Saturday, January 31, 2009

2009 02 01 - Sweet (not!) Sixteen

Dear Everyone:

I am officially sending Morgan back to remedial math. Friday being their 16th birthday, we had a coed (!) party that night. Morgan had suggested 20 guests, I had countered with 12 and figured it would end up somewhere in the middle. By 9:30 we had about 50 - Steve thought it was 60, but they move around a schools of fish. The music was loud, the food ran out early, and no one cared the least bit. They talked, and a few danced, and played video games and generally chilled and seemed to have a great time. And several of our "frequent residents" made a point of cleaning things up afterwards.

Only one mother (of a girl) called to see if parents would be present, but Morgan may have told anyone who asked that we'd be there. Every 15 minutes or so Steve or I (actually, mostly me!) would do a circuit through and around the house to make sure everything was under control. My first circuit I stepped out on the front porch and asked the crowd there if there was any smoking or drinking or swearing going on. They assured me there wasn't...

Four older boys who had been drinking tried to crash the party, but Morgan, Sthembiso and Travis muscled them off the property. (Rugby players make very good club bouncers.) We did find a few empty bottles in the bushes this morning - Hunter is keeping the one that is "Hunter's" brand. ("Hunter's - Cooling Durbs one drink at a time") All in all it went very well, and the best thing is, since Morgan was at least four times over the guest limit, this counts as four parties, instead of one!

One other Hunter and Morgan note (not for the squeamish): At 6am in Fridays, the rugby team has "fitness" - mostly long runs or multiple sprints. The coach wasn't too pleased with their practices this week, so he told them (and I quote) "On Friday you will work so hard you will vomit blood, I promise you!" I am constantly amazed at what boys accept as perfectly normal, when their coaches are involved.

OK, on to the good stuff. I picked up Elder and Sister Pier, our newest couple, at the airport Saturday: Steve and the assistants and the Sessions were all in Richards Bay for district auxiliary/priesthood training. Their trip was 38 hours from start to finish. They'll be working in Swaziland with the SwaziWilsons for 3 months, then move into one of the other districts when we lose a few couples in April (I hate to even think about that).

We also gained four new elders this week, including Elder Ikahihifo, our first New Zealander (rugby player: right flank). Sadly, four of our experienced elders (well, actually, our most experienced, since they have been out two years...) left for home. Elder Gifford and Elder Hansell were picked up by their families, so it was nice to get a little acquainted with them. I couldn't help thinking of Elder Quinn's and Elder Beardsley's families at home- "I'll bet he's in Johannesburg now." "Do you think he's on the plane yet?" "I hope there aren't any delays because of the weather." "What time should we leave for the airport?" "I can't wait!!!"
Been there, done that.

I think the elders will be finished introducing "How Great Shall Be Your Joy" and the member missionary training in the last wards and branches by next Sunday. It's going over very well - in Umlazi BB Elder Schaupp and Elder Potter presented the segment on giving away a Book of Mormon, then had all the members write their testimony in one and take it with them. Several of the members are already asking for more copies to give away. Our favorite member comment after a missionary experience is "But that was so easy!"

Elders Terry, Syphrett, Hooser, Muhwezi & Kitili showed "How Great Shall Be Your Joy" at Pinetown Ward today, and introduced the Preach My Gospel Member program. They did a really good job. During the discussion section, Brother Veal told his conversion story: A girlfriend gave Sister Veal a Book of Mormon with a testimony in it, signed by an Allen Mason. They eventually joined the Church. 12 years later, at some kind of function, Brother Veal asked the name of a man he noticed, and was told "That's Allen Mason." He immediately asked to meet him, and thanked him for the Book of Mormon that influenced his life. A Book of Mormon you give to a friend may change hands many times before it reaches the person who is prepared for it - I don't think anyone can just throw them away!

Elder Kitili is being trained by Elder Terry to take over as general secretary. Elder Terry can hardly wait to get back into the field fulltime! 3 weeks, and counting...

