Thursday, July 20, 2017

July 17 letter

Bishop Khanti is awesome.  He's a really powerful guy.  There's some crazy history in the ward and Bishop Khanti isn't a part of it so that's good.  Apparently there's a family called the Ds and they are hard core less active.  But Brother D used to be the branch president and every time he would get up to speak the Bs would all stand up and say loudly to everyone in the chapel, "This guy doesn't know what he's talking about"  And they would walk outside and wait in the hall for him to finish talking.  And brother B told him "Listen I'm going to be the next Branch President so you better get ready to step down."  But then they called Brother B as bishop and brother D just decided that he absolutely hates blacks and that he will kill any black person from church who goes to visit him.  So yeah he's long gone and he won't come back any time soon because we have a black bishop now.  Apparently also when they ordained brother B as bishop one of the brethren in the circle was brother P and after they said amen Brother P punched him in the face and knocked him out.  Just like that before anyone could shake his hand or anything.  I don't really know why but that's crazy.  And the funniest thing is that Brother P is now really old and he had a stroke so he completely forgot that that ever happened and he's just the funniest guy now.  He always talks loudly during meetings and stuff about the randomest stuff.

But otherwise this week was a way discouraging week as far as missionary work goes.  We had so many drops.  Almost all of our lessons dropped and a lot of our investigators dropped us.  We're still waiting to see brother T next week with brother Wildskit but we'll see how that goes.  We did meet one of his sons and we made an appointment to visit them on Wednesday.  They are also quite rich. 

On Thursday we destroyed our car.  There was a big pool of standing water in the road and Elder Lillback didn't think it was going to be quite so deep so he drove straight in and it was like a foot or 2 deep and some water got in the engine and somehow it melted a hole in the engine.  So yeah we lost our car.  They gave us a new one but they're taking it away this week.  We're going to be on bikes for the week which is insane because our area is so huge.  It's going to be a super fun week I'm way excited to bike.  But it's so cold right now so it sucks I don't know.  

We had so little success it was very frustrating so on Saturday and Sunday we didn't teach at all which is just appalling.  After another appointment dropped on Sunday we decided to take a walk into the bushes and we discovered a nice and tranquil river in our area which was so peaceful and made us feel better. We decided to try our best to work with members now because our own efforts failed at bringing very many people to church. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

July 10 letters

To Mom:

This week was pretty awesome I'm not going to lie
On Monday we went to a place called Addo Elephant Park.  It was one of the coolest things I've ever done.  I will send lots of pictures and videos don't worry.  But it was really awesome we were just in our car on this dirt road and all of the sudden like 40 elephants just came out of the woods and followed the road.  They were all around the car and they would get close enough to touch them.  Eventually we followed them to a big watering hole and they all drank water for a minute and then they came and started surrounding the car.  It was really scary because they are so huge and there's so many of them and if they wanted to attack us there was literally nothing we could have done about it.  But yeah we saw a bunch of Zebras and Water Buffalo and good stuff but the Elephants were so sick.  
Otherwise me and Elder Lillback put in another solid week of missionary work.  We found some more father led families to teach.  Something frustrating is that the Ward is not giving us the slightest bit of help with the missionary effort and so even though we're teaching so many lessons every day we're not having too much success.  There was a new bishop called this week though so hopefully there will be some good changes.  He's a young guy called bishop Khanti.  Our old bishop I genuinely believe may have been the oldest bishop in the entire world.  He's an old guy from Wales.  He was 86 years old when he was released hahaa.  

We went to teach T this week and he was on the way out.  We rescheduled with him for next week Tuesday.  We organized to take with us Brother Wildskit who is the first counselor in the stake presidency.  He has the most amazing conversion story and he was planning on sharing it with T.  He told us what happened and it's really amazing:  He decided right after he was married that no church was doing it for him so he didn't go to church for 7 years.  Then one day after all this time 2 questions came to his mind.  What is my purpose here on Earth?  and Where is the Lords true church?  So he went on his knees and he said send me someone who can answer those questions.  Then nobody came so the next day he went on his knees again and he said I'm not leaving the house until the people come I'm going to wait here.  So then he waited all day and evening came and just then there was a knock at the door and it was the missionaries.  So they taught him a lesson and he felt like it was true but he wanted to be sure so he went on his knees again when they left and he prayed and he said I'm going to open the bible and show me a verse.  So he did that and the first verse he saw said something like "And the Lord sent his servants 2 by 2 into every place where he would go"   and then he couldn't believe it so he prayed again and he read "Knock and you shall receive... If you then being evil know how to give good gifts how much more will your father give good gifts to everyone that asketh"  So then he didn't bother anymore but he really investigated the church and he was baptized and 6 months later he was made the Branch President hahah.  Anyway he's an awesome guy and we're really excited for him to share his experience and his testimony with brother T.  It should be very powerful.  

Otherwise the work is going forward.  We will meet President Lebethoa for the first time this Thursday.  

To Dad:
Something that I'm quite proud of myself is that I finally learned how to be tidy.  Before mission my room was always a wreck and just terrible.  Now I always wake up every morning and make my bed and I fold all my clothes neatly and put them away.  Other missionaries have commented telling me that I'm so tidy which is just super funny to me.  

We don't have Teacher Council as far as I know but I could be wrong.  In any case if there was ever a person qualified to teach a class for teachers it would be you.  You're definitely the best teacher that I know.  Obviously that's why you teach like 6 times a week hahaha

Me and Elder Dove at Addo

Monday, July 3, 2017

July 3 letters

To Mom:

The new mission President came in on Saturday.  He is President Lebethoa from Joburg.  I don't know anything about him other than that he has 4 small children and his wife is probably not going to be able to be very involved with the missionaries.  I think we will meet him for the first time the week after next.  

