Monday, January 28, 2013

Nothing Happens by Coincidence

Dear family and friends,

I have never felt so tired since serving a mission. My companion and I worked really hard this past week and it was HOT! The sun is really draining. I know you all are suffering with the cold there but we are suffering quite the opposite here. It was pretty painful to wake up to the alarm a few times this week haha. It feels really good at the end of the day when I know that I have given my all and I have used the Lords time wisely. One of my goals since serving a mission has been to make every day count and to have no regrets, so far it's going pretty well. I'm really doing great right now and the work is moving along smoothly. My companion and I are getting along very well and the work is continuing to progress. The baptism that was delayed went very smoothly yesterday, I don't think it was by coincidence that it got postponed to yesterday and I'll explain why. Last Sunday we were supposed to have the baptism but of course the water wasn't working so we were pretty frustrated and we had hardly any investigators at church. It ended up working out better that it was yesterday though because a lot of our investigators came to church and were able to stay afterwards to witness the baptism. They all said that it was nice to see how baptisms are performed and the spirit was so strong. The mother that was baptized has been investigating the church for a while, she bore powerful testimony afterwards and said that she is so happy that she has finally found the truth.

We currently have one investigator named L_____, we started teaching him the first week I got to PJ. He has been progressing very nicely and the only thing holding him back from being baptized right now is him! If he says he wants to be baptized we could do it next week. He has come to church quite a bit and he is keeping all of the commandments. We taught him the word of wisdom a few weeks ago and he didn't have any concerns. He likes tea but he said that he is willing to just drink herbal tea, his biggest concern was the eating meat sparingly part, I'm pretty sure a lot of people struggle with that one haha. Anyways, he stayed for the baptism and said that he really enjoyed it. I wouldn't be surprised if we baptize him soon. He says that he has seen a lot of blessings since we began visiting him and that his life is changing for the better. It's so amazing to see how the gospel transforms lives and brings them closer to salvation.

We also are teaching an awesome family named the M_____ family. We started teaching them a couple of weeks after I got here. We had an incredible lesson with just the mother last night, she really really wants to know if joining our church is the right path. She says that she has seen an incredible change in her life, her family and her spirituality since we began meeting with her. She said she feels an amazing peace and joy each time we visit her, she wishes she could have that all the time. We explained to her that she is feeling the spirit and she has the chance to always feel that if she is baptized and confirmed. She loves the Book of Mormon and says that she has even been fasting this past week to know what she should do. The only problem right now is that she has been a member of her church for a while and it's really looked down upon to keep switching churches. This family (father, mother and 2 young boys) have so much potential and I can't wait to see the day they are baptized and eventually sealed in the temple.

Hard work, obedience and faith really pay off. The Lord is pouring down his blessings upon this area and I feel His hand guiding this great work. It shows that you get what you go for in life, as my companion and I continue to work hard I believe the Lord will continue to work miracles in this area of His vineyard.


Elder Summers

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Recent Pictures from Elder Summers

Where they meet for church

Rabbit for dinner

Hiking above PJ on Pday

It's Summer in that part of the world

American's in Africa

Jan 21, 2013
Hello everyone!

Today is a great day and we had an awesome week! I am really enjoying mission so much right now. Last pday we went to a national park here that is about 15 minutes away. While we were waiting in a parking lot in the national park, I overheard some ladies in the car next to us speaking. I noticed they had American accents so I struck up a conversation with them. I was wearing my BYU shirt so they were wondering where I got it from, they thought I was from South Africa haha. Has my accent really changed that much?? They were from Seattle and they were super friendly. After talking to them for a while, I gave them some Family Proclamation pamphlets which happen to have a number to call for the United States. It was my first time talking to Americans since I have been here.

Yesterday we were supposed to have a baptism but it fell through unfortunately. We showed up early in the morning to fill up the baptismal font (this is a temporary little font that we store at our house and have to roll to the school) but the water wasn't working. We'll have to push the baptism to next Sunday. It was still a great Sunday though and quite a few people showed up to church. My companion and I have been able to reactivate a less active here in the branch. He is in his 20's and holds the priesthood so this branch could really use him. He is a powerful guy and has a lot of potential to be a leader in this branch. He has come to church the last 2 weeks, this was the first time he has come to church in over a year! There is nothing sweeter than seeing a less active member come back to church. He really wants to be active again and change his life back around. He says when he stopped going to church he saw a huge decrease spiritually and he really regretted it. One of my goals has been to really try and reactivate some of these less actives, I can say this is the first less active I've finally seen come back. It's a really great feeling.

We also started meeting with this golden investigator this past week named L_____. He comes to a members home to meet with us and he is super interested. He said he wants to revive his life spiritually, we taught him the restoration this week. After giving him the Book of Mormon we saw him the next day. He said he couldn't put the book down and he read until 2AM! He said the only reason he stopped was because he was too tired to continue. He reminds me of the story of Parley P. Pratt. He has a ton of potential and we really think he'll be able to move towards baptism quickly. He is being fellowshipped by a recent convert here which is really helping. This recent convert is named N_______, the guy is a character. When he first met with missionaries a year ago he read the Book of Mormon in 7 days! He read the whole triple combination in a month. The guy reads like crazy, everything we give him he reads. He is a very influential man here in PJ. He started the Anglican church here 30 years ago and he has translated many Bibles, he is helping us with missionary work a lot. I sent some pictures of the giant Bible home to you guys, he is the one that owns that giant Bible. It's an apocrypha and it's estimated to be worth $200,000! He said if he sells it he will give me 10% since I gave him the idea to go get a quote on it haha.

We are making a ton of progress with some of our investigators. The work is moving along great here and I have a feeling the branch in future years is going to be huge. If they can only get a chapel the work here will explode. People are so ready to accept the gospel here! The Lord is preparing so many people and this really is His church.


