Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Best Date Ever

I was thinking about this for a little while.  If I had unlimited time and resources (both in planning and executing) a dream date, I think I could come up with a pretty good one.  In my estimation, the best date would be an all-day date with the girl of my dreams (the most important item in the best date has to be the individual you are with--it can’t be the best date with someone you don’t want to go out with!).  I know that some people are huge opponents of all-day dates, and I understand why, but all the complaints I have heard were basically because the complainer (always a girl in my experience) was either on a date with a guy they didn't like, or they liked the guy just fine, but weren't informed of the duration of the date or the activities they'd be doing (“Okay! It's only 1 am.  You're still in your high heels, right? Okay, let's hike the Y!”).  If it wasn't for those unfortunate circumstances, I don't think anyone would mind an all-day date with someone.  I mean, if you mutually like each other, and the date is well planned and communicated, all-day dates are awesome!

Now the best date would allow for three things: 

(1) A fun, memorable activity, 
(2) Time for communication and soul-sharing, and 
(3) An opportunity to cuddle and relax.  

This would be the best format, and with the best girl, it would be the best date.  I’ll give an example of a date following this format, though I think that depending on the individuals you would have to swap out some specific activities to have the best date.  

Example: Start at 3 am with a drive to the airport.  Get on a small plane, preferably flown by a friend, with all of your snowboarding gear.  Have said friend fly you to the top of a nearby mountain.  Jump off the plane with your date right at sunriseRelease your parachute when you land, and snowboard down the mountain.  Have a Grand Slam and pitcher of hot chocolate waiting for you at the bottom of the mountain, inside of a limousine.  Eat and talk while your chauffeur drives you to your next activity location.  Make it a long drive (3-4 hours).  Depending on your desires, eat while soaking in the limo’s hot tub (Your swim suits were also waiting for you in the limo, obviously. Alternatively, you can eat first and then soak).  Talk about your skydiving and mountain snowboarding experience, talk about your future, decide on your kids names, talk about money matters, talk about love languages, read poetry and limericks, etc.  Arrive at your next location (preferably lava tubes or a long, extensive cave with many offshoots).  Put on your jackets and headlamps, strap on your harnesses, grab your rope, and explore.  3+ hours.  Next, get airlifted (by helicopter, preferably an Apache) and taken to another location (again, it could be anywhere, but perhaps a resort in Colorado or a beach in California).  Take turns flying, and test fire the turrets and missiles.  When you arrive, dismount the chopper by repelling upside-down.  Have a candlelight meal on the beach (or at the resort).  The meal should be catered and served by servers with impeccable taste and a French accent.  Much bowing would not be amiss.  After eating, take a walk and swap childhood stories.  Tell her how beautiful she is.  Tell her why you love her and why you couldn't live with out her.  Tell her this because you mean it and you wouldn't ever say it unless you knew she was the one.  Tell her that none of the activities of the day (fun as they were) matters to you.  Only her happiness matters.  Sit back and watch the sun set.  Go to your previously-designated (and rented-out) movie theatre and watch a movie you both love (or one that only she loves).  Hopefully they have a LoveSac the size of Montana.  Cuddle and whisper to each other.  Laugh during the funny parts. Watch each other more than the movie.  Fall asleep in each other’s arms.  BEST. DATE. EVER. (You can disagree with me, but you'll be wrong).

For those of you that are more visually oriented, I have provided a visual play-by-play.  Enjoy:

Activity 1: Snowboarding, but starting in the air.
Don't forget your parachute!
I gotta try this!
Grand slam waiting for you.  Alright, breakfast!

Oh yeah, and breakfast is in a hot tub, in this bad boy.
This is also an opportunity to do some communication/soul sharing.
Activity 2: Spelunking!

Apache! A necessity in every date.
Basically, if you have to get from place to place, do it in style
(or with enough firepower to destroy anyone that has more style).

Candlelight (torchlight?) dinner on the beach!
Another opportunity for communication/soul sharing.

LoveSac for movie viewing.  It IS the size of Montana!  Actually substantially larger...
This is when you cuddle and relax after a long day's work.

The End.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I love my brothers.  I think they are hilarious.  We can all be pretty funny, especially when we are together, and even more especially when we have an audience.  I find Travis particularly funny, mostly because he is most prone to my kind of stupid humor. 

I have been blessed with the opportunity to live with my brothers at college.  From January to April, all four of my parents' children were living in Provo, a 9+ hour drive away from our home in Prescott, Arizona.  We had a blast, and although we were all really busy, we had great dynamics in the house and we found ways to have fun.  

Over this summer my three brothers and I experienced a lot of change.  Travis got married, I did an internship in Africa, Merritt did a mission trip to Nauvoo to perform with their stage group, and Landon started his two year full-time mission to Japan.  Now Merritt and I are back home.  Landon will be back in two years, and Travis is still here but is all married and grown up.  Luckily, we still know how to have fun.  Last week Travis and Merritt sent a package to Landon, who is preparing for his mission at the Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC).  This was Landon's commentary on the package:

"I got the most interesting package in the mail this week. It was from Travis and Merritt, and I got my towel. Thank you for that. Also, I received several other interesting things in the package. These things were a bag of confetti, a small rubber goose figurine, a CD giving me so many hours free on AOL (useless in the MTC, useless in life), a large screw, a "Stop Bedwetting" card, and a black crayon. This let to a large discussion in our district on whether it's pronounced "cray-on" or more like "cran," though of course the latter is correct. My thinking overall was that brothers should find something better to do with their "random pile of stuff for potential activities" than send it to me. I got quite the kick out of it though, especially the AOL CD."

Landon is having a great time at the MTC.  Landon is so studious and thoughtful, so his letters are always insightful and interesting.  Last week Landon told us a story that he heard from one of his MTC teachers.  It is an interesting story.  I'll let you read it, and then Travis' response:

"One of [my] teachers, Bishoff Sensei, was working with us but has left the MTC because he's starting law school soon. He served his mission to Japan, and got back probably about five years ago. On his last day teaching at the MTC, he wanted to share with us an experience he had on his mission and bear his testimony of the wonderful things that await us there. So I want to share his story. It's a little bit violent, but at the end you will see why I was inspired by it, I think.
One day Elder Bishoff was riding his bicycle while on his mission, and his companion was riding up ahead of him. They were biking on the side of what he called a highway, and across on the other side of the highway he saw a man and a woman arguing as they walked. The man was a Yakuza, which as far as I understand is a member of the Japanese mafia. He had tattoos all down his arms. As the man and woman continued to fight, she suddenly swung at him and clawed his face. This made him very angry, and it became violent. Now Elder Bishoff had seen this from across the road, and he called to his companion and they stopped. He was really wary of what to do, because he was scared since the man was very big for a Japanese person and was much bigger than he is. But then he remembered that as a missionary he was called to be a representative of Jesus Christ, and so he decided to act in faith and try to act like Jesus would if he had been there. He and his companion ran across the road, and as they approached to where they two were still fighting, a Japanese person stopped him and basically told him that he should not interfere, that he might be killed. But Elder Bishoff continued on, and told this person to call the police. At his point the woman was very bloody, and the man was trying to throw her in front of the oncoming cars. Because of this, she had grabbed a fence and was holding on to it and he was trying to rip her off of it. Elder Bishoff didn't really know what to do, and his Japanese at this point was not very good, so he just went up to the man, who was facing away from him, put his hand on his shoulder and turned him around, and said, "Yamete kudasai," which is simply, "Please stop." The first thing the man saw upon turning around was his missionary nametag, which of course has "Jesus Christ" written in large font as part of the church name written on the tag. Suddenly the woman, who I am sure was terrified and distraught, threw herself upon Elder Bishoff, seeking help. The Yakuza looked from Elder Bishoff's nametag to his face, and said, pointing at him, in an astonished tone, "Kirisuto, Kirisuto," which means, "Christ, Christ." Then he said, "This is none of your business." Elder Bishoff responded that yes, it was his business, as a representative of Christ. The man then said again: "Kirisuto, Kirisuto."  The man, who was still holding on to the woman's wrist, threw her arm at Elder Bishoff, and walked away, and the woman ran away as well, leaving Elder Bishoff covered in her blood. He related this story to us to teach us that we have the authority and responsibility to act as representatives of Christ at all times, and that we don't need to fear the consequences because Christ will help us, even if, as in this case, we don't know what to do about the situation. I was so inspired by that story because the Yakuza member gave up and walked away upon just seeing the name of Christ written on this missionary's nametag. For some reason Jesus Christ meant something to that man, and simply reading his name caused him to stop his violent attack. In this case, Elder Bishoff was like a savior to that woman, saving her from additional injury and possibly death, helping her when she was in dire need and others around would not. He told us, "You are called to do what no one else can do." I don't know if I will have an experience like that, but I like the idea of my purpose being only to help others for the next two years, even if others aren't or won't, and teach them about Jesus Christ."

