Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Farewell at the Tsegulas

We have been home from our mission for almost five months now, but there were some blog posts that I always regretted not writing at the very end.  Hence, I will turn my thoughts back to Malawi and write about some of our final precious experiences.
 A few nights before we were scheduled to leave the mission field, we were invited to visit the Tsegula family at their family compound.  We were late in arriving and it was already starting to turn dark, but how thrilled we were to see so many of the family members gathered in the main house.  

I sat down next to Eliza and her children. Eliza and I had become very close as she had been through some difficult months with a serious illness.
 This is the third generation of Tsegulas who live there and believe me, there are enough for an entire Primary!

Sister Tsegula, the matriarch and such a lovely person, sits by the door next to her daughter Teresa (in blue skirt). 
We have come to know and love this family since we have made many previous visits to their home.
These photos were from the previous months.

Here is the patriarch, Brother James Tsegula, showing us how to use the khasu to hoe around the maize. 
 George trying his best to look like he is helpful!

The matriarch, Sister Annie Tsegula.  We were fast friends and even though we could not speak the same language except for a few words, we showed our love with many hugs and smiles.  She always carried my purse for me whenever we came to visit. 

Gladwell is one of the older sons.  He served a mission to South Africa and actually served with a senior couple from our home ward, Dave and Marilyn Uffens.

Gladwell with his wife Mary and their children Clanwell, Jedthane, and Puritan.

Alexander was attending school and learning to work with computers.  He was also a great branch mission leader.

The youngest son, Innocent.

Just a few weeks before our farewell visit, we stopped by and were amazed at the height of the maize.

Now, on this lovely evening, when we walked into the Tsegula home, what did we see but.....
In the middle of the room was a wondrous pile of maize.  They had just gathered their first harvest and even though this was a terrible year for drought, the Tsegulas were fortunate to have access to water.
The plump ears looked so beautiful and we could tell that the family had worked hard to prepare them.

Brother and Sister Tsegula presented each of us with artistically bound collections of ears as a thank you and a farewell gift.

Then we were led outside where Brother Tsegula showed us an area that he said would be the Beal tree park. There were two small seedlings that we were each to plant.  The one I planted was to be in our honor.

 Brother Tsegula assisting me along with some helpful friends.

Now that the Elder and Sister Beal tree had been planted, we moved to the other side for the second planting.  This was in honor the visits of our son Seth and our sons-in-law, Ryan Owens and Tomicah Tillemann.  They had visited us at different times on our mission and we had taken them to meet our dear friends, the Tsegulas.

The final touch - we poured water on each of the newly  planted seedlings.

This was such a special evening for us and there were tears at the end when we expressed our testimonies and our deep love for this strong family.  It's hard to say a "forever" good-bye so I always think in the back of my mind that we will someday return.  Now I will have not only friends to visit, but trees to check on!

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Artists of Zingwangwa - Carole's Post

Artist # 1
When we first arrived in Blantyre and attended church at the Zingwangwa branch, we got to know the Banda family. Sister Banda was the Relief Society president.  Brother Banda, the Elders' Quorum president at the time, was the first member to take us around, to introduce us and show us where some other members live.  He is now President Banda of the Zingwangwa branch.
 Taken  when we first arrived, this photo was right in front of their home.  The children, Comfort, Conscious, and Cornie are all a little taller now.

President Banda, taken last week at an activity.  He loves his Kenya shirt, but he is a Malawian true and true.

Joseph Banda is also an artist true and true.  He plays the guitar, sings and leads the music at church, paints, and carves wood into nativity sets and other Malawian figures.

He attaches the canvases to the living room wall and works on his paintings over a period of several days.

The top painting is the beginning of an "iron rod" scene.  You can see the river, the "tree of Life" and a large and spacious building, not yet filled with people.

This is the detail of a village scene.  At least these missionaries have heads (but not yet faces).  Sometimes we have seen them headless, which is always a little distressing to me.
His hand can serve as a palette.
And I thought we were the only ones who worked in white shirts!

Sometimes, when we have stopped by with visiting senior missionaries, friends or family, he will bring out his most recent work.
The cement floor is new this year.  During our first months here, the floor was dirt.  Now sometimes, he takes out chalk and draws a map to direct us to a location.  Very convenient!

