Nakapenda! That's our new mission phrase - it's Swahili for "I love you". Try it out on everyone you know.
Steve just finished the interview/skill training cycle, and as part of their work experiences, both Hunter and Morgan attended a skill training. I had an ulterior motive: the topic was getting along better with your companion. Hunter went to one first, so when he got back, I asked him how it was. He said it was good. So I suggested he could use some of it with Morgan. "He's not a missionary." Well, the same skills apply to all relationships. "He doesn't have the skills." Well, maybe YOU could use the skills... Oh well, it was a nice try!
Morgan does his office work this week, as he was at the beach in Salt Rock with a friend's family the last few days. It's a beautiful beach, with rocks and tide pools. There are some manmade pools for kids to play in, that are covered at high tide so the water stays fresh - if you can use that term about seawater? As you can see in the pictures, the area is mostly condos. The "forest" area has a few houses and cottages, and that's where Morgan stayed. Very nice! He didn't stay as long as he could have, however, as his friend Josh likes to fish from the beach, and Morgan found that bo--ring! Morgan doesn't play in the water, either: he just went for the socializing.
And speaking of socializing, there was a combined mission presidency/district presidency meeting this week. I love it when these happen, as the wives all come, and there's lots of visiting and storytelling. Sister Bartholomew had a great story out of Empangeni, a little branch in Richard's Bay (and forgive me, elders, if I have any of the details wrong). A new, older lady stood up in fast and testimony meeting. First she sang a hymn (not one of ours) and the congregation all joined in. But then she bore her testimony, and it was amazing. She had a granddaughter who was being taught by the missionaries last year. but before she could be baptized she passed away . Her family hadn't liked her interest in the Church, so although a few Church members were allowed to attend her funeral, it was all Zulu traditional. Because of her daughter's death, the "Ma" started thinking about the plan of salvation. Elders Schlenker, Babeeyo, and Mholo began teaching her the gospel. Recently, the gogo (grandmother) joined in the lessons, as well as a son.
The gogo is the one who bore her testimony. She said she had been to a lot of churches over the years, but she loved our Church and wanted to become a member. Good example of seeds being planted, and elders never knowing the final harvest. And this probably isn't final, either, as gogos have a great deal of influence, and many of the members of the Church here were first contacted by a gogo. (By the way, singing your testimony is not actually part of the program here. Nor is the "Allelujah! Praise the Lord!" which was pronounced by one of the members after her testimony. It takes awhile to teach the gospel culture.)
This sister explained that she had attended many Churches throughout her life, but she loved our Church, and wanted to be baptized. She could now understand why it had been so important to her daughter.
I have a new medical emergency to add to my list: while doing service on Saturday, Elder Basooma was hit on the head by a pickaxe (I think I saw the movie...). He is fine, but they kept him in the hospital overnight for observation. He wasn't lonely, though. I took him, with Elder Brush to the hospital, and later Steve came over to give him a blessing. Elders Ang'ila and Anderson came from the office to take Elder Brusch back the boarding for Elder Ang'ila clothes, scriptures, etc.
While waiting for them in the lobby, Elders Parry & Summers walked in. They had been doing service, where they met the neighbor of a member. His wife had a baby 11 days ago, and had just been admitted back into the hospital with complications. After some discussion, he asked the elders to give her a blessing. They said it was a really special experience. So they stopped by. The Sessions also came to visit in the evening, so I don't think Elder Basooma was too lonely!
It occurs to me that our five elders going home this week are having a last lesson in the unpredicability of life. One with an injured companion; one with what is practically walking pneumonia which he won't admit, because he wants to work hard until the very last minute; one in a fender bender in one of the new cars (!). I won't be surprised if I hear two more stories in the next few days. Mission life is full of surprises!
This week is our all-zone conference, and I'll finally have a chance to meet Elder and Sister Knudsen, who arrived while I was in Utah and were immediately whisked off to Newcastle. We have no incoming missionaries (first time ever) so it makes the week a little easier. As usual, this will be a zone conference where there's a little from the President, and a lot from the elders. Last zone conference they discussed and gave input for training material on the conversion process. This time it will be finding, preparation and retention. There is a lot of wisdom to be gained from the experienced missionaries, and we don't want to lose it and have to start all over with each new group. Some of it is very mission-specific, such as it's ok to go to the back door instead of the front door of a Zulu home, but most of it would apply for any missionary. It's the last booklet (I'm told!) and will be called The Versatile Missionary. (For an excellent example of a truly versatile missionary, read the epistles of Paul.)
So in that spirit, I can only say Philippians 1:1-6.
ps In case anyone was worrying about Boltt Grindrod, I learned from a local that it's a delivery company. Very disappointing.