This week was a little bit discouraging after all of the work we've been doing.  48 new investigators in the last 2 weeks and we still only had 6 investigators at sacrament meeting.  Also we've just found out that the investigators that we do have that are actually progressing are not married and so we are going to have to wait for a wedding before we can do a baptism.  I don't know if we'll have any baptisms this transfer.  We've decided to just work harder this week to find father led families only.  In fact we dropped about 30 investigators this week because they weren't serious and they weren't father led families.  

We did have some success with brother T who I told you about last week.  He's the guy who ordered the BoM online.  He read the intro and the testimonies and chapter 1 and he liked it.  We mostly talked to him about the restoration.  He was talking a lot and he was asking a lot of questions which.  He does have sincere intent though.  He told us again that after we have taught him everything he will decide if he wants to join or not.  He also told us that we can go and teach his 5 sons which is really exciting.  He will tell us their addresses when we come back on Thursday.  

To Dad:

Just yesterday we took a guy fellowshipping who is in the bishopric and he's really good at rapping.  He told me he really wants to build up some money from rapping so that he can provide for his family so that he can just help the missionaries every day and have time with his family.  I thought about how blessed we are to have a family that is so happy and close and that you and mom both have time to do things with us every day and to spend time in the community. 

With my companion Elder Lillback

With my boy Jackson and our area in the background
With President and Sister Merrill

Sunday, July 2, 2017

June 26 letter

To Mom:

My companion is fluent in Swedish German and English.  He can also kind of understand Afrikaans because it's similar to English Swedish and German.  Me and him have been having the greatest time.  I don't think I've ever worked this hard in my whole mission.  We are really smashing it, it feels great.  We've been having some really amazing spiritual experiences.  Just this week a guy got online and ordered a Book of Mormon.  We went and brought it to him and sat down with him and he explained to us that he is the founder of a church that has 8 branches.  He's very wealthy and he has 5 kids.  4 of them have already married and moved out of the house.  He basically has a massive household with so many potential members.  He told us that after all of this time he just feels so drawn to learn about Mormonism and the Mormon book and that he wants to learn all the details about it so he can decide for himself if he wants to join the church.  He said that he wants us to come by about once or twice a week and talk about things which is really exciting.  He is also in like 5 different organizations in the community.  This guy is a potential stake leader so I'm really excited to teach him.   

We also met a guy named L.  He is really awesome.  He's 19 and he's so excited about the Restoration.  He told a bunch of his friends and stuff and he's planning on getting baptized on July 30th.  Even though I just met him this past week my vision for him is that he will get his mission call before I go home from mission.  

Me and Elder Lillback got our hair cut and Elder Lillback decided to go big or go home hahaha.  We are just having the greatest time together.  Right now we have 34 people on date for baptism for the end of the transfer so our goal is to have at least 10 baptisms together which may be a bit high but we're working super hard and we are very optimistic.  I can really see the Lord blessing me in my missionary work right now.  

June 19 letters

Don't worry about my foot problem.  It turns out it was just an infection and not an infestation so I will be totally fine.  It is actually healed by now so I am fine and will live.  Too bad it wasn't fly eggs because that would have been a way better story. 

This week has been a pretty crazy week.  I said goodbye to everyone in Langa and left Elder Mabanga in charge of the area.  It was a very sad goodbye but life goes on.  Me and Elder Dove flew together to PE so we're here together again and we've been together for the entire mission so far.  
Uitenhage is a crazy area.  First of all it's a really rich area which is kind of bizarre for me.  All the people live in the most massive houses and it's just weird to me that we can even teach people in these massive houses.  It's a mixed area though.  There's blacks whites and coloreds.  Of course you can never teach whites.  No white person will ever listen to the missionaries I'm pretty sure.  But the colored' are pretty good to teach.  The best thing about the area is that there's a lot of father led families.  Almost everyone we're teaching lives at home with their wife and kids which is awesome.

The biggest thing that I hate about this area is that it's an Afrikaans speaking area so there aren't too many Xhosa speaking people.  Even the black Xhosa people speak Afrikaans and not Xhosa.  That makes me sad but there's still a few Xhosa people who I can speak to from time to time. 
The area is absolutely blowing up right now.  I have never been doing better missionary work in all my 10 months of mission.  We actually received more than 40 referrals last week which is just absolutely insane.  

Since I got here on Wednesday we have already committed 18 people to be baptized on July 30.  I hope that some of those can make that date.  There's some people I'm really excited about.  A girl named C who came to church a few weeks in a row but she hasn't brought her husband yet.  She's 27 I think from Zimbabwe and she will be really powerful once we bring in the father of the home.  We met a guy called M who is only 22 and already married which is really crazy for South Africa.  He came to church too but he left his wife at home.  I'm really excited about him though he's a sweet guy.  There's also a girl that is going to college here named B.  We taught her about the Restoration on Friday and she was pretty skeptical.  When we went back Sunday we found that she was hiding from us.  We cornered her though and had a lesson.  In the lesson she really opened up to us and she was pretty emotional.  She said that she had prayed to know if what we said was true and she had some pretty powerful experiences.  She had read some things in the bible that really spoke to her and basically told her that she needed to join the church.  She was hiding from us because she was really scared about the whole thing and she didn't want to make a big change in her life, but the Lord already showed her the way and she will certainly do the right thing.  It's always an amazing thing to witness someone's conversion so I'm really glad that 4 days in I have already seen this girls conversion.

One of the weirdest things that happened is that we were driving downtown in Uitenhage with the windows down when we heard "Come Come Ye Saints" just playing so loud.  Everyone could hear it in the whole city square.  It was kind of crazy.  We went over to the guy with the speaker and he was just a guy with some MoTab CDs and he wasn't even a member.  He told us that he just really loves Mormon Tabernacle Choir so we took his details and sent his referral to the missionaries in Kwa Nobuhle where he lives.  