 I think that is a really awesome story.  Travis' response was even more awesome:

"I have a story to share with you all. A deeply personal story.

When I was in Japan about 6 years ago, I fell into a bad crowd and become part of a gang known as The Yakuza. I got tattoos and dated bad women.
One day I was walking down the street when one of my ex-girlfriends saw me from the bus she was on. She hit the emergency stop button on the bus, opened the door, ran across the traffic and started yelling at me in front of everyone. I told her I didn't want to talk to her ever again, because she had done really hurtful things to me. I turned and started walking away. Suddenly she was on my back, attacking me. She was very violent, punching, scratching and biting me. I grabbed her arm and threw her over my back. I almost threw her into oncoming traffic, accidentally. Then she jumps up on the fence for leverage and starts kicking me and kicking me. I'm trying to block her attacks when suddenly I feel a hand on my shoulder, yanking me around the other way. Now the girl is kicking me in the back repeatedly with her heels. She actually broke the skin several times, requiring stitches to mend my wounds. He's wearing some tag that says Kirisuto, whatever that means. I'm trying to figure out if this white cracker is law enforcement or something, and start repeating "Kirisuto" over and over, asking him what that means. Instead he tells me to stop, please.  Stop what? Defending myself? She's kicking me in the head right now! The girl gets mad that I'm not paying attention to her so she jumps on this white guy's back, sobbing and screaming, trying to get him to go away so she can continue to assault me. This gives me a chance to run. Once I get far down the road, I look back and see that she's headed to opposite way down the sidewalk, the same direction the bus had been traveling. She was probably late for work."

So there you are.  A little bit about my brothers and I.  I love how we are so united as family, and how we are united in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Even when we are joking around and enjoying ourselves, we are able to focus on what is most important in life.  And what is most important to me is the gospel and my family.

Super old pic of my brothers and I.  And my sister. 
Yeah, this is the only pic I could find of the four of us.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A week of goodbyes

Oh hi!

This has been a very busy week.  It was the last week of my internship and my last week in Lesotho, so I had to finish up all of my work.  It was also my last chance to do things I have wanted to do.  I'll go over a few highlights:

On Tuesday I took Katleho and Masekhoane to see Ice Age 4: Continental Drift at the only movie theatre in town.  It was their first time to go to the movies, and they really enjoyed it.  Monday night I told Katly that we were going, and she was so excited.  After some time she came to me and asked, "What are we going to do if Khoane poos?"  I told her it wouldn't be a problem because she could change her sister.  She said, "No, you have to wipe her."  I said, "I think you can do it!"  She obviously wasn't satisfied, and I wasn't either.  I hadn't thought about the possibility.  I thought about it and figured it wasn't very likely, so I told Katly that we would play rock paper scissors to decide who had to wipe her if she pooed.  She thought it was a great idea.

We went to Pick 'n Pay first, a grocery store, and got some treats to eat in the movie.  The movies aren't so popular here; we were actually the only three people in the theatre.  And it was kind of nice--Khoane is so young that I didn't have to pay for her to come in.  So we had free reign of the place.  The movie was very entertaining.  I have enjoyed all the Ice Age movies. 

After the movie we went to Spur (a place kind of like Red Robin).  I picked Spur because it is in the same shopping centre as the theatre and because it is the only restaurant with a play place for kids.  (When I asked Mme Moorosi where a fun place to take them would be, she had no ideas.  There are no parks in Lesotho, just some soccer pitches here and there.)  I ordered food for myself and them, and they went and jumped on the trampoline/jumping castle things.  When the food came we ate together, and then they went back to play. After a little while, Katleho came to me and said, "We have to play rock paper scissors."  I knew what she meant, but I was not happy to hear it so I said, "What?"  To which she responded, "Remember you said if Khoane is going poo we have to play rock paper scissors?"  I laughed and called Ntate, who came and saved the day and took us home!
Katly and Khoane at the play place at Spur

 Thursday I had the privilege of meeting with the mother of the first Masianokeng Branch missionary and the new senior missionary couple the Holts.  The Holts were giving Mme Mofammere the details of her son's return information.  He comes home August 16th, so I won't see him.  It is kind of funny, I always miss the Mofammere family.  Pulello, the returning missionary, was baptized two weeks after I left Lesotho in 2009.  His brother Kanono was baptized two weeks before I arrived in Lesotho in 2008.  And now Pulello is coming home from his mission about two weeks after I leave in 2012.  It sounds like Pulello had a great mission, and his mother is so excited to see him again. 

Thursday and Friday I worked super hard and got a lot of work done at Itjareng.  I had to redo some work that I lost because of a virus problem on Wednesday with my flash drive.  At least I was able to recover everything.  I finished everything I had set out to do, and I left an Action List of items for the Administrator to follow up on my work.  Some of the work I did has to be approved by the Executive Board before it can be implemented.  The business cards I designed just have to be printed.  Also, the wireless internet will be installed next week, so I talked him through turning on automatic updates (which are now turned off to save megabytes) and installing antivirus software.  I think they are doing really well.  The new administrator is an awesome guy. 

On Friday morning I took pictures with the instructors and the trainees.  Some of the trainees gave little speeches thanking me for my help.  It was really a cool experience.  I gave them all a copy of my business card so they could contact me.  They were all so happy to receive the card, though most of them have no email address and will never contact me.  It was touching to see how much they appreciated me.

In the afternoon the staff (the instructors together with the office staff) came together to bid me farewell  They sang a song for me, an existing Sesotho song with one word--Thuso--my Sesotho name.  They sang for 4 or 5 minutes and danced.  Then they gave me with a gift--a plate with the Itjareng logo and all of their surnames.  It was really kind of them to prepare something like that for me.  Mme Pascalina made everyone laugh by telling me she wouldn't cry then, she would start crying the next day. 

