October 1 – October 7

We started October watching the concluding sessions of General Conference.  What a wonderful blessing comes from the technology that allows us to participate in Conference even though we are 10,000 miles away.  The rest of the week was one of the quietest we have had in a long time.  The Assistants and I finished transfer assignments and the Transfer Newsletter.  On Thursday, we went to the temple with the Assistants.


October 8 – October 14

We attended Church in the Gold Reef Ward.  The Assistants serve in this ward.  On Tuesday, we held our monthly staff meeting with the wonderful couples who serve in the Mission Office.  The Mission would not function without them.


On Wednesday, we arose very early and traveled to the Johannesburg airport to collect nine new missionaries that attended the Provo MTC because there was not room in the Johannesburg MTC.  Later, we also picked up three new missionaries from the Johannesburg MTC.  This group of missionaries included Elders from South Africa, England and Denmark, as well as four states.


Thursday we held our transfer meetings and then left directly for the Airport.  Jane was sick and missed the meetings and the trip to the airport. One of the missionaries going home was Elder Otterstrom who wrote our mission song.  As well as being a composer, he has a great voice and sang at many of our events.  On our way to the airport, we stopped by the Mission Home, so Elder Otterstrom could sing one last song for Sister Bowden.  There were only three missionaries going home this transfer, but two were zone leaders and one was an Assistant to the President.  We will miss all three of these wonderful missionaries, especially Elder Roberts, who had served as an Assistant for six months.  We get very close to the excellent missionaries who serve as Assistants.  Elder Tanner Allen from Layton , Utah was called to be the new Assistant. 


October 15 – October 21

We attended Church in the Johannesburg Ward in downtown Johannesburg this Sunday.  The ward is unique because the priesthood brethren outnumber the sisters by a large margin.  The members come from many African countries and have come to Johannesburg to find employment.  They often send money home to their families in their home countries. 


On Tuesday, we took Elder and Sister Farris to the airport.  This couple has served in Botswana since we arrived in the Mission .  They handled all the mission’s financial, medical and visa issues in Botswana .  In addition, they watched over the missionaries, provided support to the mission branch in Francistown and the saints in Serowe. Sister Farris taught keyboard to many students and both were involved in re-activation and proselyting.  They provided a great service in building the Kingdom of God .   Elder and Sister Pemberton from Bluffdale , Utah took over the responsibilities in Botswana .


On Wednesday, we held Zone Leaders’ Council. We also invited the fine missionaries opening Mafikeng and Bethlehem. The group discussed the condition of the mission and the things we could improve upon.  We established plans and goals for the next transfer period. 


On Friday, we invited all of our senior couples to the Mission Home for dinner and socialization.  We also invited three couples from the D. R. Congo Mission.  They are temporarily in Johannesburg because of anticipated violence during the presidential elections in D. R. Congo.  We had a very enjoyable evening. During the evening, we a violent thunderstrom provided some entertainment. One bolt of lightning hit the Mission Home, arced accoss the kitchen lights and set off the alarm. Ten or more minutes passed before we could turn off the alarm.  We fed 34 people, eight of which spent the night in the Mission Home because of the distance back to where they stay.


Saturday, I attended the semi-annual Coordinating Council with Elder Young and the presidents of the six stakes covered by the mission.  The meeting lasted most of the day.


October 22 – October 28

Sunday, we went to church in the Sharpeville Branch.  The branch meets in three rooms rented from a school in the township.  The rooms are very sparse; the tile floors are dirty and stained; some windows are broken, but there was a great spirit there.  The Branch President is Elder Turner, one of our senior Elders, who serves in Sharpeville with his wife.  After Church, they invited us to their flat for dinner.


On Tuesday, we began a new round of zone conferences. The first was for the Johannesburg Zone.  The Area Medical Advisor joined us for each of the zone conferences.  He and his wife provided training on health issues. Sister Bowden spoke on “Doing Hard Things.”  I spoke on “Putting off the Natural Man.”  I interviewed each missionary, as I do each zone conference.  I thoroughly enjoy these interviews.


Thursday, we traveled to Bloemfontein and on Friday held that zone conference.  We left immediately after the meeting and traveled some three hours in driving rain to Bethlehem .  Upon arriving, I interviewed a man for ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood.  The basic unit in Bethlehem falls under the Mission .  On Saturday we left early, so I could be back in Johannesburg for a meeting with the Area President and six stake presidents. We drove by the "humble" Bethlehem meeting place.


October 29 – October 31

Sunday, we attended the Soweto Ward.  We enjoy going to this ward.  It is relatively close to the Mission Home and always welcomes us warmly.


Monday morning we traveled to Gaborone, Botswana to arrive in time for a presentation by the Church of 500 wheelchairs to Botswana.  The event was very nice.  The First Lady of Botswana accepted the wheelchairs on behalf of Botswana .  The first 25 wheelchairs were given to recipients at the event.  The First Lady talked to many of our missionaries and even tried out one of the wheelchairs. Elder Spratling gave her a Book of Mormon.  I was surprised to see one of the recipients dressed in a Carolina jersey and shorts. His new wheelchair even matched his outfit.  That evening we enjoyed a nice dinner with the Humanitarian missionary couples and the Pembertons.  On Tuesday, we held our Botswana Zone Conference. All the Elders came with matching sweswe ties. Afterwards we headed home to Joburg, arriving about 9 pm.