Thursday, October 30, 2008

2008 10 31 - Happy Halloween!

Dear Everyone:

Halloween isn't really anything here. Some stores have imported the idea, and one of the neighborhood malls has really nice decorations and invites children to trick-or-treat to the shops, but I don't think it's in the townships at all. Gertrude, who saves my life cleaning 2 days a week, remembers very fondly a spook alley masterminded by one of our sister missionaries. It scared her to death! But she loved it.

I have real "mission" stories this week, and they're great! Here's a sample:

In Swaziland, an inactive sister did the Neighborhood Walkabout with the elders. As she was introducing them to one her friends, the lady said "Why should I talk with the missionaries? You don't even go to your Church anymore." She thought about that, and the next Sunday she was back in Church.

In one area, where there were no members, the elders told a young man they had met about the Church, and how they were trying to find the people who might be interested in hearing their message: would he be willing to tell them about a few of the people in the neighborhood? He went inside, came out in a white shirt and tie, and spent the day with them. They ended up with a number of teaching appointments and a lot of information about the people there. He himself was not interested, so they bought him dinner and parted as friends (for now...who knows?)

Elder Brusch and Elder Dygert were asked to share some of our beliefs in a secondary school. They spoke to the whole student body for 35-40 minutes about the basic principles of the Church, and how the Church can help them in their lives, and seeking an education. They then visited each class and explained "For the Strength of Youth" and handed them out to the students. The headmaster told them students were asking how to learn more, so they passed around a list where they could put their name, address and phone number if they wanted to be visited. And the elders gave out their phone# for those who really wanted to be visited soon. The list resulted in 420 names, and 12 students phoned them. Then on Sunday, 2 students who had been absent, but heard about it, showed up in Church. I don't even have an adjective for this one.

At least 3 of our companionships have been approached by people on the street, asking to be taught.

Elder and Sister Baum have been our Swaziland couple, and are both very outgoing and warm and fun with the people. She visited a member family one day, and the sister asked Sister Baum to look in and see what the children were doing. There were a girl and boy, 6 and 4, and they were sitting on the floor, each with a Book of Mormon, singing a Primary song. Then the little girl said "I'm Sister Baum, and I'm going to teach a lesson now." They were "playing Elder and Sister Baum", which is their favorite game.

Sister Dibb, in Newcastle, has worked very hard to train all the auxiliary leaders, but they don't always "pitch up" for the training. She has been "bunked" by the Primary president, especially. Last week the Primary counselor asked her to come help them get ready for the Primary sacrament meeting program - which is in 2 weeks! Nothing organized had been done to prepare. It was a mad scramble for Sister Dibb to find out what songs the children knew, copy the parts and assign them. Next week will be an intense song practice, then away they go! And it will probably be wonderful.

In another branch, the Primary president absolutely refused to have the children sit on the stand during the first part of sacrament meeting on the day of their program - she was sure they would be too noisy and restless. So she kept them away, in a classroom, until it was time for their program. Sister Sessions, who is one of her counselors, tried SO hard to convince her that they needed to be inside, taking the sacrament, but was unsuccessful. So many things happen out here that you can't anticipate!

I have been reading my own missionary journal (from the early days of the Church!) and been reminded that we also made a movie (for training new missionaries); printed a brochure (about family home evening) and planned a member-missionary event to be used in all the wards in our mission. So I guess our activities aren't too out of line: we're just following what President Ballard taught me!

And speaking of my mission, I have to add one goofy experience I had that was also "not anticipated". Sister Calder and I tracted out a lady who invited us in and proceeded to tell us about all the flying saucers she had seen. As she was describing a particularly impressive occasion, when the house got dark as the UFO passed over, with it's blinking lights, the room got dark and I could see a blinking light reflecting on the wall. I seriously thought one of her flying saucers was about to land, and all I could think of was "How do I explain this to President Ballard?"

(It turned out that the sun had gone behind a cloud, just as a telephone repair truck with a blinking light on top pulled up outside the window. Whew!)

