Friday, December 19, 2008

Madagascar 2

Many of you have asked why we were in Madagascar was it just for fun or we were working. Well a little of both! We went to check on the hospital and doctors that treat our missionaries. Visiting with the missionaries and checking on their health was also on the agenda.
While we we were there we we invited to a dedication of a water project that our church funded. The villagers dung the trenches and made the bricks and we supplied the pipes, cistern and pump for the water, along with the facets and cement. This project brought clean water to 12 villages and a school. With out clean water these people walked up to three miles to a stream for water. Most of the time the water is not sanitary and many children die from the bacteria in the water.

Some of the cute little boys from the village.

The toilet facilities are pit in the ground with bricks enclosing it! The little kids have to be careful or they will fall in! The one room school house
Madagascar is known for their Lemurs. We got a chance to go to the jungle/rain forest to look for them. The only place in the world that Lemurs live and are found in the wild is Madagascar. They have 13 types here. Two of the cutest!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Never saw the movie either #1 or #2 but actually got to go there. We made a trip across the the ocean to an island off the east coast of Africa. Madagascar is the third largest island in the world. Antananarivo is the capitol city and sits on top of a hill. During colonial time it was built here to protect the city from attacks. Madagascar was a french colony so the older part of the city has cobble stone streets and many building have French architecture. Our Hotel was right next to a french patisserie and oh the croissants, bread, and sandwiches. If you ever watched the Amazing Race this was one of the spots they stopped at. The country is very hilly and they can grow anything in this climate. The farms are terraced up the hill side. Everything that is grown here is organic and the road side stands are filled with beautiful fruits, vegetables, and flowers. The farmers support themselves with what they grow and will walk many miles twice a week to a local market to sell what they have grown. They average Malagasy actually eats 350 pounds of rice a year.
These are the kids pounding the bran off the rice.

Then they sift the bran off by flipping he rice in the air and having the bran fall to the ground. They sift off the most nourish part of the rice.

They were more than happy to do this work while we around watching--I wonder if they were this helpful if we had not been there.

They also make bricks by hand out of clay they dig out of their plots of land. All the buildings in rural Madagascar are made of bricks, instead of wood or tin. They actually use all the wood for fires and cooking

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008





Caramel Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

This one might be a little too late for Thanksgiving but it I think it looks Fabulous!

Caramel Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

Crust:12 ounces storebought gingersnaps
1/2 cup chopped pecans
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Dash of salt
4 packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
4 eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 jar caramel topping
Extra chopped pecans
Extra crushed gingersnaps
In a food processor (or large ziploc bag) crush gingersnps. Add chopped pecans, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt, and pulse (or mix) until thoroughly combined.Press into bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Chill for 20-30 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin and spices and mix again. Add eggs one at a time, mixing for 20 seconds between each addition. Add cream and mix until just combined.
Remove crust from fridge. Pour 1/2 jar of caramel topping on crust. Sprinkle caramel with chopped pecans. Gently pour cheesecake filling in pan. Even out the top with a flat spatula.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until no longer soupy. Cheesecake should still be somewhat jiggly. Cool on counter for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, pour the rest of the caramel topping over the top. Smooth with a flat spatula until evenly smooth. Cover and chill cheesecake for another four hours or overnight.
Remove rim from pan and slice. Sprinkle each slice with extra crushed gingersnaps.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Top Ten Favorite Things To Be Thankful For!

1. I'm thankful that a Big Mac has 20% less fat than a plate of fat
2. Guides for the correct use of toothpicks
3. My skoll education
4. Caller ID
5. Never having been murdered by O.J. Simpson
6. Flat rate, unmeterer, internet access (that's only in the US)
7. E mail, Vonage and Skype
8. Flush Toilets
9. The arrows that show you which to insert batteries
10. Brave turkeys who give their lives for us!

Wish we could be there to celebrate thanksgiving with you! I'm really going to miss my Mom's turkey and dressing, not to mention all the other fixings!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things To Be Thankful For

With the economy being so bad in the U.S. and being so far away from family at Thanksgiving time I have been thinking of some of the things I am thankful for. Here is one list I found! We really do have alot to be thankful for!

