Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tribute To Senior Elders

How's Winter Going?

2009 11 01 - An Abrahamic Test (if we may define it as being willing to give up something you really, REALLY want, and trusting the Lord is in charge)

Dear Family & Friends:

One of our brand-new elders (well-prepared, powerful testimony, ready to work) became ill at the start of his mission. After the requisite "Wait a few days and see if it goes away," he went to the doctor, who sent him to a specialist for tests, who in turn checked him into the hospital for more tests, including some biopsies.

He spent seven long days in the hospital - but they weren't all wasted. He asked us to bring him pamphlets, as he was proselyting among his fellow patients. He even provided two referrals to the Pinetown elders. On the 4th day (Friday) the tests were all in and the doctor diagnosed a lifetime, but not life-threatening medical condition, which can be controlled by medication.
As the Church takes very good care of the missionaries, and Missionary Medical wants to keep on top of all medical situations, Steve called Salt Lake to report the findings. The reaction there was "Send him back to the States." Steve argued vehemently to keep him here, citing the good medical care, and the doctor's statement that it can be controlled. Eventually they called another doctor for a second opinion, and he agreed that the elder should go home, be stabilized, and then finish his mission in the States. Hayibo.

We went to the hospital Friday night to tell him the news. His previous visits had been a lot more fun - sneaking in pizza, Big Macs, candy bars. This one was pretty sad, but our elder was very positive, and willing to serve wherever the Lord put him. I was impressed, although I know things were more difficult for him after we left, and he was on his own. The other missionaries shared in his disappointment, and his companions from the MTC who are working in the Durban area all stopped by to see him.

Monday the Assistants and his district took him to Tala to see a few African animals, and down to the Durban beach to see the Indian Ocean, then he went back to his boarding to pack for his Tuesday flight home.

THEN, as a result, I am sure, of fasting and prayer, as well as works (contacting Missionary Medical with more family medical history) the decision was made to LET HIM STAY! Wild rejoicing and grateful thanks echoed through the Durban hills. We're working with his doctor to monitor his condition and help him learn to control it, but hey! We got to keep him! He's excited, we're excited, his companions are excited, and his family is excited. Even the few investigators he had worked with are excited! I guess it's just another mission miracle - Faith +hard work + obedience with exactness really does work!

On the heels of that very happy news, however, we recieved some very sad news. Our former Elder Chumani Magwa, returned home to Prince Elizabeth in October of 2007, married, and had a daughter. This week his wife passed away unexpectedly due to complications of TB. For any of you who would like to send him a note, his address is 11 Majombozi Street, Kwanobuhle 6242, South Africa.

These are a few more of the quotes and information we picked up at the Mission Presidents' Seminar - Steve attended some different meetings than I did, and he's been using them in the mini zone conferences:

Evidence that the Church is growing and becoming more locally self-reliant around the world:
Brazil creates one new stake every month
There are 70 stakes in Mexico City
The Area Presidency in Mexico are all Mexicans. In Brazil, there are two Brazilians and only one American.
The Hong Kong Temple District covers one half of the world's population! We definitely need more temples in that part of the world.

Memorable words:

When Elder Nelson dedicated Rwanda to the preaching of the gospel, he said "We lift the hate and malice so there will be no more desire for war."

Bishop McMullin:
To become more spiritual, just study the life and teachings of Christ; not just the great things, but the little and mundane things. When you know the Savior, you will know yourself.
The purpose of welfare is to preserve the dignity of the people. Teach them to solve their own problems.

Elder Andersen:
Ordination gives authority. Righteousness gives power.
To increase spirituality in a stake, teach the principle of tithing. Tithing for members is like mission rules for full-time missionaries. If they are obedient, they will have the Spirit.

Elder Sitati (one of our Area Seventies):
It is Satan who says you are not worthy.

Elder Hallstrom:
Hearken doesn't just mean listen; it means listen and obey.
Diversity is a joy, but it is a greater joy to be as one.
The Lord puts in your circle of friends those who are seeking the truth.

An Area Seventy from West Africa:
We need to teach our children doctrine so they choose Church traditions.
We are the people of the Lord Jesus Christ and He will teach them correct traditions.

