Monday, February 23, 2009

This is Africa

This post is for all those who want to learn what it's like to live in South Africa.

We're officially feeling good and settled here. Ben has been here for always 2 months and I'm coming up on 6 weeks. It's gone so fast and so slow at the same time. In a way I feel like we just left and in another...I feel like we've been here forever. I love it more and more as time goes on. We've met 2 couples (from dance class) that are quickly becoming our favorites (I'm even going to attempt cooking with foreign ingredients tomorrow for them all). We're just having a blast.

We've been keeping a running list of "Things about Africa" of all the differences, new things, weird things, crazy things, etc. Enjoy!

--We went to the temple today finally (it's been closed)! It was so cool. Tiny temple, tiny room with only 2 rows and about 20 chairs. There were a total of 8 people there including us, it was very different! We got to participate for our first time during the session too which was so neat. Loved it. Love that we could literally walk to the temple it's so close.
--Stop lights mean nothing. It is so funny…and quite amazing. You know how you can time the light by watching the other light go red to kind of get a head start?? The second it goes yellow on the other light, it means GUN IT here and everyone goes. Sometimes they take off and it’s still red for like another 5 seconds! I don't understand though because everyone runs red lights too so it’s so dangerous! At night, stop lights mean “yield”….they don’t even stop.
--You can drive as fast as you want.
--The Photography industry is not nearly as saturated as in Utah and California. I started advertising my Photography business on Facebook literally 3 days ago and have gotten 70+ clicks and 6 or 7 emails to do wedding photos! I'm so excited. The weird thing is that they are all like 10-14 months out! Oct is the earliest one! They are on top of things here!
--They don't do engagement pictures or bridals here. All the people didn't even know what I was talking about when I included them in my packages.
--There are big tall thick walls with electric fences and barbed wire around every house and business building.
--McDonalds and KFC are abundant here.
--Wimpy & Steers replace Wendy’s and Burger King.
--The South African British like to add lots of letters to English words, like: honour, programme, theatre, flavour, etc.
--Everywhere you park (and I mean everywhere) there are these guys that “watch your car for you” and you have to tip them when you leave or they chase you.
--Rugbee, Cricket, Squash and Soccer are big here.
--Black labor is so cheap. Everyone has a maid and a cook and a cleaner.
--The only nightlife here is bars and clubbing.
--Things start really early. There are lots of people at the gym at 5:30am.
--But things close super early too (because of crime). Malls (which also means every store) close at 5pm and on Saturdays and Sundays, they close at 3pm. Kinda frustrating.
--There is no daylight savings (we wish there was).
--The Tactical Units I’ve mentioned. There are lots and lots that drive around our area looking for anything suspicious or unusual. They were escorting a couple with a stroller the other night home.
--We live in Jewish central. There are so many Jews in Johannesburg and they’re all very wealthy. We see them all the time.
--Everything is monopolized here. Vodacom is the only cellular service, ABSA is the only bank…
--At every stop light there are 3 or 4 guys with either a garbage sack collecting people's garbage out of their cars, then you're supposed to tip him. Some have a sign that says, “I don’t do crime. Please give me money for food,” or tonight we saw a sign that said, "Aids kills. If one person has it. We all get it. Wear condoms. I need money." Some are selling newspapers or random trinkets (like the other day—combs??).
--Parks are almost non-existent. There are only a couple of good ones in Johannesburg.
--People love that we know some Zulu. They just light up and love talking to us. That’s what we’ve decided we’re going to do if we ever get robbed, start being funny in Zulu! They’ll love us!
--Smoking is huge here. They even allow smoking in the sports centers, like where Ben plays indoor soccer--healthy huh!!
--Food and clothes are so much cheaper here. You can get a pair of good cute jeans for $10-$15 at most stores.
--Electronics however, are double or triple the price.
--There is beautiful foliage everywhere. Huge trees line all the streets in our area.
--The streets are a lot narrower, therefore no one stays in their lanes.
--All women carry their babies on their backs with these wrap things.
--We definitely do not live IN Johannesburg. We drove through there today and it's a whole new world. A world I don't really want to go to again.
--There are actually a lot of albinos. I'd never seen one up close but I've seen probably 6 or so.
--Braai’s (BBQs) are very popular. It’s cool. Everyone loves them and does them often.
--Everyone speaks 4 or 5 languages (dialects).
--Black people walk everywhere. Who knows where they’re going or what they’re doing but they’re always walking.
--There are a lot more whites than I thought. Still only 4 million out of 48 million in all of South Africa (and 8 million in Joburg), but more than I thought!
--There are lots of nice cars. But everyone has hatchbacks. BMW, Mercedes, Audi hatchbacks. (ours is a Honda Jazz hatchback).
--“Box” is a very very bad word here but we don’t know what it means yet. No one will even tell us because it's so awful.
--Everyone knows and cares a lot about America here.
--They haven't discovered 'customer service' yet.
--Their hospitals are very different. They’re not nearly as nice.
--There are malls everywhere and the supermarkets are in the malls. They don’t have store chains or strip malls like we do. Our areas with a Michaels and a Target and a bunch more…they don’t have that. --All of their stores are in the mall.
--The mansions here are amazing. We love to drive down the streets and peer into all the gates to catch a glimpse. And they are only about 3 million Rand which is only about $300,000 USD!! We’re thinking of retiring here.
--They have 2 seasons: winter (dry) and summer (wet).
--It is the perfect climate here. We love it. It’s even better than Cali! It is the hottest part of the summer right now and it stays 70-75. It rarely gets above 80 degrees.
--The taxis are minibuses and are everywhere. They drive around picking up people and squish about 20+ people (black) in them.
--The taxis are exempt of any traffic or road rules. Seriously. They make up their own.
--If you give someone a thumbs up they LOVE you and start smiling and laughing.
--The internet here is very basic and underdeveloped. We can’t access a lot of US sites like Hulu and Google Maps and stuff. Facebook only works now and then.
--The letter Z in the alphabet is called “Zed” here.
--The '.com' in the web address is 'co.za.'
--Each plastic bag at the grocery store costs you about $0.25 cents.
--Food spoils FAST here. I just bought a carton of milk today and it expires in 4 days (and let me tell you from experience, it really does EXPIRE).
--The African sun is like our normal sun on steroids. It is amazingly powerful. Trying to lay out lasts a few minutes because my skin feels like it's bubbling.
--Street signs don’t exist. It’s so hard to navigate and we would be dead and lost if we didn’t have our GPS.
--The only TV channels we get are all British. E!, Animal Planet, Natio Wild and Soccer.
--South African whites are very hard to understand. They speak very fast, slurred, and quiet.
--The police here set up random road blocks now and then and randomly select 80% of traffic going by to search. It’s kind of scary. They do it to check for drunk driving, drugs, or stolen vehicles.