I also read an entry I made after visiting the Monteiros, a Portugese family who joined the Church, but was having difficulty staying active. The comment I added said: "No home teachers, no visiting teachers, no callings yet". I hope President Hinckley's counsel that every new member needs a friend, an assignment, and to be "constantly nourished by the good word of God" is being followed today. It certainly would have helped the Monteiros!

This is transfer week, and we'll be gaining 2 new missionaries (whom we met at Elder Holland's fireside in Johannesburg) and sending 7 great elders back to the worldly world. Some wards/branches are going to getting some good leadership - and 7 terrific member missionaries!

It's hard to believe it's November tomorrow. Our weather is alternating between "Seattle" gray skies and rain, and brilliantly sunny, hot days. I'll have to start searching for a turkey. The largest I found last year was about 12 pounds - in a freezer case, waiting for Christmas, I think!

Sala kahle!

Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann/The only person in Durban wearing a Halloween t-shirt.

Friday, October 24, 2008

2008 10 26 - Once Upon a Time...

Dear Family & Friends:

This week I have a few stories to tell you - life is so interesting!

We had an interesting form of opposition to a baptism a few weeks ago. A mother, a teen and two younger children were all preparing to be baptized. On the Sunday in question, the gogo (grandmother) "kidnapped" the two younger children to "save" them from baptism. The mother and older child were baptized, and I believe things were sorted so the other baptisms took place this week.

Elder Ta'aga and Elder Maneno have been using the Suzuki bakkie while we're waiting for cars to be repaired. They locked the keys inside the other night, in the ignition. (Note: I must admit, I did that once, only with the ignition running, and Torry in her car seat, but let's not go there...) Anyway, Elder & Sister Sessions got the spare key and went to Umlazi, to the rescue. They tried, in the rain, for 2 1/2 hours to get that thing open! The key wouldn't unlock the driver door, and although the lock moved up and down on the passenger door, it wouldn't open either. They called the vehicle emergency people, who took the info, and wanted the VIN #. "Do you have a flashlight?" asked Elder Sessions, on the cellphone. "Yes," responded the young woman. "May I borrow it?" he asked. "Yes," she said. "And how do I get it?" They finally got the first few numbers for her using cellphone lights. Tough job; Sister Sessions now has a tiny flashlight in her bag. The young woman said they would respond "Just now". (That can mean anytime between now and Christmas.) Elder Sessions asked specifically, "Do you mean now, now now, or just now?" Unfortunately, the answer was "just now". They called a tow truck, to try to get into the bakkie, but the guy couldn't do any better with what was at hand than the missionaries. And he kept calling his friend to come help ("He can do it in a minute!") but the friend was afraid it was a set-up by the police. Now what kind of individual would be able to break into cars, and worry about a sting...?

So the end of the story: since someone would have broken into the car and stolen it if they'd left it there, Elder Ta'aga got to break out the rear window, climb in and drive the bakkie back. Turns out it wasn't some fancy security issue: the handle on the passenger door and the lock on the driver door just both decided to die at the same time. Maybe the elders have been climbing through the windows for months, and didn't think to mention it!

A sister in KwaMashu went into labor one evening, and she and her husband started walking to catch a taxi to the hospital. They were held up, and when she told the guys she was in labor, they just said "So what?" She and her husband took off running for their lives, and managed to get away and to a taxi and the hospital, and the baby was delivered safely.

A group of missionaries visited a local mosque on a preparation day, where they were shown around and introduced to Islam. Then they were ushered into a room where the "tour guide" proceeded to show an anti-Mormon movie and harass them on our beliefs. They left (politely) but a few days later the story and some photos showed up in small Islamic newspaper. Steve called the area public relations office, and was told that the head of Islam for South Africa (or maybe all of Africa) is a very good friend to the Church, and will doubtless respond to the incident in a very direct way. I should add that our elders have visited mosques before, and had a very good experience.

Good news from Elders Parry and John - the investigator I mentioned last week who wanted to know more about baptism? The family is now choosing a date for theirs. I love being part of this work!!