It is crazy that my time is drawing to a close.  I will still write twice more before I arrive back home in Utah;  I'll be traveling around my old mission areas and visiting people for the next two weeks.  Then it is back to posts about dating, gender equality, or whatever thoughts I have or events I participate in. 

I'll close with some pictures from my last day at work.  Then I have to get going--today is the Masianokeng Branch Open House for the new church meetinghouse. 

Until next time!

Sala le Molimo,

Thuso Moorosi

My gift from the IVTC Staff
Me (in traditional Basotho wear) with the trainees
 IVTC Instructors
Mme Letsau (my supervisor) and I

The Administrator, Ntate Foso and I

Saturday, July 28, 2012


This was a good and busy week.  At the same time, it wasn't particularly eventful.  I've been spending a lot of time at work trying to finish up my projects and leave everything well organized.  I finished the employee contract, staff performance appraisal sheet, rules and regulations, and made a lot of headway on a powerpoint presentation about Itjareng.  I was also happy that Mme Pascalina posted a new post on the Itjareng blog without needing help!

I also met with Ntate Mokhotu Letele about the mentoring project that he wants to set up between American students and Basotho students.  I created a google form for volunteers and students to sign up.  The volunteer form can be found here (it is still in beta form).

Oranges.  Mme Moorosi told me a series of funny stories from her work.  Oddly, they all involved oranges.  She seems to work with a lot of fun and good people at the Central Bank of Lesotho.

There is a woman at the office that is selling bags of oranges.  She was selling them at R15 a bag, and took orders from the people in the office.  When the truck came with the oranges, the security guards wouldn't let the truck into the parking lot.  The woman told her coworkers that the truck was parked on the street outside the gate where they could go and make their purchases.  Mme Moorosi quipped, "I don't know Mme, I'm not ready to spend R45 on a bag of oranges.  That is very expensive!"  The woman replied, "I don't now what you're talking about, they are still R15."  Mme said, "I'll be paying R15 for the oranges and R30 to the police for parking there on the street."  Everyone laughed.

Later in the week, after purchasing the oranges, Mme Moorosi was eating them at the office, as were several other bank employees.  Someone noticed that Mme was eating three at once, while the others were eating just one each.  When they made that comment, Mme said, "No, these oranges are very small.  These three are equal to one regular orange.  Many laughed and agreed with her, but the lady selling the oranges was hurt.  Mme promptly sent her a message on Skype, saying, "Mme, I still love you, but your oranges are very small!"

Just yesterday, Mme came home from work and was telling us that a gentleman had just reached his ten year mark at the bank.  When employees complete ten years, they are given a nice bonus.  Recently there were two other gentlemen in the office who completed their ten years.  The first took everyone out to eat at the nice restaurant at Maseru Sun.  The second gave everyone a R50 bill.  Everyone in the office was anticipating what this guy would do for them for his ten years anniversary.  There are twelve in the office, and a bag of oranges contains twelve oranges.  The gentleman, known for being cheap, gave each of them an orange.  There were some that were a bit displeased, although they couldn't complain--the guy didn't actually owe them anything.  Mme Moorosi, always a bit of a comedian, took out her calculator and said, "Ntate, I want to see how much I was worth.  She divided R15 by 12 to see that each orange was R1.25.  She shared the number with all of her colleagues, and then said, "You know what, I think Ntate has done something really good here.  He has set such a good standard for all of us.  Something we can all afford.  In fact, my ten years is two years away, but maybe we can celebrate mine today as well." She went around the room and gave everyone a five cent coin (worth less than a US penny).  Everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves.

I think Mme Moorosi is so funny in the things she says and does.  She is careful not to cause offense (or at least that is never her intent).

Mme Moorosi gave me an orange after dinner the other day.  I was already full so I put it in my backpack for later.  Four or five days later she noticed it was still in my bag.  She was so surprised.  She told me that in Lesotho they eat oranges like candy.  In turn I showed her a candy that had been in my bag for over a month.  That is how I eat candy.  In Utah I recently threw out some candy from Halloween two years ago.  The sweets were in a bag mixed with candies from the last two Christmases as well.

Ironically, one of the candies that my mom and dad sent me for my birthday was orange slices.  The missionaries came over to the Moorosi's for dinner, and I offered to share with them some of my American candies.  They were happy to accept my offer.  I opened the bag of orange slices and passed them around.  Elder Rose and Elder Shaw teamed up on Ntate Moorosi, telling him that they were actual slices from oranges, preserved and sugar coated.  They were so serious about it and were describing the process, so of course he believed them.  I reminded everyone of Mme's words to me--that the Basotho eat oranges like candy.  I then confessed that the orange slices were not real oranges but were just candy, and I said that in America we eat candy oranges.  It was pretty funny.

One of my favorite experiences of the week was visiting Mme Mokeki and her girls.  Mme was baptized in 2008 and has since moved to another village.  It was great to see her and her new place, which she built.  She is a very hardworking woman.  She owns a private primary school (which she runs as principal), a small shop, and she is now getting into the business of selling clothing.  Somehow she also has time to be the mother of three.  Unfortunately I missed seeing her husband, who was out of town.  As well as meeting Mme Mokeki, I was blessed this week to meet Kanono Mofammere and Malesooko Chale, two other church members that I hadn't seen since my arrival.  It is always a joy to be reacquainted with people you love.

Mme Mokeki (back) with daughters (left to right) Relebohile, Tiisetso, and Thato
Tiisetso has the funniest voice ever, I took a video of her singing "Mary had a little lamb" that is just hilarious.

This next week is my last week in Lesotho.  I leave here on August 6th and do a bit of a mission tour for two weeks before returning home.  I will visit Joburg, Polokwane, Mafikeng, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.  It will be a lot of fun, and require a lot of money.  But it's not every day you can revisit your mission.  I'm very excited, and I have the blessing of traveling in a place where I know a lot of people that love me and invite me to stay in their homes. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stories and Birthdays

A funny story to start out with--as you may remember, I am working with the Moorosi's and the rest of the Masianokeng Branch of the Church to prepare for the Masianokeng Open House on August 6th. One of the things we have been doing this last week is delivering invitations. On Monday Mme Moorosi came home with a funny story from one her invitation deliveries.

As a preface to the story, I should share that when being respectful, you should always preface a woman's name with Mme (basically mother) or a man's name with Ntate (father). With that, I'll continue.

During her lunch hour, she went with a friend from the bank to deliver an invitation to the Police Commissioner (We'll call him Fred), the head of the police forces for the country. As she went to the office, she met the secretary. Mme tried to greet her, and the lady, not facing her, responded with a grunt. She tried again, "How are you?" and the lady didn't even grunt!

Mme said, "I have an invitation for Ntate Fred." The lady still didn't look up. Then Mme said, "Okay, no problem, maybe I can just call Fred myself." Her omission of "Ntate" the second time indicated a close relationship with the Commissioner since she could otherwise not call his name so casually. The lady looked up now, to see Mme Moorosi getting her phone out. Mme's friend, catching what Mme was doing, said, "Mme, I can't believe the way she is treating you! If she knew who you were, she couldn't treat you like that!" Mme agreed with her, now ignoring the secretary, who was pleading for forgiveness, asking that she not make the call.

Finally Mme put away her phone and gave the invitation to the secretary, who now very respectfully spoke with her, promising a prompt delivery of the inviation. The secretary never even asked Mme's name, she was so embarrassed. Mme is awesome.