Artist #2
A few months ago, Elder Mphofu baptized a new member into the church in the Zingwangwa branch.  When his name was read in, I noticed right away that is was MATTISE - not a name I had heard before in Malawi.  Mattise is deaf and Elder Mphofu (from Kenya) knew how to sign.  Now several members in the branch are learning to sign, not only to communicate with Matisse, but also with other new deaf members.
What I did not know at the time was that Matisse is also an artist - painting in acrylics.  He also paints pottery.
As you can see, it didn't take us long to become patrons.
Do you see the little old man and woman in the right foreground...white shirt, pink blouse and nametags?
We are standing in front of his studio where next to the street, there is a sign that reads "Talented Deaf Arts".   He was puzzled why we did not want to take it already mounted on the wood frame, so I had to explain- in writing - that we were weeks away from going home, and rolling it up would allow us to take in on the plane.
Clearly, with a name like Matisse, he was born to paint!

Missionary Goings and Comings - Carole's Post

Transfer days - they are exciting, filled with anxiety, and sometimes painful. There are tears and big smiles.  Last week was a big one for the Blantyre district.

On Tuesday we drove out to pick up Sister Frimpong, bringing with us Sisters Motsi and Kinikini.  
Sister Frimpong completed her mission and was heading home to London, via Lusaka where she would have a final meeting with President and Sister Erickson.
Since Sister Kinikini was being transferred to Lilongwe, we got to keep Sister Motsi and Sister Kgwetiane.  Of course, they are wondering about their new companions, who will arrive later that night.

With Sisters Kinikini and Frimpong at the AXA bus station where we have said good-bye so many times.

At the station we were met by Elder Jena, who is also completing his mission and heading back to South Africa (via Lusaka) and Elder Chawaguta who was being transferred to Zambia.
It was time to start loading but there was one problem.  Where were the zone leaders who were bringing the other two transferring elders?

Ah, at last, here they are!  Elder Brewerton and Elder Kobyana brought with them Elder Hollingsworth and his soon-to-depart companion, Elder Mpofu - in the nick of time.

Oh, we will miss Elder Mpofu with his positive spirit, big smile, and graciousness.  He is heading to Lilongwe to be a zone leader.
The bags are all loaded, they have their seat assignments, and off they go...

We knew the new missionaries would be arriving that night from Lilongwe and even joked that they should wave as they passed the bus driving in the opposite direction!
After dropping the missionaries off, we decided to go make some visits and in the late afternnon, we went to see the Tsegula family.
Many fields of maize are filled with withering stalks because of the drought, but the Tsegula fields look great by comparison.  Brother James Tsegula showed us how tall it is, along with a grandson and son-in-law George.

Another George stands to compare.

Sister Tsegula wanted us to see another field, so she took us down across the creek to other healthy-looking fields and this time we were the photo subject.

It was getting to be dusk and as we headed back, we ran into the elders, the very ones we were with at the bus station. 
 Elder Brewerton had Elder Hollingsworth as his companion for the afternoon, while they were waiting for Elder Hollingsworth's new companion to arrive that evening.
There are always people to teach at the Tsegula compound.

In the evening, George and I went back to AXA to pick up the incoming new sisters.  The three new elders also arrived, along with Elder Banda the next day.
I could see that there were going to be some new names to learn, but it wasn't till the following Tuesday at the zone meeting that we really got to visit with the new Blantyre group.

Following the meeting, we all ate scones and got to know one another.

Meet Sister Bingham, another Idahoan.
Sister Bingham and I were excited to meet each other at the bus three evenings earlier since I had communicated with her parents soon after she received her mission call.  Her sister lives in the same ward as our son Seth and daughter-in-law Kara in northern California (sometimes it's a small LDS world).  She arrived in the Zambia Lusaka mission last June and finally got to the "garden of Eden", Blantyre.
She is the new sister trainer and companion to Sister Kgwetiane, who we get to keep a while longer!
Sister Newey (from Ogden, Utah) is the new companion to Sister Motsi.  Perfect name - she had just left the Joburg Missionary Training Center and was a brand-Newey missionary.

Elder Brewerton welcoming Elder Mabe (from Botswana).

He is the new companion to Elder Hollingsworth.
Elder Lewis (from California) is right out of the MTC.  His first companion and trainer is Elder Chiliza who is serving his last month before going home.  We will sure miss him!
Elder Maele, on the right,  has a new companion from Zimbabwe, Elder Zhuwankinyu.  That name took a little practice, but he says I have it down!
Elder Majekodunmi (another name that required practice!) is not showing us his new companion because he does not come for another day.
When he does arrive the next day, we welcome Elder Banda, who is Malawian! (from Lilongwe). He is only with us for one month while he awaits his visa, since his calling is to Ghana where he will first attend the MTC.

There were only two companionships that didn't make a change.

Elder Tshabalala and Elder Alexander remain together, though Elder Alexander is shrinking.  He has lost 50 pounds since he first arrived!
 Our zone leaders, Elders Brewerton and Kobyana, are just the best - performing service to the other missionaries, planning meetings, and meeting with George regarding finances, in addition to being great missionaries!