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 ldscoloringpages.org? 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!
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."