Sunday, September 1, 2013


Great Week!

August 26, 2013

Dear family and friends,

The work here in on fire! This was a great past week with some crazy experiences. We currently have a ton of people progressing towards baptism! Almost all of these people were found the first couple of weeks when we white washed the area. We will be having 2 baptisms on September 15th. An 18 year old young woman named M...... (from Zimbabwe) and a 20 year old guy named X....... They are both doing great and are excited to be baptized. Especially X....., we started teaching him a couple of weeks back. He is progressing great and loves church. I could definitely see him as a future missionary. 
We had a great lesson with a young mother named T........ She is my age and we challenged her to baptism white teaching the plan of salvation. She is really excited and she wants to learn. The difficult part has been getting her to church. So we got a recent convert around her age who lives pretty close to come to our lesson on Friday with her. It was so great to have this member with us! She bore a great testimony and talked about all of the blessings since her baptism. And guess what? Thule came to church on Sunday. It is so powerful when the members help us do missionary work. The investigators are able to see that normal people living around them go to this church we represent. 
It is incredible to see the hand of the Lord over this work. I am shocked to see how fast the work has moved forward here considering we just white washed the area a month ago! As we continue to work hard, stay obedient and exercise faith the Lord will open the windows of heaven. I guess this principle is really applicable to all aspects of life. The Lord won't help us if we sit around all day wallowing around in self pity. As Nephi of old said: "I will go and do the things the Lord commands..." The Lord always provides a a way as we "go and do." Sometimes the direction we must take is clearly visible and other times it takes more searching to find the right path but either way He does prepare the way. In this case the Lord has opened doors for us immediately. It wasn't by coincidence that our mission president felt inspired to white wash the area. This is further testimony to me that President Zackrison holds the keys for the South Africa Durban mission. 
Thank you for your prayers and your love. I love you all!
Elder Summers

Catching Fire!

August 19, 2013

Dear family and friends,
The area here is catching fire! I'm really hoping I won't be spending a short period of time serving in this area. Since my companion and I white washed the area it is likely that one of us could be transferred. The area is really progressing and my companion and I can see why the Lord needed this area white washed. When we first got here we couldn't understand but were seeing the Lord's hand more and more. 
When we got here there was one person being taught that was scheduled to be baptized. These past 2 weeks we have been able to put over 10 people on baptismal date for September. We are expecting to have at least 3 or 4 people baptized by September 15th if all goes well. We have been so busy and I don't think I've ever been this tired! We are working hard and seeing the miracles that are coming. This branch here is on the verge of becoming a ward and we just need to find a couple more priesthood holders. I'll tell you about a couple of people we have found. 
We are teaching a young man named X...... He is 20 years old and his step mom is the YW's president. We started teaching him this past week and he is very excited. He accepted to be baptized next month and he came to church on Sunday. He enjoyed church a lot and he has great support at home. He will be another potential Melchizedek priesthood holder in the branch. 
We are also teaching a young married couple (wahoo! hard to find married couples) from Mozambique. They struggle a little bit with English but the father is very excited and interested. He is very humble and wants to be baptized. He came to church for the first time on Sunday and at the end he said he loved it! He said he will be here every Sunday but the biggest problem is that he is working on Sunday sometimes. Hopefully we'll be able to continue to progress with him and move him towards baptism. 
As we were shopping last Monday my companion met a father working at the store. This father is humble and has a whole family. We are meeting him this week and hoping that it will work out. It is so hard to find father led families here that are interested in the gospel. The majority of fathers here enjoy drinking too much and have zero interest in hearing the gospel. This father seems very interested and is a humble man. I'm excited to see how it goes! The Lord will continue to prepare the way for us as we work hard and have faith in Him. 
I'm so grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord on my mission. I feel them each and everyday. I truly see that the Lord puts us in an area for a specific reason. When I first arrived here I was struggling to see why the area was white washed and why I had to leave Welkom so soon. I should have known the Lord always has His reasons! There are some people that the Lord has specifically prepared for us to teach as missionaries where only our testimony can touch them. I've seem that time and time again as I go throughout my mission. The only thing that we have to do is remain worthy as missionaries so the Lord can lead us to those people. 
I'll continue to keep you guys updated on how it goes with some of these people. This work is true and I see the Lord's hand manifest everyday in this divine work. 
I love you all. 
Elder Summers

