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.