Dear extended family of the Durban Mission:
Our missionaries must be doing something right - Satan didn't have any luck slowing them down individually, so now he's targeting our cars! We have had a lot of accidents over this transfer - still no one hurt - and Elder Sessions spends most of his time shuffling the working cars around so everyone can get where they need to be. The elders don't live in the townships, so most of them need transport just to get to their areas.
One of our strangest accidents happened to Elder & Sister Johnson in Amanzimtoti. They were pulling into a parking place at the little shopping center there, and a car whammed into the side of their car, which then spun into the adjacent parked car. The green paint (!) in the back went all over, of course (Satan is even trying to slow down our service projects!). The driver of the car, which just kept going, was trying to escape the police. The Johnson's must have slowed him down, though, he was caught not far away. What next? (Don't tell me.)
Elders Alexander and Mokono arrived this week. The missionaries usually arrive on the 10:10 am flight from Jo'burg, so we had the day all scheduled, then received a call at 8 am from the MTC informing us that the elders were on the 8:10 flight this time. They got to the airport before we did! Our elusive Elder Hansen also arrived, from Germany via the Provo MTC. Ironically, after we have waited for him twice at the airport, he ALSO got on an earlier flight than we were told, and called from the airport to say he was in. Good thing our elders are independent and don't panic when the mission president doesn't show up on time.
These elders came in ready to work - well, Elder Hansen was dozing a little the first afternoon... he is from Duesseldorf, where both of my older brothers served their missions, and was the catalyst to reactivate his whole family. Elder Alexander is from Johannesburg, and sounds more like an elder who has been out a while, than someone brand new. (They just keep getting better!) Elder Makono is from Bindura, Zimbabwe, where 70-80 people come to Church each week. By January they will have 7 missionaries out - that's 10 percent of the active members in the branch.
We had to say good-bye to 7 great elders this week, as well. Elder Thompson will be off to Iraq with the Marines in three weeks - that will be an interesting Neighborhood Walkabout! He and Elder Moreno showed up in locally made/decorated suits. Very jazzy! Elder Moreno sang for us for the last time, at the farewell testimony meeting. Strange to hear "Abide With Me" coming so beautifully from an elder in a "Zulu wedding" suit!
Elder Allred's family came to pick him up, as his twin brother ended his mission in Johannesburg the day before our Elder Allred finished here. It was fun to meet them - especially the "other" Elder Allred. Those two will have some very interesting stories to compare!
We heard some more great stories from the elders this week. In Madadeni, Elder Thompson and Elder Kwendo tracted out a Zulu family who belong to the Dutch Reformed Church (VERY unusual!) and the father wasn't interested in learning more. The elders are very active in the community there, and were doing a service project that included 2 young men they were teaching. The father stopped at the project and told Elder Thompson that he'd been watching the missionaries working in the community, and the change that had occurred in the behavior of the 2 young men, and he asked them to come teach his family.
Elder Johnson shared the story of Brother Duma's conversion - he is in a bishopric in Umlazi. He was a bus driver, and took a load of people to an LDS funeral. He came back for them a little early, so he went in and sat in the back. He had no interest at all in any "church stuff". He listened to the program, and then the daughter of the deceased man stood and bore her testimony about being children of God, and knowing she will see her father again, and Brother Duma absolutely knew it was true! He sought out the missionaries, and has been a power in Umlazi ever since. So never underestimate the influence of your testimony!
Today we had our broadcast stake conference - it was very specifically tailored for the needs of Africa, and included talks by Glenn Pace (formerly in the Southwest Africa Area Presidency); Roger Merrill (did training for government officials in South Africa shortly after the first multi-racial election; Elder Holland (who was here 2 weeks ago, and is first contact among the Twelve over Africa) and President Uchtdorf. It was really good. They didn't show it in our districts, because with the transport difficulties, very few could have made it, and therefore most of the members would have had no Church meetings today. Instead, we will make the dvd available to the branches for a combined class.
We have a new couple arriving tomorrow - the Wilsons! They'll come in, have some orientation, then we'll take them up to Ladysmith with the Uffens, and they'll have their first zone conference on Tuesday. I don't imagine we'll get much conversation on the way to Ladysmith: I remember when we were in Zimbabwe: Marilyn and Grandma came to visit us, and as we drove around I was pointing out the sights, and they slept right through it. Jet lag is pain...
This week we head to Newcastle and Swaziland for zone conferences, then back to Durban for the other three. Then Steve and the assistants start their interview/mini-training loop, while Hunter and Morgan start their exams. And finish their correspondence course on U.S. History - so they can start another one. Funny how they don't offer that course here...
Love to all!
Mom/Grandma/Susan/Sue/Sister President Mann
ps Edgar's department store has a great offer for account holders: if you are disabled, retrenched, or die, they will settle your account at 30 cents to the rand. You could use this in a murder mystery...
pps On the way to the stake center I saw a blank billboard with the words: Currently being serviced (?)
ppps Steve is 60 today! We've had 2 cakes so far, and there's another coming in Newcastle. He doesn't look a day older...than this morning.