Be thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means you have
enough to eat.
Be thankful for the mess you clean up after a party, because it means you have
been surrounded by friends.
Be thankful for the taxes you pay, because it means you're employed.
Be thankful that your lawn needs mowing and your windows need fixing, because
it means you have a home.
Be thankful for your heating bill, because it means you are warm.
Be thankful for the laundry, because it means you have clothes to wear.
Be thankful for the space you find at the far end of the parking lot, because it
means you can walk.
Be thankful for the lady who sings off-key behind you in church, because it
means you can hear.
Be thankful when people complain about the government, because it means we
have freedom of speech.
Be thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours, because it
means you're alive.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Looking for something different for Thanksgiving dessert?
My friend Sandra Biehl made this dessert last year and I've been dreaming of it ever since!
In the true style of Sandra she didn't use Cool Whip, but real whipping cream. It looks beautiful layered in a clear glass trifle dish.
We were actually licking the bowl to get the last morsels it was so good !

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle
2 14-ounce packages gingerbread mix
1 5.1-ounce package cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
1 30-ounce can pumpkin pie filling
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 12-ounce carton Cool Whip
1/2 cup gingersnaps (optional)
Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool. Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cardamom into the pudding. Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a large, clear bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped cream. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped cream. Sprinkle of the top with crushed gingersnaps if desired. Refrigerate overnight. Trifle can be layered in a trifle or punch bowl.

Zambezi White Water Rafting

Our son Kristopher, and daughter in law Sarah came to visit us in South Africa. They are quite the thrill seekers! They wanted to jump off the second highest bridge in the world, fly across the Zambezi gorge and go white water rafting. No bungee jumping for me but count me in for the white water rafting! We navigated 23 class
3,4,& 5 rapids in 3/4 of a day. It was like the whole Colorado river in one day!
It was thrilling,exciting and scary. We flipped the raft completely over twice and I did some of the rapids by myself without the aid of the raft. Yes I did fall out!
I survived the experience to tell about it!

Chobe Game Park

We were also lucky enough to visit Chobe Game Park in Botswana. What a great adventure! The first morning we when out in a boat on the Chobe River . Talk about up close and personal!

We had hippos coming up next to the boat. Elephants crossing the river and frolicking in the water and rolling in mud. We even got to watch a new born elephant learning to walk! When the elephants crossed the river some were so small that all you could see was their trunk sticking out of the water! Too bad we missed that shot. That afternoon we went on a game drive and got to see these darling monkeys and the beautiful leopard. We saw lions staking a warthog and saw a lioness with her newly killed male kudo. It was just like we were watching the Discovery Channel or Planet Earth. We have been on several game drive now and I am amazed that it never gets boring.

Say Aahh
Cute family

This baby was only

couple of day old.

This is the way I look when I have to go to the bathroom!

And yes we saw the ever present crocodiles

just waiting for some animal to get too close to

the river!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Medikwe Slideshow

No these are not post cards from Africa. We actually took these pictures! Medikwe is a game park between South Africa and Botswana. We stayed at Mosetlha Bush Camp --kind of like going to girl's camp--No electricity, heat your water for a shower, and there was no fences between us and the animals! The animals roam free for hundreds of miles and you go out in open Land Rovers and try to find them. We spent 2 nights here and had a blast. The walkways were lighted with Keroscene lamps at night it was so magical and we had the delight of seeing the all the stars and the Southern Cross in it's full glory .Kris and Sarah came to visit us and I have to give them credit for helping me do the slide show and getting me inspired to Blog again! More to come!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008



Haven't seen the movie, but was actually there! We recently took a trip to Madagascar to visit the hospitals, clinics, and doctors. What a beautiful place! Madagascar is a large island off the eastern coast of Africa. It is French speaking as it used to a colony of France in the colonial days.

Antananarivo is the capitol city and built on hill. If you ever watched Amazing Race they had one spot here. The architecture is very French with cobble stone streets, beautiful ornate building, and small markets on every corner. Our Hotel was next a french patisserie and oh the great pastries, bread, and sandwiches. You would think we were is France.The country side is beautiful with terraced fields--they can grow anything here, and it is all organic. Road side stalls

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Doc!

