Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy new year everyone!

I hope you all had an absolutely amazing Christmas! I had a fantastic Christmas, it was so great to hear from home! For Christmas we had a way fun day. My companion and I went to the branch Presidents house to kill and skin a rabbit for Christmas lunch. The branch president has a lot of rabbits. So my companion killed the rabbit and then we helped skin it. Yeah that was a really interesting experience and I got some great pictures! Rabbit tastes just like... well chicken. Everything tastes like chicken I've decided. So us 4 missionaries had a great Christmas lunch. Then we decided to go out and sing Christmas carols for all of the members. I made about 200 of our famous Summers family cookies and delivered them as we went caroling. Most people here don't do much on Christmas and people were so excited when we showed up at their door! It was a ton of fun and it was great to see the smiles on peoples faces.

Today for p-day we had the chance to hike this huge mountain here in QwaQwa. It was a ton of fun except I am really really sunburned right now. We left at like 5am so I wasn't really thinking about sunscreen at that time, I realized it about half way up the mountain as the sun was coming up- big mistake!! So we have some really great pictures from the hike, it was one of the most beautiful scenes since I have been on mission. We didn't see a single person on the mountain until coming down when we found this local tribal guy that looks after the mountain. We talked to him for a minute and he was talking about Jesus Christ a lot. I gave him a Book of Mormon that I had and he mentioned that he had heard of our church when he visited Michigan. First time placing a Book of Mormon while wearing p-day clothes on the side of a mountain! Haha.

Well it was kind of an interesting week to do missionary work. A lot of people are just super busy for the holidays so it is difficult to meet with people. Especially tomorrow since it is New Years day. People here like to drink alcohol A LOT on the holidays. Every single day we have a different guy come up to us who has had just a bit too much to drink, we usually give them a pass along card and just keep walking. Not a lot more to report this week, sorry I don't really have many cool stories! Just a typical week but it was great to spend Christmas here and to hear from you guys back home.

Keep moving forward in faith and never give up!

Love you all,

Elder Summers

Merry Christmas

12/24/12

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Wow I can't believe it's Christmas, it seriously doesn't feel like Christmas. It's really hot and there is a huge thunder storm outside right now, I'm used to the snow at this time of year! Anyways, I hope you all have a lot of fun plans for Christmas and are planning to eat lots of great food! For me I'm really missing American pies and turkey... If I eat anymore chicken and rice I might die haha. They really like their rice here and this stuff called "pop" which is like compact rice I guess? Not really sure how to explain it but it's nice.

This past week has been fantastic and a lot of fun. Serving others is just a blast each and everyday! I had the chance to give a talk in sacrament yesterday and I decided to talk about well... Christmas of course! Luckily we got the December Liahona just a couple days ago so I was able to look at President Monson's Christmas message. Honestly in all of my times giving a talk I have never felt the spirit more strongly. It's probably my first talk where I literally used hardly any notes and I just said what came to my mind. Everytime I have the opportunity to testify of the Savior's birth, ministry and resurrection I have an indescribable joy come into my heart. I know that Jesus Christ really was born at Bethlehem and came into this world to die for each of us. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much he sent His only begotten into the world for us!

I've never quite felt the true "Christmas spirit" until coming on mission. I feel as though we can really feel the Christmas spirit when we are serving our brothers and sisters. The way we can find happiness at this time of year for ourselves is to help others find happiness. It is such a blessing to go out each and everyday and serve God's children. Despite the challenges and trials we face as missionaries, the memories we create and the joy we feel from the work makes every moment worth it.

I'll share one quick story from this past week. We were going to meet with one of our investigators but as we got there our appointment feel through with him. We decided to go check on one of our investigators to fill the time until our next appointment. As we were walking to this investigators home, I had an audible voice come into my head that said go left not right and go down that road. I shrugged off the thought at first as though my mind was playing tricks but then I had the exact same thought come into my mind and I could not deny it. I told my companion to turn around and lets go down this road. He was a little confused but my companion is really humble so he didn't argue. As we were walking down the road we stopped the first guy we saw. It was a man in his 30's who had just come out of a home. We talked to him for a minute and he told us he was searching for someone. He just "happened" to be in this area although he lives quite far from where we found him. Well we spoke with him for a minute and soon he began to tell us how his family is really struggling and he has a drinking problem. We spoke with him for a few more minutes and scheduled an appointment to go meet with him. We are meeting him after Christmas. Now I don't know if this guy will make progress or what will happen but I do know that the Lord needed us to talk to him at that moment. Do I know why? No, but I know everything happens for a reason.

After talking to that Ntate, we decided to keep walking. Later down the road we saw one of our investigators and her sister carrying a large tub fool of biscuits. We stopped them and asked if we could help them carry it (it was pretty heavy). She thanked us and asked if we could help her sister carry it the rest of the way because she really had to head back home because she was in a rush. So we helped her sister carry it (pretty dang far haha) to the home where they were having a funeral the next day. Now this might not seem like a big deal but had we not originally turned around and acted on the spirit we would have never met that Ntate and we would have never been able to serve these 2 sisters. The Lord wants us to help His children but he is never going to make those service opportunities just "fall" into our lap. We have to listen to the promptings of the spirit and be willing to act on them. Each and everyday we pray for opportunities to serve those around us and it's incredible how those service opportunities arise. Serving those around us is not always convenient, it doesn't always fit into our schedule (carrying that tub of biscuits took a long time) but it's what the Savior would do and it's what our Heavenly Father expects of us as disciples of His son Jesus Christ. What a blessing it is to have the opportunity to serve God's children. It just reminds me of the scripture in Mosiah 2:17. "When ye are in the service of your fellow being, ye are only in the service of your God." There is an indescribable joy that comes from serving those around us and I hope we may all remember to try and help those around us at this special time of year.

Jesus Christ was born into this world to set the example for us of how to return to our Heavenly Father. May we always strive to emulate His example. I know that I still have a long ways to go but serving a mission in Africa is helping me understand how I can grow closer to my Savior and how I can strive to be a better example to those around me.

Thanks for all of your support and prayers. Merry Christmas once again!!

I love you all!