The Lord Prepares the Way1

August 12, 2013
Dear family and friends,

This past week has been another great week in the service of the Lord. It is amazing how fast the weeks come and go as we are busy working hard. I've never tracted this much my entire mission! White washing the area was a little bit difficult at first but we have a solid teaching pool after all of our knocking on doors. We have found some pretty great people who are prepared to receive the gospel. One of the difficulties at the moment is finding potential priesthood holders. The branch is so close to becoming a ward but it needs a little bit more priesthood. Unfortunately most of the homes are fatherless or the fathers have no interest in the gospel. I know that the Lord is preparing people though and we'll keep going forward.
We found these 2 women that are friends a couple of weeks ago. There names are M..... and K...... They both have children but are living alone. We taught them the restoration and they were very interested. They are both in search of a church right now and they want to be baptized correctly. We have challenged them to both be baptized in September and they have accepted. They are interested and want to develop their faith in Jesus Christ. We will continue meeting with them and helping them progress.
We also are teaching a young mother named T....... She is the same age as myself (20 years) and has a baby boy. She really wants to turn her life around and find a church. She hasn't attended church in years but she does believe in God. She is a very smart young woman and has a lot of interest in our message. She has a lot of great questions and she wants to find the truth. We'll just have to see how it continues to go with her. One of the difficulties as always with most of these investigators is getting them to church. The biggest problem is the distance and lack of transportation. Hopefully it won't be a huge difficulty with some of these sisters that we are teaching.
We are working hard and doing our best right now. I can feel the blessings of the Lord in my life as I continue to give my all. There is something that money can't buy and that's peace in my heart that I feel right now. There is nothing greater in life then the peace and happiness that comes from keeping the commandments of the Lord. As Mosiah 2:41 says... Those that keep the commandments of God are blessed in all things both temporal and spiritual. And if we hold out faithful until the end we will be received into a state of never ending happiness. I can testify that this is true! May the Lord continue to bless you all as this marvelous work and a wonder continues to roll forth.
Elder Summers

Not Many Stories

August 5, 2013
I don't really have many "stories" for this week so I'll just tell you individually a little bit. This past week was amazing to say the least. We have been knocking on a lot of doors and finding incredible people. The branch here is really growing and has a goal to become a ward by the end of the year. They are also working on finding land for a chapel. This is the largest branch I've served in so far, usually church attendance is around 60 to 90. The school we are currently meeting in isn't the nicest so I hope they are able to find land for a chapel soon. 

A lot of the people we are teaching are people we found just this past week so we don't have many progressing investigators at the moment. A lot of the people we found though are very interested and a lot of them have serious potential. We are really hoping to find more priesthood holders. A lot of the investigators we have found are women, which isn't a bad thing but we need to find priesthood to help the branch really grow. We did find one guy named R..... that is really interested and is fascinated with the fact I'm from America. He is a really smart guy and has great questions, he has a lot of potential to progress. 

We had a total of 22 new investigators this week which is way more then I've ever had in a single week. So many people are just inviting us in when we knock on the door and we are teaching them. English isn't as much of a struggle as my last area but it can still be a challenge at times. Most people know English pretty well here. I'll let you know how it goes with some of the people we are teaching and hopefully I have more updates next week. 