I finally met Steven Thoahlane, this week. He is the President of the Board of Directors for the Lesotho National Association for the Physically Disabled (LNAPD). LNAPD is the organization that runs Itjareng. We had a good meeting together with Ntate Foso. Ntate Thoahlane is a professor at the National University of Lesotho. It was good to meet him, and I was glad to make his acquaintance before I return home.

On Thursday Ntate Foso called together the teachers of Itjareng for a meeting. Because of winter holidays, the students and teachers have been at home for the last 6 weeks or so. It was a nice meeting, and I think that the teachers responded well to Ntate Foso (who began his tenure as Administrator after the school closed for holidays). It was good to see everyone again, and it was nice to report back to the teachers on my progress. In our last meeting before holidays began, I gave them five specific projects I wanted to complete before we came back together. I have completed (or done all I can do) on each of these projects. I am still working on the employee contracts, and I am still waiting on an okay from the board to do the internet installation. Otherwise I am pleased with my progress, and so are the teachers and the administration.

After the meeting with the teachers Ntate Foso, Mme Pascalina, Mme Maboitumelo, Mme Moliehi and I went to Maseru to Lesotho National Federation of Organizations of the Disabled (LNFOD) headquarters. We met with a well-connected gentleman who used to be the head of LNFOD and two volunteers from Australia. Mme Pascalina had an idea to organize a dinner-dance fundraiser to start a scholarship fund for Itjareng graduates to start their own businesses. I have done a lot of work with the teachers to determine what items would be needed to start a business in leatherworking, metal work, sewing, carpentry, or agriculture. I have completed the list of items, and now I will be getting quotations from different companies on the cost of those items.

The meeting was really good. We made assignments for each person and talked over the theme and finances. The basic idea is to do a "Back to the 60s" themed dance at one of the large hotel ballrooms. Maseru Sun agreed to let us use their ballroom for free, on the condition that they do the catering, which is cool, but we are still looking at other options. We want to invite dignitaries from the government and large businesses and mix the idea of fundraising with a bit of awareness and advocacy for the disabled. It is a good plan, though I will not be here to see it through to its fruition. The event is scheduled for early November.

This was a week of birthdays. Sunday July 15th was Mme Moorosi's birthday. We celebrated that night by singing to her and eating a cake. My friend Nolan Sim's birthday was the 16th (Don't worry Nolan, I didn't forget you. Then Tuesday the 17th was a national holiday for the birthday of the King of Lesotho, King Letsie III. I celebrated my day off work by going to the church in Maseru for a singles activity. We watched some movies and talked about dating. I should write a seperate post some time about the differences of dating in Basotho culture. Overshadowing the King's birthday was the next day's birthday of Nelson Mandela, now 94 years old. A hero of democracy across the whole of Africa, Nelson Mandela's birthday was a big deal. Bill Clinton actually visited him for some reason. I'm sure someone has a birthday on the 19th. I think Eric Cambpell might be on that day? It isn't on his Facebook...

And the culminating birthday of the week was yesterday, July 20th--my birthday. It started out as a bit of a funny day. I went to town to meet with Mokhotu Letele, a man I've been helping with a mentorship program he is establishing. He wants American students to mentor Basotho students via skype, basically to encourage them to seek higher education and to give them new ideas and learn of different cultures. I think it is a cool idea, and something that most American students could easily particpate in.

We had a good meeting, and then I ran to the grocery store and bought a cake. I had promised my coworkers to bring a cake on my birthday that we could share together. Mme Pascalina even reminded me on Wednesday to make sure I hadn't forgotten. Imagine my surprise when I showed up with a cake and found not a single person at the office! The curtains were drawn and the office was locked. I borrowed keys from Mme Pascalina's daughter (she lives on the school campus) and did some work in my office, but no one else ever showed up. I saved the cake for Monday.

From there it got a little better. I went teaching with the missionaries for three hours after work, and we had some really nice visits, including a visit to my friend Lefa Nkhomo's home. He lives far enough away from Masianokeng that I haven't been to his place since I've been back in Lesotho.

Lefa Nkhomo and wife Mpolokeng at their house in Ha Motloeloa

The missionaries dropped me off at the Moorosi's at 7, and the whole family went to Spur, a steak and burgers restaurant at the mall. It is a big restaurant chain in South Africa, but this is the first Spur in Lesotho. There was a trampoline that kept the kids busy and happy while the rest of us ate. We had a really good time. My burger was delicious, as was my strawberry milkshake! During the meal our server came to the table and said, "I have a call for a Mr. Jeremy Andrew Moore." Of course I hadn't given my name to them, let alone my full name, and I had no one that should call me--I was already with my Basotho family. Well, it was my mom and dad! It was good to talk to them and my sister. It was funny too--I was standing just by the entrance to the restaurant on their landline, and I'm sure every comer and goer thought I was an employee behind the counter. I don't think I was a good employee; I ignored all of the customers and I was talking to family on the phone!

After we got home, we read scriptures as a family and exchanged some gifts. The Moorosis gave me a nice sweater vest and I gave them a nice copy of the scriptures with their names engraved on it. I also had some dvds and little things for the girls. Khoane was so happy with her DVD. As soon as she saw the picture on the front she broke into her oft repeated exclamation, "Mickey Mouse! Mickey Mouse!" I've never seen anyone love Mickey Mouse like that girl.

It was a very nice birthday, and another good week. Life is good.

Sala le Molimo,

Thuso Moorosi

Me at Itjareng

Thursday, July 19, 2012

google analytics

i love statistics. i also love writing. so i write in my blog and google gives me statistics on my readership. it is great!

i just want to thank you for reading my blog. i love to write and i love it more when i know my writing is read and appreciated. i thought it might be interesting to share with you some statistics from google analytics (GA). GA is a program that tracks visits to your website. it is really fascinating how much information they are able to gather. GA provides information regarding how many visitors there are, where they are coming from, which internet browser they are using, which operating system their computer (or mobile device) is running, etc. it is really fascinating stuff. it gathers the statistics anonymously, so no worries there!

i started my blog with my first post in September 14, 2011. i posted every week through early December, and then posted irregularly (and somewhat infrequently!) until my trip to Africa in May 2012.

i have posted a total of 35 posts, including this one. my most popular topics have been my posts on gender issues and dating issues. the all-time most popular post was "dating difficulties" which currently has 199 views. other popular posts were "gender equality," "what is attractiveness," "can men and women be just friends?" and "feminism."

in total, there have been over 2,700 pageviews from over 1,500 visits to the blog. these visits have originated from 31 different countries (in order of most visits):

United States
South Africa
South Korea
United Kingdom
Costa Rica

there is also an interesting breakdown of internet browser usage:
Google Chrome 46%
Mozilla Firefox 22%
Internet Explorer 13%
Safari 12%
Opera .13%

(the remaining percentage points (~7%) are from various mobile browsers)

i hope that was at least vaguely interesting; i think it is. again thanks for reading. if you have anything you'd like to hear more about, message me on my facebook, or email me at jeremy.andrew.moore@gmail.com

thanks again!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Visit to the Johannesburg Temple

The highlight of this week was my trip to the temple. I went with three brothers from Maseru Branch and a sister from Masianokeng. The Maseru Branch President, Liphapang (pronounced deep uh pong) Monesa drove us, and the other attendees were Khopolo Tsiu, Seeiso Rapitse, and Morongoe Khotobane. We left at 7 a.m. Friday morning, and drove to Joburg. We went straight to the temple and stayed for the rest of the day. We stayed the night with my new friend Thembinkosi Msimango, and after another visit to the temple Saturday morning we took the return trip to Lesotho.

