Dear Everyone: Hamba Knjana (How's it going?)
Ever heard the phrase "No good deed goes unpunished"? It can be true! Last Saturday some of Hunter's friends wanted to do jobs to earn money for the mall. I had them sweep the patio, clean cupboards...and wash some cars. Well, teenagers can't work without music, so they plugged an ipod into the Box (mission office Vivaro) and turned the key. So on Sunday morning, Steve decides to visit the Berea Ward. He heads out to the Box, only to find that when the ipod was unplugged, no one took out the key, and the battery was dead. Well, we now know where the battery IS in a Vivaro; and that you can jump start a car using two sets of cables hooked together; and that it takes quite awhile for a Vivaro to recharge; and than no good deed...oh wait, we've been there already!
We started out our "back to normal" week with a car wreck, a side-swiped car, six punctured tires, an elder with a kidney stone, a preparationdaysoccer ankle injury, and two unexpected missionary counselling sessions. And those are just the ones I heard about! But that's to be expected, as we are trying to have a "perfect week" and the adversary doesn't like it one bit. A perfect week means living the white handbook to the letter - including all the getting up on time, individual study, companion study and planning, being in the right places at the right time, and so on. Of course the elders know what's coming next, if they can do it "for just one week..." But think how great a missionary would feel if he could go home after his mission and look back on 104 perfect weeks!
On the flipside, they suddenly found one of our hijacked cars - it was stolen in Stanger, and turned up in Empangeni. so there are a few nice things happening.
Actually, HUGE amounts of nice things are happening. In fact, huge amounts of miraculous things are happening. Steve and the assistants are out doing interviews/mini-training/work with the elders, one district at a time. He comes home every day with new stories to tell. For instance, Elder Kitili and Elder Nkambule were impressed to knock on the door of a particular house - and found a whole family, baba, ma & children, ready to be taught. They are also teaching a church youth group (no, not our church) and 8 other families.
Elder Holmes and Elder Wengert called from Newcastle to say they had decided to really make an effort to talk to everyone, so they chatted up some university students at a tuckshop. They are now going to teach the campus church group, and have been added to the local group of Christian organizations that do service in Newcastle and the surrounding communities. Our contact number will be listed so people can contact us. (I like the idea of investigators calling the missionaries...)
Elder Kwendo and Elder Mutuku went to a lesson prepared to invite the family to be baptized on November 1st. As soon as they were in the door, the baba started told them he had had a confirmation that what they were teaching was true. He wanted to take his family to the temple (the temple had been the theme of some of the meetings at Church that week). He had heard a temple trip announced in a few weeks, and wanted to go. The elders explained that he must be baptized first, to which he responded "Of course!" They further explained that the family could only do baptisms for the dead on this trip, and that was fine with hiim. He just really wanted to go there with his family. Elder Sessions thinks this baba will be the branch president in a not too distant future - new members here don't have a lot of time before they are given major assignments.
Langa Mahaye had his third missionary lesson today, after coming to Church with us. It's fun having lessons here at the house -
There are elders all over the mission going into schools and youth groups to teach For the Strength of Youth. Missionaries are apologizing that they can't tract during prime time (late afternoon and evenings) because they are too busy teaching. Uh, that's ok!
I am finding our missionaries in the scriptures as I read. For instance, we have a Moroni. Remember how influential Moroni was as Joseph Smith's teacher and guide? Joseph grew from an uneducated young boy to a young man who could translate, and preach, and lead. Our Moroni can take any missionary who is having difficulties, and love him and teach him and help him grow. Steve has relied on him on several occasions to be the mentor for a challenging elder. I know a good part of his strength and determination comes from his parents. The day he arrived in the mission, he started volunteering to help with anything that needed to be done. After the welcome dinner, the first night, I complimented him on his willingness and he said "Well, Sister Mann, my parents taught me to work." Well done, Mom and Dad! And you too, Moroni!
We have some Nephis who came out all ready to "go and do", and some Sams who believe what the Nephis tell them, and prove very faithful. There have been a few Jareds: they like being "king" but leave it up to their companions to "cry unto the Lord". And guess which elders feel best at the end of their missions?
We have an Ammon, too. He gets along with everyone, missionaries and investigators and members alike. He has a gentle spirit, but if any arms need to be lopped off (I am speaking metaphorically, of course) he can do it - and then go right back to loving everyone and helping them grow in the gospel. Plus he's good at planning, and follow-through.
We also have an Alma the elder. He is tremendously organized, and can go off in the wilderness and organize a branch. His enthusiasm and positive attitude pushes things forward.
Steve would love to work closer with many of these elders, and they would make wonderful assistants, but he says he "can't afford to take them out of the field. They are too valuable where they are." I hope our elders have realized that being an assistant, or a district or zone leader isn't the measure of success in our mission - for that matter, in three years a mission president can only have about 12 assistants, out of 300 or so missionaries. And Steve rotates the assistants back out into the field as soon as he can, because that's the most important place to be, and that's where they'd really rather be.
Our couples are also having tremendous experiences - as are their branches and wards. One of our absolutely amazing, fantastic, loving, capable, innovative, hardworking couples is about to finish their mission and emailed:
"We are going to be celebrating Pres. Monson's Birthday with the youth...we will have a presentation on Pres. Monson's life so the youth know him better and then we are going to decorate eight cakes -all chocolate. It should be fun. We did this in Ngwelezane Wedensday and the youth loved it. We have 17 boys and 2 girls and we decorated three cakes...We expect around 30 youth in Nseleni tomorrow.
Our last activity will be a YSA District dance. We have a DJ coming and we hope to have about 70 youth.
We love these people. They are our friends, our brothers and sisters. I will always be grateful for their influence in my life."
If for nothing else (and there is plenty else) this mission would be worth it for the friends we are making - particularly our couple missionaries. I wish I could explain how wonderful they are in a way you could really feel. It's like gaining additional brothers and sisters - only without the fighting while growing up. I want to be just like every one of them.
And on the home front:
Hunter had his first basketball game Saturday. They won 65-9 (undoubtedly because of the American influence...). The U16 cricket team also won by several wickets (?).
The really important activity of the weekend, however, is Neli's 16th birthday party, which is "smart casual" and required frantic shopping trips to the mall, particularly for Hunter, whose wardrobe is strictly "gangsta". Morgan has lots of smart casual, but can't wear the same shirt twice. Honestly, boys can be worse than girls!
Oh, and the world is continuing to shrink - Parker emailed that Elder (Aaron) Larsen's brother is in his Bozeman singles ward this year.
ps Language lesson #203
South Africa: I will do it "just now". U.S.A.: "In a minute!"
South Africa: It's coming "now". U.S.A.: "Hang on a sec!"
South Africa: I want it "now now". U.S.A.: "OK, OK! Hold your horses - I'm coming!"
pps In the spirit of "You can prove anything with the right scripture" I would encourage anyone who (like myself) prefers lds.org to training at the gym, to check out 1 Timothy 4:8. Sometimes I just love the Apostle Paul!