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, Soweto and Bedfordview Zones.  My talk for mission tour was, “Going the Second Mile” and Jane spoke on “Get Up, Load Your Wagons and Head for Zion.”  Tuesday we held a conference in Sandton for the Johannesburg , Benoni, Northeast and Pretoria Zones.


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 Sandy, Utah.  The Bloom’s will begin their missionary service in the Kempton Park Ward; a ward that had been left without missionaries when the sister missionaries were moved out of South Africa.  That afternoon I had a good-bye interview with Elder and Sister Doman as they completed their mission and headed home to Utah by way of England and France.  The Domans had served as the CES Country Director for South Africa.  We had a nice dinner that night with the office couples to welcome the Blooms to the mission.


On Thursday, we traveled with the Youngs to Botswana. We enjoyed a nice dinner with Elder and Sister Michaelis who are doing such a wonderful job in Botswana.  On Friday, we held the mission tour conference in Gaborone for the Botswana zone.  Meeting with the Botswana Zone was nice since it is now the only zone with sister missionaries. That evening we returned to Johannesburg.


We had been home less than an hour when we received a phone call that every mission president dreads.  Elder Koen, one of the Bloemfontein zone leaders called to tell us there had been a serious automobile accident, Elder Chad Wayman had been killed, and Elder Turnbow had been injured.  A short while later we were able to talk to Elder Turnbow and learn that he did not believe he was seriously injured.  We worked late into the evening to arrange for hospital care for Elder Turnbow and notify the Area Presidency and the Missionary Department.  The Missionary Department began the effort to contact both Elder Wayman’s and Elder Turnbow’s parents.  We were devastated and sleep escaped us much of the night.


Saturday, we traveled to Bloemfontein to handle the arrangements that needed to be made and to visit Elder Turnbow in the hospital.  As we made the four hour drive to Bloemfontein, Brother van der Leek, a former Bloemfontein branch president, helped greatly in dealing with the various government authorities and cutting much red tape.


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 hospital.  Elder Turnbow was discharged and we took him to the flat (apartment) of Elder and Sister Hill, a senior couple serving in Bloemfontein as Records Preservation Missionaries.


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 Bloemfontein to provide counseling for missionaries who might be struggling emotionally with the death of Elder Wayman.  We planned a memorial service for Elder Wayman for Monday that would replace the mission tour conference that had been scheduled.


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 Johannesburg and completed the final paperwork to move Elder Wayman’s body to Johannesburg.  We were making every effort to have Elder Wayman’s body returned to Utah as soon as humanly possible.


On Tuesday morning, Elder and Sister Taim arrived at the mission office to start their mission.  The Taims currently live in Pleasant Grove, Utah, but had immigrated to the United States from South Africa in 2005. They still have two children living in the Johannesburg area. Their children had picked them up at the airport saving us an airport trip.  The Taims will serve in the Bloemfontein area providing support to the mission branches in the Free State.  That evening we hosted them at a welcoming dinner.


On Wednesday the 16th, we welcomed eight new missionaries to the mission from the Johannesburg Missionary Training Center.  They came from Utah, Oregon, Idaho, England and South Africa.  Following our orientation, training and transfer meetings, we took the three missionaries going home to the mission home for a farewell dinner and testimony dinner. A fourth had left for home on Tuesday.  Thursday, we made only one trip to the airport.


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 missions in Africa.


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 Newton, Utah.  They will begin their mission serving in Rustenburg.  Again, we held our traditional welcoming dinner for the Summers.


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 Pretoria.  I mentioned to Tiny that in Bethlehem we had met a young woman who had joined the Church in Pretoria.  In fact, Malefu was the first person we met in Bethlehem before we had assigned missionaries there.  Tiny then told us that Malefu had been her roommate and she had introduced the gospel to Malefu.  What a nice coincidence.


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 Pretoria and stayed overnight; the first time we had spent the night in Pretoria.  The next day we held a zone conference in Pretoria.


On Thursday, we held a zone conference in Roodepoort for the Roodepoort and Johannesburg zones.  Thus ended the first month of 2008.