Me and Elder Lillback are getting along great.  He's from Sweden but he lived in Germany for most of his life.  I like  him a lot.  His previous companion was Elder Ondracek who is also a friend of mine.  He is really hard working and obedient and so we're having a really nice time together.  I really love it here in Uitenhage so it should be a really great time for me on mission. 

To Dad;

Yeah so I'll tell all about the new area to mom no need to worry about that.  I'm a district leader just to answer your question. 

My foot is completely fine.  The doctor said when I left that it was just an infection and nothing too crazy.  It was basically healed by then anyway.  I asked her if she thought it was a crazy infestation of Mango flies and she said no the chances of that were very quite low which will give you some peace I guess.  I'm sure I'm fine now.  

M is S's daughter

This is S in the orange and the other one is N who was baptized about a year ago.

Here is a generation picture.  Elder Wilson on the right who trained Elder Greengrass who trained me who trained Elder Mabanga. 

Here is a picture with one of my favorite missionaries Elder Hugo

Here is me and Elder Dove on the plane together.  We started in East London then flew to Cape Town together and then we flew to Port Elizabeth together too haha.  I can't get rid of this guy. 

This guy was playing Come Come Ye Saints way loud in the town square downtown.  Apparently he was selling MoTab CDs hahahaha.  He wasn't even a member.  This kind of blew my mind hahaha

Then I thought this was kind of funny.  Just a cow chilling in the middle of someones grass hahaha

Here is a picture of my companion

Monday, June 12, 2017

June 12 letter

To Mom:

I feel like I should share some few details about my experience this week with some mysterious abscesses on my leg.  Firstly the one on my right leg actually turned out to be no big deal.  I did have to go to the doctor on Monday and she looked at it and didn't really know what it was but she didn't think it was a bite.  She gave me some antibiotics to eat and some cream to rub on it and it pretty much went away by now.  On Monday I did also have a throbbing pain on my foot which I didn't know where it came from so the doctor told me to where fat shoes and eat some painkillers and she gave me some painkillers.  Then that night I couldn't sleep at all because my foot was in so much pain.  I went back the next day and the doctor said that either I had broken my toe, or I had gout hahahaha.  So I got a x ray and they told me I didn't have a broken toe.  So then the doctor said to me that I have gout and she gave me some strong painkillers to eat and made me stay home from the area. The next 2 days I didn't go to the area.  Instead I stayed at the mission office while my companion went with a member to teach our lessons.  It was definitely the Lord's hand in making me stay home, because I got the time to study the Plan of Salvation for about 3 hours.  After studying for those hours I actually got very detailed and powerful revelation that I've been seeking for quite a while.  I know that I could not have received that revelation without staying home and I know that I wouldn't have stayed home unless something happened where the doctor made me stay home.  

Anyway the next day when I woke up I was eating my painkillers and then I looked at my toe and I realized that the whole inside of my toe had pretty much exploded.  There was just blood and so much puss oozing all over the place and I'm not going to lie it was pretty graphic hahaha.  So then I was kind of freaked out and I went to the doctor again.  She told me that at least it's definitely not Gout but she doesn't know what it is and she squeezed my toe a bunch of times which was definitely not very fun for me hahaha.  Then she gave me some ointments to rub on my toe and sent me away.  Anyway after that the pain died down a lot.  I went back to work on Saturday.  The wound still hasn't healed but it doesn't ooze nearly as much and it doesn't really hurt very much any more.  
This will definitely freak you out a lot.  Sister Hansen from the office has been in contact with the area doctor and sending him pictures and stuff and he said that he thinks probably a mango fly layed eggs in my sock and the eggs hatched and started eating my toe hahaha.  But whatever happens I'm sure I'll know by the end of the week and it will all turn out great :)

This was my last week in Langa.  There was different emotions for me.  I know I need to move on but it is sad to leave.  I will definitely miss the 2 converts that we taught and baptized here which is S and E.  Actually I gave S my journal and she wrote the most beautiful letter to me that made me want to cry.  It was so beautiful and nice and while I read it the Spirit whispered to me that one of the reasons I was asked to serve in Langa and even in South Africa is to teach her the gospel.  I am really going to miss her.  She actually gave me a horn on a necklace that her grandfather gave to her which is really cool. 

Other than leaving Langa this week, not a lot has been happening.  Like I said I have been in the mission office and we haven't been particularly diligent in our missionary work, of which I will repent and be better in my next area.  

My transfer news is that I am going to Uitenhage which is in Port Elizabeth, and my new companion is going to be Elder Lilback from Germany I think.  I met him on his first day on mission and actually I took him proselyting for an hour.  I will be his second companion.  I think it's kind of funny.  I am going to make it to just about a year on mission without ever getting a companion with more than 4 months of experience haha.  

Monday, June 5, 2017

June 5 letters

To Mom:

I knew about Wonder Woman before I came on mission.  In fact if people ask me what my favorite movie is I say "I think it's Wonder Woman.  I'm not sure because I haven't seen it yet but I'm pretty sure it's Wonder Woman"  Hahaha.  

This past week the APs actually told me that despite what I thought, I will be leaving Langa next week on Wednesday.  I've been feeling different lately.  Lots of things have been going on but I've just been a bit lazy lately and not quite as driven.  I think it's definitely inspired for me to leave because I truly feel that I've learned all I will from Langa. 

I don't have a lot to say this week.  Apparently I got bit by some sort of bug or spider and I've had a rash on my leg for like a week.  That's kind of dope.  I'm going to get it looked at today.  It isn't a big deal but it will be cool to say I got bitten by an indigenous and deadly species of insect.  Also I got Athletes foot so that kind of sucks hahaha.  But those things will be gone by next week. 