Exams started on Monday, and Hunter is studying like crazy. Morgan...isn't. And I'm going to have to repent of some of my less-than-complimentary comments about Westville teachers. Mrs. Parrott, their Afrikaans teacher, actually came to the house Tuesday night to tell them of the special arrangements she had made for their exams: they will be at the back of the classroom on their own, so they can use their notes. Pretty nice!

In reaction to studying and testing during the week, we had five friends go to Gateway with Morgan and sleep over on Friday. (Hunter spent the evening on the phone with girls.) Saturday morning a couple went home, and four of Hunter's friends came over. It wasn't all wild and crazy, though - there were as many asleep on couches all over the house as there were playing basketball or video games. The exams end on Wednesday, and so far the boys have felt like they were pretty easy (famous last words). Could that possibly be because they actually studied this time???


ps PicknPay has added some new muffins to it's offerings: alongside chocolate chip, blueberry and iced cappuccino we now have cheese, and spinach & feta(?)

pps I've been in a lot of queues since I arrived in South Africa, but Elder and Sister Johnson have learned how to do it in comfort! They went down to the municipality to get the power turned on in a new boarding (and we won't go into how many forms and IDs and signatures that requires) and found themselves in a room full of chairs. Everyone "sat" in the queue, and moved over a chair as people were served.

ppps Hitting the trailer hitch on a bakkie does a lot more damage to the front number plate than hitting a chicken - and that's all I'll be saying on the subject.

I must admit, I would have sat there hoping for music and chairs being removed... way more fun!

(They left us! They left us!) Elder and Sister Bartholomew head for home (but not in this car)

Around the Mission Home

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Look what we have in OUR mission!

Seen on the road...

I forgot our other set of missionary brothers when I posted the Elders Babeeyo & Sichinga: Elders ladysmithWilson & swaziWilson being hailed (on!)

2009 10 25 - Mission Presidents Seminar in Johannesburg

Dear Family & Friends:
We've just spent 4 days outside our mission - don't tell the President!

We have a pretty intense training seminar in Johannesburg each October, with visitors from Salt Lake. This year we had Elder Neil L. Andersen, Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, and Bishop Keith B. McMullin. In addition, the four Area Seventies were there, the Area Presidency, including Elder Dale G. Renlund, our new counselor. Add all the mission presidents and their wives, and it was pretty high powered! I really like meeting and learning from the priesthood leaders, but my favorite part is renewing and making new friendships with "the wives". With the couplesisters in our mission, and the wives of the mission presidents and area presidency, I am surrounded by wonderfulness!

I'll share a few of the good comments - they are all really close to the originals, but could be slightly off as I was writing as quickly as I could.

Elder Andersen: "When you move away from your conscience, move to your knees, and the spirit of repentance will help you back to the right road." He continued with a scripture chain that traveled through dull conscience to refined conscience, and where each of those can lead us. We were filling in some blanks in Alma 29:5, such as good or _____, life or _____, joy or____? It's "remorse of conscience". Thought-provoking. My other favorite scripture was 1 Timothy 4:2 where it talks about having your "conscience seared with a hot iron". Been there, done that.

Elder Hallstrom: "True unity is not horizontal - it must include God."

Bishop McMullin: "The keys to success in life are undivided belief in God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the power of prayer."

President Cannon, Johannesburg MTC, in speaking of a missionary's purpose: "...helping them receive the gospel" is different than just teaching the gospel."

President Christensen compared spiritual growth to looking through a microscope. Each new spiritual experience is like turning the lens to a higher magnification as testimony is refined and vision becomes clearer.

I didn't take notes on the testimonies shared by the mission presidents' wives, as I was too involved in their stories. One of the real benefits of this seminar is spending time with sisters who are all in very similar situations. The missions vary a lot, but most of the issues and concerns are the same, and we learn from each other. I have heard that it's very hard for returning senior missionaries (and I include mission presidents & wives) to find people to talk to who can relate to their experiences. Very lonely! Of course, our friends will all relate really well after they serve their own missions... I guess in the meantime we'll just have to have a lot of missionary reunions.

