Saturday, June 21, 2014

Final Letter

June 16, 2014

Dear family and friends,

This will be my last letter home from South Africa. It has been an incredible two years in the service of the Lord, and it's hard to believe that it's coming to an end. This past week has been amazing, we continue to work hard and build up the church in our area. I'm grateful the Lord has continued to bless me with the strength physically to serve Him and the people of this country.

On Tuesday we met with a brother named S_____. He was a referral from some other Elders, I believe I spoke about him last week. We had our second lesson with him and his understanding is incredible! He read the entire introduction, testimony of the witnesses and the testimony of Joseph Smith. He agreed to be baptized when he comes to know the Book of Mormon is true. There is nothing greater then when you teach people as a missionary and they understand the message so well.

We continue to help our investigators D_____ and S_____ prepare for baptism. They came to church on Sunday, we're preparing them for baptism in July. They are really great guys and they have such a strong desire to learn. They have been answering all of the questions in the pamphlets and writing down their answers on paper before we come to visit them. I remember the first time we met D_____ he told us: "I wish to be like you guys someday." He says that he has seen changes in his life since he started meeting with us and learning more about the true gospel. They support each other so much as brothers, when we find guys like this it always motivates me to continue to knock on doors.

I got a letter from L______ (he was baptized when I served in PJ) and he is preparing to leave on his mission. It's great to hear that one of the people we were able to baptize will now take those steps to serve the Lord. Seeing people progress in the gospel step by step is a wonderful feeling, I've come to feel the joy that the Lord speaks of in D&C 18 in a small measure as a missionary. I'm so grateful I've been able to visit many of my previous areas since I've had the privilege of serving as an assistant in the mission. It has been a true blessing to serve the Lord in a leadership capacity, I've learned so much in the service of others and it has been a humbling experience.

Serving a mission really has been the best two years of my life. Was it always easy? No, but it was worth it, and it was the challenges that made it rewarding. I'm thankful for the trying times in missionary work because that's how I've grown stronger. I'll never regret these two years I have given up in the service of the Lord; I've grown spiritually beyond imagination. I have become more converted to the Lord and His gospel; conversion is the process of a lifetime, but I've made steps up that ladder more then ever before in my life. I'm eternally grateful for the people I've met and the lives I've seen changed because of this gospel. I have no doubt in my heart that this is the Lord's church, He directs it through a living prophet and this gospel was truly restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith. I have come to know more than ever before that the Book of Mormon is true. I know it's true because it testifies of the Savior Jesus Christ and through its words we have the fullness of the everlasting gospel. I know that Jesus Christ is indeed the Savior of the world, I have felt His atoning blood in my life and I will forever be in His debt.

I am so grateful for the love, support and encouragement I have been shown by so many of you in these two years. You have no idea how many times I have felt the influence of your prayers; I have felt the presence of God's angels in His service.

I'll see you all on the other side.

Much love,
Elder Summers

Golden Lessons

June 9, 2014

Dear family and friends,

The time is going too quickly as I only have 1 p-day left after this! I'm not really ready to come back yet because we are teaching some great people at the moment. Life moves on though, and I know the Elder that replaces me will help the work continue to progress. We have been traveling this past week to work with some of the zone leaders in the mission which has been wonderful. It was my last time to visit with some of these Elders and saying good-bye is never easy.

On Tuesday we spent the day in my old area of Osizweni to work with the ZL's there. It was great to see that the Osizweni branch is continuing to develop, and it was wonderful to see some of the people we baptized continue to progress in the gospel. The Elders serving there are both quite new to the area so I was able to show them a few of the people we had been teaching and some less actives. The next day we worked with the ZL's in PMB, it was my first time visiting their area and it was great to see another part of the mission.

We arrived back in Durban on Thursday and we were able to get back to work in our area. We have found some great people the last few days! We taught a great lesson to a new family we've been teaching called the N______ family. It is a grandmother, mother and her young son. We taught the restoration and their understanding of the message was incredible. They had amazing questions and I remember walking out of the lesson wishing every time we taught people they could understand that well! It was one of those moments where I felt the spirit in an undeniable way. We'll meet with them again on Tuesday and I'm looking forward to see how they progress.

A few days ago we got a referral from the Elders that work in the ward with us in Pinetown. There was a YSA aged man that approached them on the street asking if the Elders could visit with him but he's in our area. We decided to check on him yesterday, his name is S______ and he's from Swaziland. His sister is a member of the church in Swaziland and he has visited the church there before. We also met with his roommate who is also from Swaziland, they're so interested in the message and they immediately wanted us to explain the Book of Mormon to them. We taught the entire message of the restoration, and once again their understanding was incredible. They said they have to come to church this Sunday; I wish all of our investigators had the enthusiasm they have to come to church! These 2 guys are the types of investigators that you just know when you meet them they are prepared by the Lord. I am quite hopeful they will progress in the gospel, it's always nice when you find golden investigators-- especially potential Melchizedek priesthood holders!

I didn't think it could get any better, but I was wrong because we ended Sunday evening with another great lesson. About a week ago we were walking on the street doing some contacting when we found a young father working on his yard. We spoke to him for a minute and he was very friendly towards us. He invited us to come back and visit when his whole family was home. Well as we had an appointment fall through last night we decided to go check his family; as we pulled up to the house he was walking in with his family. He stays with his wife and 2 young children. His wife thought we were missionaries from a certain church (everyone thinks we are from this church... take your guesses) so she wasn't too friendly at first, but then she found out we do this for 2 years and we wanted to open with a prayer so he discovered we are different. They were so open and willing to listen to what we had to share with them. They wanted to know how they know if they are going to the right church which led perfectly in the story of Joseph Smith. We left them with the Book of Mormon and they had a strong desire to learn more. The wife (named Nthombi) said to her husband: "How have we never heard about this book before! It sounds amazing." We'll be meeting with them again this week, it's so nice to find a young married couple because that's incredibly difficult to find here in South Africa.

I have felt the tender mercies of the Lord time and time again as I continue to serve Him with all my heart. It hasn't always been easy, but it has been worth it. I will continue to give it my all even as the final days count down in my service of the Lord. This work is led by Him, I have no doubt in my find. It's a tremendous blessing to share this wonderful gospel with God's children, it has and will continue to bless the lives of many.

Much love,
Elder Summers

Moving Forward

May 26, 2014

Dear family and friends,

These past couple of weeks have been busy as ever. Sorry that I've become lackadaisical when it comes to writing letters home. We are usually so busy on Mondays it is difficult to find the time to sit down and write! This past Tuesday we had a missionary fireside in our ward that went really well. We had been planning it for a while and we were able to get President Zackrison to attend. We had a great turn out for the fireside (always nice when you tell people there is food) and President Zackrison set a great tone for the meeting when he talked about they "why" of missionary work. We had 2 YSA's speak who will be leaving on their missions soon and they gave great testimonies. I was able to speak and share some of my experiences that I have seen on my mission when members and missionaries work together. The spirit was strong and everyone came out of that meeting motivated to act.

