July 1 – July 8

On Sunday the 2nd of July, we once again attended the Protea Glen Ward, this time so I could conduct a second interview for baptism.  That evening both Jane and I spoke at a six-stake Young Single Adult Fireside.  There were more than 500 in attendance.  I couldn’t help looking into their faces and feeling good about the future of the Church in South Africa.


On Tuesday we were invited to the 4th of July celebration at the U.S. Embassy Community Center in Pretoria.  There were many dignitaries from countries throughout the world.  We spoke to ambassadors, high commissioners, charge d’affaires and military officers.  Many were familiar with the Church either because of the Church’s humanitarian efforts or from seeing missionaries in their countries.  For a few, we were the first members of the Church that they had met.  The atmosphere was definitely American with red, white and blue balloons, hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch and patriotic music.


On Thursday we drove to Botswana to complete the round of zone conferences started in late June.  We took Elder and Sister Shirts, who work in the office with us, so they could experience Botswana.  We stayed over the weekend and took them to Mokolodi Game Reserve where we rode on some elephants and petted some cheetahs that had been raised in captivity. 


We then drove about an hour to Kanye, a city we are considering opening for missionary work.  The city is located in the hills northwest of Gaborone in a beautiful if somewhat barren location.  At sometime in the not to distant future, it will have missionaries.


We also stopped at the Gaborone Game Reserve (more of a city park) to have a picnic lunch.  We spent a fun hour or so playing with the velvet monkeys.  They were all over our van and very forward.  We also saw some gorgeous white flamingos on a lake in the park.


July 9 – July 15

On Sunday we attended Church in Lobatse, Botswana.  Lobatse is about an hour’s drive from Gaborone.  There is a small branch there.  There were about 50 people in attendance.  As happens often, I was asked at the last moment to be the concluding speaker.  We have a very fine set of missionaries there.  We then drove back to Johannesburg arriving about 7 pm.


We spent most of the week preparing for transfers and working in the Mission Office.  On Thursday we went to the Temple with the Assistants and enjoyed the spirit there.  Upon arriving home, we learned that the Hezbollah Terrorists in southern Lebanon had begun to fire missiles into Haifa where Scott and his family live.  Later, Scott and Tiffany “skyped” us to tell us they were safe.


On the 14th we held a senior couples’ conference.  All of our couples including CES couples attended except one.  We enjoyed a slideshow put on by Colin Mead, one of the premier South African wildlife and landscape photographers.  We learned much about Southern Africa during the presentation.  Afterwards, we all went to the Three Peppers Restaurant for dinner.  That night four of the couples who live some distance away spent the night in the Mission Home.  The next morning we fed them breakfast before they returned to their assigned areas.


July 16 – July 22

This Sunday we attended church in the Pimville Ward in Soweto and stayed afterwards for a baptism.  When we got home from Church we had an e-mail from Scott.  There had been more missiles fired on Haifa and they had gone to the bomb shelter in their building.  They later told us that while they were at Church in Tiberius on Saturday (their Sabbath), four missiles had hit Tiberius including one just 200 yards from were they were meeting.


On July 19, five new missionaries arrived from the Johannesburg MTC including Elder Aidoo from Ghana.  That evening we had a wonderful dinner and testimony meeting with the ten missionaries going home.  Eight of these missionaries are from African countries.  The next morning we made two trips to the airport – early in the morning for the Africans and in the evening for Elder Nordstrom who was returning to California.  The tenth of the group, Elder Lambson is staying in the mission for another three weeks.  Upon returning to the Mission Home, we learned that Scott and his family had spent more time in bomb shelters and were leaving to go to Herzliya to stay with friends and to get out of range of the Hezbollah missiles.


July 23 – July 31

On Sunday, we attended church in the Soweto Ward where I conducted a second baptismal interview.  The next morning, when we awoke, Jeff “skyped” us to tell us that our seventh grandchild had been born.  James Jeffrey Bowden weighed in at 7 lbs. 2.5 oz. and was 19.75 inches long.  The hardest part of our mission is being away from our grandchildren.  They change very fast.  It is possible we won’t see James until he is almost 2 years old.  We are thankful for the internet and Skype.


Stephen B. Allen, managing director of the Missionary Department was in South Africa and had agreed to train a large group of our missionaries, which he did on Tuesday the 25th.  The training he provided was powerful and well-received by the missionaries.  Following the training by Brother Allen, we held a Leadership Conference for all Zone and District Leaders.  The evening, we joined Brother and Sister Allen and Brother and Sister Lusvardi, who were traveling with the Allens, for dinner at Lekogotla, an upscale African restaurant.


On July 26th, Scott, Tiffany, Tyler and Brooke were finally able to leave Israel.  They stopped in Brussels to visit Scott’s mission area before returning to Hillsboro, Oregon.  We were so pleased to have them out of harm’s way and on their way back to the U.S.A.


On Saturday, we drove north to Brits, another city we wanted to see to determine if it could support missionaries. We were somewhat disappointed, because the nearby township looked more like an informal settlement than an organized township. We then visited Hartbeespoort Dam.  This is a recreation and vacation area about 1 ½ north of Johannesburg.


On Sunday, the 30th, we attended Church in Ennerdale, a large township south of Johannesburg.  The small black branch meets in several mobile units or as they say here – in several containers.”  After the meeting, Elders Sonjica and Jackson put on a wonderful fireside during which Elder Sonjica did 105 pushups to show his love for the people.  That evening, I was the speaker at a missionary fireside held in the Krugersdorp 2nd Ward.  I spoke on the Book of Mormon.