Wednesday, December 28, 2016

December 28, 2016

Hello Everyone and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
Time is Flying in Mthatha and I hit 4 months on Christmas Day! Here's been the week...

This past week and a half have been interesting. 

The week of the 19-24 was quite slow because many of the people we teach were on holiday with family either to East London, Durban, the Rurals, or elsewhere. We ended up teaching a lot with members and less actives which kept us busy. We've been working especially with Brother Madlala to get him back to church. We've gotten to know him well and he loves meat. He's a butcher at Spar Grocery Store and it's his passion. He always likes to talk about it. We've been trying the past few weeks on inviting him to come to church and we're still working but soon I think he'll be back. His wife and kid's come so we need your prayers and so does his family so that they may all be able to attend church together!

Sunday was Christmas and it was a very fun Sunday! We only had sacrament meeting at 9:00 and then everyone chatted and visited with each other for about another hour taking pictures and enjoying the day! It was a wonderful service too but I'll miss the Christmas hymns we've been singing since November :(

Brother Albert also brought his daughter and grandson to church who were here visiting from Pretoria. It was a great Sunday for them to attend and his daughter expressed genuine interest in learning more about the church so we'll be visiting them before they go back today and we'll help her find the church in Pretoria so she can hopefully one day be taught and baptized. Brother Albert is the best and did a great job blessing the sacrament again, it's fun to see him progress as he continues learning and loving the gospel. 

Sunday was exciting and different because after church we went home and ate a great meal that Mama Mbilase prepared for us to take back to our boarding with chicken, beef, and traditional Xhosa salads and dishes- and even a cake.

4:00 we headed over to Makhulu (grandma or old lady) Jafta's house for a Christmas dinner with her family and it was another wonderful Xhosa meal and she even made home made ginger (drink) which was the best! We sung Feliz Navidad (courtesy of Elder Hernandez) for them, and just when I couldn't eat more we headed over to the Mbonyanas.

6:00 I called my family at the Mbonyanas and had a nice chat with them for an hour and then went inside to eat peanut butter soup and hard pap that President Boateng made. Peanut Butter Soup is the BEST and hopefully I can learn how to make it so I can eat it when I'm home haha. 

We got home by curfew and were stuffed to the brim so we enjoyed the night by retiring to our beds. 

Monday we were planning on emailing but unfortunately it was Day of Goodwill (SA public holiday) so the email shop was closed, but fortunately that meant we got to leave for coffee bay sooner!

Coffee Bay is the most beautiful place on this earth (maybe, I still havent seen everything in SA yet....) The Indian Ocean is so clear and blue and because it's summer in was soo much more green than the first time I went. We really enjoyed our time hiking around and seeing hole in the rock. 

Tuesday we had the annual Deep Cleaning for the boardings in the mission so we spent all day cleaning and I must admit it was a lot of work but it is done!!! Hopefully it stays that way for the next year haha! 

On to this week now and until next!

Elder Smith
Coffee Bay

Dinner at Mama Jafta's

Elders and Brother Mike

Mama Mbonyana, Myself, Grandson (of Bro Albert), Brother Albert, Daughter (of Bro Albert), Elder Thulari

Mama Njinsane and her son with our fellowshipper Qaqambile

Mbonyanas and friends

Christmas Sunday: President Boateng, Sister Boateng, Mama Mbonyana, Baby Jarome (Boateng), Elders

Santa Clause came!

Monday, December 19, 2016

December 19, 2016

Hello Everyone!!!

Christmas is just around the corner and it is only getting hotter and more humid here in Mthatha. (About 34-38 C yesterday and humid) 

This week was a lot of traveling again. Monday for p-day we did a lot of cleaning and just hanging out, with a DA at the Mbonyana's. Tuesday and Wednesday were normal days but Thursday was where the fun began. 

We had been planning on leaving for zone conference in East London about 3pm so we could get there by 6pm. But as we were doing some of our studies and planning at 11am we got a call saying that we were having an emergency evacuation drill so we had to be in East London by 3pm..... Wohoo. We grabbed our stuff- thankfully already packed, and got driving on the road to East London. We arrived about 2:45 and from there we began our Zone Conference Activities. 