Elder Summers

White Washing the Hills

July 29, 2013
Hello to everyone from the coast of Durban!
It has been an absolutely crazy week with many unexpected things happening. When I got the transfer news last week I was really surprised I was getting transferred because President Zachrison had told me in interviews only a couple of weeks before that I would be staying another transfer. Well let me explain why that all changed. I have been transferred here to Marian Hill in Durban to white wash this area with my companion Elder Wambuzi. White wash means that the 2 Elders here were taken out and the 2 of us have replaced them. The crazy thing is that my trainer, Elder Jallah, white washed this exact same area after he finished training me about a year ago! That is extremely rare to have the same area white washed in a year. They said that hasn't happened for a very long time. I was not aware I would be white washing the area until I got here. I remember my trainer said it was really hard white washing this area and now I can see why! 
My companion is from Uganda and he has been on his mission for a little over 4 months. This is his second area now and I'm his third companion. I am getting companions from all over Africa.   Anyways, my comp is very humble and quiet but a good missionary. He joined the church in 2011 and he is the only member in his family. I'm excited to work with him.
I was talking to President Zachrison on the phone when I got here. He told me he wasn't going to transfer me but then he felt he needed to white wash the area and he felt inspired to put us here. I'm not going to question inspiration, he holds the keys for the mission. Now let me tell you a bit about the area. 
There are 2 others Elders staying in our apartment with us. They go to the same branch and their area is right next to ours. One of the Elders in that area was also transferred so there is only 1 Elder here that knows anything. The problem is that he only knows his area because they are walking while we have the car. So he doesn't know anything about our area because the other Elders would drop them off in the morning and pick them up at night. The 4 of us meet together at church in a small primary school. The school isn't the nicest but it's OK. The branch is very close to becoming a ward so a lot of the auxiliaries are filled. I was mistaken when I wrote last week that this was a ward with a chapel, I was thinking of another ward that is close by. While our area is called "Marian Hill" the branch name is the Umbedula branch. 
White washing this area is not easy at all. Addresses and street names are impossible to find. This isn't like the United States where I can type in an address and find the house. I had to buy a GPS my first day here or we were going to be completely lost and not be able to do anything. This area is HUGE. The area is all hills and mountains. I have heard of this area before because it is referred to as a climbing area not a walking area. I am really glad we are the ones that have the car and the other Elders are the ones walking (climbing... haha). I love walking but here it's tough! I'm tired just after getting out and going tracting. I can't imagine walking in this place all day. The area is absolutely beautiful though and I'll show you some pictures. The weather is just perfect right now in the winter time, it's not cold like my last area. 
So since the GPS doesn't really pick up addresses or street names we had to have some members show us around. There is also an Elder in our zone that served in this area for 6 months that showed us around for a day. They were able to show us where people live and I could save that location in the GPS. I am very grateful that Elder served here and just "happens" to be in our zone. That is a tender mercy from the Lord! We would have had serious troubles finding anything if that Elder wouldn't have shown us around. 
The people here are Zulu and very different from my previous 2 areas in the Free State province. They are extremely friendly and willing to invite us into their homes. We didn't know where many of the previous Elders investigators were so we did quite a bit of knocking on doors. The people are very humble and willing to invite us back. Although I've been very stressed and overwhelmed this past week, I felt peace in my heart that the work will move forward here. I have a feeling I'm really going to enjoy this area. The members are so willing to help us and finding new investigators is pretty easy from what I can see. 
Thanks for all your support and prayers, I really felt them this week I can assure you. I feel that the Lord continues to challenge me to help me grow. I can see my patriarchal blessing fulfilled more and more as I go throughout my mission. The Lord really does know us! 
Love you all,
Elder Summers

Expect the Unexpected!

