Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It is time to do battle with the wily mosquito.  Note the steely glint in the eye of our hero as he prepares to administer the coup de grace to the stealth version of the mosquito world.  This species is noted for its ability to disappear from open view, even with several sets of eyes watching.  They seem to rotate into the next dimension and vanish.  Not only that, but they don't make any noise on approach. Various attempts to dispatch them with bare hands only lead to frustration.  In an effort to even the odds, he procures a 21st century electronic weapon--the "BUG ZAPPER" capable of discharging 2,750 volts across the grid.  At last, a sure means of eradication is at hand (no pun here, it's all in the wrist).  The best part is the blue flash and sharp report which accompanies success in the hunt, not to mention the applause by his spouse as he dispatches another of his sharp-nosed assailants.

Did you know that anopheles (the species he is hunting) means "good for nothing" in Greek?--an apt name if I every heard one.  The only use we have for them is to feed the swallows, swifts, and martens which patrol the skies by day and by the dozens, searching for the elusive prey.  And by night the bats are about with the same aim. Need I tell you that this is our chief sport and entertainment each evening before retiring?  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sorry if some of the pictures have disappeared.  We were reminded that we are not allowed to post any pictures of individuals unless we have their express permission to do so.  The privacy laws vary from country to country, so to avoid any problems, we will have to forbear.  "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, and in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

However, we have really good news.  Our local immigration office OK'd our TEP visas for the next two years, so we should be able to stay in Blantyre for the whole time (until March 2015).  Sister Reynolds heaved a sigh of relief.  After a rocky start, it is nice to have a sense of permanence!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Today was quite a day.  We got a call last night from one of our Elders, who apologized for not inviting us sooner.  He and his companion were expecting to have 10 baptisms on Sunday and wanted to know if we wanted to be there.  Of course it meant getting up at 4:00 so we could leave Blantyre at 5:30 and drive two hours, but we were excited to be invited.  Our missionaries are only working in the area for two days each month, so all of these people were taught and fellowshipped by the members.  We would love to have a mission couple work in there, which would give us an opportunity to put four elders in the area full time.  We keep praying for someone to answer the call to Africa.  The area would be a neat assignment if we didn't already have one in Blantyre.

The branch is located in an area where we had visited three weeks previous, so we sort of knew the way, but elected to follow the missionaries, who had another couple with them.  It was a great trip.  It turned out we had nine baptisms, which were performed in a swimming pool.  The owners have been very gracious in allowing us to use their facility in the early morning before the guests will be up and about. 

I will include a couple of photos of the meeting house which is under construction.  It is basically a longhouse with two offices in the back.  They are currently meeting in a large house on the property, which will continue to be used for classrooms.
We had 56 adults in attendance at Sacrament Meeting, with another dozen or so children. It would be like having over 50 people in your living room/dining room of your home.  It is exciting to see the church move forward.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

We had a wonderful time the week of Sept 17-23. Elder and Sister Lyles, Humanitarian Missionaries for the LDS Church had asked if we could help with logistics during the week they were here with a US team. They were conducting training seminars for the Helping Babies Breathe Project. We drove up to Ntcheu to meet them as they were driving down from Lilongwe, thus saving them having to drive all the way to Blantyre and stay over for several days. That was a fun ride, we only got lost once, and almost made it home without getting lost, although we did miss a couple of turnoffs and had to turn around. There are almost no road signs in Malawi, no highway markers, no standard village naming signs, no speed limit signs except in the villages, and no shoulders on most of the roads. We would just ask the soldiers at the checkpoints if we were still on the right road, and where to turn next. They have plenty of those, so you shouldn't be able to get more than 25 kilometers before there is someone to ask. They were very helpful and polite, standing there with their AK-47's. The team took us out to dinner at the 21 Grill, a regionally famous eatery adjacent to the Protea Ryalls Hotel. It's possibly the finest place in town to eat, but dinner cost us all of 9,000MK or about $25US for both of us. The group bribed the band, and when they brought out Sis. Reynolds' dessert (a banana split with a candle in it) they all sang Happy Birthday To You. It was awesome, totally caught her unaware. :-)
After the seminars, we furnished transport back to Liwonde, but elected to stay overnight at Hippo Lodge and go with some of the Mission Couples on a two-hour boat safari on the Shire (say she-ray) River through Liwonde National Park. Most of the pictures are of that trip. Being in the boat, we could really get close to the animals, so we took about 200 pictures or so. Then we drove back to Blantyre while the team continued on to Lilongwe and their flight home.
Two of our Elders have completed their missions, so they went home this week 9/26. Elders Muhlauyo and Machiridza are great young men, and each will be a strong leader in his homeland. This is Africa's time, and being a part of this explosive growth and change is amazing. It is so good to be able to support these young people as they serve. We are truly blessed. Not only that, but we live in a beautiful place--the flowering trees are lovely, not to mention that they smell good and the birds awaken us with lovely song, albeit a little early.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

