Happy Easter! I hope you had a wonderful and uplifting day with lots of family time. I enjoyed having conference and Easter the same weekend - even if the sessions were at 6 and 10 pm! I especially liked knowing some of my kids were in the conference center I was watching...somewhere?
This has been zone conference week, and I can tell you, adding Bloemfontein and Lesotho Zones to the mission (although wonderful and of course inspired) made it way, way, way longer - both in time and distance. Thankfully, being with the missionaries makes up for the exhaustion. And Steve is hugely more exhausted than I am. I only have to worry about lunch, and a talk, and any medical issues that have come up. He not only does major training, but invariably has elders who need to talk to him "just for a minute", first time temple recommend and missionary interviews, and disciplinary councils. I wish I knew how many interviews he has done through these three years - no wonder the kids say that "When Dad talks to us, we feel like we're being interviewed!"
I especially enjoy the talks the elders give at zone conference. Every morning during companionship study the each elder shares a faith scripture (scripture about faith) with his companion. Some of the talks were about faith scriptures, and how they help. One elder had found that the faith scripture shared in the morning is always the perfect scripture for someone taught during the day. Elder Muthoka explained why: "The Spirit of God gives us the prompting while we are studying of what we will need." Elder Armstrong ponders the faith scriptures as he's walking during the day, pulling out one little phrase at a time.
Elder Kapande talked about the Spirit being there to teach us what we need to say, "...but are we listening?"
Another topic was how living the mission equation (faith plus obedience plus hard work = miracles) brings the Spirit to the work. Elder Mwangi said that when he follows it, he feels confident that "I don't know what I will say, but the Spirit will help me. Elder Friel said the times he's had the most "fun" on mission is when he has been trying to be obedient with exactness. "We have to cultivate the Spirit. If it can't be with us, it'll have a hard time being with our investigators. Elder Armstrong gave me a more personal stake in D&C 11:20 when he read it this way: "Behold, this is YOUR work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength." When you read it that way, you feel a lot more responsible for obeying it!
I loved the way Elder Meistre started out: "Much pondering was taken in preparation to give this talk." It made me wonder how often I do "much pondering" in preparation for any of the tasks I have to do?
The Bloemfontein zone conference was on Good Friday. It was also a public holiday, and although most everything in Durban stays open, Bloemfontein was shut up tight. I went after apples for the elders for break, and there wasn't an open grocery store anywhere! I finally ended up with all the bananas from an Engen petrol station. The malls were closed, except for movie theaters and cd/dvd stores and a few restaurants. I found a Roman's Pizza to order lunch, and they took my credit card, but they didn't deliver, so I became a pizza delivery sister. (In Hillcrest Roman's delivers, but won't take a card: only cash.) While I waited for the pizza, I took pictures of some of the interesting buildings downtown.
Steve and the assistants stayed on for interviews and skills training. Sunday Steve spoke in two sacrament meetings - the second branch reversed their schedule so he could make it there. So fun being the mission president!
Well, it's 6pm, so I'm going to watch conference, along with you earlybirds.
ps While we were in Bloemfontein Morgan called us - at 4:30am - to tell us he came in second in his first track meet. As he came sprinting by, Marilyn heard some kids say "Who is THAT? He looks like an NFL player!" I guess that's the American equivalent of "Are you the Beast?"