Tuesday, July 14, 2009

2009 07 19 - All Zone Conference & A Farewell to the first missionary group we met at the airport

Dear Everyone:
This week has been more like a week and a half! Even with no new missionaries coming in (first time ever) it was hectic! The Assistants did all the sleeping arrangements, thank goodness: the elders from Margate, Stanger, Pietermaritzurg and the Districts all stayed here over Wednesday night, bunking with other elders. The couples stay at B&Bs - there is a real competition to get into Little Haven, run by Grace and Vic Rawlings of Pinetown Ward!

Margie Nicholson from Hillcrest, who cooks for the transfer dinners, did the catering. Due to a misunderstanding (she's going to Melbourne Australia on August 15th, and I thought she said July 15th) I had her make lasagnes, thinking she could make them ahead and we could cook or reheat them at the mission home, the Sessions, Markums, Griesemers, and office elders boardings. By the time I realized my mistake, it was too late, so we did some extra running around getting them all hot and back to Pinetown chapel.

When I stopped at the mission home to pick up my four lasagnes, the gate blew and fuse and the boys and I were locked in until Steve and Elder Sessions zipped over and took it apart. It's very heavy, but with Hunter and Morgan's help they got it off it's track and moved over. I got there just in time for dinner.

But that wasn't the only franticness (frantictude? franticality?). I also had Morgan to run back and forth to rugby practice, and both boys to their "social" commitments...and then there were the three trips to the hospital... Elder Dimene, from Mozambique, has been here 3 months, working in Swaziland. This last week his companion, Elder England, called to tell me he was ill and wouldn't admit it (I could hear Elder Dimene in the background shouting "I'm fine, Sister Mann!"). One night Elder Dimene had chills and a fever, then the next night he was fine, then another night of chills. Well, the zone conference started at 1pm on Wednesday, and at 1:45 Elder swaziWilson was telling me about Elder Dimene - laying on the floor of a classroom, wrapped up in his blanket, shivering and shaking. Elder Wilson, Morgan and I took him at once to Westville Hospital, where they put him in bed, took his temperature (104 f or 40 c) and hooked up an IV (did I mention he hates needles so much he once jumped out of a window (as a child) to avoid a shot?). Then they took blood for some tests they would take 3 or 4 hours. Elder Wilson stayed with him while Morgan and I did a few tasks and returned to the conference, where the wonderful wonderful couples had already sorted the afternoon snack. They are terrific at pitching up when help is needed!

I went back to the hospital later; no results yet, but he's looking and feeling way better. His temperature had dropped a few degrees, too. Back to the mission home to put in lasagnes; back to the mall (next to the hospital) to drop off Jubz to meet Hunter, already there; back to the conference; back to the mission home, where I ended up locked in; back to the conference to help the couples put out the dinner, which they then facilitated while I went back to the hospital.
The diagnosis was dormant malaria. Elder Dimene had experienced chills like this a few times before, at home, but never gone in to have it checked. We got some anti-biotics, checked him out, and caught the last few minutes of the testimony meeting before everyone separated for the night. (At least we can still say no one has contracted malaria in the mission!) Then I picked up the boys from the mall.

Thursday we started at 8am, with sports at 10, lunch at 12:30, and everyone heading for their areas except the zone leaders, who stayed for zone leader council on Friday. And, of course, the five departing missionaries, who stayed for interviews and the farewell dinner and a wonderful testimony meeting. I was so impressed with the stories they shared about following the Spirit and finding families, and the experiences investigators had as they moved through the conversion process. It was a far cry from the young missionaries who got off the plane, straight from the Provo MTC and kept dozing off during the orientation meetings. We have shared a lot of memories with these elders: it was very hard to tell them all goodbye.

During the conference the elders rotated through three workshops taught by Steve and Elders Ang'ila and Vance. They focused on the processes of Preparation, Finding and Retention. The ideas and suggestions that came out of these sessions will be added to the material that has already been put together, and with the Conversion Process material worked on last zone conference, will make up The Versatile Missionary booklet. Our missionaries really have a lot of good experience to share. And with 25 going home over these 3 transfers, we didn't want to lose that wisdom.

Saturday we collapsed, watched Morgan's rugby team beat a team from the UK 19-nil, went to Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince, and had 3 hours of quiet in the house while Hunter was at a braai and Morgan was "chilling" with friends. This week Steve and the Assistants will start the interview/skill training cycle (focusing on Area Books) as they need to finish in time for the Mission Tour with Elder and Sister Koelliker in August. The fun just never stops - come join us!


ps I finally figured out why I walk over to the office and can't remember what I came for: I've caught a local disease - Alzuluheimer's

pps Our IT specialist downplayed the latest problem my computer developed by saying it "just had its knickers in a twist". Not an expression you hear all the time - but Ron Weasley useds it in the latest Harry Potter. We are so cutting edge here!


Val said...

It's delightful to hear you reference Margie Nicholson! We taught the Nicholsons in Hillcrest several years ago. We loved/love that family with all our hearts. Please say hello if you get the chance.

Julie said...

You are such a fun and interesting writer. I wish I could twitch my nose and pop in for a visit but from working closely with the mission president and his wife when we did our office mission, I also know they don't have lots of time for visitors!