Monday, November 28, 2016

November 28 letters

To Mom:

I agree with Daniel.  It sucks that shops open so early.  Pretty soon shops will just open on Thanksgiving and they'll call it Black Thursday.  I get Black Thursdays every Thursday so that would be lame.  They actually had Black Friday here for the first time this year and it was pretty sweet.  A couple of the members here bought some sweet TVs and stuff.  They don't do Thanksgiving though so that sucks.  I celebrated by making French Toast for myself in the morning and then eating a bowl of cereal too, which was pretty much a feast.

As far as Elder Greengrass goes.  He is a very cool guy.  I never read his emails but he spends a long time on them and he definitely writes more information than I do.  I'm sure my next companion won't have quite so much information in his emails.  Elder Greengrass was trained by Elder Wilson who had been on mission about a year when he trained Elder Greengrass.  Usually you train after you've been through 3 or 4 companions.  Very occasionally a person will train right after they've been trained but it doesn't happen very often.  People do train a lot in Mdantsane yes because it is the most fruitful area of the vineyard so you are right about that for sure.  

You asked about the primary program a few weeks ago.  Sunday was the primary program.  You would have died.  All the kids in the primary, which is about 50, wore white dresses or white shirts and all the girls had yellow bows in their hair, and it was very cute.  Also most of the kids in the primary don't really understand or speak English so they mostly just imitate syllables and so it was super cute.  They all know just enough to say a basic testimony.  Like half the kids said this exact line for their testimony "I know the church, it's true.  I know Thomas S Monson. Amen" hahaha but I loved it it was very nice.

We're starting to get fed a lot.  Usually every night we get fed once or twice a night and we eat lots of vegetables.

Next week we have a sweet baptism so I'll tell you about those people then.  Also I will be getting a new companion next week.  

Also I'll try and get some nice pictures to send home.  

Love you Momma

To Dad:

Elder Greengrass will be trasnferred on December 7.  This is our last full week together.  We will always be friends though.  

That's sweet about going to the temple and doing family history and stuff.  I really miss that so I'm glad you're making use of having a temple so close.  The people here do lots of fundraisers throughout the year and save up and sacrifice a lot just so they can go to the temple once a year.  It's really cool, but it makes me realize how lucky we are in Utah.  

I'll try and step up my game as far as pictures go.  What kind of things do you want pictures of?  People we see?  The area?  What kind of stuff.  Also what kind of information do you want me to write about? 

Love you Dad

The district

Monday, November 21, 2016

November 21 letters

Letter to Mom:

First of all setting spiritual goals for mission in my opinion doesn't work.  If I set a goal for how many people I want to baptize then I will undoubtedly start baptizing people who are not ready and become motivated by statistics.  I personally will never baptized a person without a proper testimony or who is not ready to be active in the church.  Also the areas are so diverse here that you can never tell what you can consistently do.  Some areas rarely baptize at all and some areas you baptize 5 every transfer.  The entirety of mission is centered on spiritual growth.  I want to become more humble but that's not a goal that I can set and measure and achieve.  It's just a thing I can work on.  Also I told you I want to always stay young and motivated on mission which is coming along really well.   Also learning Xhosa would be so sick.  I'm actually learning a lot and it's something I think is definitely attainable.  I don't even care about speaking Xhosa but I just want to experience the mental shift that happens when you learn to speak another language.  

Yeah I remember Elder Cornish's talk.  I liked it a lot.  I talked with Dad about this too but I really like the theme about striving for exact obedience.  Also the thing about missionary work being about the missionary is very interesting as well.  I have never really looked at it in quite that way.  

Today we went to a game reserve.  I really wanted to see a Rhino but I was disappointed :( We did see lots of Zebras and Giraffes and stuff which was cool.  It cost 120 Rand which is about 9 dollars.  I don't think we're going to go to the expensive one anymore so that's good.

The best thing that happened last week was that they raised MSF.  Before we were getting _ Rand every 2 weeks.  Now we are getting _ Rand every 2 weeks which is a big difference.  I feel so free.  Now I'm eating lots of different fruit and veg and I'm starting to cook different things.  I definitely have enough money now so I won't be needing you to help me out anymore.  

We baptized that girl Y on Saturday.  It was a very spiritual experience.  I think I told you that she is terrified of water and so she was very nervous to go in.  When she did get in the water the spirit was so strong there because she was showing so much faith to overcome her fear.  She had literally been shaking about it every time we talked about baptism for the last few weeks because she's so scared of water.  I think that for a lot of people here, their baptism is the only time in their entire life when they are completely immersed in water hahaha.  But yeah it was very spiritual,

To Dad:

The theme about exact obedience is something I have thought a lot about.  There are a lot of Elders who are ok with listening to pop music in the boarding and going to bed late and waking up late and not being too serious with studies.  For me it makes it difficult to get to bed on time because everyone's usually milling around until like 11 but I always try to be as obedient as possible.  I really like the message though and I definitely agree with you that the misconception that you have to be immediately and perfectly obedient is a big stumbling block. 

