January 1 – January 7, 2006

The first week of January was somewhat quiet after the hectic last weeks of 2005.   On New Year’s Day we attended the Roodepoort Ward.  Most of the rest of the week was spent in the office.  I wrote the Mission History for 2005 and worked on yearend reports.  Jane worked to clean up the baptismal records. There were many for which we had baptism dates but not confirmation dates – some dating back more than two years.  Since confirmation records are the responsibility of the wards and branches, we continually struggle to receive this information on a timely basis.


January 8 – January 14

On Sunday the 8th we attended the Kagiso Ward with my Assistants. Kagiso is a township ward southwest of Johannesburg. This was Elder Howe’s first area.  One of the young men he taught and baptized was leaving on a Mission.  From there we drove to Vereeniging to attend the baptism of a boy who Elder Plantin had taught.


On Monday we began our second Mission Tour; this one under the direction of Elder Young, the Second Counselor in the Area Presidency.   Monday was in Sandton; Tuesday was in Roodepoort.  On Thursday we traveled to Bloemfontein for meetings on Friday.  (Here are some Bloemfontein Sisters and Elders meeting the Youngs.)  After the meetings, we toured the new Bloemfontein Branch Meetinghouse that is under construction.  Their current building must be the ugliest in the Church; so this will be a welcome change.  Bloemfontein is one of the oldest continuously operating branches in the Church.


January 15 – January 21

This Sunday we attended Church in the Centurion Ward near Pretoria.  The Centurion Ward is a well-to-do ward with strong leadership.  On Monday, we traveled to Botswana for the final stop on our Mission Tour.  We could not believe how green Botswana had become.  The summer rains had turned the landscape from dry and brown to almost a lush green. (Here are some Botswana Sisters and Elders meeting the Youngs.)  On the 18th, Elder Gama returned to the Mission Home after two weeks in the hospital for lung surgery.  He will stay with us in the Mission Home until he is well enough to return to missionary work.   Each month I attempt to meet with each of the presidents of the six stakes in the Mission. On the evening of the 18th, I met with President Bester, the president of the Roodepoort Stake and learned that he has been called to be a mission president of an English-speaking mission.


On the 20th, I met with Brother and Sister Silvers.  They served as a senior couple in this mission a few years ago when Mozambique was part of the mission. They liked the area of South Africa near the Drakensburg Mountains and Kruger Park so well that they have purchased a summer home in White River.  They plan to spend African summers in South Africa and American summers in Tennessee.  They offered to help with our missionary efforts while in South Africa.


January 22 – January 28

On Sunday, we attended Church in the Randfontein Branch.  This branch was once a mostly white ward.  Due to white members moving out and missionary success among the black population, it has become mostly a black unit. It meets in a building purchased from another church, so it is quite different. The classrooms are in a separate building.


On Tuesday the 24th and Thursday the 26th, we held leadership training meetings for all District Leaders and Zone Leaders; half each day.  There were 20 or so leaders each day.  I gave training on how to be a servant leader.  We also trained these wonderful young leaders on effective District Meetings, how to conduct baptismal interviews, fill out baptism records properly, and how to deal with disobedient missionaries.


On Friday night, we decided to try one of the only Mexican restaurants in Johannesburg.  The pictures on the menu looked a little familiar.  I ordered a burrito and Jane ordered the chimichanga.  When they arrived, we found that instead of refried beans as shown on the menu, the meals came with creamed spinach and pureed pumpkin.  Instead of Mexican rice there was yellow saffron-type rice.  No chips and salsa either. Oh well, what can one expect – we are a long way from Mexico.


January 29 – January 31

On Sunday, we attended the Edenvale Ward, a large mixed ward that meets in one of the nicest buildings I have seen anywhere in the Church.  It was testimony meeting, since next week will be their Stake Conference.  We enjoyed the spirit of the meeting.  The Gospel Principles class was wonderful and the teacher was excellent.  That evening we attended a fireside in Pimville (part of Soweto) put on by the missionaries.  The missionaries continue to amaze me both with their musical talent and their speaking ability.