Monday, April 21, 2014, Gerald Betourney spoke to the assembled members of the Sons of the Utah Pioneers, Morgan Chapter, about his LDS mission to South Africa. Betourney and his wife, Barbra, were surprised when they opened a call from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve a mission in South Africa, land of the Huguenots and apartheid. He explained that South Africa was first established as a way station for the Dutch East India Trading Company. The first settlers planted grapes for a vineyard, making a wonderful wine. This wine saved many a sailor from scurvy. Somewhere in the 19th century the British contested the trading company’s right to the land via the Boer War. It was a bitter fight ending in British domination. As the British occupied the land, a strong system of apartheid was continued. Blacks were delegated to cities for blacks, Asians in cities for Asians, whites in cities for whites, and the Huguenots became the great farmers. This system continued until recent history when Nelson Mandela rose to power. Betourney and his wife taught among these conditions for one and a half years. He told stories of what the first black leaders of the church went through. Black missionaries from Zimbabwe came down into South Africa to help the church, but strict laws made it mandatory for them to return to Zimbabwe about every 30 days to renew their visas. Betourney told one story of an elderly sister missionary who wanted nothing more than to help, but she was losing her sight. The missionaries got her to an eye specialist, and she was able to get her first pair of glasses. She rejoiced out loud saying, I can see, I can see! Two of the elders with whom they worked wanted to start a branch of the LDS church in a small black city. They went to the local school teacher and asked if they could use his school. He told them, You can do it on two conditions: first, you must teach the school students to pray every day. Second, you must teach them to read the scriptures every day. If they would agree to do this, they could use the building free for their church meetings. They even received their own keys to the building. This is simply unheard of in South Africa. Betourney said, This is an example of how the Lord is moving among the people. The Betourneys also served a mission to the Heber Valley Girls Camp following their return from South Africa. Like South Africa, the establishment of this camp for girls was accompanied by many, many miracles. The beautiful piece of property on which the camp is located contains about 9,000 acres. A large part of it was donated. Thousands of girls from the LDS church go to this camp every year. About 90 missionary couples are there to help the girls along. The missionaries have built beautiful log cabins, pavilions and training areas. Thousands of meals are served daily from these facilities. In order to be called as a missionary to Heber Valley, a couple must have a motor trailer to sleep in, a four wheeler to get around on, and a temple recommend. The girls are taught self reliance and courage; and daily programs teach them spirituality. The facilities are open for mutual leaders to use in their training of their youth. It is wonderful to have the Betourneys back, but their missions will always have a special place in their lives.
Please follow and like us: