Hello everyone! Happy 4th of July - we actually started celebrating it on your 3rd, and you were still celebrating it on our 5th, so I think I'm close enough!
The boys are on a 2-week, between terms holiday, during which they are trying to finish U.S. History to 1850, their BYU correspondence course. The place has been full of friends sleeping over (as usual) and we have done our best to add to the confusion:
Sunday night we had a farewell dinner for Elder & Sister Dalebout - we are going to miss them a LOT! They are two of the hardest workers I have ever met - one Thursday morning at 5:50 am, I was pulling out with the boys for seminary, and there they were, pulling in. They were about to leave for Johannesburg to go through the temple with a member from their Phoenix Branch, but stopped to take out the trashcans! We took them to the airport at noon on Tuesday, but on Monday afternoon they were teaching a lesson, and Tuesday morning Sister Dalebout was finishing her visiting teaching. We would like a dozen more couples just like them!
Tuesday afternoon we had a meeting with all of the couples and went over the activities we are helping initiate in the new districts - EFY, YSA conferences, missionary reunions (for all return missionaries in a branch, regardless of which mission, and active or not), prospective missionary firesides, roadshows, and then Steve trained everyone for running the Church HIV/AIDS program.
Wednesday afternoon all of the missionaries (107) and the couples (10) came together at Pinetown chapel for an All-Zone Conference. It was terrific to see everyone together - it was like a family reunion. The missionaries who were in the MTC together love to compare notes on what's happened since they arrived; old companions want to know what's happened to the investigators they left behind; trainers want to be sure their "sons" are being treated right; it's great to watch them. And there is lots of picture taking!
The first day focused on helping people change, the "Swazi Secret" (how to initiate conversations and make friends with people, and brotherhood.
In the middle of Wednesday's program, however, we had two new missionaries arrive, Elder Crowther and Elder Syphrett. They had to fly in from Salt Lake, as the Johannesburg MTC was closed for it's annual cleaning. They were exhausted, so of course we took them directly to Zone Conference, where they were really good sports and joined right in.
After dinner for 130, we had a testimony meeting that included our 7 missionaries who were leaving. They have been impressive leaders - we're going to miss them, but we're glad they did such a good job as trainers, district leaders, zone leaders, assistants, office elders, travelling elders... we are in good shape to continue.
Thursday morning the couples directed teambuilding activities - anyone who has participated in the Eagle or Meridian North Stake Priest Academies would recognize them. After identifying what they had learned from the activities, we spent some time on learning from cultural differences, and then Steve introduced the kits for the Neighborhood Walkabout. Whew!
Oh, did I mention new trainer orientation before the conference, district leader training after the conference, interviews and the farewell dinner for the departing missionaries Thursday night, trips to the airport at 5:30 and 7:30 am Friday morning, zone leader council Friday from 9-12 am, plus lunch, and a Neighborhood Walkabout/braai at Hillcrest Ward Friday night?
Saturday morning was orientation for Elder Syphrett and Elder Crowther, and now it's Saturday night. We are relaxing.
Tomorrow afternoon Hunter is going to stay at Langa's for 2 days (along with Jubz, and probably Jono: his "crew") while Steve and I take Morgan and 3 friends to St. Lucia (beach, river cruise to see hippos and crocodiles) and then Hluhluwe (shlooshoowee) for game drives and 4-wheelers.
When we get back, Steve starts the interview circuit, taking time out Friday morning for Hunter's ACL surgery, then heading off to Newcastle and Ladysmith for more interviews.
Monday school starts up again, but I don't think Hunter will be there for a few days - we're not sure quite what to expect after the surgery. But hopefully he will at least be hobbling around pretty comfortably by the 18th, as the stake is holding a Youth Convention (conference) in the Drakensburg mountains, and he is taking Jubz along!
So, think of us as you while away your summer... we are always thinking of you!
Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann
ps the Westville Mall has a sign the prohibits heelys. Anyone know what they are?