For those who may have missed it, our KZN provincial rugby team, the Sharks, won the national Currie Cup yesterday. They haven't won for 14 years, and they beat the Blue Bulls from Johannesburg, who beat us last year for the Cup. Morgan was at the game, and all of Durban was watching it on TV.

Later that night, Hunter heard "noises" in the attic above his room, so he decided to sleep in family room (did I mention that he and Morgan and their friends have been going to all the scary movies lately?). Well, a little later I heard thumping in the attic above my room, and when I mentioned it to the boys, Hunter said "Leave the lights on!" and Morgan immediately called Steve, over in the office. He laughingly informed us that there were fireworks going off in honor of the rugby win. But honestly, you would have sworn the thumps were in the attic... I guess the lights weren't UFOs, either.

We're feeling a lot calmer here, after hearing about people being harassed by protesters on the way to the Oakland Temple. The email I got made it sound like Lehi's dream, only everyone had come out of the great and spacious building and was standing on the sidewalks, and even in the street, yelling and waving signs. It will be nice when the elections are over and California is back to it's normal craziness.

This story is for sisters only: I went for a perm this week, and after being rolled up in rods that were held in place by something that looked like rubber bands, the rods were made more secure with toothpicks, then my head was wrapped in plastic wrap and covered by a towel. I felt like an hors d'oevre!

We visited The Workshop in downtown Durban on Saturday morning. I thought it would be full of African crafts, but it was just a mall. Hunter wanted to go, to find a t-shirt and sweatshirt in one of his favorite, hard-to-find, not-in-Idaho brands (there just isn't a lot of gangsta stuff available, is there?). We had 4 of the "bros" with us. Morgan and Hunter were both worried it would be "ghetto" and we wouldn't be safe there, but it was a very nice mall - probably the main one before Pavilion and Gateway were built. Anyway, the boys had prophesied that we'd be the only white people there, but no: we saw 11 others. I also got a great bargain on comforters for new missionaries at a sidewalk booth outside the mall. And yes, we found something for Hunter, very bling.

The school is getting ready for "controlled exams". It's part of a new curriculum that was put in place this year. Next year every class will require 7 "portfolios" of work, instead of the assignments and exams they've used in the past. I guess they're trying to make the work in different schools more comparable, or something? Anyway, Hunter and Morgan are actually studying (a little). The teachers have given them practice packets to fill out, which will be very helpful, as they throw all their notes everywhere and would probably not be too organized on their own. The matrics (grade 12) have finished their actual classes are are not "revising" for their end of school exams, which are really all that count out of the whole 4 years of high school. It's not like the U.S. where colleges look at all your grades.

Two of Hunter's friends were asking about the requirements for U.S. universities, so next year we may have our own "SAT preparation" class in the mission home. Maybe with some friends involved, our boys will pay more attention. I've got to find out where they can take the ACT or SAT here, anyway. Trying to coordinate the school system here, and the school sytem at home is tricky, to say the least.

Well, love to all, here goes another week!
Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann

Saturday, October 18, 2008

2008 10 19 - Mission Presidents Seminar in Johannesburg

Dear Family & Friends:

Wonderful. Amazing. Energizing. Faith promoting. Insightful. Helpful. Renewing. Uplifting. Practical. Spiritual. Testimony building. Friendship strengthening. Fun!

I don't quite know how to convey all the feelings I have about the mission presidents seminar we just attended! We were in Johannesburg from Sunday evening to Wednesday afternoon. The seminar included all the mission presidents (including the Cannons from the MTC) in the Africa Southeast Area, as well as the Area Presidency, Elder Steven Snow, and Elder Holland, as well as all their wives (of course!). Few things are better than working with wonderful people like this in a small group! (Last year we were taught by Elder Scott, which was also wonderful, but totally different.)

We started off Sunday night with a fireside in Sandton. Elder & Sister Holland were the speakers, but Steve was a little distracted watching for some of our returned missionaries who live in the Jo'burg area. He found them, and it was like Alma meeting up with the sons of Mosiah after 14 years!