It was fun to see many of the Elders in the East London zone, especially those from my MTC Transfer. That evening we went to an area along the beach front (by a park, where Elder Kruse and myself took the picture the previous week) and did finding. We were split into groups and given about 50 books of mormon to give away in an hour. The catch was, we had to sing christmas hymns to attract people to come hear our message- the only problem, several 19-20 year old guys don't sing very well haha. We probably drove more away than we attracted. We soon abandoned the singing partially and started talking to people around. It's amazing to see how willing people here in South Africa are to hear messages about Jesus Christ. And luckily, we got all of our BOM given and many contacts made.

Following the activity we watched a video about the Book of Mormon called Journey of Faith about the Book of Mormon which was a wonderful movie, and we got Roman's Pizza which was great!

Elder Thulari and myself stayed with the EL Zone Leaders and in the morning we went for zone conference!! The first part of zone conference was given by President Merrill and he gave a powerful lesson on the coming forth of the Book of Mormon as prophesied by Old Testament Prophets. The lesson was full of great scriptures and much learning. 

We had a break after that first half and then took a picture of the Zone and had a wonderful lunch. 

After Lunch we had a lesson from the Health Specialist for the Africa Southeast Area, Sister French, and she shared a great lesson about mental and emotional health and how we can lift each other up and as we trust and rely on Jesus Christ, he is always there for us. Following her the AP's gave instruction on increasing our "Standards of Excellence" or our daily goals as missionaries. 

Following that we got some more pictures and started the long journey home. 

We've had a lot of success in getting referrals and new people to contact and we're praying they'll have a continued interest in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mama Njinsane is still progressing and hopefully the Qovane family will continue as well. Keep them and our other investigators in your prayers. 

Our recent converts are doing great as well, especially Mama Mayeki and Brother Albert.

Brother Albert was able to bless the sacrament yesterday for the first time and he did a great job! He'll be proposed in stake conference in February to receive the Melchizedek priesthood so that'll be awesome! 

Mama Mayeki has such a strong love for the gospel although she has very little, and her daughter Lisakhanya is the best! Her son came back "from the bush" Saturday and had his traditional party and hopefully we'll be able to baptize him. Lisakhanya loves him so much and ran yesterday to tell him we were there so he could see us. She can't wait for him to be taught and be baptised as well! 

All is well although time is flying, Christmas is just getting hotter and the work is still progressing. It couldn't happen without the love and support from back home. Thank you, and this Christmas remember Jesus Christ. The best gift ever given to this earth, Who gave his all just for us. 

Merry Christmas..... Soon! 

Elder Smith
Zone Conference (lifting up Elder Bowers, part of Sister French's lesson)

Elder Thulari, Myself, the AP's, Elder De Beer and Elder Soko

Our District, Elder Hernandez, Elder Goss, Elder Thulari, Elder Smith

Monday, December 12, 2016

December 12, 2016

Hello Everyone!

This week has been a crazy, hectic, sad happy, all around week.
Monday we got Elder Zongoro ready to head to George and Tuesday we left early in the morning and drove down to East London. In East London it was really fun to see some of the Elders I served with in the MTC like Elder Kruse, Kraftner, Heald, Ondracek, and Larson. It's fun to see how much we've all grown although I'm quite jealous they get to serve by the coast haha. 

East London is so beautiful and I hope I get to serve there someday. We visited with most of the elders to the Delport family for dinner. The Delports are a powerful recent convert coloured family. They are the young mens and young womens presidents now and they are hoping sometime in the future to take their family to SLC to be sealed for time and eternity. 

I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet Sister Peggy, an the most loving and spry 93 year old Afrikaner that can still drive haha. Apparently she has been feeding the missionaries for over 65 years and the East London elders recently calculated she's fed missionaries over 12,000 times in her life and she's still planning on many more years as she will be celebrating her 94th birthday in April I believe. I hope I can feed the missionaries like her someday because it truly helps us out sooooo much. 

