January 1 – January 5
We spent New Year’s day as we often do, taking down the Christmas tree and Christmas decorations. However, instead of family to help us we had the able assistants. We also played some games. The next few days were quiet, so we got a lot accomplished in the office and at the mission home.
January 6 – January 12
We attended church in the Etwatwa Branch on Sunday the 6th. The branch meets in a school. We continue to be amazed at the poor condition of the schools in townships. They are often dirty, in disrepair and with very little visual stimulation in the classrooms. We realize how wonderful the schools were that our children attended.
Our semi-annual mission tour began on Monday the 7th. Elder
Allen Young, the second counselor in the Africa Southeast Area Presidency
conducted the tour. Sister Young
accompanied her husband. The first
conference was in Roodepoort for the Roodepoort,
Zones. My talk for mission tour was,
“Going the Second Mile” and Jane spoke on “Get Up, Load Your Wagons and Head
Wednesday was a free day from mission tour, but a busy one
nevertheless. We drove to the airport
early in the day to pick-up Elder
and Sister Bloom. The Blooms are from
On Thursday, we traveled with the Youngs to
We had been home less than an hour when we received a phone
call that every mission president dreads.
Elder Koen, one of the
Saturday, we traveled to
We visited Elder Turnbow in the hospital and learned he had no serious injuries and the doctor would most likely release him the following day. We also met with Elder Koen and Elder Larcade, the companions of Elder Turnbow and Elder Wayman.
January 13 – January 19
We attended Church in the Bloemfontein Branch. Following the meetings, we returned to the
Turnbow was discharged and we took him to the flat (apartment) of Elder and
Sister Hill, a senior couple serving in
A short time later, we met Elder and Sister Young, the
Assistants to the President and Elder and Sister Hoem at the hotel where we
were staying. Elder Hoem is the Area
Mental Health Advisor. I had asked him
to come to
On Monday, we held a memorial service for Elder Wayman. Sister Bowden and I, Elder Hoem and Sister and Elder Young spoke. I then provided an opportunity for missionaries to give personal remembrances of Elder Wayman. Their remarks were spiritual, touching and very therapeutic.
Following the memorial service, I went to the morgue, met
the mortuary company from
On Tuesday morning, Elder
and Sister Taim arrived at the mission office to start their mission. The Taims currently live in
On Wednesday the 16th, we welcomed eight
new missionaries to the mission from the
On Friday, we held staff meeting and attended a going-away
reception at the MTC for President and Sister Hill. President Hill has served for the last two
years as the President of the Johannesburg MTC.
They had been great neighbors and provided excellent training to
missionaries, not only for our mission, but also for all the English-speaking
January 20 – January 26
On Sunday, we attended church in Munsieville. Since the concluding speaker did not arrive, we were called upon to speak. On Monday, we met President and Sister Cannon who replaced President and Sister Hill at the MTC. We look forward to getting better acquainted with them. Tuesday was Zone Leaders’ Council. The zone leaders and missionaries who serve as branch presidents and presiding elders are powerful leaders and provided us with much counsel as we planned for training topics for 2008.
Wednesday, we picked up our third new missionary couple in
as many weeks. Elder
and Sister Summers came to us from
On Saturday, Jane attended auxiliary training meetings in Sandton with Sister Tanner, the General Young Women’s President, and Sister Matsumori, Second Counselor in the General Primary Presidency. Jane received much instruction that will help her with her vastly increased auxiliary training responsibilities that have come with the additional mission branches.
Following the auxiliary training meeting, we began a get acquainted tour of the four branches and one congregation that had been transferred to the mission on January 1 from the Pretoria Stake. We stopped first in Mokopane where I met with President Doller, the branch president. The congregation there meets in Speed Space (temporary modular units).
January 27 – January 31
Sunday, we attended church in Polokwane and I held meetings with President Motimele. I also interviewed a young man who desires to go on a mission. The Polokwane Branch meets in a brick building, but it is too small for the size of the branch. There were twenty Primary children in a room about 10 feet by 12 feet. They also need a new baptismal font. The current one was built without a drain. Therefore, after each baptism, the missionaries have to bail the water out.
Following the church meetings, we traveled to Tzaneen. Tzaneen is very different from most of our mission. It is almost tropical with large banana and tea plantations. In Tzaneen met Brother Swanepoel, the presiding elder of the congregation in Tzaneen. He traveled with us to Modjadji where he and I met with President Moroasehla. The branch in Modjadji also meets in Speed Space. Modjadji is a large village built on the side of a mountain.
We then continued on to Lenyenye. Lenyenye meets in a nice brick chapel, but the building has no parking. The Church has recently acquired an adjacent parcel to provide parking. Not much parking is needed since very few members have cars. I had a nice discussion with President Matlou who has served as branch president for seven years.
We returned to Polokwane, arriving at about 9 pm. We then went to the home of Tiny Sahone. I interviewed her for a temple
recommend. She would soon marry a young
man she met at Institute while attending university in
Monday morning, we learned from Sister Womack that President Hinckley had died. What a wonderful legacy of openness, optimism, good humor and righteousness he left for all of us. For many of our missionaries, he was the only prophet they had known.
We began the next round of zone conferences that day with a
conference for the Northeast Zone. The
theme was scripture study. Jane spoke on
understanding the language of the Bible and I spoke on using scripture chains
to study the gospel. I asked each
missionary to develop a scripture chain on a subject of their choice and submit
it to me in a president’s letter. For
lunch, the zone leaders had planned a traditional township meal. That meant there were no utensils. Sister Bowden and I cheated and used a fork,
but the missionaries
ate with their hands. We traveled to
On Thursday, we held a zone conference in Roodepoort for the