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

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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