Dear Residents of a 232-year-old Country:
I only know this because yesterday Steve and I attended part of an outdoor reception at the American Consulate in Durban, and that was on the invitation (which had to be presented in order to get in, as well as having our names checked on a list). It is also the 102nd anniversary of having a South African Embassy, and Ambassador Jost was there from Pretoria. It was rather nice to hear some American accents, and in addition Ambassador Jost said he had spent 2 years in Sandy, Utah, and told us the address, because we were the only ones present who would understand 192 East whatever South! I didn’t have a chance to find out what he had been doing in Sandy...but it was kind of fun.
We actually attended in between trips to the hospital. Hunter had his ACL reconstruction Saturday Friday morning, which went very well. He has 3 cuts on his knee with (no kidding) metal staples for stitches. I’m dying to take him through a metal detector... He was released this morning, complete with bandages and a knee brace, and instructions to rest for 10-14 days. He is pretty excited about this, as school starts Monday. His friend Langa has promised to bring home all the homework assignments.
Hunter was in a hospital room with 4 other beds, on the 4th floor, and I wish I had a picture of the view. The road next to the hospital is on a hill, so you look out across the road to a few palm trees and and row of whatever the grass is that grows next to sand dunes, then you look straight out to the ocean, where there are always 8 to 10 container ships headed past on their way to the Durban harbor. Pretty sweet!
The visiting hours in the afternoon were very strict: 3:00 to 4:00, 2 visitors per bed. The door to the ward is locked to you ring a bell to be allowed in. A nurse was at the door, with a board filled with round white discs with numbers on them. Hunter was in bed 6E (bed E in room 406), so I took one of the two discs and went on down. A bell rang at 4:00 when visiting hours were over.
In the evening (7:00-8:00) things seemed more relaxed. You didn’t have to take a disc, and the man in the bed next to Hunter had 7 visitors while Morgan and David and I were there. Maybe afternoons are more hectic; there WERE 28 people hovering in the hall outside the ward when I arrived at 3:00 – whole Indian families, all greeting each other and taking turns going in. It was actually a very social atmosphere! Indian families seem to do everything together – we always see whole families, grandparents to small children, at the mall on Friday and Saturday nights. The teenagers seem very comfortable hanging out with their parents, too.
One unusual thing happened during evening visiting hours. All day people had been looking at my name tag, thinking at first that I was a nurse, as they are called "Sisters" here, and even have that on their uniforms:
When they read the rest of my name tag, they would "Praise the Lord" or ask about what I was doing here, and usually shake hands with me. So about 10 minutes to 8, an Indian lady comes to Hunter's room looking for me, tells me about her grown daughter who has had surgery and is still having some difficulties, and asked me to come pray with her! I really wished for the missionaries at that moment, but I went in, and said hello, and said a prayer with all her family there, and they were very happy. I hope she gets better!
Earlier in the week Steve, Morgan, 3 of his friends, and I took a 48-hour vacation. Yes, we are allowed an occasional break. We stayed the first night in St. Lucia, a beach town 2-1/2 hours northeast of Durban. We were at the “Hippo Hideaway”, and went to the beach, where the boys threw around the rugby ball and I looked for shells. The best shells were still inhabited, as I learned to my dismay when I picked them up.
The next morning we took a boat on the river to see hippos and crocodiles and birds. Then we drove an hour west and stayed at the Hluhluwe River Lodge, where we went on a game drive (elephants, giraffes, cape buffalo, wart hogs, impala, zebras, rhinos) and then the next morning the boys rode 4-wheelers while Steve and I investigated a craft market. It was fun, but short. I’m hoping to take Parker up to Hluhluwe (shlooshloowee) to the other part of the reserve, where the lions and herds of animals have moved for the winter.
If none of this sounds very mission-ish, you’re right. Steve is out interviewing elders, while the Assistants do mini-training, but I’m being Mom. Since it’s the last week of the 2-week holiday, we have had armies of boys here, and I keep finding ingredients missing when I start making dinner – such as milk for the chicken a la king, because they all ate cereal late at night...and the dessert I bought and “hid” in the freezer!
On the mission front, Elder and Sister Sessions will be staying on as the office couple, which will be very nice. Sister Sessions and I are learning some of the Mission Recorder job together – at least the parts that have to do with baptisms. It’s amazing to me #1 - how many different forms the Church uses, and #2 - how anything is done correctly, with new people constantly moving in and out of callings. I hope the angels are doing a better job with their recording in heaven!
The Assistants have lined up places and people for filming our mission movie to train members how to be more active missionaries, so all we need now is the master film maker – Parker. He arrives on Saturday, along with a box full of “can’t live without” American favorites. I have to say, if there is one thing the missionaries love the most, it’s Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing. (But they’ll take anything they can get.)
Well, have a great week, and I’ll try to be more timely with these blogspost, even if the content isn’t always profound.
Mom/Grandma/Susan/Sue/Sister President Mann/Nurse Susie
ps. I had another new experience this week: I went to the bank for the first time, and discovered they have airlocks! Well, not actually airlocks, but you have to push a button and wait for the green light to glow before you push open the first door, then wait until another green light glows to push open the second door, and in the meantime you are in the airlock. There was even the outline of a hand to show you where to push.