Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December 27 letters

To Mom:

Yes it was very nice to speak to you guys.  Hopefully on Mothers day we'll have better connection but it was very nice for me on Christmas to see you guys.

Christmas day was very nice.  We had so much food I wanted to die.  We got fed a meal by this family from Zim and that was pretty nice and then we went to this other sister and she brought us out this huge plate of food and we were just looking at it like wow I don't know if I'll be able to finish that.  And then she said ok I'll bring the meat in a minute.  Then she brought us a huge plate of meat as well with like different types of meat on it.  and then I thought I was going to die and she brought out dessert.  She literally brought us the hugest bowl of Ice cream I have ever seen.  It was probably the size of a big mixing bowl just chuck full of ice cream and cake and I thought I was going to die.  I just kept taking bites and saying I hate food I hate food.  I ended up leaving like half of it.  Then after that some more people wanted to feed us meat and we just had to turn them away.  And then another sister gave us some cake and a tin of biscuits and a full 2.5 liter coke and some candy bars to take home hahaha.  We felt very fat.  It was a nice day.

So yeah I just have a couple of stories from this last week which I will share.

Firstly we struggled to get appointments.  I think we had an average of about 12 appointments planned a day and we didn't teach a single one.  So many drops.  On Thursday though we did manage to teach a lesson which was a really cool lesson.  So the other Elders called us and they said they have a referral for us and they met a sister that had come to their ward that stays in our area and her name is L.  So we set up a time with this sister to teach her and it was Thursday.  Anyway so this girl is 23 and she's from Joburg so she's only here for the holiday.  But she told us that she's been coming to church with her friend for about a month and that the missionaries have only taught her once but they didn't really teach her so she's basically a brand new investigator.  Anyway we started teaching her the Restoration and when we got to the part about prophets Elder Reedy kind of explained to her what prophets are and then he asked her what do you know about prophets.  And she was just like "Yeah they are men of God and I like that they have to be chosen by God."  And I was like good good that's true.  And then she was like "I actually met one of the prophets in Joburg."  And I was like Oh brother what is this.  Because there are some pretty crazy false prophets in South Africa.  But then she was like "D Todd Christofferson"  And I was like no way that's insane.  And she pulled out her phone and she had a picture with her and Elder Christofferson was right there on the stand.  I was so blown away.  And anyway she turned out to be a golden perfect investigator and if the Joburg missionaries don't screw it up she'll be baptized for sure.

The other story I want to share with you guys is from yesterday which was the day after Christmas.  We were teaching this guy called S.  we've taught S maybe 3 other times so we know him pretty well but the whole time he's told us he doesn't want to commit to anything because he doesn't believe in Jesus Christ and he doesn't really think religion is important.  Well yesterday we told him that we were going to teach him the plan of salvation and that we were going to show him why it matters that we believe in Christ and why he should commit to the things that we've asked him to commit to.  Well it turned out to be a super spirit-led lesson.  The whole time he was getting revelation and asking all these super inspired questions and at the end I was like wow Sparks that was a nice lesson I have really felt the spirit and he was so excited he was like yeah me too!  But then we talked to him about baptism and we had already given him a date to work for but he didn't really care, so this time when we asked him to prepare for baptism he said Yeah for sure I'm really excited to be baptized and I'm coming to church and I'm going to read the book of mormon too.  And we were like wow this is powerful.  And anyway he changed completely in that lesson I could really see the light of Christ come into his eyes.  It was a very nice lesson.

Also My son elder Reedy got burned pretty bad this morning.  He spilled boiling water on his leg so we'll see what happens with that.  

To Dad:

Yeah it was so nice to talk to you guys.  I think for mothers day I will have more experience and I'll be able to figure out the best way to skype you guys.

Man it sounds like you guys had a sweet Christmas though.  That made me so sad when you said Daniel is Aevyn's favorite buddy.  But yeah I wish I could be there with all the family just playing with all the kids and opening presents and rolling around in the snow hahaha. 

That present from Nana and Jordan is super cool.  That's a sweet gift I wouldn't mind getting that myself.  That's pretty cool that they thought about what you would really want.  

 It's nice that Christmas is over though because all of our investigators are starting to come back and the baptisms we're looking at is pretty exciting.  We have maybe 20 people who we think could be baptized in January and February which means we're going to be really busy again and it's very exciting. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

December 19 letter

So to start off with I will tell you what I meant by crazy stuff happening but you can't freak out.
So there's some really dumb things in Xhosa culture.  Most of them circulate around something called the bush. Every boy has to go to the bush at some point usually when they're 16 or 17.  What that means, is that the boy who is going to the bush has to go out into the wilderness somewhere usually pretty close to Mdantsane, and build this little bush hut made out of sticks and black plastic bags.  While they are there the village elders go to them and circumcise them.  Then while they are in pain they teach them the ways of the land.  It's like a big secret what they learn in there but it's pretty basic stuff.  How to take care of yourself how to treat women and whatnot.  Supposedly it used to be good but now it's just stupid.  Oftentimes at the bush, people die because they didn't get circumcised right and they get infected.  All the bush boys have a blanket that they keep with them the whole time they're at the bush and when a person dies from their circumcision, the other bush boys take that one's blanket and leave it on the grass at his family's house.  It's supposedly a sign that that child was week and a sign of disgrace.  If you ask me that's the stupidest thing in the world.  Anyway after the kids get back from the bush they are men.  And so they aren't allowed to be friends with their old friends anymore, because they are men now.  They must be friends with men and not kids.  That's also stupid if you ask me.

