November 1 – November 6

The rainy season has started in Johannesburg.  Most rain storms are accompanied by terrific thunder and lightening.  I didn’t believe that anywhere in the world had more dramatic thunderstorms than North Carolina, but I was wrong. In South Africa they are truly amazing.  After one recent storm we enjoyed a beautiful rainbow that stretched from horizon to horizon.


On the 1st, we went to the airport to pick-up a new senior couple.  Elder and Sister Shirts are from South Jordan, Utah and will be a blessing to the mission.  They will start their mission working in the office. Sister Shirts will be in charge of both flats and medical. Elder Shirts will manage the mission vehicle fleet.  On Friday, November 4th we hosted the office couples at the Mission Home to help welcome the Shirts to the Mission.  We enjoyed good food and a game of Mormon Pictionary.


On Sunday, we attended the Dobsonville Ward in Soweto.  This is a large all black township ward. (By the way “black” is not a derogatory term in South Africa.)  Although the chapel was filled to capacity, the parking lot had only five cars; three of which were missionary cars.  The investigators’ class filled the Relief Society room to overflowing.  I attended the High Priest Group. They attempted to teach the lesson in English.  However, because two of the older members didn’t understand English, much of the lesson was in Zulu and Sotho.  After Church we drove a few blocks to the home of Irene Tshbalala, the housekeeper for the Mission Home.  We took a picture of her with her son and her grandson in front of her house.  While we were there she taught Jane how to carry a baby on her back African-style.


November 7 – November 13

On the 9th we received 13 new missionaries, three Sisters and ten Elders.  Once again it was a very strong group. They came from Tanzania, South Africa, Madagascar, Kansas, California and Utah.  On the 11th, we said good-bye to one Sister and four Elders (one had an earlier flight). The longer we know these fine missionaries, the harder it is to let them go home.


Also on the 11th, Elder Mushonga came to the Mission Home to recuperate from an operation.  He stayed until Monday.  On Sunday, he felt well enough to go to Church with us.  So we decided to attend the Protea Glen Ward, a black township ward in the southern part of Soweto.  Protea Glen had been Elder Mushonga’s first area on his mission.  He was thrilled to go back and see that most of his converts were still active and growing in the Gospel.  One of them taught the Gospel Essentials class, another blessed the Sacrament and another was working with the Young Men. 


November 14 – November 20

On Monday, the 14th we held a going away dinner for the Keslers.  The Keslers have served very faithfully in the Mission Office.  Sister Kesler was in charge of flats and Brother Kesler managed the mission vehicle fleet. They also provided support and help to the Munsieville Branch.  We had a very nice evening at the Indaba Hotel.


Tuesday night we checked into the Rosebank Hotel in preparation for the Mission Presidents’ Seminar that would start the next morning.  We joined the Mission Presidents and their wives from the Cape Town and Durban missions for dinner.  We knew the Egans because they came out with us.  We had not met the Brocks before and enjoyed getting acquainted.


The next two days were a spiritual feast.  Elder Scott of the Twelve and Elders Bateman, Golden and Parmley of the Seventy gave us wonderful and inspired instruction.  We enjoyed a short private interview with Elder Scott.  We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the other Mission Presidents and wives from the nine missions in southern Africa.  After talking to those assigned to DR Conga, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Mozambique we are very thankful to be assigned to the South Africa Johannesburg Mission. 


On Friday we returned to the Mission Home refreshed and uplifted from the Mission Presidents’ Seminar.  That evening we took both the Keslers and Devenports to the airport as they began their journey home.  The Devenports had served in Bloemfontein, taking care of the missionaries in this distant part of the Mission and providing great service to the Bloemfontein, Thaba Nchu, Bloemonda and Rockland Branches.


We have grown to love and admire these wonderful couples who make such a great sacrifice to serve the Lord.  Although their families will be happy to welcome them home, we were sad to see them go.


Saturday evening we attended a special musical program entitled A Miracle Called Christmas sponsored by the Church.  The program was supposed to be held outside at the Bedfordview building, but about an hour before it started, a big thunderstorm hit.  So, they moved it inside.  Things were a little wild because it had to be moved inside so quickly. There were many nonmembers in attendance and approximately 2,000 people in total.  Our missionaries worked all day helping put up a spectacular backdrop of Bethlehem and getting everything else ready to go.  Then when it started to rain, they stayed outside in the storm and took everything down.  One zone was there until 1 am helping clean up the building (with our permission).  The Area is hoping to get funding to hold the program inside next year.  The weather is too unpredictable this time of year in Johannesburg . In the weeks proceeding the event our missionaries had sung in various malls to advertise the event.


Sunday we attended the Roodepoort Ward.  This is a mostly white ward.  Many of the members come from multi-generational families.  Except for the accents, you might think it was a North Carolina ward.


November 21 – November 27

Thanksgiving, of course, is not a holiday here, but many missionaries had a Thanksgiving dinner at one of the Senior Couples’ flats or at a member’s home who had lived in the U.S.  But for others it was just a normal day.


We had the office couples and the Assistants to the mission home for a Thanksgiving dinner.  Since our Assistants are both from England, it was their first Thanksgiving dinner.  It was a nice evening, even if we couldn’t quite get all the normal things.  We had turkeys from Brazil; Jane made cranberry relish and her dressing.  We also had pumpkin pie because a family picking up their missionary son had brought us some canned pumpkin.


The day before Thanksgiving we went to the airport to pick up a new Sister (shown here between her companions).  She had been delayed because of her visa.  She had served two months in the Los Angeles Mission waiting for her visa.  We were very happy to finally get her.  I think she will be a very good missionary.


On Saturday we had a Zone Leaders’ Conference for most of the day.  We have some very strong leaders.  I have been giving them more responsibilities and they have really stepped up to the new responsibilities.


Saturday evening Lorin and Courtney DeMourdant, his parents and his brother and wife came to the mission home.  They had spent about two weeks in Africa. Lorin’s father was the Mission President in this mission a few years ago.  They took us out to their favorite Johannesburg restaurant.  It was very good.  We enjoyed the evening.  It was nice to see friends from Charlotte and to talk to a past Mission President.


Sunday, we went to the Johannesburg Stake Conference.  Both Jane and I spoke.