I had a new experience yesterday – some folks might call it dangerous, but I prefer to call it an adventure. After each transfer, there is a zone leader training the following day. President Poulsen decided to try something different for this particular training meeting and have it at the Area Office – about 20 kilometers across town. No problem for me except that one of my jobs is to get those elders fed at lunch time. We have been buying chicken (at KFC) and potato salad with Sister Poulsen bringing fruit and sometimes bags of chips. Well, with this meeting being so far away, I didn’t want to buy the chicken on this side of town and transport it and have it cold by the time lunch rolled around. I decided to check for a KFC closer to the location. I found one only 2.5 kilometers from the Area office in Hillbrow and ordered the chicken by phone for take-away.
Now, Hillbrow is one of the dicier (in ZA-speak it is called dodgier) areas of central Johannesburg. When I told Sister Poulsen where I was getting the lunch, she said, “You had better take someone with you.” She knows the reputation of that part of town. I told her that I would be there in broad daylight and that so far no missionaries have been bothered during the day even in that section of the city.
I did decide with some trepidation that I would take R800 (approximately $120) with me in case the church credit card would not work at that particular KFC. I put the address into the GPS, as well as that of the Carlton Tower (more about this below), and set off for the adventure in Hillbrow. I had been in some parts of Central Joburg before and so was not surprised by the traffic, both foot and vehicle, as I neared the spot. The GPS led me right to the store. I parked and went in. One of the indications of the kind of neighborhood was that the counter was completely encased in bulletproof glass. As I had feared, the credit card did not work and the cash I had was my lifesaver.
I loaded the chicken into the van (combi) that I was driving and plugged TEMPLE into the GPS – the temple is right next to the Area Office. I arrived and got the elders fed and then President Poulsen wanted to take them to The Top of Africa on the top floor of Carlton Tower. Well, I had been there before, but someone else was driving. So now to downtown Joburg with its special brand of foot and vehicle traffic as well as dodging bus lanes and being wary of the ever present taxi drivers and their unique driving habits. Again, the GPS did the job and I unloaded my group of eight missionaries right across the street from the Carlton Tower. Elder Watts, who was driving the other combi, and I drove about three blocks away and found a place to park and wait until the Poulsens and the missionaries were through.
Again, plugging TEMPLE into the GPS took us back with only one small glitch and the elders were able to get their cars and go on their way. On the way to the Carlton Tower, I told the missionaries that I had been to Hillbrow that morning. They responded by saying, “Did you have a gun?” They know the reputation, too.
It was a good day – going two places I had not been before, getting myself back to the Area Office both times and experiencing a little bit of Hillbrow. The Lord watches out for his missionaries, even the old ones.