Elder Holland spoke about missions, and by the end you were in NO confusion over whether every young man should go or night! I love the way he talks (and writes), and the down to earth examples he uses. He talked about chasing down every young man, and gave a real example: he was at a zone conference in Sweden, and an elder got up and left in the middle. Elder Holland immediately slipped down and asked the companion what had happened. "He says he's done - that's it - he's going home." So Elder Holland went outside looking for him. He had to "chase" him around the chapel a few times, but he "caught" him, and they talked about it, and the elder came back in.

Some years later, a young man came up to Elder Holland in Utah, and said "Do you remember me?" Elder Holland didn't, until the man said "Sweden. Zone conference. Up hill, down hill, up hill..." It was the same elder, and he wanted Elder Holland to know that he had finished his mission, was now married in the temple and had a family. So everyone get your jogging shoes on and start chasing the young men in your wards who are wavering about going on missions!

Monday we started the sessions. We all sat at a long, horse-shoe shaped table, and took turns leading the hymns and playing the piano. We already knew all the mission couples except the Poulsens (Johannesburg) and the Probsts (Capetown) who just came out this year. And of course it turns out we know people the Probsts and Poulsens know... Steve had also worked with Elder Snow when he was in the Area Presidency here, while we were in Zimbabwe, and with Elder Holland at the same time. Plus Elder Snow is the one who set me apart for the mission. The other new couple are the Watsons, in the Area Presidency. President Watson was the secretary to the First Presidency for over 30 years, and Sister Watson's maiden name was Mann, and she turns out to be a "cousin" of Steve's. In fact, we have all stood in the same cemetery in Stratford-on-Avon taking photos of the Mann tombstones there!

The training we received covered lots of different areas. Some was in response to questions that the mission presidents sent in ahead of time. Monday afternoon they really got down to "problems" (like polygamy, for instance) while all the wives met together separately. Our session was way more fun. Sisters Parmley, Koelliker and Watson had the room all set up, with music playing, and a black runner down the center of the conference table with beaded sheep wearing labels "Feed my sheep". As they introduced the theme of the meeting, Sister Parmley pointed out that some of the sheep were all aone, and others were grouped together, and some were headed out in wrong directions. I love visual aids! (And we each got to bring a sheep home, which is always a bonus in the womens' meetings!)

I had never met Sister Holland or Sister Snow, and they were terrific. We had a "general board" kind of meeting, and with people who are all doing the same thing, and reaching for the same goals, you feel a lot of unity. I know you all read my experiences, and I appreciate that, but these sisters are living them - and some in MUCH tougher circumstances! So when you relate something, they can say "Me too!" (Can you tell I liked it?)

Before Sister Snow and Sister Holland talked to us, we went around the table and each of us shared something from our mission experience. I showed some of the awards I've made for the missionaries - like after the all-district mugging. They were all wonderful ideas and experiences, and helped us get to know each other even better. Don't you love the way the Church brings people together?

Tuesday President Snow taught about following the promptings of the Spirit, and Elder Holland illustrated how powerful the Book of Mormon is in conversion. He talked about Joseph Smith, and all the things that had to happen before he could restore the Church, including publishing the Book of Mormon. Then he walked us through 1st Nephi, and we discovered that Lehi's experience of visions, angels, and a book were very similar to Joseph's. Now when I read about prophets and their beginnings, I'm looking for similar patterns.

Tuesday afternoon we went to the temple together - we just filled the session room. Steve and I only get to go once or twice a year, so that was a really great. It was like going to a half-size Boise temple.

One small glitch did come up: the mission ran out of recommend forms, and when we ordered them from distribution, we received 300 order forms instead. So when we got to the temple, Steve borrowed a recommend book so he could give me a new recommend, and sign one for himself. Yes, it's true: the mission president is the only one who needs to interview the mission president's wife, and signs his own recommend. Who'd have thought?

Wednesday morning was a powerful testimony meeting, then we headed for home, to a house that was nowhere as near destroyed as I expected it to be! The boys are getting better at fending for themselves. They even got to early morning seminary (with a little help from Elder Nkele & Elder Terry).
I noticed, though, that there was no food left in the house: all the better to defrost the freezer, my dear!

