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.