Our car accidents seem to have slowed down (maybe because the drivers have?) but injuries and illnesses continue to poke along. I'm getting used to the explanation "It wasn't because I was playing soccer, it's just that during the game I something pulled in my knee." Like it would have happened no matter where he was? No matter what he was doing? I don't THINK so! But there's nothing serious, for which I am very grateful. And actually, the elders hate being sick or injured... it really slows down the work, and ties up two elders at a time at the doctor's, or the hospital, or the chemist's. On the other hand, we're helping the South African economy...

My favorite expression this week is "24 7 365." I saw it on a Globeflight truck, then the next day I heard it in one of Hunter's rap songs. I think it's the modern equivalent of Mosiah 4:30.

This week will be orienting Elder and Sister Pier, interviews and mini-training, then Thursday and Friday are the couples seminar in Swaziland.
It's been interesting working out the carpools for this one - it sounds like a math problem: How many cars do you need, if 4 couples are going up Wednesday, 2 couples are going up Thursday, one couple is coming in from Johannesburg Thursday, 1 sister is flying home Friday, 1 couple and their car are staying in Swaziland, 2 couples are coming home Saturday, 2 couples are coming home Sunday, 1 elder needs a ride to Durban on Sunday, 1 president is staying in Swaziland with the assistants and the Vito, and 1 couple doesn't care which day they come home?
Let me know by Wednesday if you figure it out.

Mom/Grandma/Susan/Sue/Sister President Mann

ps This week someone actually used the expression "Wait a mo".

pps Hunter is learning to simplify his writing. Try removing all redundancies from this (true) sentence: Tuesday it rained and poured continually, non-stop,all day without a single, solitary break.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

2009 01 25 - Mission Tour with President & Sister Watson

Dear Everyone:
Today's date reminds me of a Christmas story I forgot to share: one of Morgan's friends came over during the holidays, and greeted me with "Hello Mrs. Mann. Compliments of the season."
I heard that a few times. Most of the boys are very polite - they always come find me to say hello, and Are you well? when they arrive. Sad to say, the jocks are less thoughtful, but they are very good about saying thank you for rides, and when they leave.

We've just finished a mission tour with President and Sister Watson. It was really great. We had zone conferences in Newcastle, Hillcrest and Berea. Steve used a sailboat (surprise!) simile for pulling together all the different aspects of missionary work. The Watsons were very upbeat and encouraging with the elders. It was especially interesting to hear stories about their family, and about President Watson's experiences as secretary to seven different prophets. It was nice for the elders to learn about the prophets who were before their time - which is practically all of them!

There was a little time this tour to show the Watsons some of the local sights, so I took full advantage of it. We stopped at Howick Falls on the way to Newcastle, and visited some of the shops on the Midland Meander. Our only disappointment there was not finding the Belgian Chocolate Factory. We found it on the way back from zone conference, but for some reason (our health, probably) they were closed early that day. Rats. I promised to bring some chocolates to the May Mission Presidents' Seminar.

The Newcastle zone conference, with Swaziland and Newcastle zones, is always easy for me because the couples there prepare the lunch. It's the only zone conference where we have home cooking. It is so nice having couples in the "away" zones of the mission - they really take care of the elders and keep us on top of things. Example: Saturday in Richards Bay one of the elders was doing service cutting back some tree branches, and started getting a rash and swollen hands. The elders headed for the hospital, and without our asking, the Bartholomews joined them there. I don't know if they have any poison ivy type plants here, and they're not sure of it was a reaction to the tree or to some tick bite medicine he took (doesn't this all sound unhealthy! he's fine...) but he took something different, and is now fine. Sister B called to let me know, right before he did. This was nice because sometimes the elders don't give me any follow-up on their doctor visits, and I have to chase them down. I always try to go to the hospital when the elders go in, so it's nice to have another "mission mom" out in the field to represent me!

Swaziland, by the way, is now entirely Swati. The only white family in the Church there, the van Moorsels, has moved to Dubai.

