Off we went to the Stephens Rd flat to investigate.
You can tell it is morning because Elder Maele has to unlock the security gate to let us in.
George brought along the tool chest, but this was going to be tricky. The hinge was on the inside.
"Hello, Elder Jena, are you in there?"
Elder Maele watches.
While George was working on the door, he jokingly asked, "So, Elder Jena, how many times have you been locked in the bathroom and couldn't get out!"
"Only once before, in another flat.." he replied!!! Huh.
The skeleton key had broken off and the bottom half had fallen down into the lock. George worked on taking off the entire lock and then the door molding.
That didn't do the trick. The only thing left was to ram it! - well, at least George put his shoulder to the door and gave it all he had!
Elder Jena emerges. It's a good thing he will be going home in a few weeks, if this is a common occurance!
When we had all sixteen over for Christmas Eve, I sent them all home with a plastic shaker can of Vim (like Comet or Ajax) and some tough scrubbies. Merry Christmas! I told them that if they started then, they just MIGHT be able to get all the black and mold off their showers and tubs by the time we did an inspection in January.
When that January inspection rolled around, I was shocked at how nice everything looked. These missionaries really came through! (So next time, we might need to focus on ovens and "cookers" - Malawian name for stoves). As we did the inspections we took an inventory of what things needed to be fixed and what things they needed. Two weeks ago, we went around and delivered those items in the early morning, before they left for the day.
Mops, brooms, buckets, dishtowels - there are always things that need to be replaced.
First stop was the Michiru flat.
Carrying in items..
through the interior courtyard, past the weights (bench press). Yes, they really do use them.
Elders Chawaguta (from Zimbabwe) and Chiliza (from South Africa) are ready to start the day. Elder Chiliza served in Blantyre when we first arrived here. We pronounce his name phonetically, but actually the "Ch" is pronounced as a tongue click, something I could never master! He was our first district leader, then went to Zambia, ended up as assistant to the president, and then came back to finish his mission in the best place of all - Blantyre! We are especially fond of him, so it really made us happy when he told us he was being released a couple of weeks early so he could fly to Johannesburg and meet his family, who are coming from an area outside Durban. They will all be sealed together in the temple! What a wonderful way to end his mission!
On to the Namiwawa flat; these are the first sisters to move in after several years of elders living there, since it is more convenient to their area. However, within a day or so of moving in, the sisters asked if the flat could be professionally cleaned. Elders and sisters frequently have different standards....
The flats probably look nicer than you would expect for missionaries, but security is such a necessity - both gates and guards, that in order to get that security, the church has to rent nicer and larger apartments.
Sister Motsi (from Zimbabwe) and Sister KiniKini, who is from Salt Lake but of Tongan heritage. She is really happy that the new mission president, who arrives in July, is from Tonga!Next up was Sunnyside flat # 5. If this looks familiar, it is because this is where we lived for the first five months of our mission. We even had the metal screen installed to keep out the bugs, but what a pain to open and close!
Elder Stark (from California) and Elder Majekodumni, who is from London but is of Nigerian origin. Elder Majekodumni has earned a master's degree and plans to become an educator.
Our next delivery was to the only flat where four elders stay together. This Sunnyside flat is notorious for water shortages and other maintenance issues, but you wouldn't know it from their smiles! Elder Tshabalala ( South Africa), Elder Hollingsworth (another Californian) Elder Mpofu (Zimbabwe) and Elder Alexander (California again!).
Before I met Elder Hollingsworth, a new missionary, I saw his passport and was shocked at how young he looked. Then I realized that he was 15 when the passport was issued! However, when I met him, he didn't look much older!
Elder Mpofu knows sign language and he and his companion have recently baptized Matisse, a new deaf convert in the Zingwangwa branch. Now several branch members are learning sign language.
And now we are back to Stephens Road, with Elder Maele (from Kenya) and Elder Jena (from South Africa). Elder Jena will be released in two weeks and we will miss his musical talent. He plays the piano and organ beautifully - all by ear. At zone meetings, he puts us all in a spiritual frame of mind with his prelude music.
Sister Kgwetiane (South Africa) and Sister Frimpong (London) in their home. I just delivered chocolate chip scones, a "final" request of Sister Frimpong's before she finishes her mission next week.
These are the sister trainers for Blantyre. How I will miss Sister Frimpong! I hope we will see her in London in the next few years as she goes on to university (studying psychology). But we get to keep Sister Kgwetiane (I hope...we never know..).
Our zone leaders, Elder Brewerton and Elder Rugumayo. Elder Brewerton has served in the office in Lusaka and will take over some of the office duties here when we leave. Elder Rugumayo has been in Blantyre for a very long time and we assumed we would finish our missions together, since he is scheduled to finish a week or so after we leave. However, we just heard he has been assigned to the Copperbelt for his last eight weeks and how we will miss him!
Together, they are a powerful companionship. Shown here, they are picking up the Liahonas for a branch and a set of scriptures for a new member.
We had our zone meeting one week later this month because the zone leaders and sister trainers had gone to Lusaka for training and did not get back in time to prepare.
As George and I walked into the room before zone meeting, it looked like everyone ws praying, but they were actually reading their scriptures to spiritually prepare for the meeting.
After a short discussion, afterwards, it was a fun time to visit. The missionaries in Blantyre do not get together all that often - only about once a month, so it is a great time to catch up before heading out to their various areas.
Sister Kinikini and Elder Mpofu.
Elder Maele checking out Elder Hollingsworth's nametag. After all, he is the newest missionary.
Nancy Masoo, who is planning on entering the mission field soon, visiting with Sisters Kgwetiane
Since this was the final zone meeting for two of our missionaries, we decided to take photos of missionaries based on where they were from.
Sister Kgwetiane, Elder Jena, Elder Chiliza, Elder Tshabalala
(with two South Africans)
Elder Chawaguta (second from left) next to Elder Mpofu
Sister Frimpong and Elder Majekodumni
Elder and Sister Beal (Washington), Elder Alexander, Elder Hollingsworth, Elder Stark (all from California!), Sister Kinikini (Utah)
OUR BLANTYRE DISTRICT - together for the last time!