Sunday, March 17, 2013

PJ Update

March 11, 2013

Hello everyone,

This past week had a couple of pretty great experiences. We have really been having difficulty getting people to accept baptismal challenges but this past week we were able to get a lot of people to accept. I will relate a couple of experiences. We have been teaching this guy named N______ for about 3 months now. He has been hesitant to accept baptism because he says he hasn't received his answer yet. We have had some incredibly spiritual experiences with him but he says he needs an extra push. Well he finally got that extra push through the help of a member. In our area it is difficult to get members to come with us because of transportation issues and lack of members here. We had a recent convert who is about the same age as N_________ come with us. This recent convert is pretty famous here in PJ, he started the Anglican church here and is just very well known. Anyways, N______ actually knew our recent convert and was shocked that he is a member of our church. At the end of the lesson we challenged him to be baptized on April 14 and he accepted. He has read about the 1/3 of the Book of Mormon and he is really enjoying it, hopefully he will continue to progress. When we have members with us it makes missionary work so much easier!

We were also teaching a mother by the name of L____. She has been meeting with us for about a month now. She told us that she wants to be baptized because she has been praying for answers and the day we showed up at her door was a direct answer to her prayers. She said she isn't feeling peace at her church right now and that she wants to change. The difficulty for a lot of people here is that they are afraid to move churches because of what people will say. I loved what L____ told us though: "I cannot serve two masters, I can only serve God and if this is true it's the right thing to do." I wish more people understood this statement. The mission faces a lot of problems...cultural differences, transportation concerns, inactivity, etc but the biggest difficulty is that literally everyone already has a church here! It's rare that we find someone that doesn't have a church. There are a billion different christian churches here in South Africa (further evidence of the apostasy). We are doing our best though to really help people understand the role of the Book of Mormon and authority. It takes time but we are getting there!

I hope everyone has a great week!! I hope Anaheim is ready to receive a great new sister missionary!

Elder Summers

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Birthday Week

Tues, March 5

Dear family and friends,

Well I'm now 20 years old, no longer a teenager but I still feel the exact same. Still crazy as ever and my companions can all testify to that! This past week was awesome and I had a great birthday. On Sunday I was able to confirm Leb____ and baptize L____, I can't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday! It was a great day and the spirit was so strong. Leb_____ bore his testimony in testimony meeting right after being confirmed, he has a love for the Book of Mormon and talked about how many blessings he has seen since attending church and meeting with the Elders. L_____ was then baptized after church and he was so excited. The water was pretty cold on Sunday but he told me he didn't care if it was snowing, he was going under! L______ is going to be a powerful member and it's exactly what this branch needs. He has the potential to change lives and unite this branch.

I wasn't able to write home on Monday because we were in Lesotho the entire day. It was my first time going into Lesotho (my current area of PJ is right on the border) and it was a lot of fun. We spent the whole day together as a zone, we went and spent time at an orphanage for a while and played with the kids. We then went and played soccer in a pretty rural area (I guess most of Lesotho is rural) with some kids. It was pretty cool to go and play soccer in the middle of Lesotho. It was by far one of my best pdays on mission. Even though the little kids couldn't speak any English, it was still fun to hang out with them and try to speak as much Sesoto as I know, it's a pretty tough language! It just reminded me to always remain grateful for what I have been given. These children have absolutely nothing. It's is always important to remember just how much the Lord has blessed us with no matter what our circumstances may be.

I've been contemplating a lot this past week why so many people do not have the chance to hear this message. Sometimes it can be frustrating when people stop meeting with us or the work isn't moving very smoothly but I received a direct answer to my question this week. I have been praying to understand how I can be a more effective advocate of the truth and why so many seem to not have the interest in meeting with us lately. While asking the Lord this question a chapter came right into my mind. Alma chapter 29. Alma talks about how he wishes he was an Angel and could declare unto the ends of the earth with a trump repentance and salvation, but I love what he says in verse 3: "I ought to be content with the  things which the Lord has allotted unto me." Then he continues in verse 6 and says: "Now, seeing that I know these things, why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?" Sometimes missionary work can be frustrating but the Lord only requires our best! He does not require us to baptize every single person we meet, he only requires us to work hard and exercise some faith. I find solace in the words of Mosiah 4:9: "The Lord has all wisdom and all doth not comprehend all things which the Lord can comprehend." We do not know everything but the Lord does! He has a plan, all we have to do is go out and rely on Him! The Lord is with us and He will always be there to support us in our time of need, sometimes we just need to exercise a little more faith and patience.

Love you all,
Elder Summers

The Lord is Preparing HIs People

Mon, Feb 25

Dear family and friends,

Well it has been another interesting and eventful week in the mission field. I feel like everyday is filled with something interesting especially when serving in this part of the world. Yesterday we had the baptism of Leb_____and it went very smoothly. We were really trying to encourage him to bear his testimony after his baptism and he told us he would pray about it. Well right before he was baptized I asked him if he wanted to give his testimony and he told me yes. After he was baptized he gave a powerful testimony about the blessings that have come into his life since he met the Elders and how the Book of Mormon is true so he knows the church is true. He is going to be a powerful member and it was really exciting to see him baptized yesterday. It's incredible to see how the gospel can change lives and the role of the Book of Mormon. 