Elder Summers

Monday, December 17, 2012

QwaQwa


Hello my dearest friends and family,

So you may be wondering what "QwaQwa" means right? Well let me explain. QwaQwa is the area we are serving in, it's similar to saying "Utah County" but the actual city I'm in is Phutadijthaba. It's just fun to say QwaQwa because the Q makes a clicking sound. Well the weather here in QwaQwa is so crazy! One day it's blistering hot and the next day it's way cold! This past week it was raining, so hot I had to take like 3 showers and one day I could see my breath because it was so cold. It makes missionary life interesting to say the least.

This past week was just an overall fantastic week! Let me say there is a real power in fasting. Our investigators are making a lot of progress and we are on track to have quite a few of them baptized in January. We have been teaching a family of 5 named the M______ family. We taught the Plan of Salvation this past week and it was incredible to see just how many great questions they had and how much they are learning. They are making a lot of progress and we are hoping to challenge them to baptism soon, the only concern is that they have been members of a certain church around here their entire lives. That is one of the biggest difficulties here is that most people have grown up in a certain church their entire life but it's incredible how the Lord can work miracles.

Like I've mentioned before, the branch here is new and struggling. We are currently trying to find a place to meet for church and we have been having to move around different schools. They are attempting to find land to put a temporary chapel but there is just no land here in QwaQwa so it's a serious concern right now. The school we have been meeting at was not approved by the church for the next year because it's apparently too small so we have to move to another school that is really far from most of the members. It's really not a good situation, there is a huge concern that a lot of people will go less active once we move to this school in January. The Lord will provide a way though and were really hoping for a miracle, we've run out of options.

It's crazy that this year is almost over. We have been getting a lot of people asking us if the world is going to end. I tell each person without a doubt in my mind that the world is not going to end and not even the angels in heaven know when the second coming of the Savior will be. I tell each person we can schedule an appointment for the 22nd then laugh about all the people that are worried it will be over on the 21st haha.

Christmas is fast approaching! We have been watching this Mormon Message quite a bit with President Monson that says "What Shall We Give?" If we simply take off the last syllable for the Spirit of "Christmas" it becomes the Spirit of Christ. What shall we give for Christmas? What shall we give for Christ? A great question to ponder in our minds as we remember the birth of our Master and Redeemer.

I love you all and wish you a great week in preparation for Christmas!

Elder Summers

Monday, December 10, 2012

Keep Moving Forward!

Hello everyone,

I know I've said this before but it's incredible how time just fliesby. I can't believe it's already been 6 months. Transfer calls come in next Monday, I'm pretty sure I'll be with my companion for another transfer. One missionary in our flat is finishing his mission so we'll be getting a new missionary here in our district.

Well I didn't send a general email home last week because it was honestly a pretty tough week but this past week was a lot better despite my sunburn! We did quite a bit of service this past week and I forgot to put sunscreen on- big mistake! I'm getting really dark so I don't think people will even know I'm white by the time I leave here  haha.

I've learned that mission is not always easy but the Lord humbles us in order to bring us higher and to develop attributes of Godliness. The branch here is struggling quite a bit with less actives and members that aren't "anxiously engaged" but we are doing our best to help it continue to grow. As I've mentioned before, the branch here is very new. The branch president just joined the church a year ago but he is energetic and doing his best to keep the branch afloat. We are currently having difficulty finding a place to worship on Sunday, we have been moving around different schools. These are not very niceschools by the way but it's incredible to see that the venue doesn't make a difference when we are gathered together as saints. The spirit is felt no matter where we have church which further strengthens my own testimony.

This past week we had some great lessons that definitely left an imprint on my heart. We have been teaching this very humble family of 4, the M________ family, for about the last month I've been here. We decided on Wednesday to review the restoration because we felt as though they did not fully grasp the priesthood being lost and brought back in its fullness. Well after reviewing the restoration and using some illustrations to help them understand it more clearly, the Ntate (word in Sotho for father, like Baba) began to tear up. It was evident that the spirit touched his heart and he truly understands our message. He said that he really feels something and clearly understands what we are teaching now. The family has agreed to be baptized in Janurary so hopefully they'll continue to progress. They have already agreed to keep the word of wisdom which was shocking considering the father drinks and the wife and daughters all love their tea and coffee. We followed up with them on Sunday though and they have been keeping the word of wisdom and feel great!

Another quick story. My companion and I were walking along the road when an Ntate stopped his car and wanted us to come over to him. He started talking to us and asked what exactly we do. We explained that we are missionaries and a little bit about the message we share. He said he has seen us many times before but he felt prompted to stop his car and talk to us. He said my companion and I are like "BFF's" because we are always together haha. He wanted to talk to us because he didn't understand how "A white guy could be walking around with confidence in a black community" haha. That's literally what he said, it made me chuckle a bit. It's true I'm pretty much the only white guy but I don't really feel like I stick out. I have confidence in our message so I have no problem sharing it with anyone. It just reminds me of the scripture in 2 Timothy 1:7: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." So true! God endows all of his servants with power and authority, I've
seen this manfiest time in again on my mission. Never be afraid to stand up for what you believe and to share your testimony! Anyways, we gave him our information and told him a little more about the church. Hopefully something comes of it!

Best of luck to all my friends at BYU for finals this week, one of the blessings of being on a mission is that I don't have to stress about exams for 2 years haha!

I love you all, the church is still very true!!

Elder Summers


Monday, November 26, 2012

Sons of Thunder


Hello my dearest family,

I know it's late but I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I honestly kind of forgot it was Thanksgiving, it was just another normal day here in South Africa. Although we were watching a Mormon message from President Monson on gratitude. I loved part of what he said when he talked about just pausing and recognizing the many blessings we have each and everyday. Often times we forget to recognize the small things in life because are so busy. I do the same thing! Each day is a blessing from the Lord and it was a great reminder.

