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