August 1 – August 5
August began with a long road trip with the Assistants to
the President, leaving on the 3rd. We
first traveled to Nespruit by way of some cities we
are considering placing missionaries. We
visited Secunda, which has a branch and where
missionaries have been located in the past.
We also visited Ermelo, Carolina and Bethal. We then took a detour to Sabie and visited a couple of waterfalls. Limpopo Province
has dozens of wonderful waterfalls. We reached Nespruit in time for dinner with the two sets of
missionaries residing there.
The next morning we arose very early and drove through the
lower reaches of Kruger
. This was our second visit to Kruger. The two visits were
very different. This time we saw many hippos, numerous rhinos, but only a few zebra, elephants and giraffes and no water buffalo. The last time we saw hundreds of water buffalo, hundreds of zebra and many elephants. This time we saw the rather strange klipspringer and a lone cheetah. The impala lilies were in bloom and the hornbills were out in numbers. As we prepared to leave the park,
we came upon three rhinos in the middle of the narrow road. We drove toward them, but they turned to charge us. We backed off for a while and
tried again, but they were not about to let us pass. Each time we tried, they would threaten to
charge. Finally, I revved the engine
and spun the tires. This sent them
running. We had just passed these rhinos
when another pair tried to charge us. A
trip to Kruger is always interesting.
That night we stayed in Graskop. As we drove into town, it looked like a ghost
town. There were no lights whatsoever. It
was so dark we almost missed our hotel.
When we checked in, we learned that the power had been off for many
hours. We spent the early evening
playing Phase 10 by candlelight. The
power returned in time for us to have a late dinner.
The next morning we drove to Bushbuckridge,
a large native village near Graskop. We had made arrangement to meet Cry, a member who stays in
but whose family lives in Bushbuckridge. Bushbuckridge is a
combination of a South African style township and a semi-autonomous
kingdom. Cry told us he bought his land
from the king for 70 Rand or about $10. Cry
wanted us to see the house he was building.
The family was living the partially completed home. The kitchen was very modest, but clean. The family had to carry water from a community well (of sorts). On the way to Cry’s house we saw large gatherings of brightly dressed women dancing and singing on the side of the road. Cry
told us this was the day initiates came back from initiation school. The young men and women had been to separate
schools. As part of initiation, the
young men are all circumcised. Because
of infection and other hardships, some do not live to return to their
families. We stopped a group of young women initiates who danced for us. The
initiates were arriving home in small pickups flying many flags with all the
passengers yelling or blowing horns. This was quite a visual and auditory
We then traveled to Tzaneen by way of Blyde River Canyon. We once again stopped at God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and the Three Rondevals. Near Tzaneen we stopped and took a picture of a Baobab Tree. These trees are
magnificent and very few are found below the Tropic of Capricorn. We arrived in Tzaneen in time to have dinner
with the two missionaries that serve there.
August 6 – August 12
Sunday morning we attended Church in the Tzaneen
Branch. The meeting was conducted by the
missionaries serving in Tzaneen. There were only three members in attendance other than missionaries. There were eight missionaries in attendance: Sister Bowden and me, the Assistants, the assigned missionaries and the Haymonds, a senior couple visiting from
Following Sacrament Meeting, which was the only meeting held, we
traveled about 30 kilometers and attended Sacrament Meeting in the Lenyenye Branch.
This was a much larger branch with about 60 in attendance. We enjoyed the service there. Following the meeting we drove back to Johannesburg, arriving in
the late evening. We passed some beautiful and interesting scenery on the way back.
On the 9th, we had one missionary going home
off-transfer so he could start the fall semester at BYU. We took Elder Lambson to the airport and said
goodbye. The next day we learned that he
had landed in London
in the midst of the terrorist scare. His
flight to Washington D.C.
was cancelled and he spent 13 hours in lines trying to get a flight to the U.S. Finally, he was able to catch a flight to New York City.
On the 11th, we received a call from Sister Cornilles, who serves in the Mission Office with her
husband. They had been on a game drive
in Pilanesburg when Elder Cornilles
had a heart attack. They had moved him
from Pilanesburg to Rustenburg but determined he needed
to be flown to Johannesburg. I helped arrange for air evacuation by
helicopter. Then the helicopter had
mechanical problems and he was brought to Johannesburg
by ambulance. Once in a Johannesburg hospital, he had angioplasty and
insertion of a stent.
On the 12th, we attended the Saturday Evening
Adult Session of the Soweto Stake Conference, where I was one of the speakers.
August 13 – August 19
On Sunday, we attended the Sunday Session of Stake
Conference. It was of the new variety
that is broadcast from Salt Lake City. We enjoyed it very much as it was focused on South Africa
and its needs. One of the speakers was Elder Steven Snow, who was our Area
President when we first arrived.
President Monson was the concluding speaker.
On Monday, we began our Mission Tour with Elder Christoffel Golden, Jr., the Africa Southeast Area President and a member of the First Quorum of Seventy. We arrived Monday evening in Bloemfontein and had dinner with President
and Sister Means. On Tuesday, we held the Bloemfontein Zone Conference. We
followed with the conference for the
and Soweto Zones on Thursday and the Bedfordview, Benoni and Pretoria Zones on Friday. Saturday we recuperated.
August 20 – August 28
We attended Church in Munsieville
on the 20th where I conducted a second interview for baptism. Following Church, we traveled to Protea Glen
where I also had an interview to conduct.
We then visited Elder Cornilles who had been
released from the hospital on Friday. We
learn he was making good progress and is expected to return to the office in a
Our Mission Tour continued on Monday as we traveled to Botswana
for the Botswana Zone Conference on Tuesday and the last stop on the Mission Tour. We had spent more than 20 hours traveling with Elder and Sister Golden and nearly 20 more hours in meetings with them. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with them. And as always, we enjoyed shaking hands and being with the missionaries.
On the 23rd, we arose early and traveled to the
airport to pick up a new senior couple, the Womacks,
from Smithfield, Utah.
We fed them lunch, introduced them to the office couples and took them
to their flat so they could rest. That
evening we took them to dinner, along with the Pembertons
who have served in Pimville Ward, but will be moving to Gaborone at the end of September.
Friday was spent in the office and in completing transfer
assignments that would take place the next Wednesday. On Saturday, Jane prepared a Mexican lunch,
including a Café Rio style salad, for the Assistants and the four Elders who
had prepared the flat for the Womacks. The meal was a hit even with the two African
Elders. That evening we had dinner with
the parents of one of our best missionaries. They are Jewish and very unhappy
that their son has joined the Church and is serving a mission. We had worried about the evening, but they
were very cordial and we enjoyed the evening.
We understand to a degree their disappointment, as well as their concern
for their son. We can only hope their disappointment is somewhat lessened by seeing
how happy their son is as a member and a missionary.
August 27 – August 31
We traveled to Daveyton to attend Church on Sunday and
enjoyed the wonderful spirit in this strong black congregation. I had an interview to conduct while
there. Following Church, we picked up
the Assistants and traveled to Soweto
to visit Irene who works in the Mission Home.
She had pneumonia and was just released from the hospital. Her illness meant Jane wound not have help in
the Mission Home for the upcoming transfers.
On the 30th, we received fifteen new missionaries
from the Johannesburg MTC, including one Sister from Uganda
and two Sisters and twelve Elders from the U.S. That evening the seven Elders and two Sisters
returning home joined us at the Mission Home for dinner and a testimony meeting
and then spent the night. The next
morning we took one Sister and two Elders to the airport who
were flying home to countries on the African continent. We returned home and entertained the American
and Canadian missionaries until it was time to take them to the airport for a
flight to London
at 9:35 pm.
Once again a very busy, but fulfilling month.