Monday, November 26, 2012

Sons of Thunder

Hello my dearest family,

I know it's late but I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I honestly kind of forgot it was Thanksgiving, it was just another normal day here in South Africa. Although we were watching a Mormon message from President Monson on gratitude. I loved part of what he said when he talked about just pausing and recognizing the many blessings we have each and everyday. Often times we forget to recognize the small things in life because are so busy. I do the same thing! Each day is a blessing from the Lord and it was a great reminder.

I've nicknamed our companionship the Sons of Thunder hence the title of the email. My companion is such a stud and we are finding a ton of success together. We also sing quite well together so that's where I came up with the name. This past week was one of the best weeks on mission so far! First off a couple of the lessons we had were some of the most spritual experiences I've had on mission so far. On Tuesday we met with this guy named O_____ and it was only the second time missionaries met with him and my first time meeting him. We were talking about prayer and he told us how he had been praying for help from God when the next day the 2 Elders knocked on his door. After relating that story to us, I told him that was a direct answer to his prayers. We then went on to introduce the Book of Mormon to him and I had a very overwhelming feeling to challenge him to baptism. After challenging him he accepted and said he wants to change his life. We are planning on having him baptized in January  

Then last night I thought I had a dejavu moment. We went to meet this Ma who has been taught by missionaries twice. This was also my first time meeting her. We showed up late for the appointment so she just wanted to reschedule. We sat down in her home and after we scheduled an appointment we asked how she had been doing. We got to talking and eventually she started asking some questions about the Book of Mormon. Then she basically broke down and started crying, she told us about all of the challenges she has been facing and how she has earnestly been praying to God for help. She has incredible faith. I shared with her some scriptures that have really helped me in my times of trial and she was very grateful. I'm so glad that we were able to be an answer to her prayers and act as a "tender mercy" in her life. Last night we had the chance to be there for her and encourage her. The reason I say it was a dejavu moment was because the exact same situation happened in Margate with Sister P______ who 2 months later was baptized. The Lord is mindful of each of us and will always answer our prayers in His own time. Our Heavenly Father really does care about us. I love the scripture in Alma 26:37 that says the Lord is mindful of each of us and his bowels of mercy are over all of His works. I have seen this manifest time and time again and I cannot deny it. The church is so true.

There is a quote that I love that has kept me motivated, especially in times where mission kind of seems long. "Don't count the days, make the days count." Sometimes we get caught up in looking at the future instead of being happy with the now! I'm guilty of this, the more I live in the "now" the more I enjoy life. Each day is a blessing and we should never take the sun rising for granted. It reminds me a lot of that talk President Uchtdorf gave in General Conference about enjoying time now and being happy with what we have been given.

Thanks for all of your support, you all are amazing and I hope you have a great holiday season!

Elder Summers

Long Week


Okay so I typed a really long email to ya'll but the internet wasn't working once I sent the email so now I have to type this whole thing again! This is going to be a lot shorter because I don't have much time now.


That means hello in Sotho. Sotho is very different from zulu but at least there are no clicking sounds in this language. I kind of lied in my last email home, I said I would be emailing from a different country today... well not quite. Transfers were kind of crazy and there was some confusion. I'm in Phuthadajahba aka PJ. It's on the border of Lesotho and it's in the Lesotho zone. We go into Lesotho sometimes for meetings but that's about it. I also thought I would be driving but apparently there was some miscommunication. I'm actually in a walking area which is really nice! My companion is Elder Khultedi and he is from Johannesburg. He has been on mission for 3 months, he just finished training and I'm his what they call "follow up trainer." He is a really hard worker and is very obedient, we are getting along very well. I've had 3 great companions so far and I hope it's like that for the rest of my mission. This area is wayyyyy different from Margate. All of the roads here in PJ are dirt roads, the only roads that are paved are the main roads. The branch here is really young, it's only been a branch for about 2 years. There are about 50 to 60 members at church each Sunday which is pretty good considering the branch hasn't been around for long. Most of the members here have only been in the church for 1 to 3 years at the most. The people here are so humble and friendly, I'm really going to enjoy my time here.

