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