This past week we had to be really bold with a few investigators who are becoming "eternal" investigators. This includes a girl who was going to be baptized but has gone back to her old church. I asked her if she knows the Book of Mormon is true, she responded by telling us yes and that she always feels peace when she reads it. I then read from the quote in the Into to the B.O.M. where Joseph Smith tells us the Book of Mormon is the "keystone of our religion." We helped her understand more clearly that everything we teaches hinges on the divinity and authenticity of the Book of Mormon. It's not by coincidence that the Lord brought forth a book at the start of the restoration. If not for the Book of Mormon we would have no claim on authority or divine revelation. We were able to really help some of our investigators understand the role this book plays in their conversion and testimony of what we are teaching. The more I read the Book of Mormon the more I grow to love it. I can't help but pick up this book each and everyday to study its contents. I have learned something new each and every time I read this book and I feel the love of my Heavenly Father each time I pray to know of its truthfulness. 

We also had a couple of great lessons this past week in preparing L_____ for his baptism this Sunday. He told me yesterday that the Book of Mormon and the message we have shared with him has completely changed his life. L______ has gone through some difficult family struggles and the loss of many loved ones. He had really lost a lot of hope and he had a lot of questions about our purpose here in life and where we go in the next life. As he has read the Book of Mormon and we taught him the Plan of Salvation we have seen his demeanor change and the hope which has filled his life that he can see his loved ones again. He has always had an incredible faith but has simply been kept from the truth. His conversion story has repeatedly brought the words of D&C 123:12 to my mind: "there are many are earth...kept from the truth because they know not where to find it." He was searching for truth and he found it. I'm going to talk more about how we met Lerato and how the Lord performs miracles if we work hard and have faith. 

We were meeting with a recent convert when all of a sudden L_____ walked into the door. He sat down and began discussing with us. After talking with him for about 30 minutes, we realized he had all of the right questions but lacked answers. Within a few days we taught him the restoration and we could see his eyes being opened as we handed him the Book of Mormon. From there the rest is history and the moment he began reading the Book of Mormon he was converted. The incredible part is the reason I believe we met him is because my companion and I had been fasting that the Lord would help us find priesthood holders to help strengthen this branch. Within days L______ "coincidentally" walked right into one of our lessons. Now many would say it was by chance that we met L_____ but I can tell you without a shadow of doubt in my mind that the Lord was preparing this man. The branch needs someone like L____ because they are seriously lacking for leadership, knowledge of the gospel and priesthood. L______ has a lot of potential to strengthen this branch and be a powerful member in the church. The Lord is preparing people, in order for us to be led to these people we must be obedient, work hard and have the faith that the Lord will lead us to them. It will be a great week next week as Lerato will be baptized and take that next step forward towards living with our Father in Heaven once more and doing temple work for his loved ones who have passed on. 

I love all of you and wish you the best from Phuthaditjhaba, South Africa! 

Elder Summers


Mon, Feb 18

Dear family and friends,

It has been another week to remember here in Phuthaditjhaba. How many of you can pronounce that by the way? Some of these African names are ridiculous sometimes haha. This past week we had a couple of great lessons with people who are getting ready for baptism. I'm not sure how many of you remember this guy named L_____ that we met about a month ago. He has been reading the Book of Mormon like crazy and on Tuesday he told us he wants to be baptized. I have never seen someone so converted since I have been on mission. He is reading everything we give him, he is reading about temples, gospel principles, the lorenzo snow book, etc. He even wants a D&C! We told him to slow down a little bit and take it one step at a time. He will be getting baptized on March 3rd (My birthday!) so we are really excited. He has so much potential to be a powerful member in the branch. He is already doing a lot of missionary work, his sister is really interested in the church. She lives in Johannesburg, we directed her to the nearest chapel there and she visited church on Sunday. It is so great to see how the restored gospel can completely change a persons life. Lerato was really struggling with quite a few things in his personal life and the Book of Mormon has completely changed his demeanor. Every time he reads the Book of Mormon he relates it so well to his own life, it's just further testimony to me that the Book of Mormon was written for our day!

We also have a baptism coming up this Sunday. Leb______ was interviewed and is ready to be baptized, Leb_____ is a stud. He is so excited and every time we talk to him he just tells us all about the blessings he has seen since reading the Book of Mormon and coming to church. I gave him a DVD that had about 4 hours worth of church videos, he told me that very same night he watched all of the videos on the DVD. He is even talking about how after he becomes a member he wants to serve a mission. It's so great to see people become converted before they are even baptized. President Von Stetten (our mission president) always talks about how we are looking for converts to the gospel, not just baptisms. Unfortunately in the past so many people here in Africa have been baptized too quickly and were not ready to make and keep the sacred covenants associated with baptism. Inactivity is a huge problem the church is facing here in Africa.

Becoming converted is really a lifelong process but I feel like my mission has converted me for the rest of my life. I always had a testimony growing up in the church but I never felt that conversion or mighty change of heart that Alma speaks of. My mission has finally given that to me which I'm really grateful for. I loved that talk from Elder Bednar in this past conference about conversion, if you haven't had the chance to read it then go back and look over it. It's a fantastic talk about conversion and the process we must all go through. Anyways, I hope everything is going well back home and you all have a great week!

Elder Summers