I hope you all had a great memorial day weekend. I've seen pictures of beautiful cemetaries loaded with flowers. This time of year is a great way to remember those who have passed on and those who have gave their lives for our country and freedom. Here in Africa there was a holiday last Monday also, it was Africa Day. I believe that it is only for Zimbabwe. It was the day they joined the African Union and received their independence. Most of the African workers in our office had no idea why they had a holiday. In fact one worker, Bongani Moyo came to work that day. I said that he should go home and enjoy the day with his wife, he said that it's better to work because at home there is nothing to do. Some holiday's are like that.
Well a week ago on Friday night we received a phone call and a set of elders had just been in a car accident. They had been driving down this road at night and a "comvee" , a van bus, came right at them with it's lights on bright. This vehicle was making it's own third lane, right down the middle of the road. So the elders went to the side of the road and there tires came off the lip of the road and caught the gravel/dirt. Their car rolled 7 times off the side of the road down a hill. Came to a stop. One more roll and it would have landed in a body of water. I asked the senior companion what he did when it started to roll, he said" I hugged my companion and said, Lord we are your chosen servants, please help us now". I know they were helped, they walked away with out a scratch. The car is totaled. They are the best missionaries. Infact the senior companion is going home in just a week from his mission, Elder Ojok, who has served with us in the office. I will so miss him, and his goodness.
Later that same night, in Bulawayo the furthest part of the mission, there was another missionary accident. They weren't as lucky. Their accident was on a straight road, the same thing a comvee came towards the missionaries and cut them off, so the elder swerved to miss them and hit a pedestrian and then hit a car head on. The pedestrian was killed and the missionary driving broke his leg, cut up his hand and arm. The lady in the other car received cuts on her face. The branch elder sitting in the front seat had no injuries, but the elders sitting in the back seat (wearing his seat belt), has body bruises from the seat belt and hitting the seat infront of him. So our mission president called us last Saturday morning to drive to Bulawayo and get the missionaries out of the hospital and see how they were doing. Also the one elder needed to have surgery on his broken leg. The trip to Bulawayo was very interesting. Very dense trees and bushes. One place on the road there were baboons all over. It is a one lane road, so we were always looking for pedestrians or other cars coming at us, but the road was good, for Zimbabwe. The closer we got to Bulawayo it became more open and grassy. It looked somewhat if we were driving towards the Arizona Strip. WE could see some higher mountains in the distance, but you could see for ever! Then came the donkeys and big cattle wandering on the road, there are no fences.
We made it to Bulawayo and went straight to the hospital. The one elder with the broken leg had been released a few hours earlier, so we tried to get the other missionary out of the hospital. He was doing well, just very sore and achy. His xrays showed no internal problems. The doctor wouldn't release him, so he spent another night in the hospital. The hospital was clean and no smells. IT was a 3 story hospital, six people to a room, with community showers and bathrooms. Not modern at all! The beds were a very thin mattress with a piece of plywood under the mattress. They lay flat, no sitting up in bed. They did feed the patients, were as some hospitals here people have to bring food into the hospital to feed their friends. So the Zone leaders showed us where the other elder was and we went to their flat. I'm so grateful for my flat here. The missionaries really have it a lot harder, living conditions. The mission does try to find the best housing for the missionaries.
The elder was in a lot of pain , even with painkillers. He had been instructed to pack his clothes, so with help he was ready to leave his flat. He spent the night with the zone leaders. That night we took the elders out for dinner at a local pizza place. It was downtown and we felt very safe. So Elder A and myself spent the night at the Holiday Inn, it was nice to have a hot shower and soft carpet under our feet and the electricity stayed on all the time.
On Sunday morning we met up with the elder with the broken leg, because we were to take him to the airport and ship him to South Africa for surgery. This elder wanted to say good bye to his branch ,so we took him to church. What a special experience to attend this little branch. The members that came were the choosen few. It was held in a little house, that was so clean and built well, with crown molding and a fireplace. They called on this elder to bear his testimony so Elder A helped him get to the microphone. He bore a simple testimony of the restoration, the prophet Thomas S. Monson, and of Jesus Christ. Then the branch president counselor helped him back to his seat, but he hit his leg on a chair. This elder was in a lot of pain. During sacrament meeting the elder in the hospital called and his doctor wanted to talk with us about this elder. So we tried to hurry after the meeting, but every member came and hugged the elder that we had and wished him the best. It was touching! There about 40 members who did this. Elder A was anxious to get to the hospital because our mission was to get the other elder out of the hospital! I know the Lord blesses those who attend sacrament meeting and partakes of the sacrament weekly, because we were blessed that day. To tell you alittle about this branch. One lady had her car totaled during the week, an army truck side swiped her. Another member's husband was trapped in his car after a car hit them and then it caught on fire, and the man has server burns on his body and is in the hospital. and then to have their elders in an accident. They were suffering as a branch, but they were strong spiritually.
We retrived the elder from the hospital, we never talked with the doctor, and then we drove him back to the little branch to meet up with the zone leaders, who were to take care of him.
Elder A, the other elder and myself sped off to the airport. The area office sent an escort from their office to be with this elder. Well we got there and they wouldn't let him on the airplane, because he couldn't walk by himself up the stairs to get on the airplane. The head airline official was set against him getting on the plane, even though the escort showed him how he would help carry him up the stairs. Elder A called our mission president and told him what the situation was at the airport. The mission president, wife and the area 70 president, were all together in the car. The ARea president Carl B. Cook, told the Cooks to pull over and they needed to offer a prayer. At the same time we were all saying a prayer for this elder. Not more than 3 minutes later, the airline official changed his mind and all was well. This elder has had surgery on his leg and is doing well. He can't leave the Continent until the legal matters are taken care of. We talk almost every day
Now the rest of the week has been exciting. We've had the priviledge to meet with Elder Lynn G. Robbins and his wife. They gave the zone conference this week and then we had a couples dinner with them. He told us about the ailing apostles and President Monson. Today we saw that Elder Perry had passed on. That was quick.
I apologize for writing a book, but I needed to write to save my thoughts. Also for sacrament meeting today, our combined meeting , our branch president gave a lesson on "food storage". I thought he was crazy, but I'm sure there will be harder times ahead for these people and also for us in the land of plenty. We love you all and pray that your safe and happy. Remember you are in our prayers and thoughts always.
MOM and Dad Missionaries