Definitely me and elder Greengrass are doing a lot of good missionary work.

Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14 letters

To Dad:

Yeah the weather is weird.  It's starting to get really hot some days but it's still a little chilly at times.  It should get really hot in December.  Right now there are a lot of rainy days.  Last week it rained and church attendance shot down.  People are terrified of the rain here.  
I enjoy teaching from the scriptures, from Ether 12:6, and talking about how the witness only comes after some sacrifice and the trial of faith.  
Why I love Jeremiah 12:5 so much.

It says if the footmen or the foot soldiers weary you, or if you have a hard time doing the easy things God asks you to do, then what are you going to do when it comes time to contend with horses or soldiers on horse back.  You'll have no chance.  I feel like I really want to be obedient to every small little thing that God has asked me to do so that when it comes time to be faithful to the big stuff then it's no problem.

To Mom:

The mission goals are really nice.  President Merrill put in this program called the standards of excellence just a few months before I came in and it really caused convert baptisms in the mission to spike up.  Basically the goals are to proselyte for 50 hours a week, teach 15 lessons to investigators with a member present, teach 6 less actives and 6 recent converts each week, get 10 referrals, 10 new investigators, and as a mission baptize 50 people each month.  Me and Elder Greengrass usually get those standards easily besides the 10 referrals.  It is a sweet program though because it motivates all the missionaries.  Our zone doesn't really have goals I don't think.  Our district has a few goals but I don't really know what they are.  My district is the four of us that stay in our boarding and also the zone leaders.  Our district is just in Mdantsane and also our zone is just in Mdantsane as well.  The whole mission has I think 8 or 10 zones or something.. I'm not really sure.  Mdantsane is by far the most fruitful area of the mission though.  Especially me and Elder Greengrass' area.  We actually made a goal to teach 30 lessons to investigators with a member present next week which is a pretty insane goal.  

This week was very encouraging for me as far as food goes.  I was able to cook a lot of different things for myself and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day.  We get fed by members a lot especially lately.  Last week we had like 6 DAs.  We had a couple days with double DAs as well.  When the members feed us they always give us lots of different vegetables.  I've actually been very good with my money though and me and Elder Greengrass decided we're not going to eat fast food at all or buy treats at all.  I think in a few weeks I will be able to budget properly so that I don't have to spend any of my personal card at all.  Mission is definitely a learning experience for me.  Also I've been working out every night and I'm trying to start working out every morning too.

Last week I got some things to help me learn Xhosa so that is really coming along now.  It's a pretty simple language once you get the clicks down. 

Last week was a pretty cool week.  First of all the morning after the election was pretty insane.  I was just calling the bishop and he was telling me the progress of the election and stuff and then he said Trump won and it was way crazy.  We went over to the other Elders boarding and we were just going insane.  A lot of the elders were saying like here comes the apocalypse and stuff but I was way stoked about it.  I think it's so hilarious that Donald Trump actually became the president of the United States of America.  Every time I think about it I just laugh.  But yes I am way happy it wasn't Hillary.  It's crazy how close Hillary came to winning Utah.  I think people in Utah really hate Donald.

Next week we are having a baptism and so the people being baptized had to have an interview on Saturday.  So about 2 months ago a girl in our ward called Uviwe got her mission call.  She had her friends over and one of them was called Y and so we talked to her briefly.  The next day at church Y was there so we scheduled an appointment to go see her.  When we got to our appointment she was just shaking.  I don't know why but she was just so so nervous to meet us and to have a lesson.  She was really freaked out.  After we talked to her a bit she calmed down a little.  After that we started to teach her and she got comfortable with us and now she loves us.  Anyway she reads everything we give her and she memorizes everything and she is just so prepared for baptism she's super awesome.  But when we told her last week that she was going to have an interview with a different elder she like got really freaked out.  when we showed up for the interview she was pale and she was visibly shaking and she was so so nervous.  It was funny to us that she was so freaked out because she was so prepared anyway.  But anyway we talked with her and she calmed down a bit.  But she's super powerful and she said she thinks she might want to go on a mission which would be sweet.  

