Many congratulations to (former elder) Peter Hodson and his wife Evelyn Tandurum . We wish them all the best, and would love a picture!
Sunday was Durban Stake Conference at City Hall; Elder Usi, our Area Authority Seventy from Kenya, was the visitor. The theme was Exodus 19:5-6, and there was a lot of emphasis on keeping covenants, and going to the temple. It's funny, I don't remember repeated admonitions to attend the temple while living on the Wasatch Front, although I may not have been paying enough attention. It would be interesting to see the percentages of people attending the temple who have one right in town, versus those who have to travel long distances. I have friends who go once a week - but a lot of us were doing well to go once a month. We've been advised by our leaders that the continued commitment and activity of new members is in direct relation to how quickly they get to the temple.
Elder Usi talked about letting the Savior into our hearts, and the marks that would leave:
1. The mark of faith
2. The mark of love
3. The mark of understanding
4. The mark of resolution
5. The mark of obedience
6. The mark of sincerity.
7. The mark of prayer
8. The mark of service
9. The mark of virtue
"These are attributes the Savior will bring to our hearts, to uplift our lives."
We had a 16-year-old youth speaker, Sister Khumalo, who gave as good a talk as any adult I've heard, and a young man just returned from his mission to Ghana: powerful. These former missionaries step into all kinds of leadership roles almost immediately. That's why you hear about branch presidents who've only been in the Church for a few years - with the Church growing so quickly, leaders don't have time to hang around being schooled. They learn by doing, even more than watching
Langa Mahaye came with us, so he had a chance to meet the Durban elders, Bishop Scott, and a few of the young men from Berea Ward. Apparently they have Youth on Friday nights, so that may be our next fellowshipping activity. Hunter is usually up for meeting new Young Women...
We had a very unexpected incident this week. Four of the elders took advantage of an opportunity, and stayed up all night playing Dungeons and Dragons "because it would be fun".This may seem "naughty" (as they say at the high school here - go figure), or "boys will be boys" or a chuckle, but we were astounded!
The focus in the mission the last few months has been "perfect weeks", obedience, living worthy of the Spirit... Elders have been reporting miracles happening in the work, and there's been a great feeling throughout the mission. Then this? It's not just staying up past 10:30, it's the ripple effect on getting up at 6:30, having a full hour of individual study and another full hour of companion study and planning, plus the example for the newer missionaries involved. I guess this is the time to quote Elder LeGrand Richards: "If the Lord had wanted 40-year-old heads on 19-year-old bodies, He would have given them to us!"
Every mission president adds his own three years to the Durban Mission History; it's a booklet missionaries take home when the finish their missions. I've been working on it, and found a great story. It's about Alan & Pauline Hogben, members of the Sandton Ward in the 1970s, when Durban Mission was still part of the South Africa Mission.
The Hogbens were baptized in 1970, and soon started planning to be sealed in the London Temple. It was a huge financial challenge, but they were determined, and to firm up their commitment, then went in for temple recommends. The mission president asked when they were planning to go, and they said in about 2-1/2 years. This was in April of 1972. They were sealed five months later, in September 1972.
They had been told that "the only thing the Lord required of us was to make a commitment, and He would open the doors." They established a stringent budget, and kept household expenses to a bare minimum. Interesting things started to happen, for instance, for months they found a food parcel in their car after church. Years later we learned it was from a sister who knew she could never afford to attend the temple, but by helping us she felt she could participate vicariously in our temple experience."
One evening after sacrament meeting a member gave them R200 - a substantial sum of money in those days. When they asked him why, he said that a man had given his family a gallon of petrol once when they had run out of gas. They had tried to pay him, but he said, "o, just give someone else a gallon when they need it." The brother was just giving his "gallon of petrol" to someone who needed it. At last count, that R200 had contributed to at least four more couple going to the temple. "When we returned from the temple, we gave that R00 to another couple, and they gave it to still another. To this day, we don't know how far that R200 went."
On Tuesday Steve had a meeting with Elder Hill, one of our Area Seventies, and we went to dinner afterwards with Elder and Sister Hill - at Butcher Boys, dear couples: we missed you! It was fun listening to Steve and Elder Hill reminiscing about, of all things, their respective military "careers". Steve was in Army Reserves during graduate school, and spent a lot of it in a hotel on a beach near Carmel, working on race relations. Elder Hill was in the Air Force for a year. Most of the men never got to leave the base during the 12-week basic training.
Early on, they organized Sundays by dividing the men into religions. "Catholics, over here. Dutch Reformed, over here. Baptists, over here..." At the end of the division, there were about a dozen men still standing, unassigned. Elder Hill and two other "Saints" were adamant that they were not even close to Catholic, Baptist, or any other denomination, but they wanted to attend Church on Sundays. As a result, the three were given passes to leave the base on Sunday mornings for Church. Elder Hill explained that there were meetings both in the morning and the afternoon (this was pre-block days) so the morning pass was extended to an all-day pass. By the time they organized dinner appointments with the members, Sundays were rather nice! Then Elder Hill explained to the sergeant that their church also met on Tuesdays - and they got ANOTHER pass to attend M-Men and Gleaners (this was also pre-YSA days).
The Air Force also divided the men to play sports. At that time, the Church youth were playing a lot of volleyball, and one of the LDS men was very good. He coached the others, and they were all picked for a team that went to tournaments on Saturdays, so that was another day out. Just goes to show being active in the Church brings unexpected blessings!
(And speaking of blessings, are you mailing your Christmas packages? One word of advise: PLEASE, UNDERESTIMATE the value of your parcel. Write as little description as possible. It's very tough on an elder if Customs decides to pay close attention and charge a lot of Customs fees. And if you want the office elders to hide it until close to Christmas, let us know.)
Friday we took the boys and 4 of their friends to a braii with the Berea Ward Young Men, at Bishop Scott's house in Umbilo (one of the many suburbs in Durban). It was actually pretty simple to get there - we basically traveled 2 roads. However, you had to pay attention; St. James Avenue turned into Spine Road which turned into Booth, which turned into Francois. Then we turned onto Nicholson, which turned into Selborne, and dead ended into our destination street.
Then Saturday it was finally hot, and crowds of high schoolers (including ours) descended on the beach at Suncoast Casino. Ironically, it's the nicest beach in Durban; you pay R5 to get in, and there's a nice expanse of grass to sit on, as well. The casino has a lot of eateries inside the beach end of the building, too.
I'm going to post this today, as tomorrow I will be a little busy. At this exact moment, my sisters Margaret and Nancy, as well as my good friend Beus are flying to Durban! We're going to play tourist for a few days, while Steve becomes President Mom. I'm quite looking forward to it - although I'm sorry to say that early morning seminary ended last week. Rats.
ps I saw a truck today, and part of the logo said "Abrasive Specialists." I think Morgan and Hunter have been doing an internship with them...
pps Another truck was "Aryan Transport". Think that would fly in the States?
ppps Vocabulary 202: We don't "rent" things here, we "hire" them. It's not a "one-time" deal, it's a "once-off". And cowboys aren't "bowlegged", they're "bandy legged".