February 1 – February 9

We began the month with the Soweto Zone Conference.  On Saturday, the 2nd we watched the funeral for President Hinckley.  For a large portion of the members of the Church in Africa, he was the only president of the Church they had known.  Even most of the American missionaries only have a vague remembrance of his predecessor.  In addition to the vast temple building program he initiated, what a wonderful legacy of optimism, good humor and encouragement to “do what is right” he has left us.


On Sunday, the 3rd we attended and spoke at the Bedfordview Stake Conference.  We enjoyed seeing Mundia Kabuyana, a former missionary who has returned to the Johannesburg Area.


The Benoni Zone Conference was on Tuesday.  Thursday we drove to Botswana.  The cosmos wildflowers were beginning to bloom along the roadside.  The summer rains had left Botswana covered in green.  The Botswana landscape was as green as we have even seen it.   The temperature was very pleasant which is unusual for this time of the year in Botswana. 


Following the zone conference on Friday we took pictures of some of the Sisters and Elders. As we left Gaborone we stopped and bought a stalk of sweet reed.  During the summer in Botswana, it is very common to see people sucking and chewing on a stalk of sweet reed.  Sweet reed is similar to sugar cane except not quite as sweet and the stalks are more slender.  We stopped at a petrol station to get some ice.   While there, we started to chew on pieces of our stalk.  Obviously, we weren’t doing it correctly because two women who were watching began to laugh and then came over and gave us some instruction.


On the 9th, we watched the Worldwide Leadership Broadcast in the Roodepoort building.  We had some free time that day, so I convinced Jane to make me a leather scripture case from a piece of leather I had previously purchased. Although, we didn’t finish, we made a good start.


February 10 – February 16

On Sunday we attended the Dobsonville Ward.  This ward was created recently by splitting the Soweto Ward.  The bishop is the husband of Irene Tshabalala who works in the mission home.  Following the meetings, we attended the baptism of Irene’s son, Themba.  They family had asked me to confirm Themba. We have enjoyed our association with the Tshabalalas and particularly Irene.


Following the zone conference in Bedfordview, we found time to finish my new scripture case.  It turned out very nice.   I had not wanted any of the commercially available scripture cases because they all had handles.  So, now I have one made by Jane according to my design.


On Wednesday evening, we took President and Sister Cannon to our favorite Thai restaurant.  We enjoyed the opportunity to get better acquainted with the Cannons who preside over the Johannesburg MTC.


Thursday we took another long trip – this one to Bloemfontein by way of Bethlehem .  In Bethlehem , I interviewed Lebohang and Thuli Mosia for temple recommends.  They are looking forward to being sealed early in March.


That evening, which happened to be Valentine’s Day, we hosted a dinner for the two couples serving in the Bloemfontein Area.   Elder and Sister Taim serve as a proselyting couple; he as second counselor in the mission presidency.  Elder and Sister Hill serve as a records preservation couple and will soon complete their mission.  The assistants to the president also joined us.  Valentine’s Day was not romantic, but enjoyable nevertheless.


February 17 – February 23

We began the week by attending church in Kagiso.  The Kagiso Ward is bursting at its seams and still growing.  Kagiso continues to be one of the most productive areas in the mission.


The rest of the week was relatively quiet.  I was able to complete many reports and other tasks that had been put off due to the zone conference schedule over the prior three weeks. Thursday we attended the temple with the assistants.  We have made it a tradition to attend the temple the Thursday before an assistant goes home.  Saturday morning I called Elder Ryan Stinger as a new Assistant to the President to replace Elder Kearns who will head home next Thursday.  That evening we attended the Saturday Evening Session of the Pretoria Stake Conference.  Both of us spoke.


February 24 – February 29

On Sunday, the 24th, I spoke in the Rynfield Ward.  Also attending Rynfield Ward that day were three professional lady golfers.  All are members of the Church.  Previously one of them, Reeve Nield, called me to give me a referral of the Stanley family.  Three members of the Stanley family were recently baptized.  We enjoyed meeting the Stanleys .


On the 26th we had a violent thunderstorm.  For the fourth time this year, the lightning destroyed the television in the mission home and the BYU satellite receiver.  The mission home is on a ridge of highly conductive rock that attracts lightning and Johannesburg is the lightning capital of the world.  


On Wednesday, we welcomed our 23rd group of new missionaries.  The group of seven included missionaries from Illinois , Colorado , South Africa , Guyana , California , Uganda and Utah .  That evening we enjoyed a farewell dinner for the seven missionaries going home.


Thursday we made three trips to the airport, each about a three-hour round trip.  Early in the morning we took Elder Koen returning to East London , South Africa and Elder Nyenyezi returning to Malawi .  However, the flight to Malawi was delayed by five hours, so we brought Elder Nyenyezi back to the mission home with us.  Just past noon we returned to the airport with Elder Nyenyezi and Elder Rasamoela who was returning to Madagascar .  Late that afternoon, we made our final trip of the day to the airport with Elder Kearns going home to New Mexico , Elder Nielson going home to Idaho and Elder Brownlee going home to Alberta , Canada .  We slept well that night.


On the 29th, we met a former missionary at the temple’s patron housing.  Avotra Solomanpionona was in Johannesburg to be sealed to his wife.  They had been married in Madagascar the previous Saturday and sealed in the temple on Tuesday.  His new wife is delightful and a returned missionary from the Cape Town Mission.  Her name is Ranjaliva Ramananihanitramalala.   It is humorous to think that her married name of Solomanpionona is much shorter than her maiden name. Her first name, Ranjaliva, means a small, sweet banana that grows in Madagascar .


We then stopped at Distribution Center .  While we were there, a man asked me if I would give his sister, who was not feeling well, a blessing.  She had come to the temple from Angola and did not speak English.  He was not a member.  The temple president came in about the same time, so I asked him to join me.  We gave her a blessing.  Although she did not understand the words, her countenance brightened considerably.