"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