May 1 – May 6
On Monday, May 1, we took our first airline flight in eleven months. We flew to Phalaborwa in northeastern South Africa
to attend the Mission Presidents’ Seminar.
The small plane was more than half filled with mission presidents, their
wives and a member of the Area Presidency.
Another flight brought the rest of the group later that day. By coincidence, our flight attendant was a member of the Church from the Attridgeville Ward in our mission. The airport terminal at Phalaborwa was very unique, with a thatched roof and metal
statues of wild animals.
We enjoyed wonderful meetings with the Area Presidency and the other mission presidents and their wives.
We have developed a wonderful relationship with the other mission presidents and wives in our Area. We don’t see each other often – about twice a year – but having similar experiences and trials tends to draw us closer to each other.
We had some time for recreational activities. Our favorite was a boat trip down the Oliphants River.
The day was a beautiful fall day, warm but not hot. As the boat glided slowly down river, we saw dozens of hippos, many crocodiles, beautiful birds of many varieties, giraffe and in the distance, a herd of elephants drinking at the river’s edge. As the boat tried to
maneuver toward the elephants, the boat became lodged on a sandbar. After numerous attempts to free the boat under engine power, the guides got into the crocodile infested river and pushed the boat off of the sandbar. Fortunately, no one was eaten. The sunsets during our stay at Phalaborwa were spectacular. The lodge where we stayed was also home to many vervet monkeys, warthogs, impala and other wild critters.
We returned to the Mission Home on Friday and had dinner that night with Elder and Sister Pemberton, a new senior couple from
On Saturday evening, we joined the other mission presidents at the Johannesburg MTC to watch the new Joseph Smith movie.
May 7 – May 13
We attended church in the Katlehong Ward. This all black ward is very strong with good
leadership. As is often the case, Jane
played the electronic piano for Sacrament Meeting. When she sat down to play prelude, the keyboard wasn’t even plugged in and someone had to locate a plug adapter in order to plug it in. The rest of the week was spent making final preparations for the next round of zone conferences.
The first two were held on Thursday and Friday. Jane’s subject this round was “hands.” My subject was the life of Abraham and the
May 14 – May 20
For Mother’s Day we attended Church in the Florida Ward.
This is the ward we belong to. We have
now attended there three times. After church we had the Assistants over for
dinner. Elder Robert’s baked Jane a chocolate cake in honor of Mother’s Day.
Late that evening, we enjoyed talking with Timothy. Since he will return from his mission before Christmas, this was his last call from his mission. Monday, we traveled to Bloemfontein. We had dinner with Elder and Sister
Means. They told us they had had a number of flat tires on their car and had taken the car to the tire store once again to have a flat fixed. When Elder Means returned, all the workmen were huddled around the car. When he asked them what they were doing, they
said that they believed the wheel was “witched” and they had moved the wheels
to new places to confuse the “spell.”
On Tuesday we held our first zone conference in the new
chapel. What a difference from the old building.
Conferences in Pretoria and Johannesburg followed later in the week.
May 21 – May 27
On the 21st, we attended church in the Alberton Branch, a mixed branch in south Johannesburg. The weather was very chilly and
the building was even colder. Jane nearly
froze. She said that she had never been
colder in a meeting anywhere. Monday, we
traveled to Botswana, by way
of Mafikeng, South Africa. We wanted to go to Mafikeng
in order to determine if it should be opened for missionary work. We were very impressed. It is a prosperous city of approximately
300,000 with a university and a military base.
It is just 70 kilometers (42 miles) from Lobatse, Botswana, where we already have
missionaries. We are still amazed that
cities the size of Mafikeng have not had
missionaries. We had a little difficulty getting across the border into Botswana. The border guard demanded the “particulars”
on the car. We offered the registration, but he wanted something else. Seeing our
puzzled looks, he finally waived us through.
As usual, we had dinner that night with Elder and Sister
Farris, the senior couple assigned to Botswana. At my request, they had visited a small group
of members in Serowe, about a four hour drive from Gaborone. They reported that they had found about 14
members and investigators that meet weekly in an informal Sunday School. The group is
led by a High Priest from England
who is managing a construction project in Serowe for
the next two years. We will formalize
their Sunday School and provide them with manuals.
On our way home, we had another interesting border
experience. As we drove to the South
African border gate, we noticed people getting out of their cars or buses and
carrying their luggage somewhere. At the
gate, we were told to take the luggage out of our boot (trunk) and put it through
an x-ray machine, obviously newly acquired.
Our boot was completely full of suitcases, boxes and other materials we
had taken to zone conference. I asked, “How much of it?” The guard said, “All of
it.” They then left us to do it
completely by ourselves. So after, a few
pieces, I closed the boot and the guard waived us through. Why they were x-raying luggage, we might
never know. Next time, the experience
will surely be different again.
May 28 – May 31
We traveled to Pretoria to
attend the Pretoria
1st Ward. The spirit was warm in the meeting, but again the building
was very cold. Jane was asked to play
the organ and had left her coat on the stand.
Someone sat in her seat on the stand, so she was left without her coat
throughout the meeting. On Wednesday, we
celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary by holding Zone Leaders’
Conference. During the meeting, I did surprise Jane with 18 long-stemmed roses and projected a picture of Jane the year we got married. I was a big spender – the roses only cost 40 rand or about $5.00. We also went out to dinner that night to a nice Italian restaurant.