Happy Ides of March! I hope you weathered Friday the 13th alright...ours was almost the calmest day of the week!
Tuesday night after mission presidency meeting Morgan escorted 7 missionary couples (Markums and Griesemers went on Monday) to the high school's production of Oklahoma. It was very well done. The kids did a great job with their American accents - I only heard a couple of lines that sounded South African. Two things we especially liked: the backdrop looked just like Southern Utah (obviously, no one here has ever been to Oklahoma); and Morgan's friend Langa, who is black, coming onstage as Ado Annie's father - well, at least she had black hair! We all enjoyed it - I think this has been the longest I've ever gone without seeing a stage show, for a very long time.
Wednesday our new missionaries arrived: another really good group. The boys are excited about having a BYU football player here (Elder Friel). He is the only American elder we got - more and more of our elders are African, and very well-prepared. Two of them even had driver's licences: Hurray! That is our only problem with the number of Americans dropping - we need drivers in almost every one of our areas.
Thursday was transfer day, and very busy: two trips to the airport for the office elders; transfer meeting; extra elders in for a district leader meeting; car exchanges as we moved a bakkie to Swaziland; Patriarch Courtney coming in to give a newly-arrived elder his patriarchal blessing (no patriarch in Zimbabwe, yet); compulsory rugby meeting for Morgan and a parent (me); farewell dinner & testimony meeting. Whew.
Friday was zone leader council, then the last missionaries headed back to their areas. So now it's time to finalize things for this week's zone conferences. I have three basic tasks: my talk, lunches for the missionaries, and arranging rides for Morgan and Hunter to all their "stuff" while we're gone overnight to Newcastle. I bargained with Elders Weaver and Hartvigsen who are still in the office boarding for a few more weeks: if they'll drive the boys to seminary, they can play basketball at the Church until class is over. They went for it. I imagine a few of the Pinetown elders will also decide to get up early that day and come out for "exercise".
Saturday was the first rugby match of the year. Westville played Michaelhouse, a very ritzy, expensive private school. We won! It was a very good game, and Morgan had a powerful run up the middle where he plowed through the defense, was down, then up again, then down. He must have looked pretty good, because "he benched" for the A-team, and went in near the end. He now has a jersey with a number on it - he's in heaven. Each position has a number: he plays position 1 prop for the B team, so after the 15 players get their jerseys, the 2nd tier prop gets the next number - 16. He wanted to take a picture in it, until we pointed out that the number on the back wouldn't show. We may have to find a three-way mirror...
The first team also won - first time since 2005. The Griesemers and Markums came to watch: they probably brought them luck. Anyway, everyone at WBHS is pretty happy - and joyfully belittling Michaelhouse while they have the chance. I also learned something new about rugby - you are allowed to drag the ball carrier out of bounds by his jersey.
The great story of the week comes from Elders Parry & Waterbohr, ZLs in Newcastle. Apparently there is a member there who teaches school in another town. The religion teacher quit, and he was asked to take his place for awhile. He couldn't find his notes for one of the lessons, so he decided to teach about Joseph Smith and the Restoration. I'm not sure where it went from there, but some parents came by to find out why there kids were so much more interested in going to the religion class, instead of cutting it. Now he has asked if the missionaries can come out to talk to the 200(!) students and parents who are expressing a desire to know more.
Well, OK, sure, we don't mind! Yebo!
I heard a good phrase in sacrament meeting today. A young sister was giving a very good talk about Institute, and commented how important it is to learn while you are young, and your mind is "fresh and able". I am, naturally, now assuming that my old mind is currently wilted and disabled...
But let's all keep trying!
ps "This is God's truth and we're in it to the end."
(Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Mission Presidents' Seminar, Johannesburg 2008)