We had a wonderful lesson with our investigator Sister N_____on Wednesday evening. We had asked her a week ago to start reading from the beginning of the Book of Mormon. When we followed up we found that she had read from 1 Nephi to Mosiah! She understood it perfectly and I was shocked to see how much she had read. She is progressing very well and she has come to church the last 2 weeks and the missionary fireside. Her 2 children love church also which is always a good thing! She agreed to be baptized if the Lord answers her prayers; she just keeps talking about how she is scared to leave her church but she knows everything we teach her is true. It's incredible to see how the Book of Mormon can change people's lives.

We also have a YSA named S_____who is progressing towards baptism. He came to church for the first time yesterday and he really has a strong desire to change his life. He used to be taught by missionaries along time ago and we tracted into him a few weeks ago. We have taught him the first 3 lessons and his understanding is great. I hope he'll be able to commit and receive the fellowship he needs as he continues to go forward. We also have another YSA named Dumsani who lives right next to S______. He is around the same age as S_____ and he is also progressing quite well. He has a strong desire to change his life; the first time he met us he said "I want to be like you guys are." I took that as a big compliment and it's always nice to see young men that have the desire to set aside the things of the world and grow closer to the Savior. We had a nice lesson with him yesterday and committed him to be baptized in July.

On Tuesday/Wednesday we had our missionary leadership council meetings which went quite well. We conducted the training of the zone leaders and focused on the importance of staying positive, eliminating pride and various other topics in the mission. I have been thinking a lot lately about the importance of staying positive in life. We have an equation in the mission which says faith + obedience + hard work = miracles but sometimes I forget the first step of faith which is often manifest in my attitude. If I am complaining or being negative it shows a lack of faith in the Lord's purposes. I love what PMG says in chapter 8: "The attitude you have towards your mission experience is a reflection of your love toward your Heavenly Father and His Son and your respect for the priesthood." I really have the choice each day when I wake up; I can choose to be happy or I can choose to be sad. In missionary work we face a lot of challenges and I think it can be a lot easier to complain than to stay positive but I'm doing my best to look at the glass half full even as I finish out my last few weeks.

Thank you for your continued love and support! The Lord is in this work and in the details of our lives. May we always look to the Savior as our example.

Much love,
Elder Summers

Pressing Forward

May 3, 2014

It's been an interesting week filled with ups and downs as we continue to try to build up our area. As I've mentioned before we had to "white wash" our area at the beginning of this transfer (about 5 weeks ago) so we've been starting from scratch. It's tough at times because we have other responsibilities pertaining to our leadership calling in the office so we are doing our best to balance that with working in our area. At times it can be discouraging when we have to continue to find, find and find but it's incredible how the Lord leads you to the elect as you move forward in diligence and faith.

On Monday we had a zone activity at President Zackrison's house which was quite a bit of fun. We were able to play sports, eat some nice food and watch a missionary movie together. The following day we had a "mini" transfer with a couple of Elders moving from the Botswana mission to our mission. We had some changes in the mission to accommodate the new arrivals so we spent the day arranging logistics and welcoming the new Elders. With the new Elders arriving in the mission we were able to open one new area in the mission where it was very much needed!

On Wednesday I was working with some Elders when I received a call from President that he wanted us to attend a Young Men's youth convention later that night. We agreed to go and we brought the 2 other Elders that we were working with. The convention was being held about an hour south of Durban at a camp with about 100 young men from the Durban stake. We were asked to encourage the young men to serve missions and share our testimonies of why serving a mission is so important. I shared my own experiences about my decision to serve the Lord and the tremendous blessing it has been dedicating these 2 years to Him. The young men from Margate were there along with Bro. Jean-Pierre who is the YM's President (we lived on his property when I served in Margate). It was my first time seeing them since I left in October 2012 so it was wonderful to see some old friends once again.

The next day my companion and I were in our area when we decided to check on a family that we had contacted last week. We found that they were not home but we felt prompted to do some finding close by. We traveled down a road where we found a complex with the outside gate open so we decided to walk in. It was a holiday so we knew that it would be a good time to find families at home together. We immediately found a house with multiple cars where we knocked on the door and the father with a surprised look on his face decided to invite us in where we found him and his wife. We explained to them our purpose and told them that we love to answer peoples questions such as "Why are there so many Christian churches?" Of course that question is on the minds of many South Africans because of the thousands of various denominations here so that father immediately wanted to know the answer. We started into the Restoration and as we were teaching it was incredible to see the interest of this man. After explaining the apostasy he said:"So your telling me there is no one that can communicate with God anymore? What are we supposed to do?" I'm always excited when that question comes because it shows that they understand the apostasy and it leads perfectly into the restoration. We shared the story of Joseph Smith and the spirit in the room was undeniable. We left them with the Book of Mormon and as we were about to close he asked: "But before you go I want to know where I go when I die?" Hmm... It took me a second to respond because we had already been there a really long time and that's a long topic but we promised him we would talk about in more in depth next time and we testified that life does not end at death. He was anxious to learn more which is always a good sign and it was wonderful to find a full family! It's extremely difficult to find families here so that was a real blessing. We are hoping and praying they'll be able to progress.

I have been reflecting a lot on the scripture in 1 Ne. 1:20 that states: "the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he has chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." I love this scripture because I've seen it come to fruition time and time again as I exercise faith in His wisdom and timing. His tender mercies truly are manifested in our lives daily but we don't always recognize them. I am truly grateful for His hand over this work because I know without His help none of this would be possible. We are out here to find the elect and that we will do with His help! The work will roll forward despite the opposition of satan because the truth cannot be stopped.

Much love!
Elder Summers

In Charge at the Office??

April 26, 2014

Dear family and friends,

It's been another wonderful week here in the South Africa Durban mission! On Monday we were able to go and play some basketball for the first time on my mission. Almost every sports activity on my mission as revolved around soccer so it was nice to be able to play a sport where I actually know what I'm doing. On Tuesday we had our final zone conference here on the coast with about 80 missionaries. The zone conference went well just as the other ones and it was great to be able to see so many Elders gathered together in such force. When that many missionaries are present the spirit that illuminates the room is undeniable and we all feel strengthened by each others presence. I know that I felt very motivated to finish strongly after coming out of zone conference!

President and the couples have been gone for a few days for a couples retreat at a game reserve. So we have been put in charge! (Not really but sort of in a way...) We've had to handle all the office stuff and it's incredible how many things can go wrong when all the couples are gone. It's always great to serve the Elders here in the office though and I have to laugh at some of the experiences they have at times. On Wednesday night we got a call at about 9:30pm that our fellow Elders in our ward were stuck at a gas station because their card wasn't working. They didn't have enough cash to pay for the gas so we had to drive 15 minutes to meet them and pay for their gas. It's a good thing they have a reserve bank here in the office! Haha.

