Dear Offspring, Relatives & Friends:
I arrived back in Westville last night, after the final zone conference and a district conference in Swaziland. The people in Swazi are a lot of fun! The district president's wife gave a talk in the women's session that began with Matthew 20:30-34 (the two blind men by the road who called out to Jesus, were rebuked by the crowd, and cried all the louder). She encouraged the sisters not to be silenced when it came to speaking the truth. (You need to know that in Swazi, as in South Africa, the women have a very low standing, and are not allowed to speak out much.) She told how when she was first married, and they were not yet members, she wanted her husband to come to Church with her, but he preferred to play soccer. The fight went on for some time, then he finally agreed to come home on Sundays by 1 o'clock. Well, 1 o'clock came, then 2, then 3... and he got home late.
The next week she said "You had better be home by 1:00 or I will do something." (I wish you could have seen and heard her: she gestures like crazy, and is so fun to hear!) So when 1:00 rolled around and he wasn't home, she put on her tracksuit and took a pocket knife and headed to the soccer field. The game stopped as she came on the field, and she proceeded to destroy the ball, amid loud cries of dismay.
Her husband stayed home for a few Sundays, then begged to go play soccer. He agreed to be back at 1:00. Ten minutes later he came home. As soon as his friends saw him coming, they ran away, in fear of his wife! Fortunately, for the two of them, this worked. She hurried to remind the sisters that she was not advocating taking a pocket knife to their husband's hobbies, but encouraged them VERY strongly to stand up for themselves and the truth. She would have made a great women's libber. (Actually, I guess in Swazi she is!)
Elder and Sister Bricknell are wonderful. They brought a great spirit to every meeting, and had us all teary - elders too - over some of their stories of their own missionaries. (He was president of the Idaho Pocatello Mission.) Elder and Sister Johnson (of the Pocatello Mission), who just arrived a week earlier, were delighted to see them: the Johnsons said they could never have come to South Africa if they hadn't known about it from the Bricknells.
We had 4 zone conferences in Newcastle, Hillcrest, Berea and Swaziland. They went longer than we usually hod them, so I am missing from 2 of the pictures because of picking up the boys from school, and taking Hunter to physical therapy. Longer, but better! I learned a lot about mission mom-ing from Sister Bricknell as we traveled for hours in the Vito. It's nice to hear the different ways things operate in different missions.
Elder Sessions talked to the missionaries about safety, and told a story of when he was a California highway patrolman near Barstow. It was the midnight shift, and he and his partner pulled over a suspicious vehicle. His partner was driving, and stepped out to check the driver's licence and registration. Elder Sessions stepped down off the embankment, behind the headlights, and the driver didn't know he was there.
The driver was giving a little trouble, so Elder Sessions radioed in the license plate number, and learned (in police code) that the car was a stolen vehicle. His partner finally got the driver spread-eagled with his hands on the trunk, and Elder Sessions saw the driver's hands flexing, in anticipation of thrusting off to "take" the officer. Just as the driver was about to push off, Elder Sessions, in his deep voice, said deliberately "I wouldn't do that, if I were you." The guy instantly deflated, and they got him handcuffed and took him in.
It was a great story for pointing out the need for companions to be aware of their surroundings, and to watch out for each other. But my favorite part was "I wouldn't do that, if I were you." We've all been practicing saying it in a really deep, deliberate voice, so we can use it whenever possible!
The Swaziland District Choir sang in conference, and we liked them so well we're going to have them record a few hymns for use as background in our mission movie. The members generally learn the songs by ear, although they had 4 parts, so someone must read music in the group. They also usually sing a cappella, and it is really nice. We also have a song we might use from a family who were filming with Parker and the crew, then wanted to have a prayer with them, but always sing before they pray. It's in Zulu.
And lest you think my life is all Mary and no Martha (see Luke 10:38-42), I came home from this terrific week of zone and district conferences to do laundry, clean the house, and defrost the fridge. So there you go.
Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann
ps There's going to be a Boot Sale at the Anglican Church around the corner - but before you check your shoe size, I think that means selling things out of the trunks of cars. Sort of a Tailgate Flea Market!