Sunday, March 8, 2009

2009 03 08 - Out of the Ordinary

Dear Everyone:

Today Elders Schwarting and Schlenker took the boys to Umlazi for Church, so Steve and I decided to go to Stanger. Then we found ourselves waffling, and felt like going to Queensborough instead. We were sitting on the stand (it's expected) before the meeting, when in walked (stake) President Wilford. He had been on his way somewhere else, and and felt like he should go to Queensborough instead. Come to find out, the high councilman had cancelled, so Steve and President Wilford were the speakers, after a great talk by Elder Rothenberger. (Does going first make him the youth speaker?)

(By the way, Elder Schlenker went above and beyond the call of duty - Hunter's friend Jono went to Church with them, but had no Sunday clothes, so Elder Schlenker provided a complete outfit - including shoes. We're going to get these boys to Church no matter what it takes! Well done!)

I like sitting on the stand only because I can look at the congregation. There was one couple with a whole row of little, well-behaved children. We asked them after, and they said a few were their own, and the rest were neighbors. Kids really gravitate to Church on Sunday. Most of the Primaries in the township units are huge - and full of nonmember children with no parents in sight. Who knows which of them will be running the stakes and wards and Relief Societies one day?

Sister Sessions had 60 in her kwaMashu primary on Sunday - almost 50% of the entire congregation. They can hardly fit in the room. And most of them don't speak or understand English - they may be old enough for school, where they start learning English, but many can't afford the school fees, so they don't go. Try teaching Primary under those conditions! Single-handed, I might add...

Sister Bartholomew ran the Primary in eNseleni on Sunday - 18 kids, no English speakers. She said she "jumped up and down and practically stood on her head" trying to get them to understand a few things. eNseleni Branch, population 39, had a branch party Saturday with 90 in attendance. They filled a pinata (no one had ever seen one before) and Elder Stewart hauled it up and down while a few kids swung at it. Once a few candies fell out, they got the idea and went wild. He pulled it up and swung it back and forth a few times, and then dropped it and let it break. 90 people then dived in for the sweets. Sister Bartholomew said Elder B tried to break it up for fear someone would get hurt, but they just shouldered him out of the way. Everyone was grass stained and probably bruised - but they were very happy!

The power went off before we went to Church, and stayed off most of the afternoon, so we invited the Assistants to braii for us in exchange for lunch. Unfortunately, the barbecue was not willing to work. Fortunately, the power went on about then, so they broiled in the oven. They do a very nice job of inventing marinades.

Elder Thomas and Elder Maneno had an exchange recently that included a semi-mugging. They were walking up a hill in a township, and noticed a young man hurrying up the hill after them. I should perhaps point out that with the heat and humidity here, and the distances people have to walk, no one hurries, especially up a hill. So they figured something was up.

Elder Thomas decided to be pro-active, and turned around and started talking with the young man. A few minutes into the conversation, the would-be mugger pulled out a knife. Elder Thomas just continued chatting as the young man took their wallets and a watch. The elders were instructed to search their backpacks for him, which allowed them to keep valuables (including a camera) under their scriptures and out of sight. As the young man prepared to leave them, Elder Thomas asked for his stuff back. The mugger gave back the watch, and kept the cash (and we all know how little cash missionaries carry). Elder Thomas also got the young man's name and address - so they can contact him and maybe teach him? Life is strange...

And speaking of strange, I may be the only mission president's wife (at least this week) who had to drop her son at the police station before heading out for the day. There was an "incident" at school, involving Morgan, a rugby teammate he had tackled really hard the day before, and 3 trouble-enjoyers, which came to the attention of the administration. It resulted in letters of warning, a session with an anger management counselor, and a full day (8 to 5) of community service. There was also some discipline handed out to the boys who videoed it on their cellphones - especially the one who set the video to music and put it on youtube! Wish I'd seen it! (The headmaster yanked it, of course.) Just for the record, it wasn't actually much of a fight, and Morgan didn't start it - or win it!

The community service didn't turn out to be too much of a punishment, except for a few hours of boredom. The boys did some yard maintenance, which only took a few hours. They took lunch to the prisoners in the small cellblock (which was good, because Morgan seriously did not like jail), and then hung around with the policemen. They got to play with the equipment in the police cars, learn some self-defense techniques such as how to disarm a mugger with a gun or knife, and observe as 11 people came through with reports of crimes.

We're gearing up for transfer day - the number of incoming elders keeps going up and down according to visa delays. It looks like we'll get six this week. We have four elders leaving: two fly out Thursday at noon, and two Friday morning. In addition, two young men from the Newcastle Zone are coming Wednesday to be set apart for their missions, and they go to the airport Thursday morning early. In addition, we have a departing elder with passport issues who has to go in two weeks, an elder arriving mid-cycle in three weeks, and an elder who has to leave 2 weeks early, which is in 4 weeks. Then in six weeks, it's transfers again! We could use a Disneyland monorail for all these trips to the airport...

Rugby trials (try-outs) were this week, and Morgan ended up on Under 16B
instead of U16A. Last year he was on U15B, but played sometimes for the A team. He was disappointed, and keeps insisting I buy him a hockey kit so he can switch to hockey - like that's going to happen! I don't think it's really the A and B part of it, it's that the A squad gets real jerseys with numbers on them. And we all know how Morgan LOVES costumes! He has also been playing with the pre-season A squad and likes all those guys better. I keep telling him that being on the B squad (and sometimes substituting on the A squad) is pretty good, given 20 months of playing rugby, but you know how far that kind of talk from a mom gets.

Love to everybody!

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