Monday, December 29, 2014

New Years.. Cheers!

New Years is just a couple days away! In just a few days I no longer say, "I go home next year!" I'll have to start saying, "This year I go home." So weird. I don't know how to feel about it. It seems like time just keeps picking up speed. I have almost no time to brace myself then I will be home. So I have to give it everything I got while I still have time. "Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will." - Jonathan Edwards
We have been doing some studies just focused and dedicated to goal setting and how important that is. Elder M. Russell Ballard has this to say on goals, "I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the technique of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When you learn to master the principle of setting a goal, you will then be able to make a great difference in the results you attain in this life." Boom roasted.
So as we all go into the New Year with resolutions I suggest that we set these goals and make the necessary sacrifices to reach them and grow because we accomplish them. Make daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. "Life by the yard is hard, life by the inch is a cinch." -President Monson. So set small attainable and daily goals that will ultimately help you reach and become what you want to by the end of the week/month/year.
Cool story: While on exchanges with Elder Johnson we were doing some hardcore tracting. We walked up to the "last door" we were going to knock on and said a 10 second prayer asking to be able to get in and teach a lesson. We knocked on the door and this tata let us in. We sat down and started talking to him and were hitting the opening point of the lesson. "Who is God to you?" Right then he started to open up, I followed up with a question asking him if he truly felt that God loves him. He teared up and said yes. He went on to share about how he used to live in Queenstown. He then shared how his wife and three guys attempted to kill him by slowing poisoning him to death. He said the Lord sustained him and he never got sick. He said the Lord helped him runaway and escape from them. It was pretty crazy. Elder Johnson and I were just sitting there dumbfounded. He just asked us to continue on with our lesson.
We talked about what it means when people say, "Jesus died for us." Because most people say that, but have no idea really what that means. So we explained how Christ took the punishment and felt every pain we have ever felt and offers us complete redemption, and all he asks us to do is live as he would have us live. I then asked him if he felt as though he had been forgiven of his sins. He said that he felt that there were some that he hadn't, we then testified that through Christ's atonement and through coming closer to him, he could.
We then went on to share with him the rest of the message of the Restoration. We taught better than just about ANY other time, and I attribute that to the obvious presence of the spirit. We were able to share and apply the lesson directly to him and his life. At the end of testifying and teaching he committed to pray about Joseph Smith being a prophet. Then I felt the prompting to invite him to be baptized. I extended the commitment and he sat thinking about it for a good ten to fifteen seconds then he said, "Yes, I think I will." Elder Johnson and I just looked at each other, pretty much stoked out of our minds, then turned back to him and Elder Johnson invited him to prepare to be baptized on February 1st. He said yes to that as well. The spirit was SO strong. It was an amazing feeling. Anyways we walked out of that FIRST appointment feeling like champions. I definitely fist pumped afterword. Then once we were a ways away we stopped and said a prayer of gratitude to Heavenly Father for blessing us with such a wonderful brother to teach. It was a pretty awesome exchange.
Ohh and also I left a guy speechless the other day. He came up to us and demanded to know what colour we thought God was (he obviously was hoping we would say white so he could then start arguing with us.) He talked about how we are all racist and greedy in america. I just said, "Brother, if you are still concerned about colour, you are behind. Go and repent." Then we just walked away. It felt good to be the bigger man in that situation. I realized then that I actually have grown quite a bit as a person out here on mission. Normally, I would have argued. So that was a nice change of pace.
On another note, I was able to finally go back and visit my greenie area Mdantsane! We visited some of the greatest members ever! I was glad to hear that most of the people that I taught were still strong and faithful in the gospel. I was sad to hear of a few who had fallen away. I had to remember that everyone has their agency, and some people don't truly know what good they have until it's gone, so I pray that one day they will come back into the fold. There is always still time, as long as the Lord of the vineyard stands beckoning. 
Also as a zone we decided to go caroling in downtown East London. We all stood singing different Christmas hymns in the city square. People were stopping and taking videos and pictures. We had a few who stood there for a good thirty or so minutes really feeling the spirit. They just couldn't wipe the smiles off of their faces! I was conducting so while people stopped to listen I would go give them pass-along cards then resume conducting. It was a really great idea by the Zone Leaders! I think that a lot of people in the future will see missionaries and talk to them because they will remember seeing us there. So I am just going to send a bunch of pictures of that to you guys!
Christmas was amazing. Thank you family! Tal I am so proud of you. :] And shout-out to Terry, Paul and Brendon, I love you studs!
Well everyone, thank you for the support and love that you have shown me over the past year! It has meant a lot to me to have so many emails and prayers coming my way, even with how long I have been out! 
Ndiyakuthanda khakulu. Ndiyiyazi uThixo uya phila. Sala Kakuhle! (I love you so much. I know that God lives. Stay well!)
Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne

Here are a few more pictures. That bloody foot one was after I took my sock off and saw all the walking we have been doing has taken a toll on my feet. Nasty right? Then here are a few of us when I visited Mdantsane. The one with a bunch of us in it is with the Apie family who were some of my favorite members, Yonella, our best fellowshipper, is in the picture as well. Then there is a picture of Qhamani and Mama Londie with Matini and I. Love them so much!
Ohh yeahh, a yellowbone is a light complected black person. So people will jokingly call me a yellowbone since I fit right in with xhosas, but I am super white.

