Monday, January 26, 2015

Cowboy Up!

Howdy y'all.

Well it's reaching the end of the transfer. Anyone who has been a missionary knows how that starts to take a toll on the elders who have been in the area for a long time. Elder Matini is fighting strong though. We plan to just keep working hard and end on a high note. Now is the time to cowboy up.

This week was a little bit different. Still had a lot of cool experiences, just wasn't a walk on water sort of week. It would be SO hot one moment, then pouring rain the next. Really kind of killed our "seek and ye shall find" vibe. But we were able to find some new investigators and make things happen which was nice.

We spent a lot of time this week following up on investigators that we have only taught or contacted once. Many of these people fell through. Didn't really give us the time or take us seriously.

We also got flipped off twice this week. Which was really weird for me because most of the time people love us elders. One guy pulled over his car and yelled, "Hey Elders!" Gave us the bird then he was on his way. The second person was a lady who was walking down the street. I asked if she lived at a house she was walking toward and she said yes. I told her we would love to visit sometime and share a message of the gospel with her. She just walked away without saying anything, then turned around, yelled at us in xhosa, and gave us the one finger salute. - Really some heartwarming moments. Persecuted for the Lord... YES!

We had a lot investigators at church yesterday. So we felt a shower of blessings. We walked to this tata's house to walk to church with him as we had planned. But he stood us up. He wasn't at home. Naturally we were frustrated and discouraged. But then as we started walking back to the church we started inviting anyone and everyone we could see on the way to come to church with us. One sister, Ayanda, who was in her mid twenties was about to catch a taxi to go to her church. After some good conversation and everything we convinced her to come to church with us. We kept walking for a good five minutes to come across a brother who was walking the opposite way towards his church. He had his big white robes on and looked like some catholic priest. Anyways, we talked to him for a while and even Ayanda joined in and convinced him to come! So we had those two come with us to visit church. They only could stay for the first hour, sacrament meeting, but they both LOVED it and had us take their details and asked us to call. They also said without a doubt that they would come next week as well. It was pretty special. No one could believe that we had just found them on the road and brought them to church.

So after that, Elder Johnson and I were speaking about how that could be a great way to do finding and help get people involved. So now on Sundays we are going to go to the area at about nine and start knocking doors and inviting people to come to church. On just the walk back to church Elder Matini and I found two solid people, who have already visited church and really enjoyed it, so how many could we bring if we did it for a good hour and a half before church? Just a thought.

Also I had a thought that I mentioned to the assistants. It's about how we could help those investigators that want to come to church and partake of the blessings of the gospel, but just don't have the means. In my homie Elder Clegg's mission (jo-burg) they have a "cluster" program. Basically local people will meet together and have a mini sacrament meeting, talks and a lesson then go home. Just in his area he is over two or three of them and it is wildly successful. Elder Chapman and Ludvickson were telling me the struggle it is to get people to church because it costs so much money and is so far away. I thought of my own experiences and I just thought I'd mention that idea to the assistants. I think it's something we could all talk about and see about implementing in the mission. I guess it has been such a blessing there. So why not bring some of those blessings this side? President is going to be calling me in the next couple days to ask more about it.

Last story. We knocked on a door to have a lady open up to us and invite us in. She called her mother and father in and we were just getting real excited. We were thinking, "Ahh man, a Father-led family just invites us inside and is already sitting down with their Bibles ready to learn? God is hooking us up fatty status." The father then sat down and asked if we believed church should be on a Saturday or a Sunday. I replied that in our church we attend on Sunday... Oh no. He started pulling out the Bible and was trying to tell me how corrupt and wrong our church is because we worship on the "wrong day". I then was able to pull out several scriptures that told him how after Christ was resurrected they met on Sunday. I explained to him why the Sabbath itself was a holy day and why we do what we do. They were confounded. I also explained that ultimately, it doesn't matter too much about who is right and who is wrong, we just need to know where the truth really lies. We gave them a Book of Mormon as well as a Restoration pamphlet. They gave us a book called "The Great Hope." We invited them to read and pray about it and said we would come back to share more and follow up. They also want to teach us... haha  Yeahh, we will see how it goes. So there is my 7th Day Adventist story for the week. Really nice family, I think I may bring backup next time because I was a bit on my own for that. Elder Matini just sat there staring at me to teach. He apologized after, but I told him it's no worries. He is now really motivated to learn his bible. Luckily the Lord helped me out with the spirit of remembrance and teaching as well.

