Sunday, September 28, 2008

Elders Mokopotsa, Kona, Muthoka, Zeeman, Thabo (from Ladysmith, going), Muhwezi, Kwendo, Brinkman, McColgan, Stanger, Mills, Anderson, Torgersen

We love'em...and they leave us! Elders Warner, Sherman and Crane

2009 09 28 - Twelve new elders: We get younger and younger!

Hello, Everyone!

We just started a term break, which means Hunter and Morgan are out of school for a week. The crowds have already started descending: we had 4 overnight Friday, another 2 for the afternoon, a different friend to the mall with Morgan Saturday... And that was just the weekend! Morgan has plans to go to the beach with some friends on Monday. Ironically, the "best" beach is attached to the Suncoast Casino downtown. You pay a fee to get in, and it has both sand and grass, and must be somewhat protected, as the waves are a little smaller than the public beach south of it. The boy who described it said it's nicer to lay on the grass to tan, and that the girls come there because they like the smaller waves. I have a feeling that the girls are more of an attraction than the smaller waves.

We had transfers this week, so 50 of our elders are now either training or being trained. Elder Schlenker is now an assistant with Elder Hiatt, but Steve kept Elder Allred as a "traveling" assistant for his last cycle, to work in different areas with different companionships. Add to that 53 elders, Elder Nkele and Elder Terry in the office, and the 14 zone leaders, and that means we have 35 fully trained proselyting elders. And with all this - the work is going great! We have such good missionaries here. I admit, some of them can be a little goofy at times, but they certainly work hard, and try to keep up with Steve's "inspirations" - like the neighborhood walkabout. It's going great - the elders are going to start keeping track of the new investigators they teach from the walkabout. I'll let you know how it continues...

This week is zone conferences. Because Steve and the assistants spent time individually with every district over the last few weeks, we'll have three combined conferences in Newcastle, Berea, and Hillcrest, instead of also driving to Swaziland and Richards Bay. That actually makes it easier for me, especially during a school holiday, because I only have to be gone overnight once. It does make the Berea zone conference huge, though: Richards Bay, Durban, and Umlazi, plus 6 couples. We do a pizza lunch, half a pizza per person, so Scooter's in Berea gets a big order that day!

We have so many new and newish missionaries that the assistants are doing a little "Meet the President and Sister Mann" deal. I pulled out some of the best pictures (like Steve doing his famous "arms" trick) and told them some inside information. Should be fun. Fortunately, since Steve can never remember anything that's happened, I got to provide most of the material. So, no embarrassing "Susan" stories!

As my part, I'm also doing some training on filling out baptism forms. (Again. Still.) I put it on powerpoint, since that's how we do everything around here. If we ever have a zone conference where the power goes off, we're sunk! I'm really enjoying making these powerpoints. If you haven't ever tried it, do. It's way fun!

Steve was in Newcastle Saturday and Sunday for a returned missionary fireside, and a prospective missionary fireside. The returned missionary one had 15 attendees - 10 of them (currently) less active. He went to Church in Madadeni, where a gogo bore her testimony and was really sad about her grandson, who has gone off into drugs, etc., and she's afraid is lost. After the meeting, that very boy came up to Steve and said "I'm ready to do whatever it takes to get my life straight." Muzi had run into the bishop during the week, and the bishop had talked to him and persuaded him to come talk to someone. The end result is, he's heading into rehab, and hopefully in on his way back into activity. I love this kind of story!!

With so many elders, we have a shortage of cars right now. The assistants and the office elders "shared" over the weekend so Steve could take a car to Newcastle. And then today somebody turned right at an intersection (that's like a U.S. driver turning left) without waiting for a pause in the traffic, and totalled one of our cars. The elders, thankfully, are fine, though shaken up. Having 45 or so cars being driven by young males is very nerve-wracking. Thank goodness Elder and Sister Sessions are here to administer legal assistance (Elder Sessions) and hugs!(Sister Sessions).

We got our general conference schedule today: Saturday - Relief Society broadcast, 4:30 pm, Saturday morning session, 6pm; Sunday - Priesthood session, 11:30 am, Saturday evening session, 1pm, Music & the Spoken Word, 5:30 pm, Sunday morning session, 6pm. If you can watch the sessions comfortably in your family rooms, please don't miss ANY, and think of our members who have to pay for taxis or walk for 45 minutes to see ONE session. And they do it faithfully!


Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann

ps I have a few additions to the "Don't often see this in Boise" list:
1. A Moslem lady swathed from head to toe in black, with a slit for her eys, carrying a Cinnabons box.
2. A man sweeping the sidewalk with a long palm frond.
3. An Indian school, where the children dress in white pants with long white tunics over them.
4. Little girls in more traditional school uniforms: a striped jacket, a skirt, bobbie socks & Mary Janes, and a flat kind of hat - sort of like the Madeline books!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

2008 09 21 - Helping Hands Rained Out!!

Dear Everyone:

In a very disappointing twist, many of our Africa Service Day plans had to be postponed for a week – it rained over practically the whole mission Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Even Hunter and Morgan were going to go help fix up Mbadula School – and take a few friends. I don’t imagine we’ll get them geared back up next Saturday... it’s the start of their 1-week holiday between terms, and they’re planning every minute already.

On the good news side, Nykaniso, who has gone to Church a few times with us, showed up today with his whole family and some cousins! And the missionaries haven’t even been to teach them yet! Very cool.

This was a rather “medical” week – my fault for noticing we hadn’t had many medical bills lately. Never comment out loud on things that are going well...
On Monday, an elder who finally called after 2 days of a fever of 103 went to Dr. John and found it was caused by a tick bite, and ended up on antibiotics. They call it tick bite fever, but it’s nothing like Lyme disease, so nobody panic.
In addition, an elder ended up at Richards Bay Hospital for stitches in his knee, after he threw a brick at a tree and it bounced back and hit him!
On Tuesday an elder went to Dr. John with some mysterious, starting-to-recur-more-frequently headaches, and ended up at Westville Hospital for an MRI. Diagnosis: complicated migraines (?) and a pill every day for 6 months.
Also Tuesday, another elder went to Dr. John (he gets a LOT of business from us!) with kidney pains, and ended up at Entabeni Hospital and a laproscopic appendectomy. That’s our second since we got here.
Add to that two elders with toothaches needing to see a dentist, and Hunter home for 3 days with a sore throat and head congestion, and you kind of get the picture. Steve and I and the Sessions were zigzagging between hospitals, faxing “We will pay all fees” letters to various doctors, dentists, and x-ray labs, organizing cars and a “floating” companion. Never a dull moment!

The good news is, that everyone is fine. Which is good, because this is transfer week, and we have 13 new elders coming in on Wednesday. I’m actually better prepared than usual: I have all their bedding bought and labelled, except a few of the pillows. Their Plan of Salvation visuals have been printed and laminated, and Margie has dinner all scheduled. (Have I mentioned how impressive I find the mission president wives who cook for every transfer? Sister Gaya in Madagascar even finds out a favorite food for every missionary, and fixes it when he leaves!) We’ll have to have orientation in the mission home, as the office conference room is being expanded into what used to be a kitchen. Elder Nkele, Elder Terry, and the Sessions have been VERY good sports working through jackhammers, drills, and having the electricity turned off. As you can see from the picture, we’re not talking about punching through sheetrock here: the wall was solid brick. I noticed that Steve and the assistants were away most of the week, doing district meetings and interviews. Very clever...

For some mysterious reason, our new elder from Germany has been at the Provo MTC, so he will arrive later in the day than the rest of the elders, and exhausted. Which is too bad, because Germany is only about an hour off our time zone, I think. Oh well – it was probably fun for him, seeing yet another country!

Sister Bartholomew and Sister Hafen found a new vendor right on my doorstep – at Essenwood Market in Durban. He painted the red bowl pictured above – check out the personal touches, especially the missionaries. It took him awhile to get them right: the missionaries on Sister Hafen’s bowl had blond hair and wore polo shirts, and the chapel had a cross on top! But he’s learning – and he even painted a bus for Westville Boys High School.

In addition to planning transfers, Steve has been working on the theme for the zone conferences Sept. 30-Oct. 4. With so many new missionaries over the past few transfers, and so many REALLY young trainers, it’s mostly a reaffirmation of all the things we’ve been encouraging over the last year. By the time these missionaries go home, no one will recognize them, they’ll be such amazing leaders, and so good at setting and achieving goals. To say nothing of their scripture knowledge and spiritual depth. I’ll encourage Steve to give them the famous mission president’s “Now it’s time to find an eternal companion and start a family” speech, so it won’t all be wasted.

We’re looking forward to conference – we get the morning sessions at 6pm, and the afternoon sessions at 10pm. Usually they show the a session at 6pm on Saturday at the church, then video the later one to show Sunday morning. Luckily we have access to the sessions at the mission home, so we can see them all (live and late, or on tape). The area presidency goes to conference, then 2 days after they get back we have the Mission Presidents’ Seminar in Johannesburg. Hope they can stay awake!