There's so many more we've thought of when we weren't near the book. We'll probably be doing this again in, I don't know--6 months or so. I can't believe we're going to be here as long as we are. It just feels like a vacation!! Well, the weekends do. I have got to find myself a job. This week I'm going to volunteer with a non-profit teaching kids math. I'm excited!

Sun City & Pilanesberg

We didn't really celebrate V-day last weekend because we wanted to go to Sun City and knew that it would be crazy crowded if we went that weekend, so we saved it a week. It was the bomb. It is so fun living in South Africa and having places like this that are just 2 hours away!

{The scoop}
Sun City:The "Vegas" of South Africa. It has these 3 amazing hotel & casinos and 'Valley of the Waves' water park. It's very secluded and you have to park your car and take a sky train just to get in.
Pilanesberg: An awesome 'drive-yourself' game reserve 10km away from Sun City. It's on the small side, which makes spotting game much easier than somewhere like Krugers.

We left Friday around 1pm and drove to Rustenburg (which is the "host city" for the World Cup next year--we saw the big soccer stadium they're in the process of building for it. It's just 20km from Sun City & Pilanesberg). We stayed at this quaint little B&B called "Authentique French Guest House," it's owned by this hilarious and friendly guy from France who was so helpful to us. We loved it. And we loved the price even more. Sun City would've been $400-$500 per night...whereas here we spent $59 a night. It's the way we roll.

