The best part of this week was skyping/talking with family for Thanksgiving. (Missionary moms, don't be too jealous: Christmas phone calls are right around the corner!) It's interesting as all our kids get married to join the "holiday shuffle". Who gets them for Thanksgiving? Who gets them for Christmas? Can we work it out so everyone comes home the same holiday, or is he marrying into a family that already has their schedule established? Either our generation stayed home more, or my Mom just never explained this part of being parents-in-law. So this year, in our absence, Hayley and Parker went to Marilyn's in Parma, Logan and Sara went to her grandma's, and Torry and Chris are already with his mom. Steve wasn't actually even here for Thanksgiving dinner - he flew out that afternoon for Johannesburg and meetings with the Area Presidency and the Coastal Coordinating Council. (I saved him a turkey casserole - he likes the leftovers best, anyway.)
The worst thing of this week was talking to Grandma Mann on the phone. Not because I don't like talking to Grandma, but because she was in the hospital after another fall, and couldn't be home with everyone for Thanksgiving. She was moved on Thanksgiving Day to a rehab care center - and is she grumpy about it! - so I hope things will be picking up soon. It's tough to be 90. At least she had lots of people around to visit her.
We had a lot of minor challenges in the general category of "medical" this week - including some "first time THAT ever happened!" incidents. Example: We've had to repair or replace three pairs of glasses this week; one pair was dropped, and when the elders drove back to find them, they drove over them...
An elder was worried that he had appendicitis, and it turned out to be flu. And if you're thinking "What a ridiculous thought - what's the likelihood of appendicitis?" - we HAD an elder with appendicitis a few years ago.
An elder got a sting or bite, and his hand swelled beautifully. The doctor gave him something to take down the swelling, and I'm assuming it was just a local reaction, and not a general allergy such as we saw when Elder Waterbohr was stung by a bee (gruesome).
Morgan apparently has a hernia, which is brought on mostly when he's doing "core" exercises at the gym. Unfortunately, Dr. John can't really sort it until he actually sees the "bulge", so on Friday I took Morgan in to the doctor's rooms, where he did situps and leglifts in hopes of getting a reaction from the hernia. Sadly, no bulge, but he did get a good workout! We're now supposed to grab him from the gym or home or school or wherever he is if the bulge appears, and haul him in to the Dr. for appraisal. This, of course, means Morgan will be in pain the whole time, because he can't massage it and push it back into place. Can't wait for this one - I'm sure it will happen during transfer week, just like everything else!
Three elders in Madadeni had to be checked out after falling through a roof (it's ok, the table and chairs took the brunt of it, so their fall wasn't too far). They were doing service, helping with emergency roof repairs, and they're fine - and delighted to have such a great story to tell!
Elder and Sister Knudsen sent this description of the the event: "A band of violent hail moved over the Mathukuza and Madadeni townships and dropped hail of the size between a hardball and a golf ball on the area. Many windshields were shattered in cars, and any car in the open was dented by the hail. (In Madadeni) we saw about 100 to 200 tiles broken on the Church which will leak on the next rainstorm...We then went to Mathukuza to see Lucky (who had called us) and we saw about 50 holes in the roof of his home...We are going back out to help others in need and helping to organize a larger work party from Newcastle and Madadeni Branches to help with the effort if we can get enough supplies to fill the holes and make the roofs tight."
So, this is some of the reality of missionary work in less-developed areas. The missionaries are strengthening roofs as well as lives! And in both situations, you never know what will happen. On the positive side, this is one time we can be happy that so few members have cars...
Hunter, who will take any opportunity he can find to miss school, stayed home on Friday, along with huge numbers of other students, because the Muslim students got it off for Eid al-Adha. This is a major Muslim holiday that commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac. Traditionally it is a day of prayer, and sheep are killed and the meat given away, especially to the poor. I wasn't in any predominately Muslim areas on Friday, but was told that you can see the activities as you drive around neighborhoods. I would probably deal with the sheep outside, too; kind of messy for the kitchen.
Steve's been kind of tired lately (I'm understanding better why mission presidents serve only 3 years) but the interviews he's doing this week have really perked him up. The elders are almost all working so hard, and being so obedient, and finding such good families to teach; they are amazing. You can all be very, very proud of them! In the office we're working to get everything put together for the all-mission zone conference on December 8th and 9th - the serious stuff will be during the day, and the talent show and goofy zone skits will be after dinner. My mission president used to advise us to work hard and play hard (at the appropriate times) and we'd be better missionaries. I think this zone conference will qualify for both.
Love to everybody!
ps The Johnsons were awakened the other night by a skype call - from their 5-year-old granddaughter Malila, who was "playing on the 'puter" while her parents were busy. This is the same little girl who at age 3 "played" on her father's computer and turned all the desk icons upside down and backwards. With the younger generation getting techno-savvy so young, we're now turning off our computers at night. Calls from family are very welcome - but not at 1 or 3 or 5am!