Sunday, February 28, 2010

2010 03 07 - Couples Conference

Dear Everyone:

It's nice to be back. And, just for fun, next time you type something, use your left hand and the fourth finger of your right hand: it's interesting.

We had yet another terrific couples conference this week. We went back to the Pumula Beach Hotel, on the South Coast. Sister Knudsen's sister Billie is visiting, and she made a nice addition to our group. Hunter came, too, and was delighted to find that the wireless internet didn't work very well, so he couldn't do his online courses. Luckily, however, I had brought a book he had to read for history, so he still had the wonderful opportunity to do schoolwork. It's the first time I've ever seen him sit down and read a whole book.

The project this time was to put together a recruitment video that couples can use as they give firesides telling about their missions, and encourage other couples to go. First we had "Sharing Time", and showed the photos everyone had brought with them. We were all supposed to bring 10, and it was really fun to see them all. It was like showing pictures of the their other grandparents! There were pictures of boardings, being with the elders, teaching gospel lessons, English and keyboard, baptisms, temple trips, Helping Hands, etc. It made me want to see ALL the other pictures the couples have taken, but I don't think I'll live that long.

We also had reports on PEF, employment, and public relations; a talk on service; a testimony meeting; the Sunbeam Message of the Day and a State of the Mission report. But the bulk of the time was spent in discussing the things that couples fear about missions, and what they might want to know before coming on one. Then Steve and the Assistants filmed each of the couples talking about their own missionary experiences. The pictures and the interviews will now be combined into South Africa Durban Mission: The Movie... I mean, into an instructive and motivating message.

Actually, I think it's going to be really good, so if you really, really, really don't want to go on a mission - don't ever watch it.

Most everyone had a little time between filming and discussions to walk on the beach - or run: Elder Harmsworth came down with the Assistants, and was the undisputed champion at running on the beach. Hunter came with us and was delighted to find that the internet connection was poor, so he was able to read one of his required history books instead of doing math and earth science. I had never seen him sit down and read a whole book before!

We're hearing more good stories from all over the mission. The swaziWilsons report:

"Elders Nganda and Martin are working way too hard in Nhlangano. When we arrived to teach piano lessons today, they were teaching a young man there at the church with excitement and enthusiasm. We had to wait to visit them for about an hour while they taught. They also told us today that they're going to have a difficult time getting to Mbabane Sunday night at a decent time because they have 7 teaching appointments after church meetings. They shared all this information with giggles and beaming smiles, like they really were enjoying what they're doing. Imagine that!

"Elders Skinner and Mbongwe, even though they've been relegated to bikes through no fault of their own, were excited to try something new. But half-way through their day a tire blew (do I need to tattle on whose bike that was?). We drove up Tea Road to rescue them and found them walking their bikes down the hill to meet us. After loading the bikes in the back they refused a ride saying that their next appointment was in an hour and they wanted to walk to it because they could talk to lots of people on the way and maybe find even more people to teach. The sweat waws dripping off their glowing, happy faces. Later that evening we called to see if we could pick them up and get them safely home, but again they refused saying they were teaching close to the boarding and could get themselves back OK. Our elders (all 12) are turning Swaziland into a Magical Kingdom."

Elder Hamilton and Elder SSerunkuma have opened up a new city in Lesotho, called Laribe. This is the Queen of Lesotho's family home. Elder and Sister Van Blankenstein have already gotten acquainted with the King and Queen - an d learned about the manty layers of protocol that must be dealt with properly and
in the correce order, to be granted an audience with royalty. The elders reported that when they started tracting, they were invited into every home, and set up multiple teaching appointments - with families. The local college has given them a room (free of charge!) to meet in for Sunday meetings. They were expecting a much larger turnout for their first meeting than they actually had, but later a number of their investigators apologized for missing church. Most of them were at funerals. Lesotho has the third highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world, and it's taking its toll on the people. All the more reason to preach the gospel there - protection, and hope.

Elder Smith and Elder Kwendo, in Umlazi W, were bunked this week and had an hour unexpectedly free. They thought about it, and decided they needed to find someone else to teach. A man was walking down the street near them, and they both said "He's the one!" So they contacted him, and sure enough, now they're teaching him.

Elder Watson reminded us of a great swaziWilson story. Early in their mission they were driving to a meeting and Sister swaziWilson saw some beautiful pineapples for sale on the roadside. When they returned past it, they stopped and bought a pineapple. The man running the stand wouldn't let them leave until Elder swaziWilson promised to teach him to be a "man of faith". They taught him, he was baptized, Elder Watson confirmed him on a visit to Swaziland, and he is now second counselor in the branch presidency...and a man of faith.

Steve was interviewing the elders in the Umlazi BB district and made an interesting discovery. He turned to Elder Dygert and commented, "You're the only white guy out here!" Elder Dygert looked around and responded, "Hey, I am!" (These may not be totally accurate quotes, but they reflect the great attitude of brotherhood in the mission. Nobody notices race anymore.)

Our new office couple arrived Saturday night, Elder and Sister Davis. After a few hours of intermittent sleep we took them to KwaMashu Branch, where they were won over by a "real" testimony meeting - meaning every member bore their testimony, and that's it. It's always nice when a couple's first meeting is a testimony meeting: it really gives good introduction to the faithfulness of the people here.

Hunter had his "other" knee operated on Friday, so everyone is coming over to check on him. It's been a weekend party. He's getting around a little, but it hurts a lot. But one of these days, when he's all recovered, he'll be able to race around the basketball court and be a star - I just have to keep telling myself that when he's complaining and demanding and uncooperative and...

Steve and the Assistants will be continuing interviews and skills training this week while I play nurse and professor, and Elder & Sister Johnson introduce Elder & Sister Davis to the mysteries of the office. The fun never ends!



ps Filling the post = interviewing job applicants

pps New member collecting = applying for a library card

ppps Take two tablets six hourly as needed = 2 pills every 6 hours

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