Wednesday morning I got up at 4:30 :p and dropped off Elder Zongoro at EL airport and Elder Heald was my temporary companion haha. Neither of us know EL well because he serves in Mdansane so we got lost and took ourselves on a wonderful driving tour of East London. 
We eventually got back to Amalinda chapel and I waited for Elder Thulari to arrive with the Zone Leaders. 7:45my my new mother arrived! Elder Thulari!!! He's the coolest elder ever and I know already I'm really going to miss him when I leave Mthatha. He's 21 months on mission so he's going to "die" in Mthatha the transfer after I leave Mthatha. We already have a very very strong companionship and our teaching is great together. We have a lot of good laughs and we're enjoying the work.

We had one heck of a storm and we saw a cool funnel cloud but unfortunately it didn't touch down, that would've been interesting haha. The lightning was crazy though. I've never seen more lightning strike buildings in front of us as I have here in Mthatha, it's insane!  

We've been blessed with a lot of new investigators and more that are progressing so hopefully in a few weeks we'll have some more people join the flock of the Lord! We were able to confirm Mama and Lisakhanya Mayeki yesterday and they received the gift of the Holy Ghost! It's wonderful to see the joy already that the gospel has brought into their lives. I hope they continue strong and continue strengthening their testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Continue keeping our investigators in your prayers. As they progress they see more of the light of Jesus Christ in their lives. As the December initiative of the church is #LightTheWorld, it is important that we share our light, so that others lives may have that light begin in them. Christmas is about Jesus Christ, the greatest gift to the world. Jesus is the light of the world, and as his followers, we have that light. As we share our light, others will be brought to Jesus Christ, and the world will be brighter this Christmas season. 

My testimony of the Plan of Salvation has been put to the test on mission, with my great grandfather passing in October, I found out today his wife, my great grandmother passed away on the 6th. I'm sad I won't be able to see her again in this life but her legacy lives on and I'm reassured my the Plan of Salvation I'll see her in the next life. A quote of hers that I've been thinking about on mission lately is, "Do your duty, do your best, and leave unto the Lord the rest!" As we do our part and serve the Lord with the best of our abilities, no matter our calling or status, the Lord will help strengthen our weaknesses and great things will come to pass. The Lord's promise in Isaiah 41:10 and 13 has helped reassure me the past few weeks the Lord will help us as we turn to Him. We have nothing to fear. Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us, and want the best for us. All we have to do is do our part, and strive our best to be who we are- followers of Jesus Christ, and the Lord will provide a way. 

Until Next Week

Elder Smith
MTC Companions Kruse and Smith in East London

East London Town Hall

MTC Elders in East London on Transfer Day

Elder Thulari and Myself

Monday, December 5, 2016

December 5, 2015

Wow, these first two transfers flew. This week is going to be a week of change here in Mthatha. 

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I will be traveling to East London to pick up my mother (follow up trainer) Elder Thulari from SA! I hear he is a wonderful missionary and he will die (finish mission) in Mthatha, he leaves in two transfers. What's funny is Mthatha will be a family now- Elder Hernandez was also follow up trained by Elder Thulari so I'm the second son of Elder Thulari haha. Grandma Thulari, Elder Hernandez and his son Elder Goss, and then me, the second son of Thulari. Fun times. It'll be sad to see Elder Zongoro (my father) go but It'll be good to have Elder Thulari. I've only got 6 more weeks in Mthatha which is crazy to think. By the time I leave in January I'll have been on mission 4 1/2 months!! Time flies when you're working hard!

Monday we had a lazier P day and did email and then cleaned and took a nap and then went to some appointments in the evening. 

Tuesday through Wednesday it was back at the grindstone again. We've been working with our investigator families the Mayeki, the Njinsane and the Qovane families. 

One thing I've really enjoyed about teaching these families and others here in SA is their strong knowledge of the Bible and I've learned how to do much of my teaching from the Bible. I had never studied the Bible as much as on mission but there is so much scripture that is very powerful and is great to use in teaching. We get many questions from our investigators like, 

"Are God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit three different beings?" and we'll use the account of when Jesus Christ was baptised or when Stephen saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God. 

"Is the sabbath day on Saturday or Sunday?" and we'll teach and talk about how in the Law of Moses the sabbath was Saturday and how when Jesus Christ came to fulfill the old law and how Paul taught that the sabbath is the start of the week and is now Sunday.

