March 1 – March 4

Scott, Tiffany, Tyler and Brooke arrived on an early morning flight from Israel.  We were so excited to see family again and give hugs to grandchildren. When we arrived at the Mission Home, Tyler asked, “Where are the toys?”  Fortunately, we had bought a few. 


On Thursday, we took them to the Organic Market, one of our favorite places to buy African things.  Friday, we went to the temple with Scott and Tiffany while the Christoffersens, one of our wonderful senior couples, tended Brooke and Tyler.  Saturday, we went to the Rhino and Lion Park.  It is only about 30 minutes from the Mission Home.  We saw a Blesbuck with the Johannesburg skyline in the distance. While we were watching a pride of lions, a blue pick-up truck arrived and parked down the road a bit.  The lions immediately got up and headed for the truck.  The next thing we knew, the lions had bitten both rear tires, leaving the pick-up stranded with two flat tires.  The lions then tried to get into the back of the pick-up.  We guessed that the pick-up had previously carried something that had left an intriguing smell for lions.  Rangers came to rescue the pick-up, but two hours later they were still waiting for a repaired tire.  That evening we attended the Soweto Stake Conference where Jane spoke.


March 5 – March 11

Sunday, we attended the general session of the Soweto Stake Conference where I was one of the speakers.  Scott and Tiffany got to experience church in Soweto and see the strength of the Church there.


Monday, we left for Pilanesberg, an National animal reserve about 3 hours from the Mission Home. After checking into our lodge, we took an evening drive through the lower part of the park.  Tyler was thrilled to see a herd of elephants crossing the road both in front of us and behind us.  We all enjoyed watching a baby elephant wandering behind its mom.  We also saw zebras and wildebeest.  That evening as we ate dinner on the veranda, we heard the roar of a lion very nearby. The next morning Scott and Tiffany took an early morning game drive while we tended the kids.  Later, we all drove through the park and saw many animals, including elephants, zebras, giraffes, warthogs, wildebeest, springbok, rhino and hippos.  We were thrilled to see numerous hippos out of the water.  Tyler used his homemade binoculars. The next morning Scott awoke not feeling well, so we headed home.  It was unfortunate that he was sick on this birthday.


Thursday, I went into the office in an effort to make up for the time taken off to be with Scott and his family.  Tyler enjoyed wandering around the Mission Home grounds and visiting the Assistants flat. Friday, we went to the Lion Park , where we all got to pet some baby lions and feed a giraffe.  We then drove through the park and saw many lions including some lounging in a tree.  In the afternoon we went to the African Market in Rosebank so Scott and Tiffany could buy a few souvenirs for their friends. That evening, we went to Carnivore, a restaurant that serves many game meats.  We enjoyed gemsbok, springbok, zebra, ostrich, warthog and crocodile.  On Saturday, we took Scott and family back to the Organic Market to do some last minute shopping.  That evening we took them to the airport for their flight back to Israel.  We had such an enjoyable visit, but now it was time to get back to our missionary activities fulltime.


March 12 – March 18

Sunday, we attended the Roodepoort Stake Conference.  President Bester was released and Michael Hall from Krugersdorp was called as the new Stake President.  President Bester has been called to be the new Mission President for the Harare Zimbabwe Mission.


On Thursday, we picked up two new North American Elders at the airport.  Unfortunately, they arrived without their luggage.  Jane took them to the Mission Home so they could at least shower, while I went to the Mission Office to greet five more new missionaries, including the first North American missionaries to attend the Johannesburg MTC.  All young missionaries assigned to our mission will attend the Johannesburg MTC from now on.  I interviewed each new missionary and we provided orientation followed by training for the new missionaries and those that would be their trainers.  After lunch we held our transfer meeting where we introduced the new missionaries to their trainers and we recognized the missionaries going home.  Those leaving then came to the Mission Home for their farewell dinner and testimony meeting.  Thursday entailed two trips to the airport to meet the various flight schedules of those returning home.


