June 1 – June 2

The Bloemfontein zone conference was held on the 1st and we returned home that night arriving quite late.  We had consolidated our zone conference schedule in preparation for the upcoming visit by our daughter Julie, her husband and one year old son, Zachary.


On Saturday, we tried to find a booster chair for Zach.  We discovered that booster chairs are not commonly used in South Africa.  After much searching, we finally found one at Toys-R-Us.  It was very dusty and had obviously gone unsold for some time.  We had difficulty even getting a price for it.


June 3 – June 9

After attending church in the Germiston Branch on Sunday, June 3rd, I spent most of the afternoon working on the upcoming transfers.  With twelve missionaries coming in and seven missionaries going home, we would be able to open two new areas.  Since all seven going home were leaders in the mission, there would be a significant change of leadership.


Craig, Julie and Zach arrived on Tuesday.  It was wonderful to see Craig and Julie again, but our real joy was in getting acquainted with Zach who was born after we left on our mission.  Wednesday we let Craig, Julie and Zach adjust to the time zone while I handled some mission business.


On Thursday we traveled to Pilanesburg National Park.  Pilanesburg has become our favorite destination when family members come to visit.  It is much closer than Kruger National Park and we more often than not see more animals than we do in Kruger.  We spent about four hours in the park the first night and saw many animals.  Zach called them all “doggies.”  He especially liked the elephants.  The first animal we saw, other than a few ‘deer-like creatures” was a lioness sunning herself on a red rock.  Strangely, we saw no giraffe the first day.


The next day we intended to stay in the park for a few hours, return to the lodge to let Zachary nap and then return in the evening.  However, we were seeing so many animals and everyone was having such a great time, we stayed in from morning until the park closed.  This day, we saw many giraffe to make up for the dearth on Thursday.


Saturday we stayed in the park until after lunch and then returned to Johannesburg.  Here are a few more photos from the trip:  hippo, giraffe, kudu, baboons, zebras, monkeys, rhino and another hippo.  We saw lions from four different prides.


June 10 – June 16

We took Craig, Julie and Zach to the Soweto Ward.  We wanted them to see a large, well-run township ward.  A senior welfare couple was supposed to speak.  Just before the meeting, they informed us that they were ceding their speaking assignments to us.  I had forgotten my scriptures, but somehow Sister Bowden and I filled the time.


That evening Elder and Sister Bednar were speaking at a fireside in the Bedfordview building.  We arrived about one hour before the fireside was to begin and every seat was filled.  Fortunately, we had been asked to sit on the stand and Julie, Craig and Zach had reserved seats.  Before the meeting began every room had been filled and the halls were crowded with those who couldn’t get a seat.  We asked the missionaries who were there to give up their seats and stand along the walls at the front of the building.  It was impressive to see about 50 missionaries “standing guard” around the podium.  Elder Bednar asked for questions from the audience and gave magnificent mini-sermons in response to each question.  It was truly amazing and awe-inspiring.


On Monday, I went to the office for a few hours to try and keep ahead of the paperwork.  That afternoon we went to some African markets so Craig and Julie could buy some souvenirs and gifts.  We also stopped by the Johannesburg Temple .  That evening we went to Carnivore for dinner.  This has also become a tradition when we have visitors.  Visitors truly feel they have been to Africa after they have eaten warthog, crocodile, kudu, ostrich, giraffe or other wild game meat.


Tuesday was a beautiful African day.  After attending to some mission business in the morning, we took Craig and Julie to the Ngwenya glass factory and had lunch outside at a nice little restaurant named Zest.  We then went to the Sandton Lion Park.  Here Zach got to pet a baby lion and feed a giraffe.  We drove through the lion enclosures and enjoyed seeing a mother white lion with two cubs.  One cub tried to get too close to us before being retrieved by its mother.  It soon became apparent that it was mating season for lions.  I discretely took no pictures of that activity.


We thoroughly enjoyed the visit by Craig, Julie and Zach.  Zach is such a happy boy.  We dragged him everywhere and he always had a smile, even when behind bars.  We sadly took them to the airport and said goodbye.  Now it was time to catch up and prepare for transfers.


Saturday we presented two workshops at the Soweto Stake Mini-MTC.  The Mini-MTC was well attended with more than 200 youth.


June 17 – June 23

On Sunday, I had an interview to do in Randfontein, so we also attended church there.  For dinner we had enchiladas which was a rare treat.  This was possible because Elder Himber’s parents had sent him 3 dozen corn tortillas.  Corn tortillas are not available in South Africa. That night Elder and Sister Turner arrived at the mission home.  This would be their last night before heading home after 23 months in the mission.  They served wonderfully in Vereeniging and Sharpeville.  For much of the time, Elder Turner served as the branch president for the Sharpeville Branch.  On Monday, we held a going away lunch for the Turners and then took them to the airport.


On Wednesday, we picked up ten missionaries from the Johannesburg MTC and two from the airport.  The two had attended the Provo MTC because of delayed visas.  The group included one sister from Uganda, two elders from South Africa, an Elder from Uganda, one from New Zealand, one from Trinidad, one from New Mexico, one from Idaho and four from Utah. Transfer day is always a busy day. We hold an Orientation Meeting for the new missionaries; a Training Meeting for the new missionaries and their trainers and finally a Transfer Meeting. All of the missionaries being transferred or getting a new companion come to Johannesburg for the Transfer Meeting and then travel back to their areas. Here is a missionary waiting for his ride.


The group going home included the very first group of missionaries we had welcomed into the mission plus three who had arrived soon after.  This whole group had been extremely good missionaries.  They will all be missed.  I guess one could say we are old on mission when missionaries who arrived after us are going home.


We received the good news of the birth of a new grandson, Caleb Robert Bowden, born to Scott and Tiffany on June 19.  Caleb is the third grandson (no granddaughters) born since we left.


June 24—June 30, 2007

We traveled to Daveyton on Sunday to do a baptismal interview and attended church there.  We had planned to attend a missionary musical fireside in Bedfordview.  However, Jane had a nasty cold, so we stayed home.


Zone Leader Council was held on Tuesday.  Jane fixed homemade chili for the group.  The chili tasted wonderful on a brisk African winter’s day.  Elder and Sister Pemberton arrived that night to stay in the mission home for a couple of days.  The Pembertons are assigned to Gaborone, Botswana and take care of many of the details to keep the mission running smoothly in Botswana.  They were in Johannesburg to run some errands and buy some things not available in Botswana.

When we awoke on Wednesday morning, we discovered that it had snowed during the night - a rare occassion in Johannesburg. There was only about one quarter inch, but it was definitely snow. The weather was very cold for the next couple of days.


On Thursday, we drove to Khutsong, a township near Carltonville.  There I met with a wonderful man who had had a stroke.  Although he could no longer speak, I conducted a baptismal interview.  He has attended church for more than two years; walking there with a cane.  I was pleased that he could now be baptized.


Now it was time to prepare for the next round of zone conferences.  Life as a mission president is a continuing progression of six-week cycles.  Each six week period includes zone conferences for nine zones, interviews of all missionaries, a transfer and a zone leaders’ council.  Everything else must be scheduled around these events.