Monday, December 22, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.... Psych.‏

Happy Christmas Everyone!
Wow, can you believe it's already been a whole year since the last one? Maybe the kids can for sure believe it, but those of us that are getting a bit older can probably all agree that this one came around almost way too fast! ;] But in all seriousness, it's nice to have it be the Christmas season again... Even though South African Christmas' look nothing like what we have back home.
The past couple of weeks we have really been trying to get the spirit of Christmas here with our teaching. We have been going around offering to share a Christmas message about Jesus Christ, and people have been so much more receptive I think just because of the time of year. We also have been doing massive amounts of service. I daresay I have done more service during this month then I have the other 11 months of this year. It's been a crazy daily thing.
Thursday evening before we had our Zone Conference the next day the AP's called us and asked if we would be willing to work with them for a couple hours. So us four elders (Matini, Shabalala, Johnson and I) met at the Amalinda chapel. The AP's then said they wanted to go out with us for a hour and a half and give out 4 pamphlets, 1 Book of Mormon and 10 pass-along cards. The Zone Leaders and AP's split us elders up. I went with Elder Stratton our ZL. He is from Logandale, Nevada, which is near Las Vegas. Stratton and I are real good friends, so we were really excited. We all knelt down and asked our Heavenly Father to bless us to give out all and even more of our materials to prepared individuals.
We then drove to scenery park, which is in the other guy's area and went to work. Ohh man, I wish I had all day to tell you guys what happened with us. Essentially all you need to know is, we helped a mama paint her house as we talked to her. Then we walked another mama and all her groceries home as we talked to her and once we got to her house we walked in on four other individuals who lived in four different homes. All four said they would love missionaries to come visit and share the special message of Christ with them and their families. 
When we were walking back we accidentally walked past the turn to go back towards the car, we stopped by two awesome people that were washing their car. A man and a woman. Both individuals were very strong in their church. The man told me, "In my church all we preach and talk about is Jesus. Yoh Buthi, you guys are so young and so dedicated. Most boys your age are drinking and out with the sisi's." Well that was about the best opening I think I have ever had to share a scripture from the Book of Mormon. I pulled out a Book of Mormon and flipped over to 2 Nephi 25:26, "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." I shared with him how that is what we teach and learn in our church. How we had been raised and taught since we were young in our church that Christ is the way that we can be happy and that the gospel was truly the only way of living. That hit this brother right between the eyes. He asked if he could read the book and I told him he could have it for free.
I turned over to look at Elder Stratton and saw him plopped down on a bush talking to this sister and showing her a verse as well from the Book of Mormon. He is such a stud. I am telling you, those words in the Book of Mormon have such power. We got their contacts and went on our way. We had other run-in's with other people, but those were by far the most powerful.
This past week has been so awesome. We had an amazing Zone Conference with President Merrill. When he came into the mission he had a vision for us all. He said #1 - We WILL be a mission of exact obedience. #2 - We will develop the faith to test the promises of God. #3 - 5,5 & 5. (Explanation on five, five and five: Focus on and work with five investigators, five recent converts and five less actives every week.) Seeing as he already came in and destroyed most if not all of the disobedience in our mission, the focus for this Zone Conference was to help us missionaries develop the faith needed to test the promises of God.
President focused on the brother of Jared and the faith that he showed and possessed. He compared the 16 stones that the brother of Jared brought before the Lord as an offering and asked the Lord to bless him with the rest. He said as missionaries we need to do EVERYTHING we can and bring our offering and our "16 stones" to the Lord and ask him to make up for where we lack. I can't really explain or tell everything that he shared with us, but as always he inspired us to be better.
Elder Matini and I have been hitting the streets. Right after Zone Conference we had just made it back to the boarding. We were both so pumped up about anything and everything that had to do with missionary work. So once we were home we grabbed a Book of Mormon, 3 Restoration pamphlets and 3 Plan of Salvation pamphlets and knelt down to ask the Lord to bless us with people that would be willing to hear our message. We prayed to find those who were honestly seeking and wanting to change. We specifically asked for what we needed, and we had the faith that the Lord would have children prepared. We then jogged over to the plaza where we had prayed about finding those individuals. On our way there, we stopped a brother who was walking down the street. We shared a bit about how the Lord's one and only true church had been restored and how we knew this knowledge would bless him in his life. I love how we get to be so bold about all of this. Since it's the truth I never feel I have to mince words! He gave us his details and asked us to call him. 
We continued jogging only to see another brother carrying a big bag of pork. Elder Matini and I offered to carry it for him seeing as he looked really tired, he accepted and we started to walk with him and share. He told us how things were a bit hard for him at work, then he went on to say how he lives with his two brothers in a flat that is in Elder Shabalala's and Elder Johnson's area. We spoke to him and he said he would love to have them come by in the next day or two and share the message with his brothers and him. This guy was probably mid-forties, so we found some serious kingdom builders! Yeahh, it was a bit of a bummer that he wasn't in our area, but who cares? It's all the same work!
We then stood on the corner and were able to contact several other people who lived in other elder's areas. S'all good. We ended up giving out all the different pamphlets we had brought with us. We tested the promises of the Lord, and blessings were rained down on us.
I am going to send a little Christmas email this week. So hope you all enjoy it! Thanks for the support and love. It means the world. Your prayers for this area and our investigators is the best Christmas present that you could have given me.
Elder Thayne

Jesus is the Christ!

You know what's sad? It's sad to me how only during Easter and Christmas time do we really, collectively, acknowledge what Jesus Christ did for all of us. We as individuals will celebrate His life, as well as His death for those few days during the year, and then forget about it until Sunday at church or the next time we have some life-changing event. Really that defeats the entire purpose as to why we strive to "always remember Him". 

It should be the constant reminder of who He is and what He has done that motivates our thoughts and actions. As people we strive to control human behavior, but when it comes to Christ we know that He can actually change human nature. But our natures cannot be changed unless we allow the Savior into our hearts. 
In 2 Nephi 33:1 it says, "for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men." Christ has spoken and taught us the words of life, but the spirit can only bring it unto the door of our hearts. It is then our job to decide whether we will actually let it into our hearts. And that is what we are trying to encourage people to do, especially around this Christmas season. Christ is the ultimate gift. But we need to chose whether or not we accept Him and all the blessings that come with that or not. Hopefully the Lord will continue to soften people's hearts so we can share this wonderful message with them.
Jesus Christ invites all to come to know for themselves of the joy the gospel can bring. John 7:17 teaches us that if we do what the savior has asked (live his commandments) then we will know the doctrine and the blessings that come from it. Then we all know James 1:5 which promises us that if we pray and ask God for help or understanding He will give it to us. Those are only a couple of the ways that Christ gives us to come to know and see the blessings that come from living the gospel and taking advantage of His atonement. 
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16 tells us how it is. God loves us enough to give His son as a gift to save each and every one of us. How blessed are we? We need to remember what God has given us and waht Christ has done for us, and find a way to give a gift back to Him.
The only thing that we can offer Christ that He hasn't already given us is our free-will. So thinking about that, what is your gift to Christ this year? Will you spend more time kneeling beside your bed in prayer? Will you serve the neighbor next door that you rarely see or talk to? Maybe you will strive to be a better home teacher. Or will you just strive to live a better life in the gospel during this next year? I encourage everyone to take some time to prayerfully consider what you would like to offer back to Him.
Well there is my quick little sermon on something and about someone I love. One of the most comforting and wonderful scriptures I think there is in the Bible is in John 16:33 "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Jesus Christ has overcome the world, and he offers us the gift of redemption. So what will we give back to Him?
Elder Thayne

Zone Conference

Monday, December 15, 2014

East London round 2.‏

Dear Children of God,
I need to just tell president thank you for putting me in the best district in the entire mission. Elder Johnson is a champion. He knows why he is here and he is a total workhorse. Elder Shabalala gave a wonderful district meeting on Christ-like attributes and representing the Savior. He has changed so much since I last saw him. We are all getting along amazingly well and we all have set some big goals and plans for this ward. And then on top of that I have Elder Matini as my companion.
We have been working really hard here. Probably the hardest I have ever worked on mission thus far. I am loving being with Elder Matini. He said for the first time of his mission he is actually truly enjoying the work! We are loving each other so much. I hadn't thought things would go this well, but I think he can tell that I love him and I want the best for us both and the best for this area, so he is really willing to work with me and listen to what I have to say. He is really giving it his all. We have been tracting a lot and we found five new investigators the past couple of days that came to church! That is totally unreal, especially for this area, but Elder Matini and I exercised faith and the Lord blessed us. We also have been talking with the members, and we hopefully are having an FHE tonight with a referral that they want to give us.
I hope things are going well for all of you. I honestly am LOVING this area and LOVING this ward. This is probably already my favorite ward that I have been in. I love them so much. We had a big ol' ward Christmas party on Saturday and then church on sunday and a sing-along Christmas carol thing after church and the baptism. Members are already loving us, having us come over for dinner and giving us people to teach. I love them so much. I feel really good about how things are moving forward. It's such a blessing.
The ward and everything seems to be doing well. As for me personally I am working harder than I ever have before, I am being more obedient than ever and I am loving the work and everything more than ever. That is the blessing that comes from giving your heart to the Lord.
I love you all!
Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne

Monday, December 8, 2014

Leaving's never EASY!

Shoot, leaving an area never get's easier anytime around. I am going to miss the Panorama Ward and all the wonderful people I have served with. Most of all I think I will miss my son Elder Dryer. He has been such a great companion. In more ways than just what is obvious though. He has really taught me so much. He has taught me the power that love has to influence and help unite a companionship. Ask anyone, him and I are two polar opposites, but I remember my first car ride from the mission home headed to our area where I told him no matter what I loved him and I had his back. Ever since then he has had the same outlook, and that has made all the difference in our companionship. Elder Dryer has high expectations for himself and his mission. I don't think you ever need to worry about him just sliding by or doing the minimum. I am really proud of him, as I know you are as well.
My goodness family, I am proud of all of you. Just so everyone else can know...My mother actually just spoke in a stake conference with Elder D. Todd Christofferson. She was assigned to speak on humility. Two days before her talk she woke up in the night to let my dog outside then, since she had stood up too fast, she fainted and hit her face on the floor. She had a big ol' nasty black eye. Luckily she has a killer sense of humour and said she used it as an object lesson in her talk. She is pretty much the best. 
Something interesting happened this week as I was doing my studies. President has given me a list of like fifty seven scriptures and several quotes that he want's me to write two paragraphs each on.. I am on about page 21. Many of the verses all drive home the same idea... "Repent, and I, the Lord, will forgive you." But with each verse I had different perspectives and thoughts that came to me. As I wrote down the paragraphs on it I realized how much I was learning. Now I just need to actually apply it. It was amazing for me to realize that as we learn by the spirit, different things that we never could have come up with on our own are revealed to us.
Well, I am headed to East London! I will be working with Elder Matini from Samoa. He sounds like a great guy, so I am excited to get the work moving over there with him and try to make a difference. It'll take a lot of work, but I know the ward and everyone will be really great. I have met a few of them before when I was serving in Mdantsane. 
I don't have much more to say though... Love you guys!
Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne

Saying Goodbye to some of my Favorite Peeps.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

No Cara Cara, but I'm Still Thankful.‏

This week I was reminded of what a blessing it is to have a car. Seeing as our car was in the shop for a few days and we were stranded at our flat, we didn't have a chance to get much work done this week. So to all my brother's out there serving without the blessing of driving a car, I feel you!
For a couple days we walked for about an hour and a half to two hours and got to the edge of our area, which is where all the white people live. Our hopes weren't super high because Afrikaans people here aren't the most welcoming to those who have a message to share. It's really strange, seeing as we are in Africa you would tend to think that everyone would be so welcoming, but when you are working with/teaching Afrikaner people you might as well be working somewhere in the Netherlands or somewhere else in Europe. So when they call this the "Rainbow Nation" they aren't kidding.
While tracting in Monte Vista we were able to contact a few people who we could potentially start meeting with. One particular guy was outside his house shirtless in just his boxers watering his plants. He probably was around three hundred pounds or so, so you can guess what a sight that was. Anyway, while walking up to him I whispered to Elder Dryer, "Yoh man, if we can teach and have you baptize this fella here, you can consider your mission a success. Let's get him." He laughed and said, "Alright Elder Thayne, you talk to him then." So I just started up a conversation with him asking about his yard and then stated our purpose for being there. Turns out the gent was quite educated on different religions and the world/politics at large. He knew a lot about us "Mormons" and also about everything happening with the USA at the moment, so we had a lot to talk about. 
After a while he started talking about how frustrating it is to him how every ten seconds there is some new guy who proclaims to be leading the true church or who claims to be God's new spokesman/prophet. I pulled out the pamphlet "The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ" and started explaining how it teaches where that idea came from. I spoke to him about Apostasy and the issues that came after Christ died. He was pretty surprised when we were whipping out scriptures from the bible left and right. He said he will read it and try to give us a call before he leaves. We asked him where he was headed and he said, "Shame man, I am headed to Saudi Arabia for the next three or four years. I'll for sure give you a call if I can see you before I leave next week." So yeahh, that was a pretty big letdown, but you know what they say, we planted seeds, so that was still somewhat of a win. 
As for people I am teaching, I am sorry I never give more information on the amazing people that we work with.. Elder Dryer and I have made prayer a really big priority in our companionship, and we have a lot of people that we are working with that need help and support with different trials and things that they are going through. So get ready to have a lot longer prayers, because the list is quite long.
 So, first of all...continue to pray for the Dube family, that is brother John, sister Salomi and their daughters Ivanka (a 15 year old who recently came home after being sexually abused by a man she ran away to live with) and Imelda (their 6 year old ADORABLE little daughter) and their son who just got sent back to the eastern cape Ayabulela. The Dube family is a lit fuse to a bomb that we don't always know the size of, but we know that it will always explode. Sometimes they are doing so well and have their hearts on going to the temple and other times they don't. Specifically pray that they will be able to come together as a family again and that anger and hatred will dampen specifically in the parents. They are beginning to fall apart and go very less active again and we have been working so hard to turn them to Heavenly Father that it's devastating to see these things happen. They deserve to be happy, but they can't be happy until they both let go of their pride and work with each other and work to move their family closer to God.
Pray for peace to come into Brother Rodger's heart as he begins to go to court for the mistakes of his past. Brother Rodger is my favourite recent convert who is one of the strongest out here that I know. His conversion story is amazing. He turned his life from drugs, money, and sex and now only focuses on the Lord and helping his friends find and partake of the blessings of the gospel. He has helped give us so many people to teach from his family and former gang member friends. 
Pray that Monica and Malvin (60 something year old mother and 30 something year old son) will get stronger testimonies that what we are saying is important and true. They know what we share is true, but they haven't committed enough to come to church and be baptized. I am praying that after I leave Elder Dryer will be able to baptize them before he leaves panorama in 2 months. 
Please pray that Lorenzo and Maroldine will also begin to have stronger testimonies as we hope to baptize them as well. Lorenzo has been bed ridden for years now after being shot in gang fire, his older sister Maroldine is a very sweet lady who takes care of him. We are planning on baptizing Lorenzo and of course Maroldine to support him. But, Maroldine often doesn't show up to lessons...we have stressed how much we want her there. But, she just doesn't always come. So, please pray that this situation will take an amazing turn around so we can go farther in the lessons with both of them and bring them into the church. 
Pray for Ivan, who is a father figure in the same home as Maroldine and Lorenzo. He is one of Brother Rodger's referrals to us and we get the impression that he's only come to church a few times and listened to us for Rodger and not for himself. Please pray that he will begin to gain a personal testimony. 
Pray for Andrew and Terran James (really the only white people we teach that haven't dropped us quickly into the lessons). They listen to us because they enjoy having gospel discussions and hearing our "unique" perspective. But, they are both strong in their respective faiths. They need to gain a personal witness that our message is true as well. Our Bishop showed up around half past nine when they were in bed and wanted to talk to them and give them a message, which resulted in their obvious annoyance and has driven them away from us a bit.
Pray for all the Tygerberg girls: Mandi, Forgiveness, Hloni (don't worry about how to pronounce that, the lord will understand, the "hl" is kind of an "sh" sound), Thando, Pelisa, and Andile that they will be safe and that the seeds we have planted will continue to grow as they are now at home for holidays and we won't see them till mid-January. Seeing as they are students.
Pray that the Fikizolo's will continue to be amazing converts of the church and that specifically Chulu will continue to grow to be someone her heavenly father is proud of. Chulu is one of the few real Xhosa children that we see and she is awesome. She has been helping Elder Dryer and I learn a bit of Xhosa and is just in general awesome. She is currently making some African bracelets for Elder Dryer's siblings. I may enlist her help as well. :]
Pray for Ivy, a recent convert, that just had a miss carriage with her husband Phelly. Speaking of Phelly, he is a super cool member who does video and photography and is pretty cool and tech savy. 
Also pray for Brother Charles that his testimony will continue to be strengthened and as he comes to church that he will also make friends and feel comfortable with everyone there.
These are the main people that need prayers. Thank you for caring for these people you have never met...I know that I love them so much, so your prayers will be a personal blessing to me as well. 
Well I found out I am going to be with Elder Matini in East London this coming transfer. Matini is from Samoa. So I had a half Italian, a white guy, three black guys, a Tongan, a white guy and now a Samoan, I am covering my bases well. :] I know my news early because I am tight with elder Ah-fua, who is one of our Assistants to President Merrill. So I am moving back to East London, but this time I am going to be serving there, not back in Mdantsane, which is the township just outside East London. I am assuming I'll be around a lot of white people again, but I'll also have my fair share of Xhosa people again, which is SUCH a blessing. I can visit Mdantsane sometime which will be legit. NO LIE! The only downside is the Lord wanted to humble me further by putting me back in a walking area. But I plan on making that downside and upside anyway.
One thing that was great from this week though was that we were surprised by a member in another ward that made Thanksgiving dinner for all the American Elder's. We are so blessed to have awesome and strong members down here willing to celebrate an american holiday with us! Basically we were able to have Thanksgiving after all and that makes me happy. I love eating so much as I know you all are aware! And the best part was, we had PUMPKIN PIE. Yeahh, I know right? It's crazy, but so cool. I never thought I would taste another pumpkin pie until Grandma Thayne had us over for Thanksgiving again, but I was wrong. Thank heavens for that. Speaking of pies I miss Grandma Platt's lemon meringue pie. Ahh and Dad's sausage gravy. And Mum's white chicken chilli. I basically just miss American food, but hey, soon enough I can enjoy that. For now I'll eat my deep fried goat heads, or cow stomach. Ewe bhuti!
I hope Thanksgiving was great for all of you and I pray that we took it as an opportunity for everyone to be more grateful for everything they have been blessed with. It definitely was an eye opener for me. With the loss of our car and well just in general seeing people every day that have less than I do, I realize how blessed I am. Let's have an attitude of gratitude. I remember a wonderful talk that was given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf titled, "Grateful in Any Circumstance." I just want to share one of my favorite sections from that talk.
"My dear brothers and sisters, the choice is ours. We can choose to limit our gratitude, based on the blessings we feel we lack. Or we can choose to be like Nephi, whose grateful heart never faltered. When his brothers tied him up on the ship—which he had built to take them to the promised land—his ankles and wrists were so sore 'they had swollen exceedingly,' and a violent storm threatened to swallow him up in the depths of the sea. 'Nevertheless,' Nephi said, 'I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.'
"We can choose to be like Job, who seemed to have everything but then lost it all. Yet Job responded by saying, 'Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return … : the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.'
"We can choose to be like the Mormon pioneers, who maintained a spirit of gratitude during their slow and painful trek toward the Great Salt Lake, even singing and dancing and glorying in the goodness of God. Many of us would have been inclined to withdraw, complain, and agonize about the difficulty of the journey.
"We can choose to be like the Prophet Joseph Smith, who, while a prisoner in miserable conditions in Liberty Jail, penned these inspired words: 'Dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.'
"We can choose to be grateful, no matter what.
"This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer.
"When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.
"We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?
"Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges.
"This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind."
"Kufanele ube yile nguquko onqwenela ukuyibona emhlabeni." - You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi. I had that in Xhosa, so I thought I would share it with you guys. I think when President Uchtdorf said we need to be grateful in any circumstance, I don't think he meant we need to be content. We can be grateful for what we do have, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep striving to change things and improve them for the better. I am grateful for my mission and everything that has come from it, but I am not content with it. I want to continue to grow and improve. I am going to be the change that I want to see in this mission, and when I am home, the world.
I love all of you so much. This Church is so true. The gospel is the only way of living that will bring true and lasting happiness. So if you are holding back, stop it. Be grateful for what you have been blessed with. "We should definitely count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count." - Can't remember who said that... but it teaches a true principal. Make the most of what you have been given, and as Christmas comes up soon, make it a point to be someone that God can bless others with.
Ndiyakuthanda kakhulu.
- Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne
I would also be thankful for continued letters and packages.
Elder Mitchell Ryan ThayneSouth Africa Cape Town MissionPO Box 181, ObservatoryCape Town, 7935Republic of South Africa

Monday, November 24, 2014

Turning a new leaf.‏

Dear family, friends and everyone else,
One year down, a lifetime to go! This missionary will never stop being one.
When you have been out for a year on mission you start thinking of the past year. You think about all the successes, all the failures, all the good and bad times. You think about the days where you were so tired that you could hardly think straight. And then you also think of the days where you felt like you had nothing to do besides go talk to random people. You remember all the funny moments and wonderful people you have met and grown to love. And above all, you look back and see how far you have come and how much you have changed, but also, how far you have to go and how much you STILL need to change.
I recently have undergone a life-changing experience. We had a talk with President Merrill where he told me of the expectations he had for me and how he wanted me to step up and be the missionary the Lord and him expect of me. He talked to me about needing leaders in this mission, and how it's time for me to step up and make changes if needed to become what I must.
I am the kind of person I usually have to learn from personal experience before I change, but once I do, I never need to learn the lesson again. I was told by a missionary once, "Sometimes you learn from obedience, and sometimes you learn from disobedience, but what really matters, is that you learn." And I think that is the lesson that so many of us NEED to learn. We have this experience called life, we are here to learn and grow because of the trials and different obstacles that are placed before us. We have been sent here to gain experience and to prove ourselves. How we live in this life determines where we end up in the life to come. Alma 34:32 sums it up. This is the time we have to prepare to meet God.
The hard part is, we need to be thankful when these opportunities arise for us to step up and be who and what we are meant to be.
"It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach? Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be." -President Uchtdorf. Elder Dryer just sent this to me, and I think it has a lot of truth. He also sent me a great picture quote from his girlfriend that I'll attach as well. I have learned to try and be thankful for the lessons that come my way and to actually learn from them. 
Because God loves us, he let's us suffer. He let's and even helps us learn lessons from the painful experiences that we go through. He does intervene in our lives and gives us the chance to change, but leaves us the agency to act upon it. God so loved us, that he sent his only begotten son so that we could be saved. He has given us this atonement to take advantage of and to change. 
"Change is necessary, progression is optional." I think we can all agree that cliche quote is dead on. No matter how hard we try to fight it, change will happen. Whether we use that change as a springboard to personal growth is the only part of change that we can control.
Last night I decided to give up my agency to the Lord. Elder Cook pointed out to us that we "signed away" our agency when we wrote and accepted our call, but I realize I was holding out on the Lord. One of my all time favorite scriptures is Omni 1:26. Where it speaks about offering up our whole souls as an offering unto him. I know I talk about this a lot, but I tend to hold back parts of myself. I have my "little pretties" if you will. Last night I knelt down and gave all those up. So I want you all to hold me accountable to this change, and I can bet you will see an even greater difference in me as well.
We got permission from our Zone Leaders to go on exchanges with two other elders in our zone that were struggling. They didn't have motivation to get work happening in their area. They didn't believe that people in their area even wanted to change or hear the gospel. So my son Elder Dryer was with one elder and I was with the other. We went tracting in THEIR area for five hours. The Elder I was with couldn't believe that I had so much faith that we could find people. 
Our faith and efforts brought forth great fruits. We helped them gain 21 new investigators in just those five hours of tracting. We filled up their planners for the coming week and helped them find some serious motivation. It was a great experience. We started with a prayer of faith, and ended with a prayer of gratitude. After praying we went out and worked. It was our faith and action that brought the blessings. 
Sorry I don't have any more crazy mission stories for you guys this week, but I will be having lots for you next week.
Love you all!
Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ndiyiyazi uThixho uyakuthanda.‏

Hello beautiful people!
I don't think I will be able to make this super long! Especially with the time allotted to us missionaries, but I will do my best.
Well things this side are going really well. We are working hard and making progress with those we are teaching. It really is a bummer though because in like a week we loose five SOLID progressing investigators due to the fact that they are student's and will be going home for the holidays! So it's something my son will have to pick back up again when they come back to school!
The culture of disobedience in our mission is DEFINITELY changing with our new mission president. And I think the mission is becoming a better place. It is a painful process to watch as people are getting burned for their disobedience, but it makes me feel better and it helps for us other missionaries to not justify our mild disobedience at all. 
President Merrill just randomly showed up in our ward yesterday for church. Unannounced. It was cool though because we don't get to see him as often as we would like. He is a POWERFUL man and I love and respect him so much. If he asks us missionaries to jump, we ask "how high?" I am pretty sure all the missionaries in this mission would do anything for him. Because he loves and inspires us so much. My son, Elder Dryer, and I had a great time talking to him and his wife for ten or so minutes. I had him laughing and stuff so it was great. He said some really complimentary things about the work we are doing here in Panorama and the obvious affect we are having on the ward. He also told me he is considering sending me back to Mandalay, my previous area which was interesting. So I guess we will see how that works out.
Well this week overall has been really good! we have had some good changes that have been made with our ZL's and everything which should really take our zone and the work going on here to new heights. There is so much work to do though. Transfers happened again last week and Elder Dryer and I probably only have four more weeks together. He is really sad about it,and I am as well. We have grown so close and love and work with each other so hard. It'll be sad to leave this wonderful place and these wonderful people.
We didn't have a single investigator at church. I think that is the first time that has happened to me since I was in my greenie area right when I started mission. That was a bummer, but with the work we are doing, I really don't mind.
We had a great moment with the Reverend Andre. We taught him more about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We only got to the great Apostasy with him because he testified of almost everything we said. He loves to talk, which can make teaching him a bit hard because he is trying to teach us at the same time, but we have some really high hopes for him. He is a very spiritual guy who I think is willing to change. It's only the problem with him and his congregation. Hopefully they will all come over with him.
As I have been out here, someone told me: "Sometimes we learn through obedience.  Other times, we learn through disobedience.  The only thing that matters is that we learn."  I want you guys to know that I have learned so much from all of you and from our experiences.
In closing I want you to know that I have a testimony that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true church on the earth today. I have witnessed and know of the change that occurs when people live by the standards and teachings of the church. Some people call it restrictive and hindering. But I see it as an opening to freedom, happiness and blessings. I love this gospel. I am so glad I have chosen to serve a mission. I wouldn't trade this experience for all the wealth or glory in the entire world. Because nothing the world can give us will bring us the joy this gospel can.
I love you all!
Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne

Monday, November 10, 2014


"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; 
"For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. 
"And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance. 
"And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! 
"Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people. 
"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! 
"And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!"

This scripture really hit me hard this week as we were talking about it in our Priesthood class yesterday in church. I'll give some back story as to why.
On Saturday of this past week I was able to go back to my previous area of Khayelitsha to be a part of a birthday party for my recent convert Esam. We had Zone Leader permission since we had taught so much during the week. Anyways, so we wen't over that side, and before I went over to the party, Elder Dryer, our fellow-shipper Leon and I all walked the streets and visited people I had taught before I moved areas. It was so special to be able to walk into their little shacks or their little cement homes and see pictures of us taped to a wall, or to see their battered pamphlets that I had taught them out of. To see them all run up so excited and surprised and just happy to see me back was an absolute joy.
Then after visiting people, when we were walking the streets I'd see people who would yell, "Hey Elder, eish, where have you been!? We miss seeing you!" Or things of that nature. Just random people that I never taught, but I would always talk to in passing still, three months later, remembered me and even missed seeing me around.
Then the highlight was when we actually went to the birthday party. When I walked into the backyard everyone just went nuts. They all started shouting and running around super excited. I got to hug all the guys, shame for the girls, but it's fine that's the life of a missionary. Anyways it was really cool because Esam, the birthday girl and my recent convert, actually invited other people that I knew and loved when I was serving their earlier. It was such a joyful reunion. Everyone was so happy and we shared lots of laughs and fun. I actually told Esam to have R600 ready for when I brought her the scriptures she had ordered through me, then when she was going to give it to me I said, "JUST KIDDING! Happy birthday Esam!" She was so excited and didn't put her scriptures down for the rest of the night, just cradled them in her arms. It was awesome. She told me her goals, which are to go to the temple next year then to come visit our family in America. So that's pretty cool, we will be seeing her in a couple years back in the good ol' USA.
Being there it made me realize how great my joy was with these repentant souls that I had helped bring the gospel to. And to see them still strong in the gospel and reaping the blessings was a great experience for me. To know that my efforts and love had made a lasting impression on these people has been such a blessing to me in my life. Ultimately though any and all credit goes to them for making the choice to change, and the Lord for helping soften their hearts and bless them as they have righteously sought him.
This past week has been good with working. We have taught a lot of lessons this week to a lot of different people. Like I said, we cut down our teaching pool big time this past week, but we still have been able to have some cool teaching experiences and been able to focus on people and really start to help them progress.
This week we started meeting with our recent convert Charles' brother Andre. He is a Reverend for his own church which meets in his little cement home. We came and really just stated what our purpose is. It was a cool feeling to tell him, without any doubt, and be able to look in his eyes, and tell him that we have the truth that he has been searching for. We then testified of how God had sent us to share this message with him. He said that he had been praying that he would meet "those guys" who would open his eyes to the truth. I told him that we are "those guys" and that his search for the truth is over. He was very impressed and so happy that we were there. He definitely was invoking the blessings of heaven on us. It was a new experience for sure. The Lord, without a doubt, has been preparing people. 
We have also been working with some sisters that are currently in the dental program at a university and living in our area. Anyways we are teaching four of Mandisa and Forgiveness' friends and they have more that want to start meeting with us. They are so awesome and they all walk for 45 minutes just to get to church every Sunday, then after three hours they take the walk back. They are awesome. I'll have to attach a picture with them in it. Mandisa is the tall one next to me and Forgiveness is the short one next to Elder Dryer in our model picture.
Ohh, and there is a picture of us at an FHE with the Adam's family. Mom, Sister Adams reminds me of you. She is super awesome. Anyways, Jordan, the dark haired one, is going to come to BYU in 2016. So you guys will meet them as well.
I realize that I am probably going to leave this area in four weeks without another baptism, Elder Dryer and his next companion will have a lot, but I honestly don't really care. I am just happy that the work is still going to be moving forward and everything. That's what this is all about.
Well the time is far spent, and there is little remaining.
Love you guys!
Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne


Monday, November 3, 2014

Read All About It.‏

This week I thought I'd send a bit about some of the people that we work with. Elder Dryer and I are going to be doing this every week, so you guys will get to hear a bit more about who we work with and who we have grown to love so much.