On my way to PJ I had to take a bus for 5 hours. I was the only one on the bus and I had the chance to talk to this young lady sitting next to me. We started talking about her family and about how the U.S. is different to South Africa. After talking for a while we got onto the topic of religion. She wanted to know why there are so many churches and why our church is different. Well that led perfectly into the restoration and by the time I was done she was really wanting to meet with missionaries. By the end of the bus ride I had taught her the entire restoration and it was cool to see that she was so interested. She was headed to a different area then me so I got her contact info and gave her a pass along card. It's amazing the people you meet on mission!

All of the kids here are so cute. They love to yell "luguwa" which means white guy in Sotho. The 'g' sound makes a gutteral sounds like the 'g' in German or Dutch. I am seriously the only white guy here so I get a lot of people looking at me and the kids all like to wave at me haha.

Okay I had some other stories but I'm out of time. I'm living in a 4 man boarding and I'll upload some pictures next week, I forgot to bring my camera cord today. The other companionship has a car and they are both really cool guys. I'm going to enjoy my time here!

Love you guys!

Elder Summers

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Drum Roll Please.....Transfers!

Dearest family and friends,

Transfer news came last night. Yes I'm leaving Margate. Any guesses? Although it's probably hard to guess a city in South Africa when most of you don't even know where South Africa is located on a map haha. Just kidding. So my new area actually is not in South Africa. No I'm not being moved to China or Europe... It's either Swaziland or Lesotho. So guess between those two...

Okay I'll just say it already, I'm being moved to Lesotho.

Let me save you the time of having to go to Google and research where the heck that is located! Haha. Lesotho is a little country in the middle of South Africa, it's on the outer edge of our mission boundaries. I'm in for a really LONG bus ride tomorrow. I guess President just wants to keep me in the "outer darkness" of the mission boundaries haha. Lesotho is an extremely poor area, they speak a completely different language from zulu (right as I'm getting to know zulu!) and they use a different currency. That's about all I know about this little country. My new companion is going to be Elder Kutley. I don't know where he is from yet (the name is African), I think he is new on mission from what I've heard. They drive buckeys (basically like trucks) in Lesotho because there are pretty much no paved roads. The whole mission is a driving mission for those that are wondering, there are only a couple of walking areas in the Durban mission.

Right now I'm super excited to move on past Margate but at the same time I'm going to really miss people here! Margate has been an amazing experience, it's a pretty tough area but the Lord has blessed us with success in my limited time here. It just goes to show that if you work hard and have faith in the Lord, all things are made possible. I really love our mission equation: Hard work + Faith + Obedience = Miracles. So true and I have seen it come to fruition! I'll go say bye to everyone today and it will definitely be tough. I'm not sure how most missions are, but here in the Durban mission you typically stay 4 1/2 to 6 months in an area. Almost every missionary here serves in between 4 to 5 areas for the 2 years. It's likely I'll be in Lesotho for 6 months since I was only in Margate for 4 1/2 but obviously anything can happen.

Real quick from this past week. It finally stopped raining these past few days! But man oh man was it hot yesterday, really the first hot day I've experienced here in SA. We challenged M_____, M_____ and L_______ to baptism this past week and they accepted! I can't believe the people we have found here in Margate. It's amazing to see that this branch only had about 4 baptisms in the past 4 years and we are on track for 7 or more in just the past 5 months since I've been here. F_____ is also scheduled to be baptized in beginning of December, along with Lw______

We had another amazing lesson with Ma E______ and I'm really going to miss her. She said that she feels like she is "about to graduate from lessons" i.e. she is getting close to baptism. She says she has learned so much from us teaching her and that her mind has been "opened." She was really sad to see me go and I hope I'll still be on mission when she is baptized. Such an awesome lady! I gave her a paper entitled "The 17 points of the True Church" which includes a little story. If you haven't had the chance to see that story, look it up! She really enjoyed it and she said it strengthened her faith in the direction she is taking with us.

I heard all about the election this past week. People here love Obama, I have to hold my tongue a lot. Life moves on and I won't say anymore with regards to that subject. Another quick story real quick that was kind of funny. The other day we accidentally left one of our lights on inside our apartment with all of our windows opened. Well since it wasn't raining that day and it's been warming up, these bugs that are attracted to light came all inside our apartment! There were hundreds of them, I'm not sure what they are called. They are almost like caterpillars but with wings, that's about how big they are. It took along time to clean up our apartment and I had to stomp on a lot of those things! Well we learn from our mistakes. If we aren't making mistakes then we aren't doing!