Johannesburg Temple, aerial view

Temples are a very special place to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While regular worship services take place on Sundays in almost 30,000 congregations worldwide, temples are larger and rarer structures. The temple can be described as a place between heaven and earth, where we go to feel closeness to God. They are open throughout the week so that members can come and worship at anytime. It is in the temples that we are married for time and for all eternity. The temple is also a place to learn about the purpose of our life and the path we must take to return to live with God. It is the greatest spiritual education ever! Visitors are welcome in the Sunday services of the Church, but temple attendance is reserved for members of the Church who are keeping the standards and commandments of God. Just after a temple is built (and before it is dedicated) temples are open to the public for tours, after which the temple is dedicated to the Lord and closed to the public.

The Johannesburg temple was the first in Africa. Before it was built, Church members had to go by boat to London to attend the temple. Some facts about the Johannesburg temple can be found here.

I had a great time at the temple. I also ran into a lot of old friends. First I saw the MTC manager, Mark Mocke, and spent some time with him and his family. Brother Mocke used to puzzle us with clever games and riddles while we were training to be missionaries. He was such a fun guy to work with. He is also a ping pong master. I am pretty good at ping pong, and so were several guys with me in the MTC, but Brother Mocke destroyed us all.

I also ran into a few guys from the Johannesburg 2nd ward, where I went to church for six months of my mission. I saw Obert, Honest, and Karabo Mamabolo. It was so good to catch up and talk about mutual friends and see how everyone is doing. I hope to visit Karabo and his wife when I go back to Joburg in August before I go home.

I also ran into Kyle Zeeman at the temple. I knew him for only a week or so in 2008 as he was preparing to leave for his mission. He went teaching with Elder Roper and I for several days, and then left. We both recognized each other but it took us a while to figure out how we knew each other. He seems like a really cool kid, and is now working at the temple.

I was also very happy to meet Sister Louise Futter and Sister Wilhemina Becker at the temple. They have been working at the temple at least since 2009 when I was serving in Joburg. These sisters helped me to schedule weekly temple trips for the Joburg 2nd ward recent converts. They were so helpful and friendly, and I developed a friendship with them during my mission. I was so happy that they still remembered me! Before I left South Africa in 2009, I was talking to Sister Futter about how much I loved the temple. She encouraged me to seek for the opportunity to work in the temple when I had the chance. I thought that one day when I was retired and had a lot of free time I would be able to work at the temple; I never expected I would have that experience while I was still young. Instead I have been blessed with the opportunity to work at the Provo Temple (since August 2011), and it has been such a joy in my life. I told Sister Futter that I was working there now, and she was so happy to hear it.

Johannesburg Temple

The friendships that exist through the church are really cool. When you hear that someone is a member of the church, you have an instant connection to that person, even if you know nothing else about them.

Other than my temple trip, this was a pretty uneventful week. I continue to work on my projects at Itjareng, I teach with the missionaries on Fridays, and I teach Sunday School on Sundays.

One last thing I can share--last week Sunday I did a special musical number in church with Mamalema Mokotla. We sang an arrangement of four of our hymns (Nearer My God to Thee, Praise to the Lord the Almighty, Be Still My Soul, and Christ the Lord is Risen Today), and we sang everything in Sesotho! I did a pretty good job of pronunciation, though I had to read everything off of the paper. I got a lot of compliments on the singing, and the two senior couples (from Canada and USA) were especially impressed. It was fun to prepare for that musical number. My Sesotho speaking ability is now back to where it was in 2008, but I am far from being fluent.

I am happy and well. God is good.

Sala le Molimo,

Thuso Moorosi

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Blankets, Work, and Funerals

Just after I left the internet shop on Saturday, I realized that I had failed to write about one of the most interesting days of my week. On Thursday I wore my Lesotho blanket to town. If you aren't familiar with the Basotho blanket you can google it or check some google images here. I also have a poor quality picture that someone took for me. Sorry that it is blurry!

All day people were commenting on my blanket. Of course it is not usual to even see a white person, let alone see a white person wearing the traditional blanket. Nevertheless, I have worn my blanket to town before and received very little response. Thursday was different. People were stopping me to talk to me, girls were flirting with me, and people were shouting at me from across the street to get my attention. I felt like a celebrity, and it was a strange feeling.

At one point I went to the Vodacom (cell phone) store. I had been there for a few minutes when suddenly everyone started laughing. I followed the collective gaze of those around me and saw a naked man walking down the street. Here I was on Kingsway Road in the Central Business District of Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho, and a man was just walking down the street completely naked, as if nothing were out of the ordinary. I don't know why the man forgot his clothes at home, but he seemed quite content to walk around in public (and in the cold!) completely naked. Kind of strange.

I imagine that there were quite a few people in town who went home that day with a crazy story to tell their wives and children--"Guess what I saw in town today? A naked man walking down the street and a white man wearing a Lesotho blanket!" I'm not sure which will be more surprising to hear.

I didn't get the opportunity to go horseback riding last Saturday. The ride out to Malealea was long, and the road full of potholes. We really didn't have time. Plus it is expensive, so I didn't complain. The wedding reception was cool. They had a big tent set up and a large church choir sang. They sounded very good! The reception coincided with the groom's parent's 40th anniversary, which is very rare here.

At one point they asked for gifts to be given to the parents. Mme Moorosi had forgotten to bring anything, so she decided to give some money. She had already gone up to give it to them when they announced that all those giving presents should also say a few words to the couple. Mme didn't know what to say, and so she made a joke. She was holding her daughter Masekhoane, and she said to them, "I know that this family has two sons, but they only have one daughter. I have brought this girl as my gift to them so that their family can be well balanced." Everyone laughed and Mme gave Khoane to the gentleman. Everyone enjoyed the joke. Luckily, he gave Khoane back to her mommy!

The new Prime Minister, Tom Thabane is doing some really interesting things. He has changed policies so that the government will purchase vehicles from Toyota instead of Mercedes. He has also made it impossible for government employees to purchase used government vehicles at a price under the market rate. Prior to this, government ministers have been keeping their government Mercedes for a small fraction of the cost.

Thabane has also stated that government employees do not need to be first class passengers on airplanes, and says that all government officials will fly economy.

Last week Thabane went to one of the ministries (I believe it was the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare) at 8 in the morning. When he didn't find the minister, he sat at her desk until she arrived (at 9:30!). When she came in her office, he shook his head, got up, and left without a word.

It will be interesting to see how Lesotho evolves under such a leader. Lesotho is also currently constructing a new dam in the highlands and a turbine system that will generate more than enough energy to power the entire country. Lesotho has sold water to South Africa for some time; soon they may be in a position to sell power as well.

At church we are planning for the Masianokeng Branch Open House. The new building we are meeting in has finally been completed, and we will be hosting an open house to introduce neighbors, pastors, and government leaders to learn more about our church and go on a tour of it. I have never done a church open house, but there is a very organized packet by the church describing how it should be organized. It is quite similar in form to a temple open house, just on a smaller scale. The open house will be a lot of work to plan, as we will create and send invitations, invite the media, and train church members to be tour guides. Each organization in the church will do a little presentation for those on the tour describing what is done in the Priestood (men's organization), Relief Society (women's organization, Primary, and Sunday School (to name a few).

