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!