Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Tommy!

Before we leave (in 2 hours!) we have to say Happy Birthday to Ben's dad:

We are so thankful for him in our lives. I couldn't have asked for a better father-in-law. He's always ready for a good time. He's such a great dad for several reasons:

Who else would have a room in their house that looks like this:

And who else would look this good in these glasses:

And who else can rock a stache this well:

He's the man and we love him. Thanks for all you do Tom! We hope you have a great day!

Stick Shifts and Safety Belts

Well. We got our automatic silver Honda Jazz traded in today for their manual Honda Jazz. It's a good thing I had 3 months to get a hang of driving on the left side of the road in the right side of the car before they threw this at us.

Driving stick shift with the left hand. First test drive today to get a haircut.

I ROCKED IT! It felt so natural, no stalling, no grinding. It was perfect. Love the color, love the car, love the stick. Rock on!

Monday, April 20, 2009


Best weekend ever in Mozambique!! We love April! It is our month of traveling because of all the holidays. In the last 2 weeks we have done so much driving, it's good to be home. But we leave to Kenya & Tanzania for 12 days TOMORROW NIGHT! Wow. This month is flying by.

Side note: Cars really communicate with each other down here. It is something that both South Africa and Mozambique do that I think America should implement. So I'll set up a scenario, with blue car and red car:

Red car is getting ready to pass blue car. Blue car will help red by signaling with their right blinker if it's clear, then when red pass blue, blue gets way over in the emergency lane to let red pass pretty much in the normal lane. Then red does the hazard lights a couple of times to say "Thank you" and then blue flashes to say, "You're welcome."

So simple but so cool. It's a system and people are very courteous and aware of other drivers. It's a fun thing to do!

Anyway, we had arranged to stay with the Mission President for the weekend. Ben was excited to see them again and they were excited to hear more about Ben's mission and let us come along for the big missionary transfer happening that weekend. We left Friday at around noon and got to Maputo (Mozambique's capital) at about 7:30pm. It is a big mess of a city and it was dark, our GPS wasn't doing a very good job suddenly and we got started to get a little nervous. Said a prayer and took a right turn, BAM there were the missionaries! Prayers work. So we called out to them and asked them where the Mission President's house was. They were kind enough to hop in and show us there. It was fun to talk to them. One of them was Elder Barlow from South Jordan and the other was Elder Sande from Mozambique, who actually knows a lot of Ben's companions. If you're reading this, Jones, Taylor, and Abegglan, he remembers you! He remembers "horsing around all the time" with Jones! That was cool.

Anyway, President and Sister Packard are amazing! We had the best time with them. They have adopted an adorable girl from Mozambique named Lindy and she's 9. Their nanny and her baby were so fun and so cute. The nanny, Arracuta (spell?) is actually married to Armando (for those of you who are Ben's companions, remember him?? He's actually in Salt Lake living right now). This little man Nathan is only 5 months old! He's so chubby! We loved him.

Saturday morning we to took a walk down to the beach which was just a block away. SO beautiful. The weather is so different than in South Africa, it's very hot and humid in Mozambique. Ben only spent 4 months in Maputo in his second transfer, but he was soooo excited to be back. It is truly his second home.

At 11am we went with the Packards (drove separately) to the missionary transfer meeting.
Classic Mozambique experience:
we got pulled over by the cops! We were in a 60km/h zone and we were probably going 45. They pulled us both over (because we're white) and were going to give us a ticket for going 68. They didn't have any radar or clocking devices, they were all just standing by their cars on the side of the road. Well, with Ben's charm, church talk and help from the Lord, we were let off after a while. Scary though!

Here is the church in Maputo:

It was so fun to see all the missionaries and to hear about the growth. There were only about 28 missionaries when Ben was there, now there are 82!!! There are about 30 in Maputo alone. We met Elder Nagao, Josh Nagao's younger brother. These missionaries are awesome.

