Dear family and friends,
This past week has been pretty awesome. I'm not really sure where to start so I'll just begin by saying L______ is power! L_______ is the father we baptized on my birthday about a month ago. Every single week since his baptism he has brought a new friend or family member to church. Most of them are visiting from other places. For example, his sister visited from Johannesburg a few weeks ago and she loved church. We taught her the restoration after church before she went back home to Joburg. She is now meeting with missionaries there and attending church. L_____ is pretty sure she will be baptized. This past Sunday he brought his younger brother who is staying here for the month (He is also from Joburg) and his best friend from childhood. First off, both of them absolutely loved church. Everyone is always so shocked that we don't have a pastor that gets up there for 2 hours and preaches, they always love the gospel principles class where we have a discussion and ask questions.
His best friend is just visting for the week. His name is C_____. We had a great lesson with him the day before church and he also loved everything about church. He literally sounds the exact same as L______ when we first met him, He told us he already has the desire to be baptized, the difficulty will be getting his wife back home to follow along because she has grown up in a church her whole life. C_____ is going back home tomorrow and wants to contact missionaries there immediately. I contacted our office to get the missionaries information and I also discovered that the branch is pretty small where he lives. This might be exactly what this branch needs there! Another strong priesthood holder. It is amazing how L______ is brining so many people into the gospel. One man is going to end up touching the lives of hundreds of people for generations to come. His parents are also super interested in being baptized but the difficulty is that L's father can't walk very well so it's hard for him to get to church. His mother also struggles with English but they are reading all of the Sotho materials we give them, including the Book of Mormon in Tswana. Tswana is a very similar language to Sotho, the Book of Mormon isn't in Sotho yet.
We also had a couple of powerful lessons with this family we found last week! There is the daughter, mother and a father. The daughter is powerful! We gave her the For the Strength of Youth last Wednesday, when we went back on Friday she had read the entire thing from front to back. This girl is definietly going to be baptized, no doubt in my mind. The mother keeps saying she feels so blessed to have us in her home. We have only taught them 3 times so far but I can already tell they are going to accept everything we teach them. They are progressing very well. They have all the right questions.
We also met with brother B______. He told us that when we taught him the word of wisdom a couple of weeks ago he immediately threw away all of his cigarettes and destroyed all of his beer bottles. He hasn't smoked since then. After we gave him a blessing he said he felt renewed strength and that he doesn't have the desire to really smoke anymore. He is still reading everything we give him like crazy and says that he is ready to be baptized on the 28th of April. He says that ever since we found him in January his life has changed and that the Book of Mormon is changing his life. He said he has never felt so much joy and peace. It's incredible what the gospel will do! So many of these people that find us and accept our message always say the same thing: They wish they had found us earlier! I always relate the story of laborers in the vineyard. It doesn't matter what time of day we come, all that matters is that we embrace it and move forward. The reward is the same no matter what time of the day we come into contact with this message. L____'s mother had this question because she said she feels too old to be baptized again. We told her to read the story of the laborers in the vineyard in Matthew. I love that parable, Elder Holland gave a great talk on it from the April conference of last year. I would recommend reading it if you haven't had the chance!
I was reflecting this morning on all of the things this area has taught me the past 6 months. This branch is currently run by the branch president and missionaries. There are no other mel. priesthood holders who are stepping up. Literally if the missionaries or BP left the branch would collapse. Due to this, I have learned how to be a clerk, use MLS, conduct the music in sacrament, teaching priesthood/sunday school with no prep, setting everything up for church, etc. etc. This branch has taught me to be grateful for the establishment of the church back home! Be thankful to even have an Elders quorum president! There is no clerk let alone an Elders quorum president here. The missionaries teach almost every class haha. I'm not complaning in the least bit, I kind of enjoy the challenge more than anything and it's helping me grow as a missionary. We;ve been able to bring in some very converted brethren the last couple of months that are working towards being ordained as Elders. We currently have 3 Aaronic priesthood holders (all eligible Elders) who were baptized in the last 5 months who are close to being ordained as Elders. All 3 of these brethren will help this branch so much. Including brother B_____ who is about to be baptized. The missionaries can't run this thing forever! The work is moving forward here and this branch has so much potential. We are really trying to put an emphasis on getting converts not baptisms in this mission. We don't need more less actives as a burden to the branch.
I have learned some valuable lessons here.There is opposition in all good things but ultimately God is great and has more power and His work will move on despite the opposition. I'll most likely be leaving in a couple of weeks, transfer news is the 28th of April. I'm almost certain because the way this mission works is that missionaries serve in areas for between 4 1/2 and 6 months. It's very rare that a missionary stays in an area for 7 1/2, but it's always a possibility. This church is so true! The Lord has got this. I love you all!