I've nicknamed our companionship the Sons of Thunder hence the title of the email. My companion is such a stud and we are finding a ton of success together. We also sing quite well together so that's where I came up with the name. This past week was one of the best weeks on mission so far! First off a couple of the lessons we had were some of the most spritual experiences I've had on mission so far. On Tuesday we met with this guy named O_____ and it was only the second time missionaries met with him and my first time meeting him. We were talking about prayer and he told us how he had been praying for help from God when the next day the 2 Elders knocked on his door. After relating that story to us, I told him that was a direct answer to his prayers. We then went on to introduce the Book of Mormon to him and I had a very overwhelming feeling to challenge him to baptism. After challenging him he accepted and said he wants to change his life. We are planning on having him baptized in January  

Then last night I thought I had a dejavu moment. We went to meet this Ma who has been taught by missionaries twice. This was also my first time meeting her. We showed up late for the appointment so she just wanted to reschedule. We sat down in her home and after we scheduled an appointment we asked how she had been doing. We got to talking and eventually she started asking some questions about the Book of Mormon. Then she basically broke down and started crying, she told us about all of the challenges she has been facing and how she has earnestly been praying to God for help. She has incredible faith. I shared with her some scriptures that have really helped me in my times of trial and she was very grateful. I'm so glad that we were able to be an answer to her prayers and act as a "tender mercy" in her life. Last night we had the chance to be there for her and encourage her. The reason I say it was a dejavu moment was because the exact same situation happened in Margate with Sister P______ who 2 months later was baptized. The Lord is mindful of each of us and will always answer our prayers in His own time. Our Heavenly Father really does care about us. I love the scripture in Alma 26:37 that says the Lord is mindful of each of us and his bowels of mercy are over all of His works. I have seen this manifest time and time again and I cannot deny it. The church is so true.

There is a quote that I love that has kept me motivated, especially in times where mission kind of seems long. "Don't count the days, make the days count." Sometimes we get caught up in looking at the future instead of being happy with the now! I'm guilty of this, the more I live in the "now" the more I enjoy life. Each day is a blessing and we should never take the sun rising for granted. It reminds me a lot of that talk President Uchtdorf gave in General Conference about enjoying time now and being happy with what we have been given.

Thanks for all of your support, you all are amazing and I hope you have a great holiday season!

Love,
Elder Summers

Long Week

11-19-12


Okay so I typed a really long email to ya'll but the internet wasn't working once I sent the email so now I have to type this whole thing again! This is going to be a lot shorter because I don't have much time now.

Dumelang!!

That means hello in Sotho. Sotho is very different from zulu but at least there are no clicking sounds in this language. I kind of lied in my last email home, I said I would be emailing from a different country today... well not quite. Transfers were kind of crazy and there was some confusion. I'm in Phuthadajahba aka PJ. It's on the border of Lesotho and it's in the Lesotho zone. We go into Lesotho sometimes for meetings but that's about it. I also thought I would be driving but apparently there was some miscommunication. I'm actually in a walking area which is really nice! My companion is Elder Khultedi and he is from Johannesburg. He has been on mission for 3 months, he just finished training and I'm his what they call "follow up trainer." He is a really hard worker and is very obedient, we are getting along very well. I've had 3 great companions so far and I hope it's like that for the rest of my mission. This area is wayyyyy different from Margate. All of the roads here in PJ are dirt roads, the only roads that are paved are the main roads. The branch here is really young, it's only been a branch for about 2 years. There are about 50 to 60 members at church each Sunday which is pretty good considering the branch hasn't been around for long. Most of the members here have only been in the church for 1 to 3 years at the most. The people here are so humble and friendly, I'm really going to enjoy my time here.

On my way to PJ I had to take a bus for 5 hours. I was the only one on the bus and I had the chance to talk to this young lady sitting next to me. We started talking about her family and about how the U.S. is different to South Africa. After talking for a while we got onto the topic of religion. She wanted to know why there are so many churches and why our church is different. Well that led perfectly into the restoration and by the time I was done she was really wanting to meet with missionaries. By the end of the bus ride I had taught her the entire restoration and it was cool to see that she was so interested. She was headed to a different area then me so I got her contact info and gave her a pass along card. It's amazing the people you meet on mission!

All of the kids here are so cute. They love to yell "luguwa" which means white guy in Sotho. The 'g' sound makes a gutteral sounds like the 'g' in German or Dutch. I am seriously the only white guy here so I get a lot of people looking at me and the kids all like to wave at me haha.

Okay I had some other stories but I'm out of time. I'm living in a 4 man boarding and I'll upload some pictures next week, I forgot to bring my camera cord today. The other companionship has a car and they are both really cool guys. I'm going to enjoy my time here!

Love you guys!

Elder Summers

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Drum Roll Please.....Transfers!

Dearest family and friends,

Transfer news came last night. Yes I'm leaving Margate. Any guesses? Although it's probably hard to guess a city in South Africa when most of you don't even know where South Africa is located on a map haha. Just kidding. So my new area actually is not in South Africa. No I'm not being moved to China or Europe... It's either Swaziland or Lesotho. So guess between those two...

Okay I'll just say it already, I'm being moved to Lesotho.

Let me save you the time of having to go to Google and research where the heck that is located! Haha. Lesotho is a little country in the middle of South Africa, it's on the outer edge of our mission boundaries. I'm in for a really LONG bus ride tomorrow. I guess President just wants to keep me in the "outer darkness" of the mission boundaries haha. Lesotho is an extremely poor area, they speak a completely different language from zulu (right as I'm getting to know zulu!) and they use a different currency. That's about all I know about this little country. My new companion is going to be Elder Kutley. I don't know where he is from yet (the name is African), I think he is new on mission from what I've heard. They drive buckeys (basically like trucks) in Lesotho because there are pretty much no paved roads. The whole mission is a driving mission for those that are wondering, there are only a couple of walking areas in the Durban mission.

Right now I'm super excited to move on past Margate but at the same time I'm going to really miss people here! Margate has been an amazing experience, it's a pretty tough area but the Lord has blessed us with success in my limited time here. It just goes to show that if you work hard and have faith in the Lord, all things are made possible. I really love our mission equation: Hard work + Faith + Obedience = Miracles. So true and I have seen it come to fruition! I'll go say bye to everyone today and it will definitely be tough. I'm not sure how most missions are, but here in the Durban mission you typically stay 4 1/2 to 6 months in an area. Almost every missionary here serves in between 4 to 5 areas for the 2 years. It's likely I'll be in Lesotho for 6 months since I was only in Margate for 4 1/2 but obviously anything can happen.

