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

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Work Moves Forward

I'm so very blessed to be a servant in the Lord's hands at this time. I feel as though the Heaven's are raining down blessings upon us here in Margate. I'll just catch you up on a few things that happened.

On Thursday our district leader Elder Jenks came from Amazamtoti to Margate to interview C for baptism. Elder Jallah went to Amazamtoti so I was left to take the lead in all of our appointments on Thursday! We had some fantastic lessons and C is ready for baptism! He will be getting baptized this Sunday, we are so excited for him. His wife and two kids are members, they are a great family and so very humble, I love meeting with them. It will be such a boost to the branch to have another worthy Priesthood holder.

One cool story from this past week. We have an investigator named L, he is currently preparing to be baptized next month. He has been meeting with missionaries for a long time and wants to be baptized but his family wouldn't allow it. He finally as permission from his family but won't really have any support once he is baptized. We have been worried and thinking a lot about how he will be able to have support after his baptism. We have been praying as a companionship that we might be led to how we can help him stay active after his baptism, we don't want to burden the already struggling branch with an inactive teenager. Well we received an answer to our prayers, the Lord works in many ways and nothing happens by coincidence.

The answer to our prayers came through a kid named N. (I say kid but he's only a year younger then me haha) He recently moved to Margate for school, he will be here for about a year and half. We were referred to him by L. After talking with N briefly, we found out his Uncle in an RM who served his mission in England! N doesn't know much about the church but he's extremely interested an even had a triple combination given to him by his Uncle. When asked why he hasn't met with missionaries he told us he has never been given the chance but has always had the desire to meet. Well the next day we taught N the restoration and it was a great lesson, he is extremely humble and willing to learn. We invited him to pray about the B.O.M. and Joseph Smith. He wanted to meet almost everyday this past week! We had the chance to meet him 4 times, he said he was praying (I can tell very sincerely and with that real intent as Moroni tells us) but hadn't received an answer yet. He said he knows the Lord doesn't always answer immediately.

Well... the Lord really does answer! Yesterday N and L came to church together. N told us afterwards that he really enjoyed Sunday school and learning about the B.O.M., I was shocked by how much he understood when he explained what he enjoyed. Anyways, later that Sunday afternoon we were driving to an appointment when we saw N and L walking on the side of the road. We stopped briefly and rolled our window down, N came up to our car and told us: "Hey guys, I received an answer to my prayers. I had all of those feelings you explained to me. I'm ready to be baptized" We had told him of the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22 the day before and that's how we often receive answers. Wow! That's the first and probably the last time I'll have an investigator tell me they received an answer to their prayer while sitting in the drivers seat of our car haha. He is going to be baptized the same day as his friend L, September 23rd! The Lord answered our prayers, L now has that support and it's amazing to see his renewed desire to come to church and be baptized.

Missionary work is divine and we are guided by the Lord in all things. I only hope to be an instrument in His hands in all that I do. I have come to learn that it is through the spirit that God's children are truly converted. It has nothing to do with me, I am simply the Lord's mouthpiece. It is so important to stay worthy and obedient in order to have the spirit penetrate the hearts of those we teach. There is a quote I heard from Elder Holland that I love. "When we teach by the spirit, the lesson ceases to be our own and becomes our Heavenly Father's." This is so true. When the spirit truly touches the lives of these people, it leads to action. As President Uchtdorf said in a talk I recently read, "A sermon without action is like a fire without heat." All that we say MUST lead to action or it is of no use.

Thank you so much for all of the letters I received this past week!! Letters for a missionary are seriously like Christmas morning for a child haha. They are such a boost! I love you all and pray for you often. All the best from South Africa!!

Elder Summers
Summers, Jenks, N and L

First package from home with Y gear and candy

Jallah and Summers apparently flashing South African gang signs?

Collage in Brandon's Apt. 

Krypton and Lou Lou...Official Missionary Mascots who live on the property

Monday, August 13, 2012

Time Moves Fast

Hello everyone! 

An up and down week but it's amazing how fast time moves when you’re having fun and working hard. Mission work really is fun if you work hard and have fun while doing it. I get to teach people the truth, grow closer to my Savior and eat great food every day! I'm doing my best not to gain weight haha, so far so good! On Tuesday and Wednesday it was raining like crazy, when it rains it pours here. I have never seen so much rain in my life, I literally felt like I was in a hurricane for two days. As I mentioned, this past week had it's up and downs. I was feeling great after emailing home last week and we had a great day on Tuesday, but then boom I started getting sick on Wednesday. The flu and colds have been going around here. I started to get a cold on Wednesday and felt completely exhausted, it was really hard to stay motivated and keep moving forward.

Thursday I was really struggling and didn't even feel like talking to people. We had a lot of appointments fall through on top of being sick (5 of our 7 fell through that day). My companion and I went back to our apartment so I could take some medicine, I told him that I wasn't feeling to great so I asked if we could get on our knees and pray. The power of prayer is such a real thing, the rest of our day completely turned around. I have been feeling a lot better the last two days, I'm so grateful for the strength the Lord gives us as missionaries.

I'm so grateful for the trials and challenges we face as missionaries. It is in the furnace of affliction when we truly develop the attributes of Godliness which will enable us to return to live with our Heavenly Father. I've come to appreciate how central the atonement is to missionary work. When we feel the atonement in our life and truly understand its significance, we cannot help but care for those we teach each day. A great indicator of whether we've been truly converted and developed that testimony of the Savior is our desire to share the gospel with others. We cannot truly understand the atonement and the need for Christ until we fully comprehend and accept the fall of Adam and Eve. I've come to really learn more about the doctrine of the fall, the more I understand the fall, the more I come to learn of the atonement and it's great significance to mankind. There is a quote from President Benson which I love that I found the other day: "Just as man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ." The atonement is so real and I'm grateful for the sacrifice of our Savior.

