January 1 – January 6

Tuesday, January 2nd, we held a Leadership Conference with 52 District Leaders, Zone Leaders and Presiding Elders (those leading one of the mission “twigs”).  It started at noon and lasted until 7 pm.  Ten of the leaders from distant cities spent the night at the mission home. We got up the next morning at 5:45 am and drove to the airport to pick up four missionaries coming from the Provo MTC.  We brought them to the mission home to shower and change, then took them to the office and met up with the nine missionaries who attended the Johannesburg MTC. One of the Elders was from Zambia and the only Sister was from Uganda.   I interviewed each of the missionaries; we held an orientation meeting, a training meeting and finally the transfer meeting where we announced the trainers and first assignment for each of the new missionaries.  We had no missionaries going home, since they had all left a few days earlier in December. 


The rest of the week was spent trying to get our internet fixed by Telkom, getting the mission kombi (van) fixed and finishing plans for our mission tour with Elder and Sister Sitati.


January 7 – January 13

After attending church in the Protea Glen Ward and having lunch, the Assistants and I put together a schedule to travel to interview missionaries throughout the mission following our mission tour.


On Monday morning we picked up Elder and Sister Sitati from the airport.  Elder Sitati is an Area Seventy and lives in Kenya.  After lunch, we headed to Bloemfontein for the first stop on our mission tour.  Following the meeting on Tuesday, we traveled back to Johannesburg.  On Thursday we held a conference in Roodepoort for the Roodepoort, Soweto and Bedfordview Zones.


Friday we traveled to Botswana.  Once again, we had an interesting border crossing.  On the South African side, we were instructed to “register” each of our computers, projectors and digital cameras.  To do this we had to list the serial numbers which meant unpacking virtually everything.  Then just when we thought we were through, we were stopped again and told we had to be fingerprinted.  We then stood in a line until we could have electronic fingerprints taken on two different machines.  Luckily, we had no criminal records and were allowed to proceed.  That evening Elder and Sister Pemberton joined us and the Sitatis for dinner.


We held our Botswana conference on Saturday.  Following the conference, Elder Sitati, who also heads the Church’s public affairs in Africa, met with the Botswana Public Affairs Council. This allowed me to interview the missionaries in the Botswana Zone.


January 14 – January 20

Sunday, we attended church in the Broadhurst Ward.  We traveled home by way of Lobatse so we could stop and see the building the Church is looking to acquire for the Lobatse Branch.  We crossed the border without incident.


On Monday, we held the last conference of the mission tour in the Sandton building.  It was also our largest, with four zones (we had to take two pictures): Johannesburg , Benoni, Pretoria and Northeast.  We had enjoyed being with Elder and Sister Sitati, but since mission tours are tiring, it was nice to have it completed.  Elder Sitati shared with us that he had been called to be a mission president in a yet to be identified mission.


Over the next two days we held a staff meeting, went to the dentist and tried to catch up from being gone on mission tour.  Then we headed out again for a round of interviews.  I normally interview missionaries in conjunction with Zone Conferences, but because of our Christmas parties and mission tour, I felt I needed to make special trips to conduct interviews.


On Thursday, I interviewed the missionaries in the Soweto Zone. On Friday, I interviewed the missionaries in the Roodepoort Zone.  On Saturday, we traveled three hours to Welkom and interviewed the two missionaries in that very isolated city.  Then we traveled to Bloemfontein to interview the two missionaries there.  Then we traveled on to Bloemanda to interview the Bloemanda and Rockland Elders.  We spent the night in Bloemfontein.


January 21 – January 27

Sunday morning we arose early and traveled to Botshabelo in time to attend church in the “twig” located there.  Church services in Botshabelo started only a few months ago.  This day there were more than 30 in attendance at the meeting – only about half who were members.  I spoke on the importance of baptism.  During Sunday School Jane took the Primary-aged children outside for an informal Primary class.  Only then did she realize that none of the young children could speak English.  They don’t learn English until they go to school.  Since music is an international language, she taught them a few Primary songs.  The children tried to teach her to count in Sotho.  She had a bit of difficulty, much to their delight.  After the meetings we took a photograph of the group.


From Botshabelo we traveled to Thaba Nchu arriving in time for Priesthood and Relief Society.  After the meetings, I interviewed the two missionaries located there.  We then drove into Lesotho, crossing the border easily, and met the Lesotho missionaries at the Maseru chapel.  There are two sets of missionaries and a senior couple who work in Lesotho.  Elder and Sister Jensen only arrived in the mission on December 20th.  He has been called as the Maseru Branch President.  We stayed in Maseru that night.


Monday we met the missionaries for some preparation day activities.  We drove to the foot of Thaba Bosui (mountain of the night) and hiked to the top with a guide.  The top of this plateau is where Moshoeshoe consolidated the Sotho tribes and fought off the Boers to found the Kingdom of Lesotho.  He became the country’s first king.  One of his descendants still rules as king today.  As we reached the top, there was a large pile of rocks on the trail.  Tradition insists that all who come to the top of Thaba Bosui must place a rock on this pile to symbolize laying down their weapons before entering Moshoeshoe’s compound.  While on top of the plateau, we saw the ruins of Moshoeshoe’s house, a blue gum tree planted by some of the first Christian missionaries and King Moshoeshoe’s grave.  From one side of the plateau you can see Qiloane Pinnacle.  The traditional woven hat worn by many in Lesotho is patterned after the shape of this pinnacle. Once we had descended we saw a boy on donkey carrying a bag of maize back to his home. After the Assistants shopped for Lesotho blankets and Jane bought some seshoeshoe (pronounced se-shway-shway) fabric in traditional patterns, we drove to Ladybrand, just outside of Lesotho, and enjoyed lunch at the flat of Elder and Sister Jensen.  From there we headed home to Johannesburg.


On Wednesday I interviewed the missionaries in the Johannesburg Zone.  On Thursday, I interviewed the missionaries in the Pretoria Zone and then traveled to Mokopane to interview the two missionaries located there.  We then drove to Polokwane where we enjoyed dinner with Elder and Sister Christoffersen.  The following morning I interviewed the Elders located in Polokwane, Tzaneen and Lenyenye.  This was the last day for Christoffersens in Polokwane as they would leave on Monday to return to Utah.  We had pulled a trailer so we could return the furniture in their flat to Johannesburg.  Saturday evening we attended a dinner with a few of the senior couples in honor of Elder and Sister Christoffersen.


January 28 – January 31

Sunday we attended church in the Krugersdorp 2nd Ward.  Following lunch, the Assistants and I began to work on transfers.  Monday, I took the Christoffersens to the airport while Jane had to remain home while Telkom worked on our internet.  The Christoffersens have done so much good and served so faithfully.  What a difference these wonderful couples make.


On the 30th, I interviewed the missionaries from the Bedfordview Zone.