I forgot to tell you this story which is insane.  So when I first got to the area we decided to tract for like 20 minutes just for fun and we went to this house where there was an old woman sitting in a chair reading a Xhosa bible.  We talked to her for a minute but she said she can't get out of her chair because of her leg and she didn't seem to really speak English very well so we left and didn't really think about it.  About a month later we were around the area and a girl about 10 was running around and she said she loves Jesus Christ and we asked her where she lives and she pointed to the same house.  When we got there the same old lady was sitting in the same chair.  Well we decided that because we were led to the same house we should set a return appointment even though she doesn't speak English very well.  Well when we went back for the return appointment I was with one of the zone leaders Elder Muller and we taught her a little bit about the book of Mormon.  It turned out she spoke a bit better English than we thought.  Well we got to know her a bit and found out her name was N.  After the lesson we prayed and then we told her we could give her a blessing.  We laid our hands on her head and blessed her leg to be completely healed.  It was really amazing because we left but when we came around the next week she wasn't in the chair.  And we knocked on the door and she came walking around the corner and she told us her leg had been completely healed.  Since then we have taught her the restoration and she said she will walk to church.  I think when she understands more she will be a powerful member.

Anyway it was a powerful week.

Monday, November 7, 2016

November 7 letters

To Mom:

This week I have been eating far better.  I actually ate a variety of good meals with different fruits and vegetables.  I felt very good this week and I didn't even get fast food.  It did cost a little bit more money to eat properly though but I think in a few weeks time I may be able to budget properly.  I think the pancake recipe would be super useful and I would love it if you had Daniel send it to me.  We don't eat during the day though.  We eat at about 11:30 and then we go to the area and we don't eat a meal again until we come home at about 8:30 or 9:00.  

Also I have been waking up at around 6:45 most days which is good.  I still have work to do but it's getting there.  I am also running every day and exercising both morning and night so it's very good.  I really want to be healthy.  

You mentioned that you wondered if there is a primary program and the answer is yes and it will be sometime this month.

So this week was pretty dull there wasn't anything really exciting that happened.

We had a couple of drunk people screaming at us.  This drunk lady actually came up to us and talked to us for like 5 minutes and she was like screaming at the top of her lungs "We've both been saved by Jesus! Who's better than who?"  And I was just laughing so hard and she started talking to us and she pointed at Elder Greengrass and she said you look like a humble person and she pointed at me and she was like you look like you're not humble. then she said to Elder Greengrass you're more Jesus than him.  Than I was just laughing and laughing and telling her Jesus loves her and then Elder Greengrass was trying to be serious with her and ask her to have lessons with us and then she was like give me your number so I can call you guys for a lesson and so we did and then before she left she said to Elder Greengrass "You aren't very Jesus.  You look like the Elders sat you down and told you exactly what to say."  Then she pointed at me and she said "You're the real one.  You're actually more Jesus than him"  Hahahaha she was super drunk and we were both laughing about it a lot.  

Church on Sunday was very frustrating for me.  We have been getting better and better church attendance for the last little bit and so Sunday I was hoping to get about 130 people in sacrament meeting.  Unfortunately it rained.  I don't know what it is about rain but it terrifies Xhosa people.  Nobody was at church.  We counted the attendance and it was only 71.  The other Elders said their ward got 198 last week and this week they only got 90.  The rain really sifted the wheat from the tares here I guess but it was very frustrating that nobody was willing to come to church because it rained.  It's understandable though because a lot of people have to walk but it's still frustrating.  

Other than that it wasn't a super interesting week.

To Dad:

Yeah we do get lots of dinner appointments.  Every Sunday we have one sister from the relief society feed us and they never drop.  Usually we have 1 or 2 more during the week that we schedule and those never drop either.  The bishop and his twin brother who is on the stake presidency usually both feed us every couple weeks so we get good dinner appointments out of them.  Usually all of our dinner appointments cook chicken with this african rice stuff and some vegetables which are usually the same.  The bishop gets us fast food though and his brothers wife is a really good cook so she always cooks us a variety of very good food.  

We street contact every day.  We drive around and there's always a lot of people walking around so if we see anyone walking alone we stop next to them and give them a pass along card.  It works pretty well we usually get 3 or 4 new investigators a week out of that.  As far as knocking house to house we never do that.  We are way too busy to waste our time doing that.  We usually have 6 to 8 appointments a day and we struggle to fit people in to our days so we have no time to go house to house.  The people here are super receptive though and so when we talk to them on the street they are usually very interested in what we have to say.  

My favorite part of missionary work is probably finding.  I am very good at street contacting I think so I always like to talk to random people and make connections with them and get new people to teach.  I think it's a skill that will serve me very well for the rest of mission.  Even the other day we were looking at the board and we have about 50 people on the board that we think about and of those 50 probably 20 of them are people that I personally have contacted.  The only thing I definitely dislike doing is visiting recent converts who have been taught all the lessons over again and we have nothing to teach.  I always think it's a mental strain for me to think about them and what to teach them.

I told you about buzz crew at the mtc.  In case you didn't think it was real... It's real.

here is a picture of me and Elder Ivins in Cape Town