There was a big emphasis on teaching the elders honesty - I don't know where that is coming from, as we feel our elders do well in that area. Elder Andersen (whom we all sustained as a prophet a few weeks ago) also re-emphasized that missionaries should only use their missionary email address, at myldsmail.net, and email only their familes, as instructed in the white handbook. Apparently this is a tougher issue than in the past, as our elders have all grown up very high tech, using text messaging, Facebook, online chatting, and twitter, among other things, to communicate.

He talked about the way missionaries voluntarily cut themselves off from the world: dating, working, movies, etc. "They're not inherently bad, they're just not what we're doing." He suggested that focusing on just emailing family, and not everyone else, is a form of self discipline that will help the missionaries prepare for more difficult tasks: such as focusing on their future wives only, and eliminating everyone else from their field of vision.

Some of the missionaries have been using their home email addresses, because they found myldsmail too slow, and it was cutting them off before they were finished. Apparently myldsmail is designed to cut off after 30 minutes, and that's not enough time to download photos. Our elders have been telling me the ways they have learned to cope with the situation:

1. Their moms forward their emails to all the zillions of relatives and friends who are anxious to hear about the elder's missionary experiences.

2. Elders have 2 memory cards for their cameras so they can fill one, and send it home for downloading onto the home computer, while they use the 2nd one. The family sends the emptied memory card back, and he just keeps switching from one to the other.

3. Moms print out the mission blogspot and mail it to their sons - which means the elders get LETTERS!

4. Elders write letters (imagine!) and mail them to friends at home or on missions. And the friends write back! (More letters!)

These are just a few of the ways missionaries keep in touch with everyone, while receiving the blessings of obedience (and letters!). Please help them keep it up - it's definitely a great way to support their efforts. And at our end, we will remind and remind elders that they need to email home every Monday! and to call the mission office if for some reason they can't, so we can send an email to their families that all is well.

And for all of you supportive, obedient, friends and families, our mailing address is South Africa Durban Mission, P.O. Box 1741, Wandsbeck 3631, South Africa.

Neli's baptism went very well on Sunday, while we were gone. The Assistants drove the boys and some of their notyetmember friends to Kloof, where they attended Church and the baptism. Apparently there is a very good Young Men's leader there who taught both Sunday School and priesthood, so that was a good experience. Hunter was a witness for the baptiesm, and gave a talk, and Elder Crowther said Neli bore a very strong testimony. She will need it, as she is the only member in her family, and her parents didn't even come to the baptism. I hope the ward will stay involved fellowshipping her.

Exams start next week, and there is a lot of panic in the air. Suddenly boys are studying! I'm helping where I can, with quizzing and whatever I remember from high school math and science. Always willing to do service, the Assistants/office elders kindly agreed, on their preparation day (Saturday) to run a maths class in the mission office. I provided food, and they tutored Hunter, Morgan, and some of their friends. Another side benefit of a mission call that I hadn't anticipated! Why didn't I think of this terms ago??

Steve is doing a series of one hour mini zone conferences, to share with the elders what he learned at the seminar. Nothing is as good at secondhand, but in the zone setting the training can be applied to our specific circumstances, so it will be very valuable. If nothing else, the Durban missionaries go home very familiar with training sessions, and the question: "How do we use this to help our investigators?"

Our indispensable house & office cleaner Gertrude brought a PEF form in for her daughter Kanye on Thursday, and I noticed it had Gertrude's Zulu name on it. I asked her which name she would prefer we use, and she immediately responded, the Zulu name. So now we are all practicing saying "Ntombenhle".

We gave Kanye a ride home at 9:30pm on Thursday and Friday nights from a career workshop held at the Pinetown chapel, as taxis don't run that late. She lives in a township called Chesterfield, on the other side of the Pavilion Mall. I had seen it from the mall, which is on a hill (of course it's on a hill: this is Durban!) and it looked OK from there. Maybe I was looking at the more well-to-do area, because "Ntombenhle's" neighborhood is definitely not. The office elders reminded me that the missionaries spend all their time working in areas like that, full of shacks and government housing, but I don't see it much. The most surprising thing was the number of people (almost all men) on the streets at 10 o'clock. The elders informed me that almost everyone out that late is looking for trouble. Oh good. Fortunately I had three tough bodyguards in the Kia - we were on the way home from Youth. (And yes, we do have the van back - it needed the equivalent of a new motherboard.)

