I hope September rains bring October flowers, because the students enjoying the holiday break have had very little chance to go to the beach or do much outdoors - it's been raining. A lot! That works out alright for Hunter, because he likes to chill at the mall, or go to movies, or play video games, or spend hours on the cellphone. Did I ever mention that the cellphones here have "mixit" which is like chat rooms? It's cheaper than phoning or even SMS, and the newest version even does photos like Facebook. It's so odd to take a carload of kids somewhere and hear no conversation because they are all either listening to mp3 players, or talking with their fingers on mixit.
Steve and I actually took 2 nights and 1 day off this week. Mission presidents are strongly encouraged to take some occasional downtime, to relax, but Steve never does. This time it was his idea, even. All of the booklets and programs are in place, I guess, so it was a breather before we get fifteen(!) new missionaries next week, and lose our wonderful Elder & Sister Sessions. They've been training Elder & Sister Johnson, who have been serving in Umlazi. They will continue to do work out there (as the Sessions have worked in KwaMashu), just not so fulltime. They're doing great, and we are very lucky to have them, as we haven't heard any news of a replacement office couple. Help!
Anyway, back to our "break". We went to a B&B in Salt Rock - that's the beach where Morgan went a few months ago? It rained the afternoon we arrived, was cloudy but dry the full day we were there, then started pouring the afternoon we left. We were so lucky! There was even a German restaurant there - pretty much the first we've seen. Steve had his first jaeger schnitzel in years (he served a mission in Germany, for those who didn't know). And apfelstrudel. It was very fun, and he actually relaxed and read books. Amazing! And there were only 7 calls from missionaries - and 2 from Hunter - and 4 from Morgan. The only downturn was the computer running out of power halfway through "Charade". Good thing I've seen it a few dozen times!
While we were gone a new missionary arrived - Elder Kapande from Harare. He arrived mid-transfer because he was actually coming from the Mozambique Mission, where he has served for six weeks. His parents are from Mozambique, so everyone assumed he could speak Portugese - not! He was working very hard at it, but they (?) decided to send him to us, instead. And we are delighted! He's been trained by the Cannons at the MTC, and trained in Mozambique by the Spendloves, so we won't have to do a thing! We look forward to having him here.
To even things out, Elder Nkele left Friday, a week early. He's from Botswana, and his passport expired this week. We took him to dinner with the Assistants, office elders, the Johnsons, and Elder & Sister Harms, who are our Public Affairs couple, based in Cape Town, but working their way through the mission. It's a good way to share ideas from one mission to another. We have been using For the Strength of Youth with students; Cape Town is using Family Enrichment with their parents, in groups set up by school administrators. I'm sure we'll get even more ideas at the Mission Presidents' Seminar in Johannesburg in a few weeks.
And speaking of Johannesburg (OK, Pretoria, but they're pretty close together), Morgan is having a so-so time on his rugby tour. His team lost all three of their games, which, frankly, we expected. He had a good time on Wednesday, which the boys spent at Gold Reef amusement park. And he's had the chance to play prop, flank, center and wing, so that's good, although it goes to show the team isn't very powerfully put together. Probably the most fun he's had is when people call him "Beast". He had a note from Dr. John so he didn't have to shave on the tour, and he really does resemble the Springboks "Beast". When he ran of the field people were yelling "Beast! Beast!" and he's often asked if he's the beast's brother. Watching two days of other people playing, and the ride back on the bus weren't his favorites, though. Oh well, he got team shirts and a cool tracksuit out of it! And Hunter got a week on his own...including two days without parents. Nice for everyone!
For you soccer fans (which we apparently now are) the FIFA 10 video game came out this week. It has Hunter and his fellow video game fiends glued to their controllers. The XBox people must be delighted that our boys have expanded their sports interest to rugby and soccer. They can sell us SO many games now! And an update every year. Plus their continuing interest in Halo and other games, inherited from Logan and Parker. This is one section of the economy that shouldn't be having any problem!
I've been very grateful that we have a BYUTV (not KBYU) connection here at the mission home. I only use it for conference, but it's so nice to keep up the Wasatch Front tradition of watching general conference from the couch! Also, since the sessions are broadcast here at 6 and 10 pm, it's nice to stay home at night. We now have a satellite dish at the Pinetown chapel (first time) so members in our stake can go to Pinetown or Hillcrest. The 10am was at 6pm Saturday, priesthood conference will be Sunday at 11am, with the 10pm Saturday session at 2pm, the 10am Sunday session at 6pm, and the 2pm session at 10pm. The members who have no personal transport will hopefully make it to at least the priesthood and 2pm meetings. Sometimes a ward will show one of the sessions later, when the DVDs come out, but the Liahona is the most common source of conference for most of our members here.
I'll be speaking at a Relief Society Conference in Richards Bay this Saturday (Sister Pier is too kind!) and I was frantically writing down stories and thoughts as I listened to conference - so much of it was apropos to the theme of Moroni 10:32, "Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him". I'm hoping the transcript of the conference will be online this week so I can be sure the quotes are accurate. My personal favorite, though, was a story Sister Matsumori told. I do a Sunbeam Message at every zone conference, and I loved the object lesson where the Sunbeam teacher wrapped each child in a blanket to help them understand feeling the warmth of the Spirit.
It was also very "connecting" to know Parker was sitting in the Conference Center (just couldn't pick him out!) and Torry & Chris, and Logan & Sara were watching, right along with us. Hayley was at work behind the scenes at the Conference Center, and I knew she was paying attention attention when I got an email right after Elder Bednar's talk. She sent an "I love you" to everyone in the family. Now that's following the counsel of the prophets! So I'll follow her example:
I love you!
ps Trivia 1: We stopped in Ballito on the way home from Salt Rock. As the most popular resort town on the North Coast, Ballito has lots of specialty items in the Super Spar. You have to live here to know how delightful it was to find Campbell's Tomato Soup! And Light Pringles!
Trivia 2: I was following a car Saturday and noticed that it had a trailer hitch - the first I'd noticed on a a car here. Just as I was thinking "I guess people don't tow things here very often" a bakkie pulled between us, with a trailer hitch on the back! So either I just haven't been very observant, or I just saw the only two vehicles in Westville that have trailer hitches!
Trivia 3: When I went to Look&Listen with Hunter to pick up his XBox game, I discovered a country western duo who sings in Afrikaans! I've got to go back and listen to it...it's a little easier to imagine than love songs in Afrikaans (forgive me if you are an Afrikaaner - I'm sure American twang sounds just as strange to you!) but still a little out of the ordinary.