At the Berea conference (Durban, Richards Bay & Umlazi zones) Sister Mickelsen gave me another example of hot, humid weather. She had a package of gum from home, and the sticks had melted so completely into the foil wrappers that they were "indivisible". That's probably the reason all the gum here is in the shape of Chiclets, and each piece has it's own airtight compartment in the package - like taking pills!

The conference in Berea is our largest, and I'm becoming quite blase about calling up and ordering 40 pizzas to be delivered. (FYI, former elders, when it's Scooter's pizza we now allow 6 pieces instead of 4. Romans' is now 5 - it's a lot more substantial.) The couples really help out in Berea with the logistics of lunch for 60.

This has turned into quite an essay on food, so I might as well continue on that theme: We always try to take our visitors out to dinner with the couples, so they can get acquainted. We have now found restaurants with round tables that can handle 10 to 14 people, so it makes it much easier for everyone to talk to each other. As usual, we discovered lots of connections. Sister Markums grandparents live next door to President Watson's family in Spring City; Sister Watson is a far-away cousin to Steve; the Sessions live very close to one of the Watson's daughters and probably went to her wedding reception (the Watsons have 12 children by the way, but we have one elder who topped that - he is one of 13 children). Then there are all the people we all find we have in common. It is so fun looking for possible ties. For example, my dad was on a committee that worked upstairs, and sent all their reviews and recommendations downstairs to then Brother Watson in the First Presidency's office.

Well, back to the tour. We were able to visit Victoria Street Market, always a good source of things to send home for Christmas, and also uShaka Sea World. The aquarium and dolphin shows were major hits, and the Griesemers, Markums and Mickelsens joined us, so although the Moya didn't have a round table, we had another great couples' meal. It's nice to be able to visit in less harried circumstances occasionally. When the Mickelsens were on their previous mission in Florida, there were only a few couples, and they were quite spread out, so they couldn't get together and share ideas and experiences very often. Missionary couples don't have a lot of people to talk to who can really relate to what they're doing, so I'm really grateful our couples can see each other reasonably often.

The wards and branches are starting the member missionary training this week. The practice runs with ward and branch leaders have gone very well, and everyone is excited. The members especially like seeing people they know appearing in the video examples and interviews. In one instance, the group was practicing giving away a Book of Mormon. A participant who had asked for a Book of Mormon at the start of the practice, asked for 3 more when they had finished. It was suddenly much easier to envision situations where he could give them away. That's exactly the kind of reaction we've been hoping for.

Morgan and Hunter started school Wednesday. Grade 10 is more like home - the students move from class to class. And instead of being in the A level class or B,C,D,E,F,G,H (there are lots of students) for every subject, boys are placed in classes based on last years marks. Hunter made the A history class, and Morgan is in the A science class. I won't bore you with the other classes...
They're starting in at the gym, with rugby practices and fitness. Morgan is also going out for debate. I can't wait to see him compete! I think if we can find a club that meets with students from the girls' high school, we might get Hunter out for one.

The boys turn 16 on the 31st, and Hunter has been saying for months that we can expect him to be much more mature and reasonable after that. (We should be so lucky.) I'll be happy if they can just stop chirping each other!

I'll be back in February!
Love, Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann

ps President Bricknell of the Durban Stake was telling me about his children the other night. He said his girls are just wonderful, but he thought the boys would probably "give them the wobblies." I didn't have a chance to get a definition on that one!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

2009 01 18 - Just call me Doctor Sister President Mann

Dear Everyone:

Part I: Medical Report (do not read if you have a queasy stomach)

I hope you are all feeling well, because this has been like plague week in the mission! There is flu going around, so all the elders are calling in to see if they're dying or have giant parasites or something. (I would never have expected this, but I now actually know the major symptoms for some of those! Yuck!) I'd already been on the phone a bunch of times setting up booster shots for Hep A and Hep B, as a whole group of elders came due. Then an elder had a sort of anxiety attack and needed some medication (he's great, no problem), and another elder had an incredible migraine that required a visit to the doctor for 2 shots to stop his throwing up (also recovering nicely). I took the boys to the dentist and one of them had 11 cavities (no surprise there).

