We have had rain (mostly thunderstorms) off and on for about two months now. A few days it has been cloudy and rainy all day. New Year’s Day has been one of those days – cloudy when we got up and raining off and on all day. Our rainy season is October through April – we have some amazing thunderstorms but not many days like today with it cloudy all day.
People told us that August & September were the windiest months. Even though they were windy this past year, October and November were much more blustery. I guess it’s like my uncle told me, “Anyone who tries to predict [South Africa] weather is a fool and a greenhorn.”
But, weather aside, this past year has been marvelous. We left Oregon on January 7, 2010 with a crowd of family to see us off from the Eugene airport. We surely felt loved. We spent a few days with family before being delivered to the MTC. In the MTC, we were fortunate enough to meet some of the people we would serve with in ZA. We rubbed shoulders with Aubrey, one of our grandsons, who had entered the MTC just a few days before us and is now serving in Germany. We received intense training in both proselyting and office procedures and software.
We arrived in ZA and immediately went to work trying to replace the Gunthers, who are now serving another mission in Argentina. We have struggled with office procedures and mountains of paperwork, but are now feeling just a bit more comfortable with all of it. We went to Ennerdale, a small branch about 45 minutes from our flat and spoke the first Sunday we arrived. We have felt at home there from the very first. The people are friendly and quite well grounded in the gospel despite their short time in the church. We both teach classes and help out with the Young Single Adults. Two of the YSA have been baptized since we have been here and are pointing toward a mission when they have been members for one year.
We have met an apostle and several of the Seventy during our stay here. That is something unlikely to happen anywhere in the USA, unless one works in the church office building. What a blessing this has been. We have been here while the South Africa Johannesburg Mission set a new high in baptisms – 1,957 for the year. With the other two South Africa missions, there have been enough baptisms to make an entire new stake in ZA. In fact, the six stakes in Gauteng (I’ll tell you how to pronounce this when we meet face to face) will probably be made seven in 2011. And the branches in Botswana may become their own stake in this shuffle. There are several branches and groups in Botswana that have been part of the Roodeport Stake headquartered right next to our mission office. That puts the stake center for most of the Botswana saints a minimum of four hours from their homes. The growth here is amazing – people are so open to the gospel message. Most days at the office, we receive several referrals.
We have enjoyed being part of the great army of missionaries serving in the church today. We are happy to do our little part to help the work move forward. Being part of that stone “cut out of the mountain without hands” is very exciting. There is no way to describe our feelings as we go about our daily tasks.
We have grown due to the challenges given us. Hopefully, we have grown enough to take care of the things that come up. In short, this year has been amazing. We love the missionaries. We love President and Sister Poulsen. We love the other couples with whom we work. We love the folks of the Ennerdale Branch and Johannesburg Stake. If this sounds like a recruiting post, it probably is. Come and join us in beautiful South Africa, or wherever the Lord may send you. President Monson said it very succinctly in his opening remarks in October Conference, “We need many, many more senior couples.”