Just one more comment on Ntombenhle's humble home. It is often full to overflowing because of her generosity to others in need - even non-relatives. How many big, fancy houses can make the same claim?

By the way, exciting news: I am a great-aunt once again, as Heather Brooks Torres presented the world with Jack Torres on Grandpa Mann's birthday, October 21st. Grandpa Great offered his kids $1000 if any of the grandchildren were ever born on his birthday - I don't know if that still holds for great-grandchildren! Congratulations to Heather & Jason!


ps I had a very downhomeandpersonalandprobablysilly simile for Centers of Strength and the importance of gathering on Saturday. Unbknownst to me, one of the boys turned down the temperature in the refrigerator. I opened a carton of 18 eggs to make breakfast for our Friday-night-sleepover crowd, and took one from the outside row. I cracked it on the side of the bowl - only it didn't crack. It was frozen solid. 2nd egg on the outside row? Also frozen.Third egg? The same. Turned out that the six eggs on the extreme ends of the carton were all frozen solid. The eggs that were "gathered" together in the center of the carton were all just fine. (OK, so I'm not in the parable class yet, but it's fun to liken things to ourselves!)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The new traveling zone leaders, Elder Potter & Elder Wright

Elder Harmsworth, comes to us via the England MTC - first time THAT'S happened!

Milwane Game Reserve, Swaziland (more scenic views than there were animals)

The Mpumalanga U14 soccer team - as coached by Elders Katende, Kitili, & Selman (Elder Sichinga must be taking the picture)

2009 10 17 - "And it was a Family!"

