Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The last new elders to arrive at the Durban International Airport: Elders Masilela, Clarke, Ndlovu & Sikanyika (King Shaka Airport opens May 1st)

Departing Missionaries 1: Elders Martin, Reese, Hagen. Wendt & Rakatoarisoa

Departing elders 2: Elders Babeeyo, Reese(?!?), England, N'ongom, Otieno & Mbithi

Pictures by South African children

Replacing part of the mission home fence - very hard work!

2010 03 28 - Happy Birthday Sara & Eva!!

Dear Birthday Girls and Everyone Else:

We've just made it through another crazy transfer week, gained 4 tremendous new missionaries, said goodbye to 10 future Church leaders (home wards and branches, take note), had two cars damaged, scheduled 3 sets of booster shots (4 sets to go), sent 2 elders to the doctor, and performed an Easter Cantata.

Well, not all of us performed the Easter Cantata: only Elder Niemand, Elder Alexander, me, and a choir from various wards in the Hillcrest Stake. It was very fun, and sounded WAY better Sunday night than it did at ANY of the rehearsals. It was pretty crowded in the choir seats, though, with all the angels the choir director had prayed to come and help us!

I haven't done any major singing for quite awhile, and found myself singing in the car on the way home from rehearsal in Hillcrest: We Five and John Denver, of all things! And I remembered all the words. It just goes to show you that teenagers CAN learn...too bad it was only song lyrics...
CAUTION: Mothers who get nervous, please skip this paragraph!
I have been thinking lately about carjacking. The Westville public library/civic center/ lawn bowling/tennis court complex has a set of booms that are raised and lowered as cars go in and out. Last week I had to "sign in" with my name, license plate# before I could go in. That must have proved too time-consuming, so this week the guard just handed me a card that I had to return when exiting. I asked, and it was because they've had some carjackings lately.

A few days ago, the Rawlings, who run Little Haven B&B, lost their car to carjackers while Sister Grace was at the hairdresser. It's the 11th car they've had stolen over the years.

And a few months ago in Newcastle, we had a missionary carjacking. Fortunately, the police were able to get it back for us. Even more fortunately, the sergeant involved started taking the missionary lessons, and now he and his family are about to be baptized. So although wickedness never was happiness, it can occasionally contribute to happy consequences!
I learned a few things from the Easter Cantata, and that reminded me of a few other observations I've made lately, so here they are.

Life lessons: small but totally irrelevant

1. Sally DeFord is an international favorite.

2. Narration of any kind sounds better with a South African accent.

3. The sharp edges of a packet of sheet music fits right exactly into the healing wound from carpal tunnel surgery.

4. She also serves who only waves the piece of cardboard to dry the just-mopped floor at the mall.

5. Six minutes waiting for BBQ dipped bites at KFC is way longer than 6 minutes spent reading a good book.

6. If a crew is working on a digging project in the mission home yard, there is a 90% chance one of the "chappies [will] hit the irrigation line" and the water will be turned off - indefinitely.

7. An elder is three times more likely to hit a cow in Ezulwini, Swaziland, than anywhere else in the mission.

8. A woman can work as a flagger in a flourescent vest and still look fashionable, if she wears a high-crowned, wide-brimmed woven sun hat - with her hard hat perched on top.

9. A man can still be tough who when angry doesn't swear, but says "It makes me so cross." (This man, I might mention, is also over 6' tall, used to carry a revolver in his car until he started working for the Church, and now carries a taser.)

10. Biscotti is not as easy to make as it looks.

So there you have it. Now I have to work on my powerpoint for zone conferences - Steve asked me to speak on the Prophet Joseph Smith. He did a very thorough presentation on the Prophet long enough ago that it's time to repeat. Only I can't do it his way, so I plan to shnake a few of his slides and then put together my own presentation. This is one (of many) of the fun parts of the mission!


ps I got a cellphone call during office devotional; I answered in case it was a medical issue? It was Hunter, wanting to know the name of the bread that the Jews ate in the Bible, that was flat and hard. I knew the answer to the question, but am mystified as to what brought it up???

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This is a mission memory from the ladysmithWilsons

Carolyn Allen - Connoisseur of Birthday Cards

2010 03 21 - Reader Alert: lots of nonsense this week...

Dear Family and Friends:

As you turn to spring, we turn to autumn, and we've actually had a few autumn-ish days, in between the really hot ones. They don't call it fall here, since nothing really falls off the trees, but we've had a few gray, windy, change-of-season feeling moments. Of course, there are still masses of things in bloom, which kind of spoils the effect...

The students are all having exams, so they get out of school early and drop by - for the rest of the day! My food bills are going back up again. They like to rent movies - mostly horror ones, especially if any girls are here. I prefer it when they're moaning and groaning over Daniel San fighting in Karate Kid, or cheering madly over March Madness (is that why Hunter is home-schooling?), or critiquing a rugby game - and there is LOTS of rugby on here. And throughout it all, they are, of course, texting.