To Dad:

I'm really excited about the commentary you sent me last week.  I've studied really deeply about this a couple of times since I've been on mission and I've had a lot of revelations.  The times that I've been closest to understanding the Book of Mormon is when I've studied it against the definition of "Hell" in the bible dictionary.  I actually noticed that in Alma 12 there seems to be an almost imperceptible shift from speaking about the state of all the wicked, to talking about the state of only the sons of perdition.  I've actually put off deep studying for the past few weeks because I wanted to finish the Book of Mormon, so I've just been reading lots and lots of Book of Mormon lately and it's been good.  I'll probably finish it today or tomorrow though and then I'm going to study deeply the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants again.  If I find anything I'll let you know.  I am really excited to read what you come up with though.  I don't trust very many people to teach me doctrine.  Most of the missionaries here have bits and pieces of false doctrine and not a lot of them have a very deep understanding of true doctrine.  I'm really glad that I have a dad that taught me about the true points of doctrine. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

May 29 letter

To Mom:

Mike Mower apparently knows Elder Greengrass' cousin or something so he came to our branch to find Elder Greengrass so yeah he was a nice friendly guy. 

This past week was a really strong week for missionary work.  Me and Elder Mabanga had a lot of success and we found lots of really good investigators.  We have an investigator called Brother B who is around 30 who we've had for a while.  He's actually come to church for 3 weeks in a row now.  Me and Elder Monoalibe taught him the first 3 lessons a long time ago, but he kind of disappeared after that so we didn't teach him again.  Then me and Elder Mabanga recontacted him.  But he's really hard to teach because he talks forever.  The first time we taught him after we recontacted him I asked him "Did you read the Book of Mormon" and he literally talked for more than 15 minutes to answer that question.  He was talking all about his entire life story somehow it was really weird.  But anyway this past week we went to teach Brother B and we went over the Restoration, and he actually remembered it perfectly.  But not only that but he told us all about how he has had a powerful witness from the Holy Ghost that it's true and that Joseph Smith is a true prophet and that The Book of Mormon is true.  It was really cool and so we're excited to get him baptized some time soon. 

We have another investigator named N who is a 16 year old girl.  She is really progressing and this Sunday she came to church with S and E, who are both of the people me and Elder Mabanga baptized.  N stayed even after church to go visit 2 members of the church who had a death.  When someone has a death, all the members go to their home and preach or something so N came to both of those things which lasted about 3 hours after church.  N will definitely be baptized soon.  We are even going to teach her dad as soon as possible. 

We also met a new sister named N.  N is 22 and she lives next door to the Mbaki's who are a member family.  We taught N the restoration and she was really excited about it.  She actually just moved to Cape Town and she is planning on inviting her friends to come to church with her which should be nice. 

Today for P day we went to a members house who has lots of snakes so we took lots of pictures with snakes.  I also attached a picture with my buddy Qhawe and my comp.
Also today me and Elder Mabanga got locked out of our boarding so I had to climb in through the window and we had no ladder so the other missionaries just kind of hoisted me to a ledge and I pulled myself up and went through the window.  It was pretty sick actually to be entirely honest so I'll send a picture of that too.

I'm really excited to stay in Langa for 12 more weeks.  

May 28 letter from Brother Mike Mower

Hello Sister Heald:  I met your son while attending the Langa Township Branch today.  He did a nice job playing the piano and was so nice and friendly to all of the members.

May 22 letters and PICTURES finally!

To Mom:

I really wanted to take pictures and repent but I really hate taking pictures so I just tried to take pictures with the Book of Mormon to help me get over my mental block haha.  

This week was kind of a slow week for me and Elder Mabanga.  We didn't teach too many people.  S was confirmed on Sunday by Elder Greengrass so now we don't really have anyone that we're seriously working with anymore.  S is really amazing though.  We have another recent convert who was baptized before I got here named N and the three of us decided to have a challenge to see who can finish the Book of Mormon first.  Last night S was on 3 Nephi 6 so she's really killing us all haha.  I actually gave her Jesus the Christ to read.  
An interesting thing about N is that she is only 17 but she had to drop out of school and she lives in a really hard situation.  She doesn't have parents or anyone to take care of her so she has been struggling lately.  Anyway Me, Elder Mabanga, and S fasted with her to get a job on Saturday and Sunday and towards the end of our fast N got a call I don't know who from, but randomly I guess a member family offered her a job, and a place to stay and they are basically going to take her in and train her and have family home evening and stuff and it's going to be really good for her.  So a notable miracle I guess you could say.  

Something you'll definitely find interesting is about one of our other investigators.  We have a sister named N who we are working with.  She's 16 and she's really excited to change.  She's keeping her commitments and she teaches all her friends about the Book of Mormon.  Anyway this past week she actually invited us to speak at her school.  Hahaha I thought that was kind of bizarre because I don't think that would be legal in America, but we just went into one of her classes with the permission of the teacher and the principle and we just taught about prayer and scripture study.  Apparently it's like a free time space where the students can pick which class to go to, so we went to the religious study class and taught from the bible.  We are actually going to start going once or twice a week and we are planning on teaching about the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation and stuff.  Kind of crazy but it was a really fun experience. 

I think I'm going to be in Langa for 2 more transfers which is going to be really long.  I'm kind of disappointed about that.  That's going to be 3 whole transfers with Elder Mabanga so it's a good thing that I love that guy haha.  Yeah the next transfer is only going to be 3 weeks, and then there will be a 9 weeks transfer, so I told President Merrill that I was planning on finishing Elder Mabanga's training in 9 weeks rather than the normal 12 weeks in preparation for the long transfer, and President Merrill emailed back, don't worry, you will get to finish the training.  I do love Langa though, but I'm sad because I'm gaining weight here.  The members actually feed us every single day.  And 6 months in one area is a really long time.  No problem though. 