Dealing with these issues is a multi-step process. The elder calls to report his problem. I try to determine whether it needs medical intervention. If it does, depending on where he is, I either make an appointment then call him back with the time, or give him a doctor's name and number so he can call. Then I call after the appointment to see what's up. In some cases, we also have to fax something to the doctor's rooms indicating that we will pay for the appointment. Then the bills come in. I enter them on my monthly report, and make sure they haven't been paid already, then pass them on to the financial secretary. He pays them with bank transfers, and returns them to me so I can add the payment date to my report. Then I pass them back to him for filing. Once a month I send a medical report to Johannesburg. And if any of the appointments/procedures are $25 or more, and it's an American elder, and he has insurance, I also make copies and fill out a form to send to Missionary Medical. So there you have it.

Part II: Missionary stories

Our friend Sara has returned from the Toronto East Mission, and told us about a woman from Jamaica that she and her companion taught the first few lessons to. The sister called the missionaries her "angels." When she returned to Jamaica, they made sure she was contacted by missionaries there. The elders later wrote to Sara and said that they had been praying for angels to help them find people to teach, and when they met with this sister (now a member) and she told them about her "angels" in Toronto, it was powerful.

It's pretty impressive to see how eager the young men here are to go on missions. We have an 18-year-old serving as a short-term missionary this cycle, and he is amazing. Steve loves his weekly letters to the president - for one thing, he can read the handwriting! - because he is so excited, and thoughtful, and dedicated. I wish all the 18-year-olds at home could feel the same desire to go - being out here is such a lesson in not taking things for granted!

Not that we're counting, but we ended the year with 4th quarter baptisms 50% higher than our 4th quarter of 2007. (This is good.) What makes it even better is the increase in families and priesthood over single young women. Although we certainly don't discriminate! One of the elders called in last week, almost apologetically, to ask about baptizing a young girl. He told Steve she was only 14, but she had been attending Church regularly. For how long? Four years! Needless to say, her baptism was approved.

The elders are all encouraged to teach their lessons with the "right" member present, so the investigators have friends at Church, and the members get to have missionary experiences and a chance to bear their testimonies. Today one of the Pinet0wn elders asked what the "record" was for lessons taught with members present in one week. He and his companion have taught 31 this week - and today isn't over yet. I told him I didn't think there was a competition - and to be sure he took the right member. It was fun seeing him so excited. Boys are so competitive!

Elder and Sister Watson arrive Monday for our mission tour. We'll have three zone conferences, but I'm going to take the pictures this time zone by zone so it's easier to see everyone. I'll post them next blog.

We'll be at the airport today, as well, as our welfare/employment couple is finally arriving to take over for Elder and Sister Barnes who left at Christmastime. The Griesemers would have loved to get here sooner, but they had to attend some extra training at the MTC, which was this month. I believe the Barnes went an extra (few hundred) miles, though, and met with them in Utah to give them some transition help.

Part III: Miscellaneous
Yesterday we went to pick up Jubz for the Sunday School Class party at Grandma Wilford's, and there was a troop of monkeys on the side of the road. I must admit, I stopped for a minute to watch them. There were three babies with them: still quite small, but big enough to run around on their own. They still hang on their moms for the climbing trees and roofs stuff, but they also like to explore a little, then run like mad after their moms when the troop heads out. (Trivia note: I just checked, and troop of monkeys is correct - but did you know it's a "gang" of elk?)

I then took the boys to Wilford's, where I found another troop of monkeys, this one with two babies. Hunter wasn't too patient with my game viewing: he suggested I just go to the zoo. Problem? There are no zoos here. So here I am, enjoying my monkeys, and Steve calls on his way to Swaziland, to say they've got a mother and baby giraffe in sight. Show-off. There's a game reserve right before the Swazi border, and it's always a contest to see what you can see. Last time it was wart hogs. The funniest wart hogs on that trip, though, were two with big tusks sitting upright in a pond of mud. The picture up above isn't quite it, so just imagine that face, but sitting up properly.

