Monday, July 30, 2012


Sowubona friends and family!
A great and busy week here in Margate. This past week I had the chance to go on exchanges with our Zone Leaders. I'm not going to lie, being a new missionary I was a little nervous to go and teach with the ZL's but it ended up being a great experience. So my comp and I are about an hour and half away from the closest missionaries, we're the only companionship here in Margate. My comp stayed in Margate and I went to Umlazi for exchange. Umlazi is a massive township divided into different sections, about 10 missionaries cover the township of Umlazi. It was entirely different from Margate. Houses don't have gates, there is much more poverty and surprinsgly enough people speak English much better there and are WAY more willing to meet with you. Everyone was incredibly friendly and humble, the gospel is growing rapidly there. For the two days I was there we had an appointment every single hour, we didn't even doing an tracting. It was a great learning experience and I took a lot from my two days there.
When I got back to Margate I felt like a new missionary and felt very motivated once again. My companion and I have really been thinking about how we can find success in Margate. Missionaries have come in and gone out of this area with minimal success, we don't want to do that. The power of prayer and fasting is a real thing, it made a huge difference this week. We felt prompted to look at former investigators in this area and we have started tracting in entirely new areas. We are also getting the members much more involved. We are already seeing a profound difference in just a few days. We met with multiple former investigators and they were extremely excited to see us, hopefully some of them will be able to progress. Tracting in new areas has brought results. The 5 investigators we have with baptismal dates right now are making progress and will be a great strength to the branch.
This past week we got a lot of crazy questions, the things you hear or face as missionaries are nuts! I feel like I'm making some of these up.
1. "Why did God give us lust if Christ said lust is a sin?" Uhh, I think you got lust and love mixed up buddy. Haha.
2. "Are you two saved? Because our house is saved."
3. "Oh your the mormons, the one's who don't believe in the bible!"
4. "Do you believe in the devil?"
5. "Why can bad people perform miracles if they don't hold your priesthood?"
6. "Do you two have girlfriends?" Hmm... how to answer that one haha.
7. "Where are these gold plates? Is there a picture or some evidence I can see of these gold plates?" Why yes, yes there is.(I point to the Book of Mormon in his hands)
Yeah we had even more then that but you get the idea, weird situations as a missionary!
Saturday we had car problems AGAIN. We go to our car for our first appointment when sure enough our car doesn't start. I can tell the battery isn't dead so I couldn't figure out the problem, it sounded like something was wrong with the ignition. We had a bunch of appointments that day so this was terrible timing. My comp and I said a prayer, after we prayed I had a thought come to my mind. The past week we had replaced the old key which was slightly bent, I decided to pull out the old bent key and try it in the ignition. Well after wiggling it into the ignition, sure enough the car starts up! The power of prayer is a real thing! It's a good thing because the closest church mechnanic is TWO hours away in Durban.
I have been reflecting a lot this past week on how we can recognize promptings of the spirit in our lives. How do we know when it's really the spirit prompting us? Overpowering spiritual experiences do not happen often, how do we recognize the spirit in our daily lives? Well there is a scripture that we use a lot as missionaries that directly answered my question when I thought about it. Ephesians 5:22 tells us the feelings of the spirit: Peace, love, temperance, etc. I have seen the difference as a missionary as I have dilligently searched the scriptures and earnestly prayed to the Lord for guidance. I constantly feel at peace, even at times of discouragment (which happens quite often as missionary). I always feel like doing good and I've seen such a profound difference since I have come on my mission. When people slam doors in your face, tell you they are not interested or don't accept your teaching, I think normally I would be upset but honestly I just feel sorrow. I feel sorry for that person that they don't know what they are missing and I keep moving forward in faith at all times.
A lot of times as a missionary you can feel discouraged or overwhelemed, but there was something I read the other day from Elder Holland that hit me really hard. "Don't hyperventilate about something that happened in the morning when the grace of God is trying to reward you in the evening-" We have a lot of appointments that fall through here (all 7 of our appointments Sunday feel through) but often times I find that the Lord blesses us later on. We cannot be so caught up on the disappointments in missionary work that we lose focus on what really matters. No matter how much we may be struggling, no one can sink lower than the light of the Savior's atonement. The atonment is a real thing and our Heavenly Father will always be there for us.
Love you guys.

Elder Summers

Monday, July 23, 2012

Latest from Margate, SA

Family and friends!