To Dad:

I can't think of much to say.  I sent mom a long email so I'm sure you'll read that.  
One thing is that I started reading the book by Hugh Nibley.  It's definitely not for everyone hahaha.  I really like it though.  I'm excited to finish it.  It's really complex and I have to work to understand it sometimes which is really nice. I've decided to finish the Book of Mormon though.  I will be putting all other books on hold for the next 3 weeks while I finish the Book of Mormon.  That's nice.

The first picture is me and my zone leader Elder Hernandez

Me and my good buddy from Langa, Brother Guellor.  He's way ripped and yeah I love that guy

Me and 2 small children whom I am teaching to read the Book of Mormon

Me with the Book of Mormon

Me and My companion Elder Mabanga

Me and my buddy who is the Branch Mission Leader, Kevin

Me with my Tongan brothers Elder Faingata'a and Elder Latu

Me and my comp with sister S at her baptism

My buddy Brian

Me at waterfront

May 15 letter

To Mom:

Obviously the highlight of my week was of course talking to you and the family. 

S is really great.  She's really become friends with the ward now and she has lots of support.  Everyone likes her.  She's really powerful.  Teaching her has been a joy.  We met her when I first got to Langa.  She was actually referred to us by an investigator and we caught her at her house.  She didn't seem really interested but she allowed us to teach her.  She even told us in the first lesson that she doesn't really believe that God is real.  The second lesson when we went back, she told us that she had prayed and that God had answered her prayer.  From there, she was already converted.  We gave her the Book of Mormon and she started reading.  sometimes 10 or 20 chapters in 1 day.  I gave her a book to read, "Our Search for Happiness"  By M Russell Ballard and she finished it in a few days.  I gave her 2 more books "Believing Christ" and "Following Christ" by Stephen E Robinson, and she finished those too.  We told her the Word of Wisdom and it turns out she struggled with just about all of it.  She gave up tea and coffee immediately and all of the other things she was doing as well, but she still struggled to give up Cigarettes.  We gave her a priesthood blessing and it helped, but she still failed her first baptismal interview.  After that she was really determined to make a full change in her life, and we gave her another priesthood blessing.  From that point on she never smoked again.  She said that the week before her baptism, Satan really tried to test her.  The father of her child came and asked her to marry him.  She asked him if he wanted to be married in the temple, he said not a chance, and she told him to get lost.  Her boss came to her with some anti mormon stuff and she related him to Korihor.  And she was offered cigarettes all week and she had no problem saying no.  The baptism was one of the most powerful days of my mission.  She's really awesome.  She even got LDS Gospel Library on her phone and she's been reading all sorts of things there.  

I did promise pictures today but I don't have a chord for my camera and the chord I thought I was going to use doesn't work anymore so I'll figure something out for next week :)

Monday, May 8, 2017

May 8 letters

To Mom:

I have made myself a goal to get a 4.0 in college.  I don't know if I will be able to do it and maybe I'll get wrecked but mission and especially South Africa has really taught me a lot about being a hard worker.  

This week President Merrill came to our branch for church, which was pretty cool.  It was a really powerful testimony meeting.  One of the prominent brothers in the ward, brother M, bore a really cool testimony.  Apparently, he is the person that translated the Book of Mormon into Lingala, which is the language of the Congo.  He said the day he finished and submitted the translation, is the same day he met his wife.  He has the best family.  There is 11 people that live with him that all rely on him for money and clothes and everything. 
The sad thing is that his family, the M's, got evicted from their house last week.  They were eating dinner, and a bunch of drunk people just walked into their house and started moving things outside.  There were some heated and angry words that night, and a lot of drunk people who were absolutely raging drunk and beyond reason which was funny.  We were actually there, and it was sad because they were all saying horrible things about the church, and the M's were very angry which gave the church a bad image.  They ended up staying in their house for the night, but the next morning we helped them move to a new place.  President M, the branch president, organized them a new house to live in which they will stay permanently.  

The next day we helped the young men's president paint his new place.  Afterwards he bought us a smiley (Sheep head)  It was Elder Greengrass' and Elder Hernandez' first time eating smiley so they were very queasy.  Elder Greengrass almost threw up it was really funny.  Of course I'm a seasoned vet at eating smiley so it was no problem for me haha :)
It's weird though, being in SA, because I eat way more things haha.  When I go home you guys are going to think I'm way weird because I always eat bones and stuff hahaha.

Next Sunday S is finally getting baptized, so I will be sure to send pictures of that.  

To Dad:

The Branch verse Branch soccer game was really funny because we played on a dirt field.  Like it was literally dirt.  So it was really hard to do anything except wack the ball and run.  I did have a couple of really sweet shots though.  My shooting and finishing has really improved since I came to SA.  

May 1 letters

To Mom:

I'm sorry that I haven't sent pictures.  Unfortunately I haven't taken a single picture in about 2 months.  I am sorry. I will repent and try to improve.

This week has been really easy for me.  It went by so fast.  Me and Elder Mabanga have the spirit with us so much because we have perfect companionship unity it's so awesome.  We taught a lot of lessons this week and we had the spirit so much.  We found a perfect father led family with 3 kids that came to church last Sunday.  The dad's name is N.  Too bad though they didn't come to church yesterday so we went to check up on them and we found out that N had been drinking Mqomboti which is African beer.  He was really drunk.  We were so disappointed.  He told us that he didn't want to drink it but he had no choice because it is his culture and he can't go against his culture.  Some things about African culture and tradition are very wicked and annoying.  Oh well.  He will certainly still progress.  He always talks about the church in terms of his church and not our church.  We'll just have to smack him around a little bit and teach him the word of wisdom. 

