Dear Family & Friends:
I've just finished the New Testament, and I have to say Revelation scares me to death. If it were a movie, I wouldn't go (although Hunter and Morgan and their friends would). I suppose part of the reason it's so unnerving is because I'm not on a spiritual plane to understand the imagery - but it's certainly a good reason to "Follow the prophet: he knows the way!"
Fortunately, I followed that up with Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible, which, by the way, I hope one of our modern prophets starts working on soon. (That and the rest of the Book of Mormon...) I am particularly relieved that Lot didn't really offer his daughters to the wicked men of Sodom - that story has always bothered me. I'm a bit ashamed that I haven't spent more time in these verses - if I am typical of other members of the Church, that's probably why we don't have the rest of the scriptures. My favorite verse is the 1st line of JST Matthew 11:13 - it makes me feel better when I watch the news.
Last Sunday was a missionary sacrament meeting in Pinetown Ward. Elders Emaneke, Moremong and Reese spoke and did a wonderful job. It was exactly the kind of sacrament meeting you want to bring investigators to. How many of you have brought people to Church, and (figuratively) sat on the edge of the bench worrying about what the speakers were saying? Maybe when we prepare out talks we should always think "This may be the only time my friend hears about the gospel: what are the most important things I can share?"
Elder Kwendo told Steve about a pretty nice phone call he and Elder Mutuku received from an investigator on Sunday night. They have been teaching him for awhile, and he had not been at Church that day. The baba called to explain that a relative had come over and needed help, so he hadn't been able to come. BUT he continued on, that he had been praying and was sure that what they were teaching him was the truth, and that he wanted to be baptized. That's the kind of phone call ALL missionaries would like to receive!
Elder and Sister Bartholomew stopped by the office this week, and Sister B told me about the Enseleni Primary program. This is a branch that meets in one room at the public library. The Primary varies from 20 to 25, with 18 of the children nonmembers who come on their own, no parents. The Primary president, Mbuthle, hasn't been a member very long, but loves the children and really works hard with them. They met on Friday to practise, and Sister B went to watch. As it was pouring rain, and the children would all have to walk, she didn't expect to see many of them, but 15 or 20 showed up. They belted out the songs, and said their memorized parts perfectly. One little six-year-old nonmember boy had a part that began "When I was baptized..."
The children sang and talked about the plan of salvation, being children of a loving Heavenly Father, and building eternal families - while some of them don't even have parents, or just one, and others are being raised by relatives or generous neighbors. And to make it even more impressive, most of them don't speak English, yet they learned the songs and their parts entirely in English. They love Primary, and the feeling that someone cares about them. I wish there were a way to track these children, to see how many continue coming and eventually join the Church.
Wednesday was the last day of school, but Morgan didn't go Monday or Tuesday, and Hunter skipped Wednesday, as did most of the student body, apparently. There is no minimum attendance rule here, so if the students didn't have any control tests, they were just sitting around or watching movies. I made both of the boys work on their English correspondence class part of the day, at least. They are doing research papers, which require lots of sources. The teacher reminds me a little of my dad, who insisted his graduate students learn to use a slide rule, even though they had calculators. Most of the information will come from the internet, but she requires a visit to the library for at least one book source, and one magazine source.
So we went to the Westville Library this morning. "Where is the card catalog? I asked after looking for it in vain. "The what?" "The case with the cards for looking up books?" "Oh, we don't have one anymore." "So how do we find a book?" "The reader adviser will help you."
We wait for our turn with the reader adviser, who has the catalog information on her computer. (There are no patron computers.) We explain what we're looking for; she looks the topics up on her computer, and goes and finds the books - mostly from the children's department. (The topics, by the way, are How to Protect Against Terrorist Attacks and Anti-Drug Programs and Treatments for Teens Who Use Marijuana.) There were no relevant magazines and no back issues on microfilm, so we may use the Meridian Library District Online Catalog for that one.
I'm pretty sure that about all the boys learned out of this excursion to the library is how to find...the library.
At noon, after the library field trip, and school had well and truly ended, Hunter celebrated the start of the break by having me pick up Neli, Chelsea, Vuya and Jubz, to chill for a few hours. I'm not sure it's good for the office elders to hear girls squealing out at the basketball hoop, but what can I do? At least they didn't have to watch Hunter with the OTHER two girls he met at the mall that night.
Also Wednesday was Morgan's "capping" ceremony. This is where the head of the Durban & Districts Junior Rugby Association talks to the parents and teams, then the boys get their kits (a gear bag with their number on it, tracksuit, uniform, polo shirt, etc.) and take a team picture. Morgan will be gone to Pretoria for games from the 27th to the 4th. He wants me to SMS airtime so he can phone us after every game. That's one nice thing about Morgan: he calls us constantly when he is gone, so we always know what he's doing!
Saturday the Hillcrest Zone had a community event: soccer at Queensborough High School. The missionaries (and two members) made up our team, and they played the Queensborough team. Elders John, Mwita, Ssesanga, Terry, and Vinson answered questions and visited with people in the stands, where they had set up "street boards" with gospel information. Our team lost, but they awarded a trophy to the school team, which has our name on it and will sit in their trophy case. It was fun - and none of the missionaries were injured! OK, so Elder Hansen has a sore knee - but he had that already, and couldn't bear to miss the game. And by the way, soccer is harder to follow and video than rugby - the ball travels a lot further downfield a lot more often.
Then Saturday night was another first: after Hunter spent the afternoon at the mall with Jubz, Jono, and assorted girls, I gave Hunter, his friends and 4 of the girls a ride to Vuya's aunt's apartment, for a birthday party/braii. Interesting part is, her aunt works at the prison. And the staff housing is in the prison compound. It was like going to an army base. We drove through the guarded gates, and could see the men's and women's prison complexes off to our left as we climbed the hill to the extensive staff housing. So, how many mission presidents have sons who go to prison while they are on their mission? Life just gets more and more interesting.
ps And now on the shopping front:
Jack's Hardware sells "Insect Chalk". I asked about it, and yes, it is in insecticide. So now I can't decide whether to look for a sleeping cockroach, draw a circle around it, and then watch it trying to get out...or to draw a line across the kitchen threshold, drip some honey, and watch thousands of ants piling up on one another, unable to cross over the chalk. I'll let you know...
And Dischem Pharmacy has a spa/salon in one corner, and is now offering a "Beautiful Woman Card" with discounts and a newsletter. I asked the cashier, and she told me any woman can have one, because every woman is beautiful. That's a very YW attitude, so I think it would be a great YW activity to take the Laurels in and get them each a card to carry. Maybe someone could suggest the card to Fred Meyer's?