President and Sister Dunn

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I Spy Missionaries

The morning of our MLC meeting, in the kitchen with our house guests. Some need to travel far for the meeting, so they come the night before.  Makes for a fun morning time and a fun time for Elder rRed to imitate my "Popcorn" explanation to Elder Harmaans!  (haha you had to be here!!)

Our recent Mission Leadership Council, with all the new Zone Leaders. We held a very effective "Council" meeting, where many important issues with the mission were discussed and plans and goals set. Meeting lasted from 8:30-12:00 pm.on Thursday October 23rd.

Our capable Assistants, Elder Stephens and Menendez leading the meeting.

A gathering in the Benoni Stake on a week night in early October. All of the ward mission leaders from the Stake gathered for a training that President Dunn put together with special request from President Holmes from the Benoni Stake. Having all the full time missionaries from this zone in attendance made for a very strong meeting and presence. Can't you see what a great group of Elders they are, just by their countenance? I can and do!see and feel it constantly!

The zone meeting in September in Tzaneen. Taking a minute to honor and celebrate those that had birthdays in July, August and September! Three sisters were included with our Elders birthdays.

Mission Song being sung at the North East Zone Conference, Tzaneen Chapel, September 2014

You can see Elders in the distance. They come from far and wide for the Transfer Meeting. Due to mileage from flats to assigned areas, our mission has more vehicles than any other mission, so we have been told. However, we are reducing the number of traffic violations and accidents. We hope by the end of 2015, we will have zero of each in the mission on average!!
Morning Study with President Dunn and Elder McCallister

and  Elder Harmaans

Elder Olson just got transferred to the Tzaneen area, a beautiful, tropical, HOT part of our mission. He was transferred the day before we came for a visit.  He got called into the role of district leader and ready to teach and train on a relevant gospel subject.

Elder Olson-newly called district leader, leading a great discussion!

More pictures coming. I know seeing missionaries, is what many of my viewers are looking for. I will keep the posts coming.

Riddle: How does a 70 Turn 50?

 On Saturday October 18th, Elder Khumbulani Mdletshe, an Area Seventy 70 for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints celebrated his Fiftieth 50 Birthday. One week later, on Saturday October 25th, his wife hosted a backyard casual gathering, so we thought!

We showed up for what we thought might be wors (hot dogs) on the Braai (grill) but no! Instead it looked like a setting for an elaborate wedding dinner. There was a band setting up and a table set for about 40 people. We thought it was for someone else, but quickly realized we were part of the guest list. Glad we showed up and were ready to eat and be entertained.

Sister Mdeltshe, Foote' was the MC and welcomed all of us there.  She is telling a few stories about her husband.

The Mdletsche Family

Food was amazing! They went all out, no details spared!

Highlight of the party, was the family reprisal of "I Love Rock and Roll"

Thanks for inviting us. We loved meeting your family and friends and to see all the love and support you have.  You are a great man and a great leader for the church. Good luck with your 50th year goals...especially running a marathon under 4 hours. We believe you can do it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A SISTER missionary writes a letter home

I want to share a wonderful missionary letter I received this week from a sister missionary that is from South Africa, but serving in Kirtland, Ohio. Her name is Jaydeen deKock (pictured above right) and her letter inspired me.  I am meeting so many new friends here in South Africa and her parents, Andy and Charnell,  were some of the first and their friendship will not end when we leave.

More formally, President Andrew DeKock has helped us navigate South Africa through his long term involvement here in the church and the countries history. As Stake President of the Johannesburg Stake, he and Charnell have helped us feel so welcome and been so friendly towards us.

They have also been so good to our missionaries. They understand missionaries, as they have 2 of their 4 children serving right now.
I was lucky enough to get on the distribution list for their daughter, Jade..... and so I read her latest e-mail and thought ..........I am going to post this one!

We don't have SISTERS in our mission, and yet our Elders are exuberant and enthusiastic.  But, I must admit from having two boys and a daughter, girls tend to give you more information and share more feelings of their heart.  But, boys learn this skill and start to realize that moms and wives like more feelings, more information, more talking!!

