Monday, January 30, 2017

January 30, 2017

Wohoo 5 months down and many more to go! 

This previous week was one of the hardest but in the end a very rewarding week! 

Monday I started out with Elder Lane in the hospital in the office of Dr. Schwartz with strep throat because of previous symptoms BUT priesthood blessings from your companion and prescriptions are the best because it was gone in 2 days! 

Tuesday we began the work and we really struggled getting our appointments to follow through the remainder of the week. We had many people drop and which was super depressing, but we were diligent and we were able to reach and exceed our goal of 15 lessons with investigators with a member present. We got 22 and with all of the other lessons we taught we had 34 lessons which isn't at all bad for the week. 

We had an untimely run in (not car accident) but we had an angry taxi driver that obviously doesn't like missionaries try and hit our car and windows with a metal rod BUT missionaries are protected and we got out of there ASAP. Missionaries are truly protected by the Lord and I've had many other experiences already on mission but not all will be revealed at the present time ;) 

We had another 18 investigators at church which was awesome

BUT the highlight of the week was......

Phillip's Baptism!!!! Wohoo!

Phillip is the best! He's 19 and he's truly gained a strong testimony of the gospel. Teaching him is always so fun and he was really ready for his baptism. He had the happiest grin on his face when Elder Milne pulled him out of the water yesterday. (Yes we actually have a real font haha) He shared a brief but powerful testimony after and I can't wait to confirm him and have him receive the gift of the holy ghost! He's super excited! It'll also be great to see him receive the priesthood and see him grow and progress in the gospel! 

KwaMagxaki is the best! 

Until next week!

Elder Smith
Ahlumile and Lonele are the best!

Found these kids learning to play in a shack behind a house.
I went and played with them, when I get home I've got a video!

Fun recent convert family to teach! 

Highlight of the week! Phillip's baptism!

St. George Boys

Monday, January 23, 2017

January 23, 2016

Hello Everyone!

Time flies, I'll hit 5 months on Wednesday and I'm now in Port Elisabeth! 

Port Elisabeth is a beautiful city and because we are in Kwano Zone we are a little ways out of town but not much. We stay close by Uitenhage in a place called Despatch. It's a whole lot different than Mthatha and reminds me a lot of California. My area is called KwaMagxaki and covers the townships of KwaMagxaki, KwaDesi, Slovo, amongst others. It is a very large place.

My journey from Mthatha was interesting, when we got on the plane in East London the engine was making some funky noises and wouldn't start. After three unsuccessful attempts at starting the engine we unboarded the plane and waited a half an hour for an engineer to fix it.

We went through security again and reboarded the plane and this time it finally started and we flew the 35 min flight to Port Elisabeth. When we landed we were picked up by the zone leaders and I was taken to my boarding that night. 

I met my companion Elder Milne and he's from St. George! He attended Desert Hills High and so it's funny to talk about back home.... and my southern Utah accent has come back full haha. 

We've really made it a priority to work as hard as we can this transfer. We plan to be in the area 11-8 every day and we have a goal of 20 baptisms, it's going to be hard but it's definitely possible. We've got our first baptism this coming Sunday and it's a guy named Phillip and he's the same age as us and he is so strong in the gospel and loves it. 

Aforementioned we want to push ourselves in the area and we made it a goal to have 6 investigators at church and we were able to get 22 investigators at church- most of them we have set a baptismal date and others we will very soon. We also had 7 less actives back at church and 5 recent converts. 

The ward is very great and the stake president also is in this ward so it's very strong. And- we also have a real chapel and baptismal font so it's pretty awesome! 

I'm excited to continue my time with Elder Milne and work hard to accomplish our goals. It'll be fun to see how we've done at the end of this transfer in 6 weeks. We need your prayers! 

Until next week from KwaMagxaki

Transfer Day with MTC Transfer

At the Airport with Elder Thulari

Beautiful Coast of PE

Elder Milne with his two "dads" 

Dinner with Motherwell and Zwide Elders at Mama Virginia's home before she moves back to England for the next few months (like a snowbird in Utah but instead of St. George to Salt Lake it's SA to England)

Following the news... It's interesting to see the different views of what's happening back home.