Happy 57 th birthday to the Doctor!
Who would have thought that you'd be in Africa for your birthday? Oh maybe just about everyone that knows you and your lust for adventure.
It was a great day for the Doctor! He got two of the best presents he could think of.
Kris ( our oldest son) and mandolin player in the Bluegrass Band -- Fed Ex'd ( I'm sure at great expense) the recently released copy of Bluegrass Renaissance by the Red Mountain Bluegrass Band. For those of you that don't know, that was the band the doctor and his family played in before our departure to Africa.
Gavin our 4 year old grandson called -- Really Long Distant--to Grandpa and sang Happy Birthday to him over the phone. He also told him that he would get the shiniest coin out of his piggy bank and sent it to him for his birthday!
We sure love those Grand kids they just melt our hearts!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Interesting Names

Since being here in South Africa we have met a lot of wonderful people. The interesting thing is their names. The Malagasy ( those people from Madagascar) have the longest last names. Many have at least 28 letters in their last name. This is why you call them by their first names. ( Elder Sam or Sister Joan) The Elders and Sisters from Madagascar have to have a smaller font used on their name tags and in most cases Elder or Sister is the first line and their last name takes up the second line!
Here in South Africa they have very interesting first names--Here is my top ten unusual name we have run into---
Prince--I guess Michael Jackson has used this one!
Blessing--this is a returned missionary who is the Young Men's Pres. in our Branch and is learning to play piano.
The next time we meet an Elder or Sister from Madagascar I am going to take a picture of their name tags!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Bushman Cave Paintings

For the last 5 days we have been in Swaziland. This is a small "Kingdom" on the borders of South Africa and Mozambique. They have a "King" and a Queen Mother the " elephant queen" of this country. I don't know if I would like the title of elephant queen if I was a ruler! The new king is the youngest and only son of one of the many wives of the previous king. He was said to had have 44 wives. The new king takes his place when he dies. This new king has 14 wives so far. He has to choose wives from the different tribes/ families in his country. It is a beautiful country with mountains and lots of forest, and lakes. They are known for the bushman painting that were done in caves thousands of years ago. These have been protected and preserved and the doctor went see them while I was teaching classes. We went there with a group from Salt Lake City to teach infant recessistation to the midwives and nurses. The teaching hospital provided us with 4 of their teachers to help us. 1,000,000 infants will die each year in third word countries because of the lack of knowlege and equipment to help these babies take their first breath of life. 95 % could be saved with the knowlege and equipment. The midwives deliver all the babies and the doctor is only called for c-sections! Each day we had approximately 45-50 midwives that learned how to recessitate "infants" we had black baby dolls to practice on. These midwives in tern will teach the other nurses and midwives the proper procedures at their facility. After completely the course their hospitals and clinics were provides with the Teaching Kits ( we called this our baby in a bag) as it contained a baby, ambu bags and masks, stetascopes, bulb syringes, blankets , towels, and training equipment all in a duffle bag. All the hospitals and clinics also received additional equipment for their delivery rooms. 60 huge boxes were shipped in before we got there. I should mention here that we also provided them with big clock with a second hand so they could count the heart beats of the newborns. Batteries were included! Most of the facilities didn't even have clocks in the delivery rooms.I met many dedicated wonderful hardworking men and women who deliver these infants all by themselves in most cases. They must take care of the infant and the mother without any back up help! Because of the Aids epidemic this country has lost more than 1/3 of the population in the last 10 years. Ten years ago this countries population was 1.2 million today it is 900,00 . Most of the people that die from Aids are in the age range of 20-40 years old. Just recently they have started Aids awareness campaigns and condoms are freely given out. What a shock to us to find that free condom dispensers are on all the counters of fast food resturants, gas stations, grocery stores, and bathrooms and even in our hotel room . At least this country is trying to save their population!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Maternity Ward

