President and Sister Dunn

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ginny in Joburg!

On November 4th, 2014 at 10:10 pm, Virginia Colton Poulson, known as Ginny, Gram, Mom and Virg, landed in Johannesburg. My mom is coming to visit our mission for 30 days.

Thanks to her dear friend and gentleman extraordinaire, Burt Cassity, for giving her SkyMiles to come and my daughter Emi, for booking her ticket. I am so happy she is finally here.

I have looked forward to this for 3 months and so excited to get her for 30 days. We have quite the itinerary and she is going to help immensely with the work of the mission. Mostly she will love and become friends with everyone she meets.

Below is her leaving Salt Lake City on the morning of the 4th of November and then arriving Johannesburg 30 hours later on the evening of the 5th. She had good caretakers along the entire way.
I am using the blog as a place to keep track of Gram’s visit. Since she will be here for a month, I am trying to capture all of it and keep up on her adventures day by day by posting a picture or two each day of things we were able to do in the mission and in the city. (Look, like daughter...we even dressed the same!)

We couldn't believe when it was finally time to see her. Isn't she darling?? She doesn't need a wheelchair, but she did have a serious surgery and recovery this past year and so it was warranted and helped make certain she got help getting from gate to gate and into our arms!!
Day One: Gram is a trooper. For being 83 she sure acts half her age. She arrived at 10:30 pm after 30 hours of travel and two stops before Joburg. She went to bed after getting settled a bit at the mission home with a tour and also a literal midnight snack.  We sat at the kitchen table together and visited and forced ourselves to go to bed.:)
She was awake at 6:30 am in the morning and got herself ready for our 8:30 am Orientation. She was spry as usual and introduced herself personally to everyone there. This was a great activity for the first thing, because it was a literal Orientation.

She met all the new missionaries and their trainers (which are listed on the Orientation posting) and even Irene the mission home housekeeper and Sister Allred who has been helping with some aspects of the Orientation with Elder Allred.
Later in the day I took her on a walk in the neighborhood, by our mission office and to a few stores to get items she needed. We went home and had a homemade dinner and got her to bed as early as we could.

Day 2: Johannesburg Temple: We started our day with some homemade sweetrolls and President Dunn's famous "sweet chili scrambled eggs" as we departed for a Friday am temple session.

It was wonderful to go through a temple session with Gram as part of our weekly routine. We meet our various missionaries in their respective zones at the temple weekly and it was very special to have my mother sitting by my side. Also,  my son Brady has been doing more genealogy and he sent over some more family names and so we were able to do a mother and daughter in our family tree mother and daughter.

After, we headed home and after some mission work and another trip to  the mission office.
Fun to have Sister and Elder Harward stopping by the mission office while we were there.  My mom is enjoying meeting all the amazing senior couples in our mission.  Hopefully she will go home and recruit more to come. Maybe she will also come back herself and stay even longer! as an official  missionary!!:)
We found a little time to take a walk through the Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden.  This is so beautiful in the spring, with everything in bloom and the waterfall flowing.

Day 3:  A day in the Cradle of Humankind at the Rhino and Lion Park Nature Reserve. Known as "The Nearest Faraway Place" which is a privately owned game reserve covering some 1200 hectares which was opened to the public in 1990. 
You can view rare and endangered species. The reserve falls within the Cradel of Humankind Cultural Heritage Site.   We took our P-Day and spent 5-6 hours driving and walking around seeing Giraffe's, Crocodiles, Lions, Cheetahs, Elands, Warthogs, Sable Antelope, Rhino's, Ostrich's, Wildebeest, Impala, Springbok, Lion Cubs, Wild Dogs, and even an amazing cave.  We had such a wonderful afternoon exploring all this wildlife and spending time together talking and relaxing for a few hours.
We even got to go in the cages with the 4 month old lion and tiger cubs and pet and hold them!  Reminded me of a playful Kona dog!  Very fun!     
 Day 4:  On Gram's first Sabbath Day, we headed to visit the Johannesburg 1st and 2nd Wards. This is the building right in the heart of downtown Johannesburg, where we attended our very first Sunday.  The primary program was happening today and we really enjoyed meeting all of the wonderful members and families that are part of this ward. 
We also visited with Tina (below) and Brian Jackson, that are here for 4 years working as the legal counsel for the church. They also just arrived and Tina is in the Relief Society Presidency in the JHB 2nd ward.  It was fun to see them and have Gram meet them. We will see them a few other times over the next month, so this was a fun connection.
Finally,  our Sunday had a very special family come over for dinner.  The Dallender and Van Der Hover families were represented in a very special gathering for Tyler's baptism.  Both grandma's hit it off, and had much in common. They both have three daughters with the Lynne and I being the youngest of three daughters. They  are known as Granny and Gram, but their full names are Virginia and Veronica, but go by Virg and Veron if using those names. Pretty interesting to have 8 letter "V" names!!. They both are beautiful, classy and spunky and we were so delighted to bring everyone together for a meal at the mission home.  We will do this again.  