With Elder Milne at the Mgagula home (Brother Mgagula is in the bishopric)

Monday, January 16, 2017

January 16, 2017

Bro. Sabelo, Elder Thulari, Bro. Albert, Elder Smith

Home made fajitas with chicken, peppers, cheese, and homemade tortillas with imported American taco seasoning

Last district meeting in Mthatha

Madlala Family

Elders and Branch members

My apple spice cake I made (I can't wait to make it at home)

Nomkuca Family with Elders and Qamani (Mama Mbonyana's Grandson)

Sister Thumaini and Brother Said Mafu

The Dynamic Duo
Hello everyone! This has been a great week but a sad week as I'll be closing my time Mthatha today. On Friday I recieved transfer news from President Merrill that I'll be finishing the last 6 weeks of training Elder Milne (also from St. George, haha!) in Port Elisabeth, Kwano Buhle (I think) Zone, in the great area of Kwa Magxaki! Pronounced (Kwah - mah - side click {and} aahhh {together) - key)

I'm truly excited to go and preach the gospel in another area of the Lord's vineyard. Especially one a little closer to the ocean haha. It's going to be a big nice change but I'm really going to miss the people and area of Mthatha. 

I'll be boarding a 45 min flight tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3pm so we'll be driving to East London tomorrow morning about 7am which means a lot of packing tonight, and making weight again... :( 

Time is really flying on mission though, I'll turn 5 months next week and I'll be a quarter done in February. I didn't expect time to move like it is but next thing I know I'll be on the flight home (figuratively). 

The tornado cleanup is going well but quite slow... we're still awaiting budget from the EL Stake and still waiting for everything to dry. We've had rain on and off for the past week now and almost another tornado in Ikwezi by the chapel so the storms aren't ceasing yet unfortunately. 

The work is progressing well in Mthatha though and yesterday we had a nice, full, sacrament meeting. Brother Albert is still awesome and Mama Mayeki and the other recent converts are doing well. We're excited for our new investigator Luxolo because he's been bringing his brother and friends to our lessons so they're growing in the gospel as well!

I'll be getting my new mission president in July. He was just announced. His name is President Thabo Lebethoa, the former stake president of Soweto Stake. It's awesome because he's the first black mission president of a South African mission and he's only 41 years old with 4 kids under 13 I think, so the mission home is going to be a fun wild place haha. 

This week has been a lot of goodbyes but I'm excited for what the Lord has in store. He truly loves us and as we turn to him to guide our lives we will be strengthened and buoyed up. Until next week in Kwa Magxaki!

Elder Smith

Monday, January 9, 2017

January 9, 2017

Hello everyone! 

Time flies when you're busy i guess haha. This has been a whirlwind of a week, literally. We traveled back from Queenstown Tuesday and we arrived home exhausted. 

The next morning our landlord came by and said hello and he had said there had been a large tornado that hit Pain location (a part of Mthatha in our area about 15 min away). We instantly realized that Mama Mayeki one of our recent converts and her family stays in Pain so we rushed out there to see what the damage truly was. 

Boy..... seeing tornado damage firsthand really humbles you at how powerful nature is, especially here in Africa. All across the N2 (the highway to East London) there were Zincs (the metal roofing people use for roofs) and the zincs were even wrapped around the trunks and branches of the trees. The trees along the side of the N2 are the size of the giant ones in downtown Santa Clara and many had fallen over and been uprooted. I couldn't see a home without some form of damage too it and it really made us worried for what Mama Mayeki's home would be. 

When we arrived her house was roofless, windowless, doorless, and they had taken out everything inside to dry (that was salvageable) and we began helping them continue digging out the mud and possessions in their house. It's a miracle the walls stayed standing as they are the mud brick type. Her other detached rooms were completely destroyed because the roof collapsed inward so we still have yet to remove the things there. Their toilets were also completely destroyed. Luckily one room was covered so they all are staying there until a solution is found. 

We missionaries took immediate action and went and bought her some staple foods and a paraffin stove with some paraffin so she could cook and stay warm (since it was still drizzling the next 2 days. The following day we took President Boateng to assess the damage so the stake might be able to do something and he was also to get her some more food and more supplies. 