Have a great week, and don’t forget to watch conference!

Love, Mom/Grandma/Susan/Sue/Sister President Mann/Nurse Jane

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008

2008 09 14 - Newcastle District Conference

Howzit, Everyone?

Exciting news! Keniso, one of the gang that comes over, is coming to Church next week: the office elders tracted out his family, and he recognized them as "those guys who live by Morgan and Hunter" and they got invited in! Guess we'd better have more parties...

Wednesday we welcomed our new Seminaries & Institute couple, Elder & Sister Markum from Laramie, Wyoming. Elder & Sister Smith have been training them night and day, as they will leave for home tomorrow. We'll miss them! They've done a great job and are leaving the S&I in good shape.

I think I forgot to mention last blog that the Westville Boys High School has a new international star - Chad Ho, age 17. He swam for South Africa in the Olympics. His event is the 10km open water swim, which he swims in just under 2 hours. That's a serious event! They swam it in the same river where the canoeing and rowing took place, and he took 7th, which, considering he was the only "kid" in the whole thing, was pretty cool. It was a bit odd to have South Africa represented by someone Chinese (there are VERY few Asians here), but it was neat that he could go see where his grandfather and family had lived. Watch for him in 2012!

I missed another photo-op, darn it! There are usually people standing between the traffic lanes at the busier intersections, begging, selling things (like black garbage bags, plastic hangers, and newspapers) or handing out promotional flyers. This week near the mall I saw 8 or 9 young black men in kilts (some with trousers underneath) and Tam o'shanters (I looked up the spelling in Wikipedia). It was totally unexpected and delightful.

Hunter found delightful a group of girls in 60s style one-piece black hot pants outfits with white belts and hats. They were handing out samples of Coke Zero. It reminded me of Goldie Hawn on Laugh-In.

The 8th-10th we held a Couples Conference at the Pumula Beach Hotel on our South coast. You can see from the picture how tough it was. It is always really great to get all the couples together. We actually work quite hard - this time we were planning the 3 district priesthood/auxiliary training meetings for January/February, and organizing the roadshows, and hearing reports on the EFY and YSA activities that the couples are doing all over the districts. Most of the members here and never experienced any of these oh-so-familiar-to-us activities, so this year we put them on for them, next year we help them put them on, and then we sit back as emergency support as they do them on their own. The YSA were so happy to get together as a district, and meet some other young adult Church members! They all went home with a picture directory with cellphone numbers and addresses. Mormon matchmaking at it's best!

This weekend we had the Newcastle District Conference. Elder & Sister Koelliker were here from the Area presidency. We really enjoyed being with them - and the training and sessions went really well. We held the Sunday meeting in the Mabuja College hall, and there were 385 people there. Just to put that in perspective, there were maybe 25 cars in the parking lot (most of which were packed with people when they arrived), and most of the people walked a long distance, took a taxi (the vans that cram in 15) or one of the buses from Ladysmith or eZakheni. Transport is a HUGE problem here. There were 30 investigators, 6 young men advanced to the Melchizedek priesthood, and 45 at the new members meeting afterward - with lots of families and priesthood. In case you're wondering why I'm telling you all this, these are wonderful numbers and show how the work is moving in the district.

We have now had our first district mugging. (NO ONE HARMED!) The 6 elders were doing service, painting a house, and two men showed up and took all their "stuff" and one of the mission cars. After something like this is over, and all is the stress is gone, the elders like to have such a "great story" to tell. We're really proud of how they handle the ups and downs of missionary life!

Morgan spent a few days at a leadership camp at Port Edward down at the very tip of our mission, along with two busloads of grade 9 boys (including several of the rugby teams!) He had the distinction of going out on the ocean on a raft with 3 teachers (they weren't sure of his swimming ability) and having it overturn. Just another highlight in his school career!

This week Steve and the assistants finish visiting the last few districts, training and interviewing, plus they'll be planning the transfers for next week (3 elders leaving, 13 coming in). We will be getting another missionary from Germany, which will be fun for Elder Waterbohr. He doesn't run into any German speakers here (except maybe tourists, but since he's not supposed to be at the beach or the mall, that's not too likely).

Hunter added a sports trainer to his physical therapist this week, so now he has 4 sessions a week to work on his knee. He really hates not being able to play basketball. I keep telling him to practice out back until he can throw 3-pointers from a stockstill stance, but he hasn't taken me up on it.

Everyone stay safe and make good choices! We love you and miss you!
Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Rugby Fan