Photobucket
{Photo courtesy of www.watg.com}
Friday night before Pilanesberg closed, we took a night drive for an hour and a half. We saw a giraffe, rhinos, a hippo, and lots of zebra, wildebeast, and impala. It was fun because at night they get more active and alive. We went back to our place, had dinner and set up to do a hot air balloon ride over Pilanesberg the following morning. I was so excited! I've never been in one and always wanted to. We were going to have to get up at 3:30am to be there ready to go at 4am. It was 1-2 hour flight, spotting game, then they fed us breakfast and drove us around for a little while.

That night, we both didn't sleep, it wasn't too comfortable and you know how when there's something really important in the morning like a test or something, you get really anxious and nervous that you'll sleep through your alarm or something and miss it?? I HATE it when that happens. You toss and turn worrying about missing it and don't sleep at all. That's what happened. So we finally got up, got ready and got there on time at 4am. No one was there!! We called the people and they said, "Oh we canceled it because there were only 7 people and we have to have a minimum of 8..." OH AWESOME. Thanks. "WHY do you have to have 8???" ...."Well it's about weight," they said. Whatever! Throw in a sandbag! Bull--it's all about money you mean. So that was totally and completely annoying. But we have learned, that's how things roll in Africa. Very different from America.

So we were up super early and didn't want to go back, and Pilanesberg didn't open till 5:30am. So we decided to just drive to Pilanesberg and park right in front of the gate. Pretty funny. The first worker that came was probably thinking, "What eager little suckers." But we loved it. It was awesome to be the first ones in and driving around. The animals were still semi-sleeping but getting up. We were driving around and came across this pack of HUGE White Rhinos. Can I tell you how awesome that was. There were 6 of them and they were RIGHT by our car. We parked and just watched and took pictures. I decided to make some weird noise and they all immediately got up and faced us and looked like they were going to charge us. It was so funny--and scary! They just stood there and some got back down to sleep. Ben likes to get out of the car up high to take pictures climbing out the window and standing on the window seal. He did this and the big mean one in charge started rocking his head up and down and scraping the ground and growling. Ben was back in so fast. It was just unreal. We were there forever watching them. Until they got sick of us and left. The daddy was HUGE. Wow. Rhinos are so cool! And so weird looking:)
video

Photobucket

Photobucket

We drove around the park from 5:30am till about 2pm. That's like 8 hours!! We were in heaven. We saw the coolest things. Better than anyone else that was there that's for sure. We were little animal trackers. We'd spot the elephants way off, calculate their intended direction, and then take off to where we thought and wait for them. They always came! We're so good. Forget Monitor! I think Ben should quit and we should do that for a living everyday.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

So many pictures! It was so hard to narrow 400 down to 20.

So we beat the elephants to this watering hole where they were spraying themselves with mud to cool off.
Photobucket

Then they started to go so we beat everyone and drove to where we thought they were going, while we were driving slow Ben thought "OK they're coming up the hill to the road right here" and I said "No a little further", so we went a little further and then to the right we heard T-Rex foot prints and our water glasses started to ripple, we stopped and saw the trees start moving and all of a sudden:
video

So cool. And I am not lying that it was SO much closer in real life, it's weird.

Photobucket

We couldn't ever spot the lions. They sleep 19 hours of the day and only feed once or twice every 2 weeks. So unless it's hunting time, you definitely don't see them. But we were fine, we saw 2 Jackal, 12 giraffes, 8-10 White Rhinos, 1 Black Rhino, 3 elephants (and the lady told us we wouldn't see any because they've been so scarse lately--we showed her!) 7 hippos, a few turtles, jack rabbits, some cool cat far off, and hundreds and hundreds of wildebeast, antelope, impala, and zebra.

After Pilanesberg, we went to take a much needed nap. Then went to play with some more baby lions. For $2.50 each--who wouldn't?? They're SOO cute. I just love their big bright baby eyes.
Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

The 4 month olds were pretty relaxed and friendly, then we went into the 6 month old ones and this one was SO hyper and just wanted Ben to be a lion to play with. He immediately attacked Ben and wouldn't stop. It was so funny I wish I had the video on. I was too scared because he would've killed me so I just took the pics...

Photobucket

Photobucket

These are Ben's battle wounds. He wished he had more.

Photobucket

To finish the day, we went swimming at the B&B and watched a movie and went to bed early.