July 22, 2013

Dearest family and friends,

In missionary work you should always expect the unexpected, especially with a new mission president. There were huge changes made on Sunday night with transfer news. 7 of the 10 companionship's in our zone changed including me! That's right, I'm getting transferred which I am really shocked by. I'm being transferred to Marion Hill in Durban. I'm finally leaving outer darkness! I haven't even been in Durban my entire mission and I haven't even been to the mission office in my 13 months on mission! For those of you that don't know our mission boundaries are HUGE. Anyways, entire zones around the mission were changed and President Zachrison is definitely taking a different approach as our new mission president.  Everyone in our district of 6 has new companions and they were all pretty shocked I'm being moved. When I received transfer news from the ZL's there was a mix of emotions as I found out I'm being transferred. I'm really excited but at the same time rather sad at the moment. I'm leaving on a bus tonight, it's a 9 hour bus ride to Durban, leaving at 11:45pm tonight and arriving at 9:30am. I wasn't expecting to leave so I didn't say goodbye to anyone. I'll be able to say BYE to a couple of people here in Welkom today but I didn't get pictures or anything with the people in Phahameng which is unfortunate. I'm really going to miss my current companion, Elder Mokoena, and some of the other people here. I formed some great friendships in these past 3 months that will not be forgotten. 
I was hoping to be here longer as the work is starting to move forward and everything was going smoothly but President Zachrison holds the keys and if the Lord needs me somewhere else then I will go and do as Nephi says! It will be exciting to serve in Durban where the church is very well established and people can speak English very well. One of the difficult things about serving in Freestate (that's the province where Welkom is and my previous area) is that language is sometimes a problem. The further away you get from major cities the less English people speak. Now that I'm going to Durban that will be a Zulu area where schools are very good. All of the schools here in South Africa teach in English but once again the more advanced the city the better the schools. I've been around Sotho's and Afrikaaners here in Freestate. Now it's time to pick up on some Zulu again. There are too many languages in this country, I was starting to learn a lot of Sotho! 
Anyways, my new companion is named Elder Wambuzi. I'm pretty sure he is from Uganda or Kenya, somewhere in northern Africa. He is younger than me on mission. My trainer actually went from training me to serving in Marion Hill. He was telling me over the phone last night that it is a really nice area where the members love the missionaries. It's a ward and I'm pretty sure they are meeting in a chapel. This is definitely going to be very different from my first 3 areas! In my first 3 areas the members were very spread out and there were no chapels (except Welkom). All of the branches I've served in have had attendance under 60 every Sunday so it will be interesting to serve in a ward that is well established. It's such an incredible and humbling experience to serve among all different kinds of branches and people. There is so much diversity here in South Africa and it's so amazing to meet these people from various cultural backgrounds. Heavenly Father is mindful of all of His children and is no respecter of persons. The gospel of Jesus Christ is for each and everyone of God's children no matter what they believe or where they come from. 
Welkom has taught me a lot in these past 3 months. I have grown more in these 3 months than in any of my other areas. Sometimes the Lord sends us to sanctify an area and sometimes we are sent to an area to be sanctified. I felt as though it was the latter in this case. Serving in Welkom was not always easy. There is a reason that Welkom is the oldest branch in South Africa and still has some work to do to become a ward. It took a lot of hard work but I felt as though I gave it my all here. In Preach My Gospel it says that we should strive to leave our areas better then we found them. That has been one of my top goals since serving a mission and I feel as though that has happened here. I hope it continues to move forward and that some of the seeds my companions and I have planted with continue to grow. I am grateful to the Lord for the strength He has provided me and the doors that He opened for us. I know that it is only through Him and the guidance of the spirit that we can minister in this great work. 
One of those seeds that was planted happened yesterday after church. We have been struggling big time here to find families. We have been praying and fasting to find families but nothing seems to be happening (or so we think). We seem to only find YSA's and young people. Well after 2 of our appointments fell through I had an impression to check a house. We had been teaching a large family (former investigators now) with a mother, 5 daughters, and a young boy. They weren't very serious about our message but the 4 times we went there we always found a boy that was their neighbor. He was always playing there. He seemed somewhat interested and we asked him where he lived. This was about 3 weeks back. Well his image came to my mind and I remembered where he told us his family lives. We visited their home last night and the father invited us in. We sat down and taught the restoration to the father, mother, son and daughter. They are very humble and friendly and currently are members of no church. I hope and pray this family will accept the gospel and that this is a family the Lord has prepared. Time will only tell though. 
Sometimes we have to be patient and accept the Lord's time table and not our own. That is a lesson I have been repeatedly taught since serving a mission but I can't seem to understand this at times. I know that as we wait on the Lord and accept His will be done and not our own, miracles will happen. 
I love you all and wish you another great week. 
Elder Summers

