Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Oct 30 letter

This week was kind of boring for me.  It was week 11 of the 12 week program for new missionaries, and basically what my job is in week 11 is to act like a fresh greenie the whole week.  So Elder Khoza led me everywhere this week and I just kind of lazed around and just followed after him.  I always hate week 11 because I just feel so lazy and the work doesn't go as well, but Elder Khoza learned a lot and he grew a lot so it was very productive. 

On Sunday Siviwe and the Goeieman family were supposed to receive the Holy Ghost but the Goeieman family had a child in the hospital so they weren't able to come to church so they should receive the Holy Ghost next week.  Siviwe did receive the Holy Ghost though so that was really good.  He's a really powerful potential priesthood holder.  I hope to hear of him becoming a bishop one day.

Next week I think should be my last Sunday in Uitenhage.  We are going out with 2 more baptisms who were supposed to be baptized last week but had to be postponed.  That will be N and A.  They are both really excited for their baptism.

Elder Koch is coming on Thursday to Port Elizabeth to do his training and he's apparently also going to inspect our appartments and our cars.  I'm excited to meet him and all that it should be great.
Otherwise everything is going well this side and the area is great and all is well.  

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

October 23 letter

So yeah we had a nice week and the baptism was definitely a highlight of the week. 

So the bishopric is preparing to open up a group in the colored area but there's not so many members there or ward leaders and so we made a goal to work hard in that area and to find more members and we had a lot of spiritual experiences with that.  Before I get into that let me backtrack for a second
Don't freak out but the Elders in Zwide (Elder Dove and Elder Monoalibe) got hijacked at gun point on Tuesday.  That's the 4th time in the past 2 months that the missionaries in that part of PE have had their car stolen at gun point.  So because this is happening so much it seems like the criminals are just targeting the missionaries so the Elders didn't proselyte for a few days.  

So for Wednesday and Thursday they came to my area to do splits with me and my companion.  My companion went and taught our normal set appointments and I went tracting for the 2 days.  The first day I was with Elder Foster.  We prayed to teach 4 lessons and find a branch president for the new branch.  It was amazing.  I've never seen so many father led families in my life.  We found 10 father led families to go back and teach and we taught 4 lessons.  

The next day I was with Elder Dove.  We prayed for 3 lessons, 3 referrals contacted and an elders quorum president.  We taught 3 lessons, contacted 3 referrals, and just like the day before we found so many father led families.  It was really a miracle. 

Another funny thing that happened.  Every wednesday we play soccer in the morning at the field and every Saturday we play basketball at the church at 6:30.  So Saturday we were playing Basketball and I had the ball and Elder Dove was guarding me but he's not very coordinated with his hands hahaha.  So I was just minding my own business when suddenly he just punched me in the face for no reason and I dropped to the floor.  I have a big scratch on my face now and everyone keeps asking me about it.  Apparently he was just trying to get the ball. 

The baptism on Sunday was really special.  So many members turned up to support.  The program was run so smoothly and everything went according to plan.  It was really exciting.  The 3 adults baptized each bore their testimony and it was really nice.  The whole ward was excited and the spirit was there.  Unfortunately the other 2 girls who were going to be baptized had to get pushed back the the 5th of November which should be my last Sunday in Uitenhage, but it's not a really big deal. 

Me and my comp

The whole baptism

Us with the Goeieman family getting baptized and brother Freddie baptizing them

Us with Siviwe getting baptized and brother Tom baptizing him

Monday, October 16, 2017

Oct 16 letters

To Dad:

This is a very interesting email.  Thanks a lot dad.  I'm just finishing the Book of Mormon tonight or tomorrow and I'm planning to have a much more in depth study of it the next time through.  I hope when I go home we can have some deeper conversations because I want to know a lot more from you about how you read the scriptures and how you get so much out of them.  But yeah I'll make a study of the visions of course and I'll try and look into that more and more. 

