President and Sister Dunn

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Heavenly Connections

Below is a really amazing story that I wanted to share with you. This is typical of the little miracles we see almost every day here. But this one is particularly well documented. Let be give you a little backstory, and then read Jennifer Robison's email. (attached below)

Here goes:

BACKSTORY: This email is from Sister Robison. She and her husband are here as senior missionaries. What makes her unique is that she lived in South Africa for all her life before divorcing and then moving to Utah. In Utah, she met her current husband and they have been married for 16 months. They decided to serve a couples mission and on her application she indicated she would be happy to go anywhere, “…except South Africa.” So of course they are called to South Africa. They arrived two months ago and are working as Welfare Service missionaries. However, on the weekends, most of our senior couples also have a ward or branch assignment. When I ran into them last week they told me that the Area President executive Secretary had not assigned them to a ward yet. So they asked for my help. What came to my mind immediately was that they could be best used in the District I oversee, the Vaal District. I had a branch there in mind but as I called the District President to get his thoughts on where they would best be assigned, he suggested a tiny little branch called Sebokeng. As soon as he said it it just felt right. So I called the Robisons and assigned them to Sebokeng. Is God really in the details? Read her email below and then tell me…

From: Jennifer Robison <>
Date: Sunday 24 July 2016 at 20:03
To: Michael Dunn <>
Subject: It has begun....

Dear President Dunn,

Contrary to what the dates are on our official mission call, today was the beginning for me.  I have struggled since our arrival to find my niche in the mission field.  Our humanitarian work, although rewarding and service in its purest form (...And they did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy...   Because of the steadfastness of the church they began to be exceeding rich, having an abundance of all things... Therefore they were liberal to all... Having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need. Alma 1:27,29-30) I have always felt that something is missing for me.  Today I found it.  

Just driving to Sebokeng this morning I expressed to Ace the excitement I felt within to have a place to call my own, give of myself, build up the kingdom and put my testimony of service into action amongst Heavenly Father's children.  You are right. This is a spirituallly strong, reverent and determined congregation. I was at home the instant we walked through the chapel doors.  

And then a miracle occurred at the start of Relief Society.  The RS president conducted the meeting, during the formalities of greetings and announcements she stopped and looked at me. "Sister Jenny, don't you recognize me?" She asked...

Back to 1981 when I returned home from my mission with one baptism count and nothing else but my own conversion story. I began working at the same company as my father. He being Afrikaans and raised in the heart of apartheid did not have much love and even less respect for any black person. He did not try and disguise his dislike for them. Isaac Mbele had worked at the company as a driver and endured my father's prejudices on many occasion.  I have never seen colour and instantly love and accept all people.  Isaac approached me one day and asked why I was so different from my father, and where had I been the whole time.  This opened the door to me sharing my very recent missionary experiences. 

Isaac and his wife Lydia and later, when she turned 8, their daughter Pauline were baptized into the Vereeniging Ward in 1981.  Soon after I was married and moved to Johannesburg.  Ahead to 1985 and the dedication of the Johannesburg temple.  As happy members from all over the country mingled at the doors after the meeting I found this wonderful couple and our embrace was captured 
Life continued and I heard that they drifted away from the church.  
24 July 2016... The RS of the the Sebokeng branch is Sister Lydia Mbele. This time there were no flashing cameras to capture the moment as we embraced and tears of pure joy were shed.  Just a reverent body of women witnessing the bonding of sisterhood, irrespective of colour, melt away the years of separation in an instance.  As brother Isaac was called out of priesthood he wept openly as we too enveloped our arms around each other.  There daughter Pauline is an active member in Kempton Park and married to a returned missionary. President thank you for this opportunity to serve in this little branch.  Ace also came home glowing with gospel love. There are no coincidences in life.  The heavens are in charge if we open our hearts and with trust and confidence say, "Thy will be done."

Yours truly,

3 Phillips Avenue
Discovery. 1709

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Never Easy To Say Goodbye

On July 14, 2016 we said good-bye to Elders that came in the very first group after we arrived in July 2014. This is an extra special transfer to have these same Elders we welcomed here in South Africa now heading home. We love the chance to say good-bye to them as we say hello to 6 new Elders. It makes the parting a little easier to see the new Elders able to witness the strength of those going home.

