June 17, 2013
Happy fathers day!!
I can't believe that one year ago at this time I was giving my farewell talk! It's incredible how fast time flies by. I was able to give a talk in sacrament meeting once again for fathers day except this time it was with the Phahameng branch of 40 people meeting in a very little school building. It was really cold too! This place is becoming colder by the day, I never knew Africa could feel like back home. It was great to give a talk to this little branch and I felt prompted to speak on overcoming trials. There have been a lot of people facing difficult trials within this branch recently so I think it went well. No matter the challenges we may face we can always find comfort in the fact that our Savior loves us and He will help us move on.
So I got my new companion on Tuesday. I dropped off Elder Ramasinandro on Monday night to take an overnight bus down to Durban (about an 8 hour bus ride) to his new area where he will complete his mission. I then slept over Monday night while waiting for my new companion to arrive Tuesday night. On Tuesday I was with Elder Hilton for the day while he awaited the arrival of his new companion too. Elder Hilton is from Cedar Hills and he went to Lone Peak. I have seen him a lot on my mission and we have become pretty good friends. I can't believe I never knew him before coming here! He is a really cool guy and it was fun to work with him for the day. My new companion then arrived that night and we headed back to Welkom on Wednesday morning. My new companion is Elder Mokoena and he is from Johannesburg, South Africa. He arrived on mission one transfer before me (6 weeks) and this is his 3rd area here in Welkom. He served for 6 months in Swaziland and 7 1/2 months in Durban, those are long times in an area! He is a really cool guy and we are getting along great so far. I believe we are going to find some success together. In case anyone was wondering this is my 6th companion and yes all of my companions have been from Africa. It will be weird when I get an American companion, I've gotten too used to being with Africans.
So I'll relate one experience from this past week. We were doing quite a bit of knocking on doors because a lot of our appointments were falling through. Literally everyone was rejecting us while knocking on doors which is pretty unusual for South Africa. Usually we can get in about 75% of the doors we knock on. I felt like I was in Margate again (that's my first area for those wondering... it was a very rich and difficult area). Well after knocking for a while I decide we should check on a contact we had met on the street. She had given us her house number a few weeks back and she lives pretty close to the chapel. When we got there we found the father outside and he let us in. The girl who gave us her details was not home but we started talking to the father and mother. Their name is the M_____ family. They are a Xolsa family, Xolsas are a minority tribe in this area (they have a lot of clicking sounds in their language!) I have mentioned before that this area in Welkom is primarily the Sotho tribe but in my first area of Margate it was primarily the Xolsa tribe so it's been a while since I've heard Xolsa.
The mother then asked us a question: "Are you saved?" A common question here. I responded: "It depends on your definition of saved, how are we saved?" She didn't know how to respond to the question so then her husband sort of was making fun of her. The husband said: "You are a church goer every week but you are empty up here! (pointing to his head)" Then the wife shot back in kind: "It's better I go to church every week then going to the tavern everyday like you!" We started laughing, we couldn't help ourselves. Then the husband said: "It doesn't matter where we pray. We can pray at home, on the toilet or even in the tavern! 'Dear God, How many beers can I drink tonight?' and 'Dear God, please help me drink these 3 beers!'" My companion and I started laughing so hard. This father was hilarious. After a little discussion the mother really wanted us to come back but as we were leaving the father said: "I probably won't be there, I'll be praying in the tavern." Ahh too funny.
Well we went back to visit this family yesterday. They have 9 people in their family, mostly girls. We sat down with 6 of them yesterday (mother, 3 daughters, young son and the house keeper). As we came into the home it was weird to hear Xolsa language again, I haven't heard it for almost 10 months. I could still remember some Xolsa so they all started laughing when they heard me (a white American) clicking and asking them in their language some questions haha. This country has too many languages but I have learned some basics in Zulu, Xolsa and Sotho. I haven't learned any Afrikaans yet, that language is hard! Anyways, we taught them the entire restoration and they seemed pretty interested. They have a very limited knowledge of the gospel but we feel like they can make some progress. We left them with the Book of Mormon in English and Xolsa, they were excited to see we have the Book of Mormon in their language. We'll see what happens with this family, we meet them again this Friday. The smartest person in that lesson that understood the best was the 10 year old boy! That kid had great English for a 10 year old and I was shocked that out of everyone he understood the best. It's always weird for me to see some kids speaking such great English here because it's not their first language.
Well it's been a pretty great week with my companion and I'm excited to head into my 2nd year of serving the Lord. I cannot wait to see what is still to come and the miracles that lay in store. I love you all and I am so grateful for your continued support! I am especially thankful to those that write me letters, they mean so much.