We've been doing quite a bit of finding within our area to try and build up our teaching pool as we are brand new to this place. We had a couple of neat experiences that I'll share with all of you. On Thursday we were walking away from a house where our 4pm appointment had fallen through. As we were walking from the house there "just happened" to be a taxi that dropped off an older lady with a lot of groceries. There were way too many groceries for her to carry so we offered to help carry them to her house. Her house was further then expected and by the end of walking to her house my arms were finished! The mother didn't really speak English but she was very grateful for our help. After departing from her house we were walking back to our car when I recognized the name of street we were on from a former investigator record in the area book. I couldn't remember the exact house number but we decided to try and find the house. I know that the Lord places opportunities in our path for a reason so I felt strongly we were in this area for a reason.

We couldn't find the house that was a former investigator but we did find some other wonderful people. The first house we found a father who was slashing the trees next to his home. We offered to help him but he said he was OK so we told him we would come back on Monday to do service for him. He accepted and was very friendly to us so we left him with a pamphlet and we're hoping that through doing service we'll be able to teach his whole family. It's difficult to find a friendly father like that who is willing to talk to us so we're excited that there is potential there. After visiting that house we walked up the hill where we knocked on a few more doors. We found another father who was quite friendly to us and invited us to come back and teach him this weekend. Then we knocked on the house next door to him and found a 21 year old young man and his mother. They were extremely friendly to us and we sat down and taught them part of the Plan of Salvation. It was just so nice to be able to go from house to house and find potential priesthood holders who were willing to talk to us. That's something that's not easy to do in any part of the world so the Lord has blessed us with some great potential investigators.

Yesterday we went into an apartment complex searching for a couple of former investigators. We knocked on their doors but none of them were home. As I mentioned before the Lord leads us to certain places so it's important to always be following the spirit and looking for opportunities. As we were walking down the stairs we knocked on a door where a young man opened for us. He told us he wasn't interested in the gospel and that he enjoys doing other kinds of "stuff." At first it seemed like a door where we say "Okay, thank you for your time and have a nice day." but he mentioned something that got us talking. He said he doesn't like all the churches fighting with each other and the confusion among churches with the same Bible. I asked him: "What if I could tell you why we have all that confusion and the reason we do this as missionaries is because we know that answer to that?" That made him pause for a moment and he said lots of people have tried to give him the answer but they can't. We asked him to give us 10 minutes and we'll give him the answer. He invited us in for 10 minutes and we instantly went into the establishment of Jesus Christs' church and the apostasy. After explaining the apostasy he said:"So your saying everything is gone and were all screwed?" I wanted to laugh but it showed that he understood what we were saying unlike most people when explaining the apostasy. It gave us the perfect opportunity to share the restoration and the story of Joseph Smith. We left him with the Book of Mormon and he invited us to come back Sunday night. It's interesting how a door contact that seemed like it was going no where led to a wonderful lesson where the spirit of the Lord was felt. The Lord is mindful of His children and he will lead all honest seekers to a knowledge of the truth.
Until next week!

Love you all,
Elder Summers

Easter Weekend

April 21, 2014

Dear family & friends,

We are back from our travels around the mission as we had 2 of our 3 zone conferences in Bloemfontein and Newcastle. The zone conferences were focused primarily about President's vision of becoming consecrated missionaries, working hard and the importance of planning. As part of the zone conference I had the opportunity to share an inspirational story that I received in my greenie area called "Pushing The Rock." That's a story that has motivated me so much when nothing seems to be moving. I would recommend looking it up! We had the first zone conference in Newcastle on Tuesday and we had the zone conference in Bloemfontein on Friday. In between the zone conferences we were able to work with the Zone leaders in Welkom and the Elders in Phuthaditjhaba. As you know those are both my previous areas and it was my last time being able to pass through there. 

When I worked with the Elders in Welkom I was happy to see that the work has really progressed there. I remember thinking in my 3 months that I served there nothing was happening but I was so grateful to see that the Elders have kept the ball rolling and a lot of the seeds that were planted have not gone to waste. The branch is moving forward there despite the difficulty of the area and it should be a ward soon enough. We had some great lessons that day and I learned a lot from the young Elders working there. 

The branch in PJ seems to be struggling a bit but I was grateful we were able to work with the Elders there to try and help them out. I showed the Elders a lot of members, less actives and potential former investigators while I was there for the day. They are both new to the area so a lot of people had been lost. I was so happy to see that a lot of the people that were baptized while I served there are still strong in the church. Brother L_____is still very active and is looking to get married in the church soon. Brother L_____g is currently preparing to serve a mission and is serving as the branch clerk. Brother B______ is doing great and is progressing towards receiving the Melchizedek priesthood. Both of his younger children have been baptized into the church as well. There's not a greater feeling as a missionary than to see how the gospel can completely change someones life. I'll never forget the converts in that area and the miracles I saw there. 

At the end of each zone conference there is a section for the departing Elders to share their testimony if it is their last zone conference. I decided to share my testimony in the Bloemfontein zone conference since I have an affinity for that area and I remember so many great experiences there. It was wonderful as always to be able to testify of the truth but sad at the same time as I recognize this is my last zone conference as a missionary. It was a special experience to be able to share my testimony on this Easter weekend as we have had the opportunity to reflect upon the Saviors atoning sacrifice. I have come to feel His atoning blood in my life as I constantly fall short of the glory of God but through His grace and mercy I can repent and come unto Him. I have spent a lot of time the last few days reading about and pondering upon the Saviors sacrifice. My conversion to His gospel continues to deepen as I realize the majesty of His sacrifice for me and for all of us. As PMG states: "As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase." That's a statement I have reflected upon again and again. If my desire to keep the commandments, to share His gospel or to love those around me is wavering then that means my testimony of the Atonement needs to be strengthened. 

I was reading in 2 Ne. 2 this morning when Lehi is speaking to his son Joseph about the atonement. He talks about the great importance to make these things (meaning the atonement) known to the inhabitants of the earth. Sharing with those around me about the atonement is something that brings me so much joy that I just want to share it with everyone! It gives me hope to know that because Jesus Christ resurrected we will all be able to reunite someday with our loved ones. Death is something that we cannot avoid, it's a step in the Plan of Salvation but it's not the end. As Abinadi states: "But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the string of death is swallowed up in Christ." (Mosiah 16:8) I have no doubt this is true and that through our Redeemer we will all stand in the presence of God someday. These doctrines are at the focal point of the gospel and nothing else matters until we gain a testimony of these truths. I know that Grandpa is struggling and his mortal journey is about to come to an end but it's part of our Heavenly Father's plan. I have no doubt everything happens in His time and according to His will; that is something I have come to see time and time again. That's the beauty of the gospel, we know it's not the end but simply a beginning. Our lives didn't begin at birth and they will not end at death. Stay strong, move forward in faith and the Lord will bless each of us with the peace and comfort of His Spirit. 