Now here is where the story comes in.  If you haven't gone to the bush you are not allowed to call someone by name who has gone to the bush.  Also you are not allowed to call them Mfethu which means bro.  So we had a progressing investigator called S, he was 16, who we were preparing for baptism in January.  We had taught him maybe 3 times and he was starting to get excited about the message.  Well S was in the park one day and some kids called him by his name.  He got very angry and told them they can't call him by name because he's a man.  And so they still did it and he went and he beat them up because they're not allowed to do that.  Anyway the kids grabbed their brother who was drunk and he came and he brought a knife and he stabbed S to death.  After he realized what he had done he confessed to the police and now he's serving life in prison and he's very traumatized because he didn't mean to do that.  It's a very sad thing that happened but I think the lord works in mysterious ways, because I'm sure S will accept the gospel on the other side of the veil.  The whole thing made me very angry at Xhosa culture though. 

I didn't want to tell you that story because I'm sure you'll freak out and be way scared and what not but don't worry as long as I respect the culture around the bush I'll be ok.  

I will tell you a little bit about Elder Reedy.  I am getting along with him really well.  I find myself having a lot of love for him, and also a lot of love for Elder Greengrass who is in Kwa Nobuhle now.  Elder Reedy is really fresh from the mtc.  He's very green and so I'm teaching him how to teach all the lessons and how to talk to people on the street and stuff and he's really taking it in stride and running with it.  I have seen a lot of improvement in his teaching.

One of the things we have been doing in December is street contacting a lot.  In the past 2 weeks we have had about 35 new investigators just from street contacting.  It is one of the things that I am really good at.  We just stop the car next to someone walking on the road and ask them if they want to learn about Jesus and if they say yes we set an appointment.  I have been helping Elder Reedy to be better at this to some success as well. 

We didn't get a lot of proselyting time this week because we had activities on Thursday and Friday.
On Thursday instead of going to the area we went to an area in East London and sang Christmas Carols and passed out pass along cards and gave people the Book of Mormon.  The rule about the Book of Mormon was that we could only give them to someone if they came to us and we taught them about it.  It was actually a super fun finding activity and we got a lot of people interested in our message. 

On Friday we had a huge Zone conference.  It was combined with our zone (Mdantsane Zone) and East London Zone and Queenstown Zone so there was a lot of people there.  It started with a leadership training that I got to be a part of since I am a trainer, which was given by President Merrill and it was very nice.  Then Sister Merrill gave a training for everyone, Then President Merrill gave a training on how the Bible prophesies about the Book of Mormon and the church, which was super cool for me.  Then we ate a sack load of food and then the area mental health specialist gave a training and the APs gave a training.  So It was just a huge day of trainings.  We even watched 2 documentaries about the book of Mormon which were nice. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

December 12 letters

To Dad:

I haven't played very much soccer on mission.  At the start we did kind of but I have only played soccer for 2 p days.  I am definitely getting more and more out of shape because there is nobody that can run with me and there's not really anything I can do on my own to do cardio.  I really am working out pretty hard every morning though so maybe by the end of two years I should look pretty good. 

To Mom:

The zone got wrecked this last transfer.  Before we had Elder Mei and Elder Nkosi who were training Elder Kraftner and Elder Andracek, but they both left this transfer and we got Elder Ndirya and Elder Bowers instead.  I was super happy about our zone before so now I'm not too stoked about it but hopefully we can all be good buddies.  We have the same zone leaders for 3 transfers in a row now which is crazy but it's because Elder Muller is going home at the end of this transfer.   Then Elder Greengrass left to become a Zone Leader in Kwa Nobuhle and so now I have Elder Reedy.

As far as Elder Reedy goes:  He is 6 foot 3 with blond hair.  He said he really likes math and physics and I think he's pretty good at singing although I haven't heard him.  Also he was the captain of the volleyball team in England so I think he's pretty good at that as well.  He said he was born in California but moved away when he was 3 and went to Scotland.  He lived there for like 6 years or something and then moved to Angola which is pretty insane.  And then he moved to England for High School and stayed there until he graduated and then he moved out to Utah on his own for a couple months until he came on mission.  Also he's a bit older than me, he just turned 19 last Sunday.
Training him is not going to be a struggle.  Teaching him how to cook for himself and take care of himself won't really be hard because he already lived by himself for a while.  And teaching him how to teach lessons shouldn't be too hard either because I've pretty much got it down.  Yeah I'm not really worried about it so don't worry about me.

