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: 
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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)
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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