Saturday, October 19, 2013

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Back to Outer Darkness!

Oct 14, 2013 Hello everyone, Transfer news is here and I'm headed back to the outer parts of the mission once again. I am being transferred to a town called Osizweni in New Castle. It's about a 6 hour bus ride from where I am currently located in Durban. It will once again be a very small branch (It's actually only a group) and they are meeting in a school. I'm hoping to serve in at least 1 ward while I'm here but I do enjoy helping these small branches grow! I only spent 3 months here in Marianhill but it has probably been one of my favorite areas! I am so sad to leave this soon but I know that the Lord places us where He needs us. I really enjoyed being companions with Elder Wambuzi for these 3 months, we found a lot of success here after white washing the area and we were able to turn things around. The Lord really opened doors for us, I am forever grateful for the people we were able to find and the lives that have been touched by the restored gospel. This past week we had a couple of incredible experiences, I couldn't think of a better way to close my time here. First off we have been teaching a sister named S___, she is 21 years old. We have been teaching here for these past 3 months and she is a very intelligent young lady. She has been somewhat difficult to teach because she doesn't want to leave her church. She has recognized that everything we are teaching her is true, she kept saying she wants to be baptized by our authority but that she wants to stay in her church. Well we came to a road block on what to teach her to help her progress and we haven't been able to get her to visit church...BUT that all changed this week! As we were planning and trying to decide what to teach, I had an idea to show her this video called "How Rare A Possession The Book of Mormon." I watched it one time in a previous area with an investigator who also did not want to leave his church. The video is perfect because it shows a man who was a pastor but he finds the Book of Mormon on the street and becomes converted to its teachings. In the video it describes this mans experience as he prayed and how he received his answer. As he described how he felt warmth and joy come over his body as he prayed, Sne said: "That's exactly how I felt when I prayed about the Book of Mormon!" Sne was really touched by the video and she finally recognized that she was taking the Book of Mormon for granted and she needed to act! She agreed to be baptized and she came to church yesterday. I hope that she continues to progress with the missionaries and I'm happy the spirit finally touched her heart in a way that made her act. We also continued teaching this girl named N______. This girl has had a terrible past until she came here a couple of months ago and is living with a member. We have been teaching her and she is going to be baptized by the end of the month. She told us that she has seen a huge change in her life and that she just feels so happy. She can't read so I bought her the Book of Mormon audio CD's and she was so happy! It was great to see her reaction. When I told her that I'm being transferred she started crying and it was hard to say good bye. I can understand that it can be difficult for our investigators to see their "first" missionaries leave. It has been so enjoyable to teach her and to see the incredible change in her life. When we first met her she didn't even know who Jesus Christ is and didn't even know how to pray. Now she prays constantly and we can all see a change in her countenance. It is always a difficult thing to say goodbye to people in an area. I am so grateful for the friendships I have created here and the many seeds we have planted. I have no doubt that some of the people we are teaching and the people we have found will continue to progress towards the waters of baptism. The Lord is over this work and I truly have seen miracles as my companion and I have been obedient with exactness. There is something magical that has happened here these past few months as my companion and I have exercised unwavering faith, worked diligently and continued to do our best. We have seen the Lord's hand and have felt the Holy Ghost in an undeniable way. I love you all! I'll be reporting from a new area next week. Elder Summers