The Mickelsens, already famous for having their car attacked by a watermelon (or jack fruit; it was never found) have now been attacked by a semi-truck tire tread. It was a dark piece of tire, on a dark road, on a dark (and stormy?) night, and we are just grateful that the bumper is the only thing that was lost. Good driving, Elder M!

The Davises officially took over the office Wednesday as the Johnsons took the Allreds up to (over to? across to?) Bloemfontein. Have I mentioned lately how much missions need couples? And how vital they are in the office? Marsha Maughan, tells me that many of the couples in Ghana are on their 2nd or 3rd or 4th missions - they go home for a year to spend time with their families, then off they go. Doesn't that sound like a great way to spend your twilight years?

I've seen two examples of bishops who care about their youth these last few weeks. In both cases (different units) a priest was having difficulty with the sacrament prayer - one because he didn't read English very well, and one because he is mentally handicapped (but sweet and faithful and eagerly progressing in the priesthood; he truly has the faith of a child). The bishop/branch president in each case simply slipped down and whispered the prayer into the priest's ear, phrase by phrase, then slipped quietly back to his seat afterwards. (" gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.") Well done.

We visited Umbhedula Branch this Sunday. This is the branch that broke off from Pinetown Ward, and it's growing like crazy. They meet in a pre-primary school that Pinetown Ward refurbished (a lot!) for an African Helping Hands project. The speakers stand in front of a blackboard covered with counting flashcards and other teaching aids; there is no microphone; the first verse of each hymn is played on a boombox, which then turned off as the congregation continues singing; the floor is concrete; the chairs are plastic...and the spirit is powerful.

When "the mission president" visits a branch or ward he is always invited to say a few words - usually at the end. This time the branch president asked us both to speak, only it was in the middle, and I really regretted it, because we caused the sister who spoke last to lose some of her time. Her talk was based on faith in the Saviour, and prayer, and based on scriptural examples and quotes from the prophets. She added a lot more to the meeting than we did!

As we were heading back home we passed a sign that said: Welcome to Pinetown. Jesus is Lord. Read the Bible.


Torry tells me Eva is a chip off (her) old block: they went to ChuckECheese and Eva spent the whole time posing with the ChuckE figure in photos. Very deja vu! Morgan's spring break is this week, so he's going to visit them. And great news: he got his first quarter report card and did measurably better than his last report here. Thank you, Marilyn!

By the way, did you know eavesdropping can be a useful skill? Here are a few interesting things I have overheard:

At Woolworth's: a mom on a cellphone to her child: "I'm at Woolly's picking up supper. I'll just pop home, then I'll run fetch you."

Rugby commentator: "It's a funny little game."

Wetu to Hunter: "Do you have any classical music?"
Hunter: "Yeah, I've got Tupac."

An elder to Hunter, about his friends: "Do they always revert to their native language when they're with you?"

Jubz: "Does that Murch guy (our current general secretary) know EVERYthing?"

After playing basketball with the elders at Berea:
"Elder Weaver schooled us." "Those tall Americans must play basketball every day, like we do soccer." "Elder Owen plays so quiet, then he just puts it in the basket. I don't know how he does that."

Dr. Fraser about Hunter's knee problem: "The kneecap was eccentric..."

Menu items (OK, they would be overheard if the waitron told us about them): Lamb Kleftico (sounds handicapped), Squid Heads with Chillinaise, Veal Funghi (I just gave a talk to the elders about cleaning that kind of stuff up!).

Well, I'll keep my ears open for any other good lines...


ps When I was working on my missionary wall I discovered that last year we got 5 elders together in a transfer, all of whose surnames start with the letter M. Just thought I would mention it...

pps Go see the movie Blind Side (it only just opened here).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What do the prophets have to say about journals?

Why are journals important to your posterity?

Ask yourself these questions...

The Des Wilsons with the Steve Manns in the redwoods

2010 03 14 - Anybody want to start a journal?

Dear Family & Friends:

This week we are drifting slightly away from finding, teaching and conversion, and into personal histories. This is allowable because journals, genealogy, and getting ready for the temple are all part of the gospel. But it's really happening because a few weeks ago Sister Holder, the Durban Stake Relief Society President, asked me to do a workshop - 5 times! - at their Women's conference.

It was on personal histories, and here's the interesting part (for those who don't know me very well): Sister Holder knows nothing about my background, and the presidency just "felt" I would be a good choice to teach that workshop. I don't know how good I was, but was easy to do: I majored in genealogy at BYU, worked with youth at the Genealogical Library in Salt Lake, and used to teach this kind of lesson in wards and school classes. Go figure!
So, welcome to the class! If you are senior couple material, and haven't decided to come out on a mission yet, you can get your personal histories up to date while you're waiting; everyone else can just do it because it's a good thing to do.
So, here we go...