Maternity ward at the largest hospital in the World!
These two pictures are of the recovery room, after they deliver their babies!
One of my best friends daughter had a baby this week. She had a darling baby girl which they named Elizabeth Kate--Ellie ! It reminded me of a recent visit we made to the largest hospital in the world right here in South Africa. We are so blessed to live in the United States and have such wonderful hospitals.
On this trip we were taking new born blankets and hats to the new mothers. In a previous trip we had taken 2,000 hospital gowns and 4,000 hospital sheets. If the women have no insurance they can come here and for 14 rand which is about $2.00 U.S. they can deliver their baby. The maternity ward and nursery and is a complex of old army barracks.
While waiting for the hospital official to come , we watched 8 very pregnant, definitely in labor women walk past us with file in hand to a wooden bench where they waited their turn to go in and deliver. This hospital delivers about 40 to 60 babies in a 12 hour period. Day in and day out. The mothers are allowed to stay 3 to 4 hours and are then sent home. The delivery area is a large room with 20 beds and only thread bare screens between them. One doctor is on staff and the babies are delivered by "Mid-Wives". After they deliver they are sent to "ward" where there are 24 beds which were all filled and the rest of the mothers were sitting on chairs around the room with their new babies in plastic bassinetts. This hospital delivers over 22,000 babies a year!
The nurse told us that all women are tested for HIV and if infected they start the babies on the antiviral medication right away. I asked if they had trouble getting the medication. They said no, but getting them to take it or bring the babies back is another problem. As we drove into the hospital there were two huge ads on the side of the road that said "Cure AIDS with Herbal Tea"
It has only been recently that the new Minister of Health has started an Aids/HIV program. The previous Minister of Health advocated garlic and herbal teas for a cure. He was actually laughted out of the UN meeting on Aids prevention.
The blankets and hats had been donated by a young women group from the states and came in 6 huge boxes which where put in shopping carts by the hospital and then rolled to the recovery area. Our mistake was not opening the boxes and checking them before we arrived. Some of the blanket had been make out of rough upholstery fabric. We were quite embarrased and set those aside. The nurses asked us what we were doing with that material. They wanted everything we had as some women who come to deliver don't have anything to wrap their babies in and they send them home wrapped in a plastic bag or the disposable pad they just delivered on! Three set of twins had been born that morning! We noticed that women were feeding their babies out of small cups --we were told that bottles and nipples are not available to the poorer mothers so they feed their newborns with these small cups. They try very hard to get these mothers to nurse their babies and try to teach them nutrition, but thy don't have the man power or funds to keep it going. This may be a project that they might want us to undertake.
Experiences like this make you realize how blessed we are to have had our children under better circumstances! Most of all our grandchildren had better circumstances too!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What I do in my free time!

I love cooking, looking for new recipes, and trying them. Being here in Africa I have learned to go back to the basics as the baking items are not easily found. No Crisco, Karo syrup, Bisquick, Mexican foods, or cake mixes to name a few. I found these today and thought that they looked pretty yummy. The only problem is that I will have to wait til I get home to try the Almond Joy Cake, as I have not been able to find chocolate chips here.

...Almond Joy Cake...
It is rich, but really yummy. I would suggest a little whipped cream (fresh if you've got it!) or ice cream with it...
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 C. evaporated milk
1 C. sugar
24 large marshmallows
1- 14 oz bag sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 C. evaporated milk
1/4 C. butter
1- 12 oz bag milk chocolate chips
1 C. toasted almonds
Bake cake mix according to box directions & poke wholes with the end of a wooden spoon. In a large saucepan, combine 1 Cup evaporated milk & sugar. Bring to a boil and stir in marshmallows until melted. Add coconut & pour mixture over cake while both are hot.
Melt together remaining milk, butter & chocolate chips. Stir until melted. Add almonds. Spread on top of cake.

It's heating up in Arizona --It's winter in South Africa--I thought this would be agreat summer dinner!