So yeahh, this week was a bit hard. We got kicked to the curb more than once, had weather and the world against us and even felt a bit sick this week. But Elder Johnson has a quote he wrote in my planner that I think fits weeks such as this.

"Cowboy up. Dust yourself off, get back in the saddle, give it one more shot. Sweat and blood it takes all you got, cause the road to heaven is a hell of a ride. Tough get goin' when the goin' gets rough, cause you know you gotta COWBOY UP."

Love you all.

- Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne

So the pictures are just us Elders with youth in our ward. Elder Matini and I got given pop tarts by elder chapman... big deal. Then a picture of elder matini, me, mama prescilla, vuyo and all the little kids in their family. They were all at church on sunday as well. So sweet.  Email shop where I email every week. Not bad right?  Picture of the outside, and inside of our missionary flat.  Then a shot of our church from the hill above. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Akon Xhaki.‏

What's kickin' everyone?!
Want me to tell you how this week went?... Yeahh you guessed it... Amazing! Is that getting old for all of you to hear that week after week? Don't worry, I am sure I'll have a hard week sometime in the next ten months. That'll change things up a bit.
Well this week we had exchanges with the AP's. I'll have to share some stories about that later. It was unreal. I learned some lessons and we had some great experiences.
We had interviews and a training from President Merrill this week as well. He spoke about the miracles that are happening throughout the mission. It's actually kind of unbelievable all the things that are happening. Miracle after miracle was shared. He shared a few things that had happened to our district as well which was fun.
Then we had interview's with President. It's the best feeling in the world to just look your mission president in the eye's and you both know that you have been giving it all. We just sat there with a goofy grin on our faces. We opened with prayer and he then was able to touch base with me about how things are going and ask me questions. He also gave me an idea of his vision for me and what I can help this mission accomplish which was really eye opening. It was all in all a really great interview. He told me who my next companion will be and what I will need to do to help him.
Also, in preparation for my new companion, Elder Matini and I have continued to work hard. We have loads of people that are in the early stages of progressing. Now we just need them to get through more lessons and continue keeping commitments, then I know my new companion and I will baptize many. In my interview with President he had a prophetic moment where he promised that we will baptize many souls this next transfer, if we remain obedient and diligent. I plan to test that promise. I also was able to speak to Elder Johnson about a vision for our district next transfer. We are grateful for where Elder Shabalala has brought us, now we want to take it to another level as well, if possible. I really believe that everyone will see continued progression coming from this district and ward, especially over the next transfer.
Cool experience: Elder Matini and I had just sat down on the curb for a little rest by our flat waiting for the other Elders to pick us up when I noticed a Tata working to pull out a stump. So we walked over and helped uproot it. Anyways, since he was our neighbor we introduced ourselves and asked about him. Come to find out he just moved in maybe three weeks ago with his family. He attends the Methodist church, but he said he is very open to hearing our message. Especially since the church is almost in his backyard! So we set a time to go see him this week, I feel really good about it! Seems like a jackpot of a family. Very prepared.
We also had a great experience with Elder Manzini (our AP) on exchanges. I learned a great lesson. Throughout the day we were praying very specifically for what we wanted. We said we wanted a father-led family, and that we would knock on five doors while searching for them. Anyways, we had a lot of humbling experiences which resulted in not a lot of success. By the end of the day we stopped asking for that in particular. We had about one hour left and we prayed only asking that we would be led to someone who needed the gospel. We stepped out of the car and met a mama who took us inside to meet her husband. We then taught the restoration, committed the family to be baptized, and pointed out and taught them of the feelings of the spirit. It was a very powerful lesson. 
A lesson that was even more powerful was the lesson I learned from that day. I realized that while praying for these blessings that we very specifically wanted, we were also binding God's hands. We were almost creating God in OUR own image. We were telling Him what WE wanted, and in how much time. Instead of asking for guidance and help to find and bless someone's life. I was extremely humbled, and I shared that thought with the elders after we all met together to finish our exchanges. Elder Manzini as well had a powerful experience after I shared that thought with him as he prayed. I think we all learned a lot from that, and I, once again, was brought down to the depths of humility. Yes, we should pray specifically for that which we need and would like help with and what we are grateful for, but we should not lay down exactly HOW or WHAT we want the Lord to bless us with. Prayer is power, we need to use it in the right way.