Sunday was Sun City day. We spent the whole day swimming in the waves, slides, pools, and exploring all the gardens. It was an amazing place. The big hotel called The Palace of the Lost City is forbidden to go to unless you're a guest but we ventured through the jungle and found it and sneakily explored it. Holy nice. We just "looked natural and confident" to avoid any suspicion. It was so fun.

Photobucket

On the way back we found like 20 baboons! It was a whole colony right in front of us! We even saw some making babies! It was quite the sight.

Photobucket

Photobucket

We had the best weekend. It is SO hard, and even a little depressing for me to start another long week after such an amazing weekend like this one. I have got to find a job.
We will definitely be doing this again. And hopefully with a balloon ride next time:)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Love Day

Us little 3rd graders
Who would've thought??!
Photobucket
Ndiyakuthanda Ben!

(That means "I love you" in Zulu...pronounced "nee-i-ku-tanda")

They like to throw in a lot of random letters in the beginning. The word meaning "I'm Ok" is spelled Ngiyaphila and is pronounced "sow-pila"...weird.

I've started a "New Lingo" on the side of our blog. They're the new words we're learning that people say a lot down here. It's fun to use them!

Hope you all have a *lekker day with your friends and/or lovers!
*see side of blog for meaning

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another rockin' b-day!


Happy Birthday to Lisa!
Photobucket

In celebration of your 52nd birthday (and because we aren't able to send stuff home), we've composed this list of 52 things we love about you for your birthday present:

1. Your enthusiasm for life
2. Your bright beautiful smile
3. Dance moves. You've got 'em! The 'pumping-hands-in-the-air-while-skipping' one, love it
4. Making us THE most amazing quilt ever for our wedding
5. Ben loves your ticklish thighs, especially during church
6. When something makes you laugh really hard
7. Your many thoughtful cards and notes
8. How willing you are to do service for us and others
9. The incredible D.I. finds
10. Your long pretty brown hair
11. How much you love to go to the temple
12. The genealogy work you're doing
13. How you share good thoughts, spiritual quotes, and things you learned with us
14. You care about our friends and are interested in them and their lives
15. That you cheer for Ben when he and Jon play ping pong
16. Your funky foxy fashion style
17. That you love bright colors
18. That each of your couches in your family room is either pink, red, yellow or blue
19. Your amazing parents and sister
20. Because you had your incredibly wonderful son Benjamin
21. That you taught him to be a very sensitive, thoughtful, and loving man
22. That the words, "foxy, wild & crazy, funky, nut, bum" are a major part of your vocabulary
23. When you cuddle up to Kraig for every prayer
24. That you share the gospel with your friends
25. The amazing food you cook
26. You're the most amazing sewer
27. CREATIVITY!!
28. All the pictures you have all over the house
29. All the pictures from home you send us
30. That you married such a great man, Kraig
31. How happy you are and how happy you make everyone around you
32. Ben loves how you always "look so cute today!" :)
33. Your knowledge regarding medical stuff because of your nursing background
34. You find the good deals
35. Your excitement for us to be in Africa
36. That you're willing to babysit your future grandkids for a couple months at a time while we travel:)
37. Your decorating, catoring, hosting, and partying skills
38. Your cute creations, the funky wreaths, old barn windows into frames, old springs of a bed into a wall decoration/pictures holder...
39. Your HUGE collection of cute old suitcases
40. That you let us each pick one to use as our temple bag
41. How organized and efficient you are (definitely passed on to Ben)
42. Ben loves the memories he has growing up
43. All that you did with the boys when they were little, fishing, crafts, etc
44. That you're willing to dress up and go disco skating with us
45. How healthy you are with your exercise and eating habits
46. How important family is to you
47. Your love of the gospel. You are one of the strongest people in the world
48. Your emergency M&Ms you carry in your purse. Man those have just saved us sometimes
49. That you've "Garrison-ized" Kraig Earl
50. That you run 5k's
51. How much you love me as your daughter-in-law
52. How much you love your two sons

Have an AMAZING INCREDIBLY CHOCOLATE AND DANCING FILLED DAY!
We love you!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Apartheid

This weekend we went to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. It was quite an eye-opening experience. I never knew what "Apartheid" was or meant until now. Lame I know. So let me educate you (unless you’re smarter than me and already know all of this):
Photobucket
Apartheid means separateness in Afrikaans. It was a system of legal racial segregation enforced by the National Party government of South Africa from 1948 and 1994…. 1994!!! Can you believe that? That was only 15 years ago! I was 10 years old when this was still going on.