We are pretty well settled in Blantyre by now. We have a nice flat, with two bedrooms and two baths so that we can have other couples stay with us when they are in the area. The Sister Missionaries were staying here, but we got a new flat for them so we have the house to ourselves most of the time. The Sisters were glad to move, since their new flat is very close to the branch chapel where they are assigned in Ndirande, and that is right at the edge of their area. They were taking the public transportation every day to reach their area, about 4 km from the house, so too far to walk. The buses are the combies, basically nine passenger Toyota's, with 18 people riding in them. All the missionaries use them, but we have never been brave enough to try it.

The weekend of Aug 23, 24 Elder Reynolds went camping with the YM of the Blantyre District, their first ever YM camp. It was quite an adventure. We drove for about 3 hours to reach the mountain, and then another 3km up the forest road in Mulanje National Park. There is a turnaround where we dropped off all the boys and gear for another 30 minute hike up the mountain. I drove back down to the ranger station to leave the truck and the bus we had rented. Then two of the young men and I started back up the mountain on foot to join the others. Silly me, I listened to them when they said they knew a short cut. The African version is based on just a shorter distance, not necessarily the easiest way. Instead of walking back up the road, we took a 40% grade trail over the top of two ridges--the old man was huffing like a hippopotamus by the time we got to camp 90 minutes later. Talk about scouting challenge--the last 100 meters is a scramble, and if I hadn't been able to hear the boys ahead laughing in the campsite, I might not have made it! I was awakened by the laughing of the hyenas about 0300, and several minutes later could hear the sound of munching right next to my head. Several of the boys got up and chased them away, after which they secured our food supply for the night. I wasn't sure how big the hyenas were, so I didn't get a picture, however I did photograph the tracks next to our tent the next morning. The following weekend of Aug 30, 31, both Sister Reynolds and I got to go with the YW of the Blantyre District for their camp. It was another adventure, this time because of the roads and the days we were driving. The main road between Blantyre and Nkopola is under construction, so it consists of many detours--took us 5 hours to cover 200km. Also because it goes through many small villages, and the weekend is their market days, it was an obstacle course of pedestrians, bicyclists, and combies about every 5km or so. There was no hike in, however, since the Nkopola Lodge is right on Lake Malawi. Not only that, but the priesthood advisers were put up in "chalets" (pronounced like pallets) with warm showers, bathrooms, air-conditioning, and electric service. Not quite the same as the week before. We had a marvelous camp, Sister Reynolds taught a first-aid class, and we were entertained by the monkeys and baboons which frequent the camp (stealing any left out food--worse than mice). This campsite was gorgeous, palm trees, sandy beach, grass covered camping area, covered cooking facility, very nice, indeed. It cost us 2000MK per girl, but that's less than $6US.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

We waited one more day until Elder and Sister Fisk joined us in Lusaka. President Erickson interviewed both couples and then assigned us to work in Malawi, the Fisk's in Lilongwe (north) and ourselves in Blantyre (south). We boarded Kenya Airways at about 0130 and arrived in our new country at 0300 on the morning of 2 Aug 2013, stayed in Lilongwe Fri and Sat night, then drove down to Blantyre on Sunday 4 Aug after church. We were excited but tired, and glad to be in a more permanent situation (I hope!) Elder and Sister Prete, a counselor in the presidency, drove us down and spent the next few days training. Here's a picture of one of the many villages we drove through on the way down.
Monday we joined the Zone for an outing to Majete Game Preserve, and had a marvelous time. I took about 220 pictures, but will only post a few here.
We saw most of the animals in the park, "But No Elephants". The herd numbers in the hundreds, but they were all hiding, along with the leopards, rhinos, lions. Perhaps we will get to go another time in the next 20 months.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tonight we are in Lusaka, Zambia in the mission home. President and Sister Ericson have graciously invited us to stay with them until we get our assignment. There are numerous places in the mission where we can be useful, and he and the Lord are trying to decide where to send us. We will wait for his directions.
The second picture is of the little bit of paradise we found out back.
Yes, that's a palm tree, and the darker tree on the right is a mango, and if you look closely you can see bunches of bananas hanging on the tree behind it. The lemon tree is on the far right. This is the back yard of the mission home, and it was 75* when we took the pictures. This is wintertime, equivalent to the end of January at home. It certainly is pleasant now, but may be much warmer come summer.