After the meeting, we drove around all of Maputo. The sights are amazing. I wish I could've taken a picture of so many things but driving was just a little too crazy. They have potholes the size of cars everywhere, so you really have to pay attention.

Those are chickens in those cages:

We went to the Saturday Market to look at all the boutiques and souvenirs. These are my favorite, here's Ben doing his negotiating:

Oh I love this. Ben says he's making me ride one of these Chapas when we go back. They sure CRAM:

I had to stop for a picture of this. So sweet and so African. This little girl carrying this huge basket of stuff back home to mom:

We stopped and parked on this back road because we wanted to walk through the actual places where they live. This was my favorite part of the whole weekend. Seeing how they really live. Their tiny houses. They are so poor. It really is eye-opening. This was Ben's favorite part too because it reminded him of Beira, where he spent most of his mission (we're going there in June).

This is my new favorite picture. All women, in South Africa too, carry their babies like this. I just love how the little baby was looking back at me for so long.

Bath time:

Look how white I am!

Smashing the peanuts into powder. I tried this, it is hard! You have to get right in the middle or it all flies out and tips over. Good thing I didn't do that!

All the kids kept following us. This is the group we had accumulated towards the end of the alley. Ben was dancing with them:

I want one of these:

Here were 2 albinos (one you can't see in the right behind the tree). They were tearing up the coconut shell to make cushions. Cool!

Isn't she GORGEOUS!?

Laughing at Ben of course:

Saturday evening we went back to the Packards and walked to the fish market with them down the street. We had quite the authentique experience. We got to pick out our own fish, I could barely stomach it while the men picked the fish and other sea things out. Then we had someone there cook it for us. It was actually AMAZING! I was very skeptical but it was SO good. That was really fun.

Ben was able to call and talk to Jose Maingue and Iris Domingas, he was so excited. It was so fun to sit back and hear him make those calls.

Besides the day Ben married me, I have never seen him so happy:)

Sunday we went to church in Matola. He was mostly excited about seeing Jaime and Anita Massango. It was so fun when he did. They love Ben so much! Church was amazing. The church building is just a random building in town and is very run-down. Same church, same Spirit, same great people.

This girl befriended me in Relief Society, even though we couldn't speak the same language, we had fun together.

Here's Ben with the Massangos he was so looking forward to seeing. They actually have 2 kids, one was in primary. Jaime is the Branch President and has been for the last 5 years. So neat.

We were able to drive home through Swaziland. What a beautiful country! Tons of mountains and trees. We were able to drive to the gate of the King's palace...but the police wouldn't let us in. (Look at the map in the post directly below, Swaziland is the small country inside of South Africa next to Mozambique)

What a fun experience for me to finally see where Ben served and see what Mozambique is all about. I can see why his heart is there and why he loves it so much. I can't wait to go up north to Beira, Manga, Inhamizua, and Marromeu this June to really see the real and rural Mozambique, the places he spent all but those 4 months of his mission.

We leave to Kenya and Tanzania TOMORROW at midnight! I can't believe it!
See ya May 5th!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Krugers & Blyde River Canyon

This Easter weekend, with 2 days off of work for Ben, we were able to go to Nelspruit. Which we learned is not pronounced 'Nels-prew-it' like you would think, but 'Nel-spray-t'....like you wouldn't think.

So here's map so you can see where things are relative to us. Johannesburg: RED, Nelspruit: PINK, Kruger Nation Park: GREEN, Pilanesberg (where we went a while ago): BLUE, Sun City: ORANGE, Durban (where we are going in the future): BROWN, Cape Town: PURPLE, Maputo Mozambique (where we are going this weekend): GREY.
So it was about a 4 hour drive to Nelspruit. We left Friday and spent the night at a fun Backpackers place. We went to the local Botanical Gardens to explore, which are the 2nd most beautiful (Cape Town being 1st of course). We also saw our first movie in South Africa, pretty cheap, only $3 bucks each. We saw Monsters Vs. Aliens because it was the only thing playing. We liked it, it was fun. Not our absolute favorite. The "Insect-a-Saurus" was a little much...

