President and Sister Dunn

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Our Newest Elders Get Oriented!!

On Thursday August 28th, almost 6 weeks from arrival, we gathered our newest Elders and their trainers together at the mission home for an Orientation meeting and lunch.

It is a big adjustment leaving home, family and all your routine to suddenly be on the Lord's errand. We are so proud of all our newest Elders and want to spotlight each of them.
We welcomed then all to the mission home for their Orientation at 9 am.
Elder Kufoalor  his trainer Elder Cluff.
Elder Riley with his trainee, Elder McQueen

Elder McCartney and his trainer, Elder Togiatomai.

Elder Muvundia with his trainee, Elder Taylor.
Elder Olson with his trainee, Elder Smith-Holley.

Elder Smith with his trainee, Elder Clegg
Our Assistants Elder Davies and Stephens, who have helped set up the orientation presentation, are relaxing while everyone gathers.
The Assistants started the meeting by asking each companionship to introduce each other and share what they admire and what is unique about their companion.  It was a strong feeling of unity and brotherhood among these great missionaries. The Assistants then shared interesting facts about the mission, like where all the new Elders are serving on a map and then where all our missionaries in the Johannesburg Mission are from.  (over 29 countries, with half being from North America and the other half from continents all over the world.)  They also shared about the four different types of areas you can serve in, i.e. villages, townships, towns and cities.  They discussed the advantages of each. Trainees asked questions and the orientation was so helpful and positive.

Sister Dunn then gave a short presentation on how to be a consecrated missionary.  She gave each new Elder a copy of Elder Tad Callister's talk on this subject that he deliverd in 2008 at the Provo Missionary Training Center.


She shared some of the highlights from the article.  Elder Callister compares being on a mission and trying to progress can feel like ascending Mt. Everest! ....unconquerable...unapproachable...unassailable
but every step we take forward, however minute it may seem, furthers our ascent, until one day we reach the summit.

Sister Dunn shared a personal example of reaching a summit of Teewinot in the Teton Range in Wyoming a few years ago with her family. She compared climbing and Callister's talk to moving forward and giving every effort to come closer to God.  She shared some pictures to drive the point home even more and gave each new Elder the article to read on their own time.
Teewinot stands 11,376 feet off the Teton Valley floor and acan look pretty daunting as a day climb to the summit.

The views that open up along the way are stunning and not able to be seen from any other perspective. Step by step, climbers ascend through many climactic zones and some places that are easier than others to navigate. Like, a mission, it gets easier as you get closer to the summit, but each step is an effort even if you have support and guides along the way.

Yes, that is President Dunn right in front.  As we reached the summit of Teewinot that day in September 2009, we were reminded about the great metaphor of climbing mountains, changing your perspective and reaching summits in your life.  A mission is definitely a daunting mountain to climb, but the steeper the climb, the better the view and the more it stays with us the rest of our lives. Climb on!!

President Dunn ended it all with a great message about the mission maxims and how welcome missionaries our in the mission home and will forever be grafted into our family.

We ended it all with a braii..beque!! A mixture of a North American and South Africa grilled burgers. Everyone had a great time and got more bonded through this time together. This is a great group of missionaries!
Enjoying the food and a little sunshine as spring is almost officially here......On September 1st!

The new Elders enjoy some time with their MTC group.

We love this new group of Elders that are officially our first class since we arrived. It is a great group from Scotland, New Zealand, Mexico, Australia, Utah and Ghana.

Great trainers, Togiotamai and Olson enjoying a moment to visit and relax.
Good-bye...excited to see all of these Elders in just two weeks for our first zone conference!

Elder Garnica and his trainer Elder Loveless are in the Tzaneen area and unable to join us for this event, due to the distance they would have to travel. We are headed there next weekend and will be able to connect with them then.
Elder Ah Wong and trainer, Elder McClellan were also not able to be with us, because they live 4 hours away in Nelspruit. However, we were just with them last week-end and they are a great companionship and doing great work in their area.


Monday, August 25, 2014

News from Nelspruit

On Sunday August 24th we had the privilege of attending the Nelspruit Branch. President Dunn had the opportunity to call a new Branch President, due to the current President and his family moving. President and Sister Wilson Siguake, who are moving to Benoni and will be missed by this branch. (upper left) They have faithfully served for the past four years, Meet President and Sister Milton Manjate and their family (upper right). They will serve this branch moving forward and bring so much experience and love to this new calling. President Dunn stands with both Presidents, Manjate and Siguake. (lower left). Old and new branch presidencies with missionaries. (lower right)

After church we celebrated and enjoyed a member baptism. Shaun turned 9 and had a birthday party and a baptism with branch members.  It was fun to mingle and interact with these great members after church.

