Monday, September 26, 2016

On the way to visit an investigator. I think it'd be cool if Roland painted this.
Crazy fog in mid-day. Notice the power pole about 10 m behind us.

Just a guy eating in a tree.

Hey everyone! It's crazy how time flies. It's now been a month in the mission Aug 25-Sept 25. Time flies when you're having fun and on the lord's errand. Elder Zongoro and I confirmed Pamela and Iwe as members yesterday and that was a great experience. We also committed another four to baptism next of this Sunday. (2 sundays from now) That'll be great to continue growing the branch. 

Elder Zongoro is a great trainer and it's fun being in his district. Elder Hernandez is probably one of my best buddies. Because he's from Mexico we can relate with a lot of stuff and it's fun because we like studying similar topics from the gospel so we study before bed a lot. Elder Faingata'a is still the funny guy in the boarding. He's got such a unique personality and is a fun guy to be around. 

Much of my personal studies have been focused on the temple and pondering the ordinances therein. I've learned so much from the scriptures and I encourage you if you can go to the temple regularly, do it. There is so much learning and power and goodness that will come to your life. Then study all you can about it because there is so much to learn from the scriptures. 

Driving is going well, no accidents yet. Although I'm nervous because I need to try to have my area (about 3 hrs driving across in all directions) learned for exchanges next week. I'm having trouble remembering where everyone lives. I also have a weakness with tracting door to door. It's definitely one of my weak areas and like this past week, where we didn't have fellowshippers with us, we tracted for about 8 hrs. Please keep me and my companion in your prayers that we can find more people to grow the branch. We want to make it a ward but the retention of recent converts is hard. 

The meals in Mthatha Manor are very predictable now, if we had pasta for lunch and chicken for dinner, the following day will be chicken for lunch and pasta for dinner haha. With a small assortment of rice or potatoes. It's been fun cooking but there's only so many ways to cook rice, potatoes, chicken and pasta, so if you have any fun recipes send them my way. Note though that Cheese and other dairy products are expensive and hard to find. 

I hope all is well in the states. Keep me and my companion and especially the people of Mthatha in your prayers. The area needs it. 

Well one month by and a lot more to go!!

Love and Care from Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Elder Smith

Our district - the best district

Monday, September 19, 2016

Letter September 19, 2016

Wow a lot has happened! I'm safely in my new area of Mthatha- the furthest area from HQ in Cape Town (closer to Durban SA in fact). The area is quite poor and crime ridden but we have earlier curfews than most missionaries and we have cars so that is good. 

I'm in my new district with my companion Elder Zongoro from Zimbabwe. He is awesome and I've learned lots from him already. I've had 3 companions so far, Kruse, Keetch, and Zongoro- Zongoro is the first out of US so it's a cool experience. 

I'm still working on my driving (on the left). I'm the designated driver in our companionship because I'm licensed. Driving on the left, plus driving on the wrong side (right) into oncoming traffic, running red robots (lights) and speeding are a daily occurrence here.

My two other boardmates besides Elder Zongoro are Elders Hernandez from Mexico (first in CT Mission from Mexico) and Faingata'a from Tonga. Because we are so far away from anyone we are in our own district in the Queenstown Zone. and my companion Elder Zongoro is the District Leader.

My first night in the Boarding I got bit a lot (probably bed bugs, the other elders get bit too sometimes), so I found sleeping with a pair of long sunday socks over my arms saves them at night. I haven't really gotten bitten on legs or head so that's a good way I've found to prevent bites. 

I'm also now head chef in Mthatha Manor, and if my cooking can please a hungry Tongan, I can safely say it's half decent. Our favorite is baked chicken and potatoes/rice. 

Elder Zongoro and I got our first two baptisms yesterday as a companionship and we'll confirm them members next Sunday, they were Pamela and Iwe, a mom and a daughter. Pamela has another daughter that's not 8 yet or we would've baptized her too haha. It was a wonderful experience though. They are a very humble family. They live in a (about) 4m x 4m house made of cinderblock and a tin roof. They have 1 bed for the three of them, a small tv, and a small single burner plug in cook stove they cook on. They are such happy people though. 