S is doing so well too.  We had to postpone her baptism because she had difficulty quitting smoking.  Ever since her interview she has perfectly lived the word of wisdom.  That's really exciting because she is going to be baptized on May 14.  She is really progressing as good as it is possible to progress.  She has read the Book of Mormon all the way up to Alma.  I gave her some books to read too.  Our Search for Happiness and Believing Christ and she finished both of those.  She's also reading the 4 gospels now too.  Every time we visit her I feel the spirit it's so great. 

Our branch mission leader is a guy called K.  He's my age and we are really tight.  Anyway we told him to get us more DAs and he talked to his mom who is the Relief Society president and she organized us a DA for every single day this week.  From now on we may have a DA every day.  That would be crazy.  Me and Elder Mabanga are going to redouble our efforts to run every day haha :)

Today Langa branch is taking on Mandalay branch in soccer.  We are going to kill them.  Elder Mabanga is also really good at soccer. 

To Dad:

Man speaking in church is the best.  It's my favorite thing ever.  I'm sure you smashed it.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April 24 letters

To Dad:

My new companion is the best.  I love him so much.  Me and him are really good friends.  I don't think we will ever have any contention in our companionship for sure.  But yeah he's not really a new convert.  He was baptized 7 years ago.  He  doesn't know his scriptures too well, but he's really humble and he's working on it and we're having lots of really great spiritual experiences.

To Mom:

So this week was one of my favorite weeks on mission so far. It was just really awesome.  Me and Elder Mabanga are so good of friends which is like the best thing ever.  I never have to pray for my relationship with my companion, or think about it at all.  It's so amazing it's like the best thing ever.  We laugh a lot and have the best time.  We have also been having so many spiritual experiences.  

We found the best investigators this week.  We met a guy named N on Wednesday.  He's in his 30s and we taught him the Restoration on the road.  Then we brought him the Book of Mormon the next day and he told us that he's married and has 3 kids.  On Friday we came back and taught him and his wife T the Restoration.  They both came to church on Sunday and they loved it so much.  They kept talking about how excited they were and how they were for sure going to go back next week.  We gave them a baptismal date and they are way excited to be baptized on May 28.

Yesterday we had our first baptism in Langa.  a young woman name E.  I wasn't sure how ready E was spiritually, but she comes to church every week and she has lots of friends at church who take care of her.  Ultimately there was nothing that stopped her from being baptized.  The baptism, though, was really perfect.  The spirit was so strong and E really felt good afterwards.  You could really tell, she was just glowing.  She shared her testimony and it was really genuine.

Last week S failed her baptismal interview because she is still struggling to quit smoking.  We saw her every day last week and had so many spiritual experiences.  She is doing absolutely amazing.  She's now in Mosiah in the Book of Mormon which is awesome.  She also read a couple other books that I gave her to borrow.  She's really doing awesome.  On Saturday we fasted with her starting at 3.  On Sunday it was her daughters birthday so we brought her a cake and watched the Restoration movie.  E was even there which was sweet and the spirit in that room was so amazing.  Everyone was crying and stuff and talking about how grateful they are for the gospel and how much they love Joseph Smith.  It was really nice.

Mission has been really great to me lately.  I'm just starting to be friends with the members in Langa and now I'm really excited to stay.  The first couple weeks I was feeling like I just missed Mdantsane, because I loved Mdantsane, but now I feel fully committed to Langa and I'm super excited to see some of these baptisms come to fruition. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Birthday to Adam!

Letter to Mom:

I definitely do not feel 19.  I still feel 16 hahaha.  19 is way older than me.

Easter in South Africa is really small.  I didn't even know it was Easter until like Thursday when the Branch President asked me to give a talk in sacrament meeting. 

Elder Mabanga came on Wednesday.  He's a real blessing to me because I like him a lot.  We traded in our car to the mission office the day he got here because he can drive stick.  And we got a manual car and he taught me to drive, so now I can officially drive manual which is dope. 

Today was really awesome.  We woke up at 5:30 and hiked up Table Mountain which was an absolutely grueling hike.  Especially since I'm way out of shape now.  It took like 5 hours but it was super dope and it gave us a really nice view of Cape Town.  Me and Elder Faingata'a slayed it.  All the other missionaries lagged far behind.  

Tonight we have 3 DAs planned with awesome people who are just the best, and they are baking me a cake and stuff it's going to be sweet.  

President Merrill did call me today but I was on top of Table Mountain so I didn't get it haha

We had baptismal interviews yesterday for our 2 investigators who were supposed to be baptized next Sunday, E and S.  S is so awesome.  She's probably one of the most powerful people I have ever taught, but she failed her interview.  Apparently she has been having some problems smoking cigarettes and she hasn't fully overcome it yet.  I didn't know about this but I did have an idea.  It made me very sad though.  I am sure she will be baptized the next time we have a baptism though.

Letter to Dad:

Happy Birthday, Dad :)

When I opened up my presents I saw the one from Dad and I said to my companion, "It's going to be a book by Hugh Nibley"  And he didn't really know who that is, but I opened it up and sure enough.  But I'm super excited about that book.  I really love the Book of Mormon and I would love to gain a really deep understanding of the Book of Mormon.  

I got my companion on Wednesday.  He's a really good guy and I like him a lot.  

Elder Mabanga, Elder Dove, Elder Hernandez, Elder Heald, Elder Tucker, Elder Fangita'a, Elder Allred, Elder Greengrass

Monday, April 10, 2017

April 10 letters

To Mom:

We watched conference this weekend.  I am a missionary, and Elder Costa gave a wonderful talk, specifically for investigators.  You must put 2 and 2 together and realize that that was surely my favorite talk.  When he was talking about unfamiliar words at church, everyone was laughing so hard.  "Who are the Beehives?  What is the Relief Society?"  Hahahahah investigators have said that to me about a million times.  After that talk our investigator S told us that she was very touched and that "He was talking to me."  Haha it was very nice.  My other favorite talk was Elder Sabin's talk from Saturday Afternoon.  In all though I think all of the talks in the Sunday morning session were just phenomenal. 

