Sunday, February 28, 2010

Week 2 - Welcome to Africa - Granny

We went to church today with President and Sister Poulsen to the Dobsonville Ward which is held in a very nice red brick chapel. Our Sacrament meeting was excellent and the speakers did a wonderful job. We visited the investigators class and they had 17 investigators in attendance; 6 men and 11 women plus about 4 or 5 children that would have enjoyed the nursery much better than the class. At Relief Society we had no one to play the piano, but the teachers did a wonderful job. As I thought about the day’s meetings, the only thing that was different from home was that one of the Deacon’s passing the sacrament had a bright orange T shirt on under his white shirt; the library has a sign that reads “No admittance except to the Ward Librarian; and of the approximately 100 people in the audience, only President and Sister Poulsen, Dad and I and 4 other Elders, everyone but 2 ladies were black! Beautiful people, living in a very poor part of town, dressed very well, lots of either shaved heads or braids on the sisters, and an obvious love of the gospel. This was a great Sunday, but it got even better as we stayed afterwards for a baptism of three adults; one man and wife and another lady. The spirit was strong, the room was HOT, and other than the speaker who spoke on baptism took 25 minutes, it was all wonderful. We went back to the mission home and had a nice dinner and then were picked up by one of the Senior Couples and taken to a missionary fireside with about 12 missionaries that serve right in the close proximity of the office and mission home. I guess they get together every other week on Sunday night and share their experiences and testimonies and then have cake and ice cream. I think the main reason for the meeting is the cake and ice cream and Pres, Poulsen wanted us to attend and let him know what we thought. He said they shouldn’t start before 8:30 as Sunday evening was a perfect to be out teaching and wanted us to see what we thought. When we were picked up at 7:30 and told that the fireside started at 8:00 I’m sure he wasn’t very impressed; so we’ll see what happens with the cake and ice cream parties on Sunday night. I think we won’t try to get anything like that started in Botswana!

Monday was a very busy day in the office. It’s the missionaries’ preparation day so we got to meet 22 Elders as they came into the office to pick up their mail and WHATEVER! Their office is very small and they have 3 couples (one couple actually go home in a week) working in the office, plus the Assistants, and Dad and I and it was wall to wall people all day. I think dad and I have decided we are really happy to be going to Botswana instead of working there. As we visited with the Elders that day, every one of them said how lucky we are to be going to Botswana; it seems to be the envy spot of the mission and we are excited to get gone. We got our car; it’s a tiny little Chevy with a stick shift and of course, the steering wheel is on the wrong side. Dad got in and started driving right away, but I think I’ll wait a couple of weeks to get use to the world coming at me from the wrong direction. WE also got a cell phone that neither of us can quite figure out, but we will get it and it will be easier when we figure out the area codes, the country calling codes, and what it takes to call from one local area to another and especially from one country to another.

