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