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)