I love you all and my prayers are with you.

Elder Summers

Work, Work, Work

April 12, 2014

Hello everyone,

This past week has been a great one filled with many tender mercies from the Lord. We spent quite a bit of time proselyting in our area which was nice in addition to the other office work we've been doing. We had 2 training meetings for the zone leaders this past week first on the coast then for the outer zones. We spent quite a bit of time talking about consecration, hard work and leadership responsibilities. It was probably one of the best leadership training meetings we have had. We are currently preparing for zone conferences starting on Tuesday in Newcastle. I'm really excited for these zone conferences but at the same time I just realized this is going to be my last zone conference on mission. It's interesting as I reflect upon the zone conferences throughout my mission and what a tremendous motivation they were to improve and keep moving forward.

On Wednesday after completing our training meeting at the mission home we came over to the office to pick up a few items. As we were in the office a man came in looking for Elder Poelman (vehicle coordinator). He told us about how he had been directed here by the Pinetown Elders (2 other Elders in our ward) who had hit his side mirror and damaged it. Elder Poelman was out of the office so while we were waiting for him we began to talk to this man. He seemed really curious about the church and so I got him a pamphlet and a DVD and explained a little bit about our role as missionaries. Then Elder Poelman got to the office and spoke with him and told him he would pay for the minor damage which occurred but then said: "Since I'm going to pay for your mirror you have to listen to a lesson from these Elders here (pointing to my companion and I) while I go and get the money." He then closed the door and we all looked at each other with stares. Haha.

As we began talking to him more he immediately asked us "Why are there so many churches today? I am so confused so that's why I don't go to church anymore." Whenever someone asks that question it always gets me excited because we have the answer! We ended up teaching the entire restoration and as we recited the words of Joesph Smith's first vision the spirit illuminated the room. The man had quite a few questions but he seemed to be quite satisfied with our answers. He told us at the end that he didn't have to come to our office to get this resolved but when he first met the missionaries he was curious. It's incredible what he spirit can do and how those who search for the truth are ultimately led to the truth. We are hoping to meet with him again in the future and we'll see what happens. It's always nice when investigators come directly to you!

Not more than 2 hours after teaching that lesson we started to go check on some former investigators we found in the area book. We were led to a house where the missionaries had been teaching a couple of individuals. As we were invited into the house by a little boy who answered the door we could hear in the back room that something was wrong. After sitting in the entry room for a few minutes a man came out and began to talk to us. It was apparent that he was used to the missionaries and he explained to us that their brother had passed away earlier that day. We began talking to him and he was very glad we came at the time we did. We shared with him from the Book of Mormon about the spirit world and my favorite scripture in Mosiah 16:7-8. It was not by coincidence that we had been led there that night as a tender mercy to that family in their time of need. The man that we were teaching was named Sindy and he told us that each time the missionaries came he was usually busy but he felt prompted that he needs to meet with us. We are going to his home later tonight so we hope to have a lesson with him and the whole family. There is nothing greater than testifying of the truths of the Plan of Salvation and the restored gospel.

On Friday I was on exchanges with the zone leaders in Umlazi. Umlazi was the first zone I was in when I served in Margate and it felt so long ago! They have a nice flat that overlooks the ocean. As I looked out over the ocean again it reminded me of when I was there on my first ever exchange as a greenie on my mission looking over the ocean and thinking that 2 years was the longest time ever. Haha. Time flies and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to be in Umlazi again. We spent a bit of the day tracting and facing a lot of rejection but we kept saying one more more door... one more door and each time it seemed to get worse. We got in the car and decided to check on a less active only to find that the less active wasn't home but one of the ZL's decided to knock on one more door across from the less actives house. As we knocked on that door a mother let us into the house. She had seen missionaries before at uShaka marine world (like sea world) where she works. She was always curious as to what we do exactly so we were able to answer all of her questions. She was so shocked that we do this for 2 years and that led into why we do this. We taught the entire restoration and the spirit in that room was intense! By the end she asked "How can I really know what your telling me is true?" That led perfectly into the purpose of the Book of Mormon which we left her with and she committed to read for herself. I was glad that we knocked on that one more door because it made all the rejections before that worth it.

It's been a week filled with a lot of small miracles and blessings as we continue to go out and shared the restored gospel. I'm so grateful for the Lord's hand over this great work and we couldn't do it without His help. There is no greater joy in this life then being a tool in the Lord's hands to bring salvation to His children. It's not always easy but in the end it's worth it; I'm grateful for the challenges we face as missionaries as it helps us become more converted to the gospel.

Have a wonderful week and may the Lord bless you all.

Elder Summers

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Back In Durban-

Dear family and friends,

I'm back in my nice comfortable bed in Durban!! Unfortunately I wasn't able to write last week due to our hectic schedule. We have finally finished up our tour throughout the mission of introducing the "My Family" booklet. This past week we started our travels in Pietermaritzburg (1 hour north of Durban), then continued to Phuthaditjhaba, Lesotho and ended in Bloemfontein. It was fantastic to be able to work with the Elders in their areas in addition to conducting the training meetings. 

We worked with the Elders in Pietermaritzburg which was great. They are training and as I've said before I love working with the trainers. We had some great lessons including a lesson with a sister who recently lost her mother. She is a member of another denomination and this was the Elders first visit with her. We asked if she knows where her mother is and she said: "That's the question we want an answer to but no one can tell us." Well we testified of the Plan of Salvation and I shared my favorite scripture about the resurrection from Mosiah 16:7-8. The spirit is always powerful when we testify of life after death and it furthered my testimony that this life is not the end. I really learned a lot from those Elders and it was a great day! Here are Elders Peterson and Wilson: 
 Inline image 1

After working with the Elders there we moved to Phuthaditjhaba. We were going to conduct a training meeting for the "My Family" booklet for the zone there but we had an emergency. The new couple missionaries for that area had arrived the day before only to find that the car from the old couple missionaries was no longer there! The old couple missionaries had driven the car to Johannesburg which we were not aware of. So when we got there instead of helping President with the training we drove halfway to meet up with some other couples driving from Durban with their new car. Whenever there is an emergency we seem to always be involved but I guess that's part of the call! We worked it all out and got he new couple their car. President had to take over for our part in the presentation but I guess it all went alright. 

Then we attended church in Phuthaditjhaba the next day. It was great to be back in my old area and be able to attend church in their new chapel there! The best part was to see the progression of Brother Benjamin who was baptized my very last Sunday serving in PJ (last week of April last year). He taught the Elders quorum lesson and he conducted the baptismal service after church. He has grown so much in the gospel and it was incredible to see him testifying of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the divinity of the Book of Mormon. These experiences make serving a mission all worth it! I would have never thought he would be at this point when we tracted into his door over a year ago. His son has also been baptized and was passing the sacrament. 

