I don't know when you're spring break was, but isn't it wonderful to have it over? Only 2 boys slept over at the mission home last night!
I have been so upset over losing 2 couples in 1 week that I prevailed upon "President Mann" to write his annual "State of the Mission" report for the blogspot. Missionary work is, after all, why we're here! It can't begin to reflect the hard work and wonderful contributions the couples and elders are providing the people here, but at least you'll be able to see some of the progress that is being made - especially our former and much-missed missionaries. You and the missionaries before you laid the foundation for what's going on.
So, brothers and sisters, the President of the South Africa Durban Mission:
"In so many ways the mission just now brings comparisons to the early days of the Church with a consecrated people experiencing almost daily miracles. As I have traveled the mission this cycle I have tried to share some of these miracles with the members and missionaries. Here are just a few.
Swaziland was created as a district just 15 months ago and miracles have been happening ever since.
- The Mbabane branch has doubled in sacrament meeting attendance. When I asked President Ntshalintshali about his sacrament meeting attendance he grinned and said, "213 last Sunday, President Mann, but I am trying not to be proud."
- The Manzini branch currently has 14 baptismal dates
- The Nhlangano branch has gone from 18 attending sacrament meeting to 55, and now has two full-time missionaries.
- There are now monthly leadership training meetings and new district high councilmen and district auxiliary leaders are being called.
- Temple attendance has increased dramatically.
- The district finally got computers, and Elder Piers spent several weeks entering ordination records - the stats have sky-rocketed!
- There is also a massive reordination project going on for those whose ordination records can't be found.
The Richard's Bay district was also created just 15 months ago, with 5 tiny little branches, often with just 12 to 18 attending.
- Port Durnford now runs around 50 to 55 at sacrament meeting.
- Ngwelezane and Nseleni have around 50 attending.
- Esikhawini now often fills the building with 80 plus at sacrament meeting.
- Nseleni has 7 scheduled for baptism, today, with 10 more in the rest of the zone.
- For a year, Elder and Sister Hafen have been teaching and helping a couple who have had difficulty with their identity cards. The difficulties have been resolved, and they can now get married and be baptized.
- More and more youth activities are being held - EFY, YSA conventions, and roadshows are in the works.
- Two weeks ago the Bartholomews and Hafens accompanied 60 youth to the Johannesburg temple (the largest group the temple has ever had).
Newcastle is the third district that was created about 15 months ago, and there, too, amazing things are happening. This includes the willing transitions as couples have cheerfully moved from branch to branch: the Dibbs, Uffens, Klinglers, and ladysmithWilsons have trained leaders, served as branch officers, taught seminary, helped couples to the temple, taken elders to the doctor and dentist...and saved the day in a whole host of varied, vital, and often wholly unexpected ways!
- In Madadeni 1 and 2 sacrament meeting attendance has nearly doubled, and we are getting ready to open a new branch in neighboring Osizweni (there are about 35 people attending cottage meetings, and the branch will probably open with 5 active Melchizedek priesthood holders (won't sound like much on the Wasatch Front, but here in South Africa it's huge).
- At general conference the Madadeni chapel was so full they had to open the windows so people could stand outside and listen.
- Newcastle branch, which for years had missionaries serving in the branch presidency, and was declining in numbers, now has 80 to 90 attending sacrament meeting with a large number of worthy priesthood.
- District councilmen are being called, youth and YSA activities are being planned and run by the youth themselves.
- Ladysmith/Ezakheni elders had 24 investigators at Church last week.
OTHER DISTRICT MIRACLES
- Where there were only 2 full-time missionaries sent out from Durban Mission branches 15 months ago, there are now 15.
- 9 of the 13 newly-called branch presidents have now gone to the temple to be sealed (2 are still single, and the other 2 had already been sealed).
- Service projects in all of the districts have increased and are changing (for the better) the way the Church is viewed in the neighborhoods. Just a few weeks ago the elders were noticed (by everyone!) up on a roof helping with repairs and are now teaching 3 families. Another companionship has a baptism date for a man who stopped to ask: "What are 2 white guys doing picking up garbage in a black township?"
- In a follow-up to the Pomeroy story of a few weeks ago, Brother Fana apologized(!) to the elders for having only 60(!) youth to listen to them, and has promised more, plus families, on their next visit. A member in Dundee is organizing a cottage meeting for all his friends, and Elders Hiatt and Nyamombe are teaching the lessons to the families they found tracting. The Dannhauser member is also organizing a cottage meeting to improve attendance over the last one, and they have started teaching their friends. A second companionship will be added to that area next transfer.
It was only about a month earlier one of the missionaries asked me: Why don't we baptize big groups like they did in the early days of the Church?" My answer was: "Who says we won't?"
- The Imbali branch just outside of Pietermaritzburg will soon be reopend. New Melchizedek priesthood has moved into the are, and it will probably open with between 50 and 60 attending sacrament meeting.
- A new branch is being considered for Molweni, outside of Kwadabeka.
- Kwamashu set a new record of 124 at sacrament meeting.
- Both Umlazi branches are greatly growing their sacrament meeting attendance and baptizing more and more families and potential priesthood.
- The elders in Berea have no time to tract: the members have become so involved in the member missionary program that it takes all their time to follow-up on and teach member referrals!
- Durban North is having regular baptisms after years of very little growth.
- The number of missionaries serving from the stakes has gone from 7 or 8 to about 26 currently out in the field.
- Just as I was typing this, Elders Schaupp and Mapfumo called to ask for assistance in preparing a presentation to 800 high school students, scheduled for May.
- Elders have given out something like 4,000 Strength of Youth pamphlets to high school students as they have taught them in their schools.
- And speaking of giving out materials, we are over budget because of giving away too many Book of Mormons - a very pleasant dilemma!"
So there you have it, straight from the President's office. I'll add one more story I just heard: Elders Hooser & Muhwezi had an investigator at Church today whom they have been teaching for a few months. They met him at McDonald's in Pinetown on transfer day. We only have a few McDonald's, so it is a favorite lunch spot after transfer meeting. This young man asked to have someone call on him, and the next day the elders tracted him out, anyway! This one must be meant.
Thanks for all your support! For those of you who don't operate on a 6-week cycle, it's transfer week again. Life just keeps rolling along.
Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/Sister President Mann
ps We won our rugby game this week: first time to beat Kearsney in 4 years!
pps New sight #127 - a man in a shirt and tie, using an umbrella as a sunshade, walking along the side of the highway, carrying his suitjacket by the top of the collar, with the shoulders folded neatly against each other, in front of him. I hope our elders worry as much about their appearances!