I have said a little bit about marriage.   I have never taught a single person who is living with someone they are not married to.  Marriage is very easy here.  If they are cohabitating, it would not be difficult.  They would just quickly get married and it wouldn't be too big of an issue.  The only issue is Labola which is one of the dumbest things ever.  The male has to pay the brides parents like 50 thousand rands or something like that before they can get married.  Paying labola is strongly discouraged by the church.

On Friday President Merrill called me to give me my transfer news.  Elder Monoalibe is leaving the area.  He told me that he's releasing me as district leader because he is calling me to train another missionary hahaha.  My new companion is going to be Elder Mbonga from South Africa.  Apparently he is 24 and a recent convert and needs someone with "A lot of spiritual maturity" to train him the president said.  hahaha.  The best news is that the Elder who is replacing me as district leader is Elder Faingata'a.  When I heard this I was so so happy.  You may know this but Elder Faingata'a is probably my favorite missionary in the whole mission.  The other good news is that my new Zone leader is going to be Elder Greengrass hahaha.  I love that guy so much too.  We share an area with the zone leaders so I will be seeing him every single day for the next 3 months again.  Really good transfer news.  

My package came in the mail.  I still need to pay 113 Rands to release it from the post office but I should pay that today.  Happy Birthday to me :)

To Dad:

I am always grateful that I was born to goodly parents that love the lord. Something I hear a lot is something like this: "You were born into the church, but when did you really get a testimony?"  I used to think about that and try and identify when I really found out the church was true.  I used to think it might be when I started reading my scriptures every day.  Or maybe when I started going to the temple a lot.  Since I've been on mission I realized though, that I have always known the church was true.  There has not been a time in my life when I did not have a testimony.  I realized that it's wrong to assume that somebody must find out for themselves the truth of the church when they were a bit older.  Like they weren't sure when they were 8.  Like they didn't have a testimony.  That's doubting the revelation that 8 years old is the age of accountability.  And so basically I am very grateful that I was born to goodly parents who taught me so well, that as I grew up, I always knew that the church was true, and especially that the Savior Jesus Christ lives and loves me.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

April 3 letters

To Mom:
We didn't get to watch conference yet because we don't have a building in Langa.  We actually meet at a preschool, so they are going to show conference this weekend instead.  I am very excited.  

To answer your question about food:
This transfer has been pretty sweet because Elder Monoalibe is a pure Xhosa guy so he has been teaching me to make a lot of different Xhosa dishes.  
One thing I have made is called Mbako, or English Steam Bread.  It's basically just home made bread but it's really good. You can use the same recipe and make something called Gwinya, or English Fat Cakes.  Gwinya is basically fried bread hahaha :)  It's like one of the most amazing things you can eat.  Usually that is about the size of a hamburger bun.  You can put meat on it and it tastes amazing, or you can put honey, or jam on it and it tastes amazing.  Or you can eat it plain and it tastes amazing.  It's not very good for you though hahaha.  But it only costs 1 rand to buy one which is about 8 cents... And you can feed yourself a full meal on about 2 of those.  I'm pretty sure it's the cheapest thing you can buy here so I eat it a lot more than I probably should.  

There's a meal I really like which is much more healthy.  I'll make it for you when I come home.  It's called Umgqusho, or in English Samp and Beans.  Literally it is just samp and beans.  

As far as fruit goes I have not eaten anything interesting, but there is a lot of fresh fruit everywhere and the apples are tiny here.  

I can't mention things I love without mentioning Coke.  Of course you know African coke is 10 times better than American coke.  I love it a lot. 

This week was a bit interesting.  Home teaching got shuffled around so some issues were brought to our attention.  There are 3 guys in the ward who have apostatized.  2 of them are returned missionaries.  The 3 of them became offended somehow and decided they wouldn't come to church anymore.  That was a long time ago.  The problem now, is that the 3 of them have banded together and apparently they are studying false doctrines and anti mormon doctrines and there's a real worry that they will drag some people down with them.  

Our investigator S is so awesome.  We've been seeing her some more and apparently she has a lot of things to overcome.  She's been fasting and praying and she is really making serious changes in her life.  She is one of my favorite people that I have worked with so far on mission.

We've even been having lots of other successes with different investigators in the past week and I will tell you more about them as they progress further.  

To Dad:
This week has been really awesome for me.  I have focused on laughing and smiling and making jokes a lot, and it has been so good for me.  I feel like normal again so I'm really happy.  I realized that for me being kind and charitable is not the same as maybe for another person.  I like to cheer people up and make them feel happy by making them laugh or making them smile.  I was praying so hard for charity but I thought it would just be this magic love in my heart for everyone and that I would just exude it or something.  I realized the Lord already blessed me with what I need to be a charitable and kind person and it's in a little bit of a different way then I was thinking.  

I didn't watch conference yet.  We are going to watch it next week, but I like the story you told about Elder Eyring.  It reminds me of something that happened to me this past week.  We have a returned missionary in our area who has completely apostatized.  Actually we have like 5 or 6 of those.  But this one in particular is named U and he used to be really faithful and just a powerful guy.  But apparently his dad died and it just destroyed him.  Anyways U is now a woman.  We were preparing to go visit him with some of the strong brethren from the branch, and everything inside of me wanted to just rebuke this guy.  For a few seconds I was thinking that and then I just felt a shift in my mind and I saw this guy in God's eyes.  This guy probably thinks the church hates him.  Almost all gay people think that.  He doesn't need a rebuke.  He doesn't need me to call him to repentance.   He needs us to show him love.  To show him that we love him and want the best for him.  It might be hard for me to love a person, but it's not hard for God.  It was a pretty powerful experience for me to see somebody in God's eyes. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March 27 letter to Mom

This week has been really interesting.  There's some really crazy people in Cape Town.