The next day we traveled to Lesotho where we spent the day with the Elders. No problems crossing the border this time! Although I was greeted by the border security as "Hey white man, how are you?" Welcome to Lesotho I guess. It's a nice country though and it was great to spend some time with the Elders there. Elder Turner (Elder working in Lesotho) gave me some of his poptarts from the package he got which was awesome because I haven't eatten those things in years. Elder Turner is actually doing this really cool GPS program in Lesotho at the moment. He has been working on it for awhile; he goes around tracking down where less actives and members live and inputs it into a GPS (It's more sophisticated then that but I don't know all the computer stuff...) The goal is to have all of this information accessible to members and missionaries so that people are not lost. There are no addresses in Lesotho so there are hundreds of less actives that have been lost and are difficult for missionaries to find. It's a great program and it's already leading to a lot of success! 

We then traveled to Bloemfontein where we ended our tour. I was able to visit sister Happiness who was baptized over a year ago. We tracted into her family in PJ and she is now a dedicated member in Bloemfontein. She introduced us to one of her friends who had a lot of questions so we shared a short lesson with her, gave her the Book of Mormon and referred her to the missionaries in Bloemfontein. It's wonderful to see the continued progress of those who have found the restored gospel. We then traveled back to Durban; it took an entire day to drive all the way from Bloemfontein which was rather exhausting! It has been incredible to drive through the mission and to see this beautiful country. I'm learning a lot as I continue to work with the Elders and with President Zackrison. 

Thanks for your love, support and prayers. Remember that no matter the challenge, question or trial you may be facing the best response is to be a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ! That pathway will always bring peace, joy and hope. 

Elder Summers

(We saw the worlds smallest church while driving)
Inline image 2

More Travels

Dear family and friends,

It was my birthday this past Monday and I'm grateful for all of the birthday wishes! Thanks for the letters and packages; it made it a great birthday. I got a cake from Sister Zackrison and the couples in the office so that was nice. My companion didn't know it was my birthday until one of my old companions sent me an sms wishing me happy birthday and my companion read it haha. He was mad I didn't tell him! 

It has been another week of driving, driving and more driving. My companion doesn't have a license so my foot might fall off from pressing the gas pedal but I'll survive! We have been rolling out the new "My Family" booklet throughout the mission while President is traveling around doing his interviews. As I mentioned before the mission has been asked to pilot the "My Family" booklet. We have been doing mini training meetings throughout each zone on how to use the booklet in proselyting. It has been a great experience as we see the spirit of Elijah touching the hearts of the people within our mission. The purpose of the booklet is to give people a way to record names and memories of their ancestors without the need for a computer. As I've been filling it out myself it has been great to be able to record my memories and I've felt my heart turning as I seek to learn about my own ancestors. 

We started out the week by going up the coast to Richards Bay, then to Swaziland and down to my old area in the Newcastle zone. We were able to work with all of the Elders in their different areas so it is nice to be able to meet people in all of these places. We have been using the My Family booklet in all aspects of proselyting and from what I've seen it's working well. We had a lesson when I was in Newcastle with a less active sister using the booklet. She has been less active for years but when we presented this to her she said: "Wow this actually sounds fun! I don't know how to explain it guys but I'm really excited." She said she felt something different and that she just felt so happy she couldn't explain the feeling. We helped her understand that she was feeling the spirit again and she said she was going to fill out the whole book. The great part with this booklet is that it's something that's non-threatening to investigators and less actives because everyone loves their families and wants to preserve family memories. Another part that I've seen that has been working is that it gets less actives excited about wanting to go to the temple which they know they need to be keeping the commandments in order to do. I have a feeling this is really going to boost the mission and help take us one step closer to getting the temple in Durban! 

On Sunday we were able to attend Osizweni (my old area) for church. It was a very special day because Osizweni was becoming its own branch! When I was there just a couple of months ago it was still a group but President Zackrison officially made it a branch on  Sunday. It was amazing to see everyone there and so excited! There were 140 people at church (usually about 80-90) and the room was literally overflowing. The 6 of us missionaries had to stand outside the whole meeting! We were able to listen through the window; the spirit was pervasive and every person there could feel it. I was extremely grateful to be apart of that moment; public affairs took pictures so it should show up in the Africa Southeast area part of the Liahona. 

It will be another week of travels, interviews and conferences. We are doing our best to continue to move the Lord's kingdom forward here! It's incredible how the Lord is blessing the Elders in this mission who strive for consecration. I continue to be converted unto the Lord each day as I lay it all on the table. I have so much energy still and I'm moving forward with all my strength! I have to give it my all these last 3 months. 

May the Lord bless in all that you are doing!

Elder Summers


Hello everyone,

This past week has been so crazy I wasn't able to email last week! We have been busy with moving all the Elders around the mission. Since serving here I have come to realize just how massive the boundaries of the mission are; you can drive from Durban to the other end of our mission and it takes 10 1/2 hours. It's pretty hectic when we have to drive around working with the Elders, it can be pretty exhausting with all of the driving. I have received a new companion at transfers, his name is Elder Mathebula and he's from Johannesburg, South Africa. He has been on his mission about 15 months now, he has served in a lot of the same areas as me actually. He is an awesome guy and were getting along great! He has a lot of great ideas for the mission that we are discussing and beginning to implement. He will probably be my last companion on mission so I'm excited for him to "kill" me. My previous companion Elder Dube was transferred from here to Swaziland to finish his mission training which he was pretty excited about. 

Well overall transfers went really smoothly moving all of the Elders around. We didn't have anyone miss their bus this time around which gave us less stress! One of the challenges I have come to discover is that it's not always easy moving Elders around in this mission since we have 3 different countries in our mission (South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland). It definitely takes a lot of brain power and it can be mentally draining at times but it's part of the challenge which I enjoy. The decisions we are making here affect the entire mission and it's nice to be able to be involved in that process as it's helping me to develop new talents and attributes. At the same time it's also a humbling experience that's making me recognize my dependence upon the Lord and the guidance of the spirit. 

We have recently been notified by the Africa Southeast Area Presidency that he Durban mission will be piloting a Family History program called "My Family". It's a family history book that helps people record their family names, stories and photos. We are expected to implement this throughout the mission and report back to the Area at the end of April. We had a large meeting with one of the directors of Family Search the other day as we brain stormed ideas on how to implement this into our mission. One of the struggles throughout our mission is getting the members to do family history work and getting to the temple to do the work for their ancestors so we have high hopes that this will give a boost to family history in our mission. 

The Durban temple was announced almost 3 years ago but yet a temple site has not yet been chosen. I believe (my opinion...) that one of the reasons the temple is not moving forward here is because there needs to be more enthusiasm from the members to get to the temple. I think it's something we can really improve on as a mission that will help the members get more excited for a temple coming to Durban. If the Lord doesn't feel that we are prepared for a temple then it will not begin until we are ready! We play a fundamental role in preparing the people here for a temple to be built. We will be going around the mission preparing the Elders on how to use this Family History brochure in finding, retention and reactivation work. I'm really excited to do this and I believe there is a reason our mission has been chosen to pilot this program. 