I spent the Saturday picking out excerpts from the video Parker shot for our member missionary training film. I would watch it, pause it, type up comments I liked, listen again, correct...over and over again. There were 14 interviews, so it took awhile. It was interesting, though: some of our members made the same comments we had thought about using from general authority talks, so we're going to use our local people instead. And Zulu grammar is definitely different from American grammar. We couldn't have written lines for the members that would have sounded the least bit authentic.

Today I had a wonderful missionary moment (I'm running out of adjectives today!). Morgan and I spoke in Church, and my topic was ordinances. After Church a sister who is investigating, with her husband and daughter, stopped me and said she liked the talk about ordinances, and that she wanted to understand more about baptism. I suggested that when the elders come over to teach them tonight, that she tell them she wants to know about baptism. I told her they would be delighted...and surprised! Interestingly, right after my talk Elder John told me I had done a good preparation for his investigators, as they were going to work up to talking about baptism tonight. Little does he know!

Our only low point today was that Jubz' mom, Noni, didn't make it to Church. Next week Jubz is going to sleep at home on Saturday night, instead of at our house, so he can "encourage" her. (He usually comes with us.)

I have a lot of computer work this next few days. We filmed the roadshow, so I'm making copies of that, and we received a copy of conference, so I need a few to make a few copies for people who couldn't get out to see it. More critical, I need to email those of you who have been so responsive about adopting an African elder! You've been great, so I'll be sending a name, picture, country, birthday and finish date to each of you. And if I run out of elders (probably not) remember, we get new missionaries every 6 weeks!

Last, but probably the MOST important, I am finally sending out all the pictures we have taken of Steve and me with each new missionary. I was having trouble because of illegible email addresses, and got WAY behind! So if I send you one and your son has been here a year already, please forgive my delay! I'm going to do better on this...along with 40 other things.

Mom/Grandma/Susan/Sue/Sister President Mann

ps Christmas is starting to show up in our local stores, and I was miffed because it wasn't even Thanksgiving yet, let alone Halloween! Then I remembered: South Africa doesn't have Thanksgiving or Halloween, so how can I complain? Besides, it's a good excuse to look for another interesting Nativity set! Can a person ever have too many?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Finally! A picture of Elder & Sister Markum!

Gogo and her compound - taken by Parker

The Durban District Team

2008 10 12 - Heading off to Jo'burg

Hello, Everyone!

The heat has hit! We had several days of blinding sunshine in the morning, and thunder/lightning/rain at night, but the last few days it has been warm, warm, warm! And it's only the beginning! Thank goodness summer is the rainy season - at least it cools down a little when it rains!

Yesterday Morgan played on the Durban District Rugby Team (Under 15A) and they beat the Johannesburg Blue Bulls. This is very, very good. Club rugby is now over (I think) so he'll be doing his rugby skills training two days a week, and gymming (do we sat that in the States?) two days a week.
Hunter, meanwhile, is doing physical therapy four times a week. He keeps trying to sneak back into basketball, but the therapist is very firm on that point: no competitive sports until nine months have passed. Of course, Hunger figures he's so good, there IS no competition...

Interesting story on our Umlazi W district (remember the group mugging?) The district now consists of Elders Gifford, England, Babeeyo, Reese, Torgersen & Goldsmith. They went to KFC for dinner after watching the Saturday morning session of conference at the stake center (it was, after all, 8 pm) and the place was robbed while they were there. The interesting (and nice) part, is that one of the employees pointed out the missionaries to robbers, saying something unknown in Zulu, and a robber came over and said "Don't worry - we won't bother you" and proceeded to rob everyone else, and the cash register, and leave. Maybe in Umlazi you are only allowed to be mugged once a quarter? Anyway, we were very happy with the respect the elders were shown. I hope it's because they have earned the community's trust.

