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