May 1 – May 3

On Thursday, May 1 we continued a round of zone conferences with a conference in Benoni.  We held workshops on planning and keeping good area books.  Jane spoke on building a righteous life and I spoke on the Prophet Joseph Smith.  Friday we finished the round of zone conferences with a conference for the Soweto Zone.  That evening we took Elder and Sister Mark Thomas to dinner.  They were completing their mission.  Elder Thomas served as the Area Medical Director providing medical counsel and help for the nine missions in the Area Southeast Area.  We are truly indebted to them and count them as dear friends.  They helped our missionaries through numerous illnesses and injuries.


May 4 – May 10

After attending church meetings in Protea Glen and enjoying Sunday dinner with the Assistants to the President, we were taken to the Airport Southern Sun Hotel.  There we met up with other mission presidents and the wives prior to our departure the next morning to Cape Town for the Interim Mission Presidents’ Seminar.


On Monday we arrived in Cape Town and checked into the Victoria and Alfred Hotel on the Cape Town waterfront.  The seminar started after lunch and continued through Friday morning.  On Monday and Tuesday evenings we walked along the waterfront and enjoyed the seals that frequent the docks.  Wednesday and Thursday we were given the opportunity to see some of the sights around Cape Town.  Wednesday we visited Stellenbosch and went to the Huguenot Museum .  We had planned to go to Table Mountain , but it was covered in clouds.  On Thursday morning we took the ferry to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years.  Our guide was Thulani Mabasa who was a political prison on Robben Island for 12 years.  We then traveled by bus to Boulders Beach to see the African penguins.  They are small and sound like braying donkeys.  Previously they were called Jackass penguins because of their braying.  We then traveled to the Cape of Good Hope which is the most southwestern point on the African Continent.  After a brief stop for photographs, we were taken to Cape Point where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.  We walked up to the old lighthouse and enjoyed the view.


We finished our meetings on Friday morning and then flew back to Johannesburg.  We had a wonderful time visiting with the other mission presidents and their wives and being inspired by our Area Presidency.


Saturday afternoon we attended a session of the Johannesburg Stake Conference where Jane spoke.


May 11 – May 17

On Sunday we attended Johannesburg Stake Conference.  I was one of the speakers.  We enjoy speaking at stake conference because it is an opportunity to associate with the faithful saints of Africa and because it gives us an opportunity to promote missionary work and support the missionaries.


Most of the rest of the week was spent in administrative duties, including staff meeting, reading president’s letters and preparing for transfers. I also started preparing Elder Stinger, one of the Assistants to the President, to assume responsibility for part of my tasks to make the burden lighter for President Poulsen when he arrives.  We attended the temple with the Assistants on Thursday followed by a dinner in honor of Elder Vellinga who has served as an Assistant and will leave for home next Thursday.


May 18 – May 24

On Sunday we attended the Atteridgeville Ward.  Both of us were asked to speak because the assigned speakers did not show up.   Atteridgeville is a large township near Pretoria.


During the week we began to hear of unrest in some of the poorer areas and squatter camps.  The reports indicated that some South Africans were attacking immigrants from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.  Although missionaries do not work in squatter camps and poorer areas of townships, we instructed missionaries near affected areas not to go into their areas at night and to stay far from areas of trouble.


On Tuesday evening Elder and Sister Summers joined us at the mission home.  I had asked the Summers to replace Elder and Sister Womack when they go home on June 24th.  We wanted them to experience the transfer process that would be occurring over the next two days.


On Wednesday, we received 15 missionaries from the Johannesburg MTC, all Elders.  Two of the new missionaries came from South Africa, two from Zimbabwe, one each from England, Kenya, Netherlands, Texas, California, Michigan and Arizona.  Four came from Utah. 


Only six Elders went home this transfer – one each to Nigeria, Arizona, Colorado and California and two to Utah.  With the increase of nine missionaries, we were able to open four new areas.  We assigned missionaries to Krugersdorp 2nd Ward, a second set of missionaries to Katlehong, a companionship to Kempton Park to replace Elder and Sister Bloom who were transferred to Tsakane and a companionship to open a new area in Cosmos City.


Elder Steven Tew from Las Vegas, Nevada was called as an Assistant to the President replacing Elder Vellinga who went home to Kaysville, Utah.


Friday afternoon, Elder Russell M. Nelson visited the mission and held a special zone conference.  Missionaries from the six zones headquartered in Gauteng were invited to attend.  Elder and Sister Nelson shook hands with each of the missionaries and then provided almost two hours of inspiration and training.  The missionaries will never forget this unique opportunity.  Following the special zone conference, I set apart Khapolo Tsiu from the Lesotho Branch as a missionary.  Sister Bowden and I then joined the Area Presidency and Elder and Sister Nelson for a light dinner.  A devotional with Elder Nelson for the general membership followed.


On Saturday morning I met a group from the Mokopane Branch who had come to the temple for a youth baptismal trip.  A couple of the adults needed renewed temple recommends.  Immediately afterward I attended the semi-annual Gauteng Coordinating Council.


May 25 – May 31

We attended the Hospitalview Ward near Tembisa on May 25th.  On the way we passed a large gathering of members of the Zion Christian Church.  The ZCC (Zed CC) is the largest South African church.  The members all wear stars on green felt on their chests and many of the men wear khaki uniforms which almost look like military uniforms.


Tuesday, 26th was our zone leader council.  The group includes eighteen zone leaders, two branch presidents and four presiding elders plus the two Assistants to the President.  That evening we attended the sealing of Mathias Kikaire and his wife from Uganda.  I was fortunate to be asked to be a witness.  We thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to attend the sealings of former missionaries like Mathias Kikaire.  We also witnessed the sealings of three other couples from Uganda and Zimbabwe.  Each of these couples had small children who looked angelic dressed all in white.


Friday we drove to Lesotho .  We entered Lesotho at the Ficksburg gate.  We stopped at the street market and did a little shopping.  The area was amazingly hectic.  We visited Leribe, one of the largest towns in Lesotho outside of Maseru.  We were investigating its potential as a city to open for missionary work.  The bordering towns of Ficksburg, South Africa and Maputsoe, Lesotho would be another possibility.


Saturday morning we drove past Thaba Bosiu and Qiloane into the Lesotho mountains.  Lesotho is a beautiful country with fascinating people, but unfortunately it is a very poor country.  Donkeys and horses are the main means of transportation outside of the city.  The Lesotho blanket is the principle means of keeping warm.  Most people in rural areas survive by raising cattle, sheep and raising crops on small farms.  The country is not without some modern conveniences – we saw a boy on a donkey carrying a new television satellite dish still in the box.


That afternoon I interviewed most of the Melchizedek Priesthood of the Maseru Branch.  Elder Jensen, who has been serving a mission in Lesotho with his wife, has served as the branch president.  With the conclusion of their mission on June 4, the branch needed a new branch president.  Following the interviews I called a new branch president and he selected counselors, who I then called.  The sustaining and setting apart will follow on Sunday, June 1.