I could give them all that we have, but then I remember there is a certain order in the church that things are given out. Well, I've gone on to long. We love you as always and pray for your safety and happiness.
Love Alan and Joy