Real quick from this past week. It finally stopped raining these past few days! But man oh man was it hot yesterday, really the first hot day I've experienced here in SA. We challenged M_____, M_____ and L_______ to baptism this past week and they accepted! I can't believe the people we have found here in Margate. It's amazing to see that this branch only had about 4 baptisms in the past 4 years and we are on track for 7 or more in just the past 5 months since I've been here. F_____ is also scheduled to be baptized in beginning of December, along with Lw______

We had another amazing lesson with Ma E______ and I'm really going to miss her. She said that she feels like she is "about to graduate from lessons" i.e. she is getting close to baptism. She says she has learned so much from us teaching her and that her mind has been "opened." She was really sad to see me go and I hope I'll still be on mission when she is baptized. Such an awesome lady! I gave her a paper entitled "The 17 points of the True Church" which includes a little story. If you haven't had the chance to see that story, look it up! She really enjoyed it and she said it strengthened her faith in the direction she is taking with us.

I heard all about the election this past week. People here love Obama, I have to hold my tongue a lot. Life moves on and I won't say anymore with regards to that subject. Another quick story real quick that was kind of funny. The other day we accidentally left one of our lights on inside our apartment with all of our windows opened. Well since it wasn't raining that day and it's been warming up, these bugs that are attracted to light came all inside our apartment! There were hundreds of them, I'm not sure what they are called. They are almost like caterpillars but with wings, that's about how big they are. It took along time to clean up our apartment and I had to stomp on a lot of those things! Well we learn from our mistakes. If we aren't making mistakes then we aren't doing!

Best of wishes from Margate for the last time. Next week I'll be in Lesotho!

Love you all,
Elder Summers

Sunday, November 11, 2012

We are few but the church is true

Hello everyone,

Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting and hardly anyone was at church. We only had 20 people which was by far the lowest I've seen here in Margate. Nevertheless, it doesn't matter the size of the congregation if we are gathered as Saints of the church. I felt the spirit stronger than EVER during that testimony meeting even though there were only a few of us. It reminded me of the scripture in Mathew where the Savior is speaking to His disciples and He says: "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there will I be in the midst of them." This was manifested yesterday and my testimony was strengthened even further.

This past week I had the chance to go to zone conference in Durban. This is the second time I have gone to zone conference since coming on mission. It really re-motivated to continue to work hard and commit all my time and talent to the Lord. President spoke to us on the importance of conversion and shared the talk from Elder Bednar in this past conference. Elder Bednar's talk was so great and I was happy to see it again! I loved this quote from his talk: "Consistently living the gospel is the essence of conversion." The deeper our conversion the less and less we question certain commandments or the trials we face in our lives. President really emphasized the importance of continuing to strengthen our own testimonies, we cannot expect to convert others if our own faith is wavering. We see many RM's go inactive after their missions so just because you serve a mission doesn't mean your faith won't be tested.

We have been meeting with these three brothers I mentioned in a couple of other letters, M_____, M______ and L______. We were teaching them on Friday night and we challenged them to baptism. They really are pondering our message a lot now and are definitely taking it into consideration. They said they need to read the Book of Mormon more and attend church. I asked L____ a question about the Book of Mormon after we challenged them to baptism. I said: "How do we know if the Book of Mormon is true and Joseph Smith really translated it by the power of God?" and L______ responded by saying: "Because Joseph Smith said so!" Hahaha we all started laughing so hard and I couldn't even keep teaching. These 3 brothers are so funny and I love teaching them. I don't consider them "investigators" but instead as my friends. It's too bad we just found them a few weeks ago! I'm pretty sure these guys will all be baptized within the next couple of months. I'm really glad facebook has been invented so I can stay in contact.

Elder Ngwenya and I also had the chance to meet with Ma E_______ on Saturday. She has prayed about the Book of Mormon and I believe she is slowly receiving her answer. She once again said it will be difficult for her because of her deep roots in the Anglican church. I firmly believe that she will join the church but it will take time. She is one of those investigators that will have a story in the Ensign someday and she will eventually be an awesome relief society sister! She always says that I am one of her sons haha. I'm really going to miss her and I hope she joins the church someday. I shared with her how my testimony of the Book of Mormon did not come immediately as an answer to a prayer. Instead my testimony has come over time as I ponder and diligently study the Book of Mormon. The Lord slowly reveals truth and light to me everytime I read, God is not going to have us feel peace and joy from a book that is not from Him.

I have been studying the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon a lot lately. I'm not going to lie, I skimmed Isaiah (like many people) before I came on mission. Isaiah is the most quoted prophet in the Book of Mormon and the Savior himself said it is a commandment to study the words of Isaiah. After diligently studying the Prophet Isaiah's words, I have come to understand why so many prophets in the Book of Mormon quote him. Isaiah is the man and he really has seen our day. There is a reason Nephi quotes him for half of 2 Nephi. Of course studying these chapters takes quite a bit of time and it doesn't all come immediately but it's definitely worth the time.

A lot of people have been asking me about the storm hitting the States. They keep asking if my family is alright, obviously this must be a pretty big storm if so many people here know about it! I explained that the storm is no where near my family but I hope everything is going alright for the people there on the east coast! We'll see what happens tomorrow, hopefully my boy Mitt pulls out the election. Not that I'm biased or anything. ;)

The church is true. The book is blue. And we are few.

My comp and I came up with this, you know "Many are called but few are chosen." By the way, it's my companions birthday today! I didn't have time to bake him anything but I bought this wayyyyy good cake and this awesome apple cider. Good stuff!

Love,

Elder Summers

Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Halloween

Dear family and friends,

Happy Halloween (They don't celebrate Halloween here by the way)!! Another fantastic week in South Africa. I can't believe I'll be leaving Margate soon and how fast time is going. Wasn't I just emailing home yesterday? Actually... Baba K_____was baptized yesterday! The baptism went great and it is was so great to see him take this step forward. He is the last one in his family to become a member (his wife and 7 kids are all members). P______ was also confirmed a member yesterday! It's incredible to see the love I have developed for each of our investigators and for the members. When you really come to love the people, everything else falls into place. It's so hard to resist someone who sincerely giving love away to others. Love creates an enivornment of peace and people feel comfortable. People are so willing to open up when they feel genuine love.

We have been teaching this Sister named M___ E______ for about 2 months now. She is seriously the nicest lady I have ever met and she would be such a great relief society sister. Elder Jallah and I met her when we started helping her do some service in her back yard. She invited us in and let us share our message. She has very deep roots in the Anglican church. The other day we challenged her to baptism and helped her more clearly understand our purpose. She said it will be tough for her to leave her church but she is really going to pray and ponder about it. I know the Lord will answer her prayer if she prays sincerely.

