Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sat June 30 2012 - First Full Week

Family and friends!

What a long and crazy week here at the MTC! The MTC is great but I can't imagine being here 8 to 12 weeks like some missionaries are in Provo. The MTC here is a much different experience than what I was expecting and it's a lot different then Provo. You know everyone here, and I mean everyone from the cooks to the MTC President and his wife know each of us inidividually. President Reber spends a lot of time with us  throughout the day and his wife likes to play card games with us during lunch/dinner.

Last night was amazing. Throughout this past week we had been teaching fake investigators aka our teachers, but yesterday complete strangers came into the MTC and we had to teach them. Now at first I thought they were just be LDS member posing as investigators but NO. The first guy we taught had a bunch of friends in the church and he was interested in learning more about the gospel. We were able to address his needs and I felt that we really taught by the spirit, it was awesome! The second lesson was even more special because it was a girl and here mom. The girl is not a member and her mom is currently inactive from the church. The girl seemed very interested in the gospel and she knew a bit about our beliefs, we only had 10 minutes with her but I once again felt the spirit very strongly and I tried to really connect with her. She is coming back next Friday so hopefully she will have more questions and we'll be able to continue to teach her. Overall this past week has been awesome! I've felt the spirit so strong and learned so much about the gospel, my testimony has been strengthened tremendously and I have no doubt this is the church of God on the earth today. Early in the week I had some problems with my companion because he arrived late from Ghana and he was having issues with adjusting the the new climate. He has some condition where it is difficult to deal with colder temperatures, he was really struggling but this entire week I have been praying for him. After we gave him a blessing a few days ago he has really turned around for the better. Our companionship is going a lot better and we've been able to teach some great lessons, the power of the priesthood is real and I've gained a special testimony of the power of prayer since I have been here.

Okay so much more has happened! So I had the chance to do comp planning with an Elder from my room the other night. Both of our companions were feeling sick so we decided to study together, well he has really been discouraged and he basically told me all that was going wrong. Let me just say this guy is going to be a great missionary, his testimony is powerful and his conversion story was incredible. He is from Kenya and two years ago, that's right only two years ago he was taught by the missionaries and joined the church. For years he had been attending a Christian church but he never felt it was right. One night he had a dream that men in suits and ties were visiting with him and talking about God. Well the very NEXT day two Mormon missionaries visited their house! He was taught the lessons and a month later he joined the church. Incredible stuff, the Africans here have some pretty amazing stories. Of the 30 Elders here and 2 sisters, 22 are from Africa and the rest are from the States. 13 are going to the Johannesburg mission, 10 to Durban, 5 to Zambia and 4 to Zimbabwe.

This past week I also started to exercise with an Elder who is in my room. He is from Uganda and he is a beast! He has taught me some pretty crazy exercises and we have been running sprints together. My legs are really sore haha. Each day we have an hour in the afternoon to get outside of the MTC and go play sports or exercise. These Africans are really good at soccer but I'm dominating them in basketball haha. I've also been learning Zulu from a couple of the missionaries here this past week. Elder Zulu has been teach me Zulu haha. Elder Zulu is from Durban and he has been teaching me how to say some things. My favorite word is Pumula which means Get outta here! He has taught me how to open a basic conversation when visiting someones home though which is cool. He said it's the easiest African language but I find that hard to believe! A lot of the words having clicking sounds in them which is difficult.

Well this past week has been great overall, I can't wait to get to Durban! After this email our district has the chance to go out on splits with the Johannesburg missionaries today! This will be my first time out and the field, I'm pretty excited. I'll let you guys know how it goes next week! The weather here is amazing. It's in the 60's with no rain at all. I'm learning a lot and I've grown closer then ever to our Savior. I'm so grateful for all of your support and I love you all!

I forgot to mention the temple! It was an amazing experience and much different from the states. The temple was beautiful and all of the African's went through for the first time. But there is one thing that is the same in each temple, complete and total peace. I didn't want to leave and I felt closer than ever to the spirit. I can't wait to go back next week!

By the way, we leave July 10th from the MTC.

Elder Summers

Sunday, June 24, 2012

First MTC Pictures

The wife of the Johannesberg MTC president sent out 3 pictures just to let us know the group is doing fine and working hard.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My 1st Week

Family and friends!

It's my first P-Day here at the MTC, it looks like we'll have P-day every Saturday here. Thank you so much for all of the emails everyone!! It's really hard to read them all and write back within 30 minutes, I think I will have a lot longer out in the field. I'm not allowed to email back to friends here at the MTC so I apologize that I'm not able to respond. I really enjoy reading what is happening back in the states and in your guys lives. Well it's crazy how much happens here at the MTC, the days have gone pretty fast but we do soooo much! As I'm writing this email my companion from Ghana has just arrived finally. I have been the only one with no companion these first few days so that has been kind of weird since having a companion is kind of important on the mission haha. We're going to teach our first "investigator" (our teacher) tonight, it's kind of a nerve wracking thing to teach people but we just have to go by the spirit. They really emphasize teaching based on the needs of investigators so that you can build trust, a lot of missionaries struggle with just teaching straight out of PMG which they don't want you to do because there is no sincerity or connection. We are divided up into 3 districts here at the MTC, each district has a different teacher. My teacher, Bro. Reeder is from Johannesburg and has lived here is whole life. He served his mission in Durban and absolutely loved it which makes me even more excited to get there!

