Saturday, May 7, 2016

Johannesburg, South Africa!

We found out at the MTC in Provo that we would be doing some training in the Africa South East Area Office in Johannesburg, South Africa before starting our mission in Kenya.  We were a little sad not to be going straight to Nairobi but it turned out to be a very good thing.  We learned so much about all aspects of the missions in Africa.  The Church takes very good care of its missionaries.  We learned what resources there are for immigration and visa problems, travel, medical needs, mental health issues, computer problems, and more.  Many couples at the Area Office were missionaries (like us) serving at their own expense.  There were also Black Africans and White Africans employed at the Office.  Yes, that's what they call themselves.  They all speak English with very cute accents.

Johannesburg is a huge city with lots of green foliage and trees, including palm trees and evergreen fir-type trees.  Lots of traffic, but not crazy traffic.  They of course drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheels are on the right side.  Since we've been to Great Britain, the driving pattern was familiar.

Since we weren't there as tourists, we only saw the city.  We stayed in a flat with a senior couple, the Waltons.  Lovely people who had served as mission president and companion in Portugal and Angola (which is a country in Africa).  I had to look on a map to find it.

On our first day there we toured the Johannesburg Mission Training Center.  It's a lovely walled and gated compound which includes a chapel.  It's a very small MTC.  The next two days we were trained at the Area Office by many people, teaching us different aspects of the mission.  Dr. Jubber is the area doctor and he is from Lethbridge and was our son Eric's bishop in his single adult ward.  If we have any medical problems, we are to phone him and he will evaluate and tell us where to go for help.  Sometimes missionaries are flown to Johannesburg if needed because it has good medical care.

Sunday evening, Elder & Sister Walton drove us to a Stake Center to hear the BYU Young Ambassadors put on a fireside.  The Young Ambassadors travel to different countries, sharing their testimonies in song and word.  I was especially excited to see them as our niece, Josie, is in the Young Ambassadors.  She had seen us off at our open house in Salt Lake City and now we were there in Johannesburg to see her!  So cool.

We're at a Stake Center somewhere in Johannesburg, ready for the Young Ambassadors' fireside.  It's a lovely building.  As you can see, it's 6 p.m. and getting dark already.

Here's Josie, whom we just saw a few days ago in Salt Lake City.  She's been in Africa for a week.  The students perform several times a week at different venues.  I wish we could have seen their concert but it was last night (Saturday) and we flew in Sunday morning.

So excited to meet Ephraim Msane.  He will become our mission president on July 1st.  The Kenya Nairobi mission president right now is President Hicken but he will be released and Pres Msane will take over.  So nice that changes come with no campaigning or trouble.  Callings are from the Lord and are accepted as given.  Mission presidents generally serve for three years.

Here we are with our niece Josie and her friend Michael who is also a member of the Young Ambassadors.

I sat behind these two girls at the fireside and found their hair fascinating.  So afterward, I asked if I could take their picture.  They were happy that I commented on their hair.  The girl on the left said that her hair is braided with fiber and with a hair piece.  The girl on the right's hair is a wig.  African hair is very wiry.  When it looks smooth, it's a wig.  They said they wished they had hair like mine.  Their hair takes from two hours to two days to braid!

A chapel on the Johannesburg MTC (Mission Training Center) campus.

We four called ourselves the "GPS" meaning the "Guinea Pig Seniors."  We are the first senior missionary couples to be trained in Johannesburg.  It's something new that they've decided to try out.  We were happy to be with Elder & Sister Harline (pronounced har-leen), with whom we had also had office training at the Provo MTC.  Sister Harline really reminds me of Peggy Redd.  We had great times laughing together.  She has an amazing sense of humor.  Elder Harline is 6'5" so I felt really small next to him.  Both are wonderful people.  They will be serving as the only senior missionaries in Ethiopia.

This is a picture of a photograph.  I took it because we had passed these shanty towns the evening of the Young Ambassadors fireside.  It's of two young missionaries sharing a gospel message with someone inside the shanty.  When we actually passed this shanty town it was too dark to take pictures.  We noticed they had no electric lights.

L-R: Elder & Sis Walton with whom we were staying; Elder & Sister Torrie; Sister & President Ashton (president of the MTC); Sister & Elder Harline.  Pres Ashton is a son of Elder Marvin J Ashton who was an apostle.  Pres Ashton had a very dry sense of humor. 

A lovely Bird of Paradise.


  1. Thanks so much! Lovely post!

  2. My cousin Verle Woodruff & His wife Linda (Lybbert) Were on a "water systems" mission in Ethiopia about 5 years ago. Harlines may meet people who are 'drinking the water'!