Dear Family and Friends:
Easter in South Africa and Swaziland is very different from Easter at home. Some of the commercialism is starting to show up in the malls, and they have some children's activities- including face painting. It is so cute to see all the little kids decorated up! And Pick'n'Pay has tables of chocolate bunnies and marshmallow eggs - and the leftover chocolate santas from Christmas! But it's much more family and church-oriented. Friday, Saturday and Monday are public holidays, meaning banks, libraries, government, schools (only it's holidays, anyway) are closed. But in addition, lots of other stores are closed, too. (I don't know what Morgan's wearing to Church tomorrow: the dry-cleaner has his suit!) Even in the malls, quite a few small stores and even a few of the "middle-size" ones are closed - at a time when U.S. retailers would be staying open late to catch the crowds!
Many churches have services all week, but especially Friday, Saturday and Sunday. As a native Salt Laker, the first time I was aware of extended Easter worship was on my mission in Toronto: on Good Friday you couldn't find anyone to talk to. As it turns out, I am really grateful for the way things are arranged. At home there are constant reminders of Easter, but it's all bunnies and eggs and "stuff". Here the reminders tend me to think: Today is Friday - what would be happening in Jerusalem? What would be happening among the Nephites? My knowledge of the Jewish Sabbath is pretty much defined by Fiddler on the Roof, so I don't know exactly how Saturday went in Jerusalem, but the Book of Mormon is certainly vivid in describing the Saturday experience in the Promised Land. We watched Testaments today after Church, so that made it all more vivid, too.
The only Easter event we felt bad about missing was the combination Parma Easter egg hunt/Grandma Mann's 90th birthday celebration. It was, apparently, the social event of the season! I talked to Mary on the phone, and just the menu made me homesick (but only for a visit - this is too fun). And hey, I get to visit for Logan and Sara's wedding, so all is good! I'll just have to buy a second seat on the plane if I try to get a bite of everything I miss...
Steve just got back from the interview/training "loop" through Richards Bay, Swaziland, Newcastle and Ladysmith. He has volumes of great stories to tell, so I'm leaning on him to write the blog next week. I will steal one story though: in Madadeni, in Newcastle District, they had so many people show up to watch conference that they couldn't fit in the chapel, so they opened the windows and people listened from outside. Power!
While Steve and the assistants were travelling, I've been playing taxi-driver to Hunter & Morgan and their friends during their Easter break. We've been to movies at Gateway (don't take any small children to Monsters vs. Aliens). Also, if you ever have only one working eye, you won't be able to see any 3-D effects. Trust me.) Morgan & Co. went to Fusion one night, an under-18 club with a DJ. Hunter and Jubz had Wetu and Nellie over one afternoon, while Morgan was watching a rugby meet at Kearsney College (actually a high school). There were lunches at the mall, sleepovers, and more horror movies than I would ever have thought possible. What is it with teenage boys? I have to run through the family room to avoid the movies - and the latest trick (only worked once, I might add) was Hunter: "You have to see this part, Mom, it's OK, don't worry..." So I stood there for a minute, and sure enough, somebody's head got lopped off. Trust no one. School starts again on Wednesday, for which great exclamations of joy.
Steve just told me another great story which I am stealing for this week: Elder Pier is up in Swaziland (for a few more weeks, then he and Sister Pier will move to Richards Bay as the Hafens leave us). He did a lesson on consecration for the elders, based on the story of the widow's mite (Mark 12: 41-44). He pointed out that the widow had two mites, and if she had only cast in one, that would have been half of all she had: a pretty good sacrifice. But she chose to cast in both, "...even all her living." Then he challenged the elders to keep track of their efforts, and rate their days as "One Mite" days, or "Two Mite" days. Great idea! Steve asked him to write it up for next zone conference, so all the elders can benefit from it. And so we have another great example of the power of couple missionaries. (By the way, the pictures up top are to show that couple missionaries have other kinds of fun, too.)
It looks like Elder Lemmon will be joining us in the office, the hard way. He's going to have surgery on a couple of torn ligaments (soccer injury: never go one-on-one with Elder Ikahihifo) and it will take him six weeks or so to get "usefully" mobile. The irony is, Steve was thinking about bringing him in some weeks ago, and then didn't. So-o-o (spooky music in the background) was he pre-destined to be in the office? And when that transfer didn't take place, was a more definite "hint" needed? And did Elder Lemmon agree to this injury in the pre-existence, knowing he needed to be in the office at this time, and that his mission president might not make the right call? And am I TOTALLY kidding????
Well, not about the surgery or coming in the office...
Elder Nkele is still having post-operative problems with his knee, so we may put them together and add to our car/bike/walking areas, a wheelchair area! (Still kidding...)
Love to everybody!
Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/SisterPresidentMann/Easter Break Coordinator
ps In another example of couple missionary flexibility, Elder ladysmithWilson rebuilt a non-functioning refrigerator in one of the boardings, and the wonderful Kugara family (one of our Zimbabwean branch presidents) was able to serve a "cold" dessert to the Uffens at their farewell dinner. Well done!