SECTION I - Catching up on your past
Step 1
Think of your earliest memory, or experience. Write it down. Now, if you haven't done it already, add WHEN it happened, WHERE you were living, and WHO you were living with (I know it's whom, but that sounds funny).
From the WHEN, figure out the most likely year it happened.

Step 2
Get a piece of paper and write that year at the top. Then write the experience on that piece of paper. Using a computer for this is great, but PLEASE print out or back up all your entries: the Klinglers had their laptop stolen in Ladysmith, and lost most of their mission journal and pictures. It was devastating.
Now try to remember other things that happened that year.

Step 3
Think about another memorable event, and repeat the process. Hopefully this will start another page, with a different year at the top. This process can continue practically forever. I explained to the sisters that when Steve asks me for someone's name, I immediately blank out and can't help him. But if I try to remember for a minute, then relax and forget about it, the little person in my head goes over to the filing cabinets in my brain and pulls out a drawer and brings me the name - usually in the middle of the night. You'll be amazed at the domino-effect of recalling experiences, and how remembering one leads to remembering another.

SECTION II - Appreciating and sharing yourself
Step 1
Get a piece of paper and write your name across the top.

Step 2
Ask yourself some of the questions listed above, or ask yourself the questions you wish you had asked your mother, or father, or grandparents about themselves and their lives, but never got around to.

Step 3
Write the answers! Be honest, and feel free to say nice things about yourself.

SECTION III - Paying attention to your present
Step 1
Write 2010 across the top of a page.

Step 2
Set aside a particular time at least once a week to write a little about your experiences and feelings the past several days. In fact, you could write a little every Sunday in each section - but if that's too overwhelming, just do one section each week. Even a little is better than nothing!

NOTE: You can organize your pages or files by age (childhood, teen years, university) or location (Umlazi, Johannesburg, Durban) or Section (then, me, now), on a computer or in a binder with dividers.

Right. Now it's time to move on to the next workshop...

There was, of course, also a lot of missionary work, skills training and interviewing going on this week. As well as the Johnsons training the Davises in the office - which is going very well, I might add! Steve interviewed Elder Adams in Bethlehem (Free State) and learned that his stake president used to be Des Wilson - who was our first bishop when we got married aeons ago. Lynda Sue was one of my best friends, and her two youngest boys were Torry and Hayley's ages. We all moved away and have kept only a little in touch, so I was delighted to hear about them. I love the way everyone is connected in the Church!

We skyped Morgan and he showed us his new learner's license - against a background of 6 girls getting food together for a big party he was having! He's lucky he's staying with Marilyn, who loves having kids over almost as much as he does! Hunter and I have had a very complicated time trying to get his learners license.

First we were advised to go to the Westville Police Station, to get his Traffic Registration Number, as he doesn't have a South African ID number. We went there, and they didn't know anything about them. They sent us to the Pinetown Police Station, which also houses a Transportation Department.

They didn't give the numbers out there, either, and sent us to the RTI in Marionhill. We found it, filled in the appropriate form, and sat in the queue for 1/2 an hour, but ran out of time when we were within 2 of the window, as Hunter had to go check in for his surgery. (The queue is very energetic, by the way: you sit in a row of chairs, and every time someone goes to the window everyone one else stands up, slides over one chair, and sits down again.)

We went back to Marionhill a few days after Hunter's surgery. He sat and waited while I did the up-slide-downing for an hour. We finally got to a window, where we were told that they "don't do Westville here" and that we'd have to go to the RTI in Durban. OH, and did we have the 2 required photos? (What photos??)

So that's where it stands at the moment. We need to find out what kind of photos, and where to get them, and where the Durban RTI is - and go sit in the queue! Once he gets the Traffic Registration Number, we book him as soon as we can (a few weeks at least) for his written test. Then we put a big red L on the back window of the car to indicate a learner driver, and off he goes to practice driving with Steve. Because it takes months to get a booking for the actual driving test, he'll have to be contented with flashing around his South Africa learner's when he gets home, and learning to drive on the right.

Westville played Kearsney at Kearsney in rugby this week - on TV. We trounced them 31-7. Hunter had a great time spotting his mates on television. I had just gotten home from the Women's Conference, so Steve and I went to Woodcutter's and had lunch while we watched the game there. I hope we aren't turning into sports pub junkies!

This week is transfer planning - and Elder & Sister Allred will be arriving on Tuesday! They will be heading for Bloemfontein, which has been needing a couple for several months. Don't you wish you were flying over with them? I'm sure we could find you a place to serve...


ps We had a practice today for the stake Easter concert, in which I was invited to sing. We usually divide up for part of the practice, and the sister who was picking out the piano parts for the women had to leave early. Brother Rob asked for someone to help, and when no one else volunteered, I did. Only I had entirely forgotten that my middle finger is still totally numb and my second finger partially numb - so my fingering was VERY creative! But it worked out alright, and no one knew. I think there's a talk in this...