In an hour or so Steve and I will be flying off to Johannesburg for a Mission Presidents Seminar. We have them twice a year, and this is the really "serious training" one. Elder Holland and Elder Snow will be the trainers, and there will be one separate afternoon where Sister Holland and Sister Snow will do...whatever with the wives. We all stay at a hotel together for the training and meals, and do a temple session. The Hollands, Snows, and Area Presidency must be pretty worn out. They were all conference, and then flew back in time for meetings with the 3rd Quorum of Seventy (our Area Seventies) yesterday and today. Tonight Elder Holland is doing a fireside, and we start our seminar at 8 tomorrow morning. When do they sleep???

My biggest concern, of course, is leaving the mission home to the mercy of Morgan and Hunter. The assistants and the office elders will help with transportation, but my real comfort is Elder and Sister Sessions. They'll keep a closer eye on them than I probably do!

Parker has sent us the rough draft of the member missionary training dvd that he filmed while he was here. It looks really good. The members who are in it will love seeing themselves - and it will be a great tool for the missionaries to use. We are very into modelling and role-playing (sorry, we don't role-play, we practice). Once the members have been through the Sunday lessons on sharing the gospel, and the Preach My Gospel Member program, and gone on the Neighborhood Walkabout, and worked with the training video, no one will need the MTC anymore! (Just kidding...)

The stake roadshows were Friday night - they were very different from what you might visualize. The idea was to base it on a musical. Our ward did a very quick version of Grease (and we won, by the way!) Jubz was the angel who sang Beauty School Dropout (he wore Elder Schlenker's white baptismal clothes) and they all sang along to the cd. They were loud enough that you could hear them, though.

The Kwadebeka Ward did an African musical with traditional dancing. Very neat! I'm working on instructions for the roadshows in the districts for February - I think it would be nice to do a mix of traditional and modern, or African and Western, or something. We may need to be very specific the first time around, and provide a very basic roadshow that they can tweak however much they'd like. It's very fun and challenging in the pioneer Church!

Everyone have a really good day on the 13th - It's Torry's birthday.

We appreciate all your support and help! Our latest need is for families to "adopt" an African elder, to email him every week and send goodies at Christmas and on his birthday. We have several who never get anything, and here are their companions raking in the mail and packages. If you're interested, let me know:

Love you all!
Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann

ps I've decided my name is boring, as I get acquainted with Nonhlanhla, and Sebile, and and Phumzile and Smangele!

pps One of our African elders just came down with chicken pox - haven't seen that for awhile!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

Eva (3) by Parker

Brody (1) by Parker

The Boys in our Hood - Sizwe, Hunter, Nkeniso, Jubz, Morgan, Sthe, Mhole

2009 10 03 - Zone Conferences & School Holidays

Dear Family & Friends:

I’m sitting in the office listening to Elders Parry, John, Nkele and Terry plan a “Blitz” for the Hillcrest Zone. There will be 22 missionaries, and as many members as they can commit to come. The missionaries will have a fast, and go out with the members to go looking for all the less-actives throughout the area. They will also be meeting other people in the process, such as the members’ friends, and the people they ask for help in finding the “lost”. Last time Elder Waterbohr and his companion taught 7 lessons that day. It’s been a very successful activity in other areas, and often the elders find members that no one knew were there.

