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

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