Best of wishes from Margate for the last time. Next week I'll be in Lesotho!

Love you all,
Elder Summers

Sunday, November 11, 2012

We are few but the church is true

Hello everyone,

Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting and hardly anyone was at church. We only had 20 people which was by far the lowest I've seen here in Margate. Nevertheless, it doesn't matter the size of the congregation if we are gathered as Saints of the church. I felt the spirit stronger than EVER during that testimony meeting even though there were only a few of us. It reminded me of the scripture in Mathew where the Savior is speaking to His disciples and He says: "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there will I be in the midst of them." This was manifested yesterday and my testimony was strengthened even further.

This past week I had the chance to go to zone conference in Durban. This is the second time I have gone to zone conference since coming on mission. It really re-motivated to continue to work hard and commit all my time and talent to the Lord. President spoke to us on the importance of conversion and shared the talk from Elder Bednar in this past conference. Elder Bednar's talk was so great and I was happy to see it again! I loved this quote from his talk: "Consistently living the gospel is the essence of conversion." The deeper our conversion the less and less we question certain commandments or the trials we face in our lives. President really emphasized the importance of continuing to strengthen our own testimonies, we cannot expect to convert others if our own faith is wavering. We see many RM's go inactive after their missions so just because you serve a mission doesn't mean your faith won't be tested.

We have been meeting with these three brothers I mentioned in a couple of other letters, M_____, M______ and L______. We were teaching them on Friday night and we challenged them to baptism. They really are pondering our message a lot now and are definitely taking it into consideration. They said they need to read the Book of Mormon more and attend church. I asked L____ a question about the Book of Mormon after we challenged them to baptism. I said: "How do we know if the Book of Mormon is true and Joseph Smith really translated it by the power of God?" and L______ responded by saying: "Because Joseph Smith said so!" Hahaha we all started laughing so hard and I couldn't even keep teaching. These 3 brothers are so funny and I love teaching them. I don't consider them "investigators" but instead as my friends. It's too bad we just found them a few weeks ago! I'm pretty sure these guys will all be baptized within the next couple of months. I'm really glad facebook has been invented so I can stay in contact.

Elder Ngwenya and I also had the chance to meet with Ma E_______ on Saturday. She has prayed about the Book of Mormon and I believe she is slowly receiving her answer. She once again said it will be difficult for her because of her deep roots in the Anglican church. I firmly believe that she will join the church but it will take time. She is one of those investigators that will have a story in the Ensign someday and she will eventually be an awesome relief society sister! She always says that I am one of her sons haha. I'm really going to miss her and I hope she joins the church someday. I shared with her how my testimony of the Book of Mormon did not come immediately as an answer to a prayer. Instead my testimony has come over time as I ponder and diligently study the Book of Mormon. The Lord slowly reveals truth and light to me everytime I read, God is not going to have us feel peace and joy from a book that is not from Him.

I have been studying the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon a lot lately. I'm not going to lie, I skimmed Isaiah (like many people) before I came on mission. Isaiah is the most quoted prophet in the Book of Mormon and the Savior himself said it is a commandment to study the words of Isaiah. After diligently studying the Prophet Isaiah's words, I have come to understand why so many prophets in the Book of Mormon quote him. Isaiah is the man and he really has seen our day. There is a reason Nephi quotes him for half of 2 Nephi. Of course studying these chapters takes quite a bit of time and it doesn't all come immediately but it's definitely worth the time.

A lot of people have been asking me about the storm hitting the States. They keep asking if my family is alright, obviously this must be a pretty big storm if so many people here know about it! I explained that the storm is no where near my family but I hope everything is going alright for the people there on the east coast! We'll see what happens tomorrow, hopefully my boy Mitt pulls out the election. Not that I'm biased or anything. ;)

The church is true. The book is blue. And we are few.

My comp and I came up with this, you know "Many are called but few are chosen." By the way, it's my companions birthday today! I didn't have time to bake him anything but I bought this wayyyyy good cake and this awesome apple cider. Good stuff!


Elder Summers