Saturday, we left at 9 am for Gaborone, Botswana to participate in the sessions of Stake Conference held there.  Botswana is in the Roodepoort Stake, but, because of the distances involved, separate sessions of conference are held there.  We took President DeBeer, the new 2nd Counselor in the Stake Presidency and his wife with us.  It was a beautiful drive.  The summer rains had left the veld in full foliage.  The thatch along the roadside was as tall as the cars that passed by and it was beginning to turn from its summer green to the golden brown of fall.  Soon, much of the thatch will be gathered to repair and replace the thatch roofs that are common in South Africa.  The white and lavender blossoms of the Cosmos wildflowers added color to the roadside.  We arrived in Gaborone just a few minutes before the leadership sessions began. Elder Parmley of the Seventy, presided.  He had asked Jane to help train the auxiliaries with Sister Parmley and me to help with the Priesthood Training.  We went directly into the Saturday evening session where both Jane and I spoke.  Late that evening we enjoyed dinner with the Parmleys and the new Stake Presidency.


March 19 – March 25

Sunday, which by the way was my birthday, we attended and spoke at the general session of the Stake Conference and then headed back to Johannesburg.  Once again, the drive was beautiful, maybe even made more beautiful because we were headed home after a long week. 


On Tuesday morning, Jane went downstairs to find a large covered box on the kitchen table, plus a large poster with signatures of all of the missionaries wishing both of us happy birthday.  The box, which was for Jane, had a note saying she should not open it until joined by the Assistants.  When called, the Assistants rushed from their flat to the kitchen, cameras in hand.  When Jane uncovered the box, she found a live guinea fowl.  Jane likes guinea fowl and has collected a few carvings and pictures of guinea fowl, so the Assistants thought a gift of a live one would be funny.  We took some pictures of Jane with her guinea fowl, including one where she was holding the neck a little too tight.  But alas, she couldn’t keep it and it was returned to its home.


Friday, we traveled to Bloemfontein with the Assistants.  We enjoyed a delightful dinner with the Means, the senior couple who serves there.  I also met with the Branch President of the Bloemfontein Ward.  Saturday, we traveled to Maseru, Lesotho.  We spent the day doing some sightseeing.  Lesotho is called the Mountain Kingdom and lives up to its name.  Lesotho is known for its weavings and its unique hats. Other than for Maseru itself, Lesotho is a beautiful and mountainous, but very poor country.  There are few paved roads and those are very narrow.  As we drove through the mountains, we saw small villages of small, round houses, called rondevals, and young herd boys dressed in Lesotho blankets and carrying sticks as they herded their cattle.  Most of the mountain people were dressed in blankets even though the weather was very nice.  The further we got from Maseru, the more primitive was the lifestyle of the people.  The mountains, with numerous rock outcroppings, reminded me of the mountains near my hometown of Vernal, Utah.


Saturday was Jane’s birthday; so we had spent my birthday in Botswana and hers in Lesotho and been in three countries in less than one week.


March 26 – March 31

On Sunday, we attended Church in the Maseru Branch.  Jane and I both spoke.  After Sacrament Meeting, we traveled to Masianokeng and attended a small dependent branch held there in a very humble school.  The road to the school was muddy, rutted and rocky.  About 20 people were in attendance not including our group.


Following Church, we went to the Insured Salvation Orphanage to deliver fleece blankets, hats and white shirts and ties that had been donated by the previous Mission President’s home ward.  It was both a heart-rending and heart-warming experience.  There were 67 orphans, ranging in age from 2 months to about 18 years.  They were in a simple room with a concrete floor.  As we came in, they welcomed us with a lively Christian song accompanied by drums and an electric keyboard.  Elder Means gave a short introduction of why we were there and then we passed out the blankets, caps and shirts and some candy to the children.  They were very appreciative and sang for us again.  We concluded with us singing, “As I Have Loved You.”   I gave a few remarks and a closing prayer.  We then drove back to Bloemfontein and had dinner with the Means.


Monday, we held the Bloemfontein Zone Conference.  The Zone Leaders gave excellent training and the Assistants gave powerful talks.  Jane spoke on the proper language of prayer.  I spoke on unity using the Great Intercessory Prayer as the basis.  We always enjoy being with the missionaries.  I especially enjoy my opportunity to meet in an interview with each of them.  They are such stalwart and faithful servants in the Kingdom of God.  We drove back to Johannesburg in pouring rain.


On Thursday, we held the Bedfordview Zone Conference and on Friday we held the Pretoria Zone Conference.  March had finally ended.  It had been a one of our busiest, but most enjoyable months.

(Additional pictures from March can be seen by clicking here.)