To Mom:

When you tell me about your job situation it just makes me laugh a lot.  The unemployment rate in South Africa is 27% hahah.  My comp was just telling me he used to work for 10 Rand an hour and he thought it was a good job.  That's about 80 cents hahahaha.  It's a blessing to be able to choose between so many good options. 

Things are going really well in our area.  We should have 6 baptisms if all goes well this Sunday.  We did the interviews on Sunday.  All of our candidates passed their interview although one was told to wait for November 5th so we should baptize her on that day if all goes well.  The family we are baptizing is really great.  N and S bring lots of kids every Sunday for church.  The two of them were married already but it wasn't legally recognized in South Africa so last night the Stake President came to the chapel to marry them together.  It was a very small service there was only 6 or 5 of us there but it was nice and the spirit felt really good.  I promise I'll send some pictures of that baptism next Monday so you can see everyone.  

Uitenhage is going to be starting a group in the township so probably it will split into a branch next year.  I think that we might get 2 more missionaries next transfer which would be a really good thing.  

I had a crazy experience on Friday.  I was driving down the road and there was some girls playing jump rope in the street as they always do.  Well when they saw a car coming their way from the opposite direction they put the jump rope down and moved to the side of the road.  The car passed them just before I passed them going the opposite direction.  Well because that car passed them they thought it was fine to go back in the street and one girl stepped back into the street to pick up the jump rope just as I was passing and I bumped her with the car.  I was so scared I pulled over but I've heard about mob justice and things that scared me a lot so I thought I might have to just flee the area.  Luckily Elder Khoza knows more than I do and he said we should go over to her.  Turns out she was completely fine.  She was in pain a little but she got up and kept playing jump rope so I was very relieved.  It was interesting though because while we went to talk to her we met a young woman who told us she is a member of the church named T.  We have never met her but we took her details and invited her to church.  The Lord works in mysterious ways because I know we wouldn't have stopped or met that less active member if we didn't bump that girl.  Still though it was crazy I was freaked out for the rest of the day every time I saw little kids playing in the road. 
Otherwise everything is going great for me

Oct 9 letter

Hi Mom

We watched the last session of conference yesterday.  I knew that Elder Hales died last week.  The last session was less powerful for me but there were 3 talks I really really liked.  Brother Callister's talk about the Book of Mormon really resonated with me.  I really liked Elder Koch's talk.  And Elder Anderson's talk was just really special I thought.  

This week was just so amazing for us.  We had 16 investigators at sacrament meeting that was a record for my whole mission I think.  We have been pretty much spending most of our time preparing for our baptisms coming up on the 22nd.  We are going to have 7.

Firstly that family that I told you about is going to be baptized.  N and S and their 2 daughters N and S.  We've been working with them and the bishop is doing an amazing job taking them in.  The Bishop is arranging to marry them this Saturday.  They are already married and they already had the ceremony and everything but it just didn't get recorded legally so the Bishop is making arrangements to have a small ceremony to make it legal so they can be baptized.  They've been coming to church and reading the Book of Mormon it's really exciting.  S got her answer a long time ago but last week at conference N was really touched and he told us that he got his answer there. 

We are also going to baptize N.  I think I told you about her already but she is doing so well.  She lives alone in a house with her little brother and she's only 17.  Just kind of shocking that a 17 year old girl lives alone but she's really responsible and mature so she manages.  She just really loves the Book of Mormon.  She reads at least 1 chapter every single day.  We told her that if she would read the Book of Mormon every day before she studies that her grades would improve.  She took the challenge and her 3rd term just ended and she got her scores and she did significantly better this time around which was really exciting.  She's going to be a great member of the church.  

There's another investigator named A who's been around for months and months.  I think I told you last week that she decided to quit her job at Spar so she can come to church every week and she's finally going to be baptized on the 22nd. 

