April 1 – April 7
The month got off to a great start as we watched sessions of
General Conference. We are fortunate to
get all sessions via BYU-TV. The final
session is after our bedtime, so we record it and watch it later.
On Tuesday, we held Zone Leaders’ Council, but otherwise
spent most of the week in the office. On
Thursday, we drove to Rabie Ridge where I had a second interview
appointment. The interview was at the
home of a wonderful woman who had been well-prepared for baptism by the
missionaries. She lived with five other
members of her family in a very humble cinderblock home. The small home had two small bedrooms, a
living room and kitchen. The bedrooms
were wall-to-wall beds, the kitchen had only a double hotplate and very small
refrigerator. The only furniture in the
living room was a small wooden bench and a television. Sister Bowden and I were
offered the bench; everyone else sat on the floor. There were no doors but only fabric curtains
hanging from ropes in the doorways. None
of the walls were painted. There was an outhouse behind the home. Also behind the home was a small structure
made of a wooden frame covered with canvas.
As I interviewed the woman, she told me that she had previously lived in
the small canvas covered structure, but had prayed for a better life. She was thankful that her prayers were
answered and she now lived in the cinderblock home.
On Saturday, we drove with the Assistants, to Francistown, Botswana – a drive of more than 9
hours. As we neared Botswana, a few Baobab trees began
to appear. This was the first time that
we had seen Baobab trees with leaves since they are leafless for 9 months of
the year. With or without leaves, they are
magnificent trees. When leafless, they
look like they have been pulled out of the ground and replanted upside down. In Francistown,
we stayed the Tati River Lodge. The river
was dry and the accommodations basic.
Our room was a small thatched roof rondeval.
April 8 – April 14
We were anxious to attend church in Francistown
in order to see their new rented building. The rented home is not fancy,
but much larger than the home they had previous met in and shared with the
prior branch president. The main room,
where Sacrament Meeting was held, was filled to capacity, with some people
having to sit on the floor because of an insufficient number of chairs. The home has three bedrooms that can be used
for classrooms and a closed-in porch where the priesthood can meet. For the first time, the Primary has a real
room, although, at this time, without enough chairs. Behind the home is a small swimming pool
that will make a very nice baptismal font.
I made note of numerous items of furniture and supplies that were
needed, so I could work with Physical Facilities to acquire them. The branch needs more chairs, whiteboards, a
desk for the branch president, a filing cabinet, towel dispensers, etc.
As this was Easter Sunday, I gave the concluding talk
speaking about the Savior, his last words on the cross and the reality of His
resurrection. Following the meetings we all met outside for a branch picture. Jane gave each member a chocolate covered Easter egg. After eating a lunch
provided by Sister Pemberton, we traveled to Gaborone.
As we had experienced on Saturday, there were numerous police
roadblocks. Some appeared to be
established to encourage safe driving over the Easter weekend. Fortunately, we passed through fairly easily.
On Monday, we held a zone conference in Gaborone
and then drove home to Johannesburg. Following a day in the office, we held three
more zone conferences. We always take the mail with us, so the missionaries are always happy to see us.
April 15 – April 21
On Sunday, we attended church in the Krugersdorp 2nd
Ward. There were about 10 investigators
in the Gospel Principles class. Sister
Amutalla, one of our sister missionaries from Kenya, taught the lesson and did a suburb
job. I then attended the Gauteng
Planning Meeting at the Area Office. The
rest of the week was taken up mostly by zone conferences and meetings with
Following the zone conference in Pretoria on Thursday, we drove to Polokwane
where we stayed overnight. We enjoyed a spiritual zone conference with the Northeast Zone on Friday and then drove to Graskop. This is a delightful mountain
town near both the Blyde River Canyon
and Kruger National Park. We stayed at the Graskop Hotel, where we have
stayed a few times before. The hotel is
somewhat eclectic. Although not luxurious, it is nice. Each room has original art and the main room
of the hotel is more like an art gallery.
The art is mostly contemporary.
The hotel serves a very nice evening meal. Breakfast is also nice, but on this trip we
left the next morning before breakfast.
On Saturday, we arose early and traveled about 40 minutes to
the Phabeni entrance to Kruger
National Park. This is a relatively new gate and one we had
not used before. We spent the day in the park and enjoyed many wonderful animal and bird sightings. We saw a large Maribou Stork sitting alone in a dead tree. We saw an elephant scratching its ear with its trunk. As always, we saw many impalas. Most of the large animals
had newborn babies. We saw baby elephants, baby hippos and most impressive of all, a baby rhino. We had not seen any rhinos during the
day. However, just as the park was about
to close at 6 pm, we turned down a short dirt road. There by the side of the road was a mammoth mother
rhino and a relatively new baby. We
parked next to the mother and baby and thrilled at the experience. The baby was fascinated by us or our
car. It would walk toward us, then suddenly become frightened and bounce back to its mother’s side. We were amazed that the mother paid us no
mind. We watched for about 30 minutes and
were unhappy that we could not stay longer; but time ran out and the park was
closing. There are large fines for not
exiting the park on time. We then
traveled to Nelspruit and spent the night at a small bed and breakfast.
April 22 – April 28
On Sunday, we attended church in the Nelspruit Branch. The branch meets in the second floor of a commercial building. We have four
missionaries assigned to the branch. We
met a wonderful Afrikaans family that had been taught the Gospel and were
scheduled to be baptized the next Sunday.
We then drove back to Johannesburg.
On the way home from Nelspruit, we stopped in Kwa Guqa, the
township outside of Witbank, where I was scheduled to
conduct a second interview for baptism. We
met the missionaries at a petrol station and they led us to the home where the
interview was scheduled. Near the petrol station we saw an interesting sign. The
man lived in a very small tin shack next to the cinderblock home of his
brother. While I was in the interview, Jane took some pictures of the shack, of a man making an illegal connection to steal electricity and of the some of the neighborhood children.
On Monday, Irene, the mission home housekeeper, brought her
grandson, Mpumalelo, who was visiting from Swaziland to
the mission home. He had been sick and
we were happy to see him well.
Tuesday, we spent a couple of hours in the office and then
headed for Bloemanda and then on to Bloemfontein. We took the mission kombi (van), so that we
could take new heaters and some microwave ovens to the missionaries in that
zone. In Bloemanda, which is a township
outside of Bloemfontein,
I conducted a second interview and spent a few minutes with the missionaries
located there. That evening we had
dinner at the Cattle Baron, our favorite steak house in the mission.
The following day, we concluded another round of zone
conferences with the Bloemfontein Zone conference and then returned to Johannesburg. I was very busy the rest of week finishing
transfer assignments and writing my article for the Transfer News before we
left for the Mission Presidents’ Seminar.
April 29 – April 30
After attending church in the Roodepoort Ward, we had lunch
and finished packing. That evening we
were picked up and taken to a hotel near the airport, so we could catch an
early morning flight to Durban
with the Area Presidency and other mission presidents and their wives. As we were opening the door to our room,
President and Sister Duke of the Uganda Mission came out of their room. The Dukes started their mission at the same
time we did and have become dear friends.
We went in our room and reminisced for about an hour.
Our flight to Durban
took about 50 minutes. A bus then took
us to the Zimbali Lodge where the seminar was being
is very different than Johannesburg. It is very green, with lush vegetation
similar to what one would see in Hawaii. The Lodge is on a hillside overlooking the
Indian Ocean. The first session of the
seminar started that afternoon. We
always look forward to the opportunity to be trained by the Area Presidency and
to interact with the other mission presidents and their wives.