Dear Everyone:
What a great week! We just finished our three zone conferences, and they were "power".I'm sorry every mission doesn't have the outstanding missionaries we have...
We started in Richards Bay, with Richards Bay and Swaziland Zones. The general outline was mission business, including a review (by me) on how to fill out Baptism and Confirmation Records. The elders are getting so excited about all the miracles going on they're letting the administrative details slip. And if Sister Johnson doesn't submit it to Church Headquarters - that person isn't a member of the Church!
Next Steve went over what's happening in the mission in the areas of retention, finding, conversion and preparation, He compared stats from January to stats from last week, and the difference was huge. Things are moving, and as an elder quoted Steve as saying : If you are not ready to roll the stone with us, you'd better get out of the way!"
Steve was followed by thoughtful, mature talks by elders, on Using the Temple Planner, Using the PEC Action List, Finding Focus with the Strategy Planner, Being Bold in the Conversion Process, Being Obedient with Exactness, How Thorough Preparation Enhances Teaching and Commitments, and Bringing the Spirit into our Lessons. The fact that every one of those talk titles is meaningful to every elder in the mission tells you something about how focused they are. Different elders spoke on these topics in each zone conference, and used personal experiences with their investigators, and I wish you could have heard them all. You parents would have been so proud!
Following the talks we had a testimony meeting - with a 2-minute time limit on the testimonies. The missionaries were asked to tell about one of the miracles they've seen. (As a reminder, the mission formula is Faith + Hard Work + Obedience with Exactness = Miracles. And yes, it works.) I can't tell you all of them, but here are a few miracles and comments that really struck me:
"Preparation gets us ready for our day of Pentecost when the Holy Ghost comes to help us."
"I didn't just let him know about the gospel - I testified and witnessed by the Spirit."
"And then the Zionist pastor we were speaking with asked us to come teach his congregation..."
"And we started talking to this baba, and he said 'I think you guys are men of God, so will you come in my house? It is not good to stand outside with men of God'."
"If you aren't obedient, you might miss somebody, and that would be a tragedy."
"I came on mission for my folks, but now I know the Book of Mormon and the Church are true, and I'm here to teach people the truth."
"So we went in to teach this contact, and he called three other family members in to listen, too."
"We'd been tracting unsuccessfully for 5 hours, but kept persisting, and all of a sudden a young man called out to us and wanted to be taught...he is progressing very rapidly."
"I spoke to the elders in my old area, and learned that the family I baptized is now sealed in the temple."
"We were having a rubbish day, and feeling very discouraged, and and then we found her. The gospel has totally changed her life - and we got to help."
"I've only been out six days, but I've seen miracles. It's the first time I've ever taught by the Spirit."
"We did a call back and no one was home. We were really disappointed, then the lady across the street called us over, asked us to teach her, and after three lessons she has a baptism date."
"I don't speak Zulu very well, but we were talking to a man who had had a dream about learning the truth, and I was explaining things to him...in Zulu. Afterwards I said to my companion, "I was speaking Zulu!"
"And then he asked, 'Is it OK for us to have this Book of Mormon?'"
"And the second time we came to teach, the baba said, 'I've had a vision: you are teaching us the truth. When can we be baptized?''
"Then they asked us, 'Do you allow visitors at your Church?'"
"I had a chance to visit my old area, and found one of the families I baptized are going to the temple next month, and another man is now on the high council."
"It's wonderful to be serving a short-term mission, and come to zone conference, and see Elder Katende. I first met him when he knocked on our door - and he baptized me."
And my favorite of all:
"We knocked on one more door...
"We felt impressed to go to this house...
"A member took us to see a referral...
"We talked to a baba on the street and he invited us to come over..
We haven't done a breakdown of the baptisms over the last few years, but I can guarantee that the elders are finding more and more families (some with 13 children in their home!) who are ready to hear the gospel. You can imagine how that strengthens the wards and branches. In their planning sessions, elders look at their branches and see what's needed, and set goals to find a future Young Men's president, or Primary president, or branch clerk. And they do!
Well, if the comments of these elders (and these are only a few out of 105) don't touch you, you need to go out with your local missionaries and catch the vision of this work they are doing. I'm here, and I can't even believe how wonderful they are!
After the amazing testimonies we listened to the talk Elder Holland gave to the missionaries and mission presidents at the Provo MTC in June of this year. It is called "The Divine Companionship", and among other things teaches the missionaries to include the Holy Ghost as the third member of their companionship. "You can't go forward in this work without the 'ultimate teacher'." This is what the brethren expect from missionaries today:
"If we will listen with spiritual ears, just the way we must see with spiritual eyes, the investigators will tell us what lessons they need to hear. (Learn) to choose the particular doctrine (to be) taught, the amount of it that is taught, the pace of the discussion, the order of the concepts, the kind of examples that are needed by this particular family. Every lesson (should) be tailor made - and none of them are going to be memorized."
This is NOT your father's missionary work! Or even mine!
So, please keep supporting these wonderful missionaries. Write them emails every week, and sometimes send them letters, or goofy little packages - even just candy in a padded envelope - they love getting "real" mail, even though they hear from you by email. Send little things they can give to children in their branch or area: trust me, the children here will be thrilled with stickers or pencils or anything.
Mom/Grandma/Sue/Susan/SisterPresidentMann/Chairman of the South Africa Durban Missionary Fan Club
ps At zone conference we always stand and recite "Our Purpose" from Preach My Gospel, D&C Section 4, and 3 Nephi 5:13. Maybe you could read them this week and think about what you can do to build the kingdom...
pps Did I mention we still don't have any couples coming to replace those who are leaving?
ppps Are you tired of my subtle hints yet?
pppps Could someone define subtle?

New Power Elders: Farnsworth/Babeeyo/Sichinga/Jensen/Kekana/Barker/Martin/Keeble/Adams/Howard/Selman/Mbongwe/Shaw

Elder Kapande, straight from the Johannesburg Mission via one six-week cycle in Mozambique. Their loss is DEFINITELY our gain!