It's fun to learn all of these things. I feel like I'm learning as much as my investigators. 

The Njisane family is progressing slowly but really well. Mama has come to church the past three Sundays and especially likes the hymns which is nice. The Qovane is a new family and they are a quite wealthy Xhosa family with Mama, her daughter Simbognile, and Simbognile's son and niece Monalisa. They are a very smart family and ask very inspired and gooood questions. 

The Mayeki family (at least Mama and Lisakhanya the daughter) were baptised yesterday! It was fun to see them progress all the way toward baptism. Her son went to the bush (a traditional Xhosa turn a boy to a man ceremony) so he won't be able to be baptised until he returns and finishes the lessons and waits some time but I can't wait for him as well. I baptised Mama and our fellowshipper Qaqambile- the one who referred us them- baptised Lisakhanya. It was a wonderful day for them. And I was glad they were my 9th and 10th baptism on mission. 

Mthatha was definitely prepared for missionaries and it'll be fun to see what happens this coming transfer. 

Thursday we went to Ugie and taught more lessons and it was Elder Zongoro's last time there. Hopefully we'll continue going. 

Friday was an awesome day. We went to Nqumbu (rurals) for Tata Mbilase's 80th birthday party and it was a massive event! There was most of his 23 kids and grandkids and friends and branch families there so it was gigantic with great Xhosa foods like Umngqusho, Spinach, potatoes, lamb, chicken, etc. The music was my favorite though! The african harmonies and singing is my favourite!!! I hope to send a video sometime if I can. I can "hear" kancici (a little) xhosa when it is spoken and the MC was making jokes that us elders are probably the first Mulungus (white person/people) in Nqumbu hahaha. It's so fun to see real Xhosa culture. 

I really do love serving here in Mthatha, a Xhosa area with townships. The people are the best (well everyone except the tsotsis- people who rob you) haha. I just hope if I serve in an Afrikaner area it is similar with the food and kindness of the people although I doubt it'll be the way it is here in Mthatha. 

Well another week by and starting new on Wednesday with Elder Thulari so until then!!!

Elder Smith

Tata Mbilase's birthday party in Nqumbu

birthday party

Myself and Tata Mbilase

Train tracks in Eastern Cape - no more trains run here

Us and Brother Albert

Mayeki Baptism!! (Zongoro, Mama, Lisakhanya, Qaqambile, and myself)

Monday, November 28, 2016

November 28, 2016

Hello everyone!

Time flies for sure, I've already reached 3 months on the 25th and I'll be getting my next companion (my mother-follow up trainer, Elder Zongoro is my father-trainer) on the 7th next transfer. That will be my last 6 weeks in Mthatha unfortunately :(

We've been really busy this week, Monday it rained and rained and rained so we visited the Nelson Mandela museum. Because he was raised in a village not far from Mthatha (we'll be visiting that village for Tata Mbilase's 80th birthday this coming Saturday, he was also born there) they have his museum here at the building where he founded the ANC Party. It was amazing to learn about such a man as he and see all of his awards he received even the Nobel Peace Prize. He was a very influential man and did much for south africa. 

Tuesday through Friday we were busy teaching and preaching. We have great investigator families, the Mayeki's and Mama Njinsane and her family. We're preparing the Mayeki's for their upcoming baptism which will hopefully be this upcoming Sunday the 4th. Likewise in the future we hope to baptise Mama Njinsane and her family, along with our other investigators. Keep praying for them, they are truly growing in the gospel and seeing the truth but it is not without your prayers and help from the Lord. 

Saturday we were BUSY. We started the day early by going to Ugie at 9:00 to try and hit all of our follow up appointments early. Unfortunately we forgot Saturdays are funeral days so everyone buries on Saturdays so none of our appointments were home. So what did we do?? Tracting!!!! What was nice is we were able to make a lot of contacts and have 3 new appointments with people that were interested. Ugie is quite the place for sure, we're hoping to start a group here once we can get some people baptised. 