Katie's Tortellini Salad

4-6 chicken breasts (cubed & soaked in Zesty Italian Dressing)
48 oz. Cheese Tortellini
1 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, chopped
1 cup Sliced Olives
1 cup Artichoke Hearts, chopped
2 cups Baby Spinach
Mix all together in a large bowl & toss with your favorite Caesar Dressing. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

If any of you try these recipes tell me what you think!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

First Safari In South Africa

This is what you call an Africian traffic jam! Last Sat. we went out to a wild animal preserve. The animals run free in the area and you drive around on dirt roads and try to find them! As we came around the bend we saw a pride of lions walking down the road, this one decided to just lay down right in the middle of the road and sun himself. As you can see no cars could pass and we just waited until he decided he wanted to move on. Where are the females when you need them! We spent most of the day driving around trying to find the animals. We saw lions, cheetahs, ( they were really hard to find as they blend in the the dried grasses) rhinos, zebras, wild dogs, and all sorts of elk/ antalope type annimals! The best part of the day was that I got to play with lion cubs and hubby got play with a two year old cheetah.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Road Trip

Edenvale and Soweto
May 18, 2008
Well today was quite the adventure to say the least! We decided that the traffic is not busy on Sunday morning so it would be Denise’s first driving experience in Africa. Let me explain something about driving in Africa, they drive on the left side of road and your turn signal knob in on the right side of the steering wheel. The windshield wipers are on the left, the complete opposite of home. The traffic was pretty light this morning as we headed out. Now I am driving some kind of small Kia car that we don’t even have in the states. There are lots of things to remember -- I remembered to keep my body to the right of center stripe, trying to figuring out what lane to turn into, turning on the windshield wipers every time I wanted to turn, finding that two lanes suddenly merge into one, and that the same street name changes every 2 or 3 blocks. I guess that I tend to drive to close to the left side of the road— that what Ralph kept telling me, but I haven’t hit a curb yet.
First mistake was using someone else’s directions to get there. We arrived in the right town without any problems. I even got on the freeway—next problem is the speed limit is in Kilometers! The police have photo radar everywhere and they give ticket for being 3 miles over the speed limit. After we arrived in Edenvale, the directions were wrong and we spent the next 30 mins. trying to find the church. Now remember I am driving—have any of you seen the show a Amazing Race when the woman is driving and the guy is trying to hold his temper, she gets upset because he yelling at her , she starts to cry and wants him to drive, but no-- he wants to read the map —Well just imagine! I thought I could take criticisms well. But not in a strange place, being home sick and lost! Well we finally made it to church safe and sound 5 mins. late.
Church ends and it’s time to return home. After this morning’s episode I don’t want to drive home, but Ralph says it will be good for me! I get back on the main road we came in on and we are to return to Johannesburg. The signs say straight ahead, I follow it, Ralph’s navigating, now remember I got there on the freeway, as we start driving I go over the freeway into a town. The signs still say straight ahead. As we continue driving it become apparent that we shouldn’t be in this neighborhood. Little did we know we were driving right into an area of town where the major rioting is going on! Black people lining the streets 5 and 7 deep with signs, garbage, broken bottles, overturned cars, large cement pillars in the street. Police in riot gear and squad cars everywhere. Ralph says just keep driving! I wanted to stop and have him drive-or turn around and go back -- but that wasn’t safe either! He tells me to drive slowly so I don’t have to stop at any stoplights. This goes on for what seems like an eternity and Ralph says it looks like we’re headed to the down town area. We arrive in the downtown area and find a street we know. I forgot to mention we had a map which was useless as the streets we were on were not on it. As I head up the hill I see the spires of the temple and I now know where I am and how to get home. Ralph in his profound wisdom now asks if I would like him to drive. I declined because after that traumatic event I was going to make it home safely! I got us home safely to find someone had parked in my assigned space-- what an end to my day! Back in the apt. we find a different map and realize we were in Soweto one most dangerous slums in the most dangerous area of all of Africa. Thank heavens God looks after us daily. If any of you who are reading this know my mother please do not relay this story to her or my sister Janet as they are worried about our safety! We are getting the GPS tomorrow!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Off to Africa

Well we're off to Africa! We have accepted a call to take care of the health and welfare of missionaries for The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for 18 months. We will be covering 20 countries. This is a new adventure for us. We will be leaving Tues. evening with a 6 hour layover in London and then on down to Johanesburg South Africa, arriving Thurs. morning.