Blessed are the Persecuted

July 15, 2013

Dear family and friends,

This past week was not the easiest in the world to be honest. The good news is that Sunday was awesome and our baptisms went very smoothly! Both of the young women were baptized in very cold water. It is the middle of winter here and we had to fill up the temporary font with a cold water hose. Usually they boil some water in pots and put it in with the cold water to neutralize the temperature but the electricity was out for all of Sunday! The young women didn't complain though and it counts all the same. The spirit was so strong at the baptismal service and it's exactly what I needed after a tough week. 
My companion and I were discussing about the Saviors teachings when he said: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for my names sake..." We were joking that every time someone is rude to us, closes the door or rejects are message we receive a blessing! We had quite a few people rejecting us this past week and it can be really easy to be discouraged if you don't remember your purpose. Satan really uses discouragement but we are doing our best to stay positive. I feel as though serving a mission is sometimes a roller coaster with regards to my physical, emotional and spiritual health. It can be draining at times but then I feel my Heavenly Father's love when times get difficult. 
As I've mentioned before we are currently teaching this man named bro. N........ We felt as though he was really starting to make progress but our lesson this past week was not what we expected. He flat out said to our faces the Book of Mormon is not true and he doesn't even feel the need to pray. Unfortunately we don't feel like there is anything else we can do. We he said it isn't true I bore testimony more boldly then I ever have before. I couldn't stand someone telling me to my face that everything were saying is false and basically we are wasting our time. It's unfortunate he isn't willing to go to God for answers, instead he continues to turn to the internet and books for answers. That is quite contrary to Moroni's counsel to pray with a "sincere heart." Anyone that prays about it with a sincere heart and real intent will receive an answer without a doubt in my mind. We can't expect God to answer our prays if we are skeptical He will answer us in the first place. 
Well not much else happened this week. I met my mission president for the first time and he is awesome! I am really excited to work with him and he is very enthusiastic about the work. Transfers are coming this next week but it sounds like I'll still be in Welkom for another transfer. 
Love you all,
Elder Summers

Tired but Moving Forward

July 8, 2013
Hello everyone,

It's been another great week here in Welkom/Phahameng. The work is moving forward in both of these areas and I am physically exhausted! I hope my body can keep up. I was reading through D&C 84 (oath & covenant of the priesthood) and there is a special promise the Lord gives us as we remain faithful to the priesthood. He says that as we are faithful we will be blessed with the renewal and sanctification of our bodies. I have definitely felt that which I am thankful for! As President Monson said in this past conference, missionary work is not easy! It requires long hours, selfless service and dedicated work. It is all worth it though as I feel the blessings of serving the Lord each and everyday in my life. I've never felt more peace and joy then I currently do as I am serving the Lord with all my heart, might and strength. 
This past week we were able to move forward with a couple of investigators we are teaching and 2 young women were interviewed for baptism. L..... and N..... (both 17 years old) were interviewed and are ready to be baptized next Sunday which is exciting. My previous companion and I started teaching them a couple of months ago. They come to church every Sunday and they are very ready to be baptized. N.......struggled a lot with English when we first started teaching her, we had to have someone translating for us at first. Now her English is great and no one has to translate anymore. It's incredible to see how the Lord has blessed her and how the gospel is changing her life. I'll report on their baptisms next week! 
We also are teaching a YSA girl named A....... My previous comp and I tracted into her home a couple of months ago. She has been progressing pretty well and we challenged her to baptism this past week. She said she wants to be baptized correctly because when she was baptized when she was 11 she didn't feel it was right. We have had great lessons with her and we hope she continues to move forward. 
We also met with bro. N....... (the one who has A LOT of questions) a couple of times this past week. He attended church the previous Sunday so he had a ton of questions about church. He loves everything about our church. The humanitarian aid, the values, the focus on families, the programs, us as missionaries, etc but he won't read the Book of Mormon! He says our church is great except for this book. We finally forced him to read with us in a lesson so he can see it's not a devils book. As we related some scriptures to him we could tell he is starting to feel the spirit. He keeps trying to get us to contradict ourselves but each time by the end he always says: "You guys just have all the answers and it's pure Christianity!" He is getting there and his wife is starting to get interested too. She was giving him fire in the lesson saying that they need to start reading the Book of Mormon. This guy is a future branch president I'm telling you if he can develop a testimony. It may take a little time but he's getting there! Bro. N...... makes me think of what I would have been like if I was an investigator. I think I would have had a lot of questions like him haha. In the end it all comes down to reading for yourself and knowing it's true by praying to God. 
The church is true!! 
Love you all,
Elder Summers