Saturday we left Ugie at half 3 and got to the YSA Activity at half 4. It was a great activity with food, games, and music. What was great is we got 2 of our investigators there and members brought another 3 so we had 5 investigators there which is wonderful. We hope they were able to get a little interested in the church more so that we can contact and teach them in the future. 

Sunday was fun. We had the Primary Presentation and I got to play the piano and accompany the primary kids. They're really great kids. They were able to memorize all of the 13 articles of faith as well along with their presentation which they were all able to recite. They sing loud too which was fun. And guess what?? We broke 100 on attendance 3rd week in a row with 101 people in sacrament meeting!!! We're hoping and praying that continues. 

I gave the lesson in Gospel Principles class about fasting. Fasting is a wonderful way to help others receive blessings along with ourselves as we turn to our Heavenly Father and we all have the opportunity this coming Sunday. We must remember that fasting is not only going without food, when we fast we must remember to pray and have a purpose.

When we pray we allow our Heavenly Father to see what we truly desire for ourselves and others- of course he knows us personally, but when we pray that door is unlocked to receive his blessings as we communicate with him. As we fast we must also have a purpose, with purpose we are specific in what blessings and things we need from God.

When we fast not only do we receive blessings but others as well- The fast offering being an important aspect with that as the funds are used directly to bless the poor and needy. 

I like Isaiah 58:6-11 as it talks of the Fast. 

 6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

 7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

 8 ¶Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.

 9 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;

 10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

 11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Until next week! 

Elder Smith 
E. Zongoro, Qaqambile our Fellowshipper, and Myself

Original ANC Flag 

Rainbow after a heavy storm

Bugs are always bigger and more colorful in Africa, about 7 inch caterpillar in Ugie

Majezi Family and friends at FHE

Monday, November 21, 2016

November 21, 2016

Man this week has been a crazy and very good one. 
We began the week by going to a place in our are called Coffee Bay to see "Hole in the Rock" It's a large piece of land that sticks out of the bay with an arch or hole in the bottom where the waves shoot through. This was probably the most beautiful place I've been in my life. The bay is all rocks and the water crashes hard against and it sprays everywhere, it's amazing. We hiked to the top of the split rock and boy was it a view. I've seen and tasted (from the spray, which was everywhere) the indian ocean now.

It's crazy how close the ocean is (only about a 40 min drive) and the fact that it is in our area... That must explain the 5 continuous days of rain this week haha. The lightning here is also very crazy, the clouds are extremely low during rain and there is lightning everywhere. When I was filming it out our window this week, the lightning shocked my hand and the camera through the bars in front of the window, I think that was a little too close for me. I have video proof when I get back haha. 

Wednesday I went to Queenstown and I was on exchanges with the Zone Leader Elder Chaparadza, also from zimbabwe where elder zongoro is from. He is such a loving missionary and I learned so much about leading an area, about the work, and gained so much from the exchange. Queenstown reminds me a lot of St. George, reddish dirt, hot, cactuses and brush with little grass. To be honest I prefer Mthatha haha. But the exchange was great!!!!

Saturday we went to Ugie again but this time instead of going to the town we went to the township and found much more success. We got many contacts and return appointments from people there. The funniest people were Mama Virgina and Cecilia because they were very excited about the fact that we don't pay our "ministers" and how we know why there are so many churches. They are SOOO enthusiastic about Jesus Christ haha. Those ladies... 

Many people were asking if we had a place there to meet on Sundays because they want us to preach so we talked with our branch president to see if he could talk to the stake president about finding a place there that we can start a group. It'd be wonderful to get people there that can be baptized eventually and become members of the fold.

We've been involved a lot with the branch council because we're trying to get Mthatha branch to ward status. We have the numbers we just need continual activity and tithing payers. We increased last weeks 100 in attendance to 107, my first sunday in the branch was in the 70's I think so we're making great progress and I hope it sustains. We really need help from the members with the retention because they are very reliant on the missionaries so we're trying to find ways they can help with the missionary work. 

We confirmed Msi, the other bikitsha boy so it is good to finally have the family all members. Albert is doing very well and really likes the idea of branch missionary work so we gave him some pamphlets and pass along cards and he's doing a great job getting us referrals and such. 

I've gotten a few questions that I'm sure many of you may ask

How am I doing with/learning the language?