Well we have a lot of driving to do this week and transfers are coming up in just a couple of weeks. I gave myself a haircut this past week which turned out pretty good, maybe I'll open a barber shop when I get home haha. Just kidding of course.

Love you all,
Elder Summers












Monday, October 22, 2012

I'm Mormon - I know it, I live it, I love it!

Hello family and friends!!

I absolutely loved general conference this past weekend! If you watched Sister Dibb's talk then you'll understand my heading. I really enjoyed that talk by Sister Dibb. We watched the the Saturday and Priesthood sessions back to back to back on Saturday, basically it was 6 straight hours of being spiritually overloaded. I don't think I've ever felt more on a spiritual "high." I was so excited to have the chance to hear conference, I seriously felt like a little kid about to open birthday presents. Being a missionary just makes conference even better then usual! We watched all of the sessions in our small little chapel, I felt the spirit so strong while watching the talks in the chapel. I really loved both of President Uchtdorf's talks and I can't wait to get the ensign!

So besides conference we had another crazy week as usual. First off I had an allergic reaction to this pie I ate at a members home. It's called Rubarb pie and it had a bunch of stuff on it I've never even heard of before. Well something on it my body did not enjoy, pretty much my whole body turned red that night and it was really difficult to sleep. I just took some claritin and eventually it went away, I haven't had an allergic reaction to something in almost 10 years though so it kind of freaked me out. I'm all good though and there is always power in a priesthood blessing! Speaking of priesthood blessings, I had the opportunity to give a blessing to a sister in the branch who was going in to see a surgeon. She had been to this doctor twice before and they had found some serious problems so she was quite nervous to go in this third time. Well after receiving a blessing then visiting the surgeon, she told me yesterday that all the problems had according to the doctor mysteriously vanished. Anything is possible through our Heavenly Father, if it's His will and we exercise faith He can work miracles.

We have another baptism coming up this coming Sunday. Baba K______ is being baptized (Baba is a respectful term used for fathers here, similar to calling someone "sir" but if you don't use it then that's seen as being rude). His whole family have been members of the church for about 15 years but he has never wanted to join. He started meeting missionaries about a year ago but would never commit to baptism. When Elder Jallah and I started teaching him, we were finally able to get past the barriers and challenge him to be baptized. He has accepted and is very ready to be baptized! It's so great to see that this wonderful family when now have a Priesthood holder at the head of the home.

We also started meeting with these two guys named M_____ and L______ this past couple of weeks. M_____ is 20 and L______ is 19. They are brothers and they live together. The two of them are awesome and really fun guys to be around. We introduced to Book of Mormon to them in our last lesson and they were very accepting. L_______ (very funny kid) said "Wow it's a good thing you guys told us about this book, it sounds very important, we are so privileged!" I wish all investigators were like these 2 guys. I think they have potential to make a lot of progress and we're excited to keep teaching them.

F_____ (guy from Ghana) is also continuing to make a ton of progress. Elder Ngwenya in his 2 years on mission said he has never seen someone so prepared to receive the gospel. F______ is accepting of EVERYTHING and is going to be a powerful leader in the church someday. He says it makes total sense that there is still modern revelation and he loves reading everything about the church. He said he was shocked to see (when he was looking on the internet) how fast the church is growing and said "something special is happening here that the world isn't recognizing." This man was prepared by the Lord and it's by no coincidence we found him.

I love you all and wish you all the best!!

Elder Summers

P.S. it still is raining like crazy, I have never seen so much rain in my life

Monday, October 15, 2012

Baptism!

Hello family and friends!

First off I can now pray in zulu and bear my testimony in zulu so I can't wait to do that when I get home haha. Elder Ngwenya can speak 4 languages which is pretty impressive. He has been teaching me quite a bit of zulu, I'm really getting good at these click sounds. There are 3 different click sounds in zulu that you have to make and when I first got here I had never heard anything like it in my life but I'm slowly getting better.

Anyways, that's not what is important! P______ got baptized yesterday and it was an amazing experience. There is the scripture in D&C that says how great shall be your joy if you bring save one soul unto me. Well my joy was full yesterday when I saw her get baptized. Only 2 months ago we knocked on her door and handed her a pamphlet. It's incredible to see how she has gained a testimony and how the spirit has confirmed in her heart the divinity of the Book of Mormon. She is going to be a very strong member of the church and she has already started inviting friends and family to church. We also have a couple other baptisms coming up at the end of this month. Very excited for those as well.

Elder Ngwenya and I are getting along great. He is literally always happy and laughing, it makes mission a lot easier when your companion is awesome. He only has a couple of months left but he isn't trunky at all. We've continued to find success here in Margate and we're really moving the work along. I think the hardest part about leaving Margate will be the families here. I've developed such a close relationship with some of the families in this small but united branch. Serving a mission is not always easy, there are discouraging days but then I look back on the relationships I've developed and the love you have for these people and it makes it all worth serving the Lord!

When you truly have that change of heart that Alma speaks of, nothing else matters and you are willing to give it your all. Studying the Book of Mormon each and everyday truly will change your life. It's incredible what I am able to learn each and every morning during my personal study, I think that's one of my favorite parts of the day. It's my goal to read the entire missionary library along with the entire standard works. I'm getting there slowly but surely. Jesus the Christ is an amazing book, it's as if Elder Talmage was there witnessing the ministry of the Savior. If you haven't had a chance to read this book, I highly recommend it!

Love,

Elder Summers

P.S. It rains a lot here (and I mean a lot!)



Monday, October 8, 2012

New Companion

Hello family!

Wow I don't even know where to start this email! First off I didn't watch LDS General Conference this past weekend (not available live here) so I just heard about the mission age being dropped when I read my emails from home. That is unbelievable news and is so exciting to hear! Obviously the Lord needs more laborers in the vineyard at this time and it's just another sign that the House of Israel is being gathered. I have to imagine this is going to put A LOT more missionaries in the field. A lot of young ladies are going to be more willing to serve missions now that the age has been lowered. Incredible news, honestly I'm just trying to process this news at the moment. I won't be able to watch conference for a couple more weeks unfortunately but I'm looking forward to seeing all the talks! 