Day #5:  Monday in the mission: Gram stayed at the mission home in the morning and went for a walk all around the neighborhood. I left her with my phone and specific instructions on where to go and how to get back. we had walked the neighborhood on Thursday, so I thought she would be comfortable. She had a great walk and stayed out for about two hours. I kept calling to check on her, but she didn't answer. I also called the house and talked to Irene, who was on the lookout for her as well.
After about 1 hour and 45 minutes, Irene went looking for her, just to be sure she was finding her way back without any problem.  When Irene got to the main intersection by our mission home, she could see Gram across the busy street on the sidewalk, looking quite confused about which direction to go. She also could see Gram trying to figure out my I-phone to be able to call me. So, Irene crossed the street, all the while waving her arms to get Gram's attention and let her know someone was here to rescue her.  Gram kept looking around and didn't see Irene, until she was literally right in front of her face. Just then, i called for the 10th time, and Gram and Irene had the phone on and didn't realize that they had just answered it. I heard all of their comments and delight in finding each other! It was a funny, bonding moment and now Gram knows exactly how to get home from the neighborhood.

Day #6:  Tuesday November 11th
Today Gram was invited to Tea with Lynne and her mom Veron.  In September, I met Lynne  Dallender and her darling daughter, Tyler, when she surprised me as a new found friend and brought me the most beautiful bouquet of Protea's for my birthday. It was a unforgettable act of friendship and I was so  touched. Now, all these months later, we have formed a lifetime connection and have done many things together.
Lynne and her family have been so interested in my mom's itinerary and offered to gather in a variety of ways. during her month long stay. Lynne found a day and offered a "Tea" at her home with her mother, Veron. Little did we know when we planned it, that our moms would already have met on the previous Sunday. Veron has been so dear and willing to come to two events already with Gram. They are already dear friends!
Lynne surrounds herself and her home with beautiful flowers. Today the King "Pink" Protea and the pink Gerber Daisies graced her table for our tea! Stunning!!!

As we drove home from tea on driving rain, we stopped and got last times for a departure dinner. Elder Martin from Switzerland is headed home 2 weeks early from his group. We had the pleasure to have an intimate dinner for him before he caught a plane for home. He has served such an honorable mission and it was such a delight to spend one more evening with him and share our pride in him. He is leaving a great legacy for others to follow.  We honor and celebrate Elder Martin and loved having him with us for his last supper in the mission field.

Day #7-9

With my mom in town, we had a fun opportunity to take a side trip on our way up North for an Area Conference. We took our P-day and spent an overnight at Entebeni to go on an evening and morning safari and then drove through Kruger National Park for a few hours the next day on our way to Tzaneen to meet the Makasi family and participate with Sister and Elder Makasi and all our missionaries for a week-end area conference.  Since the Northeast is a district, it falls under the jurisdiction of the mission. So, many people need temple recommend interviews and mission interviews, as well as callings of new leadership. 

Pictures en route (Pretoria)
(Debengeni Falls)

We were amazed how many animals we saw in a short amount of time. By the pictures below, you would think we spent a week on safari, but we spent about 24 hours between the two parks, Entebeni and Kruger.

Enjoy the pictures, because we enjoyed the time together, the beautiful scenery and the animals. We also enjoyed thinking how our grandkiddos would actually be interested in this part of the blog.
Below: Entebeni, Overnight Safari Stay

Loved seeing giraffes as the first sighting. This pose is wonderful!The hardest animals to find were these cheetahs in the grass. They were elusive and our guide was determined to find them.The lioness' were in a pen due to going through the electric fence on the reserve. We were still lucky to see them.This mother elephant was walking in front of us, when she suddenly felt we were too close and in a fury, she stormed around, kicking up all of dirt and charged towards the jeep. It caught all our attention big time! Pretty cool to see an elephant staring us in the face.

I loved seeing the eyes bulging above the water. It took a minute to realize this was a hippo submerged, but keeping an eye out for any predators.
Our dinner at Entebeni was like a campfire dinner in dutch ovens. It felt fitting to have Michael tell our Dutch friends about his encounter with a large animal. They were intrigued with his bear story around the campfire.  Gram even listened like she was hearing it for the first time. I even suggested he tell it to them. In the morning, we headed out again and saw so many wonderful animals, many of them on the upper plateau.
Above is a picture of the Legends Golf Course with the famous Hanglip Mountain and the 19th hole in the background.  We didn't play golf, only looked at it. Below is Sefapane Lodge just outside the Phalaborwa Gate into Kruger. We spent the night there, before taking a drive through Kruger in the morning and onto Tzaneen in the afternoon, to meet the Makasi's.

Sefapane Lodge offered us two charming bungalows with thatched roofs.  We also went to a fun dinner before retiring for the night. Our first fresh salmon since arriving in here.
Below: Kruger National Park, Drive from Phalaborwa to Orpen Gate, Friday November 15, 2014, en route to Tzaneen. We didn't expect to see much, but we were wrong. From the biggest mammal to the smallest, we first saw an elephant and then a turtle crossing the road. 

We saw Cape Buffalo's, many impala's and monkeys galore. The one below was especially unique and relaxed as he watched us from a nearby tree.

Seeing the hippos by the water was a treat. From a distance they look like sea lions sleeping on the rocks.  They are said to be one of the meanest and most dangerous animals. Hard to believe, they seem so slow and happy if they have water and grass.

Throughout the morning, we were lucky enough to see elephants on three different occasions. That is really a treat in the wild.
On the last stretch of road out of the park, 5 Elephants crossed the road right in front of us. If we would have been 2 minutes later on the road, we would have had no idea they had passed that way.  We loved our morning in Kruger and were very rewarded by our many animal sightings without a guided tour.


  1. I don't know if I should be more amazed by these animal sightings...or by the fact that YOU encouraged dad to tell the bear story! :) Haha love it all! CAN'T WAIT to be here!


  2. Amazing. What a bunch of lucky people!