I'm still quite jet-lagged, it's crazy to think that you guys are 8 hours behind us. Eventually I'll get onto the correct sleeping schedule here and not feel so tired. We had the first chance to go outside this Heavenly Prison and play some sports. It was so weird to be playing basketball while overlooking the beautiful city of Johannesburg, it's not often that you play an American sport on the African continent. All of the Africans here were playing soccer, lets just say I'm not even going to try and play with them haha. They are so dang good at playing soccer. The African Elder's here are simply awesome, many of them are very quiet but incredibly humble. It is amazing to talk to them individually and hear their different stories, some of them have incredible conversion stories. A lot of the Africans here were only converted within the last 2 to 4 years! I can't even imagine only recently being introduced to the church and already having the strong desire to serve the Lord, they have such strong testimonies of the Gospel. The Kingdom of God truly is touching all corners of the earth and will continue to roll forth.

Sorry if my emails are disorganized, with such limited time I don't really have the luxury of reading back over them!

I love you guys!

Elder Summers

Friday, June 22, 2012

Elder Summers Arrives in South Africa

I made it! I arrived about an hour ago at the MTC here in Johannesburg, it was an hectic two days of flying to say the very least! It is quite a weird feeling to be typing to you while sitting here in South Africa. The weather is amazing here and it's so weird to see people driving on the left side of the road. It looks like I'll get 30 minutes to write home so I apologize to my friends if I can't get to your emails, I'll do my best to type fast haha.

I'm going to recap the last couple of days in airports because it was quite the experience. Flying out of SLC there were 6 others Elder besides myself that I met up with. When I flew out of SLC to Chicago I sat next to a lady who had actually been to Durban multiple times and has travelled all over the world. She told me all about Durban and many wonderful stories about the country, she started bearing her testimony to me while we were flying and started crying! It was cool to feel the spirit on my way to Chicago and helped me relax a lot. I actually found out that she is the daughter in law of Dr. Kearl, he teaches the evil Econ 110 class that everyone hates haha. She said her daughter does consulting work out of D.C. in Africa, I told her that I have a huge interest in doing something international after my mission so she told me to remember her daughters name Rachel Kearl and she would be able to help me. It's amazing the people you meet and how this name tag changes you.

While waiting for our flight in Chicago, we had multiple members of the church come up to us and talk with us. We even had a couple give us $60 for ice cream! The flight to London was 8 hours, it was impossible to get any sleep on the plane. The one brightside was that our dinner was surprisingly good! After landing in London we had a 10 hour layover so we decided to go tour London instead of sitting in the airport all day. We visited the Buckingham palace, Big Ben and some other historical buildings. I had fish and chips for the first time ($20!!) and it was really good. While walking around London we ran into some members who are the neighbors of the mission president in Johannesburg, what a small world! After that long day in London we finally took off for South Africa last night, it was an 11 hour flight! My flight experience to South Africa was interesting to say the least. I had the chance to sit next to two women who were sisters and were going to Durban. They grew up in Durban as children and they were going back because their dad had just passed away that day in Durban. They were extremely friendly but it was apparent they had no idea what the LDS church was haha. I began talking to them and they gave me a bunch of information about Durban. After talking to them for a bit, they asked me a few questions about my church. The only thing they knew was that we don't have sex, we don't drink alcohol and we wear weird trousers. They asked me about why I'm serving a mission, why I was wearing nice clothes and other various questions. They kept thinking I was going to do a little service and get lots of time to tour South Africa, so they were giving me lots of recommendations on beanches and bars to visit haha. One of the girls had mentioned that she really missed her dad and hoped he was in heaven. She was confused by our church and our beliefs so I gave her a pass along card with "Familes are Forever" and told her to visit if she was interested. You never know what will happen! 

After talking to them for a while they kind of had a little bit too much alcohol! They were very depressed from losing their dad so they said they were trying to "wash their grief away." They were getting a bit rowdy so some of the people on the plane started complaining, the flight attendant said they would be arrested if they didn't calm down and she offered me to change seats. I just stayed in the same seat and they finally calmed down, although I think they though that I was the one complaining to the flight attendant because they stopped talking to me the rest of the trip, oh well! Yeah so it's been kind of a hectic two days of flying but I'm here and I'm excited!!! The MTC has 32 missionaries (smallest MTC in the world) and I found out my companion is from Ghana! He isn't here yet and apparently he is the first missionary from Ghana to come through this MTC so that's kind of cool. There is one other American Elder going to Durban, the rest of the American's are going to Johannesburg.

Thanks for all of your support and all the letters I have already received! I love you guys and I'm grateful for all of you. I can't wait to begin teaching the people of South Africa and bring others the peace that the Gospel brings to my life.