Ouma Fourie: Primary Mother

Ouma Fourie: Primary Mother
Johanna Fourie, fondly known to all as Ouma (Grandmother) Fourie, was born in 1888 in Villiersdorp. When she was 15 there was a terrific thunderstorm and she was very frightened. She prayed earnestly and asked for forgiveness of her sins. As she later reported, “A great calm atmosphere enveloped me.” She then prayed that the Lord would give her a text from His word which would strengthen her in future years. In faith she opened her Bible and read Isaiah 43: 1 & 2:
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“Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

'When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

She said, “I firmly believed that Heavenly Father would keep His word.”

After graduating as a school teacher, she moved to another town, where she met her future husband, Abraham. When they later moved to Cape Town, Abraham worked as a taxi driver. He would work until late at night. One night when he came home, Johanna told him of a dream she had had, and the time when she had had the dream. She had dreamt that Abraham had come home with his white coat torn. Abraham told her that at that time he had been attacked.

In 1927 Johanna was given a tract on faith by an LDS missionary. She felt that it was the best she had ever read, but her minister warned her not to have anything to do with that literature. Two weeks later the missionary called again, and when she told him that she would follow her minister’s advice, he looked very disappointed. When he had gone her conscience told her that she had made a mistake. She decided that if another Mormon missionary ever called, she would listen to his message.

Two years later when another LDS missionary did call, Johanna listened to him. When she opened the Book of Mormon and read a passage, she immediately knew that it was the word of God. When the missionary left, she took the book to her bedroom and read all morning, oblivious of everything else. In subsequent visits, the missionaries were able to answer all the questions which she had always had but which had not been answered by anyone else. Later the missionaries held a meeting in her home, showing slides. Nearly 40 friends attended, and afterwards Johanna bore her first testimony.

Johanna could not be baptised without her husband’s permission and he was reluctant to give it. Despite this, under the direction of the Mission President, Johanna held Primary in her home and she was called to be the Primary Mother. She had no materials to use, so she made up her own program of scripture stories, church history, dramatics, sewing and knitting for the girls, and woodwork for the boys. Seven children attended the first meeting. Soon there were 50, most of whom were not LDS. Over the years she was honoured by three Mission Presidents for her service to the Primary organisation. In 1934 Johanna was baptised and set apart as the Supervisor of the South African Mission Primaries. By now she had seven children of her own.

After her husband was finally baptised, they travelled to the USA where they were sealed in the Salt Lake temple in 1952. When the Fourie family moved to Hermanus, they were often visited by the missionaries, the Mission President, and the District Presidency. I remember attending church meetings in Ouma Fourie’s home in Hermanus. She would prepare wonderful lunches for her visitors, and the smell of roast could be enjoyed throughout the meetings. We usually had her homemade pineapple ice cream for dessert.

To know Ouma Fourie was to love her. She was always lively and fun, and had a great sense of humour.

Read a story about how she taught the Primary children to have faith here.

Excerpted from Autobiographical Sketches: South African Mission 1969