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 Park . 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 Johannesburg 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 treat.


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 Pretoria.  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 Johannesburg 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 few weeks.


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.