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

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