First off a little about my new companion! He is a very soft spoken and cheerful guy. He has been on mission for 21 months now but he isn't trunky at all. He came all the way from Swaziland on Tuesday which is the most Northern part of the mission. Now he is literally in the most southern part of the mission here in Margate. It's about a 10 hour drive from Margate to Swaziland. Elder Ngwenya (his name means crocodile by the way haha) also speaks Zulu which is awesome because it makes it a lot easier to get into doors when we do finding. We worked hard this past week and even found some great new investigators. Sunday was amazing yesterday and we had a lot of our investigators come to church. The Lord has blessed us with a lot of success here in Margate. P_______ is being baptized this coming Sunday and I'm very excited to see her baptized! She has progressed so quickly and it's amazing to see the difference the gospel has made in her life. We also have a couple more baptisms at the end of this month. The branch is really excited because they only have had 2 baptism in the past 2 years. 

On Monday it was sad to see Elder Jallah say good bye to everyone. It made me realize just how hard it is to leave people when you develop a relationship with them. I wasn't even the one leaving and it was making me sad! I have really come to love this branch so much and it's hard when you develop such strong relationships with members and investigators. It's going to be tough when I leave Margate but I'm excited to explore the rest of the mission. 

Love you all,

Elder Summers

P.S. Cougars way to beat those Aggies!! 








Monday, October 1, 2012

Transfers


Hello everyone,

It's been an exciting last 24 hours to say the least. Last night was transfers and our Zone Leaders called us and told us the news. Obviously I'm still staying here in Margate but Elder Jallah was really expecting to stay another transfer here, unfortunately that's not going to happen. He is being transferred to Hill Crest which is in Durban. My new companion is Elder Mgwenya, he is from Zimbabwe. He is almost done with his mission, Margate will be his last area and he leaves in December. I'll go meet my new comp tomorrow in Durban. The fact that he will be ending his mission in December here in Margate means that I'm almost guaranteed to be leaving Margate after this next transfer in mid-November. I was really hoping to stay here for 6 months but unfortunately that's not going to happen! Apparently most missionaries here in Durban stay in their first area 6 months and it is rare that you only stay 4 1/2 months. 

I'm anxious to receive my new companion and have to take charge of Margate. It's kind of weird receiving a new comp since I was really getting used to being with Elder Jallah as my trainer. I'm not a huge fan of change but I'll just keep working hard and doing my best. I know Heavenly Father knows what is best and we meet everyone for a specific reason. Elder Jallah really is a great missionary and I really enjoyed having him as a trainer, we got along great. 

Not a lot of updates from this past week, it was kind of a tough week. Margate has its unique challenges but the Lord only requires our best. On Tuesday P_______ was interviewed and is ready for baptism!! She will be baptized on October 14th and she is really excited. It's amazing how the Lord has prepared her, it wasn't by coincidence that we tracted into her house. We also continued to meet with F_____, the one from Ghana who has an uncle in the church. He is progressing extremely fast! He has come to church all 3 Sunday's since we first met with him and he just wants to learn everything about the church! He wants to be baptized but not until he goes back to Ghana to visit family in December. I won't be able to see him baptized but it's so exciting to teach him and see him gain that testimony for himself. He has even started inviting his friends to meet with us and he has told all of his colleagues about the Book of Mormon. Apparently he brings his Book of Mormon to work and lots of his co-workers ask him about it, so awesome! 

On Tuesday when P______ was being interviewed I had to go to Toti for exchanges. While I was there we had the chance to meet with this Sister who has gone less active. She absolutely loves the missionaries and my heart ached to see that she was less active after talking with her. She has gone less active because of some people in the Ward who offended her pretty badly. It's so sad to hear that but at the same time it made me think about true conversion. I'm not here to judge her as a missionary but we must really gain that testimony for ourselves. If we know this is the restored church then it doesn't matter what people say to us. I hear people go less active because the church building is old or the people aren't nice or it isn't organized, what difference does that all make? The church is true but the people are not perfect. It really just hurts me to see people come to a knowledge of the truth and then turn away from it. We must build that firm foundation as it speaks of in Hel. 5:12 so that when the temptations and adversity comes we will be able to withstand it. 

Love,

Elder Summers









Monday, September 24, 2012

Beautiful Sunrise in Margate


Sept 24, 2012

Hello friends and family,

Another week passes by in Margate. This morning we woke up at 5am to go and see the sun rise over the ocean. It was so amazing to see! I took some pretty incredible pictures, hopefully you all get the chance to see those (see below). 

Yesterday I had the chance to speak in sacrament meeting, it went very well and I felt great about giving another talk. I spoke on the importance of developing a testimony, especially in the Book of Mormon so that when our faith is tested we may be immovable. I honestly have loved giving talks on my mission! 

A couple of updates on some of our investigators we are currently teaching. I mentioned L_____ and N_____ who were both scheduled to be baptized, unfortunately some things have delayed their baptism. N_____ has had to visit home a couple of times so he hasn't been able to make it to church, his baptism is currently scheduled for the end of October, hopefully it will go through as planned. He really is progressing and is very accepting when we teach him. L_______ is a stud but can't be baptized yet because his family won't allow him! It's kind of a long story but basically he won't be allowed to be baptized until December. Basically the whole branch considers him a member, he even gets up to bear his testimony and participates in all of the lessons in church. He really has developed a strong testimony for himself. He has been meeting with missionaries for over 2 years so hopefully I'll still be here when he is baptized! 

Sister P______ (the mom that was struggling for food) is doing a lot better. She has had some difficult trials since we started meeting with her but she is so awesome! She has come to church every week since we have started meeting with her and she is really developing a testimony for herself. She is currently scheduled to be baptized in the beginning of October. We asked her the other day how she still felt about her baptism, she said: "It's my special day, I'll be baptized even if it's raining!" She is doing so great and is really excited to be baptized. She is being interviewed tomorrow for her baptism. 

C______ (he was baptized about a month ago) is doing great. He is continuing to learn English and is preparing to receive the priesthood. It's so great to see that whole family united as members of the church. They are really excited to see the Durban temple built and have the chance to be sealed as a family there. I love meeting with this family, they constantly want us to come over and meet with them! They really are a cool family. 