We decided with Brother Nate (the Elder's Quorum President) that the first necessity their family needs is a toilet so that they can have some privacy so we got the elders quorum together and some other branch members together and we were able to round up some cement and we were able to begin constructing the walls for the toilet. 

It was quite a fun experience with all of us being able to serve a fellow sister with basic needs although I got one heck of a sunburn (even when it was cloudy). We were able to complete the walls to 1.5m and then we're allowing them to dry so that we can further continue and get a roof built with a door and further improvements will definitely come in the future with the house. Unfortunately the government said it may take up to 7 years to get the rebuilding process underway but at least they were able to provide some blankets and other essentials.

The greatest example of faith and diligence in keeping the Lords commandments came on Sunday, when Mama Mayeki and her son, daughter, and niece all walked the 10+ kilometers to church. She even paid her tithing on what little she had and she was so grateful to the Lord for our service and that her family is all safe as well. I really liked what she said when she mentioned the day after the tornado, that maybe the Lord is allowing her to start from nothing so the year can only get better. She is such an example of faith and everything. I don't know if I'd be able to have the courage and optimism she holds in her life. 

The Lord is truly able to bless us when we give him our all, trust in him completely, and rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ to carry us through our trials, tribulations, burdens and struggles. As we push forward and endure with all of our heart and a smile on our face we will be able to overcome any obstacle that is placed in our path. And like one of my favourite scriptures says

Isaiah 41:10 and 13
10 ¶Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
13 For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

The Saviour Jesus Christ is able to carry us, and hold us up when we feel like we may drown in the depths like Peter. 

Matthew 14:30-31
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Let us learn from Peter and doubt our doubts, before we doubt the strength and the power of Jesus Christ. 

May he carry us in our lives, and until next Monday, which unfortunately will be my last in Mthatha.

Elder Smith

Mama Mayeki's home after tornado

Beginning of toilet

Halfway dry so we can do the roof next week

More tornado destruction


more tornado destruction

True purpose of a hand brake

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

January 3, 2017

Today after Zone Training

my Books of Mormons - English, Afrikaans, Portuguese, and isiXhosa

71.4% of Queenstown Zone after training (10 out of 14)

Monday, January 2, 2017

January 2, 2017

Hello Everyone! and Happy New Year!
It's crazy that 2017 is already upon us, time flies. 

I'll attach pictures another day because of short time due to our need to travel to Queenstown for exchanges, but everything has been awesome here in Mthatha. 

We've taken advantage of our time at Spar (a grocery store close to our boarding) to find new people to teach and we've found and made a lot of contacts with people, especially males which we always need more- due to the fact that they can be preisthood holders.

We found a guy in the Deli named Luxolo and he is AWESOME! We've started teaching him most everyday and he came to church yesterday for the first time and he's progressing!!! Hopefully soon we'll be able to get him baptized within the next 6 weeks, even if I'm not around. 

Mama Mayeki's boy Simbonile is also progressing and he has a baptismal date set for the 15th! It's going to be amazing to see him baptized and have his whole family be members and have the blessings of the restored gospel!

Brother Albert is progressing and he'll be getting a call to do something with the young mens organization next Sunday and he will be advancing to the Melkezidek preisthood in March!!!! And his family was down from Pretoria and we were able to have two lessons with his Daughter and Grandson and they are reading the book of mormon and will be going to church and finding the missionaries in Pretoria! It's exciting to see what is happening and the blessings coming into his life from the gospel! 

New Years is crazy in the township and New Years Eve we drove around the townships and gave away Law of Chastity and Word of Wisdom pamphlets.... unfortunately no callbacks yet haha. At midnight we were all awoken to the sound of thousands of crazy fireworks being set off in the townhship which continued for hours but luckily I was able to go to sleep again..... after a while. 

New Years sunday we had a short sacrament meeting again and we helped president Boateng bless baby Jarome Kofi Boateng Jr. He's a cute kid with lots of black curly hair. We had a dinner appointment with the Boatengs that night and had a great time with their family eating Ghana food. It's the best!

I'll send more this week with pictures but until the next time!!!!

Elder Smith