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