Also, I don't know if anyone knew this since Mum just asked about my mission car, I am in a walking area. It's a really big one too. We walk from one end of it to the other on any given day. It's worn my shoes down pretty good. But since we have been working hard and having a lot of success, our President is trying to figure out a way to give us a car to help the work move forward. That is a HUGE blessing. Trust me when I say, that never happens. I am hoping it all works out. Speaking of driving, how is my licence coming? Loosing that was the worst thing I've ever done. Haha.
Last week after seeing all the people at church our bishop said, "Do you see everyone here at church!? It's amazing. I want you Elders to have all of sacrament meeting next Sunday. Speak on whatever you want and whatever you feel." 
Anyways, we all spoke on different things, and then tied them into missionary work. I spoke on John 17:3 in my talk yesterday. The talk was focused on "Why do we do what we do?" Why do we go to church, why do we read the scriptures, why do we pray, why do we keep the commandments, why do we go to the temple... That is where Christ gave us the answer. We do all those things in an attempt to come to KNOW or to come closer to God. It's really cool. 
The spirit was apparent and people we so excited. I invited everyone as well to help others come to know God as they have. This mama came up to me afterword in tears saying the spirit had touched her. She was saying how eloquent we were and how powerful the talks were. (You see what I mean when I say that Xhosa mama's are the sweetest people on this planet?) Anyways, she wrote down and quoted some of my "last words" in my testimony. I just said, "The moment you loose yourself in this great work of drawing others closer to God, I can testify you will finally find yourself, and when you find yourself, you will be sitting at His feet in the last day." - I can honestly say those weren't my words. The spirit truly does speak through us to touch the hearts of others. But we need to be a clean and worthy vessel for that to happen. When we are clean, then I can testify that it DOES happen.
Sorry if this whole email is a little jumbled. There is a guy who really is kind of gone who just keeps staring and yelling in Xhosa. He is completely drunk as well. So needless to say, I have been a bit distracted.
We have a brother named Songezo who we are teaching. He is Senzo's brother. Senzo is the guy we are teaching and trying to help get married to his girl friend Linda so we can baptize him. He is an ultra powerful guy. At church every week, baring testimony and sharing comments. Real great. Anyways, Songezo met with us last week and right after the opening prayer he asked a question. He said, "Elders, I need to make a confession. Should I confess to you, or your pastor or what?" Well we then explained to him what he was trying to do was start going through the repentance process. He then shared with us about how he had a child with a girl and when she was a few months pregnant he left. It's been a couple years since he has seen them and recently he went back to amend things and they refuse to let him see his daughter or have hardly any communication with any of them. I don't blame them.
Well Songezo shared his desire to make this right and own up for his mistakes. We shared with him ideas on how he can begin the repentance process and were able to really touch him. As we shared about the all encompassing power of the Atonement I could see he was touched. The spirit really drove the message home and you could see a complete change in his countenance. We are meeting with him this week to continue to work with him and give him a more in depth understanding of what he must do in order to repent and grow closer to God. What a guy. I really do have a lot of respect for him, his humility and his desire to do what is right. Please pray for him.
Also my suit ripped again. So I sewed it. President "suggested" that I get a new suit. Haha it's pretty faded. So that's something I'll have to do soon. Also, he told me there is no way my shoes will last the rest of my mission. Then there is a new mandate to get shoulder bags for sure and get rid of all backpacks. So the home account is gonna have to prepare for a major hit. Xolo (sorry) family.
Ohh, enjoy all the pictures. We saw a fire. It was crazy. Also there are some shots of us at this huge bat cave thing that was amazing. And then Elder Matini and I have a picture where we are freaking out because of all the food we have on the plate. We got fed twice that day... Our stomachs just about split as wide as the grand canyon.
Elder Thayne