The Lord is Preparing His Children

Oct 7, 2013 Dear family and friends, Not everyday in missionary work is always easy but everyday is a learning experience! I am truly grateful for all that I am learning in the Lord's service. I recognize that I still have a lot to learn but I'm really trying to do my best to continue to develop Christ-like attributes and brings souls unto Christ. It's incredible to see the difference the restored gospel is making in the lives of God's children here. We found 2 incredible families prepared to receive the restored gospel this past week and they both came to church yesterday after only teaching them once! I'll tell you about both of them. The first family is the A___ family. The father is Indian (he used to be Muslim, turned Christian now), then there is the mother, 2 teenage boys and 2 young girls and the grandmother. The mother and kids are colored (colored is the term used here for a mix of white and black). We found the grandmother (elderly white lady) outside of her house while tracting on Tuesday. I was kind of shocked to see a white person here because where I'm currently serving there are no whites living here (or so I thought). Anyways, she was very friendly and wanted us to come back and meet the family. We returned on Thursday and met the entire family. They were all there and we sat down and talked with them. The family is confused by the many different churches, teachings and conflicts among Christians. They told us they are searching for the truth but they have not found anything. They had a lot of questions regarding life after death, including a question for us that they said no one has been able to answer for them. They asked where good Muslim people would go when they die? They said that although Muslims do not accept Jesus Christ they cannot be bad enough to go to hell with the likes of murderers. Well of course they were right and we explained the kingdoms to them. They were shocked and by the end they were so excited to learn more. They came to church on Sunday and it seems like they really enjoyed it. We are meeting with them tonight and I'm anxious to see how they will progress. The other family we found is called the D____ family. There are 2 older sisters, a teenage girl and teenage boy. This family is also in search for the right church and they told us that their faith has been wavering in the midst of trials. We taught them the restoration on Saturday night and they were very excited. They came to church the next day and they told us they loved church, they are so welcoming and anxious to learn more. I also believe this family has a lot of potential and I hope it continues to go well. They are really fun to teach and they like to joke around a lot which makes it fun to visit them. The work continues to move along here and it is incredible to see how the Lord works miracles. Those who search for the truth are always led to the truth. I'm grateful that the Lord has led us to some of these families and I hope and pray the Spirit will continue to touch their hearts as we teach them the restored gospel. Despite the opposition and difficulties we face at times, the Lord always provides a way as we exercise faith, patience and obedience. Transfer news is this weekend, I'll let you know what happens! I love you all! Elder Summers

More Baptisms Coming

Sept 23, 2013 Dear family and friends, Well this past week we met a man who told me he hates everything about America, a young woman who wants to be baptized by our priesthood but won't leave her church and a lot of other crazy things as usual. That's missionary work I guess! It was a great week though and we continue to move forward with our investigators. I had my interview with President Zackrison on Tuesday, it was nice to be able to meet with him. He is so open with us and he has a passion for this work. He is making a lot of changes to this mission and we'll see what happens in the future. We have another baptism coming up this Sunday! We have been meeting with a family called the Z____ family. Their daughter is a member of the church in Utah. She joined the church here but then got married and moved to Utah. We found this family a couple of weeks after we whitewashed the area. They are a family of 4- the father, mother, son and daughter. We have mostly been meeting with the mother and their daughter, Anele. Both of them want to be baptized but only the mother will be getting baptized this Sunday. Anele still has to meet a few more commitments before she can be baptized. We were going to postpone the mothers baptism so she can be baptized with her daughter but she told us she wants to be baptized now! She is very excited and she has been coming to church every single week since we met her. We are working with the rest of the family to try and unite them all in the church. Small story from yesterday. We decided to check a young mother who we hadn't seen in over a week, her name is M_____. She was busy but let us sit down with her. She was so excited that we had come to see her, she said that she had been having a tough day. We tracted into Mandisa about a week after we whitewashed the area. She is Jehovah's Witness (kind of less active there) but she told us from day one that she wants to find the truth. She is usually busy so that has been the biggest struggle in meeting with her. We are trying to help her develop a testimony of the Book of Mormon so that she will have the desire to be baptized. Since she was busy we only spent 15 minutes with her but we were able to answer a question that she was struggling with by using the Book of Mormon. Her question had to do with forgiveness so we shared the story of Nephi when he forgave his brothers after they bound him with cords. She was really touched by the story and how Nephi so freely forgave and exhorted his brothers to pray to the Lord for forgiveness. We shared a few other scriptures with her and helped her understand the principle of forgiveness better. By the end of the lesson she was close to tears and told us: "Thank you so much, you have made my day." It's small moments like this that make the 2 years all worth it. When I see the spirit working in people and the change the restored gospel makes it is the greatest feeling ever. I continue to learn each and everyday here in the mission field. I've been reading through the D&C for the past 2 months. I'm about finished and I have learned a lot from this book. I've almost complete the entire standard works on my mission, that has been such a blessing in my life. I now know that as we search the scriptures the Lord really does unfold the mysteries of heaven to us. I have received so many answers to questions as I have searched the standard works. I'm thankful to my Heavenly Father for the many tender mercies I receive each and everyday. There is no greater feeling in the world then the peace and joy I feel in my heart as I serve the Lord. I feel your prayers and your love. Thank you for all that you do back home!! Love, Elder Summers

