Monday, May 25, 2015

the promised land

I think everyone should just come and live with me in Queenstown. It's the promised land.
Things are great. Elder Stegelmeier and I had a harder time this week when it came to working and helping our investigators progress as much as we'd like, but we were still able to teach and accomplish a lot. Elder Stegelmeier is still extremely focused. He is very diligent and attentive when it comes to the little things. So he definitely makes up for where I lack and is teaching me a lot. That is something I have loved about being a Zone Leader, my companions have been unreal.
We went on two exchanges this week. I was with Elder Mohale in my area. He has grown A LOT since I saw him in Cape Town. I think he really has come to understand much more that he can influence others for good. While on the exchange he really opened up to me asking for advice on how to be a better District Leader and how to improve the work in their area. We spoke a lot about member missionary work and getting things done that way. It really inspired him. They have been trying to visit members and committed to do it more this week since it is part of our faith extension plan as a zone. He is such a stud.
Also, during companionship studies we had the impression that one of our investigators needed to as well apply "testing the promises of God" in her own little faith extension month. So Elder Stegelmeier and I had printed out a blank template for a faith extension month, added a few scriptures and Elder Mohale and I taught her about applying faith to see miracles. We gave her the template, explained how it's done and committed her to fill out and make a plan. This weekend, we went back and found she had filled it all out in an extremely detailed manner. She was so excited about it. She has different faith building goals she is going to apply each week for the ultimate goal of softening her husbands heart so the Elders in Illinge can teach him. It was amazing. This testing the promises and faith extension is something we are now using with members and investigators. It works.
Then I had an exchange with Elder Sekhasimbe in his area. Wow. What a great elder. He is here for the right reasons. He shared with me how his mother had passed away on mission, and how he was working to always stay focused and to keep things in the eternal perspective. I was really humbled on hearing his story and working with him. He is very diligent and detail oriented as well. He is very focused and helpful with helping his investigators progress and working with them on what their needs are. It was great. I interviewed three of his baptismal candidates. It was a good exchange in Sada.. We didn't teach a lot due to dropped appointments and baptismal interviews.. the one lesson we taught was dominated by Xhosa... but I could say a few nice things! Haha it was a humbling experience. First time I have really felt out of my game in a long time. It was good for me.
Last of all, we have started working with the families in our area and helping them establish a "Family Mission Plan." They are excited about it. Mom, you sent me a format a while back for it in the mail and we made copies of it and are using it in the families in the ward. They set six family goals in six different areas on how they are going to contribute to the work in one way or another. If it keeps going well I'll let you know. I think we will start to see more of the fruits of it in the coming weeks. As we had taught a few families pamphlet teaching that has helped us with having lessons with their friends in their homes which has been great. We now hope this family mission plan will give their energy some more focused direction.
One question for everyone: Any suggestions on how to uplift and encourage elders who are struggling with discouragement in the work?
Some stories for you: Some tata came up to us, drunk as a skunk on new years eve and started saying how much he loves Jesus. We then proceeded to tell him that if he reads this pamphlet (the word of wisdom - which cautions us on using any addictive substance.) that the Lord would bless him. Well we saw him later and he came up to us proudly pointing at the front cover where there is a young couple running together and he said, "This is my wife, thank you for this book. Where can I get her?" Well, it was a little too much for us and we started to laugh.. Sweet guy, but it just goes to show we really don't function too well when we are drinking.
Then another one: This guy named Sipho has just come to church the past two weeks after Elder Stegelmeier and I taught him and his totsie friends once.. We met them while walking over to a group of thug-like guys and asking them about if they love Jesus. Then they started saying how they were going to mug us until they saw we were "with Jesus." Classic. Anyways he has been coming to church. He is so thug we are afraid to send him home with anyone because we were afraid he would steal something from them or something. In the end he just was feeling the spirit so much that he stood up in Priesthood and said, "I am here because God loves me, and I am a son of God." Then sat down... we all were just like, whoa... okaaaayyyy. Well thanks man! Then we finished the lesson. It was pretty sweet of him though. Haha 
Also, while with elder frietas we were buying some cookies at a spaza shop in eZibeleni. Then this tata comes up and says, "Give me some." He was really drunk so I said, "No tata, I can't." He then pulled out a knife and yelled, "Give me some!" I just told him no again. Then he was all mad and stormed away. Didn't cut me or anything. Just wanted to try and flex his muscles. Haha pretty funny. I have never felt less intimidated in my life. It was really weird. This mama was all shocked and said she is so sorry that happened. We said, "Ahh ma, it's no problem. So have you every heard of the Book of Mormon? No? Well it's a wonderful testament......" That stuff happens too often and we are always alright. God really takes care of us out here. Even with all this Xenophobia stuff, the missionaries are protected and safe.
As always, we are seeing miracles and learning SO much. I am pretty sure every lesson we had this week we had to rebuke people for not being committed and not making an effort to grow closer to God. Every day on mission is another adventure. 
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
-Nelson MandelaLove.
Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne

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