It has been brought to my attention that a favorite beginning to sacrament meeting talks in the townships is: "Good morning, my brothers and sisters. I am most thankful to speak to you today." When is the last time you felt that way at the podium? Elder Kitili (Kenya), our current secretary, always bids us "most welcome" to our Monday office devotionals. So my goal this week is to find more things to be "most thankful" about, and more people to bid "most welcome" to my day.
Senior couples, of course, I was already "most thankful" for, but Elder Muthoka, also from Kenya, put it great when he was talking about Elder & Sister Johnson in Umlazi. The elders will be watching the Sunday afternoon conference session at Johnsons - at 10pm - and then camping on the floor overnight (slumber party!). Elder Muthoka says the Johnsons are "straight from heaven, and no stoplights!"
Steve and the assistants started a new round of interviews and mini-training this week, interspersed with rugby games, a missionary departure, move-outs, and the loss of my current video tech. Elder Hodson headed home to the U.K. a few weeks early (expired passport) leaving us only Elder McColgan (Wales) to represent the Old Country. Elders Weaver and Hartvigsen, after suffering through mold, heat, sleeping in the assistants' office, and a whole flurry of other inconveniences, finally got to move on to real boardings. On his very last stop by the office, I had "one last thing" for Elder Weaver to fix: I was making sure we'll be able to get general conference on our "special, used-twice-a-year" satellite box, and managed to turn the TV from color to black and white. Hunter was outraged, but I think "Law & Order" in black & white is seriously more impressive. Try it sometime!
Steve is constantly telling the missionaries to park their cars and walk - that's where they meet people. Well, today in fast meeting Sister Thabile took that advice one step futher. Her car "blew up" a few weeks ago, and as a result, she has been doing missionary work! She's been talking to people on the taxis, and placed a Book of Mormon with one fellow passenger. One Sunday she was ready for Church, but no way to get there. She stood at her gate, and then saw a neighbor's car pulling out down the road (someone she knew only to wave to). She flagged them down, and they gave her a ride as far as they could, and she managed to get to the chapel. A few days later, she took some cookies to the neighbors, and started getting acquainted. Now they are becoming friends - so I imagine we'll see them at Pinetown Ward one of these days!
Elders Lemmon & Reeves have a new investigator - and they earned him honestly, by doing manual labor! They work in Clermont, and during the mid-day, everyone at work hours, were helping with gardens and roadside clean-up. A man stopped to find out what in the world two "white guys" were doing in Clermont - and why. The elders must have explained just right, as he has asked them to teach him the lessons. That's power (and a good example of the rewards missionaries get when they follow the counsel of their leaders).
I have chapters 2 & 3 of the Pomeroy story. (Chapter 1 was a member teaching the Restoration to the students at his school?) Chapter 2 is Elders Waterbohr & Parry teaching 34 people gathered at a member's home in Dannhauser, last week. And chapter 3 is teaching around 60 students (from Pomeroy) and parents on a Saturday, then right afterwards teaching 15 or 16 Melchizedek Priesthood age men who came in suits and ties, and then stopping in Dundee to see if an hour of tracting would turn anything up, and finding 5 families to teach. Phrases like "golden investigators" and "fields ready to harvest" and "Lemme at'em!" (I made that one up) are starting to be heard in the Newcastle Zone. Makes us all feel like we're with Wilford Woodruff in England... President Hinckley did say, that "Africa is in a hurry"!
Back on the "try" line - rugby continues to run apace and amok (I spent a few minutes with Lord of the Rings this week: can you tell? And by the way, J.R.R. Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa..) The U16A's will get ready for the festival in Pietermaritzburg this weekend by playing the Westville Third team. These are the grade 11s and 12s who wish they were in Namibia touring with the First and Second teams. I hope they don't take revenge on our team - we're scheduled for games on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, and Morgan might be playing for both the A and B teams.
I made the mistake of filming his second game, and now am expected to film ALL the games - which he then makes into very cool dvds with all kinds of titles and music and so on. (I get billing for the camera work as S. H. Mann.) It's actually not a bad way to watch the game - kind of like half a pair of binoculars, which is great for me, because I only have one good eye anyway! I've learned the game well enough that I can follow the action (namely, the ball) quite well. Yet another potential post-mission career opportunity for my list...
Hunter and Morgan are writing exams this week, and Hunter, at least, has really put in some good study time. I have no idea whether what they are learning here will help them the least bit when they get back to Meridian District and the "Did you learn enough to graduate from high school" exam the studens now take. I think I'll try to bribe a school counselor to "loan" me a sample test, so we can find out ahead of time. The boys are still plugging away at their correspondence courses (if plugging away is read as S-L-O-W-L-Y & G-R-A-D-U-A-L-L-Y doing their assignments. They've finished US History to 1850 (thank you, Elder Markum, for proctoring their exams!) and are now starting a semester 11th grade English, before doing the second History course. The English class includes a section on the Harlem Renaissence - that should be interesting - and they have to read "Our Town". I can say already, that they won't like it. They liked Lord of the Flies, so there you go.
Have a wonderful conference weekend - we'll look for you in the crowds!