Monday, July 29, 2013

We are off to Lusaka, Zambia for the next chapter of the saga. We are being reassigned, so this should be a little more permanent (hope! hope! hope!). We have spent the last two weeks in the Southeast Africa Area Office, Sister Reynolds calling in search of lost members, and Brother Reynolds imaging new laptops and desktops to be distributed to Seminary Administrators all over southern Africa and Madagascar. This makes a total of 7 weeks we have been in limbo since being invited to leave Zimbabwe back on 6/6/13. We have made some wonderful new friends, and had a chance to say goodbye to a number of them at a "luau" this evening. We will miss the SEAA group, but are looking forward to meeting President and Sister Ericson in Zambia tomorrow 29 July. No pictures with this post, we are packing to leave. Sister Reynolds remarked that this is the 7th time she has packed the suitcases since March.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's almost a month since our last post. My how time flies. We continued to work in the temple until it closed for extensive updates to the air conditioning/heating. It will not reopen until September 10. We had a retirement party for Sister Victoria who is in the center of the photo. She had worked until she was 93, and it was sad/happy to see her go. She has been a stalwart saint for many years.
We are still awaiting visas for Zimbabwe, and although some of the younger missionaries have finally gotten extensions, there seems to be no movement on ours. We have agreed that if we don't see any immediate opportunity to return to Zim by the 15th of August, we will seek reassignment, probably to Zambia. In the meantime, Sis. Reynolds is working in the SE Africa Area Office, helping locate members with whom the Church has lost contact, in hopes that we can rescue some lost souls. Bro Reynolds is working in the IT department, imaging Laptops and PC's for distribution to staff throughout SE Africa, from Angola to Mozambique and all points in between. Much like our short stay in Zimbabwe, and in the Temple, we have been fortunate to find a place of great need and be able to help. We are anxious to be back in the field, however, so this is just another holding pattern. Perhaps we will have more news next month.

Monday, June 24, 2013

We have now been in Johannesburg (Jo-burg)for almost two weeks and are still not sure of our status or destination. We were asked where we would like to serve in case we did not get back into Zimbabwe, and Bro. Reynolds said we would be glad to serve in the Jo-burg Temple until we could return or be reassigned to another area. So now we are installed in the temple missionary housing and working full-time in the temple, possibly until it closes for some extensive renovation from July 15 through September 9. We are happy to be serving in the House of the Lord again. It has been especially gratifying to just be a worker, since the coordinator positions we held in the Seattle Temple took us away from serving directly. Elder Reynolds has had opportunities to serve in many assignments in the last two weeks, and is really excited to be back in the swing of things again.
The temple senior missionaries take their Mondays off and go adventuring.
We are authorized to use the temple buses, and today we loaded both of them up and went to the temple president's home for a light breakfast of muffins, juice and meat rolls.
Then we visited one of the animal parks and got to walk right in with the animals. There are no predators, so it was really neat to walk up fairly close to the animals and take pictures. You asked for some pictures, so here's a sample of what we saw.
The impalas were quite shy, but some of the other antelope were inquisitive.
The zebras (say short e, not zeebras) were pretty tolerant.
The ostriches came right through the group on their way to and from the fountain.
Sister Reynolds got a picture of Sis. "Tata" in the trees.
Then we had lunch at a tea garden, out on the grounds by the duck pond. It was all by way of saying goodbye to those who will be going home when the temple closes next month.

Monday, June 10, 2013

This has been a topsy-turvy week, indeed. On Monday we were told there was a possibility that our Visas for Zimbabwe might not be approved. On Wednesday afternoon, we were told that we would be leaving the country at noon on Thursday. So by Thursday afternoon 6/6/13 we were in Johannesburg, SA, with no assignment or idea where we would end up. We spent several days in the Sunnyside Park Hotel, and finally on Monday we found out we would be temporarily assigned to work in the Jo-burg Temple as temple missionaries until the Brethren decide where we may be re-assigned. We are still hoping to be able to return to Zimbabwe, but hope is dim due to the unrest and confusion attending the elections there. We were joined by another couple on Saturday along with three young missionaries, and there will be an additional couple tomorrow. The next contingent of missionaries who were to arrive next week will be diverted to other missions, with the exception of two native Zimbabweans. This is a difficult time, but we are not discouraged, just disappointed that we may never see our beloved Zimbabwe again.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