At Itjareng I have been doing a lot of work. I have completed a design for new business cards for all of the employees, which will be printed soon. I created a new blog for itjareng, which can be found at http://itjareng.blogspot.com, and we completed the 2013 budget. I also drafted a new contract for IVTC employees, and I am currently working on writing the Staff Rules and Regulations for the organization. It is a much bigger project than I first anticipated.

I hope I can finish all of the projects that I have started before I go. It is very cool to work with Itjareng, and have the trust and confidence of the Administrator and staff. I have proven by my work that I can give good advice and produce good work. As time has gone on, I have been given bigger assignments. I am also the editor of all of the documents created by the Administrator or the Extension Officer. Sometimes instead of editing, I am asked to write proposals and letters, which they review before sending. This week we heard back from the Maseru Sun Hotel. I wrote them a letter asking them if we could host a disability awareness dinner dance free of charge at their ballroom. They agreed, so we have formed a committee to plan and organize the event.

Mme Moorosi has been experiencing some dibilitating dizziness lately. She saw the doctor a few times, but this time they referred her to a specialist. They found that she has an ear infection, and something about the fluids in her ears may be affecting her sense of balance and creating the dizziness. She is on sick leave for a week and has been taking medication. Not surprisingly, she isn't sitting around--the sick leave is like a vacation to her. Maybe the medicine has made her feel well enough that she can go out and about.

Today the Moorosi's are at a funeral for a family member in Maseru. He was in a prominent position in government, so it is a large event with hundreds of people coming that need to be fed. The funerals here are big social events. In Basotho culture you are expected to go to the funeral of anyone from your village and anyone that you are related to.

With Lesotho's prevalence of HIV/AIDS and with one of the lowest life expectancies in the world. Here is Wikipedia's list of life expectancy by country. Lesotho is 190th out of 194 countries. The world's life expectancy is 67.2, while Lesotho's is 42.6 (according to the UN's list. The CIA World Factbook lists Lesotho 188th out of 191 with a life expectancy of 40.38). Lesotho also has the distinction of being one of four countries in the world where men live longer than women on average. The other exceptions are Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and Afghanistan.

All of this results in a lot of funerals. And it is a big deal. You have to attend the funerals or you can displease the chief and be shunned by your neighbors. There is also a belief that if you don't go to others' funerals no one will come to yours. I don't understand the logic of it, as I don't plan to be in attendance at my funeral!

I had the opportunity to go to a pitso (public assembly) in Ha Matala (the village where I live) on Sunday. The whole meeting was in Sesotho, so I had a very limited understanding of the discussion. Afterwards I talked to Ntate Moorosi about it and he was able to fill me in. A lot of the discussion revolved around a bereavement fund for the family of persons who pass away in the village. Everyone puts in M10.00 ($1.18, but it is worth more than that amount would be to us) and the money goes to the family. I think it is a good system. The whole meeting was pretty cool. Anyone could speak and all opinions were considered. I like the idea of living in a community where people know their neighbors and discuss local issues. The expectation of the culture is that everyone should come and be involved. An interesting culture.

I have a busy day ahead of me. I am going to prepare to sing (in Sesotho!) in church tomorrow. I am also going to help paint someone's house and help someone else with some computer work.

Life is good!

Sala le Molimo,

Thuso Moorosi

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Power Outage

Hello all--

Though I apologized for my late post last week, I failed to explain why I didn't get around to it on Saturday.  Let me start by telling you about that interesting day.

I started with great plans.  I had two things to do in town, email and buy a heater.   Then I needed to get back to Masianokeng for the institute class at the church at 11.  At 12 I was going teaching with the missionaries.  Mme Moorosi was going to Ladybrand in South Africa to do some shopping, but she said she could drop me and pick me up in 2 hours.  I went first to a shop to buy the heater.  They were sold out.  No big deal, it was just a little hiccup in my plans.  I could buy one later.  Next I went to the email shop.  After writing for some time, the power suddenly shut off.  Other businesses in the area seemed to have backup generators, but not my favorite little Chinese internet shop. 

There were only two of us in the shop at that time (though there are 34 computers).  I guess it was too early, cold, and wet, to have many people out and about.  The other man was a Nigerian named Hycent.  We talked about our respective countries and shared with each other our purposes of being in Lesotho.  He is a businessman, doing retail of cosmetic products.  We had an interesting conversation about the world's collective view of the Nigerian people.  As a nation they have earned themselves quite the reputation.  They are known in Southern Africa mostly for drugs and crime.  He told me that he is a Christian man and he doesn't do or sell drugs, yet he is constantly faced with opposition because of his citizenship.  In looking for a place to locate his business, he was unable to mention where he was from without prices rising drastically.  Basotho people (and South African people) are not generally friendly towards Nigerians.  I am glad to be from a nation that has a very good reputation here.  America is known for helping the Basotho people with food aid and development projects. The peace corps also has given the American people a good reputation in this country.

After about thirty minutes of talking with Hycent, a white man came into the internet shop to print something.  When he saw the power was out, he stayed and talked with us for another thirty minutes or so, hoping (as we were) that the power would return.  When I asked him where he was from, he told me he is from Ukraine, but is an Israeli citizen.  It was very interesting to learn about the everyday life in Israel, and also to hear an Israeli's opinion of current events in the Middle East.  He was a very funny guy, though his accent was so strong that I could hardly understand him at times.  As we talked, I realized that we were quite a gathering in this small internet shop--an American, a Nigerian, a Ukranian/Israeli, the Chinese that own the shop, and their Mosotho employee.  I love the diversity of being in Africa.  Johannesburg is much more of a melting pot; my experience at the email shop was more unusual than it was typical of Lesotho. 

Finally the Chinese chose to close their store for the day, refunding the time we had paid for and not used.  I had another thirty minutes before Mme Moorosi was supposed to come, but I knew that she hadn't brought her phone with her, so I had to stay by the internet shop.  After over an hour, she still hadn't arrived.  Finally I called Ntate Moorosi and asked him if his wife had returned home without me.  Apparently she had hit a pothole and got a flat tire.  Finally I took a taxi to the church, but as luck would have it, I was in a taxi that kept stopping for long periods of time.  They were going to a far-off place and wanted to recruit more riders to make it profitable for them.  I was only a 20 minute ride away from the church, but it took me 45 minutes to arrive.  At this point I realized that I had failed in all of my plans for that day.  I hadn't emailed, bought a heater, gotten a ride with Mme, or attended institute, and the missionaries had to wait for me since I arrived at quarter past 12. 

Luckily the rest of the day went largely according to plan.  I had a nice time with the elders, teaching many lessons.  It is really fun to be with the missionaries in one of my old areas.  I know people they don't know, so I have been able to introduce them to some of my old acquaintances.  Also I have met new people and learned new areas.  It is kind of nostalgic to do missionary work here again.

The rest of my week went well.  I have been  making some progress on different projects at Itjareng.  I have been helping them extensively with their 2013 budget, and I spent a few hours on Thursday researching new possible donors for the centre.  They are in need of a lot of repairs and improvements.  I hope that they will get an internet connection at the centre soon.  I got quotations from two different companies for setup of a wireless connection.  It is somewhat expensive, but I think it is necessary for their work.  They have lost past donors through lack of communication as they check their email VERY infrequently.  I have set up two email accounts for the centre, one for the administrator, and one as a shared email for the office.  I want to setup a google calendar including all of the yearly events and share it between the email accounts so that everyone can access it.  I also have encouraged the director to start a blog for Itjareng.  It would be a great way to advocate for disability rights and it could serve as a website for Itjareng since they have no internet presence at all.  My biggest project for next week (besides continuing the work on the budget) is to create a new employee contract to be signed by all of the employees.  I will also likely write out the policies and regulations of the centre, as they don't have any written policy.

