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
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
We had planned to go to
, but it was covered in clouds. On Thursday morning
we took the ferry to
where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years.
Our guide was Thulani Mabasa who was a political prison on
for 12 years. We then traveled by bus to
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
. 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
Saturday morning we drove past Thaba
Bosiu and Qiloane into the
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.