I know Kancici (small/a little) It's a hard language but I'm trying, I have the basics, hello's, thank yous, etc. I can pronounce and read decently. I've also been brushing up on my portuguese as some of the members we visit are from Mozambique where they speak it so I've been talking to my friend Josh Hafen (serving in Brazil) about that haha. O livro de mormon (Portuguese) is easier to read than Incwadi Kamormoni (Xhosa) by far.

What is the branch building like/do you baptize in the river?

The church meeting we meet in is an old motel deal that the church renovated to be a branch meetinghouse (if we ever become a ward they'll build a chapel) it's also pink so that's interesting. 

We dont baptize in the river, we have a swimming pool in a "baptism room" at the chapel that we fill and drain with a hose pipe. It's really cold though. The old members were baptized at the river, which is quite nasty, so people are lucky now we have a pool. 

The work is going well here and it wouldn't be the same without the prayers and support from back home. The saviour's atonement is for all of us in any situation. Learn how to apply every aspect of the atonement in your life and it will change you for sure. The gospel is powerful and I've found much help and blessings from studying the scriptures. I would encourage you all to read EVERY day. I was terrible at it before mission but I can tell you that now that I do read EVERY day, I am a completely different person. The gospel changes lives and is here for our benefit. We just need to act. I like what Elder Hernandez says about our lives here, 

"We are not here [on earth] to be acted upon, we are here to take action!"

If we don't ever put any effort in, if we don't do our part, we won't improve, and no one is going to force us because we have our agency. But as we turn to Jesus Christ and take action in our lives the lord will bless us and we will see his hand more in our lives.

Until next week

Elder Smith

District at Hole in the Wall/Coffee Bay
The water shooting out of the "Hole in the Rock"
fellowshippers Godfrey Makande-served in Durban and Nsindiso Majezi-working on mission papers

Zongoro, Me, our fellowshipper Qaqambile

"Matrix" with fellowshipper Misouli

The crack in the rock by Hole in the Rock, the water would hit the rocks and spray
everywhere like it was raining, but it was salty.

Elder Chaparadza and Myself in Queenstown

for Gavin, two weeks ago on the mountain we found this grasshopper, this is on a size 10 nike

Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14, 2016

(No photos due to slow internet)

Hello again from Mthatha!

This past week has been pretty good. 

Monday we started again at the mountain exploring some more. On our drive up the other elders tried to stop us and we didn't see them stop- but they had just seen a bunch of baboons (yes there are baboons in the forests and trees so unfortunately I missed them 
:(  but if I see them sometime I'll take pictures for you all. 

This week we had been praying for new investigators and people to teach and we were able to get some new ones these past two weeks which has been wonderful. Much thanks to the Majezi family. They are a wonderful member family and they are some of the best member missionaries I know! We're teaching about 10 new people and 6 seem to be progressing towards baptism and they have baptismal dates in December so that'll be nice if they all are prepared. 

Yesterday we confirmed one of the Bikitsha boys and I ordained Albert to the office of priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. It's wonderful to see how he is progressing and growing in the gospel. Hopefully he'll have a calling soon and it'll be nice to see him continue growing and growing. 

We also did a fun finding activity in the Afrikaner town of Ugie, it's a ways outside of Mthatha up on top of a beautiful mountain (where I took my "kingdom" pic) look it up on google earth or something. It's interesting tracting and being around Afrikaners because they are much different than the Xhosa people. Many we met with were friendly, but when it came to talking about the gospel they were quite frank, short, and blunt with their rejections haha but it was nice. We started about 12:00 and got done about 5:00. We gave away about 30 restoration pamphlets and 2 book of mormons as a district. We were on splits part of the time so I was with Elder Hernandez and our fellowshipper for the day Misouli. 