Sad farewells to a terrific office/branch missionary couple, a talented handyman, a loving heart, and good friends all around

Sunday, October 4, 2009

We're almost ready to field a mission rugby team: Elders Reeder, Mbongwe & Selman, with Sthe, Morgan & Langa

Elder Ang'ila giving Elder Crowther, the new assistant, last minute tips before he heads out as zone leader in Umlazi with Elder Nare

2009 10 11 - The Curious Case of the Kia Sedona that Did Not Start in the Night (or the day, for that matter!)

Dear Family & Friends:

Please pause for 60 seconds on Tuesday to mentally wish our daughter Torry a Happy Birthday. It will be the first of her 29ths.

The mission home minivan has been in the hands of Kia "experts" for a week now, and remains a mystery to all. Last week we were almost strandced at Gateway Mall, when it failed to start. It sounded like a nearly dead battery (but wasn't) and eventually started and got us home. We were able to use it for 2 more trips, each time after several attempts to start it, and then it died entirely - in the driveway, fortunately for us. Elder Johnson had it towed to Kia in Pinetown on Tuesday, while Steve and I borrowed a car from the office elders for our beachside holiday. (They shared the Box with the Assistants.)

When we returned, we were surprised to find it still missing. By Friday we had discovered that the mechanics couldn't figure out what was wrong, so they had mostly just left it sitting all week (!) After a few heated phonecalls, the dealership had the minivan towed to the Kia service department in Umhlanga, and two experts from Johannesburg flew down to work on it.

The second week passed, and by Thursday they had found it was something in the electronics control system. Next step: order parts this Monday, and when the arrive, they'll fix it. Meanwhile, Friday afternoon Elder Johnson called the Avis headquarters to find out about renting a car for us, and was told there were plenty available at the airport. He and Sister Johnson dropped me there, along with Danga and Hunter, on their way home to Amanzimtoti. I waited my turn in the queue, waltzed up to the counter and asked confidently for a TIIDA automatic. "We only have G-class cars available - the government just booked 50 of our cars." (Turns out President Jacob Zuma is coming to town.) So I booked a VW Polo. It works just fine, but we couldn't quite fit three big guys in the backseat, so we had to take two cars to Church.

And just as a heads up: if you ever rent a Polo, don't bother spending 10 minutes looking over the dashboard and through the owner's manual to figure out how to open the gas cap: just explain your dilemma to the petrol station attendant, and he'll smile, say "That's easy," and just pull it open. I didn't know anything worked manually anymore!

We've had a lot of people through the mission home/office this week. With Elder Sessions and Elder Bartholomew going home this month, Elder Johnson and Elder Pier will now be in the mission presidency, so everyone came to the presidency meeting Tuesday, bringing their lovely companions with them. That made our presidency/farewell dinner out pretty big: Butcher Boys gave us the round table for 8 and a long table for 10, and we had a wonderful time. We shnaked Spencer and Lori Sessions for our table and heard lots of good stories about his folks. The Sessions had picked Spencer up from his mission in Australia, so when they came here, he decided it was his turn to pick them up from their mission. It's always fun to add a family dimension to our missionaries.

Wednesday saw 14 new missionaries arriving - we had to overflow into a B&B for four of them. We could have had more of them sleep on the floor in the mission office (we do provide mattresses, worried moms) but two showers among 14 elders is a bit tight. The missionaries were divided into two groups for orientation, which meant one group in the office conference room, and one group in the mission home. And Steve was kept very busy interviewing them all!

We had an unusual experience at the airport: when we arrived, there was a huge crowd around the arrival door. Many were holding professionally printed signs with slogans like: UR 2MORO IS NOW, and INSPIRE B4U XPIRE. The group was very enthusiastic, and included some youth dressed up for dancing and singing - beads, decorated skirts (and tops, thanks goodness!), drums... I asked one of the women who they were waiting for, and she responded "Our pastor". OK, that was interesting - he must be very popular with his congregation.

Someone spotted him through the automatic doors, and let out a shout. Then some of the young men slipped in to help with his luggage. Finally, just before our missionaries came out, the crowd started cheering and yelling and singing and here came the "pastor" - Reverend Jim. He was dressed in a black jacket with bright gold designs all over it, and wore sunglasses. We saw all this as he paused for photos, while his congregation was exuberantly welcoming him. He was followed by two tall men who looked an awful lot like bodyguards, to me. There were also some young women in matching outfits who - his backup group? Honestly, it was like watching a rock star arrive. And it was very interesting, to watch him come out, followed almost immediately by our new missionaries. It was quite a contrast - a little like the great and spacious building and the iron rod?