Saturday morning we got up at 4:30am to get to Krugers National Park when the gates opened at 6:30am. We got there at 6:10 and there was already a line about a mile long. We were parked in that line for an hour and a half! Wow it was long. They were only letting 10 cars in a time. And, to our surprise, only 500 people in per day per gate (probably 5 gates or so). It being Easter weekend, we were LUCKY to get in. When we got through there were only 60 more slots. 20 minutes later would have killed us.

We had a GREAT time. It's SO BIG!! You definitely need to spend a few days there. We drove around for 12 hours! Unbelievable. Good thing we have a Honda for the gas mileage.

Ok so some people might be offended by this picture. But I couldn't resist. It is just fascinating!
That's not a leg you're looking at. Yep. We learned a little about this...object too. It is used as a fly-swatter. That's what it's doing right there. We almost videoed it but thought that was a little more than G-rated. The wonders of God's creatures.... :)

We saw lots of baboons. This was a cutie on for a ride:

And LOTS AND LOTS of elephants. Probably hundreds. It's great because Ben and I have learned to "BE PATIENT" while doing game drives. When most people see the elephants in the distance, they slow down, point, take a picture and move on. But we have learned to pull over and watch. It's amazing. We always have the best encounters because of patience. They almost always meander over to us and put on a show right in front of us.

We also get to see the babies really close.

Ok so I got charged by this guy. Well, gal. We were in reverse and I was sitting on the window seat, out of the car with my feet in the car (can you picture it?), and Ben was reversing for some good shots of the baby. This was an amazing shot while she was charging me.

And this is the video:

Obviously, I got the best view being out of the window when it happened. Ben freaked out and had to put the car in drive to get out fast. She swung her head from side to side, giving me the warning, and then belted forward at us. Once we hurried forward a few meters, she stopped and went back to business. Great experiences like these are missed by all the other too anxious tourists.

We saw lots of elephant crossings:

One of my favorite sightings. Pretty rare and not expected:

Some more elephants:

We had the best giraffe sightings we've had too. Awesome. We saw SO many.

(VIDEOS CURRENTLY LOADING...Man it takes forever)

We also saw lots of water buffalo. Someone said they saw a pack of 8 lions by these guys. We searched forever but couldn't find the lions. They usually hang out by the buffalo.

No lions, leopards, cheetahs, or even Zebra! We couldn't believe we didn't see a single zebra. The park said there's over 20,000 of them. You'd think we'd see one. It wasn't quantity on this trip, it was quality. Next time, next time. My main goal for Tanzania in 2 weeks is to see a LEOPARD. I WILL I WILL!

Sunday, we went up through Blyde River Canyon. We thought we were going to be able to do a bunch of hiking, but the main hiking trails were closed for construction. During the busiest weekend of all. Strange. So we went to all the Viewpoints and hiked as much as we could around them. Lots of waterfalls, lots of beautiful views.

This is called God's Window:

This was called the Three Rondovals:

This was called....something else.

These people for some reason loved us. Well, I know why, because Ben is secretly black inside. They wanted to get all these different pictures: a guy wanted to be with me and the pizza box. Then with Ben and the pizza box. That lady that's looking at him is in love with him.

This was called Mac Mac Falls, FREEZING. So I didn't get in. But Ben did!

We met our little friend chameleon. We wanted to take him home! Ben carried him around all day. He put him in his hair and he would just climb around and hang on. It was cool, he became the color of Ben's hair when he was there for a while. We even took him for a ride in the car and he climbed up and stayed in the stick.

We miss him.

We stayed at some fun places and it truly was spectacular views. It is so beautiful up there. And cool to see mountains in South Africa. Makes me miss Utah.

This weekend, we're off to Maputo, Mozambique! We're staying with the Mission President and just seeing the Maputo he served in. Can't wait!