This is our initial branch, Dombotombo, assignment, in Marondera. The building has both branches meeting here. It is only about two years old, but both branches are now close to 100 members in attendance. The picture of the next missionary to go out from the branch is of soon-to-be Elder Gumbodete and the branch mission leader.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Another week has passed, we are now at the one month mark on our mission. Woohoo! It has gone by so fast it's scary. We had an opportunity to attend a graduation ceremony for the young people who had completed the water sanitation training. Now that they had clean water from their new bore hole (translate water well) which the LDS church had financed, the prefects and class head man were trained so that they could train the other children in the school. The school of 1250 children is well-run, the children seem happy and disciplined, and they were pleased to present a program celebrating the turnover of the well to the school. The choir sang the Zimbabwe national anthem. The pre-school class sang a bouncy song about the uses for clean water, complete with hand actions, first in Shona and then in English. The dance class (which has won national trophies) did a traditional dance of successful harvest, in celebration of the "harvest" of clean water. They were all in costume, and were incredible to watch, and they were having a good time showing off their skills. A PE class demonstrated exercise and tumbling, and of course there were speeches, most of which were quite short by our standards. Unfortunately, we forgot our camera. The children are beautiful, and love to smile and wave to us.
The pictures are from the Domboshawe Branch. Sister Reynolds got to help with the Primary both times we visited there before our assignment to Dombotombo.
The tree silhouette is in the parking lot of the Harare Mission Office, and I felt like this was our new place to call home, and the landmark I will always remember.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


We had a marvelous time at the Missionary Training Center, or MTC. The group we were with was lots of fun. We actually spent the whole 2 weeks with most of them, since one couple included a doctor, and one a nurse. We did our week of medical training together as well as the week at the MTC. Well, here we are in Zimbabwe! We will add a couple of pictures, but we haven't really gotten a chance to take many yet. We are sitting here in the dark with the computer running on batteries, and 2 candles burning. The power is out. This is not unusual here, but the first time since we got here on Wednesday that it has gone out on us. Our bigger problem is water. Some days the city water fills our tank, and some days it doesn't. We quickly learned to get up and run the hose from the bore hole(read well)and fill the water ourselves! Our apartment is very nice. We have 2 bedrooms, 1+3/4 baths, a large living room and a tiny kitchen! The bedroom has a queen bed and 4! reach in closets with drawers. We have lots of storage space there, but none in the baths. The kitchen has enough space for our few things. The mission stocked the kitchen with new small appliances and kitchen gadgets. It's quite nice. Elder Reynolds has ventured to drive to and from work for a couple of days now, and is getting a little more accustomed to driving on the right side. We ventured to the shop down the street and got a few groceries. It is a fruit and veg mart and has really nice produce. We took a trip into town with one of the locals driving and wandered through various shops. We really felt like we were in a foreign country. Sights, sounds, smells, and shops. Lots of people and cars. You wonder how they keep from being hit, since no one has the right of way. I don't think we will be driving there by ourselves. We have already seen giraffes in the grassland between the airport and the mission office. Exciting! We will go out of town a little farther tomorrow to go to church. We will go with the Smilanick's another missionary couple. We will be working with them doing office work, between my nursing and Elder Reynolds' checking out apartments and cars, or fleets and flats as they say!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

We are coming down to the final countdown--we depart for Salt Lake City and on to Provo to the Missionary Training Center. We will visit family in SLC for a couple of weeks and finish shopping for the last of our clothing. Do you know how difficult it is to find short sleeve white shirts in Everett in the middle of winter? Ann has most of her stuff, but I still need a couple of suits. Lots of fun to finish this all up before 4/22/13. We will be in the MTC for only 5 days. The training has been foreshortened because of the tremendous increase in the number of missionaries with the new lower eligibility age. Then we move to the Marriott in SLC for a week of medical training before finally flying out to Harare Zimbabwe on 5/3/13. When we finally catch up with ourselves and our sleep (the flight takes over 30 hours) I will post a few pictures so you can visualize where we will be for the next 23 months. Needless to say, we are just a little nervous and scared, but my missionary sons all tell me, "Wait until you get off the airplane." Thanks, guys!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Zimbabwe Harare Mission

So now we begin a new chapter, not just our travels, but our mission blog. We will be serving for two years starting in April, and I will try to add a monthly update, since we expect to be very busy. And yes, I will be taking pictures of the wildlife and the children.