I mentioned in my last letter that there was a sister we tracted into and started teaching. Her name is P……and we have a scheduled baptismal date for September 23rd! She has attended church every week since we met with her. The other day we went to meet with her but she wasn't home which was a little bit strange because she has been really excited each time we go to meet with her. Well as we were driving away, we saw her on the street walking home. We spoke with her for a few minutes and we could tell she was distraught. She was almost crying, she told us she had no money for food for her and her little 7 year old son. We felt heart broken and didn't know what to do, she said she couldn't meet until the next day. After talking with her the two of us felt so humbled and thankful for all that we have.

We decided that night to make her muffins and brought her some other food the next day when we met with her. She was very grateful and our lesson with her went amazing. She said that we are an answer to her prayers and she has been searching for a church for a long time. Many of the churches she had attended she didn't "feel" anything. She says she feels happy each time she meets with us and goes to our church. She called us after we left and she said we left her in tears because she was so grateful we came into her life. We're really excited and can't wait to prepare her further for her baptism.

This past week I came across something that told me to pray as a missionary for unplanned opportunities to serve others. We began to do this as a companionship, wow it's amazing how the Lord gives us those opportunities. We had about 3 or 4 people we ran into and started to help them with different chores, they were willing to listen to us and we gave them some pamphlets. I'll give a quick story about one lady who was more than willing to listen. We were tracting when we found these two ladies doing some digging around the house. We offered to help, they were a little confused but then we took their shovels (in our white clothes) and started doing their work for them. We found out they were hired hands to do some work for that home. Well the owner of that home, saw us doing that work for them and was shocked! She came out after we had been there for about 15 minutes and invited us to come in. She gave us some drinks and some food, we had to go so we didn't have time to teach her but we set a return appointment. We returned two days later and sat down with her, we found out she had been visited by missionaries 15 years ago! She still had the B.O.M. in her home on the book shelf. We started to clarify some of her questions about the B.O.M and taught her the restoration. She has deep roots in the Anglican religion but it was a good lesson and we'll be returning next week.

Currently we still have 6 investigators with baptismal dates. One of them, his name is C, is getting baptized on the 26th of this month. He is a champion and has a strong testimony. His wife and kids are members so he has a lot of support. The biggest struggle is that he has had to learn English the past year, but he has finally learned enough and developed a testimony for himself. It will be a huge support to have a father led family in the branch. There are not very many priesthood holders here (only about 6 that I can count besides us).

Honestly I don't feel like the mission is much of a sacrifice, I feel as though the blessings of heaven are being poured upon me and this area. We are finding a lot of success and really moving the work forward here. I love the people, it's disappointing when people reject our message but I know that everyone has been given agency and they don't know what they are missing!

Thanks for the letters that I have received from you guys, getting a letter in the mail is a HUGE support and really gives me a boost as a missionary.

Love you guys!

Elder Summers

Monday, August 6, 2012

Exchanges Again!

Hello everyone!

Easily one of the best weeks in the mission so far, time moves so far here. I just got back from bowling in Toti for p-day with our district, I don't have very much time to email unfortunately. This past week I had my first zone conference! So on Wednesday we had exchanges with our DL's from Toti (about an hour from Margate). The next day we had zone conference in Durban which was a great experience. It was awesome to meet a lot of the other Elder's and to see President Von Stetten again. I was really motivated after coming out of zone conference. President talked a lot about effort and attitude as a missionary. Our mission equation is hard work + faith + obedience = miracles. Missionary work is hard but I have found that when we do these 3 things nothing can stop us. A positive attitude plus positive effort will bring about miracles if we exercise faith in the Lord, this is not just in missionary work but in everyday life. We need to make faith become a real power in our lives.

There was a question posed in zone conference which I really spent a lot of time reflecting on. Are we simple masquerading as a missionary or are we true disciples of Christ? As it talks about in John 21, we must leave our nets behind as Peter and never look back- always looking forward to Christ. I have really felt the difference in how intune I am with the spirit when I really am focused on following Christ.

Besides zone conference Elder Jallah and I had a fantastic week here in Margate. At church we had 8 of our 11 progressing investigators come to church which is phenominal. Each week since I have been here church attendance has slowly increased and we are really making progress with our investigators. One sister we tracted into about a week and a half ago is literally a "golden investigator." After teaching her the plan of salvation, we invited her to church last Sunday (not yesterday but the week before). Well we weren't really that surprised that she didn't show up to church that next day after inviting her. Well we go to meet her last Tuesday and find out that she walked all the way down by our chapel but she couldn't find it! So we gave her better directions and she was able to make it yesterday. We extended a baptismal invite and she accepted! We currently have 6 investigators with baptismal dates and we are planning on extending a couple more invites to some investigators this week. We're really excited and making a lot of progress here.

I have a couple of other stories but unfortunately I'm running short on time. A couple of quick thoughts:

1. Chocolate and soda here is delicious and super cheap. I'm seriously going to load my suitcase when I come back home. (50cents for a snickers bar!!)
2. Rain storms here are insane, nothing compared to back home. So intense.
3. Taught a Muslim this past week which was very interesting, I feel sorry for my buddy going to serve in Turkey haha. They are tough to teach! He was asking me if I believe Muslims all blow up people, my thoughts on 9/11 and the Iraq war?! He invited us to his Mosque also but as missionaries we had to decline of course.

Anyways, the work is moving forward and we are very blessed as missionaries! I have never felt the influence of the Savior more in my life and felt more in tune with the Spirit. What a blessing to be serving the Lord.

Love you all,

Elder Summers