Meet the Missionaries in the Nelspruit Branch! Brother and Sister Scott just arrived and enjoyed their first Sunday on this historic day. Elder McClellan and Elder Ah Wong are doing a great job as the full time missionaries assigned here. Elder Ah Wong just arrived on July 10th and Elder McClellan is his trainer. You can tell how committed they are to growing this branch and knowing and loving the members. 

Above, the old and new branch presidencies are pictured.  The new branch presidency is on the right and is missing the first counselor, Lebogang Maleka,  who was out of town.  Karel McCarthy is the new second counselor. His father, Brother McCarthy served int he prior presidency, so at least it is keeping it ...all in the family.
 This branch meets in a commercial center and the church rents out the space. It is very resourceful and fun to see how well this space works for this branch. It is an effective use of 1500 square feet for a chapel, primary room, priesthood meeting rooms, kitchen and even a baptismal font!

Above, see the nursery room. The families are beautiful and the children are especially endearing. These two little boys were born one day apart and are three months old. The primary and nursery rooms were full and the wonderful women are strong members of the church. It was such an honor to be with them and we will be back soon!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Senior Couples Coming and Going!

Senior Couples add so much to a mission! I thought I understood the impact of senior couples, but clearly I had no idea. We have so many great couples serving throughout this mission.  Currently, we count at least 12.  Some are assigned to teach seminary and/or Institute, but many are under the mission and help move the work forward. They support missionaries in their area and also branches and districts within the mission boundaries.

This past week we said good-bye and hello to senior couples all in the same day.
Having lunch with the Hunts as they head back to Sandy, Utah after 18 months. They made such a tremendous impact in the Nelspruit area of the mission. They have been a foundation for the branches in that area.

On the same day, the Scotts arrived from Alpine, Utah. They are serving their second mission. The first one was in NYC. They have lots of experience and a lot of charisma.  You can see Elder Scott sharing the gospel with the airport porter right as they landed.

We are excited to get such great couples in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission. The Scotts will serve also in Nelspruit, filling the vacancy created by the Hunts departure.

If you are thinking of serving a mission as a senior couple, do not delay! It is so rewarding and a meaningful way to give back, spread the gospel, stay young and have a grand adventure.
Make sure to request the South Africa Johannesburg Mission!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Elder Bodily Departs for Home!

Elder Bodily departs for home!
Elder Bodily left us today! As our "Senior Assistant to the President" when we arrived just over 6 weeks ago, we are now on our own. Not really! He trained us well and also the other Assistants that are taking over, Elder Davies and Elder Stephens. We love the picture they left for us to remember this trusty threesome!
Elder Bodily also left us with quite a surprise. He created a look-a-like picture for us patterned after one we had on the bulletin board of our son Brady from his mission. Elder Bodily had seen the picture and re-created it with the help of Elder Stephens and Davies. As he left the mission, he carefully replaced one picture with another one of him in the same position. A few days after he left I was walking through the kitchen and my eye caught this "similar, yet different" picture and I took such a funny double take. It took a minute for it to sink in..and then I just laughed out loud. Brady's picture was still there, just hiding under other pictures. Elder Bodily has placed himself in our hearts forever as our first trainer and very clever Elder.

We had a final dinner honoring Elder Bodily, since he is going home 2 weeks before the transfer due to school demands. 
We fired up our new BBQ or Braai as they are known here.
We had a last dinner together of BBQ steak, chicken, sweet potatoes, salad, corn and strawberry shortcake. We even forced Elder Bodily to teach the Assistants and me a short dance routine…that his mother made me promise that I would do….Afterall, Elder Bodily is a very talented dancer of many genres. He shared a few dance steps with us, before we got a short lesson. This will be a fun hobby for him as he pursues medical school.
Elder Bodily spent his last morning participating in our weekly office staff meeting. We celebrated by having a lite breakfast treat with some festive plates in his honor. He shared the scripture thought by opening the Psalm of Nephi (2 Nephi 2:15-32) and likened it unto his mission and himself. He humbly shared how he "has found his soul delighting in the things of the Lord, and his heart pondering continually upon the things he has seen and heard....My God hath been my support and hath filled me with His love..."

He helped us debut our new airport sign before he departed!
The “Trusty Three Assistants” will go back to the traditional model of Two AP’s!

We feel so honored to have grown to love and appreciate this great missionary and work closely with him in our "greenie stage."
We look forward to seeing Elder Bodily Utah-Side in just a little less than three years!