Baptism Week

Sept 16, 2013 Hello everyone, Another week comes and goes in the blink of an eye. I know I say this every week but I just can't believe how fast time goes. Has it really been 15 months? Anyways, another awesome week as the work continues to move forward here! The baptisms of Xolani and Melisa went by smoothly and they were both so happy. It was great to see their progress and I know they will continue to grow in their testimonies of the restored gospel. X___ is anxious to learn more about becoming a missionary himself someday. He actually had to be baptized 5 times yesterday because the guy baptizing him was so much shorter and was struggling to put him under the water. He came out extra clean I guess! Haha. We were able to find some really cool people this week that we believe we'll make progress with. We found this guy named S____ on Saturday while tracting. When we knocked on his door we talked to him for a few minutes and he was shocked to hear that we do this for 2 years. He invited us back because he said our message must be more than just sharing the Bible if we do this for 2 years. We taught him the restoration and he was very interested by the end. He was in a rush for time so we left him with the Book of Mormon and he was very anxious for us to come back. We are going to meet him tonight, we'll see how that goes. There was a lady that we found that was visiting her family here this week. She told us that she has been searching for the right church and has been very confused by all the differences in Christianity. We taught her the restoration and she was so interested. She has a lot of potential but unfortunately she went back home to Johannesburg yesterday. We forwarded her information to the missionaries there and I hope she comes in contact with them. The area we found her was an area we almost never work in. We felt prompted to go there and maybe finding that lady was the reason why. Our job is not only to further the kingdom here but to plant seeds for other missionaries. I had a good feeling as we left that house and gave her the Book of Mormon. We taught L____ and her daughter N____ the word of wisdom and law of chastity this past week. They are preparing to be baptized by the end of the month. They were shocked to hear about tea and coffee in the word of wisdom. They love to drink tea and coffee they said. By the end of teaching them the word of wisdom I asked them: "Will you live the word of wisdom?" They responded: "Of course, we have to! We didn't know about this." They were so willing to live this commandment from the Lord. I have never taught a family on my mission who is so attentive to everything we teach and so willing to live the commandments. The only problem that might delay their baptism is they are struggling to get to church at the moment because of transport issues. Hopefully we'll be able to figure something out. I also got a great phone call yesterday. I don't know if you'll remember a young man by the name of L_____ from my first area in Margate? He called me yesterday to tell me he got baptized a few hours earlier and it was his birthday today. He said it took him awhile to find my phone number but he finally found it through some Elders. He really wanted me to come to the baptism but unfortunately we're not allowed to leave our areas. We were so close to baptizing Lwandile while I was in Margate but his aunt wouldn't allow it. Well he turned 18 yesterday so he was free to choose for himself! I was so happy to hear about that and it really made my day. The work continues to roll forward here with the Lord's help. I am thankful for all of the amazing people I am meeting here and the eternal friendships that are being forged. The Lord is behind this and I know this is His work. Keep moving forward in faith and the Lord will work miracles!! I love you all. Elder Summers

Too Many Things This Week...