I continue to see the Lord's hand over this work as He helps us work through the various situations we face on a daily basis. This really is His work and that's something I must always remember! I am weak but He helps me become strong which I am so grateful for! Thanks for your love and support as always and for the birthday package! 


Elder Summers

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Adventure Continues

Dear family and friends,
The adventures continue as we did a lot of traveling this past week. One Monday we went to a Lion Park with some Elephants also which was awesome! It was a great zone activity and it was actually my first time seeing an elephant since I've been here. I was able to touch the trunk of the elephant which was pretty awesome. The lions came running up to our car and were trying to bite our tires which was kind of freaky! I'm not sure what we would have done if we got a flat in the middle of the park haha.
On Tuesday we traveled to Richards Bay (2 hours north of Durban) to work with the Elders there. Richards Bay is the hottest part of the mission and it's the middle of summer right now so I was dying! The humidity there is ridiculous and I felt like I was living in the middle of the sun. I was able to work with Elders Berkey and Bonner who are 2 great Elders. Elder Bonner just started his mission this transfer, he's an African American from New York with some amazing stories. I learn so much from these new missionaries so I really enjoy working with the "greenies."
I'll share one experience from the day in Richards Bay. We approached a home in the afternoon with the intent to teach a new investigator the restoration. When we arrived we discovered that the person we were looking for was not there but the sister that was there seemed interested in knowing what we were doing. We explained our purpose to her and she invited us in the share more. As we began teaching her it was apparent that this was one of those "golden" investigators who was prepared to receive our message. We taught her the entire message of the restoration and when I shared Joesph Smith's words describing the first vision the spirit in that room was undeniable. She actually began crying at one point because she was so touched by everything she was hearing. By the end of the lesson she was so excited to read from the Book of Mormon that we introduced to her. She also didn't know that God and Jesus Christ are separate and distinct Beings so she was able to pray correctly for the first time in her life at the end of the lesson. Her prayer was so powerful and she told Heavenly Father how grateful she was for learning of the truth and having her eyes opened. It really is lessons like that on mission that make everything worth it! I'm excited to hear how she progresses.
After working with the Elders in Richards Bay we headed to Swaziland the next day. We worked with the different Elders in this area called Ezulwini which means "heaven" in English. It was a beautiful area and I worked with the walking Elders so it was nice to be on my feet for the day although it ended up raining all day so I was soaked haha.
The following day we had our final zone conference in the mission which was powerful. I'm really grateful for the opportunity I have to present training with President because it's helping me continue to develop with regards to communication, planning and presentations. This next week we will be planning out the transfers so it should be pretty busy! I'm really just hoping everything runs smoothly. Thanks for all your love and support!!
Love, Elder Summers

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Latest Pics

Hectic Days

Jan 27, 2014

Dear family and friends,

These past 2 weeks have been hectic to say the least! I have written
in my journal almost every day of my mission but since I was moved to
the office I haven't written in my journal since January 3rd! Ahh...
I’ve got to catch up for sure. This whole transfer has been insane and
I'm not really sure how to describe everything that's been happening.
I'll try to catch you all up a little bit on everything that's going
on in the Durban mission! We have been moving around the last 10 days
so I'll jump backwards a bit.

On Saturday (Jan. 18) we had to conduct a mini transfer within this
transfer because President Z received a call that we would be
receiving 7 new missionaries on Tuesday! Three of the new Elders are
from the Botswana missions but can no longer serve there so they were
moved to our mission. The other 4 are straight from the MTC but have
come to our mission because they are having trouble obtaining visas to
serve in Kenya. Because of these 7 new Elders in the mission, 2 areas
that had been closed down were re-opened and 2 new areas were created.
If I remember correctly I believe we are currently at 148 Elders in
our mission, when I came on mission it was close to 130. In addition
to the 7 new Elders in the mission mid-transfer, a new zone was
created out of my old area in Welkom. There are now 10 zones in our
mission and our primary responsibility is to work closely with the
ZL's to ensure the zones are running smoothly. Anyways, one of the
most hectic things so far has been having to write the logistics for
moving missionaries around. I never knew how complicated it could be
to get Elders to certain locations at a specific time. It takes hours
to write logistics depending on how many Elders are moving!

Late that night after we finished up placing these new Elders we drove
to Newcastle to begin our road trip. We attended church in Osizweni
which was really nice even though I was just transferred from that
place 2 weeks ago! S____ and S_____ (The 2 we were
teaching in Osizweni before I left) were baptized the previous day so
I was able to perform their confirmations at church. It was so great
to be able to be a part of that special moment in their lives and to
see the joy that has come into their lives since they received the
restored gospel. The crazy part is that S____ is actually moving down
to my current area here in Durban for school so we will actually be
teaching him here! After church I worked with the ZL's there for the
day (my previous companion Elder Armstrong and his new comp).

On Monday we took off for Welkom to go and work with the ZL's and
other Elders there. It took a lot of the day driving so we arrived
pretty late. There are currently 6 Elders serving in Welkom, there
were only 2 of us when I served in Welkom! President is really pushing
to try and establish a ward in Welkom since it's one of the oldest
branches in South Africa. The next day I worked with Elders Hansen and
Holman, they are serving where I did when I was in Welkom. Elder
Hansen is training Elder Holman who just arrived this transfer on
mission. It was great to be able to teach with them in my old area,
the work is progressing along slowly but surely. I was able to show
them a lot of old investigators we were teaching and a couple of
members they didn’t know about.

On Wednesday we drove from Welkom to Bloemfontein to work with some of
the Elders there. I worked with the ZL’s in Bloemfontein who are 2
really cool guys that I have known for a while. They are both older
than me on mission, one of them is going home in a couple of weeks and
the other one goes home next transfer. It is crazy to see some of my
closest friends ending their missions! We had a great day together
even though Bloemfontein is a somewhat challenging area when it comes
to finding investigators.

Then on Thursday we had our first zone conference this transfer at the
Bloemfontein chapel with the Bloemfontein and Lesotho zones. It was
interesting to be in a different position with this zone conference as
we were the ones helping President with what needs to be communicated
to the mission. President really felt that we needed to focus on the
importance of improving our teaching as a mission and getting more
quickly to the message of the restoration. Zone conference goes from
about 11am to 5pm so it can be pretty spiritually draining! I love how
President does his zone conferences though and I always feel motivated
afterwards. After zone conference we drove to Bethlehem (about a 3
hour drive).

On Friday we had zone conference in Bethlehem with the Newcastle and
Welkom zones. I felt like this zone conference went smoother and that
our goals were communicated more effectively. My previous companion
Elder Armstrong gave his testimony at the end of zone conference since
this is his final zone conference before he goes home. He gave a
powerful testimony, it really touched me and made me reflect on the
limited time I have left on my mission. I really have to make every
day count! That night after zone conference we drove to Phuthaditjhaba
where we stayed the night.