Another week in the life of a missionary is complete, it was a pretty tough week. Had some difficulties with the car this week, they are such a blessing but a hinderance sometimes! We spent our entire P-day getting the car serviced and fixed up today. So here's what happened... Last P-day after emaling we went to Port Shepstone (about 25 minutes from here) to get the car key fixed, it was sort of bent. We take it to the dealership and it seriously took about 2 hours to get a new key after jumping through a ton of hoops. After getting the new key, they take a look at our service log and the car hasn't been serviced in a REALLY long time, they said that it's dangerous to even be driving it haha. We couldn't get it serviced that day though because they were about to close so we scheduled an appointment for this morning. Well during this past week the car battery died and we had to get the branch President to come give our car a jump. Anyways, today we brought it in and it took about 5 hours to get it serviced and the battery replaced. After it all got fixed, our credit card wasn't working so that took a while to get it all sorted out. So what did I learn from this if anything? Patience truly is a virtue and more specifically a Christ like attribute. I had been studying Preach My Gospel this morning and reading through the Christ Like Attributes section, I read over the section on being patient for a while. I'm glad I read over that and we definietly had to exercise patience with the car this past week haha.

Okay so now that I'm done complaining about the car, onto what matters most: Forwarding God's Kingdom on the earth today! On Wednesday we drove down to Durban for Zone Training Meeting. One of the goals my comp and I came out with was to weed out our teaching pool and to focus more on proselyting around the chapel. We have a couple of investigators who we would consider "Eternal Investigators." One of those investigators is a lady who has been meeting with missionaries since Feburary of 2011! I was shocked when I was told this. The only commitment she keeps is that she reads the B.O.M. each time. She never attends church and doesn't have a baptismal date. While we met with her on Tuesday, I felt prompted at the end of our lesson to ask her why she has met with the missionaries for so long and what she expects each time we visit. This lady doesn't like questions and I didn't want to ask the wrong question, but I felt prompted to ask. She responded by telling us that she expects us to preach our message and eventually once were all done to leave and she will continue to attend her church. Wow, I was stunned. Basically somewhere a long the line the missionaries failed to help her understand our purpose. Well after she said that my companion and I bore powerful testimony and made it VERY clear what our purpose is, the spirit was really strong. So if she wants to meet with us in the future she has our number and hopefully we'll be able to go back sometime and help her take that next step towards baptism. In addition to not meeting with this sister anymore, we also had to drop some of our investigators out in Gomilocki. It's just too far away from the township and the people that live there can't get to church so unfortunately we're not utilizing the Lord's time effectively by continuing to teach them. It's sad to have to discontinue teaching some of them because they are so humble and willing to listen. The other problem with teaching people in the township is that they don't understand English very well. I've come to believe that for the church to really expand exponentially in Africa there will have to be missionaries who speak the native languages here. Many of the poorer Africans don't know English well enough and aren't as willing to meet with you. Unfortunately I only know Zulu for basic conversations, not teaching the gospel!

We also did a lot of proselyting around the chapel this week and man is that tough. I almost feel like I'm in Europe with some of the difficulties we face when it comes to people wanting to meet with us. Around the chapel here are the rich homes, these people have huge fences and pretty scary dogs. So most people aren't very willing to meet with us but we did make some good contact. I know the Lord is preparing people for us to meet, I firmly believe that if we continue to exercise faith, obedience and dilligence we will be blessed and be led to those in need of the gospel.

Besides that everything is going well. My companion is awesome and has an amazing testimony. I've seen the hand of the Lord through my short time here on the mission and I have come to really appreciate the power of prayer. It's amazing what a prayer in the morning will do for your day and the difference it makes when you really listen after you pray. The Lord truly is mindful of each and every one of us as it says in Alma 26:37. I've grown to appreciate the B.O.M. so much, there is so much to learn from its teachings. I love the people here and want so badly for them to reap the blessings of the gospel. It's sometimes disappoting when they aren't willing to listen but I know that everything happens for a reason and some people just aren't prepared yet. Each time we talk to someone or hand out a pamphlet, I know that we are planting a seed for future missionaries. The church is so true and missionary work is truly divine!

Love you guys!

Hamba salhe!

Elder Summers

Monday, July 16, 2012

First Week in New Area

Sowubona family and friends!!

Yebo!! What a crazy first week in the mission field! Eesh, I don't even know where to begin. Well I've been assigned to serve in Margate as my first area. Funny story in regards to getting assigned here. Two days before I flew to Durban my teacher in the MTC (He served in Durban) was giving us a lesson about having a positive attitude on the mission even in difficult areas. He said that every mission has an area that no one wants to serve in and for the Durban mission that area is Margate. Sure enough two days later I'm meeting with my mission President and he tells me I will be serving in Margate! That lesson my teacher gave was just for me and honestly I'm really excited to be here! My companion, Elder Jallah, is from Liberia and he has been on the mission for about 7 months. He is awesome! Very hardworker, obedient and humble. I'm excited to be serving with him and we're going to find success if we continue to trust in the Lord.