Apartheid classified inhabitants and visitors into racial groups: black, white, colored, and Indian/Asian. You’d think that placement in these groups would be based on RACE right? NO. Officials would administer TESTS to determine if someone should be categorized either Colored, Black, or White. Different members of the same family found themselves in different race groups! Unbelievable. The museum said that sometimes people would be able to change racial groups, either up or down. What?!
Photobucket
South African blacks (and coloreds) were stripped of their citizenship and were not able to vote. They were forced to carry their passports with them at all times and if they were found without it—jail. The government segregated their education, medical care, and other public services, and provided black people with services greatly inferior to those of whites. The education system practiced in 'black schools' was designed to prepare blacks for lives as a laboring class.
Blacks and coloreds were forced to live in separate townships, like Soweto (one of the most famous and it’s 20 minutes away, we went there our first weekend and I think we’re going to do the Soweto tour this weekend). They were not allowed to leave! Soweto was such a dump. They lived in pure poverty there.

This was amazing. The huge yellow part is the land that whites occupied and the colored places are where different colored and black groups were sent. The red arrows showed where they were forced to move from. The little pie charts in the left showed racial population: about 80% blacks in South Africa vs. 20% White/other and then it was flip-flopped for land ownership: Whites owned 80+% of all land because blacks weren't allowed to. Doesn't make any sense. It's AFRICA! Blacks should own AFRICA!
Photobucket

There were lots of protests and riots, which the government responded to with police brutality, detentions without trial, torture, censorship, and the banning of any political organization. The video at the end showing footage of the riots and police brutality was the hardest part of the museum.

This represented how many people (nearly 200) who were hung because of active behavior against apartheid, the most recent being 1989:
Photobucket
There was a separate section of the museum dedicated to Mr. Nelson Mandela who was the first president of South Africa to be elected in a fully democratic election, serving in the office from 1994–1999. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist. Go Mandela! The South African courts convicted him on charges of sabotage, as well as other crimes committed against apartheid. Mandela served 27 years in prison. He was released 19 years ago on Feb 11th. Following his release, he helped end apartheid. Mandela has received more than one hundred awards over four decades, most notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He is still alive today!
The effects of apartheid still shape South African politics and society today. No wonder there is so much crime here! Blacks weren’t able to receive a good education and in a lot of cases, weren’t even allowed to work! Things are looking up for South Africa though! What an amazing country with SO much to offer.
Photobucket
"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others" -- Nelson Mandela
____________________________________________________________
Updates:

I have some new job prospects...I'm really hoping 2 of them work out....I'll write more as soon as they do! I got a massage today. That was awesome. And needed. It's hard sleeping on a new bed! And I get really tired watching the maid clean or house...

So church...rocks! We've been to 3 different wards so far and each one of them has told us we belong to a different ward....finally, we found out last week that we are for sure in the Johannesburg 1st ward, which is an ALL black ward and it's next to the worst part of all of South Africa. But we were both really excited to try it out! I don't know why but I just had this really excited good feeling about going there. Ben was glad:) cause of course he did too. It was so fun! And we felt totally safe driving there. The security around the churches and parking lots are really high. You have to have a code to get in! We are the only whites besides the missionaries and everyone was so cool! They were welcoming and wanted us to stay and they're so knowledgeable about the gospel! It's amazing! I played the piano in relief society because they've never had anyone that could play! They were so excited! And tons of little black kids were coming up and talking to me and babies were smiling really big at me....I want one!

I love Africa! I'm so happy we're here. There really is something about this country that grabs your heart and doesn't let go.

Happy BIrthday Grandad!

Happy 81st Birthday to Grandad Garrison!
Photobucket
This was our trip to Vegas for he and Sitty's 80th birthday parties. Can't believe a whole year has flown by! We were able to swing by Arizona on our way back to California from Christmas break and it was SOO great to see them both! We love you Grandad! Such a great man with such a sweet companion. Hope you have a great birthday and know that we send our love from Africa!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Quarter of a Century

{PART 1 of 3}

Photobucket

Photobucket

I love this man! But who doesn't?!?