Then on Saturday we worked with the 4 Elders in my old area of
Phuthaditjhaba. I haven’t been there since I left last April, it was
so nice to be back! They were having an open house most of the day for
the new chapel that was completed not too long ago. A lot of people
showed up for the open house, it was so organized and they did a great
job of preparing everything. President Z was also there for
the open house giving tours of the chapel and explaining the various
programs within the church. It was definitely a success, I was so
happy to see the people of PJ once again! The best part was that
Brother B who had been baptized my last Sunday while serving in
PJ is still strong in the faith. His 14 year old son was baptized
after I left and his 10 year old daughter. His wife is getting close
to being baptized and he is hoping to take them all to the temple to
be sealed together! All of the people that were baptized while I
served there are still doing great which made me extremely happy. The
branch is moving along for sure! After the open house we drove to
Lesotho to spend the night.

On Sunday we attended church in the capital city of Lesotho called
Maseru. I have been to Lesotho before for a zone activity but this was
my first time actually seeing the church in Lesotho. The church
services in Maseru were really nice, they had a lot of people at
church and I found out their branch is hoping to split into 3 soon. I
worked with the ZL’s there after church, we visited quite a few of
less actives and we had another great day together.

Today (Monday) we traveled back to Durban. The drive took over 6 hours
and it wasn’t easy getting here! We kind of ran into a big problem
coming out of Lesotho. When we arrived at the border in Lesotho on
Saturday night we first stopped to get our departure stamps out of
South Africa but then my companion forgot that we need to get our
arrival stamps into Lesotho. This was kind of a problem because when
we tried to leave Lesotho this morning they checked our passports only
to find we never got a stamp to even get into the country. I was
totally new to all of this so I had no idea what was going on haha. My
companion had served in Lesotho before so I was just following his
lead! He realized he had totally forgotten to get the arrival stamp on
Saturday and it was just an honest mistake. Anyways, they sent us to
home affairs in Lesotho where we had to wait a while (typical
government) and then they started questioning us. They were
threatening to make us pay an R8,000 ($800) fine for what we did! But
after talking to them for a while they realized we were harmless
missionaries that just made a mistake so they let us go. They did give
us a warning that if we ever do it again we will have to pay the fine,
they weren’t too happy but Heavenly Father softened their hearts! We
learn from our mistakes, I won’t make that one again.

It is nice to be back in Durban, it has been a lot of traveling this
past week and a half. It has been a learning experience so far to be
serving in the office, I learn something new every day from the Elders
around me and I feel like I’m growing more and more. I try to read the
Lord’s instructions to the Prophet Joseph in D&C 121: 34-45 as often
as I can because those are some powerful verses for anyway that ever
serves in a leadership calling! I felt a bit overwhelmed at first but
something that President Z told me is that the Lord qualifies
those whom He calls. It has been a humbling experience so far to serve
with President because I have come to realize how much I still have to
learn but that’s what life is all about. I’m truly blessed that
Heavenly Father has given me different challenges in every area where
I have served, it has helped me to grow spiritually, emotionally and
mentally. My mission truly has been a tender learning experience as I
feel the Lord’s love and goodness each day.

Much love,
Elder Summers

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Early Transfer News...Jan 4, 2014

Dear family,

You might be wondering why I'm emailing on Saturday but I'll get to that in a second. Well first off- Happy New Year!! There were a ton of fireworks that woke me up at Midnight but the news I got earlier that day shocked me a bit more. Transfers are supposed to be this coming Tuesday but I got a call this past Tuesday from President. He wanted me to come down to Durban from Newcastle to replace the out going assistant and work with him in the office. I was pretty shocked and humbled but excited for the challenge. I received the call right after we taught a lesson at around 3:00pm so I had only a few hours to say my goodbyes because I was leaving the next morning. It was probably one of my most difficult areas to say goodbye, I loved Osizweni so much. Elder Armstrong and I were finding so much success together, he doesn't know the area yet so I'm leaving him with my GPS in Osizweni.

On Wednesday the AP's picked me up and we drove the 4 hours to Durban. They are training me on all the various procedures within the office, I'm glad I can type fast at least because there is a lot of typing around transfer time! We have been helping President with transfers and logistics, it is hectic but inspired. This is going to be the largest transfer since President Zackrison came to this mission with close to 60 Elders moving around, that's almost half of the mission. It is interesting to have a big picture of everything that is happening and to be helping with missionary work in another way, I feel the spirit so strong everytime we are around President and making decisions. I am really grateful for this opportunity I have to grow more, learn more and develop more as a missionary. I love President Zackrison so much, he is one of the most humble men I know and he has so much love for this mission.

Well I haven't gotten much sleep the last few nights with transfers, it's hectic trying to figure everything out. My new companion is Elder D, he is one transfer older than me on mission and he's from Zimbabwe.

I have to get going now, it doesn't feel like much of a pday. We have our pdays on Saturday since that's when the office couples are not working. We have a lot of traveling this up coming week and it's going to be great to tour around the mission in this assignment. Thank you for all your love, support and encouragement. May the Lord bless you all!!

Love you guys,

Elder Summers

Happy New Year! Dec 30, 2013

Happy New Year everyone!

Christmas was amazing this past week, it was so great to be able to see some of you over skype and to see that you all are doing well. Apparently I talk funny now but you know you are all just jealous of this South Africa/American mixed accent! Alright so I have a lot to share but I'll go day by day with the main events.

Monday (PDAY)- I got up and made about 200 cookies from my mothers world famous cookie recipe. We then went Christmas caroling for about 2 hours in Osizweni and gave the cookies away. It was so exciting to see just how happy people were when 12 of us missionaries showed up at their door to sing for them.

Tuesday (Christmas eve)- Before skyping with you all we had a Christmas party as a zone. We all were given R50 ($5) before the party to buy a gift, then we played white elephant. I got a nice new game of spiderman uno which I didn't really need so I gave it to Bro. J's son on Christmas. His son was really happy so I was grateful to be able to do that! Then we watched the Durban Mission year end slideshow, we got to see all of the pictures from throughout the mission from this past year. It's amazing to see how many friendships you develop as a missionary with Elders, couples, investigators and members. Then we played Settlers of Zarahemla which I got from you guys in my package and of course I dominated those greenies in that game, no mercy in settlers!

Wednesday (Christmas!)- No gifts around the tree but instead we went to work in our area! We had a lesson with S____, he told us he is moving to Durban so he can't get baptized here now. We'll send his teaching record there to the missionaries and he'll be baptized, he is all ready so that's a golden refereral for those Elders. After visiting with S____ we had a Christmas party with one of my favorite families, the B___ family. They fed us lunch, then we shared a Christmas message with them. Then we went to visit Bro. J to teach him more about the restoration and Book of Mormon. The lesson was great, he is so anxious to get into the water! Then we went to the Newcastle Elders area to do Christmas caroling there for a couple of hours.

