Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve, Cheers!‏

Well it's New Years eve! Cheers!
Christmas was of course WONDERFUL! Talking to the family was a great boost for me. It was something I really needed. Made me realize what a wonderful family I have. I LOVE all the goals everyone is setting for the New Year. Something I have found by coming on a mission and serving is that goals bring results. When we have a goal or a destination in mind then we truly have something to shoot for and we are so much more likely to accomplish great things and grow. I am making goals for the next 23 months of my mission. Without goals then where the heck am I planning on going and what am I going to accomplish. One of the goals I have decided on is to memorize the Living Christ. I have the first part down! I wanna challenge everyone to do that. It is such an awesome way to come to understand our savior, His purpose and His love for us. I have definitely felt my testimony be strengthened while memorizing this. He did die for us and has created a way for us to return to live with God again.
Since things here are so crazy we aren't allowed to go out at all on New Years Day to the area. It is too dangerous apparently. So it's like having another P-day to just catch up on everything and write letters and study. So that's for sure nice.
I was on exchanges with Elder Okech and we were teaching a non-member girl and taught her the restoration of the gospel. It was a wonderful lesson. At the end I had the impression to invite her to be baptized. I asked her if she would follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God, and she said YES! I was obviously super excited to be able to have someone say yes to growing closer to their savior and making a change in their life. :] I love that.
We had a training in Cape Town this week as well! So that's why I wasn't able to email on Monday. We got to hike to Lions Head and look over all of Cape Town. I never have seen such an amazing view. The ocean looks unreal, but being a missionary we couldn't swim. Desperately wanted to though!
I have really felt the spirit of love as of late. Africa is so much about love and respect. So I have felt other people serving and loving me in a way that reminds me of how blessed I am by God. I am away from everyone I know, love and understand, but with everyone reaching out to me and loving me here it really makes things easy for me. God is love.
I asked for a napkin at KFC the other day and then the girl started just laughing her head off. I was told by another missionary that means I just asked for a diaper. It was one of those awkward moments where I wished I was black and knew what that had meant before I said that. 
I have been having lots of moments where my white skin truly gets in the way. One of the moments was when we went to visit a boy at his celebration for coming out of the bush and coming into manhood. When a boy feels that he is ready, he goes into the bush (the wilderness) for a month to prove his manhood. He has to circumsize himself and live and survive with a bunch of other boys for a month. He wears traditional african clothes which is basically a scratchy cloth that is placed over his body and sort of covers him up. He has a stick that is used for protection and he just survives. It is SO cool! We got to go visit him while he was in the bush. 
Anyways, we arrived at the party to celebrate his newfound manhood and when we walked in there was probably 200 or more black people in his house and yard. One lady started yelling "molongo!!!" Which is "white person" in Xhosa. Then everyone started shouting "oi oi oi oi oi!!!" We were definitely the center of attention, it was really kind of awkward. Three white missionaries walking into an all black party celebrating a boy's manhood African style. We basically wanted to just rub mud over ourselves and just crawl away. We felt so funny, but of course they were still all cool and gave us huge plates of food and welcomed us. Lots of teasing going back and forth though, they have an awesome sense of humor here. We definitely felt dumb being white and all, but we survived.
I saw my two MTC companions again! It was so awesome to see those fella's! We are all having different but at the same time, similar experiences. They are great guys. The work is just all around slow at this time of year, so we are really going to try to give it all this next year and next transfer. We made that a goal as an "old companionship."
I definitely want to start working out harder than I have been! The MTC made me put on some pounds! What the crud, right? So my motivation to stay in shape is to beat these african kids at soccer and to be able to have some breakdancing down for when I am home. 
The mission is wonderful and I am loving every moment. God's hand is in my life every day and I KNOW His hand is in your lives as well. I pray for you all and hope everything is well. Put your trust in Him. He knows what He is doing. Anything and everything He does is what we need. Sometimes we think we are smart and have the crazy thought that we know what we need better than God might. Dead wrong. Everytime I do things my way it generally blows up in my face, but when I have that trust in God and work towards what I know He wants and needs from me then things just fall into place.
Keep the faith.
- Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne

Monday, December 16, 2013

First letter & pictures from New London, South Africa...‏

So yeahh, I made it to Africa! I can't even believe it! A lot has happened since I wrote last. Basically, the MTC was great and I honestly miss the guys I met there already, they are all such awesome fellas with stellar testimonies. We had some great lessons with people and really were able to help each other out with teaching ideas and such. On Sunday night we all watched the character of Christ talk given by David Bednar again. It seriously is a stellar talk, I loved it so much. It's all about how Jesus turns outward when the natural man turns inward. We have such an amazing example of selflessness and we see constant examples of that in the stories of His life. So yeahh, study up on that. It's a real cool thing to read up on. And if you can, try to find that talk.

After blessings, hugs, and goodbyes we left to the travel office. When we got there the other missionaries got given their visas, and I totally didn't. Which honestly kinda got me freaked out, so I got permission to call my parents and then ask if they had it. Eventually after prayers, scares and all that stuff, we finally got my visa and stuff. 

So we drove and I got to see Mum and Dad!!!!!! It was probably the greatest thing. It'd only been about three weeks but my goodness it felt like it'd been so much longer. Hugs and kisses all around. 
After I finally got to the airport me and my companions got on the plane for two days. From Chicago to London and then finally to Cape Town. We had so many flippin' layovers, I can't even tell you how dead we were. I was so tired of sitting down, and we smelt so bad!!! Haha 
The mission president, President Wood, picked us up at the airport and then took us to the mission home to shower and get our trainers... Pretty much everyone already knows I am sure, but I got Elder Jeffery Capozzoli as my trainer!! What?! I know, the slickest trainer ever. I was pretty happy to have such a stud for a trainer. He is Danny and Brennah Oaks' cousin. I had already met him a few times, but it's chill finally getting to meet and know him now. We are super similar! It's way fun. He totally slays at dancing, he backflips and does all that cool stuff. He is going to teach me. Anyways, saying bye to my companions Elders Echols and Palmer was sad, but I was ready to go. Haha they were so overwhelmed, it hadn't hit me yet. Haha We hopped right on a plane like six hours later and flew to East London, South Africa. We have our flat here in East London, but our area is in Mdantsane (mm-dant-sa-nee). We can't stay in the area because it is too poor and too dangerous, elder Cap told me it isn't as bad as some of the places he served though, but it is still considered township, which is either small cement houses or tin shacks. 
We were whitewashed. Which means, we were thrown into an area neither of us had been so we kinda are lost. We have been going out and about with a guy named Luvuyo a lot though. He is probably the most skinny, tall and dorky black kid around, but it's totally alright, we love him. He just talks a lot, but thank heavens for him, he takes us to people's houses and helps us meet members and less actives. He leaves on his mission to Ghana in January, and is going to help us every day until then. 
The funny things people say here: the trunk of the car is called the boot. People always say "how's it" instead of "how are you?" Or "how's it going?" So that is a bit different. We all say "is it?" When normally we would say, "really?" Or "for real?" I can tell I am going to be picking up a lot of things here. Xhosa, the click language, is SO cool. They don't click every word. It's just clicks instead of some other sounds in letters. An X makes a click sound that we use to make a horse go faster or whatever. I don't know how else to describe it. There are lots of different kinds of clicks. 
The black kids here are seriously my favorite. They aren't shy at all! They will talk to anyone at all. They love to race us in our car. They will be barefoot and run alongside our car and race us. It's the cutest thing. They adore having their pictures taken. They are kinda in love with my lighter hair and are always crawling on us when we talk to them. The people here are so taken by white boys. The girls especially, so we really have to be careful. Girls are very flirtatious, so we are just watching how we talk to them. There is still a lot of racism here in SA though, the people are still pretty bitter about the apartheid, but things are getting so much better. 