The last baptism on the 22nd is the most exciting to me.  We have an investigator named S who is just really powerful.  He's super smart and he already knows a lot of the members and his girlfriend is even a member.  He's been taught the lessons before and he's just been around for a really long time but this time we were teaching him we've had some really powerful lessons.  We gave him the 22nd as his baptismal date like 7 weeks ago and he said he'd really try to make it but he wanted a confirmation that the church was true before he got baptized.  Well last week he went away for a weekend vacation with his girlfriend so he wasn't at church.  We were really worried about him especially for chastity issues and stuff but when we saw him this weekend we talked to him.  He said he'd been living the law of chastity and the word of wisdom completely.  We were really happy about that.  Then he told us about a very curious dream that he'd had.  He wanted an interpretation for his dream.  It was a really powerful experience because we were able to give him the interpretation for his dream right there on the spot and he said that because of that he was ready and he wanted to go forward with the baptism.  This guy is definitely a potential ward and stake leader.

To answer your question about transfers, this is my 3rd transfer in Uitenhage.  It is my second transfer with Elder Khoza so I will almost certainly leave Uitenhage on the 8th of November.  But President Lebethoa isn't so predictable he's throwing lots of curve balls so I could stay.  I don't know if the bishopric did talk to the mission president about having me stay around it's just something they were talking about for a second, but if I did stay I would be stoked.  There's a lot going on in Uitenhage right now I really love it here. 

Go to africase.lds.org and watch, How the Book of Mormon changed Thandikhaya's life, that's my buddy from MD and you'll even see Elder Clark there so that's pretty cool.

Monday, October 2, 2017

October 2 letters

To Dad:

We watched conference this weekend.  It was really great.  Mom said that you liked Elder Renlund's talk which I agree it was really powerful.  I really liked Elder Christofferson's talk.  I wondered if you also liked it because the metaphor of eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ is really a fascinating metaphor to study and I know that you had been studying the symbolism of the sacrament before my mission so I thought you would have liked that one.  Elder Christofferson is just my favorite I love him so much I hope you liked that talk. 

There were a lot of talks that I liked.  I also like Elder Bednar's talk because he doesn't mess around with funny stories and anecdotes he just speaks pure doctrine haha.  And Elder Oaks talk was really powerful.  We are watching Sunday afternoon next week. 

I love you Dad
Thank you for being such a great example to me and a pillar of strength all my life

To Mom:

Aevyn and Aeyla are so cute.  I can't wait to play with them.  Especially since President Lebethoa is really being strict on the rules and we've made a focus on not picking up kids at all or really not playing with them.  That's sad and one of the most difficult sacrifices I've had to make on mission so far. 

We did watch conference this week also.  We watched 2 sessions live and 2 others on a little delay all except Sunday afternoon session which we'll watch next week.  I thought it was an amazing conference.  There was a lot of things that spoke to me a lot.  I really loved Elder Christofferson's talk as usual.  He really speaks with the tongue of angels I'm not going to lie.  But by far my favorite talk was President Nelson's talk.  That was just so powerful I can't stop thinking about it.  

I noticed a couple of themes for the conference.  There was a lot of talk about service and a lot of talk about humility.  I don't know if you also thought that but I thought that was a good take away for me.  There was also a lot and a lot of emphasis on President Monson and a lot of love to him and everyone was quoting him.  It really felt like a final tribute to him or something.  

Another theme that a lot of speakers spoke about was the dangers of social media which I completely agree with.  A lot of speakers brought that up and I think that's really wise because it is a big problem. 

It was amazing for me and we actually managed to get 13 investigators to turn up to conference so that was a really great turnout. Especially since it was only like 5 of us members and 13 investigators.  Not kidding for the last session the investigators outnumbered the members and the session hahahaha.  

I have a lot to write about this week since I didn't get a chance to write last week so excuse my long email. 

