Saturday, August 2, 2008

2008 08 03 - Living on a Movie Set

Hello, You Wonderful People Out There! (That's how we movie people talk)

I'm sorry to be so long updating, but I guess I was caught up in our glamorous new lifestyle. Not really - although it's been very interesting watching our member missionary movie being put together.

First step was Steve (screen writer) plotting it all out: the kinds of scenes, the training segments, the order of events. Then the Assistants (casting directors) found people all over the mission who could play parts in scenes, or be interviewed and tell their story of coming into the Church through a friend, or how they share the gospel. We have some members who are absolutely phenomenal at reaching out to their nonmember neighbors.

Once Parker got here we picked up our hired (rented) lights and set up a set in our living room. It was to be the home of a nonmember family, so we took down all the Church pictures, and redecorated. Parker moved the furniture around and set up his lights and reflector and microphone and camera, and we got going!

After a morning of filming the father reading the Book of Mormon, and pondering, and praying and the missionaries arriving with the member friends to teach lessons, the filming crew moved on to the Pinetown chapel for shots of the family in baptismal clothes.

Next was Brother Patrick's office, for scene 1, when the member friend gives the Book of Mormon to the nonmember friend. And a later scene, where Brother Patrick in turn gives a Book of Mormon to his secretary.

I won't take you through the whole two weeks, but the crew filmed in and around Durban, in Newcastle, Swaziland, Pietermaritzburg and back to Durban again. (Sorry, Richards Bay - you can be in the sequel.)

I watched some of the "dailies" (what was shot that day) and it's going to be good - but it's also going to take an enormous amount of editing and cleaning up by the film and sound editors (Justin and Parker). No wonder they have closed sets with controlled sound...and professional actors! But it's going to be good, and the people in the mission will love having something about them, instead of a Wasatch Front production.

In and around the filming, Parker has been able to:
go hiking and ziplining in the Drakensbergs; visit a cultural village and performance in Swaziland; go on a game drive in HluHluwe; go with me to uShaka to see the dolphin show and aquarium; take me to WALL E; take Steve to Dark Knight; have dinner with the mission presidency; watch Morgan play rugby; shop at Victoria Market; check out both Gateway and Pavilion malls; feed apples to the monkeys in our back yard; make Marilyn's ice cream balls; drive randomly around downtown Durban as I tried to find my way to various places; put in lightbulbs and reach for high things for his short mom, and generally make the mission home feel more like our real house! (Hayley made it feel more real, too. The more of our kids are here, the more homelike it feels.)

There is still a little filming going on, then tomorrow Elder Bricknell and his wife arrive for a mission tour/zone conferences. He's a new Area Seventy, and former Idaho Pocatello Mission president. They come in at 10:00, then after lunch we head up to Newcastle, leaving Parker to the mercy of his brothers and the office elders. Parker leaves Tuesday at noon so he can stop off in Johannesburg and take some footage of people around the temple. I feel bad I don't get to take him to the airport, but we're all being stoic about it.

In the meantime, Hunter is having therapy twice a week, and Morgan played his last rugby game of the season - he's back on the A team. There next "adventure" will be off-campus leadership camps. Morgan and his rugby crowd signed up for Port Elizabeth, which is actually in the Capetown mission, and Hunter and his "crew" chose Seula Zimbili, which I need to find on a map. Their camps are the exact 3 days we have our Couples Seminar in Pumula Beach, so that takes care of organizing wake-up calls and drivers! Very convenient.

We were delighted, in the midst of all the activities, to welcome our newest couple, Elder and Sister Johnson. They will be working with Umlazi BB and Umlazi W wards, and it will be wonderful. Elder Johnson was a seminary teacher, and Sister Johnson has served just about everywhere, so they will be perfect as trainers, and guides in Umlazi. In our latest "small world" moment, they also know Elder Bricknell, as they were in his mission, and Elder Johnson was in a stake presidency.

Also, hot off the presses, we have our new booklet "Here's How We Do It!" to hand out at zone conferences. It's a compilation of the comments elders have made in interviews answering questions like: What are you doing to improve you ability to teach people, not just lessons? What do you do to help your companion be the best missionary he can be? What do you do each day to make it a great day? What do you do to listen more closely to and follow the Spirit? The answers are wonderful - of course, the missionaries are wonderful, so that makes sense!

The lessons and visuals for the Neighborhood Walkabout are done, and heading out to the wards and branches. It is so fun to be in the middle of all this - I imagine the only thing that makes it possible for a mission president to give up his mission is that after 3 years of this, he is so exhausted he can hardly function. It certainly gets to Steve...but he told me (again!) this morning that "One more week, and we'll be back to normal." Whatever that is!

Love you - share the gospel this week!
Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann/Theatrical Consultant

ps I totally forgot! The weekend Parker came in, Steve went to the rugby game, as I had driven Hunter and 4 other boys (in my 5-seater car) to the Drakensbergs for a stake youth convention (conference). They stayed at a youth camp (with buildings) for two nights while I stayed at a bed & breakfast down the road. Hunter mostly had to watch the sports and the dance, but he had a good time. Jubz was there, too - I'm calling his mom Nonhlanhle today to set up a teaching time for the Assistants, hopefully with his whole family.

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