This week I got to see the Avengers movie at the new mall in Maseru.  I left after work on Tuesday so that I could catch the movie before it was too late.  This was the last week it was showing in the theatre, yet there was only 6 of us in the room.  I thought it was a great movie.  Just an action packed adventure movie with some cool equipment and technology.  I watched the five o'clock showing, but by 7:20 when I got out of the movie, no taxis were available and the mall was empty.  I don't know how the night life is during the summer, but at least in winter everyone goes home and goes to bed as soon as it gets dark. 

Wednesday night I met one of the Moorosi's neighbors, a guy my age named Khoeli.  We had a great talk for over an hour about politics, religion, and life.  It was so cool to talk to him.  He is educated and interested in everything (like I am).  In my time here, he is the closest I have found to a friend.  Someone I would just hang out with.  I feel like the Moorosi's are my family, and I love my coworkers and the church members, but I haven't had anyone my age that was just my friend.  I have also been meeting a lot of cool people as I go to town to the internet shop and buy groceries.  People are so friendly and talk to strangers, so I have been making some good acquaintances as I go around.

Today I am going to a wedding with Mme Moorosi.  We may also go horseback riding afterwards...when I told her I'd never rode a horse, she said it was a must! 

I started making plans to visit some different areas in South Africa in August--I'm hoping to visit Mafikeng, Polokwane, and Joburg.  I'll try to finalize my plans this week and contact people throughout next week.  I plan to leave Lesotho August 6th, so it is coming right up!  I still have so much to do before I go.

I uploaded some pictures on Thursday.  First are pictures of my "little sisters" here, and then there are some pictures of the expansion of the Moorosi's house.  Check them out here: http://ronhic.blogspot.com/2012/06/me-and-my-girls.html

I'll have more to write about next week.  I hope you are well! 

Sala le Molimo,

Thuso Moorosi

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Me and my girls!

I took the first picture (below left) when I was in Lesotho with my dad in 2009. Now in 2012 I took the same picture with the same girls, Kamohelo and Katleho! Kamohelo (Welcome) is the daughter of the Elder's Quorum President at the church, while Katleho (Success) is the daughter of the Branch President.

2009 Kamo, Me, Katly
2012 Kamo, Me, Katly

Katleho (6) and Masokhoane (2) are the daughters of the Moorosi family.  They are very different in personality.  Katly is quiet and serious.  She loves to play and have fun, but she is also very quick and observant.  Khoane is very loud and talkative.  She seems oblivious to everything around her at times.  One of her favorite pastimes is to get too close to the heater so that mommy or daddy have to grab her before she catches on fire!  They are really fun girls and I like being their "big brother."

Katleho and Masokhoane at church.  Katly is wearing my suit coat.

Khoane loves the ceiling!

Sometimes Khoane just cries.  No one knows why.

Katly and Naleli in front of the house

Here are some pics of the expansion of the Moorosi's house.  They added the garage and a bedroom.  I will be using the bedroom until I return home, after which the room will be for the girls.  In the past they have had just three rooms--a kitchen, living room, and bedroom.

Putting on the roof!

There are bricks, metal, and cement debris everywhere!

The new garage

This is inside the house! This will soon be "my" room.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dung, Dung, Dung!

I'll start with a few apologies--I'm sorry I am late with this post! Also, I'm sorry to say that I was unable to match the excitement of last week. That might be a good thing--I don't need that kind of excitement every day. Anyways, this has been a nice week.

After I wrote last Saturday I went to a YSA activity at the church in Maseru. When I arrived they hadn't yet started, so I helped some others clean the church. There is a small courtyard area in the middle of the church where pigeons love to perch (and poop). Luckily the bird dung was dry so we swept it into piles. After an hour of sweeping, we had filled two large trash bags with pigeon poop. Kind of gross! But it is always a good feeling to clean.

By then the activity had started. First we played volleyball for a few hours. I really enjoy volleyball--I've been playing in Stake intramurals for the last two years, which has been a lot of fun. Here it was even better, because the next tallest person was probably a foot shorter than me. I got to do a lot of spiking, and there wasn't really anyone blocking me :) Honestly, I had a huge height advantage; there were a lot of people that played well. It was competitive and I had a lot of fun.

After volleyball we watched some action movie about the Greek gods. The movie was okay, but what was fun was to have the experience with the Basotho my age. I don't think that most of them watch many movies, or at least not at the theatre. Watching on a big projector screen is kind of cool for anyone, but for my Basotho friends, it was fun to witness their reactions to surprises on screen, the gross CGI creatures the heroes fought, and the cool fighting scenes. There were a lot of surprised exclamations and people holding their breath as they awaited the outcome of a scene. When the main character defeated this mythical creature with multiple heads, there was literal cheering!

This week I have a few more stories to share from the life of Mme Moorosi.

Mme Moorosi grew up in a rural area of the district of Mohale’s hoek in Lesotho. When they had meat, each person would be given a piece to cook to the level of their satisfaction. When she was very young, she couldn’t cook the meat by herself; often an older child would volunteer to help her. She had to be very careful when accepting such requests. If she wasn’t, she would find that her meat had disappeared and been replaced with a dry piece of cow dung. Because she was little, she wouldn’t recognize what had happened; she just thought the meat had been burned or didn’t taste good.

Another childhood story also coincidentally included cow dung. Once some neighborhood girls invited Mme to go play with them. They were going to dig for eggs. They decided together that whatever eggs each girl found would be for her alone to eat. Eventually they came to a field with many heaps of cow dung. They directed her to dig at one, and they each dug under the dung heaps looking for eggs. Surprisingly to her, all of the other girls found eggs, but she found none. They directed her to another pile, but still she found nothing. The other girls were all cooking and eating their eggs, having a great time. Finally one of the girls offered to share with her. She felt so grateful, since she hadn’t found any eggs herself. When she returned home, she told her grandma the whole story. Her grandma now knew what had happened to all of her chicken eggs! The girls had stolen the eggs and buried them, placing heaps of dung to mark each place. They also made some heaps without burying any eggs beneath. Because they knew where the eggs were, they directed Mme to dig in all of the wrong places, while they each found eggs.

I think her life has been so interesting. It is also great to hear her tell the stories and hear her inflection and see her body language and facial features.

I only realized after typing all of this that I have mentioned dung three times in one post! A new record! Manure is very useful (and commonly used!) here--it is fertilizer, fuel for the cooking fire, and a common coating for walls and floors. After drying, it makes a watertight surface that is easily swept and has a pleasant appearance.

I have really enjoyed working with the new director of Itjareng, Ntate Molise Foso. Only 29 years old, Ntate Foso has already had a quite interesting career. I have had several meetings with him, and I am very impressed. Ntate Foso walks with crutches due to a sickness in his childhood that left his legs different lengths. His disability has given him a drive to succeed in life. In his childhood and teenage years, Ntate Foso was told that he couldn’t succeed. He has worked very hard to prove those people wrong.