First I'll say that the elephant experience was really great.  We rode the elephants for a while which was cool and the guides told us a bunch of facts about elephants which was sweet like the fact that they can lift 400 kgs with their trunk and that us on their back is like a matchbox in our pocket.  After we finished the ride we walked along side the elephants and we led them to a place where they ate some treats and we took lots of pictures with the elephants.  I am sad I didn't bring my camera because it's going to take me like a month to finally get some of those pictures but as soon as they come I'll send them to you. 

After that we led them to another feeding spot and we fed them some treats and took more pictures.  It was weird to touch that trunk thing it was so slimy and it was basically like a hand.  Something funny is that while we were walking with the elephants one of them just decided to grab a tree branch and rip it off and eat it.  Obviously they do that because that's how they live, but I thought it was funny that the elephant ate the branch not the leaves.  Like he literally just ate the wood hahaha.

Last Monday there was a stake event.  5 wards showed up to KwaNobuhle to play a soccer tournament.  Funnily enough we all showed up to where they meet for church, and bear in mind this event has been planned for several months, and they didn't have a place to play or a ball to play with hahahaha.  But no problem we drove around and found a field to play at and they graciously volunteered my ball for the cause of the event.  Unfortunately my ball popped along the way so it has gone the way of all the earth.  If you want to put 20 dollars in my account for me to buy another one that would be heaven sent.  

There were 5 wards and so all of the missionaries were there and we ended up making our own team which was the missionary team to be in the tournament.  Our first game was against KwaMagxaki ward and we easily smashed them.  I scored a pretty sweet goal dribbling through a couple of defenders and after I scored I was running back and a random guy from the sideline yelled "Elder are you from England?"  Hahaha I thought that was funny.  It's so weird to them that a white guy could be good at soccer that the only explanation in their mind is that I must be from England haha.  
But in the end our missionary team played against Uitenhage ward in the final and we also beat them 2-0 so my bishop wasn't happy with me and Elder Khoza hahaha.  But it was all good in the end and all of us missionaries were so proud to represent the mission so well haha. 

A funny story from the week is that we have this investigator named B who we've taught about 4 times.  At his house he has about 6 cousins that we also teach all YSA age.  They have come to church 1 time.  One of the cousins is named T.  On Wednesday night we taught them and after the lesson T said to me "It's my matrix fairwell tomorrow night why don't you come to 5 Peperboom at 6:00 tomorrow"  Matrix fairwell is like prom.     So I was like ok we can move some things around and fit it into our schedule.  So we showed up the next night at 6 and the family showed us in and we sat down behind this massive table of cakes and treats and stuff and waited for whatever was going on.  Apparently in the colored culture it is custom for the person going to prom to have a little gathering of friends where some people give speeches to him and eat and send him on his way.  Well as we were sitting there everyone started looking at me and I was just wondering why they were doing that and then his mom said to me "You can start"  Hahahaha so then I realized that I was actually the master of ceremonies for a ceremony that I have never even seen or know what it is at all hahaha.  So I was like ok what the heck and I stood up and just winged it.  I had my companion give a prayer and then I gave a speech for this kid I barely knew and then I made some jokes and called some other family members to give speeches and then closed with a prayer.  It was really funny for me to be thrown into the deep end so completely but my companion said I handled it well haha.  At least that guy will never forget me and he'll be more likely to be coming to church from now on. 

We're having lots of success with our investigators.  That father led family I told you about N and S and all their kids came to church again for conference.  They are married but not by law so the bishop is going to sort them out legally and they'll be baptized on the 22nd.  

Sister N who is 18 is doing amazingly well.  She reads 1 chapter a day in the Book of Mormon and she's almost done with 2 Nephi now.  She came to 3 sessions of conference and she's also going to be baptized on the 22nd. 

One of our investigators that's been around for many months long before me was supposed to be baptized before I got here but she has a job and she works on Sundays.  Finally she came to us yesterday and told us that she's had enough and she wants to be baptized so she quit her job.  She's going to be baptized on the 22nd. 

We've been really blessed by the Lord and me and my companion are getting along great.