Everyone here calls each other nigga, which is funny. Haha they even tell us to call them that! They love when we call ourselves white boys, they think its so funny. The people are so welcoming and everything, but I can't understand half of what they say, AND THEY ARE SPEAKING ENGLISH!! What the?! Haha it's alright though, I'll figure it out. 
We have taught a few people already, but we mostly are just trying to meet people and get our bearings. We get to drive around though, which is really nice. 
Our flat was destroyed when we got here, the elders before us left all their dishes, left no food and left everything a mess. We walked in and it felt kinda dodgy, but after cleaning for a few hours it felt semi livable. I realize I probably won't ever feel totally clean for the next two years, but it's whatever. I'll survive. 
We only had 200 rand to live off of till we got our money. 200 rand is like 20 dollars. Haha we get like 120 a month to live off of. Things are so cheap here, the people are so poor too. We pretty much starved for a few days, the one thing I did eat made me sick for the first few days, I was throwing up and feeling pretty junky. After a while I felt better though. 
Sunday was awesome. We got to bear our testimonies in church and introduce ourselves to the 50 or so people in the ward. We have a lot of seats we plan to fill up before we leave mdantsane. We have a goal for 10 baptisms, which is actually a bloody ton. Elder Cap started laughing when I said that should be our goal, but he said,"alright man, we can do this." So he is on board. We walked in to a few people with baptismal dates. We secured four dates yesterday with a friend group of boys with one member friend. It was cool! So January 4th is what we are planning on for them. We just have to talk to president and make sure he approves it as well as the ward and everything. We took like 9 people the sacrament. Ha it took like two hours, I don't know if its something the missionaries should be doing, but hey, we were serving. 
The other two guys in our district is elder smith from sandy Utah. He is a way cool kid. 6 foot 5 and has the most hilarious laugh. I love him already. He is our district leader and whatnot. Good guy. Then we have elder Okech. Hahaha. This Kenyan is one big ball of laughs. He is so so so funny. And so black. He is way dark with the most cheeky grin. He is the only one out of us four in the district who has served here at all so he is helping us a bit. He has a problem flirting with sisters though. So we are trying to tame the beast and rebuild trust with the ward leaders. 
Everything here is so green and so pretty. Africa at its finest. We played soccer with the ward and me and elder cap kinda slayed together, I think I am going to go gets some boots today so I can actually play. All the missionaries have them. Soccer is a huge deal over here, and everyone follows professional soccer at all times. 
So a quick thought, our goal for 10 baptisms is unheard of, but I was reading in 1nephi 17 and its all about how nephi is told to build a ship. His brothers of course murmur and say, "how could you do such a great thing?" Nephi talks about how Moses preformed so many miracles because of Gods power. In God all things are possible. So if God can do all of that, can he not help us get 10 baptisms? He can, and I feel that if we work hard, He will. 
My companion is awesome. He really is trying to take care of me and make sure my training is better than his was. 
The gospel is true, let me tell you. This is hands down the hardest thing I've ever done, but I love it. Choose the right. Stay willing and worthy. Keep on and carry on. 
Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mitchell Made it to Africa!

Dear Brother and Sister Thayne,
Elder Thayne arrived Wednesday morning from the Provo MTC with others
from his transfer.  That is such a long trip, but Elder Thayne was
enthusiastic and ready to go when he arrived, since he got a few hours
of sleep on the plane.  He was assigned to his area and trainer that
day.  His trainer is Elder Capozzoli from Springville, Utah.  We will
allow him to tell you about his area and first week in the field when
he writes on his Monday P-day.  Since there is a very great time
difference, you might want to write to him on Sunday night, so your
emails will arrive on time.  You would enjoy his trainer, a very
capable and nice young man.  In fact, those two are a natural

The photos were taken at the mission home.

Sister Wood (and President)