Ohh and then there is a picture with Mama Prescilla (She is one of the people we are teaching who has a baptismal date. We found her my second day in the area. I absolutely love her. Her first time at church she stood up to introduce herself and said, "I am Sister Prescilla, and I love Jesus." Then she just sat down... Legendary woman.), Semi and I at church. Dad - Can you do me a favor and look up a few schools that have good agriculture programs in the states? Probably around Utah. Mama wants to study this side. ALSO- the Human family is looking to move to Utah, Mom I told sister human to get in touch with you if she needs anything. Just a heads up.

Monday, January 12, 2015

"I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say."‏

This is the best part of Africa.  
"Suffer the children to come unto me."

Hey you beautiful people.
Blessings have been raining down on us lemme tell yahh. We are more soaking wet with blessings than Gene Kelly in "Singing in the Rain" was with water. I have to say it was because we have been doing our best to be obedient and diligent with the commandments the Lord has given us.
This week things have been honestly amazing. I attribute it to the fact that the entire mission has been praying and fasting for our success as a whole. I have never seen the hand of God more obviously working through me during my mission then I have this past week.
We have been working extremely hard to help the work move forward. The past few weeks we have worked really hard but not seen too much success as a result of our efforts. This week we really put our best foot forward, and we have seen the difference. We had the opportunity to teach so much. We have found and met with so many different people. Some of which look like they are really seeking the truth. 
We set several baptismal dates this past week. I have really just learned the importance of right off the bat letting people know WHY we are there. Elder Johnson and I on exchanges set 5 more baptismal dates for their area. Because we were bold and it was done with the spirit, the investigators felt the call to rise up and be better, so they did! Elder Matini and I did similar things in our area. And the blessings have come.
I was extremely humbled this week to walk into the chapel and see it slowly filling up. It got to the point where there wasn't room for people to sit comfortably. I haven't ever seen a chapel so full the entire time I have been in Africa. God is without a doubt working along side us. Jacob 5:72. 
Everything with the work has been going great, and I am excited to see how the Lord will bless us this coming week. Especially since we are having Zone Training and interviews, I'll be seeing President Merrill soon. I am going to tell him how I am loving this area, and I would love to stay. 
Elder Matini and I the past week or so have really been focused on going over how to teach the lessons and how to teach them more clearly. He has improved so much, and I know that by the end of this transfer he will be absolutely powerful. Since english is his second language sometimes it is hard for him to teach clearly to people's understanding. 
I do love Elder Matini. I think he is ready to be a senior companion. He is learning a lot. I recently told President that same thing. He is ready to take on more responsibility. I think he will rise to the occasion once he receives the call.
Guess what everyone? We burnt Elder Shabalala's shoes for his 18 month mark. It was pretty sweet. Had some good ol' fire jumping and took some nice pictures. Reminded me of when I was a dumb 13 year old kid doing that stuff at scout camp. Shout-out to my Lehi 23rd Ward brothers! I am sad to say I won't be able to burn my shoes once I am as old as him, because if I did that I wouldn't have any shoes to go to church with for my last six months. I am hoping I can make these ones last till the end of my mission. I have glued the sole back onto the shoe for the third time. Hopefully it stays on for more than a month this time.
I gotta be real. I have been bit so many times by so many dang mosquito's. And then on top of that we have lizards that are crawling all over our boarding. So we did a major cleanup party and we sealed up the windows. Once the windows were sealed we made our entire boarding a gas chamber of toxic death to any and all bugs. Our boarding still reeks of "Doom" spray. So worth it though. I can finally stop itching myself like a flea infested dog.
Our district seems to be doing great. Elder Johnson, Elder Shabalala, Elder Matini and I are loving the work together. We held a Missionary Fireside in our ward this past Saturday. We had a decent turnout. There were a lot of the members who afterword really seemed pumped to assist in the work. We were told that the last time a missionary fireside had been done was in 2010.. So it'd been way too long, but I feel like a lot of member missionary work will result from that. We used Presidents 4 steps to building faith outline. Desire, Faith, Action & Witness. First we have to have a desire (that's the easy part) then we need to practice faith which will lead us to take action. Once we DO the thing that will build our faith we will receive a witness from the Holy Ghost and our testimony will be all the stronger. They all really appreciated that. I'll let you know how working with the members in the future will go!