Alright I'm going to skip a bit because I don't have time. On Saturday we met with N____ to work out the last minute details for her baptism, she explained to us how she was nervous but excited. I related to her how every time I have made important steps forward in the gospel (serving a mission, receiving the Melchizedek priesthood, etc) I have had that same feeling. I know that I felt so excited but at the same time nervous of the unknown, she was reassured and felt prepared to take the step. Then we taught her about temples which made her really excited! She was blown away by the concept of having temples today, I believe it was further evidence to her that this is the true church of Jesus Christ on the earth.

The next day we woke up to find it was cold and raining. Ahh! I was a bit nervous because our baptismal font is outside! We had been fasting with N___ for her baptism so we said a prayer that the weather would be OK. The church services went great, we had almost all of our investigators who are preparing for baptism at church (7 of them). I was excited because I know that when investigators witness a baptism their chances of being baptized sky rocket because they feel a spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of that ordinance. As church ended the rain was only a drizzle but we were nervous because the water was going to be cold! I said a prayer that everything would be alright as I stepped into the water, as I stepped in I cracked a joke about how warm the water was and then I winced because it was COLD. Then the most incredible thing happened, as I raised my right arm to the square and I began to say the prayer the water instantly became warm. I am not joking! I paused in the prayer when I felt it, then I continued and put her under the water. After coming out she told me it didn't even feel cold, I was blown away by that miraculous tender mercy from the Lord. I didn't even want to get out of the water because it felt nice! As President Monson says... The Lord is in the details of our lives. As the scriptures tell us, miracles do not create faith but miracles follow those who have faith. After the baptism N____ gave a powerful testimony, she testified of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and that we are led by a living Prophet today.

After church I was pretty exhausted but we had to keep working. We briefly stopped by Bro. J because we were following up on a referral he had given us. We took him in our car and he brought us to his friends house who wants to meet with us. As we entered this home we found a father, mother and their 5 children. This families name is the S___ family, a very humble and loving family. Bro. S___ is good friends with Bro. J, he wanted to meet with us because he said he has seen a huge change in Bro. Jele. After teaching the S____ family they told us how they need a church to raise their children in and that they need to learn more about God in their life. Uh yeah we can help you with that! Wow, the Lord is just leading us to so many people who are prepared. It is incredibly difficult to find father led families in this country due to cultural traditions called La Bollah that keep people from getting married and raising families. Once again I have continued to witness miracles this week, the Lord is over this great work.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year! A fresh start for all of us to recommit ourselves to working on our weakness and becoming better. May the Lord bless you all.

Elder Summers

Christmas is right around the corner...Dec 16, 2013

Another week has come and gone in the blink of an eye, I can't believe it's almost Christmas! Last year for Christmas it was a bit crazy because this is when everyone starts having their parties (which always involves alcohol). Last year for Christmas we went around in our area and did Christmas caroling for the members and investigators, we are planning on doing the same thing here. We will be caroling in 3 different areas within our district on the 23rd, 24th and 25th. Christmas time is often a difficult time to proselyte because everyone is busy so we are trying to use our time wisely. Everything has been kind of hectic this past week with the passing on Nelson Mandela and his funeral yesterday, that man is an icon and is seen as the father of this country. Everyone is in a state of mourning and coping with his passing.

This past week has had some challenges we have had to overcome but we are still doing our best to prepare our investigators for baptism. We taught D__ the word of wisdom, he really wants to stop smoking but he is highly addicted and it's not easy. On Thursday we gave him the stop smoking program and the next day we purchased all of the various materials he needs to stop smoking. He has a strong desire to quit but we are worried that he relapsed and is now scared to meet with us because our appointment fell through with him on Saturday (he has never missed an appointment). Then he didn't show up to church yesterday after coming to church for 6 weeks straight, we continue to keep him in our prayers and we hope to meet up with him again to encourage him. There is a deadly cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime within this country that only the gospel of Jesus Christ can help stop. I have seen miracles occur with the word of wisdom and I am praying with all my heart we will see another one here.

We failed to meet with Sister S___ this past week because she has been so busy with work. She still has a strong desire to be baptized and she will be ready if we can just meet with her! We are postponing her baptism to the 29th of December, her work schedule is lightening up this week so we hope to finish teaching her the rest of the commandments before her scheduled interview. She continues to face opposition from her family (aunts and grandmother) but she is 26 years old so she can make decisions for herself and she knows that salvation is individual so she continues to press forward. She is a powerful sister, I have had some of the most powerful lessons on my mission while teaching this sister. She has endured much in her life to this point and it has been incredible to see the difference the restored gospel has made.

This past week we also continued to meet with Brother S who is preparing for baptism on the 29th as well. He is progressing GREAT as he is willing to forsake all of his previous transgressions and keep the commandments we have taught him. He had to make some challenging decisions in order to prepare himself for baptism, I'm very grateful he has had the courage to pull through and make the decisions needed to be ready. He was for sure going to be ready for the 29th but he told us yesterday he has to leave for the next week for a temporary job so we'll have to postpone his baptism into January.

My companion and I are working great together, I have never felt this much unity in a companionship on my mission (That's saying a lot because I've had amazing companions). We have been doing a lot of finding this past week to try and find more potential priesthood holders. The Lord has led us to multiple potential Melchizedek priesthood holders, we really see some potential in a couple of them and we hope to see it continue. I'll relate a story from this past week with a father that we found.

After one of our appointments fell through we decided to go and do some tracting; as we were driving around for a few minutes I felt impressed to stop on the side of the road along a particular street. We prayed before getting out, then as we got out of the car my companion pointed to a house down the street and said: "We're going there!" We knocked on the door and found a father sitting on the couch watching television, he invited us in and we began to talk. After explaining our purpose he told us all of the difficulties he has been facing the past few months (It always amazes me how people are so open with us). He had been in a rollover accident with his wife in August, his wife was killed but he survived, then only a month later his mother died in the hospital. He is living alone with his son and told us he has lost all hope in life, he doesn't see the purpose anymore. He told us he had been praying only minutes before we walked in the door for an answer! Wow... The Lord led us directly to him in answer to his humble prayer. We explained some of the plan of salvation to him and set up a return appointment, upon our return he had read the entire pamphlet and had a lot of questions! We'll be seeing him again this week and we hope he'll continue to receive those answers.

This next week is going to be quite busy with the holiday season, I only hope that all of us can remember the true meaning of Christmas as President Monson always says. It is a time to reflect upon the birth of the Savior of the world, it is a time for giving and serving those around us. I always love this time of year because it helps me to remember how much I have been blessed with in my life! I know God lives and that He sent His only begotten son into the world, I feel his redeeming love each day in my life as I strive with all my heart to come unto him.

Elder Summers