That evening we were invited to Family Home Evening with the other couples and President and Sister Poulsen as well as the President of the MTC and his wife, the Christensen’s from St. George. They are great people and they also know President and Sister Abraham so we had a great conversation about what a small world it is. In fact, the three couples that are here in the office right now all have connections with someone we know. The Watts lived in the same ward as my Aunt Cleo (grandpa Beus’ Sister that passes away just recently); The Betournay’s are from Morgan, Utah and know Craig and Valarie Whitear and remember Shaundalee as a great young woman; and then the Henrichson’s served in the Washington DC temple with Mary and Delando. Sherrie and Shaundalee perhaps you could pass on their love to your parents and in-laws; they had wonderful things to tell us about your families.
All went well on Tuesday morning except that dad felt a little dizzy and light headed and I had him relax for a bit (you know Dad, that lasted about 3 minutes) and then he said he was feeling better and we went about our business of the day. We had been pushing pretty hard, running on little sleep, and trying to just PUSH through the jet lag and not let it get the best of us. So far we had been up and running each morning by 6 or 6:30AM and forcing ourselves to stay awake until 10:00 PM so we could get our “clocks” adjusted to this new time. We got brave and hooked up our new GPS and heading into downtown Johannesburg to the Area Offices as President wanted us to meet the people there that we would have to deal with for Visa’s, cars, travel, Finances and etc. Our GPS kept shutting off as it had a bad connection so we pulled off the freeway once and got it held just right and then I tried to hold the GPS with one hand, hold on to the cord connection with the other hand so we could find the address we needed to get to. We did find our way and only had to call the office once! Our time at the Area Office was very productive, enjoyable and we met many fine people that we are excited to work with. They are so grateful that we are here and we hope to be able to do all the things they think we are going to be able to accomplish for them. We spent about 3 hours there, had a wonderful time and then headed back to our office, thinking we’d find something to eat or at least drink on the way---WRONG. First of all, it’s downtown (construction everywhere) and our GPS kept mal-functioning and to make a long story short, we were LOST! I do have to say that we were laughing out loud saying “what are two old people from Burley Idaho doing in this strange car with a steering wheel on the wrong side of the car, driving on the wrong side of the street, trying to call for help on a cell phone that we haven’t quite figured out yet, and LOST in downtown Johannesburg South Africa doing?” Of course, we didn’t think we had any choice but to listen to “Go-Go” (that’s what we call our GPS and it stands for Grandma in African’s) because even though we had to take a couple of detours and dad knew we were going in the wrong direction, we thought that eventually she would bring us back to the office. But when we ended up about 10 miles out of town and “Go-Go” was still saying go 12 miles farther in the same direction, dad said “enough” and he proceeded to call the office and try to tell them where we were. Well, as it turns out the only couple that has been in this country longer than a month was way up north on business and the other two couples have only been here 1 month or less and didn’t have a clue where we were. Dad kept talking with them and figured out how to give them the map coordinates where we were and they gave us the map coordinates for the office; we programmed everything in a different way and 30 minutes later we actually found the mission office. It had only taken us 2 hours to return from the Area Office and it probably should have taken us about half a hour; but we made it. I didn’t mention however that shortly before we got back to the office, Dad started having pains in his chest! We hadn’t taken any food or water with us, nor did we find anywhere to get any so we hoped it was just a problem from the heat and not enough water plus pushing ourselves a bit the last few days. His pain didn’t get too bad until we arrived at the office but within 5 minutes I knew we were in trouble. We got two of the Senior Missionaries to give him a blessing and the Assistants and I loaded him up in the car; called President and Sister Poulsen and everyone said they were on their way to meet us at the Emergency Room of the closest and best hospital they knew of. They took him right back to get him some help while I stayed out to do the admittance papers. The only problem was that we hadn’t taken our passports with us that day so I had to send the Assistants over to the Mission Home to get our passports so I sent my day planner with then so I didn’t have to deal with it and also with Dad’s tie. When I tried to give them some information about us, I realized I didn’t know any phone numbers at all to give them. I actually had a little piece of paper in my day planner that Sister Poulsen had given me that had the phone number of the Mission home, the Presidents cell number, her cell number and also the Mission Office number, But……………………………Needless to say by the time the President and his wife showed up I was a basket case, but they give them all the important numbers and soon the Assistants showed up with dad’s passport so we were able to give them pretty much what they needed to admit him. They had to do some X-ray’s (which I had to go pay for before they would take them) I had to go back to accounting to pay for Admittance to the Emergency room also, and after about two hours his Doctor (Tamara) finally read the X-rays and said he had some pleurisy around his lungs which was causing the pain; he needed a strong antibiotic, a steroid and some good pain pills and that we should come back quickly if he had any further occurrences with the pain. We drove him back to the Mission Home and got him settled down and President had to go to a meeting so Sister Poulsen drove me down town to the Aptek to get his prescriptions. While I was trying to pay for the prescriptions (they wouldn’t take Dollars or Debit Cards or Credit Cards from America and we hadn’t changed any money because Botswana uses different money than Johannesburg) so Sister Poulsen had to pay for the medicine. Anyway, my cell phone rang and it was President Poulsen saying that the hospital called and said they had misread his blood work and we needed to bring him back to the hospital immediately. We did so and found out that his blood was extremely alarming and he had to go have a CT Scan and they had all the paperwork ready for him to go right into have it done (well as soon as I paid the 6,000Rand (almost $1,000) to have it done. I did so (luckily the hospital did take our Debit Card) and when the CT Scan results were read he had multiple blood clots in both of his lungs and had to be admitted to the Thoracic ICU Unit of the hospital.
They admitted him and he spent the night there and I came back to the Mission Home with President and Sister Poulsen. I didn’t realize how alone I could feel a thousand miles away from my family and alone without my sweetheart. The next couple of days were really hard for us both. Dad felt just fine ad wasn’t having anymore chest pain, they took good care of him but it was just so disappointing not to be headed for Botswana the next morning like we had planned. The President was traveling up there and holding a Zone Conference which we were excited about, we would meet all of “our” Elders and Sisters and even get to attend 16 baptisms up there this weekend. But now, here we were stuck in the hospital and I couldn’t even stay with him. I got to go in to see him from 11:00-12:00 AM, from 3-4PM and again from 7:30 to 8:00 PM and that was all. Sister Bricknell came and sat at the hospital one day with me and Sister Poulsen drove me over the next day, but then President and Sister Poulsen left for Botswana without us and we were both pretty discouraged about that. Dad did get moved out of the ICU unit today though and we were both encouraged and I tried to pump myself up a bit, but when I got nervous walking back and forth from the hospital, my cell phone quite working for some crazy reason and then when I got back to the Mission Home and had myself all locked and chained in, I planned to use their Magic Jack phone and call the kids and give them a report on Dad. Well, the Magic Jack had come unplugged and was not charged and wouldn’t work and I wasn’t smart enough to figure out which one of the 20 cords or plugs should go where to get it plugged back in so I decided to call the mission office and find out how to call America on the land line, but they had just turned off their phones for the evening and I got a message! I hunted though all of my literature and found a cell phone for the Henrichsen’s; one of the senior couples and they came to my rescue and came over to the house and figured out what had gone wrong with my cell phone, and taught me how to call America on the land line so I could call Roger and give him the number to call to talk to me without running up a huge phone bill here at the Mission Home. Elder Henrichsen also gave me a blessing and I started feeling a little better and actually felt quite stupid when all of our kids started calling and wanted to come to my rescue when it’s their dad that is really the one needing attention and prayers. Anyway, It’s about three hours later, several phone calls from my wonderful children and also my good friend Gay and I’m absolutely exhausted and should be able to sleep all night without any more incidents so I’ll close this journal entry for now and say “good-night” to all of you!

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