It was good timing to want to post a SISTER's e-mail, because I also got a call from my son and daughter-in-law announcing their are having a baby GIRL in March. Maybe this little  baby girl will one day grow up to be a sister missionary and write me a letter like this!
I hope so!!

Weekly e-mail from Sister Jaydeen DeKock
Monday October 21, 2014
 Kirtland, Ohio

Mondays roll around so quickly sometimes :) So here I am again :) Providing weekly epistles since may 2014 <3

I love my mission!

I love my mission because:
- My testimony of the Book of Mormon has completely changed
- I have begun to understand the Atonement in a way I didn't realize I didn't understand before but I still have just scratched the surface
-I get to bear my testimony multiple times a day and that is my favourite!
- We mow lawns and scrub stoves and clean houses and rake leaves and build a table with our ward mission leader for an investigator. ( You should see me use a saw :) haha
- We knock on doors and offer to take out peoples trash. We have countless opportunities to serve complete strangers who are all Gods children.
-I have learned that Repentance is hopeful and forgiveness is real!
- Our lives are so much bigger than ourselves.
- I get to meet people that I can't imagine my life without!!
- We get to see the gospel change lives, mine and those we teach!
- Living with the companionship of the Holy Ghost means so much more to be now than ever before. It's a power, a support and a guide that changes everything!
-It makes me really pray
-It pushes me everyday.
-My priorities have changed
- I could never doubt how real Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are
- It makes me believe in miracles
- I laugh so much every day,especially while trying to sing hymns with Rosie.
- daily we are on the receiving end of the kindness of other people and we get to see just how good and kind the world is!
- darkness is blocked and feeling separated from the things of the world truly makes everything feel clear and makes you feel alive.
-I have had and continue to have the best companions whom I love so much!
- I have been in more musical numbers on my mission then I have my whole life :)
- Your greatest joy comes from other peoples joy and your greatest sadness comes from other peoples sadness
-Sharing this gospel is fun! Its exciting!
-Its the reason getting up at 6 knowing its cold and going to run outside isn't as bad as it sounds
-I now cannot imagine going to bed any later than 10.30
-It has made me appreciate everyone and everything back home so much more!
-It puts me out of my comfort zone but also makes me feel in my element
-Being in Kirtland feels like being at home! I love giving tours here and meeting incredible people <3
- It makes me see heaven and that changes things! <3
Its so hard to stop typing haha :) but ok :)

My own darling daughter is like Jade, in that she is the best and only daughter I have.  Charnell deKock and I have talked about how much we love having one special dughter that is our best friend!

Emi sets the bar high and gives me so much daily inspiration. Her mission has been different, as she did not go on an actual mission, but is changing the world in her own way. Check out her amazing inspiring blog,
She and Chase are even starting a non-profit! Check it out here!!

Today, she sent me this e-mail. I had to post it!
From Emi:

My studies this morning were a few missionary talks and I loved these quotes so had to share! Love you guys and so proud of what you're doing!

"Missionary work does not require the development of strategies or gimmicks. It does require faith—real faith and trust in the Lord. It also requires genuine love. The first great commandment is to 'love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. … The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself' (Matt. 22:37, 39)."
—M. Russell Ballard, "The Essential Role of Member Missionary Work"

"Devoted disciples of Jesus Christ always have been and always will be valiant missionaries. A missionary is a follower of Christ who testifies of Him as the Redeemer and proclaims the truths of His gospel."
—David A. Bednar, "Come and See"

"Do you know how important you are? Every one of you—right now—is valuable and essential in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. We have a work to do. We know the truth of the restored gospel. Are we ready to defend that truth? We need to live it; we need to share it. We must stand firm in our faith and lift our voices to proclaim true doctrine."
—Neill F. Marriott, "Sharing Your Light"

Awesome Senior Couples...More Needed!

On October 16-18, we hit the road and headed to the North East with our Assistants, Elder Stephens and Elder Menendez. This was the nicest road trip we have taken, because they chauffeured us the entire way.  We sat in the backseat and worked on mission projects. The senior couples in the Limpopo area are so wonderful. They are having so much fun and making a difference.
We stopped in Polokwane and met up with 3 amazing couples at the newly built Nando's.
The Winwards, the Brammers and the Harwards are serving our missionaries and the members in this area.  We wish we got to be with them more, but absolutely love catching up and hearing of all the progress. They work in 3 different mission dependent branches. Without their leadership right now, the branches would really be struggling.  The hope is when they leave, that the branch will be self sustaining.