The baptism yesterday was great although it was really cold and raining at times. The font (pool) we filled the day prior got real cold overnight (probs 11C) so it was freezing. But their faces as they came out of the water freezing were wonderful and so happy. The spirit was so strong there and it was great!
piano at the Mission Home

Me and Elder Zongoro from Zimbabwe

MTC transfer

With President and Sister Ashton (MTC President)
Table Mountain in Cape Town

Pamela's baptism 9-18-16

Pamela and daughter Iwe

Pamela's house (the one on the left)

Home Sweet Home for 4 months

Friday, September 16, 2016

Letter From President and Sister Ashton

Here is an excerpt from a letter we received September 5 from the MTC President's wife:

           Brother and Sister Smith,
Just  a quick note to let you know how much we how grateful we are and have enjoyed your son,  Elder Smith these past 12+ days.  He is strong, obedient, humble and so well prepared spiritually to be a great missionary.  We have exploited his talents as much as possible.  He is serving as a Zone Leader now.  He plays the piano for all meetings.  He sings in our meetings with some of the Elders that he directs.  We are using up all his gifts as fast as we can.  He is a fine example to the other missionaries and he is well liked and respected. More importantly, we had a special experience at the temple last week  because of  his diligence with family history.  All of us were blessed by being able to take a family name to the temple.  The session was spiritual and the veil was almost transparent.  President Ashton (past Mission President) and I often say that your son would have been a leader in our mission.  We would have loved him then as we do now.
Sister and President Ashton 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Made it to Cape Town

Monday, September 12, 2016

I made it safe to CT today, I'm going to Mthatha (Umthata) for my first area so I'll be back on a plane tomorrow. My companion will be elder Zongoro from Zimbabwe. I'm excited to be able to serve there, I'll be the driver because my companion cant so that'll be interesting driving on Wednesday full time. I'll be there for at least 12 weeks said president so that'll be crazy. I'll be serving in the villages out there, there's only one branch (if you remember what sis. Peterson said about it) I'll speak and learn a lot of Xhosa so that'll be awesome. 

Love ya. 

E. Smith

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Letter 2

Everything is well here in Africa. I still can't send pics and because President Merrill needed all the Cape Town missionaries a day early so I'll fly out Monday for Cape Town and I'll be there Monday night. Because that's their p-day I won't be in contact for about two weeks- sorry about that. Anyway, I'm losing weight but that's ok because I'll gain it all back hopefully in Cape Town six days from now. The MTC has flown by. 

President Ashton did transfers last Friday so now I'm with a new companion and we're now the zone leaders. My new companion is elder Keetch and he's awesome. A fun fact is his dad is a seventy for the church so that's cool. I miss elder Kruse but Keetch is way good. Here's the layout of the "New" district I'm with. It's by far the most fun and spiritual district. 

Smith ZL Cape Town -UT
Keetch ZL Cape Town -UT
Mott DL Cape Town -UT
Till Zimbabwe -Austria
(George) Lucas -haha- Zimbabwe -Australia
Green Zimbabwe -New Zealand
Bozer Cape Town -AZ
Aydelotte Cape Town -UT

The Johannesburg Temple is tiny!! But it's so beautiful inside, especially the baptistry and celestial room. The session all us Elders did was amazing- doing the family names was quite an experience and I can't wait to go back this Thursday and do another session. While eating in the cafeteria (which made the best burger and fries in the world by far) I saw Paul Graf, one of my old stake presidents. He's such a wonderful guy and it was fun to see a familiar face.

Here's some recommendations from my studies to read
2 Nephi (chapters) 2, 31, and 32
Alma (chapters) 12, 42
3 Nephi (chapters) 11, 12

I'll hopefully be in contact soon after my arrival to Cape Town but we'll see what happens. 

Until next time

Elder Smith
Fly Out Group

"Ibis - the most annoying birds in the world. That's a fact."

With Elder Kruse at MTC

Joburg Temple

With Elder Kruse at temple

New District

New District at temple

New Companion, Elder Keetch

Friday, September 2, 2016

Familiar Faces in Africa

Kaden ran into our former Stake President who is serving a mission with his wife. This is the email he sent to Kaden's grandparents:

As Ginny and I walked into our lunch area today, it seemed crowded and we thought President Dunn was having another zone meeting.  Then I heard: "President Graf!"  Here came  lively, smiling, happy Elder Smith from the crowd of seated missionaries. President Ashton had brought some of his MTC missionaries to the area offices and they were just finishing lunch.  Elder Smith loves his mission and loves South Africa!  He will be a great missionary!!Love you all!Paul and Ginny
Elder Smith and companion Elder Kruse
Elder Smith and Paul Graf (former Santa Clara Stake President)