First of all I have seen about a thousand trannies lately and it's honestly starting to discourage me because it is one of the worst forms of wickedness and abomination in this world.  I feel a lot like some of the prophets in the Book of Mormon, whose hearts hurt because of the wickedness of the people. 

There's some other crazy people that we teach.  There's one old guy who smokes pounds of weed every day and we are teaching him and his wife and it's kind of weird to work with a grown man who struggles with drug addiction.  

We've been teaching a drug lord named S so that's kind of crazy, but he's a good guy.  We have a homeless man who comes to church every Sunday named Brother S.  We gave him a bunch of clothes and he immediately sold them.  The funniest thing about him is that he stole some of the baptismal clothing from the church and that's what he wears hahahaha

Our investigator S is one of my favorite investigators that I have taught so far on mission.  She has been an absolute joy to teach.  Every time we teach her the spirit fills the room.  She reads like 10 chapters of the Book of Mormon every day and she's been fasting and praying .  She's really awesome.

Last week we got invited to go to Youth Conference.  The APs chose 4 companionships from Cape Town to go who they apparently thought were the "Most powerful missionaries"  and they chose us hahaha.  It reminded me a lot of my last Youth Conference I went to before I came here, which is a very nice memory for me.  It was a lot of fun and it was so nice to be able to go and do something different on a Saturday than just proselyte.  

My companion is teaching me how to cook lots of really sweet African dishes so that's exciting.  I can't cook anything American or normal but I can now cook some African dishes haha :)

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20 letters

To Mom: So being in Langa lately we haven't had too much success but we do have 2 sisters who are really progressing.  One is named N and  we met her almost the first week I was here.  Actually they took all the new greenies to our area to get some exposure to mission and she is one of the people that they found.  N actually comes to church right after work because she works night shift.  
N gave us a referral to teach her friend S who is also super awesome.  We taught S 3 times this week.  At first she told us that she doesn't know if God is real.  Then we challenged her to pray and find out.  The next time we came she said that she had prayed and that God answered her prayer.  We taught her about the book of Mormon.  The next time we came back she had read the Restoration pamphlet and 6 chapters from the book of Mormon.  Me and Elder Monoalibe were super excited.  She came to church on Sunday as well and now she is preparing to be baptized on April 23, which is her daughters birthday so that's really nice.  I don't think we will have any baptisms this transfer but there is a few people who still might make April 9.  I guess we'll see.

Something crazy is that Cape Town is in a serious drought and it hasn't rained this year at all.  As far as I know it has only rained once in the past 6 months.  The water supplies are really short and so the whole city of Cape Town is having water shut off for 2 days at the end of this month.  That will be really crazy if it happens.

Anyway Langa is really sweet.

To Dad: oh yeah and by the way we have been playing soccer every Monday.  In Cape Town there are really nice fields for us to play at and we bought a ball and it's super nice.   I am getting really out of shape though haha.

Zone conference

Monday, March 13, 2017

March 13 letters

Letter to Mom:

So the difference between Langa and Mdantsane is huge.  Mdantsane is called the land of milk and honey in the mission and for good reason.  You always have members present at all of your lessons and you teach a lot of people.  The wards are strong.  There's 2 chapels and the church has been there for over 20 years.  Also you baptize a lot of people.  Not only that but the Eastern Cape is a lot quieter and a totally different environment.  It rains a lot and it's super humid there, and the cost of living is so cheap.  Groceries are super cheap. 

Here in Cape Town and specifically in Langa things are a lot different.  First of all Cape Town is a lot more of a hectic and busy place.  Everything feels like it's moving at a thousand miles an hour and everything.  Also Cape Town is a very iniquitous city.    What makes it kind of annoying about Cape Town is that there is so much sin so there's nobody in the branch who I think I can trust.  We take brothers with us to do missionary work and they hit on the girls we go see and try to break the law of chastity with them and they turn around and smoke weed and stuff and scare away all of our investigators.  Also there is 3 or 4 members in the ward who are rm's who met their wife here in Langa and came back and married them within like 2 months.  That causes a lot of problems for us because people are always asking us why they did that and if they can date us and stuff which we obviously can't but the other people obviously did.  There's even a few people who went less active because the missionary that taught them immediately came back and got married and 9 months later there was a baby.  That's very frustrating for us and very sad. 

In all I would say that I like Mdantsane more because it's a quiet place and there is more success, but I really like Langa as well regardless of the things that are hard here.  Me and Elder Monoalibe have been working really hard and having lots of success and everything here.  We've really been praying for miracles and we've seen some crazy things happen in the last week.  Everyday we find someone new who is absolutely prepared to hear the gospel.  That being said I don't think we are going to get the goal of 10 baptisms which is sad.  I don't want to baptize anyone that's going to immediately go less active and the retention rate here is already terrible, so I want to make sure people are really ready before we baptize them.  I think there's probably at least 5 though that are really ready which is a lot.

On Sunday we had a lesson about women in our lives and stuff and I just kept thinking about my mom hahaha.  I'm just super grateful for you for giving me like pretty much everything I could ask for and for loving me so much and making sure I turned out right.

Letter to Dad:
Dad I heard a talk this week that I thought was really sweet and it answered some questions for me.  I definitely recommend that you listen to it and read it if you want.  It's called 7 deadly heresies by Bruce R McConkie

Me with N who is the old lady that me and Elder Muller miraculously healed some months ago

Me with W's little sister in Mdantsane

This is our recent convert sister S and her family who are already members.  I like this picture because it makes me and Elder Reedy look like giants

Our last baptism in Mdantsane with a kid called L

Me with Elder Wilson who trained Elder Greengrass and Elder Reedy