Love you all! Stay healthy!

ps In case any of you are planning to move to a hot, humid climate:
1. Put rice in the salt shaker so the salt doesn't all clump together
2. If you leave a package of caramel corn open overnight the caramel will melt off.
3. If your son spills a little powdered fruit punch on the floor and doesn't clean it up, it will be liquid by morning.
(I've heard...)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I wish you could see how bright blue the lizard's head is, and how shiny the sort-of-a-hummingbird is

Off to Amarillo: Chris, Torry, Eva & Brody

2009 01 11 - The calm before the storm

Dear Everyone:

Since we're between zone conferences and transfers, I have fewer missionary stories and more family updates - feel free to skip around!

Hunter and Morgan are safely back, and I believe they can now qualify as seasoned travelers. You will remember, they had a delayed flight and a racist passenger/re-seating on the flight out. On the flight back they had a messed up ticket - when we changed their South African Airways reservation to a different day, the agent issued 2 tickets in Hunter’s name, and none in Morgan’s. This in spite of two phone calls about it, and a fax with both their names and passport #s, and the fact that the original confirmation #, with both their tickets and names on it, stayed the same. But they handled the lines and the arguments, and got aboard. Unfortunately, their bags all went to Paris and arrived here 2 days later.

Since they got back (was it only 6 days ago? It seems like a lifetime!) we’ve had sleepovers (ranging from 3 to 6 friends) and a party. Steve is muttering something about “boarding schools”… and looking forward to the bed & breakfast during zone conferences! Elder & Sister Watson are coming on a mission tour, and I’m hoping to hear some really good stories about his experiences with the First Presidency (-cies) he worked with. If he’s allowed to tell any, that is.

We had dinner with Ike & Edwina Schwartzberg the other night. Ike turns 78 this week, but they still drive down from Pretoria when they have a holiday. Edwina told me about her grandmother coming into the Church (she was one of the first members here). Edwina was a little girl and lived with her parents in Pretoria. Her grandmother lived in Capetown, and was a very proper Victorian Englishwoman. One day the maid answered a knock at the door and said there were two men there who wanted to tell her about their Church. Grandmother said to send them away – she already had a church. Just then, one of the elders fainted on the doorstep (these were the days of no purse or scrip). She brought the elders in, and ended up joining the Church. She then called Edwina’s mother in Pretoria, with the instructions, “You must come to Capetown and learn about the Mormon Church and be baptized.” And so they did! We have now instructed our elders to faint anytime they are being turned away…

I’m still working on sharing times and pictures for learning Primary songs. Did everyone but me know about It’s all the coloring pages from the Friend back to 1970. It’s very helpful, but also an interesting look at how Primary helps have changed over the years. We have at least one picture every month now; some years they only seem to have had one or two the whole year - at least that's all that's on the site. And there were years that were very into mazes, and others that were all “mini-books”… I recognized a lot of the pictures – and not because I colored them in Primary, but thank you very much! – Some have come around again, and I was in Primary (nursery) with all my kids starting about 1982. The Church is REALLY getting good with internet resources.

I got a good look at the work our senior couples put in, today. I was at Pinetown Ward with the boys, and Elder and Sister Markum spoke in sacrament meeting, on seminary and institute. They did a great job, and when I spoke to them afterwards, they said they were now on the way to Queensburgh Ward to orient new CES teachers. Then the Mickelsens arrived for priesthood/Relief Society. They had already been to Phoenix branch, and were meeting with young adults in Pinetown trying to finalize PEF loans. School is about to start, and there are still students who haven't got everything together, so the Mickelsons are working very hard just now. So don't worry about being bored if you come on a mission!