Spending time with Ntate Foso has helped me to see the importance of the work we are doing for the disabled. Because he has a positive outlook in life, he has been successful despite (or maybe even because of) his disability. There are many disabled people living in the rural areas of Lesotho that have not been as lucky. Disabled persons are sometimes treated as less than human. Villagers tell the parents of the disabled that they must have been cursed by God. In this situation, disabled people in Lesotho are often excluded from opportunities to go to school and are hidden from society. Already physically disadvantaged, their opportunities for success are further limited by a lack of education and regular social interaction.

In a meeting with Ntate Foso he told me, “I am not a disabled person; I am a person with a disability.” His disability, which I viewed as a stumbling block, has been a source of strength and motivation in his life, driving him to success. I have learned from him this experience that I shouldn't judge others by what I see. Regardless of size, shape, religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation, all people deserve fairness and equal treatment from every other person.

Life is good. All is well in Lesotho.

Sala le Molimo,

Thuso Moorosi

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Politics, Stories, and Bribery

Another week has come and gone!

This week was great. My study of Lesotho Politics concluded on Friday with the submission of my final assignment. Mme Pascalina told me I should take some time off to finish it. I'm glad she gave me that time, as my sickness last week kept me from doing much of anything. On Wednesday I had an interview with Ntate Shale from the Development of Peace Education office and Ntate Lenka from the Transformation Resource Centre. Both are organizations that have been involved in Lesotho politics in one way or another--especially in conflict management and election training. I had a good meeting with them. It was really nice to learn about Lesotho's politics from a person rather than a book.

The most interesting thing I learned from the meeting is that there has been a new Assembly Hall (for the Parliament) constructed on a hill overlooking Maseru. Though it has been completed for a few years, the National Assembly has yet to use that hall. It was built by the Chinese in an agreement with the Lesotho government whereby they were promised some land in exchange for the building. While the Assembly Hall has been completed, the government has not honored their agreement; therefore the Chinese have not "given them the keys" to the Assembly Hall. I found that very interesting.

One fun experience I had this week was to talk with Mme and Ntate Moorosi about their experiences at the Lesotho Police Training College and compare it with my experiences at Army Basic Combat Training. It sounds like the training (and the behavior of the instructors) was almost the same! Ntate Moorosi loved the experience. He liked getting stronger and working together with the other recruits. He also thought it was so funny when their instructors would come up with new and creative punishments. Mme told a lot of funny stories. I don't think she was a good fit for the Police, or at least not the training experience.

She told us about one time when she stole some eggs from the dining facility and put them in the hood of her jacket. The cook saw her and confronted her about it and she confessed. He asked her why she took them and she said it was because they always overboiled the hard boiled eggs and so she wanted to make them herself. The cook and her commander got together and said that she should show them how to cook the eggs properly. They took a whole flat of eggs (30) and had her cook them properly. Then they told her she had to eat them all! She was crying and they were all watching her and yelling at her. She said she was only able to eat three. I can totally see my drill sergeants doing the same exact thing to a soldier at BCT.

One time another recruit fell asleep in the classroom so Mme Moorosi put a piece of paper in his mouth to be funny. He woke and slapped her. She complained to the commander, who reprimanded the recruit and told him that he needed to learn how to treat others. They gave him a large rock that they called his "baby" and told him he needed to carry it with him everywhere he went. He took it with him when they went running, brought it to town in the taxi, and slept with it at his side.

Mme was very good in the classroom but she struggled with horseback riding (a large part of the police force rides horses), shooting, and drill and ceremony (marching and facing movements). When they had to shoot M16s, she would just put the weapon on automatic, close her eyes, and hold down the trigger until all of the bullets were fired. Because she didn't enjoy doing those activities (and because of the belittling comments from her peers and instructors) she avoided attending some of those events. She would hide inside the ceiling of their barracks and no one ever found her. The instructors would send the whole training group looking for her, but she stayed hidden.

Ntate told us about his experiences doing patrols, guard duty, and getting gassed with tear gas. He had a lot of fun with his training (besides the tear gas!) and said it was so much fun. It was interesting to hear the different experiences (and level of enjoyment) between the two of them. I found it so interesting that their training was so similar to mine (in discipline and treatment).

Perhaps the most interesting story from this week was my experience at the Lesotho Border. When I lived in Lesotho in 2008-2009, I got a six month visa whenever I entered the country. When I arrived last month, I was given a 30 day stamp in my passport. I asked about it and was told that the longest they give is now 30 days. I filed away in my mind that I would need to come back in 30 days to get another stamp. Then I got really sick. When I recovered I remembered my passport. I checked the date and saw that I had missed the deadline by 3 days. Of course I still needed another stamp. I talked to Mme and Ntate Moorosi about it, and they both thought I shouldn't have any problems. All the same, Mme Moorosi accompanied me to the border post just in case.

The immigration officials sit behind a large counter at the border post. You have to talk to them through a glass window, and hand them your passport through a small opening. I was surprised when I handed the lady my passport and she gestured towards the door at the end of the counter, asking me to come around. The door was unlocked and I walked to where she was seated. She showed me my previous stamp and explained that I had overstayed. I told her that I was aware I had overstayed and was very sorry. She brushed off my apology and told me that I had violated the law and that she would have to take action against me.

Of course I was aware that I should have come in earlier to get another stamp. What I didn't know was how seriously they would take it. I wasn't too surprised that she would be upset; after all, I had clearly broken the law. At the same time there was nothing I could do to change the fact that I was late. I informed her that I had come as quickly as I could, as soon as I recovered from my sickness. I honestly think that I wouldn't have forgotten to come in if I hadn't been suffering all of last week. I had been spending every possible moment sleeping and trying to stay warm. I had no thoughts about my school or work responsibilities, let alone the need for a border stamp.

Luckily Mme saw my predicament and came through the door to my rescue. Though they spoke in Sesotho, I understood much of the conversation (it helps when you know what they are talking about). Mme explained to her that I was staying with her family and that I had been very sick. She offered to call the doctor to verify that I had been to see him. She then asked what I should do. The border official said that there was a M200 fee (~$24) for overstaying. I was surprised, as the fee is small, and she hadn't mentioned any fee to me. She had told me that she was "going to take action against me." Mme Moorosi told her that she didn't think it was fair that I should pay the fee (I think it was fair... but that is besides the point). The lady then said, "Okay, well give me M100 and we'll forget about the fee." Of course that M100 would never find its way to the cash box... Mme hesitated, and the lady said, "Come on, I scratch your back, you have to scratch mine." I am not unfamiliar with bribery, but I have never heard a direct request for it before.

Mme really impressed me with her response. She told her that before she was converted that would have been fine, but now she had converted to Christ and couldn't participate in any bribery. She said that the church wouldn't like it. The lady asked what church we went to, and she told her. A few seconds later, my passport had a new stamp and we were on our way, no fee or anything! Mme saved me from whatever "action" the lady would have taken against me. At the very least she saved me from a M200 fee.

God is good, and life is good. I had an eventful week like always! I hope you are also well and happy.

Today there is a church activity for the single adults in Maseru. I haven't been to the church in Maseru since I arrived; I attend the small branch at Masianokeng. That should be fun, though I have no idea what we will do.

One last thing--I realized that I have never included my address here. Of course you can email me to contact me, but if you'd like to write/send anything, my address is:

P.O. Box 10957
Maseru 100


Sala le Molimo