Things are always changing in the Church with revelation, and we are the latest proof. A lot of missions have been undergoing changes: divisions, consolidations, reduction or expansion of missionary complements, etc. The Missionary Committee recently asked our Area Presidency for recommendations for changes in the South Africa missions, and last week the First Presidency approved a boundary change which moves part of the Johannesburg Mission into the Durban Mission. President Poulsen has around 200 missionaries and a large geographic area, so this will ease his burden somewhat as 28 of his missionaries are added to our 110. Of course, he is extremely reluctant to give up a single one - mission presidents are very possessive of their missionaries - but everyone feels very good about the changes.
The new area generally consists of the southern part of Free State Province, north to Welkom, and the country of Lesotho. They make up the Bloemfontein District, with six and four branches respectively. Each area is a mission zone. This will add two more district conferences each year to our current four stake conferences and six district conferences, which takes care of all the weekends in one quarter of the year. We'll also have two more zone conferences, 28 more interviews each cycle, and a few more kilometers every loop. Oh, and one more country stamp on my passport, but who's counting (besides me...)?
On Thursday there will be a mini zone conference in Bloemfontein with both mission presidents to clarify things for the missionaries there. I'm guessing they'll have mixed feelings about it all - and some of them will end up having 3 mission presidents during their mission, President Poulsen, President Mann, and whoever comes to Durban Mission in July. More details as they develop...
We had some very odd car incidents this last week. I'm used to hearing about scrapes, and hitting poles, and backing into things ("Elder, where was your backer?") and actual collisions. But Saturday we had one car hit by what appeared to be a watermelon rolling or thrown down the hill (big dent in the fender) and one car hit...a hyena. It wasn't even in a game park. And then there was Elder & Sister Pier's car in Richards Bay: they took it in for brake repair. When the young man tested the brakes, he failed to pump them to get hydraulic fluid running (or something mechanical like that: ask Elder Pier). In any case, when he went to stop, the brakes didn't work, he panicked, and crashed into the wall. Now the car is at a panelbeaters.
Satan may be running out of ideas to slow down the work, but this is ridiculous!
Saturday was Hunter's 17th birthday. It was also Morgan's 17th birthday. I list them separately because they really hate sharing anything. Morgan celebrated by throwing a party Friday night. We learned a very good lesson about being specific: at our request, he made a guest list, and even had friends watch the gate and make sure everyone who came had been invited. There were around 40 boys on the list. The instructions were very specific: "Don't let them in if they're drunk." "Only let in people on the list unless approved by Jeffrey Morgan Mann or Steven Hunter Mann." "If they have a cigarette in their mouth then they must put it out before they enter the premises." "Girls are free." This last meant that any girls who showed up were to be allowed in. THAT was our mistake.
The 40 or so boys showed up, then some of Hunter's friends, and half of the first team (rugby)- and a lot of girls. Morgan admitted (claimed!) that 124 people wandered through: it was hard to tell. But I have to say, it was a great party. There was an LDS DJ running the music, so I never heard anything I had to run in and turn off. And the girls (especially the Zulu girls) made it rock! They were dancing in the family room all night - and singing/chanting/shouting along with the music. I asked them to play one last song at 10:3o, then turn it off - only I forgot how long house music songs can be (think the long version of "Light My Fire") so I had to finally cut them off. The lights came on and Morgan's "bouncers" walked around saying "Club Morgan is now closed - everybody out!"
Then the most amazing thing of all: several of the kids cleaned up! And I don't just mean picked up the trash; they also washed the floor, put the furniture back where it belonged, and generally made everything look great. Those kids can come anytime - they are now on my permanent party list.
Last Sunday Steve went to Ngwelezane (Richards Bay District) for sacrament meeting, and there were 60 people there, as opposed to the 18 last time he was there. And Elder Johnson was a few minutes late for priesthood meeting in Umlazi W, and there weren't any seats left. And in Umlazi BB they're going to have to move the growing investigator class to the chapel - there just isn't enough room where they meet right now. Isn't all this wonderful! I'm sure there are similar "problems" in most of the units. At least I hope so!
And now, for the trivia buffs among us: I was working with the missionary pictures the other day and was distracted by the names - especially the given names, which I rarely see. I found we have had:A John, a Johns, a Johnson, and a John Johnson.
2 coupleelder Larrys, 2 couplesister Sues, 2 couplesister Karens, 3 coupleelder Daves; a David Aaron, a David Shawn, 2 Kyle Davids, a Mark David, a Peter David, a Jesse David, a Michael David, a Daniel David;
a Daniel Larson, a Daniel Glenn, a Daniel Leland, a Daniel Christopher and a Christopher Daniel; a Christopher James, a Christopher Janek, a Christopher Ryan, a Christopher Glen.
A Genesis, a Michael, an Adam, an Abel, a Seth, an Abram, an Isaac, a Jacob, a Gideon, a Moses, an Aaron, a Miriam, a Joshua, an Eli, a Shadrack, a Jesse, a Benjamin, a Manasseh, a David, a Jonathan, a Daniel, a Jeremiah, a Samuel.
A Gabriel, a Mary, a Joseph, an Emmanuel, an Elizabeth, a Matthew, a Luke, a Simon, a Peter, an Andrew, a James, a John, a Thomas, a Philip, a Nathaniel, a Bartholomew, a Jude, a Steven, a Paul, a Mathias, a Cornelius.
An Mahonri, an Ether, an Ammon, a Helaman, a Jared...2 Christians, a Bishop, a Sabbath and a Zion.
Not to mention an Andriamampiovarivo, a Pomaika'iokalani, a Nambinintsoa, a Sololfonantenrina and a Romeo.
This is why we simply call them all "Elder".
ps "Are you being seen to" = "Have you been helped?"
pps A Trolley Porter is the person who brings the grocery carts in from the
ppps A bursary is financial aid awarded to a student to help them pay school