Elder Summers

The Lord is Preparing the Way

Jan 14, 2013

Hello friends and family,

We had a powerful week as a companionship and made some serious progress here. Over the holidays a lot of our investigators were gone so we had the chance to do a lot of finding and now that everyone is back our teaching pool is huge. We have some legitimate new investigators who have the potential to make a lot of progress. I'll tell you about one of these new investigators, probably one of my most spiritual experiences so far on mission. We had the chance to go and meet with this girl named J___ for the first time. We met her while street contacting, she told us that she had heard of our church before and the Book of Mormon so she agreed to have us come back and meet with her. Well we met her on Thursday and started by teaching her the restoration. All she had heard was that Joseph Smith was a prophet and about some of the things he had said, she really didn't know much. As we started to teach her the restoration we could just see the light coming into her eyes. As we got to Joseph Smith, she said: "This is exactly what I've been searching for, we need a restoration." She just kept saying "Wow, wow, this isn't what I was expecting." She told us she thought we were coming with our new Bible and that she really wasn't expecting the message we had to share. She told us that for years she has been searching through hundreds of different churches seeking for the truth but she hasn't found it. We testified to her that this is the truth she is searching for and the spirit was so strong. I can't wait to see how she progresses. The Lord is truly preparing people, I've never seen someone more prepared to hear the message of the restoration, it was a pretty neat experience.

The branch here has been struggling with member missionary work and fellowshipping, so the 4 of us Elders here decided to do a devotional on missionary work. We took up the 2 hours after sacrament meeting yesterday and shared a nice program. We talked about the importance of the members and shared with them how they can help us. It went really well and we were able to help the branch understand a lot more clearly. We shared some videos from President Hinckley when he talks about member missionary work and the importance of retaining the fruits of our efforts. I had the chance to share about the blessings that come from missionary work and I also shared a short video that shows the growth of the church over the past 180 years. I also quoted Isaiah 29:14 where he talks about a marvellous work and a wonder. It's amazing how the spirit confirms what I testify of each time I teach, no matter where I'm teaching. We really are apart of the marvellous work and a wonder that Isaiah prophesied about. I have confidence the branch will eventually blossom here and the church will continue to grow and grow.

The Lord is preparing the hearts of His children to receive this message. I've seen it manifest time and time again since I've been serving here. The people of Africa are ready to receive this message and the church will continue its exponential growth as we move forward. Keep the faith and keep trusting in the Lord, as Nephi says, the Lord will always provide the way if we follow His commandments.

I found out today that the investigator named F____ who we were teaching in Margate is going to be baptized next week. It's cool to see the fruits that come from our labors, Fred is just another example of someone the Lord was preparing. He is going to be a powerful member. 


Elder Summers

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Different Kind of New Year


New Years here is very different from back home. First off this was my first new year away from home so that felt kind of weird but it was really cool to spend it here in Africa. People here celebrate New Years wayyy more than Christmas. I have never seen so many fireworks in my life! Every single person stood outside of there house (seriously almost every person) with fireworks. And these are not the kind of fireworks you light on the ground, they are the fireworks that are shot into the air. It was really loud but pretty cool to see, it was impossible to sleep for a while. 

Since a lot of our investigators have been gone for the holidays or really busy we had the chance to do a lot of tracting this week. It's incredible to the people you meet while doing finding! We have been able to give a lot of referrals to other parts of the mission because a lot of people we found were just visiting. One sister we met this past week had some of the most interesting questions I've ever faced on mission. She stops us on the street and invites us to her house the next day. We show up and she just unloads a bunch of questions. Do you cook for yourselves? Do you call home? Do you watch movies? Have you ever pondered John 1:1? What is cherubim in Isaiah? Etc. Etc. This sister knows the Bible better than anyone I have ever met on mission. She was asking for Bible evidence for all of the principles we were teaching. I would give her a reference and most of them she could just recite from memory. We were able to just teach a few concepts and answer some of her questions, luckily we avoided Bible bashing. She says she knows all about our church but she wouldn't tell us what she knows. I'm guessing she knows about the Book of Mormon but we haven't gotten there yet. Anyways, it was a very interesting lesson. I love doing tracting because you never know who you will find on the other side of a door. 

We reviewed the baptism interview questions with a 3 of our investigators that are planning to be baptized on Jan. 20th and they are all ready! So if all goes well we should have 3 baptisms on the 20th. We are really making progress with some of our investigators but the biggest difficulty once again is church. We just moved locations for the FOURTH time since I've been here. This school that we moved to yesterday should be permanent for the next year at least. It's a nice school and no other churches meet there which is nice but the concern is that it's really far. We had a pretty good attendance yesterday considering it was the first week at this new school. Hopefully our investigators will still be willing to walk there because it's about 1 to 3 miles for most of our investigators. None of our investigators own cars and to take a taxi is pretty expensive, most people just can't afford to take a taxi for church. 

The most frustrating thing at the moment is that so many of our investigators have such great potential. I can see so many of our investigators being baptized but they struggle with commitment. I have faith the Lord will prepare the way though as long as we continue to be diligent. It's incredible how the Lord works and sometimes I'm just too impatient. I've really learned that it's important to remember that the Lord works on His own time table and we just have to wait sometimes. We'll keep doing our best and I know the Lord is with us every step of the way! 

I also had the chance to baptize and confirm this little girl who turned 8 yesterday. Her mom and older sister are members of the church and really strong members. It was a neat experience and the spirit was really strong. I was trying to reflect back on when I was baptized at 8, I don't remember much but I do remember that I felt good about what was happening! It was cool to see how excited this little girl was to be baptized. 

Love you all,
Elder Summers