Elder Menedez and Harward and Brammer, ready to enjoy delicious chicken, rolls and well as company!

The next night we gathered with the other 4 senior couples serving in the Tzaneen area at the High Grove Pizza Tavern. This is a great way to have a meeting and gathering with everyone at the same time.   It was so pleasant to sit outside and catch up with the great work going on in their area.  It is remarkable how meaningful their work is and how many couples would love the chance to come and do this, if only they better understood what was involved.  Seated are the Heyen's  from Oregon, the Meldrums from Canada, the Butlers from Utah and the Campbell's from Arizona. All great people and we feel so lucky to work together with them. We couldn't do our callings without their amazing contribution and teamwork.  If you know anyone interested in serving as a sneior couple...tell them we need them and this is the most amazing place to serve.  We are definitely recruiting!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We have a global mission

The South Africa Johannesburg Mission has missionaries representing 35 countries. Last week, we added 7 new missionaries, from 6 different countries.  We have many languages spoken, not only here in Africa, but among our Elders.

Below this wonderful mosaic of all the flags, is a list of all of the countries represented by our missionaries. It is such a rich part of this experience.

America (Idaho, Kansas, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, California, New Mexico,  Indiana, Texas, Montana, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Georgia) 

 Czech Republic
England U.K.
French Polynesia

New Guinea
New Zealand

Palau, Micronesia


I can go around the world, or find the world represented right here!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Leaving on a jet plane

October 24, 2014
Four Elders depart for home:
On the last day and final hours, the departing Elders have a chance to share their wisdom with the New Elders and then bear testimony in their final meeting with the mission.  The transfer meeting ends with testimonies being shared from those departing. But first, we have instituted a ceremonial “pinning” where we show a slide of them on the screen, while the mission song is being played and we pin them with a South Africa pin on their lapel. After, they address the missionaries and share their testimony.
It is very touching to hear final words from each of them over the pulpit.  Elder Bird, Lohmann, Louw and Luthy did such a terrific job and it was so heartfelt!!

After the transfer meeting we all return to the mission home for a lunch and then to the Apartheid Museum on the way to the airport.  Here are some airport scenes…….and then they are off.

Saying good-bye to Elder Bird and Luthy was hard.

It is so touching to see families that come to the airport to pay their respects to these great Elders.

Elder Louw had the shortest flight of any missionary from the SAJM mission, I predict. He flew 2 hours to Cape Town.  We still had sad goodbye's, even though we will for sure see him again multiple times we hope, before we go home.  Elder Louw is a great tribute to South Africa...what a great guy!!

  Pictures of Elder Lohmann coming. Stay tuned!

We hope they are watching the blog and feeling of the love we have for them. This is also a good place to be able to view what is going on in the mission….so we hope they become followers once they are home. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Transfer Days are here again!

The transfer week is the highlight of the mission schedule. Everything revolves around new Elders coming in and Elders departing for home. It is an emotional week for those intimately involved and for all of us to witness those embarking on the trail and those that have reached the summit and looking forward and back at the same time.  It is a big deal in a mission to make changes and it is the one constant. Change is one of the aspects of a mission that is so good for everyone. It keeps us adaptable and prepares us for the future.
New Meets Old!   New Elders leaving the MTC at 7 am on 10.14.2014. Their greeters and porters are the departing Elders, flying out later today after the transfer meeting! Pretty emotional times for all involved.

"New and Old" pause for an embrace before morning schedule begins

Elders are greeted by the Mission Assistants and then President and Sister Dunn.
Elder Davies, with Elder Stephens and Elder Menendez are great missionaries that really help as the Assistants to the President.  Elder Davies is also getting transfered today and heading back to the field for his last 6 weeks, as Elder Menendez is being added as a new Assistant.

