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
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
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
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
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
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
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