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!