Meet our 7 New Elders from 6 different countries

Elder Alvial Cabrera is from Conception, Chile and was set to come in August, but  had delays related to his visa. He will be the first Chilean missionary to be here in a long time, maybe the first ever!  Elder Alvial Cabrera speaks Portuguese, which is very exciting. There is already been a request for a Portuguese speaking Elder for one of our wards. He is an answer to prayer. He enjoys basketball and is studying mechanical engineering and uses his talents to empower others. He has studied in the United States and his stake president says he has a good disposition to serve. Welcome!
Elder Bergman comes to the South Africa Johannesburg Mission from Molndal Sweden. He can speak fluent English and Swedish.His bishop tells us he is serious, intelligent, accountable and willing.  He has planned and saved for his mission on on his own. His stake president observes that he stands on his own feet, with a testimony that is his own. He agrees that he is very intelligent and smart and likes jogging.
Elder Manuma comes to us from the Islands of Samoa. He is praised by his bishop as one that displays a high degree of integrity, responsibility and ambition.  He has set a great example for all of the youth.  His Stake President says that he is the only member of his family and has excellent leadership skills and has shown a determination to serve others.  We are so excited to get him in the SAJM.
May is the only missionary in his group of 7 that is from the United States. He was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It is ironic with 2 Italians in his group, that he also has studied Italian in school for 2 years. He has many hobbies and interests, like film making, drama and music performance and writing. He is an avid cyclist and rock climber. His bishop says that he has a strong testimony and a good gospel knowledge. He will be a great asset to our mission. 

Elder Tekurio comes all the way from an island in Tahiti in French Polynesia called Papeari. He speaks only French and his application is only in French, so we had to try to glean as much as we could when we met him.  President Dunn used the Google Translator App to communicate in their interview. We can tell of his desire to serve and his humble heart. It will be wonderful to see him grow in the gospel and with his English language skill, as well.

Elder Santoro is the second new missionary in this group joining us from Italy. He will be learning English on his mission, and also how to leave Italian food behind, and embrace the great food of South Africa. Elder Santora’s bishop observes that he is very committed and diligent in all he does. He also says that his upbringing distinguishes him. His Stake President agrees and says that he will always do what the Lord asks of him.

Di Ruscio (not pictured with us yet) is the second missionary in this group from Italy.  He comes from the town of Pisa, where the leaning tower is!  We have heard that he speaks Italian, English and Spanish. His bishop praised him with a fine mind, fine spirit and faithful in keeping the commandments. He is serious, firm and has good leadership capability that will develop even more in the mission field. He was the President of the Institute of Religion in Pisa and has saved and planned for his mission for many, many years. He also plays the piano.
Moving into the Board Room and getting settled with Orientation Agenda and Breakfast!

After breakfast (quiche and homemade coffee cake) and first hour, the new Elders move to another room and get short workshops on topics, such as self reliance, housing and phones, medical and cleaning supplies, money and cars, etc.

"Called To Serve!" A tradition of a short volleyball game, best to 11 by 2, was played and the New Elders vs. Departing Elders battled it out. The new Elders take the crown and bragging rights for the first time since the tradition began in July 2014!
After the transfer meeting, (which is a great part of the day) Elders are gathering luggage and saying good-bye.
You will see from the parking lot, that this mission has many, many cars. In fact, it has been reported that we may have the most cars of any mission-due to the fact that Elders cannot live in areas where they usually serve, i.e. townships!

Companions and Trainers of our New Elders
This is one of the most important assignments in the mission.  Helping anew Elder get his feet on the ground and help in adjust during this critical first 12 weeks is so important.  It is not easy being a trainer, but so important to help a new Elder start off on the right foot. 
Elder Jackson (trainer) with Elder Di Ruscio
Elder Wood (trainer) with Elder Avial

Elder Manuma  with Elder Allen (trainer)

Elder May with Elder Stilgoe (trainer)

Elder Tekurio and Elder Van Heerdan(trainer) 
Go well! We are excited to hear of the progress of each of these great missionaries in their first few weeks. We will gather with them in the mission home on Thursday November 6th for an Orientation meeting, where we will go over more aspects of this great mission and help them adjust to mission life.