I've been studying all over the scriptures but I've really fallen in love with the book of Proverbs and Leviticus, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. I've read/studied Isaiah twice now and there are many wonderful teachings and lessons we can learn. I really like his use of parables and his poetic form on how he teaches. It's all thanks to my wonderful seminary teacher Brother Manis. I've also been studying the New Testament and BoM simultaneously. In the new testament I started at Matthew and I've now reached the Book of Mark. It's wonderful to read about the saviour's life and his teachings. I really love the parables he teaches because there is so much to learn, like the parable of the dirty cup as he's teaching the Pharisees and the parable of the husbandsmen and the sower etc etc. His teachings are wonderful and I like how the book of mark is another account of these teachings. The book of mormon I've been studying now in the 2nd book of Nephi and it's great to also read the parallels Nephi uses with Isaiah. 

One thing I've realized here in Mthatha is the lord really does protect and care for his missionaries and it wouldn't be the same without all of the prayers from back home. It's wonderful to see how all of your prayers have helped not only our safety but the amount of investigators we've been able to find and helping them progress towards baptism. 

Our sacrament attendance yesterday was 100!!!!!!!! that's more than the branch has ever had so if that continues the likelihood that the branch could become a ward next year is very high! 

Keep the prayers coming and I thank you all for them. The work is going forward splendidly. 

Until next time!

Elder Smith

Monday, November 7, 2016

Bikitsha boys and us on baptism day
Hey everyone! 
Another week by in the field!

The week has been great, last Monday for p-day we went to the mountain again and found a different road that was a drive up to the very top! it was so beautiful to see all of Mthatha and surrounding areas. It was so green it reminded me of when I was in Switzerland.

This week we've been busy with a lot of new investigators and meeting with our recent converts. Brother Albert is a very strong recent convert and he is doing great! He loves the gospel and is progressing well and will be getting ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood this coming Sunday. Keep praying that his family back in Cape Town will be receptive to the elders teaching them there.

We baptized the two Bikitsha boys yesterday and it was a wonderful baptism service. It was wonderful to see that now their whole family has been baptized and can work towards going to the temple. They will be getting the Holy Ghost this coming Sunday and it's going to be great! 

Mthatha is keeping us busy though and although a few days we've been out a car last weekend due to service we're still going strong.

Elder Goss is Elder Hernandez's companion

and it's interesting to hear the Utah accent because it sounds really funny now haha. I think my talking has changed a bit but I stil sound like a Utahn, but I can really hear now the funnyness of the accent.

Many ask what I've been eating and to be honest I haven't tried anything really bad, and usually we cook our own food so here's a rundown of the typical day's eats.

Cereal (cornflakes with sugar)

Lunch (mix and match depending on the day with these things)
Fried, mashed, or baked potatoes.
Chicken (stir-fried with noodles, baked, boiled, pulled and made into sandwich, etc)
Sandwiches (Chicken, Grilled Cheese, or Tuna)
Pasta (spaghetti with mince meat)

Dinner (same as lunch unless we have a Dinner Appointment which are very rare, which is usually a traditional Xhosa meal, Half a boiled potato, rice, spinach/kale boiled, chicken, and boiled carrots)

I've perfected my Xhosa steamed bread recipe and it's really good, I've also used the dough to make scones and man I wish I could make them every day. I'm also a pro at not crying while cutting onions now because we use them in everything haha.

I appreciate the prayers and all of the support from back home. I hope this week is filled with more fun adventures and lots of progression from investigators. 

All is well and until next week! 

Elder Smith
My Kingdom

Monday, October 31, 2016

October 31, 2016

Hello everyone again! 

Mthatha is still the promised land. Yesterday we confirmed those whom we baptized last week and Saturday we have the baptisms of the two Bikitsha boys (the mom and daughters were baptized last week). It'll be fun to see their whole family baptized. 

Brother Albert is going to be a very strong member. He loves the gospel and he will probably be getting the Aaronic preisthood and a calling this coming Sunday. It's fun to see him progressing so well. 

We're running out of investigators so keep praying that we'll be able to find more people to teach, and also pray for fellowshippers. We can't teach without them and many of ours are getting busy with work so some days we can't teach. But we'll keep doing our best here in Mthatha to help everyone. I keep telling Elder Zongoro I love it here because I really do. It's great to be serving the lord every single day and gaining an even stronger testimony and understanding of the scriptures myself while helping people with their testimony. 