After our very large welcome dinner Wednesday night we had our usual testimony meeting. The new missionaries are all very prepared and impressive - new power elders! Elder Jensen made a great comment - I especially noticed it because in family scripture reading we're reading about Alma's missionary travels, and it made me think of the Zoramites being forced to be humble. Anyway, to make a long story short, he was talking about being impressed by the African elders, and how they talk about being "on mission" instead of "my mission". He felt their expression sounded more like being on the Lord's errand, instead of his own. His comment was "I hope I can learn that quickly, before the Lord pounds it into me!" Well said!

Thursday at transfer meeting we sent the 14 new missionaries out, and brought 8 departing missionaries in. We had several parents who came to pick up their sons - Elder Bertagnolli's dad was secretly wearing his own "Elder Bertagnolli" name tag on his shirt pocket, inside his suitcoat. I loved it. Several of the couples brought 1 suitcase each for themselves, and a duffel bag for us - filled with white shirts, socks, ties, & slacks. The back boarding looks like the ZCMI men's department, and we are already handing out clothing (with love from their fellow Saints)
to our elders, and young men who are preparing for missions. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!

Saturday was another crazy day, with all of us going in different directions. I drove up to Richards Bay (north on the coast) to speak at their district Relief Society Conference. They were nice to ask me, as the other two sister who spoke were wonderful and could have been the whole program. I always have mixed feelings when I go to a district or stake event. On the one hand, it's wonderful for all those who attend. On the other hand, I know there are 2 or 3 or 4 times more members who would love to be there, but can't, mostly because of transport, and I feel bad for them. And most of those meet in libraries and schools that they rent on Sundays, and wouldn't be able to watch the meeting even if every unit had a communication link of some kind. Hmm, maybe we could put a cellphone on speakerphone and set it by the microphone and people could listen at someone's home... Have to be creative in the pioneer Church - If King Benjamin could get the word out to all of his people without a satellite dish, I guess we can.

Steve headed the other way, south coast to Amanzimtoti to watch Morgan play rugby. Fortunately, it's been rainy, so Hunter's outdoor court basketball game was cancelled. This is fortunate because it was to be in Pietermaritzburg, inland north and west. You can only be in so many places at once!

Transportation issues aside, the missionary work is going GREAT! There were 15 baptisms today, just in Dundee - which is not even a branch yet. And it was families! Queensborough is teaching 4 families, and you have to know Queensborough to recognize what a miracle that is.
Plus we have a wonderful situation that is repeating itself all over the mission, kind of a twist on member referrals. A companionship will start teaching a family, and soon the baba will say "My neighbors need to hear this - you need to teach them" and pretty soon they are! Elder Ballard doesn't like the term "nonmember", so we'll call this notyetbaptizedmember missionary work.

We will be having zone conferences this week, so I'll be looking for more miracle stories to share. In the meantime, keep those emails coming to the missionaries - especially those who are emailing our African elders -who absolutely love it, and thank me all the time. We'll need new adopters starting with our Feburary 10 transfer, so please spread the word. And start thinking of Christmas packages: I'd suggest mailing them by November 1st, just to be on the safe side.


ps I have another new expression. I learned it from the manager of the Junior Rugby Association. He was introducing a well-known rugby player, and said "He has the accolades, and the silverware's in the cupboard." I believe that last refers to his trophies and medals. Feel free to use it when appropriate!

pps For those in my extended family who will relate: I made Mom's noodles and meat with the Campbell's Tomato Soup we found in Ballito, and it tasted just like home! (One of the constant challenges here is opening a can of soup, or tomato puree, or just about anything, expecting it to taste familiar, and finding it quite different, as it's seasoned to the local taste.)

ppps Sign painted on the back window of a combi: "If it's too loud, you're too old."

When it's not raining or overcast, we get some pretty nice sunsets!