Sunday, February 17, 2008

2008 02 17 - Couples Seminar & Swaziland District


We have just returned from Swaziland, and two terrific events. The first was our Couples Seminar, which convened at the Timbali Lodge in Ezulwini. The couples came in from all over the mission (except the Baums, who live 10 minutes from the Lodge). Our topic was priesthood and auxiliary training, and we had an intense time adapting all the manuals and guidebooks and training guides provided by the Church (thank goodness for!) into very simple training for brand-new leaders who with varying fluency in English. We were divided into twos and threes and fours, and tackled Primary, Relief Society, Young Women, Young Men, financial clerk, branch president & elder’s quorum. Initially we met in the conference room and in our rooms in the Lodge, but by the second round we were out at picnic tables under umbrellas and trees!

The training presentations will have three parts. First, a powerpoint presentation. Second, a flip chart version for training one or two people at a time. Third, a set of handouts for the new leader. We are all taking pictures for the powerpoints this weekend at Church, so we will have an assortment of people, buildings and settings. I took a picture of our Primary – they thought they were pretty hot stuff. I promised them each a copy, but they don’t get it unless the Primary President thinks they’ve earned it. (Our Primary is just a little rowdy...) Then I went into Nursery, where the one and only child was laying on the floor being uninterested in doing anything. The minute I mentioned taking a picture, he was up and eager to go! Reminded me of my kids when they were little.

We also started putting together some 10-minute skill training on preparing a talk, teaching a lesson, conducting a meeting, holding a presidency meeting, issuing a calling, & holding an interview. There are so many skills we take for granted when we grow up in functioning wards, that need to be taught over and over in new units. The goal is to first train leaders, then help them train new leaders as they are called. We’re also starting with the recommended “pared down, appropriate to unit” approach. That means that a branch that has only four Primary children of different ages, has one class, not four, and doesn’t worry too much about Activity Days yet. In some of the branches, the Primary leadership consists of one sister, who does everything. Then, as the branch grows, you can start adding leaders, and classes, and programs, and activities. And no, those of you in large wards are not allowed to drop anything: basic units are not the goal: yours are!

Sunday the Swaziland District was organized, along with one new branch. The people in Swazi are really excited, because they have spent a lot of years being moved from mission to mission and stake to stake. Now they feel independent and ready to grow into a stake. There’s a lot of priesthood there, and baptisms have increased dramatically, so it’s only a matter of time. The goal of the members in the mission is to turn the three new districts into stakes, so we can build a temple in Durban. The goal date is 2010.

On another note, many thanks to Ranstroms, and Maughans, and Allens, and Colton & Polly Pace for their help with the youth temple trips. We’ve had two so far, and others are being planned. It’s nice to know that after the youth work as hard as they can to prepare and earn enough money to go, there’s a way to fill the inevitable gap. Are you feeling the blessings yet?

February 26

So, things got a little busy...I've been staying up 'til midnight proofreading the training powerpoints, and adding photos. I've even learned how to use powerpoint (and how to do all the corrections on a powerpoint, then lose it somehow!). So, in the time between starting this entry and now, the Newcastle District was organized, and all of the training powerpoints and skill trainings are being burned right now on the cds. The push for completion is due to transfers starting tomorrow (5 missionaries in, 4 missionaries out); President & Sister Parmley coming to Durban for the Durban stake presidency reorganization this weekend (and auxiliary training that I will help with); and zone conferences next week.

And in our latest sports news, Hunter's basketball team won last Saturday, 57 to 15, with several baskets and assists from our own #24. And the Rugby U15 A Team was announced today: Morgan is now a prop (look it up). That means he gets to go to the "prestigious Paarl Boys' High U15 Rugby Festival" in Capetown March 19 to 24. Elder Young has approved my going to cheer them on, so Hunter and I will fly down on the 20th when school gets out for their 3 week holiday. Tough duty, being a mom!

Well, I'm hoping to get some sleep tonight, so best to everyone, and Happy Leap Year on Friday!

Grandma/Mom/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The amazing Eva Marie Moncivais (Did I mention she's our granddaughter?)

Brody Moncivais (You guessed it: our grandson)

Welcome, Elder Mbithi

10 February 2008 – Goal Setting

Hello Everyone!

February, my most fearsomely anticipated month (“Just wait until February, it’s REALLY hot then!”) has not turned out to be so dreadful, after all (yet). We are still getting rain – in fact we just ended 3 days of it – and it cools things down. It also makes things even more incredibly green and flowery. One of the best things about the “rolling hills of Durban” is that every time you go up one, which is every few minutes, right after you go down one, you get a new view – of another hill covered with houses, or downtown and the ocean, or the university, or the Pavilion’s very fun!