Photobucket

I wanted to personally thank the two most influential people in his life. The two that made him the man he is today (there are LOTS of you). Ben is who he is because of parents like you! From the luckiest wife in the world--THANK YOU!

Today is his 25th birthday, half-way to 50! :) It's so fun to be celebrating it in his home country--Africa:) Last night while he was at the mall with a guy he works with (trying to figure out cell phone stuff). I snuck over to his work and decorated his office. I put balloons and streamers and a big poster up and sprinkled really messy stuff that he's going to hate all over. I put the big poster up and realized that it said, "Happy 1st Birthday!" Haha...we were laughing (the people helping me) and so we wrote "In Johannesburg" underneath it. He wrote me this morning and loved it. I also made him a cake to take to work and he's getting off at 3:30 today so we can celebrate!

My best friend. Eternal companion. Love of my life. Man of my dreams. Better half. Cheese on my macaroni. Ray of sunshine. Peacemaker. Spiritual giant. Hard-worker. Smile maker. Laugh generator. Handsome hunk.

(And he's an incredibly good dancer. At our first dance class last night, he rocked my socks off. We were rockin' 5 steps while the instructor was still teaching everyone the basic one...she said we could go to the advanced class on Wed nights!)

I love you Ben!

He's such an amazing person. The world was instantly better the second he arrived 25 years ago and has been constantly better every day since. And you all know.
Let's wish him a Happy Birthday!

Grandpa J

{PART 2}
Today is another amazing man in my life, Grandpa Johansen's 76th birthday!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDPA!

Photobucket
We love you so much! He served his mission in Johannesburg, South Africa! Awesome huh?! Back when they had to ride a 2 month long boat ride to get here! What an amazing man. Love you!

Lesson #1: Carry an Umbrella

{PART 3}
Living in a foreign country brings many adventures, annoying circumstances, blessings, inconveniences, and lessons learned. It really is just an adjustment period and takes some learning and getting used to. So I think I will start a little lesson book (because I know I will have enough of them...I could probably be on #5 already if I thought back).

Today Ben wanted me to get a few errands done while he was at work so that we could just celebrate and play when he got home. He drove the car for work so I was just going to walk to the mall, since it is just 3 blocks away. Beautiful bright sunshiny day. I decided to get cute today, being his birthday and all: did my hair straight (since it's curly, this takes a while), put on more makeup than usual, got in one of Ben's favorite outfits, new fresh underwear etc...

I walk to the mall to get our cell phone stuff taken care of (another lesson in and of itself. Customer Service just IS NONEXISTENT in other countries. Seriously. I'm telling this guy what I need, I'm in the MIDDLE of a sentence and the phone rings and it doesn't even finish its first ring before he picks it up and spends about 3 minutes with someone else. I was so annoyed. Anyway, I won't get into the rest). Then I go across the street to the US Embassy because we need more pages in our passports for Visas...there is a VERY long wait so I bag it.

SO I start walking home. Let me preface by saying that Ben and I have both noticed that everyone here walks around carrying umbrellas. Everywhere. And I told Ben it's weird because it's summer and doesn't rain a lot (nights mostly) and sometimes there's not a cloud in the sky! Well....now I know why. I was 2 blocks from our home when I'm not kidding, the heavens opened up like they never have before (ok so they really have...especially in Asia, a lot, but luckily we were never CAUGHT in it).

I walked to the mall. And SWAM BACK!

People were laughing while they ran by with their umbrellas, cars honked, the sky roared. I started laughing my head off while I was running because it was just unbelievable. When I got in to our place, the ladies at the front desk (our buds) saw me and their jaws dropped. They laughed their heads off and took pictures.

'Fell into a pool' wet. Awesome. Hair makeup everything...melted.

Ok so that's my funny story today.

We've got to get an umbrella.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I ain't Lion!

This was one of the coolest experiences I've had! I've never ever been this close to wild animals not at a zoo! Saturday morning we got up early and drove an hour to this Rhino & Lion game reserve. We had heard it was the coolest around. It definitely was! It was out in the middle of nowhere, we really felt like we were in the wild. We just drove around on our mini-safari searching for animals. (Picture overload...and I deleted like 10 of them too!)

