Dear Family and Friends:
Every so often a mission home needs a facelift, and we are currently on the operating table. We have an option of moving into a B&B - Little Haven, of course - but we're stalling until it's unbearable, as the office is so convenient to us here. The work started Monday, with chipping and pounding from 7am to 5pm six days a week. So far, the kitchen and hall bathroom have been completely torn out, an all the wall and floor tiles from the kitchen, bathroom, and testimony room. They have started putting tiles on the kitchen walls - and they look great!
So here's how we're managing to stay on:
1. The washer and dryer are in the back boarding of the office: my own private laundromat.
2. The refrigerator is on the back patio, plugged in through the window.
3. The food from the pantry is on the shelves in the family room, along with a few crucial dishes & cutlery.
4. The rest of the kitchen pots & pans, mixers, etc. are on the shelves in the dining room.
5. The computer is in the masterbedroom, but we also have a wireless laptop.
6. The TV, microwave, toaster, crockpot and electric teapot are in Morgan's old room, along with the ironing board and one of the family room couches.
7. The XBox and the other family room couch are in Hunter's room.
8. A plastic tub and dishrack in the bathtub in the master (only) bathroom is the "kitchen sink" for washing dishes.
9. The furniture from the testimony room, dining room, hall and family room are in the extra bedroom - except for the dining room table and the two big couches: they wouldn't fit through the hall, so the men have to move them around as they work.
We are eating out a lot, and getting pre-made sandwiches, etc. from Woolworth's. Aside from the occasional crowded conditions, it's working out pretty well. You even get (kinda) used to the noise of the hammers and chisels.
Today at fast and testimony meeting in Pinetown I realized another reason the testimonies shared here are so powerful. Not only do the members testify to the truths of the gospel, they sometimes tell their conversion stories. Today Sister Ann Fagin, Elder Holmes' granny, shared that it was the 50th anniversary of her baptism - and about the many churches she attended on her way to getting here. After her testimony, several other members shared their experiences, and the difference the gospel and being members of the Lord's church has made in their lives. We need to help more of our neighbors at home gain testimonies and be baptized, so we can have more of those powerful testimonies!
Next year will be the 50th anniversary of my own baptism, and I wouldn't even have thought of it if not for Sister Ann's testimony. I was only 8, so it wasn't as powerful as her adult conversion, but I remember the day. My brother Richard had just been ordained a Priest, so he baptized me in the font under the Tabernacle at Temple Square, on the Emigration Stake baptismal day. In fact, he actually baptized me twice, as one toe apparently didn't go under. But even though I was baptized as an 8-year-old, I can still share the story of gaining my own testimony - and often do, out here. So why not at home?
The stake and district presidents are introducing a new member missionary plan (not ours - President Poulsen of the Johannesburg Mission presented it at the Mission Presidents' Seminar) that is going to be terrific. The bishop is the "mission president" of his ward, and marks on the ward map where the new members and investigators live. He then divides the map into areas, and assigns ward missionaries to specific areas. Their job is to fellowship investigators - which means calling or visiting twice a week, offering to walk to Church together, introducing them to ward members. teaching post-baptism lessons, etc. Of course, they can still find people for the missionaries to teach, too. This is so much more focused than "Do you know anyone we can teach?" The fulltime missionaries will have more time to find and teach, as some of the other support is taken over by members - who will then know the newly baptized members very well, and help them stay active. In the Johannesburg Mission it's making a big difference: I'm sure it will here, too. Steve just wishes he were going to be around to implement it!
As of today, the FIFA countdown is at 4 days to go, and the excitement is mounting! All the teams are in the country and warming up, and multiple vendors on every corner are selling flags to fly on your car; you set the base of the pole on the top of the car window, and roll it up until it holds. Many cars have South African flags, others have flags of their team of choice, some have both! I even saw a motorcylist today with a South African flag waving from his helmet! The missionaries have been asked not to display any kind of national insignias - which makes us perfect targets for the vendors, since we obviously need a flag! More and more people are wearing the yellow Bafana Bafana shirts on "football Fridays" too. It's actually very fun! I imagine Salt Lake was like this before the Olympics...
Love, Mom/Grandma(or maybe Granny?)/Sue/Susan/SisterPresidentMann
ps Ballito is celebrating the 4th of July weekend with a Prawn and Jazz Festival. Think it could compete with Rocky Mountain Oysters and country music in Eagle?