Sept 9, 2013 Dear family and friends, It has been a week of overwhelming spiritual experiences, some moving apartments, hectic transfers, sickness and the most horrific traffic accident I've ever seen! Where to start? First off we started the week with a great lesson. We met with a mother named L___ and her daughter N____. We tracted into this family but only found some small girls. We left a pamphlet with our number and the mother called us that night (that has never happened on my mission). She told us to come back so we've been teaching her and her 17 and 15 year old daughters for about a month now. They have come to church a couple of times. We asked them how they feel when they pray to know our message is true. Ntokozo said she had taken time the day before to pray and she felt an incredible joy after she prayed. She said it was something she had never felt before. Then her mother said that she knows what we share is true because she just feels so happy and peaceful each time we visit. We helped them understand the spirit and how God was answering their prayers. We are working towards their baptism at the end of the month, we'll see if they are ready in time. We also met with a man named S____ (about 30 years old) for the first time. We tracted into him about a month ago and he told us to come back anytime. We had checked a couple of times before but could never find him home. Usually when that happens I tend to give up because it's like a wild goose chase but his name kept coming to my mind. I felt a certain "push" to keep trying. Well we finally found him home on Tuesday and he invited us in. He was happy to meet with us and was so open with his feelings. He told us how he had been struggling so much and how his faith as been wavering. We helped encourage him and show him that God does care for him and that's why He has sent us here. We taught him the whole restoration and he was so excited by the end. At the end of the lesson when we gave him the Book of Mormon he said: "This is the answer to my prayers, I didn't realize how much I needed you guys." Awesome!! I hope this guy can continue to progress, we are going to meet him again tomorrow. X____ was interviewed for baptism yesterday, he passed with flying colors. He is so excited to be baptized! This past week he asked us: "How do you feel now that you've won a soul?" I started laughing. He says he "can't wait to be a missionary someday." This guy is power and it's cool to see how quickly he has progressed. He understands very well and his mother (young women's president) is thrilled because she will now have a priesthood holder in her house! He is only a couple of months younger than me so he can still serve a mission. The new Elder moved into our boarding earlier this week. We had 4 Elders stuffed in this little apartment. Luckily the church purchased another apartment next door and the other 2 Elders moved in there. Our apartment is now more open and will be a lot easier to keep clean! You know what they say... Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Having a clean apartment really does make a big difference in feeling the spirit! Alright and then I got sick... as sick as I've felt on my mission. I felt terrible on Wednesday but I still pushed myself to go in the area which wasn't the greatest idea. I hate sitting at home but I'm glad the Lord gave me some strength. I decided to rest the next day and not be a hero. That Wednesday night my fellow Elders gave me a priesthood blessing and by morning I was feeling so much better. My body was still weak so I had to recover a little bit but I could feel the worst part was over. I know the priesthood exists, I have seen it time and time again on my mission. As we exercise even a particle of faith we will see miracles. I'm doing great now and no more problems! On Thursday one of the worst traffic accidents occurred that I have ever seen and it happened right next to our apartment. 30 people were killed when 3 taxis and 1 small car were bulldozed by a semi truck who ran a red light. We were coming back from our area just about an hour after the accident and we found out from the members the next day what happened. One of our investigators has a relative who was killed in the crash. This accident is being talked about by everyone. It's such a terrible event and unfortunately some people begin to question why God would do such a thing. Death is something we all deal with and we cannot avoid but there is HOPE in the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Mosiah 16:8 says: "the grave hath no victory and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ." The amazing thing that we know through the gospel is that all of us will be resurrected one day and life does not end when we leave this mortal estate. Everyone is given agency in this life and that is why terrible things happen, it's part of our experience here in this life. No matter what happens God does know everything and we cannot begin to question His plan. Despite this accident, I felt a certain peace in that I know life does not end here and I'm grateful for the reassurance of the scriptures. We will continue to move forward in faith and by God's grace. May you all have a blessed week! Love, Elder Summers P.S. I heard BYU crushed Texas, about time BYU gets a big victory!! Go Cougs!!


Sept 2, 2013 Hello everyone, The work is still going great here. We had transfer news Sunday night and nothing major happened. My companion and I will still be together (not surprised). One of the Elders in our apartment is being transferred but he's only going right across the street! A lot of new Elders came in this transfer and the mission is really expanding. President Zackrison is taking a whole new approach and it's interesting having "new" management. One exciting thing is that we are getting a new apartment! The current apartment is way too small for 4 people. The apartment right next door to us is not being used so 2 of us will be moving in there. It will be a lot nicer for sure! On Saturday we had M____ interviewed for baptism and she passed. We will have X____ interviewed this week! They are both doing great and it will be exciting to see their baptisms on the 15th. We also have about 4 or 5 people I think will be ready for baptism by the end of the month but we'll see. The branch is really growing and hopefully they will become a ward soon. They are really trying to find land for a chapel right now but there is a lot of opposition from Satan of course. They are having difficulties with the local municipality. They have been meeting in this dumpy school for the past 5 years unfortunately. It would be such a blessing to have a chapel in this area. I know the Lord will prepare the way as the church continues to develop here. I don't have much to say this week. I'm not sure why but I can tell you that everything is just running smoothly. We just keep teaching, finding and working hard and the Lord is preparing the way! I was reflecting on a statement I read this past week in a letter that I received: "Obedience brings blessings, exact obedience brings miracles." Amen to that. I have been trying to work towards becoming a consecrated missionary and trying to see where I can improve. It is really important to not try and tackle every weakness at once and to progress one step at a time. Something I struggled with at the beginning of my mission was trying to improve on everything at once! Instead it is important to be patient and work one step at a time. It has been so great to have so much time to study the scriptures and other church materials. I recently completed reading a book called "Believing Christ." It is a fantastic book and really helped me understand that perfection comes not in myself by through Christ. We give it our best and Christ does the rest. We simply have to lay everything on the table and Christ will be our advocate with the Father. I have also been reading the book called "Infinite Atonement." This book is incredible! Elder Callister is brilliant and he examines the atonement from all angles. This book has really blown my mind and helped me develop a deeper appreciation for the greatest act in human history. As my testimony of the Savior and his selfless sacrifice grows, so does my desire to share his gospel. I feel as though time is against me and I just want to make everyday count! I'm so grateful for this opportunity I have to serve another transfer here and see some of the fruits of our labors. The Lord really does guide this work and he can see the bigger picture. I love you all and wish you another great week. Elder Summers