President and Sister Dunn

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Our first house guest from home!

On Monday August 5th, right when our Elders arrived from Sierra Leonne, I also picked up Alexis Jessop from the train station. Alexis (Lexi) was an outstanding student of mine last fall in our Leadership in Community class I taught at the University of Utah. She is a Community Engaged Scholar, has been an America Reads Tutor through the Bennion Center and is currently a Hinckley Intern and will be leading the Presidential Ambassadors this next year when she returns. 

Needless to say, she is an outstanding young woman and I was honored to host her for a few days. Lexi and I have been planning this rendezvous ever since we both discovered in the spring that we were both going to be in South Africa this summer. Lexi was accepted for a Hinckley InstituteInternship in Cape Town for 3 months and she knew with our mission call, there might be a chance to see each other. She made all the effort to get to Johannesburg, by taking a 24 hour train trip from Cape Town. The train got stalled and the trip ended up being 30 hours one way.

I was so happy to retrieve her from the train station and begin planning our 4 days together. She was so willing to help out in anyway with my mission duties and I promised that each day we would find some time to explore places around Johannesburg. 

I prepared her guest room with my cherished Bennion Center quilt so she would feel right at home. We rode bikes around the neighborhood, ran and also took a trek to the Oprah Winfrey School for Girls (pictured below). 

We had fun meals out and made some at home. We visited the Joahnnesburg Temple 

and  even got a little taste of home with Menchi's yogurt in a mall. All in all we had a great week.
Lexi shared with me all about her wonderful summer internship experience. She is mature beyond her years and exhibits so many wonderful personal habits and qualities. It was so impressive to hear about how she navigated a summer that was full of experiences, adventures, opportunities and challenges. We talked non-stop when we were together alone.

In the mission home, Lexi could not have been more helpful. On three of the four mornings she was with us, we hosted interviews for entire zones. From 20-28 missionaries would arrive on schedule for interviews with President Dunn and go through a workshop with me. Lexi helped me with the workshop that was focused on "Health and Wellness" and included a personal exercise survey and a game focusing on their medicine first aid kit and how to know what is in there and when to use it. Many of the medicines look very different from what Elders might be used to. Lexi got an up close and personal look at the life of a missionary and saw the variation in our Elders, where they are from and how different and similar they are.

She shared her exercise routine with them and it was very impressive to see and hear about her daily habits and impressive regiment.  We will benefit for a long time from what Lexi taught and naturally emulated.  the Elders got a glimpse of what a sharp girl will expect and that is perfect since we don't have any Sisters in our mission.
We visited the Botanical Garden and loved the waterfall, flowers and serenity.

We spent a few hours at the Lion-Rhino Park just outside Johannesburg. It has many more things to see than we had time for, but this shows a few of the animals we saw up close and personal.

We spent a short time at the Apartheid Museum one afternoon before we met Preseident Dunn for dinner at our favorite place, Doppio Zero in Rosebank.

On our last day, on the way to the train station, we stopped by the University of Johannesburg, looking for their Community Engagement Center. We made progress towards make connections, but also got to see the campus and setting. It was fun for us to be in a University atmosphere together.
I put Lexi on the train back to Cape Town (another 25 hour trip) and then she flew home. She arrived in SLC today and will start school in just a few weeks again at the University of Utah. I was so delighted to have her visit be my first official house guest. 


  1. THIS IS SO FUN! EVERYTHING ABOUT IT! I can't wait to be a visitor. I love the froyo, and all the animals, and that giraffe picture of you -- so cute! I am so glad she could come! You made it so fun for her! Love you!

  2. Thank you for taking such good care of my little sister during her time there! She loved it and treasured every moment with you in Joburg! She speaks so highly of you and was so excited to see you. Thank you for being such a good example to both of us and for your light and love!