Elder Goss is our new greenie in the boarding. He replaced Elder Faingata'a in the Mthatha South Area. He's from Alpine UT and seems like he's going to be a great missionary. He loves to cook too so that's not a bad thing either. We'll miss Elder Faingata'a though, it's always fun to have a Tongan around.

Monday for P-Day we went to a big mountain and drove around and man, Africa is beautiful. I don't know if I'll want to leave. The bottom of the mountain reminded me of pine valley mountain but with a lot more pine trees. As we drove higher it turned into a jungle and yo! It was beautiful. There was a waterfall and stream through part of the road and man it reminded me of the jungle cruise and the queue for the indiana jones ride at disneyland. The birds sound so amazing hear and it really is weird to think I'm in Africa. It's pretty awesome. We took our fellowshippers Brother Q and Sabelo and a member Misouli. It was a blast driving and hiking around!

Unfortunately we had to get our car serviced on Friday for the 30000 km service so we couldn't proselyte and when we went to pick it up on Saturday they said they were closed until today, so we've been carless. And I'll just say, I'd rather be a busy missionary than a lazy one because it stinks not having anything to do. I must admit I got some good study time and a nap in but it was really not my favourite. Teaching people is WAY better. 

It was hard to find out that my Great Grandpa Reeder passed away on the 24th. It's been the only time I've cried on mission but it's great to have a knowledge that he's in a much better place because of the Plan of Salvation. I can't wait someday to be able to see him again and it's fun to think that he's up there watching. He was a wonderful example of someone who served their family, country, and lord with all their heart, might, mind and strength. I miss him a lot but I know he's just on the other side of the veil in a much better place than here. 

All is well, keep praying for the investigators and recent converts. Everything helps!

Elder Smith

Monday, October 24, 2016

October 24, 2016

Time flies, 

2 months already..... Transfer day is tomorrow and it's sad because we'll be saying goodbye to Elder Faingata'a but Elder Hernandez will be training Elder Goss. I'm officially no longer a greenie! It'll be fun to have a new face around but we'll all miss Elder Faingata'a.

We had a lot of appointments and a lot of DA's this past week but the best part was yesterday (Sunday) for sure! Elder Zongoro and I had 4 baptisms, 

Mama Bikitsha and her two daughters (her two sons will be baptized the 6th of November)
and Brother Albert. 

Mama Bikitsha is the best! She's a very loving mama and is very converted to the gospel. A week before her scheduled baptismal date three weeks ago her husband passed away and it's been hard on the family but they've all stayed strong and are looking forward to the day when they can go to the temple to be sealed! It'll be a wonderful day for sure.

Brother Albert began being taught with his family in Cape Town but he moved back to his other home in Buntingville to check on the place and wanted to continue being taught so Elder Zongoro and I finished all of the lessons and were able to baptize him. He is a very powerful guy and I can see him being a bishop or something someday. He can't wait to help teach his wife and son too when he goes back to Cape Town. 

The other Elders (Hernandez and Faingata'a) also had the baptism of Boniswa yesterday. And because one of the Bikitsha girls wanted Elder Hernandez to baptize her all of us missionaries in Mthatha were in whites. It was powerful to see all of us in white together. 

Please keep these recent converts in your prayers. We don't want them to go less active and we want them to continue being the strong people they are. It was a wonderful day for sure. 

We also got to watch the Sunday session of conference yesterday and it was wonderful to hear the words of the prophet and apostles again. I liked this sessions focus on the family and scripture study. The family is ordained of god and is the most important social unit in time and in eternity. The family is the best place to teach, learn, and apply gospel principles. The family can be a place of safety, peace, and joy. These fundamentals are all important to the family. 

Also last Monday for P Day we went to a game reserve at Mthatha dam and saw some cool animals, we want to go back and see some more. 

We saw some crazy birds and Springbok and Impalas. Impalas are gigantic deer things! It's amazing to see them right up close when you can drive up next to them and have them snorting and making noises at you. I felt and it looked like I had just walked straight into the lion king movie, all of the tall grasses and african animals, yo it was crazy!

Anyway, all is well in Zion (Mthatha) haha

Until next week!

Elder Smith

Baptism Sunday

Sunday Swag

Cutest Kids

Food from members