July 1 – July 7

On Sunday, July 1st we attended church in Katlehong, a strong township ward southeast of Johannesburg.  From there we traveled further south to Veereniging for a scheduled baptismal interview.  We arrived there during the last few minutes of their Fast and Testimony Meeting and slipped onto the back row.  The branch president soon arose to close the meeting – we thought.  Instead, he said, “Would the couple on the back row please come to the podium and tell us who they are and how long they will be in the branch.”  This was one of the first times that we hadn’t been recognized.


On Tuesday our next round of zone conference began with the Soweto conference.  Jane spoke on practical things like personal hygiene and washing clothes and I spoke on building faith in investigators  Wednesday, July 4th we held the Benoni zone conference.  In honor of Independence day, the zone lunch was McDonald’s hamburgers.   Friday was the Pretoria conference in Centurion.  From Centurion we traveled to Mokopane. 


We normally hold the Northeast zone conference in Polokwane but all of the hotels were fully booked.  The mission secretary had booked us in a bed and breakfast in Mokopane, about one hour to the southwest.  Unfortunately, it was very cold and the bed and breakfast had no heat in the rooms.  We nearly froze.  When we went to breakfast the next morning, the doors to the breakfast room were wide-open to the cold.  We asked for hot chocolate and got baking cocoa in hot water.  Not good!  We were glad to get to the Mokopane building to finally warm up.  Following the Northeast zone conference and after the missionaries played a little basketball, we drove back to Johannesburg.


July 8 – July 14

Sunday, the 8th we attended church in the Florida Ward.   That evening Timothy arrived for his second visit.  He didn’t get much chance to overcome his jet lag – we left the next day for Bloemfontein.  We arrived in Bloemfontein in time for a late afternoon drive to Naval Hill, so Timothy could see the giraffes there. Following the Bloemfontein zone conference on Tuesday, we traveled to Bethlehem where I was scheduled to conduct interviews for limited-use temple recommends so the members there could attend the temple for baptisms.  We were late leaving Bloemfontein and didn’t arrive in Bethlehem until well after dark and it was cold – 44 degrees F.  As we pulled up to the store front building used for church, we saw about ten of the members huddled on the porch trying to stay warm.  Even the building was cool, but we were warmed by the faith and testimony of these wonderful saints.  I had a wonderful experience interviewing these wonderful members; most of whom had been baptized in the last six months.  They were so excited to be able to do temple work for their ancestors.


We drove back to Johannesburg in time to hold staff meeting.  On Thursday, we held the Bedfordview zone conference and on Friday a combined conference for the Johannesburg and Roodepoort zones.  On Saturday we traveled to Mafikeng.


July 15 – July 21

On Sunday both Jane and I spoke to the small congregation in Mafikeng .  There were about 40 in attendance filling the room to capacity.  The church has only been in Mafikeng since October 2006.  Jane helped with the small Primary. There were six boys, aged 3 to 10, who spoke three different languages among them and only one spoke any English at all. She taught them two Primary songs and helped them find verses in the Bible. I interviewed a young man to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.  We then traveled to Gaborone.  When we refueled in Gaborone, we sign a sign advertising a contest with prizes of cows, car or cash. Only in Botswana, where cattle are a symbol of wealth! We had dinner that evening at the home of Elder and Sister Pemberton who do so many important things for the mission in Botswana.


After our zone conference for the Botswana zone, we traveled about an hour to the Madikwe Game Reserve.  We had made reservations for two nights at a small lodge named Buffalo Ridge.  The lodge was very luxurious in a rustic sort of way.  Although the lodge has a capacity of 16 guests, there were only three other guests when we arrived.  Soon after arriving, we left on our first game drive.  The other three guests left the next morning, leaving the three of us as the only guests at the lodge.  We enjoyed three more game drives.  We had a very nice encounter with a herd of giraffes.  In addition to lions, zebra, rhino, and elephants (I will spare you more pictures) we saw two kinds of antelope we had not seen before – the nyala and the tsessebe and a lilac-breasted roller and red-billed hornbill.  At a carcass of a giraffe killed by lions, we saw brown hyenas and a black-backed jackal.   We left Buffalo Ridge feeling we had been very much pampered and rested.


On Thursday we had a going home lunch for Elder Sorensen who was leaving a few weeks before his normal release date due to a commitment with his National Guard unit.  That evening we took Timothy to see a performance of Lion King.  What a great experience to see Lion King in Africa.  A new theater had to be built, because previously no theater in South Africa was large enough.  Although we had previously seen Lion King on Broadway, we thought this performance with an all African cast was even better.  Some uniquely South African humor had been added.  Also, they added the song The Lion Sleeps Tonight, a song written in Soweto and one of my personal favorites.


Saturday we took Timothy to Organic Market and then to Hartbeespoort.  We survived having spent very little on souvenirs.


July 22 – July 28

Sunday we took Timothy to the Johannesburg Ward.  That afternoon, the assistants and I made the final adjustments to the upcoming transfers.  Monday night we enjoyed a very nice evening with Richard Walshaw and his date, Tarryn O’Friel.  Richard had served as one of our first two assistants.  We had great fun reminiscing and catching up.  Tuesday we took possession of a new mission van.  It is a Toyota Quantum 10 passenger van; larger and quieter than the Mercedes Vito we had previously. Tuesday night Timothy left to return to Utah.  We had great fun while he was here.  It was hard to see him leave, since we mostly likely won’t see him again until we return.


Elder and Sister Cornilles arrived at the mission home on Wednesday from Kimberley where they had been serving for some months following their service in the mission office.  They were now headed home.  That evening we had a going away dinner for them at Augusto’s Grill, Elder Cornilles’ favorite Roodepoort restaurant.  The next afternoon we took them to the airport.  They had been a great blessing to the mission.  We learned later that one day after arriving back in the U. S., Elder Cornilles had a serious stroke.  We understand he is recuperating nicely.


Friday, we took the assistants to the temple and then out to dinner.  This would be our last outing with Elder Himber who would complete his mission the next Thursday. On Saturday, I called Brian Urry from Tempe , Arizona as the new assistant to the president replacing Elder Himber.


July 29 – July 31

On Sunday both Jane and I spoke in the Kempton Park Ward.   I met with Elder and Sister Jefferies on Tuesday for their final interview.  They had served wonderfully as CES missionaries. 


And with that,another month has ended.  They seem to disappear much too quickly.