We have a couple we have been teaching named S____ and V_____. They have read pretty much the entire Book of Mormon but the only thing stopping them from baptism is marriage! There is a cultural tradition here known as "La Bollah" which really hinders the church from growing even faster here. Basically the brides parents request a HUGE sum of money from the man in order for the marriage to happen. Elder Holland and the brethren have really condemned this practice and have said that the traditions of the their fathers need to be done away with. Members of the church here are encouraged to stop this practice but obviously it's a cultural tradition so that's a challenge. 

All of our investigators our great and it's so incredible to see them progress in the gospel! We have started teaching some new families this past week so we'll see if any of them make progress. 

Love you all and wish you the best! 

Elder Summers

P.S. Come on Cougars, how do you lose to BSU 7-6?! Glad I'm on a mission!



3 Months out


Sept 17, 2012

Not that I'm counting or anything but wow it's already 3 months? I'm not going to lie, I feel sorry for people that have to spend 8 weeks or more in the MTC haha, I'm really glad I have had the chance to be in the field for this long. Well hello once again family and friends, another great week has come and gone.
 
We had a wonderful sabbath day yesterday! We had a lot of our investigators come to church which is always great to see. One of those investigators we recently met this past week and it wasn't by coincidence that we found him. His name is F____ and he is from Ghana, he moved to this area about a year ago and is working as a teacher. We we're visiting with a former investigator named M______, when all of a sudden this guy named F____ walks past and says "Hey you guys are missionaries from my Uncle's church!" Well we started talking to F____ and asked him more about what he know's about our church. He said that our temple is beautiful in Ghana but doesn't really know anything about our church. His Uncle (this is according to F_____) was always unwilling to talk to him about our beliefs. F____ said he likes how his uncle lives and was very interested to learn more about what we believe so we set up an appointment with him.
 
Well we went to meet F____ this past week and taught him the message of the restoration. He was very very accepting of the B.O.M., he said he has never been baptized because he sees too many different ways to be baptized. We directed him to 3 Ne. 11 where the Savior institutes baptism among the Nephites, he was extremely excited to hear about this chapter. He even accepted to be baptized if he comes to find that the B.O.M. is true. I mentioned earlier it wasn't coincidence that we met F____, I believe Heavenly Father placed him directly in our path and that he is one of the people our Heavenly Father has been preparing. The Lord works in many different ways, we must always be examples of Christ in everything we do because we never know who may be watching us.
 
It also brings me back to another point. F____ says his uncle was always reluctant to discuss his beliefs, this saddened me when I heard this. I hope that we are always willing to stand up for what we believe and never be afraid to share the gospel. As President David O. McKay stated years ago: "Every member a missionary!" We should not be afraid to share what we know to be true. While I don't have his uncle's side of the story, it is a good reminder for me to always be bold and unwavering in our testimony of the gospel. While it may be difficult in areas back home, we can always remember to stand up for the principles we have been taught. There is a great Mormon Message by President Monson which says "Dare to Stand Alone." But know that we are never alone, our Heavenly Father is always there for us in our time of need.
 
I also have been reading from the New Testament this past week and came on a great verse in Matthew 12:26. The Savior tells us that a house divided cannot stand, satan cannot persuade men to follow Jesus Christ. Often times we hear that the B.O.M. is a satanic book but anyone who has truly read and pondered the message of the B.O.M. knows this cannot be true. As it states in Moroni 7:12-13, anything which is good comes from Christ and anything evil comes from satan. The B.O.M. cannot be written by satan because it persuades men to follow Christ! I believe the B.O.M. references Christ every 1.7 verses which is far more than even the Bible. The reason this has been on my mind is because there was a lady who came to us and said she felt sorry for us that we believe in a satanic book. She wasn't even willing to accept a copy of the B.O.M. but if she really opened the book she would know that this cannot possibly be written by satan! I have come to gain such a strong testimony of the divinity of this great book, it has provided me incredible guidance each day as I ponder its teachings. I am so happy each time our investigators read from the B.O.M. and I see the difference it makes in their lives. Our investigator, Patience, who is being baptized in a few weeks reads the B.O.M. everyday and her life has changed dramatically. This past week has been so amazing to see each of our investigators increasing in their love and testimony of this restored gospel, I know this work is divine and we are blessed to be members of this marvelous gospel.
 
I love you all very much and wish you another great week!
 
Elder Summers
 
P.S. Have you ever had a lizard jump on you while showerings? Well that happened to me this past week, that scared me really bad!! Haha.

2 Months in the Field

Sept 10, 2012

Hello hello, 

today marks 2 months in the mission field and almost 3 months on mission! Time moves fast and I can't express how blessed I am to be serving the Lord. This email is going to be semi-short since I'm running low on time as usual. This past week has been kind of hectic with exchanges, crazy weather and crocodiles. First I'll start with the crocodiles. Last P-day we had the chance to go to this place called Croc World which was pretty cool. There was a croc there that is over 100 years old and he is huge! I sent a picture of him. That was pretty cool place to visit and the wild life here is incredible. I also was teaching a lesson this past week when all of a sudden the guy we are teaching says "Elder Summers hurry turn around!" when all of a sudden I see this HUGE spider about the size of my hand behind me. The guy goes and grabs a broom and wacks it a few times, that's Africa for you! 

I also had the chance to go on exchanges again with the ZL's. We go on exchanges a lot and honestly it's kind of a hassle because we are so far away from the other Elder's in our zone. It was a good experience though and I always learn a lot. I also got my first taste of real South African rain storms. You know back home we jokingly say "It's raining cats and dogs!" Well here it doesn't rain cats and dogs, it rains rhinos and elephants! Haha, it rains and rains and then rained some more for 3 days straight. The roads are turned into rivers and everyone just huddles up in their homes. It makes it very difficult to do missionary work but I'm glad we have a car. I have been so humbled by the people here and some of their situations. I was so blessed to own a car before my mission, so many people don't own cars and most people have to drive taxi's around. Also the fact that chapels and temples are everywhere back home, people have to sacrifice so much here just to come to church. One lady takes a taxi 200 kilometers (that's far FYI) just to get to church here in Margate, oh and she takes those 200 K's by taxi with her daughter. She has to pay R200 (about $25) for each of them just to get here. That Sister realizes the importance of partaking the sacrament and renewing that sacred covenant, I know the Lord is blessing her and her family for that tremendous sacrifice. 