We saw so many animals! It was so exciting to both be on the lookout and freak out when we saw one. It was so cool to drive up to them and be practically the only ones in the area because it was so big.
Photobucket
I love this picture (above). I had SO much fun with my camera, I'm so glad I brought it. I've never done nature/animals and this made me SO excited to get into it.
Photobucket
When we got to Cape Town, we're going to this place where we can ride the ostrich!

These lions were laying in the middle of the road, there were 4 of them. So we drove slowly and this one stayed RIGHT by the window! Ben rolled down his window to get a few shots. It was hilarious because when he had the camera up to his face he'd lean in close to her...
Photobucket
...and then when he took the camera away he freaked out because of how close he was! He could've grabbed Nala's teeth!
Photobucket

We found the cheetahs at feeding time. A big truck with a dead gazelle or something came by and waited for them all to come. There were 4 of them too and they were mean and hungry! They kept fighting and barking and hissing.
Photobucket
The man finally started the truck and as he drove off he would throw chunks of the animal out and each cheetah would claim his and run off to feast on his own. Quite amazing!
Photobucket

Then we went to these White Lions--aren't the beautiful!!? I don't think I've ever seen WHITE lions like these. Only the Mufasa and Simba kind. They were in dinner time and were tearing apart an animal too.
Photobucket

We saw a huge Rhino, muddy zebras, lots of ostrich and wart hogs, Sable Antelope, Gazelle, and Impala.

Then we went to hold and play with the baby tigers and lions! This mommy lion was hungry and when I went up to the fence she came right at me....it got my heart racing but I got a sweet picture out of it!
Photobucket

3 month old Tigers. They were SOOOOOO cute! Look at them!
Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

These are the 6 month old lions. They were tired, ornery and lazy:) But I woke one up anyway and played with him. They are at the age that they could tear us apart if they wanted. Good thing they don't want to!
Photobucket

Photobucket

These little guys are 8 weeks old. They were so cute. They weren't all that happy about being held, but they had the cutest little growl we just kept buggin' them:)
Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Needless to say, it was a blast. We were there for like...6 hours! It was so much fun. And they told us they need volunteers with the baby lions and tigers on the weekends and we totally want to do it! It's only a couple times a month but you get to feed and play with these guys all day! How cool is that?!

We've been to church 2 times (Ben 3 times) and have loved it! The wards are really big. Last week we went to a different ward with a guy my uncle knows down here, this week we went by ourselves to one that they told us we are in...but when we got there they said we're in yet a different ward. So next week we're going to our right ward! But it's been great. The people are so nice and welcoming. There are lots and lots of white South Africans, and about 1/4th are black. Today was testimony meeting and it was unlike any ward we've been to. As soon as the bishop was...no BEFORE the bishop was even done, there were 6 people up and on their way and it was like that the whole time. It was quite amazing and quite an example. They were so eager to share their testimonies. We were also blown away by their knowledge. Today we were the only whites in Sunday School and I swear they knew the scriptures and stories a million times better than I did. It was awesome. They told us we're in the actual Johannesburg ward, it's in a really sketchy area and it's an all-black ward. They said to try it out but to not feel bad if we don't feel safe or comfortable going down there. I told Ben I say we do it! It'd be awesome! So we'll let ya know what we decide!

We joined a dance class and it starts tomorrow night! I can't wait! It's a ballroom/latin class every Monday night. We're excited. Ben's already a pro...so this will be easy. I'm also taking a couple of photography classes. A basic "Fundamentals" one and an "Outdoor/Nature Photography" one. I've never done one so I'm SOOOO excited!

I'm still looking for a job. I'm working on some paperwork to get registered with the South African Council for Educators so I can possibly teach. I'm looking at working at a nice gym or something too. We'll see. Ben's loving his job! His hours are about the same as before. 12 hour days. He leaves at 8am and comes home at 8pm. It kinda stinks...but I don't think it will get any worse than that, so that's good.

Well that's the update on us goofballs! Ben's birthday is on Tuesday and I can't wait! I'm hoping he can get done around 3 so we can celebrate properly. He's getting old! 25! :)

We love you and all thanks for your support! It's a quite an adjustment, but thanks for all the emails! They keep me smiling and busy and it's great to know what's happenin' back in the USA! Keep 'em comin and we'll keep the blog rolling!