Torry and Chris are relocating to Amarillo, where he starts his job on the 19th. It doesn't affect us much at the moment, of course, since we email and skype anyway, but our other kids will really miss having that "home away from home". And Eva and Brody to play with! They'll be staying with Chris's mom for awhile, so I'm a little concerned about the "other grandma" getting ahead of me - guess I'll have to bring home a giraffe or an elephant to stay in the running...

Our friend Sara sent us a Christmas card that included a talk by her mission president, Tad Callister. It was a wonderful talk on consecrated missionaries that we are "borrowing" to share with our elders. I'm hoping it's alright, because as she explained that he used to give a version of it at the Provo MTC, so our elders missed it? The talk itself is very good, but the bit I really related to was a story he told about two elders in his mission. (It reminded me so much of our stories.) They went to see an investigator to finalize his baptismal plans, and he had turned full circle and wanted nothing to do with the Church. They did their best to remind him of the witnesses he had received, and the testimonies he had expressed, but he was adamant. When they left, they discovered that their bikes had been stolen. They headed for the public transit, only to find it wasn't running, so they walked home (probably quite a distance, and in these stories it's always rainy or snowy). Then one of the elders found his chest hurting, and it turned out to be shingles - not a comfortable illness. But when they met with President Callister, they were smiling and cheerful - because the work is true! Those two elders can join our brotherhood any time!

(This one requires you to know that "unjani" means "how are you", and "Baba" is how people address an adult man.) Morgan went with me to buy supplies for the elders. At Hassim's Packaging a short, slight built man was helping with the boxes. Morgan walked up, and the man said "Unjani, Baba!" On the way out the door I turned and said "You know, he's fifteen." The man laughed, and answered "Then I'm twelve!" And yes, Morgan loved it.

There's a lot of rivalry going on around here - Hunter has always been a loyal Eagles fan, and Morgan (who is immensely devoted to whoever is winning) is cheering for the Ravens. Last night Hunter was up all night watching the Eagles came, and we could tell exactly what was going on by the sound effects. At least we won't have to argue over "Church or Superbowl" - we won't get it until midnight!

Morgan's being fanatical about going to the gym twice a day to get ready for rugby - he really wants to be on the U16 A team - so I go with him in the mornings. While I was walking on the treadmill I had one of those "parable" moments where you come up with a very every day example of a gospel lesson? I have a clumsy gene, which a physical therapist had an actual name for (which I can't remember) but it has to do with balance. Anyway, if I close my eyes, even on the treadmill, I can't walk straight and practically fall off, UNLESS I hold onto the side rails. Even if a fog rolled into the gym, holding onto the rails would keep me on the track. (OK, I can't be more obvious than that! So everyone hang on!

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

ps The car guard profession is undergoing some changes. The guards on the street still wear whatever green or orange vest they can get. A few places add the words "Car Guard" to the back of the vest. Pavilion Mall used to have matching, fluorescent vests: they now have uniforms, with name tags. But I like the guard at the Pinetown Spur the best - his says "Professional Motor Vehicle Attendant."

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Huge Apologies! Elder Machio left on a different day than the rest of his group, and missed the group picture

I could not resist this picture of Elder Schwating with the Primary kids - his mom put it on their family Christmas card

Woolly headed stork - looking for his golfball

President Mann relaxing...not!

2009 01 04 - Coming in Like a Lion

Nonyaka omusha omuhle!

(As you might expect, that's Happy New Year in isiZulu.)

Ours has started off with a bang. I spent most of the week in my clean, quiet, empty house (except when Steve would come home from interviews and take me out to lunch). I de-Christmased the house and put away all the decorations, and started sorting through cupboards that have been waiting to be organized. But mostly I worked on resource materials for sharing time in our district primaries. With Liahonas that arrive 2 months late, no computers, and in some cases not even a building, the Primaries depend on the couplesisters and the mission for whatever they need.

So, anyone have any good coloring pictures of African children or families? The Church is making great strides in Asian and Hispanic, but African is pretty sparse. I am learning how to tweak pictures a little so they "suggest" African children... I'll probably ask Claire Bredenkamp, in Pinetown Ward, to draw some pictures for me. She just finished her matric exams (short for matriculant examinations, by the way) and is planning to go on in art.

