Dear Family & Friends (not being necessarily mutually exclusive):
I have a few stories and a challenge for you. First, a great story from the boys’ seminary teacher, Sister Katie de Swardt. She joined the Church when she was 25, and had been working for some years for a very overbearing, bullying, belittling, swear-at-his-employees kind of man. After she was baptized, she went to him and told him:
“I have just been baptized into the Savior’s Church. I know now that I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father, and that I have a special purpose in life. I cannot allow you to swear at me, and speak that way to me, anymore.”
“What?!” (That was her boss.)
So she reiterated her statement, and left him thinking about it. He came out to her desk a little later, and said:
“You’re right. I’ve been kind of hard on you lately. I’ll watch it. Now, why don’t you go home.”
“Am I fired?”
“No, just take the rest of the day off.”
So Katie went home, and her mother (not a member) asked what she was doing home in the middle of the day. She explained what had happened, and then went back to work the next day, where her boss did try to mind his language. He minded it even more some years later when she married Andre, a tall, tough Afrikaner who assured her boss that “Nobody speaks to my wife like that!”
Second, a story with a challenge. Grandma Wilford (Gladys), a wonderful, feisty, outgoing sister in Pinetown Ward (imagine Grandma Mann with blonde hair and a South African accent) took a granddaughter and went to visit her daughter in Provo. They attended Church – and no one even acknowledged their presence. They went to a 4th of July breakfast, and again, no one said a word to them. Gladys finally joined a group of sisters, because she’s very sociable, saying “May I join your Relief Society meeting?” (only it really was – the presidency was using the time for a meeting!) and introduced herself. So, the challenge: Put yourself out for unfamiliar faces. What if she had been a nonmember? I know that we all feel foolish if we re-introduce ourselves to someone we already met (and forgot), so just pretend you have memory loss. Gladys did say that in her son’s ward in the Midwest, the missionaries were all over them in a minute. I think the missionaries in Provo are in so many wards they really don’t know who is a member and who is a visitor.
Gladys also mentioned how different “Wasatch Front” testimony meetings are from “mission field” testimony meetings. In Provo, she heard lots of comments about family, and stories, but not one person mentioned the atonement, or actually bore a “gospel-centered” testimony. Hmmm.
OK, here’s another. KwaMashu was the first black branch in Durban. It was actually established before apartheid ended, and the chapel was built in area that was not a good area. The ANC and the IFP (two political parties) were fighting (we’re talking guns) at that time, and some ANC members came to the chapel and threatened the branch presidency with guns.They told President Zulu (currently serving for the 3rd time as KwaMashu branch president) that the ANC was taking over the building. President Zulu told them: “This isn’t my building, it belongs to the Lord. I can’t let you take it.” They left, but harassed him at home, and came back again to the chapel. The last time they came, his counselors took off, and they were standing outside the chapel shooting into the air. Finally President Zulu turned to one and said, "Do you understand why I can't give this building to you?" And he said "Yes", and talked the other guys into leaving. President Zulu said it was like Daniel in the lion’s den: his enemies were prevented from harming him. That original chapel has now been replaced by a very nice building in a better area. So, how brave are we “at all times, and in all things, and in all places”
Reg Nield in Zimbabwe was the branch president of the first black branch there, while the country was still fighting over apartheid. As you can imagine, this was not popular with the apartheid supporters. He and Iris used to load their daughters into the van and drive out to the township every Sunday for Church. This was during the many years of fighting, by the way. He told us that he learned later that when they left after church, the branch members would kneel in the chapel and pray that they would get home alive.
We had our Primary Sacrament Meeting Presentation yesterday – It was wonderful. The children (all 16 of them) were amazingly reverent. We lost a few when the new branch was organized out of Pinetown Ward a few weeks ago, so the Primary president took the faces out of the Primary photo above, and made large, individual pictures of the ones who were gone. Then a child would read their part and hold up the picture. Because of the small Primary, some of the older boys did two parts “...because they’re big, and they can.”
By the way, I now live according to a “point” system. I haven’t tried to balance the points for different activities – everything just earns one although some take more effort (is that like the United Order?). The activities range from going to seminary to practicing piano to sleeping in their own rooms (instead of the family room, in front of the TV, and yes, it’s an issue). Examples of “point” prices for the boys’ wishes: 5 points (per friend) to have a friend stay overnight on Friday, 5 points for a ride to and from the mall, 5 points for me to drive to the ABSA stadium and pick up Sharks rugby tickets…
I’m eager for the day they run out of points and I can ask them to do what I’d like them to do – such as: Read a real book! Do jobs around the house! Work in the yard! Finish their correspondence courses! (I know, I’m dreaming, but what is life without dreams?)
Love to everybody – and Happy Labor Day!
Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann/Pointmeister
ps Another of our sister missionaries is back to civilian life: Sister Masilela sent us a letter – she was transfered to Ghana, and had a great mission there. Another 6 months, and they’ll all be home. Feels strange.
pps I have a new (to me) thought: what if all the couples in the Church who would like to serve missions, but can’t for some reason, were to donate the amount of a mission to the missionary fund so some of our couples out here who totally can’t afford it could go?
ppps Our grandson Brody turns 1 on September 2nd. It’s hard to realize he’ll be almost 3 when we meet him!