This is also a unique transfer because all of them are not leaving today on Transfer Day. Some are traveling with their families for a week or two- (Elder Clegg and Elder McCartney) and some go home over this next transfer due to visa and school issues- (Elder Broadhead, Elder Swindlehurst and Elder Tekurio) and one goes home today- (Elder Taylor).
So, luckily we didn’t have to say good-bye to all of them today- but we are celebrating this milestone with them and heading to the temple after the new missionary Q and A and the testimony meeting. But, not before we have a celebratory lunch together at the mission home.

We love hosting a final meal at the mission home for all our departing Elders. Today we served a very typical South African Braai complete with top sirloin, chicken, boerwors and lamb chops. We also had Sister Irene’s famous pap and chakalaka. I made roasted butternut, a green salad and the famous chocolate cake.
One of my favorite parts of the transfer day! So fun to gather at the mission home and enjoy time together on this very special day.

We also added a few more to our departing temple trip due to the fact that the Johannesburg Temple will be closed for updates for the entire month of August 2016. For this reason we added all our August departures to our temple trip and departing reflection video.

We then headed to the airport to say good-bye to Elder Taylor.
He had members also show up to wish him well and show their appreciation and love and support for his service.

It is wonderful to see the support and love of members. It is a big effort to come to the airport and see a missionary off. I am always touched by this.
Elder Todd and Elder Taylor were companions and have a great deal of love and respect for each other. It was great to have Elder Todd with us today to be able to be at the airport.
Bon Voyage Elder Taylor! Go well and keep in touch!

Orientation with Six!

On Thursday July 14, 2016 we welcomed the six new missionaries to the mission home for a day of Orientation. They actually start at the mission office in the morning and come here around lunchtime for more training and information. Here President Dunn is greeting one of the new missionaries, Elder Katia from Kirabati with his trainer, Elder Wakaira.
Our Assistants, Elder Dean and Elder Pickup start off the meeting with introduction slides of each missionary and where they are from. It is a fun and personal way to begin the Orientation. 
I love hearing them introduce and talk about each other. In just 48 hours together, it is amazing how much they learn already about their companion and his strengths.

President Dunn also starts the meeting with a welcome and ends with the mission maxims and questions. All in all, it is a great day of introductions, information, training, food and just getting better acquainted.
We also have Sister Irene Shabalaya come out of the kitchen and introduce her to the missionaries. She shares advice and love for them. We are so lucky to have her serving with us in the mission home.
She gave such great advice today about learning something from everything..She said that today's orientation and messages can stay with you throughout your entire mission if you take note of the important things that are shared.
Lunch is a highlight of the orientation day. Today we served up chutney sloppy joes with salad and malva pudding for dessert. With 6 new Elders and their 6 trainers, we had a full table and a great group gathered in one place.
The malva pudding is a nice finale to the meal today. Elder Greener is enjoying the last bite with President Dunn photo-bombing behind:)
Everyone gets a tour of their mission home and they always love seeing the mission office and finding their pictures with their companions. 
Elder Higgs with Elder Todd for a quick pic before everyone leaves.
Elder Todd with his son,  Elder Powell from New Zealand. Elder Todd goes home at the next transfer, so they will hit the beach running because they only have 6 weeks together. This is a strong companionship.
We say good-bye to this group today and look forward to the amazing missionary work that will come from this new group. Welcome!

Final Reflections

On July 14, 2016 we captured final reflections from the Elders going home in July and August. Due to the fact that the temple will be closed in August, we took the chance for all departing Elders through September 1st to attend with us this time and also participate in the video reflections since we will not be back until after the first of September.
I love hearing from each and every one of them.

Bon Voyage Elder Clegg

Elder Clegg goes home on Monday July 19, 2016 after traveling with his parents for a week in the mission. We honor his service and wish him the best as he travels home. We won't have any pictures with him at the airport, So we will pst a few pictures here as he departs.
His mom and dad arrived on Monday July 11th and a great reunion happened and they were then able to be part of the transfer morning and participate with welcoming the new Elders and hearing departing testimonies.
We captured a few pics of recent companions with Elder Swindlehurst above and Elder Pickup below.
He deserves this close up after all the ones he shot with my camera! haha
Wr have enjoyed having Elder Clegg serve as an Assistant and share his love for all the people and cultures of South Africa. We also acknowledge his great "finding" efforts in the mission. He led out with Elder Swindlehurst in the pilot program of "Finding Investigators Team"  and did a great job helping to boost the finding efforts mission wide.
Travel well and keep in touch, Elder Clegg and enjoy time with your great family.