Historic Day: A new cluster was formed

August 17, 2014
We were able to participate in a new cluster being formed on Sunday August 17 in Ranfontiene, a town outside of Johannesburg and in our mission. This area has many active and less active members, but they all had to travel far to church, which is difficult.

A new innovative idea is to bring the church to the people instead of the people to the church.  The Area President proposed this idea and it is being piloted in SE Africa for the entire church.

The general idea is this:
Have a branch president and his counselors have stewardship over their regular branch and then also an added cluster that meets in another area. The counselors and branch president will divide and conquer and attempt to help two groups grow and become stronger as separate, yet connected units.

What it did for this small group was evident. It gives them motivation to grow their cluster to a branch by bringing back less active members and getting more families to convert and come and participate. The energy there on Sunday was electric. The strong families were excited to have this new chance to grow the kingdom.... closer to home. Transportation is a big issue here. Many members do not have the resources to have cars, so they have to take taxi's to church or walk a very long way.

Notice how many children and families as part of this first cluster. We were honored to be there with Elder and Sister Carl Cook, (pictured below) the area president, as well as strong leadership from the branch.

This is the 3rd historic cluster of it's kind and it was special to have everyone go outside after sacrament meeting and take a picture for posterity. The Sunday School and Auxiliiary meetings were so well prepared and a delight to participate in. One of the amazing parts of this group is how many active Melchizedek Priesthood holders there are and the numbers of active families with children.

All of these meetings are taking place in a preschool the church has made arrangements to use each Sunday.  Stay tuned...there will be more clusters to come in our mission boundaries.  It is an exciting new concept and these pictures are being shared with the First Presidency in their weekly meetings this week.  This is big news for the church to get this innovative new approach piloted in the South East Africa Areas of the church.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

YSA Convention 2014

On August 15-16 we were invited by President Shawn Boshoff of the Pretoria Stake to attend the Young Single Adult (YSA) Annual Convention to be held 2 hours northeast from Johannesburg at a camp/reserve that church and non-profit groups can rent called Sediba Kwele. We participated with over 335 YSA's from multiple stakes.  It was powerful to participate in an event that YSA's plan and implement.
There was a delicious dinner, speakers, movies and activities well planned on the evening we arrived. Sister Susan and Brother RJ Shupe (senior couple from California) were the evening speakers and delivered a terrific message about choosing a path that is on The Lord's side. It was very interactive and relevant for this age group. Sister Shupe is a public speaker and regular EFY and Women's Conference presenter. Brother Shupe is offering his legal expertise as a missionary assignment for the church. Great new friends that did a great job. 
We were so impressed that the YSA's stayed up late and many did not sleep, but they also wanted to "pack it in" and get everyone was awakened  at 5:20 am with by bagpipes.  At 6 am they actually got up and were ready for either an early morning hike or a game drive. We met President Boshoff at 6 am for a mountain bike ride around the reserve and out on the main dirt road. It was so fun to get to have this time with him and learn more about his great stake and also South Africa and bike riding. He loves riding his road and mountain bike!

We came around the corner and saw two adult rhinos right by the fence property of another reserve. We scared them away trying to take a photo, but we waited and one of them came out of the bushes again. The original sighting was amazing, because we were right next to them. Very fun to see our first rhinos "up close and personal"  while on our bikes!

We know this will be the first ride of many with President Boshoff. He is a serious, committed rider and was so nice to invite us on this early morning.

Below is President Boshoff a little later in the morning, standing by the township leader as he explained the service project plan that he has assisted with. The YSA's listened and then walked about a mile to where the families were waiting for the visit and the food delivery.  This was a great project that was planned and identified by the local people. 
  August 16, 2014 is a service day across the church in Africa called Mormon Helping Hands. Every branch or ward plans an activity that meets needs and then everyone wears these vests and gets out in the community.  Of al the projects happening that day, we were delighted to participate with 335 YSA's in a  township distributing food to families hit by a workers strike.

  It was humbling to arrive and see all of the people in this particular township.  It is one hit very hard by the economy and the workers strike and subsequent violence and layoffs by the mine owners.  The YSA's stood in line behind the food truck and each carried food supplies to families pre-identified to receive the food.  The food had been purcahsed below cost, with also an in-kind donation offered. While everyone was waiting together,  the township children did a "gum boot dance" for all of us. We were so happy we took advantage of this great opportunity. It was touching on many levels and fun to see firsthand one of many "Mormon Helping Hand" projects in Africa on this day. Google it for more cool examples.