I'll rewind a little bit and talk about my past week. My last Sunday in the MTC I was asked to speak in sacrament meeting, I spoke on restitution and it went well. The last day in the MTC (Monday) we had a powerful testimony meeting, the spirit was so strong and the missionaries coming out of the MTC there are going to change lives. The next morning we headed to the airport, we had to get up at 4AM!! I was so tired but we got to the airport and took off for Durban. The flight was so short compared to getting to South Africa which took like 50 hours. Flying into Durban was amazing, so green and the beaches looked incredible. The President, his wife and the AP's met us at the airport. I rode back with the President and while we were driving he said to me: "Elder Summers, pay attention to the roads because you will be driving today!" Uhhh... what? It's my first day here and your already sticking me in a car! They drive on the left side so I was kind of scared honestly. When we got to the President's home he told us he needed to interview with me and another Elder first because we are being sent to places which are further away. Well he called me in and told me I was assigned to go to Margate which is about 3 hours away from Durban. After interviewing with him I had to go out on a test drive to make sure I would be alright on the roads, they told me I passed with flying colors. Aren't I good? Haha just messing, it's really not too bad at all. You just have to watch out for all the crazy taxi drivers here!! Since I have been driving my companion has only had to yell at me once for accidentally driving on the right side haha.

The President and his wife are just great. They're both very friendly, love the missionaries and are very dedicated. When we were at their house the first thing I noticed were all the monkeys flying around in the trees! We were having lunch and there were monkeys coming within feet of us. One of the monkeys even tried to steal some of our food but he ended up dropping it haha. Another one of the monkeys ran into the house and we had to chase it out! Welcome to Africa! Definietly don't see that at home.

Well after that I met my companion and we headed straight for Margate. It was about a 3 hour drive and we arrived at around 4pm. First we unpacked in our boarding and I got settled in a little bit. Our boarding is on the property of the Branch President here, his property is pretty big. The Branch President here is a great guy and he is really trying to strengthen the branch here. Our 2 appointments that night got bunked so I met with the 1st counselor and we had dinner with him and his wife. Their house overlooks the beach and it's absolutely spectacular.

A little bit about Margate. It's a "holiday community" which means that during the holiday season (which is when school is out, it just ended today) this town is busy! Margate is located right on the coast and it's absolutely beautiful! It reminds me a lot of Alpine because the homes here are extremely nice, it's very green, there aren't many businesses and it's pretty small. The area we cover though is quite large and there is a vast wealth gap. One minute you will see mansions and the next you will see extreme poverty, we see both ends of the spectrum. The poverty is terrible in some areas and it really hurts me to see it. One area we went to the other day, Gomilocki (probably butchered that name), is a township. Townships are pretty run down areas with a lot of poverty and crime. We had a couple of appointments there and all the people were shocked to see a white guy walking around. There are never any white people that go there, not all of them are too friendly towards whites for various reasons but for the most part everyone was pretty friendly.

This past week has had it's up's and downs when it comes to meeting with people. A lot of our appointments get bunked so we did quite a bit of tracting. We got quite a few new investigators this week and taught some great lessons. Last night we had one of our best lessons together as a companionship. About 4 days ago we were tracting and found a house with kids out front. They told us their mom wasn't home because she was in Durban arranging funeral plans for their dad who had just died. So tough to see those 3 kids there and realize they don't have a dad now. We left them with a plan of salvation packet and told them we would come back. We tried 3 times to come back but each time their mom was gone. We finally met here and arranged an appointment for last night. We taught her the plan of salvation and the spirit was so strong. She seemed to be getting kind of emotional and she was very interested in our message. The entire time we taught the lesson I could just see them together as a family going through the temple and being sealed to their dad, I want so badly for them to know of the truthfulness of what we are teaching. I have come to love the people so much already, it pains me when people aren't willing to accept the message. I'm not disappointed but saddened that they don't know what they could have with the gospel.

On Thursday I got a call from the first counselor asking me if I could speak in sacrament on Sunday for 20 or more minutes. I was actually pretty excited to speak. I spoke on faith and hope in times of adversity, I felt like the talk went pretty well. It was a good way to introduce myself to the branch and bear my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. So the last 2 Suday's I have had the chance to speak! I should be pretty good at this by the end of my mission haha. The branch here is pretty small, only about 30 to 35 members each week. The huge challenges with forwarding the church in this area are poverty, the culture and transportation. The rich here aren't willing to listen to us and the impoverished just can't make it to church. A lot of the poorer communities live far away from the chapel and they don't have cars, they only way to come to church is by taxi. While there are difficulties we are already finding success as a companionship. The branch hasn't had a baptism since Feburary, that's a pretty long time. The Durban mission is growing rapidly but this area in paticular struggles. Despite the struggles, we have 5 investigators with baptismal dates right now! The second day I was here I was able to set a baptismal date with a young man who has been wanting to be baptized so that was exciting. Hopefully we'll be able to continue to find new investigators and strengthen the branch here.

I'm very excited to be in Margate. People are very friendly here and for the most part willing to listen to your message. The weather has been surprisingly cold but hopefully it starts to warm up! A couple of things I've learned about South Africa and Margate since I've been here:

1. They love KFC, no joke they are everywhere!
2. There are speed bumps everywhere in Margate, not really sure why but it's kind of annoying haha
3. It's really really dark at night and kind of sketchy. Now I understand why they don't want us tracting at night.

Overall I'm loving my time here! The people are amazing, my testimony has never been stronger and I know we will find success if we stay obedient and work hard. This is the true church on the earth today and I have never been more sure of it. It has blessed my life so much. It's not a sacrifice to be on my mission, it's a tremendous blessing. I only hope I can bring the message of the gospel to families so they can reap the blessings of being apart of this church. Time is flying by, I can't believe I have already been here a month.

Keep moving forward in faith. I love you guys and hope everything is going well in the states!

-Elder Summers

Sunday, July 15, 2012

First Contact in Margate, South Africa

Brother Summers,
Your son has just been called to our Branch. This (as you know) is his first area and he is so fired up and ready to work. The energy of a new missionary is contagious and your son lacks none of that.
He is serving with an Elder from Liberia, Elder Jallah, an absolute champion and will be a splendid example to Elder Summers.
Your son spoke in Sacrament this morning.
Thanks for preparing him. You have all done a fine job of getting him ready. You can be very proud of him. I know Heavenly Father is pleased when his boys serve a solid mission and parents set good foundations for them to do so.
This pic I took this morning of the two of them.
Look up Margate on Google and you will get some idea of his location. Make sure its Margate South Africa and not Margate in the UK!
Super week to you all.
Jean-Pierre Oehlerking
Margate Branch.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pictures from London, Johannesburg MTC & Temple

Buckingham Palace

Sleeping on the Tube

Big Ben

Room Assignment

My Room


My Comp

Our MTC Group 32 missionaries plus Reber's

Taking a break from study

Jail Break

Buckingham Palace

Big Ben

Our Travel Group in London

Need more sleep



South Africa MTC Choir

Singing Called to Serve on July 7, 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Week 2 MTC

Mojah, family and friends!

Another great week at the MTC, I'm learning so much (including zulu, such a cool language). The spirit is so strong here and my testimony is stronger than ever since starting on my mission. Last week I had the opportunity to go proselyting with the missionaries which was a fantastic experience. I was kind of nervous to go out on the streets for the first time but it ended up being great. I went with an Elder from Idaho who actually had Tourette’s Syndrome, he was awesome! I asked him a bunch of questions about the mission and he was giving me all kinds of advice. I asked him if there are any areas where they don't go or tract and he said no, which was kind of suprising haha. They basically go everywhere and the area we went into was pretty sketchy. There is so much poverty and I felt so bad for people. Elder Baldwin and I stuck out like a sore thumb! We were the only two white guys I saw the entire time we were out on the streets. Everyone was really friendly and willing to talk with us, he told me almost everyone is willing to talk to you but the biggest problem they face is progressing investigators. It made me even more excited to get into the field because I was actually teaching instead of being stuck in the MTC.

I'm not going to lie, I'm ready to get out of here! This place seriously is like prison haha. I have loved all of the missionaries here though and I have learned so much. We also had the chance to go to the temple on Tuesday which was great. After we went through our session in the temple, we got to hear a general authority speak with us. His name is Elder Schwarez (probably butchered that name) and he spoke on obedience as missionaries. The rules are put into place for a reason and when were obedient we can teach by the spirit.

Unfortunately I wasted half my time to write trying to upload pictures which failed so I had hardly have any time to write. This past week has been pretty uneventful anyways, just classes pretty much! I leave for Durban on Tuesday which I'm pretty stoked for!

I know without a doubt the church is true, my testimony is stronger than ever. Any questions I had about gospel doctrines can be dispelled by just reading the Book of Mormon. If the B.O.M. is true then nothing else matters. If it's true then Joseph Smith was a prophet and we have prophets on the earth today, I've gained such a strong testimony of the divinity of this book on the earth today. I love you guys and hope you're doing well!

-Elder Summers