Dear Family & Friends & Missionary Parents:
The frantic pace has relaxed for a moment...and just in time. We completed a successful transfer week on Friday, and are now the proud possesssors (managers? leaders? co-workers? associates?) of twelve brand-new missionaries. And we've sent 12 very experienced, capable, spiritual, available (!) priesthood brethren back into the real world. Pretty good for one week.
On Wednesday we spent a lot of time shuttle back and forth to the airport. Apparently Durban's Home Affairs Office is either easier or less expensive than Home Affairs in Johannesburg, so our mission secretary often deals with visas for missionaries throughout South Africa. Out of the blue, a call came that an elder would be coming in Wednesday morning - so the office elders picked him up first thing, and Elder Rothenberger spent a chunk of the day helping him with his paperwork, and standing in queues at Home Affairs.
An hour after his trip to the airport, Steve & I in our car, and the Assistants driving the bakkie and the Vito headed to the airport to pick up 11 elders coming from the Johannesburg MTC. These large groups take a lot of vehicles! Then after pictures and a short "Presidential Address", the elders had lunch while Steve and I went back to the airport for Elder O'Brien, who was coming from the Provo MTC (get to work on your visas early, future missionaries!). Later the office elders dropped the "visa" elder back at the airport. Then we didn't have to go back to the airport...until Friday.
Wednesday afternoon was interviews and orientation, then a dinner and testimony meeting. Thursday morning was the transfer meeting, where all the elders involved came to Pinetown, and the new elders went out and the "old" elders came back to the office for their interviews, weighing of luggage, dinner and testimony meeting. It was a powerful group - we'll miss them.
Friday morning there was one more trip to the airport at 7:00 am, and then we started breathing again. And except for picking Hunter and Langa up at school, picking Morgan up from Sean's, dropping Langa at soccer practice on the way to dropping Hunter and Jono at Gateway Mall, driving Morgan to the Pavilion Mall, picking Hunter and Jono up at Gateway, picking Morgan up at Gateway, and dropping Jono at his house, the rest of the day was pretty quiet...
Tuesday through Friday of next week I'm substituting for the seminary teacher - they just started Isaiah. I think she planned this trip based on the curriculum... I'll be calling Marilyn for clever ideas - she's the best seminary teacher I know!
We were sorry to miss the Mann Family Reunion at McCall again - it sounded really fun. We'll be there for #32, for sure, only we may spend all our time at the ice rink - not skating, just enjoying cold weather. I miss winter (easy to say, as I don't have to shovel snow or drive on the ice).
We're getting very worried about our couples complement for fall - we will be losing some really amazing couples, and haven't received word of any new ones coming to replace them. Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease talk to every wonderful couple you know and encourage them to contact us for our sales talk! This is a great place, and the work is very busy and satisfying. Even sisters who were really worried and even scared about coming to Africa love it here. We can't guarantee they'll end up in our mission when they put their papers in, but the missionary department pays a lot of attention to requests from couples and mission presidents. And if they end up somewhere else, they'll know the Lord really wanted them there, so it's a win-win situation!
We love you even if you can't find us any couples, but do try!
Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann/Taxi Queen
ps The picture of Steve is a result of our mission tour. Elder Bricknell was a boxer, and used the simile of the fighter, and the referee, and the opponent, and the "corner man(n)" in his teaching. The Assistants thought it should be documented, so they went out and put things together. There is also a white polo shirt with Corner Mann across the back.
pps This time of year the air over Durban is very ugly - like an inversion. It comes from the smoke as they burn the sugar cane fields. The sugar cane is a tall stalk, like corn, and they can burn the green on the outside without damaging the cane on the inside. As you can (sort of) see from the picture Elder Hiatt took out the window of the Vito on the way back from Swaziland, it's very beautiful at night. You can actually see each individual cane burning. During the day you mostly just notice the horrible smoke. There must be a sacrament meeting talk in this...