Friday night we had dinner with the Sessions, Johnsons, Mickelsens & Markums. It's always fun to get together. Mickelsens were relieved to learn that the "gunshots" they had been hearing were holiday fireworks. They live in an Indian area, and every holiday there seems to be a good excuse for fireworks. I can't blame them for being concerned - when's the last time you went out on New Year's Eve to a fireworks display?

Saturday morning we got up to a flurry of emails & gchat messages telling us that Morgan couldn't find his passport. (This is Idaho's Friday night; the boys are scheduled for a 7:15 am Saturday flight to Salt Lake, then a Sunday 8:25 am flight to Johannesburg.) My personal favorite among the messages was Chris's gchat - apparently our computer was on, so he sent a message, and I didn't respond. So he sent another one, this time "yelling": Sister President Mann!!!!!!!!!!!! Then he sent one saying, "I guess the exclamation points don't make it any louder..."

It was too late at home to call anyone, so I sent off emails, including a copy of Morgan's email, suggestions of where else to search, and who else could double check the places already searched (moms figured strongly in that one), instructions for sending Hunter to Utah and taking Morgan to Parma, possibilities for changing tickets if the passport was found Sat am or Sat pm, what we'd do if it wasn't found... Of course, I thought of all these things one at a time, so there were LOTS of emails for the kids when they got up!

Then I waited until 5:30 am Idaho time to call Parker and see what was happening. No passport, so he cancelled Morgan's flight, took Hunter to the airport and checked all the possible Lost & Founds at the airport. No passport. THEN, thank goodness, the passport turned up - jammed between the seat and the console in Parker's car. Morgan caught the noon flight, and all was good. Whew.

The hotel we stayed at was very nice, with an amazing golf course (no, we don't play) and a private beach. The beach is what attracted us, but the website didn't mention that the beach was 5 minutes away by shuttle. We opted to sit out on the patio under some beautiful trees, on the one sunny afternoon we've had in days. Steve didn't quite get into holiday mode - but he came up with a great visual training idea which you will see on a future website.

Oh, and speaking of websites, if anyone wants to look at the member missionary training we're doing, or the movie Parker and Justin put together for us, they're at Elder Terry put it together for us, and did a dynamite job!

Sunday we went to church in Margate, our furthest south branch. It is a resort town branch whose attendance fluctuates wildly during tourist season (like McCall). It's also the branch where the elders learn sign language. We saw Elder Wengert signing, but Elder Lerios just got there, so we'll give him a few more weeks! We had some great meetings, and then went to lunch at the home of the branch president, Jean Pierre (and Gina) Ohlerking. His brother and American sister-in-law were visiting, and Catherine turned out to be best friends with my niece Kim (Allen) Tolman. Naturally. Catherine and Rene met during a production at the Grand theater at Salt Lake Community College, which is, of course, where my sister Carolyn worked. They took a picture of the four of us to email to Kim - is it too soon to say "small world" again?

It was a beautiful, green (and gray) drive home, to a water-less mission home. The water system has sprung a leak, which can't be repaired until tomorrow. I might actually have to go to the gym tomorrow morning, so I have an excuse to use their showers. Oh, the pain of it!

The boys will be back Tuesday night, so we have only 48 more hours of peace and quiet, but if Jack Bauer can pack so much into 24, we ought to be able to make good use of 48!

Salani kahle!

Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann

ps The other day a dove flew into the house. I thought it would be nicer to let it find it's own way out instead of scaring it and chasing it, so I "herded" it into the kitchen, closed the inside doors, and opened the scullery door to outside. An hour later, while working in the office, I heard some noises and saw that the monkeys had arrived for their semi-monthly visit. So much for being nice! I had to zip over to the house, assist the dove out of the door with the broom, and then close the door so the monkeys wouldn't come in. Maybe they were all looking for our holiday open house...