We also had a meeting with our Bishop and he told us how grateful he is to have four missionaries in his ward that KNOW why they are here and serving not only the people they are teaching, but also those in the ward. He said some extremely complimentary things that helped motivate us to continue working with the leadership in the ward. We correlated on those that he is concerned for and talked about how we can better help them and strengthen their faith. It was touching to hear his testimony and see him seek revelation from the Lord on who needed our help the most.
We are all working hard, and have really caught hold of the vision for this mission as a district. The zone leaders as well have been doing a great job of showing that as well. They lead by example. And that is the best kind of leadership. They show us how it's done, and invite us to do the same.
We were giving a Book of Mormon to this drunk guy and he looked at it... held it up to my face as if he were comparing the two, and smacked me in the side of the head with it. "This is American!" So we took back the Book of Mormon and went on our way laughing.
We have been working to help Senzo and Linda get married. He came to church and there was a lesson on putting the Lord first in our lives, then everything else will fall into place. It was kind of the whole "seek ye first the kingdom of God" idea. It really touched him. So last night as we met with them he expressed his desire to put the Lord first. I told him how important it was for him and his daughter to be baptized and progress so that someday He, Linda and their daughter Litha could be sealed together forever. Linda shared how she had been praying that they could get married so they could be baptized. And the spirit was very apparent. I felt impressed to invite them to prayerfully consider a few baptismal dates to prepare for. February 1st, February 22nd and March 15th. So when we go back next time we will have prayed as well and we will council with them and try to figure out how they would like to move forward. I think it'll go well though. 
Good news, I found out that my Recent Convert Athule didn't actually kill the guy. His friend killed someone else that he was with. Athule stabbed someone else and that guy is in the hospital. So forgiveness is still in reach, but he has some major changes to make. I thought you guys may be interested in hearing that.
I don't want to end on such a sad note. So I want to tell you guys a story. While teaching a family yesterday Elder Matini asked if this sister felt like God loves her. She answered and bore testimony that she did. He then said, "You don't lie here anymore!" She started to get flustered and was saying how she DOES know God loves her and all this stuff. Matini got embarrassed and I realized he tried to say, "You aren't lying about that!" He was trying to confirm that God loves her, but he just made her mad. We got a good laugh out of that.
Also this week while we were finishing up with going on splits with the bishopric, I saw a car that was pulled over and steaming. So we went over and I called Elder Johnson and Shabalala. Elder Johnson knows his way around a car like a Xhosa Mama knows her way around the kitchen... VERY WELL. So he rewired some stuff and got the car running again. There was an issue with the gears though. Anyways we pushed them and got the car running again. It crept up the hill and we saw them drive off, we thought all was well, only to be driving behind them a ways on our way to drop off Brother Mlindazwe (Our Ward Mission Leader) and we saw the car hit the steepest point of another hill.... only to lose power and go in reverse down the hill into a side street. The brakes had given out. So we got out for the second time and proceeded to push the car up the long hill. We then offered to get them a lift home from someone (there was a family of six stuffed into this small car) but they declined because they were afraid someone would steal the car. I personally don't think you could have paid someone to take that car, but it's fine. Anyways, we just bought them some water and chicken pot pie things, and left them there. It felt good. We had some people say, "You seem like some real good Christians." Then we were able to talk to them and invite them to church. One of the guys, he stays in scenery park (the other elders area), came to church yesterday. So good came out of that!
Shout-out to Tal! I am proud of you mfethu for turning in your mission papers! The Lord will definitely send you where you are needed. Start praying now so that when you open your call you will receive a spiritual conformation that your calling is of God and that wherever you are called is where you are supposed to be.
Read your scriptures errybody.
-Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne

Monday, January 5, 2015

-2015- I Love Fresh Starts‏

Till the break of dawn, yo! - Name that movie.
Well this week was another slightly slow one. New Years Eve and New Years Day we didn't have any appointments set, since everyone was out of town, so we weren't able to do any work. But on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday we really got a lot of work done! Tracting, tracting and more tracting. Dad, what was the record you set for Book of Mormons given out in a week again?
Tuesday Elder Johnson and I were on exchanges again, and gosh me and him have some serious spiritual power going on between the two of us. We walked into a house (while tracting in the pouring rain). We had been tracting for a few hours and had some real cool experiences, but we walked into this house and sat down to start teaching two girls and a guy. All in their twenties and all siblings. Anyways, they had a question of baptism so we addressed that with them and perfecting led it into the restoration, it was pretty nice. We committed the two sisters to baptism, and their brother is praying about it before he gives us his answer. February first is the day! That blessing came from hours of tracting in the pouring rain. And of course, that blessing came as one of the last doors we knocked. The Lord wanted us to bring our "sixteen stones" -Brother of Jared- (hours of rain tracting) before Him, then He decided to bless us. Interesting how that works. I feel like so many of us will only bring 15 stones before him and then quit when the going get's tough. We quit right before the blessing comes. Enduring to the end is the hardest part, but the part that builds character and results in blessings..
We are also trying to get a brother married to his girlfriend (who is a less active member). His name is Senzo and her name is Linda. She has pretty much been reactivated the past few weeks, we just need to get them married then him and his daughter (Litha) can be baptized. He says this year is the year, I just feel like he should speed up the process. I don't know how to encourage him to do that though, any thoughts on that?
We contacted a few more families and individuals. But we weren't able to really gauge how well we think they will progress. At least until next week.
Miracle: We were walking down the street and we met a guy named Sia. We spoke with him all about the restoration, we gave him a pamphlet and told him to call us. Because he wouldn't set an appointment with us and didn't seem to interested. He was just kind of like, "Yeahh, yeahh, yeahh that's cool buthi." He then left to his friends house. His friend is named Zibele. Ten minutes later we see another guy walking on the road. We started walking and talking with him, get this, his name is Zibele! We get his contact details and set an appointment with him! He actually seemed really interested! He said, "Just a minute ago my friend said he was talking to some guys like you, we were reading that pamphlet you gave him. I guess God want's us to listen because here you are again." So we set the appointment for Saturday.
Elder Matini and I then went and visited with them on Saturday and had a powerful lesson on the Restoration and then followed up with teaching about the Book of Mormon. We really testified and touched their hearts! They could feel what we said was true. They both were really excited to hear about the Book of Mormon. They asked inspired questions and everything just went so well.
By the end I could see that Sia, even more than Zibele was feeling the spirit. We invited them to church the following day.
That night I prayed for all our investigators to come to church and I prayed specifically that in the fast and testimony meeting that someone would testify of the Book of Mormon and support what we had taught to them that day. Sia, Senzo and a few other people showed up to church. Of course, an old Tata got up and bore a POWERFUL testimony of Joseph Smith being a prophet, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints being the only true church, and that the Book of Mormon was a book of scripture brought forth by the hand and power of God. Thank you Heavenly Father. Faith + Works + Prayer = Miracles. I'm telling you.
