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!