We’ve already started seeing the fruits of the mission fast... On Monday we got a referral from the Capetown Mission: a family (with a car!) who have committed to be baptized, moving to Umlazi W, here in Durban. I think it’s really nice of them to help us kick off the huge growth we’re going to see!

The last several days have been an interview and mini-training loop for Steve and the Assistants. At the start of January each of the missionaries received a goal setting packet that included the Mission Goals and Objectives for 2008, and spaces for them to make personal goals to support those objectives, and additional goals for their own spiritual development. They sent their goals in to him a few weeks ago, and he reviews them during interviews. Most were really good, but a few districts really missed the point. Those elders have been strongly encouraged to make new, meaningful goals, and turn them in by Saturday. I expect they will...

Here are a few examples of the goal forms: PMG is, of course, Preach My Gospel.



#1. Mission Objective: 5 solid new investigators per week

Personal Goal:_______________________________________________________

Key Scriptures:_______________________________________________________

PMG References______________________________________________________

How I will know I am achieving this goal__________________________________

What I will do daily/weekly to help achieve this goal__________________________


#4. Mission Objective: Find and teach with boldness

Personal Goal:_______________________________________________________

Key Scriptures:________________________________________________________

PMG References_______________________________________________________

How I will know I am achieving this goal___________________________________

What I will do daily/weekly to help achieve this goal__________________________

This week there is an email going out to the missionaries with some of the questions that evolved during the interviews. They go along with the Teaching with Boldness theme we’ve been using. Maybe they will be of use to some of you in your constant effort to share the gospel...

If I could show you that there is a God who is real and personal and who knows you, loves you, wants the best for you and has a plan for you, would you want to know what that plan is?”

If I could show you that Jesus Christ is real, that through His suffering He has made it possible for you to live forever, be free of guilt and sin, and return to live with your Heavenly Father, would you want to know if that were true and how you could be a part of it?”

If I could answer your questions about where you came from, who you are, why you are on this earth and what happens to you when you die, would you want to know the answers to these questions?”

If I could show you that there is a prophet on the Earth today just like Moses and Jeremiah of old, who guides and directs people on how to raise families in righteousness, how to avoid the destructive temptations we are surrounded with in today’s world, how to be happy in this world, and how to return to their Heavenly Father, would you want to know about him and what he teaches?”

“If I could bring you a book that, like the Bible, testifies of Christ; a book that tells the story of another people, on another continent, who looked forward to and prophesied of Christ’s birth; a book that tells of Him visiting and ministering to them after His resurrection, and bears a second testimony that He is our redeemer; a book that supports and clarifies Bible teachings... If I could bring you this book, would you want to read it and find out for yourself if it is true?”

Would knowing the answers to these questions change your life? Would knowing these answers be worth some of your time and effort?”

And when the answer is yes(!):

If you are truly interested, my companion and I are willing to rearrange our time, reschedule our appointments and do all in our power to teach you about these things. We will come twice a week to teach you about these things. You in turn need to commit to being here at the scheduled time, and putting some effort into reading the things we give you to read, thinking about the things we talk about and pondering and praying about whether or not they are true. Will you commit to doing this?”

We know that sometimes things come up that make it difficult to keep an appointment. Will you commit to SMS or call us if for some reason you can’t be there, so we don’t end a discussion with someone else and come all the way over here and not find anyone home?”

While we are here will you turn off the television and music so we can talk freely and invite the Spirit to be with us?”

Our message is for the whole family. Can you make sure the whole family is here to teach?”

If you are talking to the Baba (father): “We believe the father as patriarch of the family can provide real leadership for the family in the discussion of spiritual matters. Will you commit to being here and helping us lead this discussion with your family?”

We can teach you about all these things but we can’t make you believe nor would we want you to. What we can do is show you how you can come to your own testimony that these things are true. This will take some time and effort on your part. Are you willing to do this?”

Since it’s officially the Last Days, there just isn’t time to entertain people with our visits (and face it, a couple of white missionaries in a township can be pretty entertaining). We’re looking for the people who are looking for the gospel – and it’s working.

Well, this got a little long, but I think it helps you see what’s going on here. One last note: we got a lone, mid-cycle missionary this week (visa delays) from Kenya. Elder Mbithi is part of the kind of family that is driving the Church in Africa. He is one of nine children: 4 older sisters have served missions, and his twin brothers are currently serving missions. Talk about every member a missionary!

Love to everybody, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann