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.