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 

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