This week was a pretty cool week.  In December everyone leaves Mdantsane and goes and lives somewhere else for the month which is really weird.  The problem is a lot of our strong investigators have left and so we haven't really had too many people to teach.  What we did this week is we just street contacted like crazy and got tons of new people to teach.  We actually got 19 new investigators this week and I think maybe 3 or 4 of them are very strong and will progress to baptism which is really sweet.  

We have a really awesome investigator called X.  He is a 16 year old boy who lives across the street from our recent convert A.  Actually A referred us to him.  Every time we taught him the spirit has been so powerful in the room.  The last time I taught him with Elder Greengrass he said he had been having a hard time feeling close to God and then we taught him the plan of salvation and the spirit just manifested itself to us or something.  It was so powerful and we asked him if he could feel it and he said yeah for sure and he felt way closer to God already.  Anyway we gave him a book of Mormon and he's been reading it and praying and there is no doubt that he'll be baptized.  Also he will go on a mission and for sure he will hold callings in the church when he gets back.  I'm very excited about him.

Next week the President is coming and giving a training and interviewing everyone and also the APs are giving a training and there's going to be a big party and stuff so it should be really cool. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

December 5 letters

To Dad:

I'll try and send more pictures but honestly I haven't taken any pictures on my camera.  I don't even think it works.  Elder Greengrass takes pictures of everything so I just use his pictures

As far as interactions with the president go, he called me last week.  He said "You have been highly recommended by your zone and district leaders, and the lord has decided to call you to train"  And anyway we talked a little bit and I do feel like he knows me and loves me and stuff which is really good.  He didn't come to Mdantsane last transfer though, so I haven't seen him in person for a while.  

I live about 15 minutes from the beach so whenever we go into town we are right by the beach.  A lot of shops are on the shore so we walk along the road or drive down the road super close to the beach all the time.  East London isn't too beautiful.  Cape Town is a lot prettier, but I think there are a few areas on mission which are supposed to be breath taking.  Maybe I'll serve there.

It's sweet that you're going to the temple a lot.  The temple is one of the things that I really miss about mission and a lot of the talks I've been reading talk all about how important it is.

To Mom:

My new companion is going to be Elder Ready from Utah.  I don't know anything about him because he is fresh out of the mtc.  I'm planning on taking him for his first lesson to a member family in the ward that are super cool and we're going to pretend they're investigators and some crazy stuff is going to happen haha it should be super funny.

Missionary work kind of sucks right now.  Xhosa culture is really weird.  For December everyone goes on holiday, which is definitely different than we think of holiday.  It is not go on vacation to another place for a week and stay in a hotel.  What it means is you just move in with a different one of your relatives for a month or two months.  Everyone lives with their aunt or their cousin anyway so you just pick a different aunt in december and move in with them.  It's really weird but it's also frustrating because it means all of our investigators are gone and we have nobody to teach.  We have a really big baptism scheduled for the 7 of January with 10 people who are working toward that date, but I wouldn't be surprised if none of them make that at all.  We have a lot of cool activities planned in December though that aren't normal proselyting in the area.  We're going Christmas caroling as a zone and stuff and we have some zone fhe's too which should be super fun.

Last week me and elder Greengrass had a really cool opportunity to go to the hospital and visit a member who is terminally ill.  His name is Mncedi.  We just talked with him for about half an hour and got to know him and then we gave him a blessing.  We didn't bless him to be totally healed just that he would have strength to live his life normally.  It was really cool.  A few days after that he got released by the hospital to go and live out the rest of his life with his family so we have been visiting him at his house and teaching him the lessons.  He's really awesome.  He had been less active for years before his sickness, but after he got diagnosed he realized what was important to him.  He said his testimony is a 10 out of 10 right now and that he feels super happy now to be closer to God.  We gave him a book of Mormon and he's been reading it like crazy.  I think it's really interesting the trials that the lord gives to people.  For him the trial of being sick definitely gave him the desire and the faith to rebuild his relationship with God and I think he really feels ready to pass to the other side of the veil. 

These are pictures of some really sweet kids I really love.  The girl in the pink is called Onika.  She's so smart.  She taught herself fluent English so that's pretty awesome.  

The other picture is the Ngcangcas.  They are really cool.  Every time we have ever visited them they have given us something to eat and some cold drink.  They are really awesome.  Their son Soso was baptized when I first got to the area and we were teaching them as well.  They weren't that interested though, until they came to Sosos baptism and then the light just went on in their eyes and they started to be so fired up about the gospel.  They love church so much now and they will definitely start to hold some nice callings.  Definitely they are one of my favorite families that we teach