Our cars are in good shape - not even one is at the panel beaters or in the shop, but minor missionary illnesses continue to plague us (but luckily, no plague). I was on the phone back and forth with elders and doctors every day this week - all little stuff except Elder Nkele's overnight in the hospital after surgery on a torn miniscus. He has been staying here with us since Thursday, but he's already tossing aside his crutches now and then: he wants to get back to work! But the work moves forward, in spite of Satan's efforts to slow it down.
Anybody ever seen a scripture indicating that Satan has power over sound systems? The Sunday session of the Newcastle District Conference was a sound disaster! The conference was held in a big hall, not at a chapel, as there were 400 people in attendance. The guys providing the sound system showed up at 10am (time to start) instead of 8am (time to set up and test), so the conference started 30 minutes late, so they could set up the system. Well, it went in and out, and squealed, and just didn't work right, although they kept on (disruptively!) working on it. Finally Steve told them to shut it down, and gave (yelled, he says!) his talk without any mike. He says it hard to listen to the Spirit when you're yelling. Then a cute young girl got up to speak, so Elder Uffens translated her talk into "loud". She would say something, then he would boom it out. Steve said that went pretty well! The Swazi choir that sang did very well, and after their closing hymn...the congregation clapped. All in all, it was an unusual conference.
Steve talks occasionally about "stealth" Walkabouts, where the missionaries invite a member to come for a walk around the neighborhood, and casually ask about different houses and families. Then when the walk is over, the elders announce "You just did the Walkabout!" and the member is all excited. On Thursday, the office elders did a "stealth" lesson on For the Strength of Youth. Hunter and Morgan had four friends over, and the elders helped drive them to Mutual. Only there wasn't any Mutual - probably because there was a stake youth Valentine's dance scheduled for Friday. I had already asked the elders ahead of time to be ready to teach if nothing was organized for the Young Men (happens a lot). Well, I told the boys about how our elders have been going into schools and presenting For the Strength of Youth to the students, and asked if the elders could present it to them... and they agreed. I may go into the stealth business... it's fun!
Two of the elders had a nice experience a few weeks ago. They were chatting with a baba on his front porch, and somehow got onto standards, and he invited them in, rounded up the family, and had them teach them about gospel values. The Spirit must have preceded them down the street, because at the very next house, the baba called them in and already had his family gathered around to "hear a lesson". If it could only be that easy all the time!
(Did I say?) Last zone conference, Steve used a sailboat simile to bring all the aspects of missionary work together. He had a whole powerpoint to explain the different roles of parts of the boat. Here is the Swaziland version, compliments of Elder Quinn and Elder Nkele, for the newsletter:
"Ahoy Matey! Welcome to the USS “Swaz” Capn’, yarrgh! No need to be a rich yacht owner, ya simply need the spirit to get on board with us!
1. Our Destination - The Port of Mbabane, splitting into 2 branches like the mighty King Neptune’s Trident. Yarrr! And Baptisms! Yo Ho Ho!
2. Our Hull - The Gospel we preach! No need to “Swab this poop deck”, though it’s absolutely perfect already.
3. Our Keel - Working as hard as Jack Sparrow after a chest of gold doubloons and earning and expecting miracles.
4. Our Mast - A Brotherhood never-before seen and never-to-be matched, thanks to the ol’ sea dogs Capn’ Quinn and the “Bearded Beast” Beardsley.
5. Our Foresail - Masterful methods of finding. The mighty ship of “Swaz” is infamous for the success of its finding.
6. Our Mainsail - Ahoy! What’s that I see? Members joining the crew as they do PMG member, Walkabout, and “How Great Shall Be Your Joy” training. Aye, indeed.
7. Our Navigation Station - Greater than the compass of the Black Pearl, we never go wrong with this Direction. Planning and preparation is at a new high on this ship.
8. Our Rudder and Weaponry - Yarrr, what good be a ship without artillery ? Our cannons are the scriptures, and we know how to use them.
9. Our Living Quarters - Make room for more crew! We support our converts with love, friendship, and a chance to master the rudder and cannons (Scriptures).
10. Our crew - Stronger than Davey Jones’ Locker, we have a crew of members that help like no other.
11. Our Helm - Yarrr, the helm is more beautiful than the golden , jewel-encrusted palaces of Atlantis! The helm is teaching by the spirit, and what a helm we have.
12. Our Wind - The wind is always on our side, pushing in the right direction. The prophet is like the wind, bringing the mighty winds of change and growth. Aye.
13. Our Captain - Arrgh, Matey! Ye have a been on this ship now and still don’t know the Capn’? YOU are the Capn’! The question is, are YOU ready to board this fine ship?"
Hunter and Morgan had a full Valentine's weekend, including trips to the mall, dinner out with friends (and no parents - it's hard to remember they're "grown-up" high school sophomores). Saturday night they went to a party and had another racist run-in. The group was large, and mixed (race), and mostly grades 9 and 10. A girl (white) left her cellphone around and it was stolen. Her mother arrived and demanded that all the black kids be searched. She had two people (white) stand by the gate, but didn't actually frisk anyone. At one point she caught hold of Hunter's arm, and he apparently told her off in pretty offensive language. (We're still working on behaving better than our enemies.) She ended up yelling at the hostess, and her mom, and threatening to move her daughter out of their school and even move out of the country.
Then, with that on his mind, Morgan read the Book of Mormon chapter tonight...where the Lamanites are cursed with a "skin of blackness"?
(2 Nephi 5.) THAT went over really big...
The assistants and Steve are working from home the next four weeks, and they really need it! They are all three exhausted - they've all been snapping pictures of each other asleep in the Vito, asleep at the computer... hopefully not asleep on the stand at district conference... Of course, Steve will need a bed & breakfast if he's to get any rest - the Westville "Annex" is always overflowing with friends sleeping over. Even on school nights, twice a week, we have a few who can't get taxis in from their homes in time for the 6am rugby fitness training.
Love to everybody!