In the meantime, Steve is in Swaziland with the assistants. This is the boys’ week off between terms, but I had everything handled to be gone overnight to a joint Newcastle/Swaziland zone conference in Newcastle (3-1/2 hours away). We had the Richards Bay/Umlazi/Durban North zone conference here in Durban on Wednesday, came home to regroup, then headed out of Newcastle. I will outline the rest of the afternoon, to save space:
1. 3:30 (1 hour out) met a detour off the N3. We couldn’t see a reason, and there weren’t backed up cars, but the lanes were all blocked by bumper to bumper trucks for quite a distance. A demonstration? A lunch break? A trucker’s convention? We will never know.
2. Headed off left on R103, but after a bit it seemed to head south (we needed to go northwest) so Steve had us turn around and go the other way, which turned into a dirt road for quite a while. We eventually got to Curry’s Post (NOT on the way) and turned back around.
3. Phone call from the Baums, 10K into South Africa from Swaziland so their cellphone will work. Elder Mbithi can’t get through the border with his visa (which Swaziland officials have been working on for 3 months!). Steve decided to send them back to Swazi, and have a separate zone conference for them on Friday, so no one would have to stay back and miss it.
4. Realized only Steve had his passport on him.
5. Three of us on simultaneously on cellphones, and Elder Schlenker driving and laughing: Steve with Swaziland; Elder Hiatt with the Sessions, trying to find the assistants’ passports in the office; and me with Hunter, to figure out if I could be gone another day. He was WAY too eager for me to go for it, and I couldn’t reach Morgan, who was at rugby practice, so we decided I’d better stay.
6. Turned around to meet the Sessions halfway to trade two visas for one mission mom.
7. Session hit a traffic jam as a truck had dropped it’s load on the N3.
8. Finally connect at 5:30, in Marianhill (not that far from home!)
9. Steve and the assistants head off to Newcastle, on very dark roads, arriving 9:30 pm.
10. I drop Sessions off at their boarding (we’re a car short again, thanks to a drunk driver: no injuries) and I head home to find Hunter, Morgan, and 5 friends.
It was a good thing I stayed home: there have been a few runs to the mall; an unexpected roadshow practice at the church, necessary food replacement as a constant tide of friends ebbs and flows. The highest # was 10, the lowest 4. They keep telling me they can all cram into the Peugeot to get to the mall, but I’ve drawn the line at 5 at a time.

Sizwe went to the roadshow practice with Hunter, Morgan & Jubz. Morgan is supposed to accompany one song, if we can work it out. Jubz is singing a solo! They’re doing the songs from Grease, and he is singing “Beauty School Dropout”. He will be so cute (don’t tell him I said that) all the girls will be wanting to meet him. Should provide some good fellowshipping while he has his missionary lessons!

The zone conferences are going well. I got to the first two, Pietermaritzburg/Hillcrest, and the one in Durban. We have 24 missionaries of 7 weeks or less, none of whom had been to a zone conference, plus about 60 more who came out after the “Meet the President & his family” zone conference, so the assistants put together a powerpoint on us. We rifled the family pictures on my computer, and came up with some pretty good ones, and then the assistants did a little magic, and voila! Show time! I don’t think the elders will ever look at their president quite the same!

The assistants reviewed some of the materials we are using for the member missionary work, just to be sure everyone is up to speed. It’s fun to watch these things evolve – we have had elders, such as Elders Nkele, Schwarting, Eddy & Schlenker, come up with great “from the trenches” suggestions that have led to new or adapted forms and programs that will be really helpful. Elder Hiatt gave some instruction on Zulu culture and language to the couples that has evolved into a booklet on “Getting to Know the People” and includes additional Zulu customs from Elder Maxongo, a section on working with Indians by Elder Schlenker, and one on working with other missionaries by…oh yeah, me. Information seems so much more important when it’s in booklet form!

Morgan did a braii today for all the (currently in residence) friends and the office elders. We bought a whole variety of Boerwors and seasoned kebabs and porklets, and it smelled delicious! I tried to add carrot sticks to the mix, but was turned down cold. Meat and rolls and an Energade, that’s all a real man needs!

Our weather continues to fluctuate wildly – hot and sunny, cold and rainy, hot and sunny, cold and rainy. It’s probably a good thing – day after day of HOT would not be so nice. Morgan is hoping it will be cool for the rugby game tomorrow – they get pretty hot, playing. Maybe cooler weather would give him an advantage: he’s used to it. He was at the beach this week, and some children asked if he was “Beast” from the national rugby team, the Springboks. They wanted his autograph. He told them he’d be around signing later… There is a “Beast” on the rugby team for every grade, it seems. And yes, Morgan is one of them.

Sala Kahle (stay well)!

Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann/Beastmother

ps Elder Brusch has a new tracting technique. On Fridays in the townships a lot of the babas (dads) get drunk? So he finally asked some children if there were any babas in the neighborhood who didn’t drink. They identified four – and they’re teaching two of them. Way to be creative!