Like I said, he was messed up BEFORE he met the missionaries. This is one of those underdog/people can change stories.
Rodger met the missionaries in June this year. He came to church every week, gave up drugs, and all his other habits and made the changes necessary in his life to be baptized. Since the time he was baptized in July, he has brought so many people to church. His desires and dreams have completely changed. Now all he wants is to help people come closer to Christ and help them find happiness. He knows the only way to change is by diving into the gospel. He said, if people want to quit drugs, don't go to rehab, go to church. That perspective has changed his life completely and everyone else's around him. Members of his family have gotten baptized because they saw the changes he made, and we are literally having to organize a taxi van to get all his friends to church this coming Sunday.
Anyone can change and become what God would have them be. I was reminded of that again with Rodger. 
Elton is in his late 30s, and is a recent convert to the church, like Rodger he is an exceptionally powerful guy and has really strong life desires. He wants to do some missionary service, get a patriarchal blessing, get a calling in the church, and go to the temple in the future.
He currently lives with some member's that he is related to. He is pretty shy, but after we broke through that we've become very good friends with him. It's great for me personally to see how the gospel has helped him progress with all aspects of his life. Not only has he been blessed spiritually, but temporally as well. 
Because of the gospel he is so much more confident and has further purpose in life, he is currently self studying IT and learning to be a web developer so that he can be more self relient. It's been great for Elder Dryer to talk to him about these things personally, as these skills are among some that he started developing back home. 
All in all we are so lucky to have such a strong recent convert like him as well as Rodger and I wish you all could meet and see these wonderful people we get to help guide to more Christ centered lives.
As for how things this week have gone... it's been pretty slow. Our Ward Mission Leader goes is a bit racist when it comes to going into coloured or black people's homes. He said he would be willing to come to our white investigators, which we have a good lineup of people who are willing to do that, but since a lot of our teaching does come from the coloured area's it's harder to get help there. It's alright though, we are still working and doing some great stuff. 
I was actually really impressed because our WML and I got into a bit of a discussion about what he was saying about the black Africans here. I was getting pretty annoyed with all that and shut him down with a scripture. Everyone at that correlation was pretty riled up. Anyways, he came to me on Sunday and apologized for what he said about them and said that it was something he was working on getting over. He grew up being taught to look down on these people as something far less than him, he also was a soldier in the war which also altered his viewpoint. Anyways, he was very humble an apologetic about the whole thing which was something that really impressed me. I had completely forgiven him, because I knew how white Afrikaners are raised, but it was cool that he would come up and apologize and say he is trying to change. 
We also recently just cut out a lot of our long list of people to see so that we can more effectively focus on and help the selected few to progress and make real changes and growth. Because of our big numbers of people that we were trying to see before, we were stretched so thin that we weren't really effective in helping them progress. So we made that change last week, and it was slow, but we think this week it's really going to take off.
Elder Dryer is really a great missionary. He is working hard and trying to take everything as a learning experience. He really is being humbled quite a bit, but he takes it like a champ! He is really willing to ask me questions on things and see how I think we should try to do it. So it has been really great. We both were a little down by the lack of work we accomplished this past week, so this week we really want to hit the ground running and put some holes in our shoes.
I found a really cool scripture this week that I was able to use for teaching. 2 Cor. 5:15. The overall message tells us to live, not for ourselves, but for Christ. And it's a pretty cool thought that I was able to present to a struggling recent convert. We spoke about how at baptism we make the commitment to no longer live life the way we want to, but to turn our lives and our focus over to the way Christ has established that we live. It really hit home for him, and I hope that sticks with him as he strives to turn away from the things of this world.
Also my birthday was amazing. Thanks for the emails and all the love! :] It makes a missionaries day to get on the computer and see emails from people he hasn't heard from in a while! For my birthday we had a WONDERFUL senior couple take us out to a super expensive restaurant, where I got a huge bacon avocado burger and then a big old thing of Oreo ice cream cake. It was so nice. Then I went on exchanges with Elder Winebrenner and got fed and cake from the Leroux family. They lit that one tall candle and had me blow it out 21 times.. it took a while, but it was worth it. Birthday's on mission for sure aren't like the ones back home.. I mean, normally it's all about you, but it was fun to go teach some lessons and tract for a while on my birthday and still make the day about the Lord and His children. Because I am not out here for me, I am out here for them.
Ndiyanithanda! Nidenza nidivuye.
Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne

Rodger Van DirKirk - Well Rodger is someone who was pretty messed up before he met the missionaries. I would tell you all about his crazy life, but to spare you the dirty details, he was pretty messed up with drugs and everything else that is messed up in this world. His family and most people who knew him literally considered him to be one of the worst people in existence. I have met random people that knew Rodger before he was baptized and they were honestly afraid of him and said he was an awful person.