Some big news was announced in the Margate branch here yesterday. It was announced that this branch will have a chapel built and completed within the next year. The branch currently has church in a very old rented out Red Cross building. This was very shocking news because the branch has about 35 to 45 people attend each week with only 4 fathers who hold the priesthood and only about 7 total priesthood holders. The Lord has blessed this branch with a chapel though because they are leading the Stake in tithing being paid. It's amazing how the Lord will bless us if we pay our tithing. I was so happy to hear this wonderful news, these members have been waiting for a chapel for a very long time. This should really help the branch grow even stronger here. The chapel should be completely by December next year so I'll still be on the mission when it's complete. Absolutely wonderful news to hear! 

Great story from this past Tuesday real quick. This Sister named P________ who currently is scheduled to be baptized related a wonderful story to us. When we asked her how she still felt about her baptism, she told us she had a confirmation to her prayers in a dream she had the day before we came. After praying for days, she had a dream that one of her grandparents was standing in a river inviting her to join as a sign of being baptized. I know for a fact that the Lord will answer prayers if we do the 3 things Moroni tells us in chapter 10. If we ask in faith, with a sincere heart and real intent the Lord will answer our prayer. He answers in so many different ways but this just strengthens my testimony that He will answer! The Lord is so mindful of each of us and we must continue to always put our trust in Him. 

Love you guys and wish you another fantastic week! 

Elder Summers





P.S. Go COUGARS! 2-0 baby! Haha. (Sort of missing BYU football right now if you can't tell)

Monday, September 3, 2012

First Confirmation

Sowubona umdini! 

I had the chance yesterday to perform my first confirmation. C_____ was confirmed a member and it all went very smoothly, I was pretty nervous to confirm someone a member but I know that blessings come by the spirit not me! I am so happy to see that wonderful family now be led by a member of the church and soon to be priesthood holder. 

Okay so there was some pretty big news that came in church yesterday. The branch president (we live on his property) who has been serving as president for over 7 years was released. It came as pretty big news and he has served for such a long time! It's funny because Elder Jallah and I, no joke, had just been talking about the day before how he has been serving as branch president for a really long time. Sure enough the next day he is released! 

Not a lot of news from this past week but we're really making a lot of progress still with our investigators with baptismal dates. We started "weeding" out our teaching pool with some of our investigators who aren't making any real progress. We expect to have a few baptisms in the beginning of October which will be great for the branch. It's amazing the difference the gospel is making in some of these peoples lives, it makes me so happy each time we meet with them and I see them growing closer to our Savior. 

On Saturday we were asked to go to Port Shepstone (very outer part of our area) to help the church deliver about 25 wheelchairs to St. Martin's school. Apparently the church has donated over 500,000 wheel chairs in just the past year here in Africa! Wow! We were told about this very last minute so we didn't really know what we were going to do exactly. When we arrived, we helped off load the wheel chairs and then a member from the Durban Stake Presidency arrived and a member of the Church's public affairs department. The wheel chairs were given to the handicapped individuals who needed them and then we had a program. The entire program was in Zulu so Elder Jallah and I just sat there with smiles on our faces not really sure what they were talking about. The leaders from our church were talking to everyone there and basically explaining what the church does. Then the member of the stake presidency motions for us to come up and we had no idea why! So he puts us on the spot in front of about 70 people and asks us to sing "As I have loved you." Wow I'm really glad that song is only one verse because I could hardly remember the words haha. Good thing Elder Jallah and I sing together all the time! Apparently we sounded pretty good according to some people there- must have been the gift of tongues helping us there haha! 

Sorry no real crazy stories from this past week, just continuing to teach and do our best here. It's amazing how close you feel to the spirit when you study for a few hours in the morning from the scriptures and all worldly distractions are eliminated. I've come to appreciate the Book of Mormon more fully and the central role it plays in conversion. If the Book of Mormon is true then that means God LIVES and this is HIS church, nothing else matters. It's amazing the things you can learn from diligently searching its pages, there is no way Joseph Smith wrote that book in 3 months time. It was by the power of God and nothing else. 

To all those who have asked- no there are not lions and zebras running around on the street haha. 

Love you all and wish you the best from Margate. 

Elder Summers

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Baptism


Hello friends and family!!
 
Another fantastic week on the lovely coast of Margate, South Africa. This week we had our first baptism in a really long time here in Margate! C____________ was baptized and everything went very smoothly. The branch is really struggling to have more priesthood holders so it is a blessing to have C_________ as a member now. The branch President baptized him and C_________has asked me to confirm him next Sunday. Kind of a little bit nervous to confirm someone for the first time but really humbled to have the opportunity to confirm him a member of the church.
 
Today for p-day we had a great day. We had the chance to visit this park (game reserve) known as Lake Eland. It's absolutely beautiful and we had a lot of fun. We went with the branch president here and had the chance to see a bunch of different animals! I got to chase some giraffes around which was pretty cool haha! Hopefully you enjoy the pictures. The suspension bridge was kind of freaky but really awesome!
 
The work is moving great here and we're continuing to make progress. We had the chance to teach a pastor this past week which was interesting. The first time we tracted into him we figured he would want to Bible bash, but after meeting with him a couple of times he is a very humble man. He was willing to listen to us and didn't even argue, that is until we got up to Joseph Smith. He said he doesn't believe there can be a Prophet on the earth today. We emphasized that "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." -Amos 3:7 and really tried to help him understand that God is the same yesterday, today and forever so surely there must be one true Prophet on the earth. He respected our views and invited us to come back. After teaching him about Joseph Smith at the end of our lesson I bore my testimony to him because I knew we wouldn't be coming back. I felt the Spirit so strong, Joseph Smith really did receive that divine call. Honestly the most difficult thing about the mission is that people are so close to the truth but yet so far. Of course we can only do the best we can and that's all the Lord requires.
 
There is an example given in zone conference that really helped me. It's the rule of 7's. All of us our somewhere different on the scale of 7's. Some of us are 7's and are fully converted to the gospel, while others we may find are only 1's or 2's. Sometimes those we teach will not accept, but often times as missionaries we are slowly moving them higher on the scale for future missionaries. We are simply planting the seed most times and it's important to remember that. We must always move forward in faith with an eye single to the glory!!
 
Real quick just a funny note. I have had 3 completely different people tell me I look like someone from TV but none of them know who! Just really odd that keeps happening, hopefully that guy is good looking and I'll take it as a compliment!
 
I love you guys!
 
Elder Summers