The district is doing great. I honestly think it's the most powerful district I have been in. Everyone really brings so much to the table. And I don't feel like we are having to pull anyone along with us. It was really amazing to come into this companionship, and tell Elder Matini my vision for the transfer, and then he immediately decided to put away things that could hold us back and has been with me ever since. It's great. The work is progressing, I think these next few weeks the Lord will be really proud of the work we are doing. None of us are slacking, so the Lord has no reason not to bless us. And I think the cool thing is, we all have the complete faith and trust that He will. "Some blessings come now, some come later, and some don't come till after we die, but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come." - Jeffrey R. Holland
This week we were able as well to do some service. We chopped down a big ol' tree with only a couple Machete's! We felt pretty boss!
Also for new years we waited till midnight then stepped outside to the street only to see fireworks and everyone going crazy while they are drunk! Just cheering and basically having a semi controled riot. It was pretty crazy. We did have a picture taken with some of the people we saw outside! Then we heard five gunshots go off and decided there was a reason we probably shouldn't be out there. So we just went back inside and fell asleep.
And life is just amazing as a missionary out here in the South Africa Cape Town Mission. This month we are having what President calls a "Faith Extension Month." For one month we do things to build our faith and bring about success in our mission. 
Week One: 6:30 am every day hit your knee's and pray for the success of the mission. And then on fast Sunday, fast for the success of the South Africa Cape Town Mission as a whole.
Week Two: Continue with week one goals, as well as knock on five doors every day.
Week Three: Continue with week one and two goals, and then create a goal you want to keep as a district. -Any thoughts on a good district goal?
Week Four: continue with all previous weeks and then create a goal you want to fulfill as a companionship. (We already know what we want to do.) Commit at least one person, per day to be baptized. - Boom Roasted.
Last thing, I have been pretty bothered with something throughout the past week. I got news that one of my recent converts here in Mdantsane has gone completely less active, he got into drugs, and last week while attempting to rob someone he stabbed and killed a guy. I don't know if any of you remember him, but his name is Athule. 
Well obviously it's not something I should blame myself for, but it's something I definitely have been bothered with. I just feel so bad about the choices he made, especially since he is now held accountable, because he DOES know better. Alma 24:30 "And thus we can plainly discern, that after a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things." There are other similar scriptures that teach that same principal.
Anyways, he is in prison at the moment. I have printed off a picture of his baptism and I have asked President Merrill for permission to visit with him and talk with him about the Atonement. As sad and down as I am, I can only imagine how he feels. He needs to hear the message of forgiveness more than ever. 
I have such a solid testimony of the Atonement. Like I have said recently, my testimony begins and ends with Christs Atonement, that is how everything else works. That's how we are able to return to live with God again. I have also thought a lot about how Humility plays a role in the atonement. We must be humble enough to confess and forsake our sins and allow the Holy Spirit into our hearts to cleanse us. Because as we know, the holy ghost does the actual cleansing part. Then staying humble will help prevent future sin. It enables us to be forgiven and shields us from sin in the future. It's something I have thought about quite a bit recently. Pride is the root of all evil and all sin. I hope to go and testify to Athule, and remind him of this. If he does humble himself and go through the repentance process, I know he can find the peace he is looking for and that we all are seeking.
Well don't let that get you down! The gospel is the GOOD NEWS! Things are wonderful here in SA! I am so excited to have this fresh start and new perspective. I know I for one have changed so much since last year! Take advantage of the chance to change. And make sure we put Christ at the center of our focus for this year.
Also, you should see a picture of me wearing a snapback, then elder matini and elder johnson wearing some nasty shades, well that is a sneak peak of something that sister human is going to post on facebook of all of us and tag us in. So you should be seeing that sometime this week. We think it's funny. You might not, but hey don't blame us, we are missionaries. #missionlyfe
Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne