Monday, June 29, 2015

Africa's Ice Age.‏

 I found a crazy nasty zombie dog here that started barking at me and chasing me. Ebola.

It's cold. It's dang cold. I mean, at least for me. My blood has definitely thinned out since I was in Utah, the land of the frozen. So, I just felt the need to complain. I bought a new jersey this week and I will probably need to get more new shoes and socks. 
The Good:
-Miracles have not ceased in Queenstown. And I don't think they ever will. The members, elders and even investigators faith is too strong.
-Elder Stegelmeier and I had about thirty spare minutes two weeks back and we wanted to really test God's promises. So we decided we wanted to teach three lessons in those next thirty minutes. We prayed we would be able to have at least two of those be potential priesthood holders and that one of those lessons would turn into someone really being a solid investigator who is seeking for truth. So we prayed and right then and there covenanted with God to do our best to make this happen. We hit the streets running... literally. We taught the first two lessons right off the bat. YES. Then we had about ten minutes left. So we started jogging down the street looking for a house we felt impressed to go knock on, because up until this time we had been street contacting (we prefer street contacting to tracting because we can actually see and target our focused group, MALES). So we saw a door, felt the impression of the spirit to go knock. We did and a guy opened up the door, invited us in and we meet the guys mother. We sat down and taught her and her son (somewhat) the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She was really receptive, while the guy was just kind of looking around probably for some reason to dash out the door and not come back. She (Sister Margret Mpotsha) asked that we come back next Tuesday and meet her HUSBAND. Elder Steglmeier and I discreetly fist-bumped each other and said we would love to come back and meet with them. She told us how her husband is about to become a Mfundisi (pastor) for some church. 
Well to make a long story short, we came back Tuesday and uTata Kenneth Mpotsha had read the whole pamphlet and basically taught us the great apostacy and the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith. He then was asking about the Book of Mormon, so we left it with him. We came back Wednesday and he said he had read through the testimonies and was praying about Joseph Smith. We came back on Thursday with brother Jabanga, who was the first Xhosa who was ever baptized in Queenstown. Brother Jabanga and him spoke Xhosa to each other (amazingly elder stegelmeier and I could understand a good chunk of it) and then uTata Kenneth then told the story of Lehi's family up to when then recruited Ishmael's family to join with them. So he had at least read from the introduction of the Book of Mormon to 1 Nephi 7. It was amazing. They are both so receptive and so prepared. They understand things so well since they are very educated. Elder Stegelmeier and I can't stop praying for them or thinking about them. I think we love them, just a bit.
- Plus, four of our 18-19 year old guys investigators are out of town. One of them, almost daily has smsed us and reported on his reading of the Book of Mormon and his understanding. Total champions.
-I played basketball at 530 three times this past week. So in the battle of my health and overall good looks, I am starting to try and fight back.
-Our Zone Training went really well. Elder Stegelmeier talked much about working with members and pamphlet teaching. The elders have already been reporting back on great experiences they had while applying what he had taught. It was really cool to hear their testimonies during reports. Then also the elders seemed receptive to what I shared about accountability and helping others achieve their potential. They also said they all want to step it up in their work and efforts. We have the best elders ever. We really all love Elder Stegelmeier. He is a great leader and I think leadership has taught him, just as it has me, a lot. He has only three weeks left. But I don't think anyone can tell! He just keeps working and keeps loving and looking towards the future. What a stud.
The Bad:
- I got smacked in the face by this kid with pudding on his hand while at church. I am pretty sure I practiced every Christ-like attribute all at once there. I am proud to say, I am the bigger man.
- Almost all of our progressing investigators our out of town in Cape Town or in Cofimvaba. So it makes teaching our stars a bit of a struggle.
- Xhosa people are so nice that even when they sure as heck don't want to meet with you again, they tell you it's fine to come back. Only this time, when you walk up to the gate, you find a padlock on it and no one comes outside when you yell.
The Funny:
- I was on exchanges with Elder Sengane (who is a new missionary) and we decided to walk over to these two tata's and talk to them about the gospel. Upon further investigation we found these guys were almost swimming in their whiskey. So as I tried to keep on our way Elder Sengane wanted to teach them. I complied and we taught them the restoration until we got to the picture of Jesus Christ ordaining his apostles.. The guys started freaking out saying that Jesus is black and we shouldn't try to confuse their people. They kept saying, "We saw when you two walked up that the black guy was walking behind you! HE IS CONFUSED!" Then turning to Elder Sengane they said, "You don't need to do this. Apartheid is over." We laughed and walked away. Classic.
The Truth:
If you want to be happy, then forget yourself and think about others. I have had this taught to me over and over throughout my life and ESPECIALLY on my mission. As Spencer W. Kimball said, “The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. We become more significant individuals as we serve others. We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to “find” ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!”
It is true. So my challenge?: Pray every morning this week for a chance to serve someone that day. Then go throughout your day looking for someone to lift and help. Then follow the impressions and thoughts that the spirit will place into your mind and heart. Once you complete that act of kindness and service for your brother or sister, kneel down and thank your Heavenly Father for the opportunity, and ask what you might do next. Repeat this pattern every day for the next week, and report back to me how this blesses you. You WILL receive a daily opportunity and you will receive greater blessings and love for your fellowman.
I love you.
Mdala Mitchell Ryan Thayne

Monday, June 15, 2015


Ewe. (YES) Suffering for the Lord.. Score!
Sickness has taken over us eZibeleni elders. Elder Stegelmeier and myself have been fighting off two real bad flu's for the past week. So it made us a bit slower, but we were still able to accomplish some good things. We have been sifting through our teaching pool. We see who is really progressing and ready to change, and then we also have seen those who need some time alone/. So we just left them and we will follow up on them in the future. One of them is our Methodist pastor that we were so excited about. He loves the Book of Mormon and loves what we share with him, but because of pressures that he is getting from all sides, he hasn't been good with meeting with us or keeping commitments. So we talked to him and are just going to leave him be for a couple months. Maybe with my next companion we will follow up on him and see how he is doing.
Elder Mohale has a great vision for our district, he set a goal with all of us to place to copies of the Book of Mormon a day. This guy is pretty much a boza (boss). He is from Jo-burg and talks like he is lil wayne. He has the same voice too. Anyway, so far Elder Stegelmeier and I have been able to do it, and it's been a great experience for us. We, as of late, have been leading with the Book of Mormon in all our finding activities. And it is drawing people in MORE than just leading with the Restoration. We have taught the Book of Mormon FIRST then we followed up with the Restoration. It has been really a cool experience to see the power that the Book of Mormon has when you place it in these individuals hands. People really have been loving it. It's part of the miracles we have been seeing.
Yesterday, before church, Elder Stegelmeier and I were counselling on who is really progressing. We were worried about many people in our teaching pool. Then we went to church. In Elders Quorum we were having a lesson on the Book of Mormon (surprise, surprise) and Elder Crowell was baring his testimony on the power that the Book of Mormon had in influencing him to come on mission, then our Investigator named Anamandla leaned over to me and said, "I also had an experience with the Book of Mormon." I of course immediately focused my attention on him. He then said, "I was reading, where you had read with me, about how Lehi read from the book and felt the spirit. Then later he left EVERYTHING to follow God and keep his commandments. I want to be like Lehi and do that. I want to follow God so badly. So then I knelt down to pray like you and Elder Stegelmeier have been telling me and I asked God if these things are true. I felt a burning in my chest and I was just so at peace and I felt so happy. Then all I could think about was coming to church. I just kept thinking about how bad I wanted to come to church and learn more. I am just so happy to be here." I of course was in a state of shock, but after a few seconds I recovered and bore testimony that he truly had received an answer. Earlier, while teaching Anamandla and Lwando the Plan of Salvation, we felt impressed to not only invite them to baptism, but also to invite and commit them to preparing to serve a mission. As we extended the invitation, they both enthusiastically accepted. Bishop is excited about them and meeting with them next week.
Also, one cool story from a Member Visit that we had. We taught a family, the Nkomfe's, about the importance of missionary work. We shared how we can be missionaries and what we can do to invite others to feel the blessings of the gospel. We then asked them all to make a goal for how they wanted to be missionaries that coming week. Some wanted to invite a friend to church, others just wanted to bare testimony and some wanted to have a friend meet with us missionaries. Well we then taught them how to pray and covenant with the Lord and ask him to help prepare someone. Then we invited them to all go off, for ten minutes into different parts of the house and pray and ask God who they should invite. They all did. All of them had at least four names of people they wanted to invite. One sister, Sinelizwi actually prayed, she said as she sat there all of the sudden she saw four of her friends faces, they were all looking at her and smiling. She wrote their names down and was so excited. It was really great. They are going to also make a family mission plan. So we look forward to seeing how that goes with them as well.
So I guess I'll just wrap up with saying, the Lord will give us revelation when we ask for it. Not always in such a dramatic and cool way, but he will send thoughts and ideas and plant them in our hearts. Seek his guidance and revelation. He will give it, but only ask you ask for it. As missionaries we seek his guidence and spirit to be with us daily. It's a daily pursuit. 
I love you.
Mdala Mitchell Ryan Thayne
Feel free to write me. It's been a while since I had some letters.. and you know how it is, us missionaries base our individual worth on how many letters we get each month.
Elder Mitchell Ryan ThayneSouth Africa Cape Town MissionPO Box 181, Observatory,Cape Town, 7935Republic of South Africa

Monday, June 8, 2015

Walala wasala - You snooze you loose.‏

So I am staying with Elder Stegelmeier another transfer, and I am so good with it. He is a great missionary. Obviously the Lord knows I need to learn more from him. I am excited. We have some big plans for this coming transfer and our Zone is behind everything 100%. So it looks like I'll help him finish his mission, then probably get another elder in here with me in Queenstown. I have probably another three months here.. Which is totally alright.
I have been doing a lot of looking in the mirror as of late. I started to sense that some of the things people were saying to me and things that were happening was letting some pride enter into my heart. I started studying talks like, "Beware of pride" and "truly good and without guile" and things along those lines. Then I started praying to Heavenly Father asking him to help me get rid of this pride and the things that were creeping into my heart. I even asked him to "shake" me if needed. I don't like it when I personally am damning my own progression.
Then in MLC president gave us all some fire. I know this really helped a lot of us elders remember what is truly important. I was loving what President talked about. We need to do right, for rights sake. There has been a trend in our mission of elders looking for recognition. President said simply enough, "Your life and ministry should speak for itself." Amen. We had a good talk with everyone about that. And it was awesome to see how we all reacted. It was a "Lord, is it I" moment. I know especially for me. The Lord for sure does answer prayers. I love it.
Everyone in the Zone is doing well. After we shared the rebuking by president with the Zone, they all got real excited and determined to be better. They all report to us and tell us great stories which is cool. It was a slower week for everyone. I think it's because the cold set in and no one we teach wants to get out of their dang beds... I feel like kicking their doors down, dragging them out of their sheets, sitting them down and telling them to repent or perish. But I guess we have a church to represent and a good name to uphold... But IF ONLY.
One of my previous companions called me Saturday morning to tell me he is going home. He called and told me he is leaving. He just said he loves me and goodbye. He had some things he had to sort out that were from mistakes back home. I just encouraged him that this is how he can fully and truly repent. I look forward to strengthening and loving him when I go home. I just hope he continues to live what he has learned on mission, I am sure he will though. - I never like seeing a missionary go home, but if it helps him as a person then I will be happy. I would rather see this elder in the celestial kingdom than on mission anyways. It's sad, but we can never try to skip out on repentance. So always do your best to be completely clean.
Well, I am learning a lot. We are involving the ward big time here in Queenstown and it really is making all the difference. Hopefully we will all be seeing the results in the next couple of transfers. Our Bishop was telling us, "Yoh, Elders, you need to slow down, you are full time and we are still trying to figure all this out! Actually, on the other hand, DON'T SLOW DOWN! I think we will all get with it soon. Us Xhosa's don't like to be outworked by Mlungu's." It was pretty great.
We did a Zone blitz, last Monday, in the town area right here in Queenstown. We all set a goal to teach 2 lessons in 2 hours to at least 2 father-led families. We then knelt down and made a covenant with the Lord to do all we could do. Some elders taught more like four or five lessons. This was all done in areas that Elder Mohale and Elder Ntuli thought that it was almost impossible. Every elder reached the goal. Elder Sengane, a brand new elder with tons of faith, was the elder who said, "Instead of one father led family, lets go for two." Such a stud. He already has such great vision and excitement for the work. I wish I was that powerful when I started my mission.
Thank you family and friends. The Lord has placed me among the greatest elders in the mission right here in Queenstown. I am learning so much from them.
- Elder Thayne

This picture is from our exchanges in Mthatha. Elder Young is sitting next to me and Elder Stegelmeier is on the far left. The family in the back left corner is a family who asked to adopt me into their clan. I am now a "Gasela". Which is a clan of Chief's in the Xhosa culture. Then the family in the right corner is the Bortang family. President Bortang is the Branch President there in Mthatha.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Always learning when I thought I'd be teaching.‏

This week we had exchanges in Mthatha. We left Thursday afternoon and just came back on Saturday. It was a pain because it took some time out of our area, but I think it was really important that we went. It killed us... I MISSED EZIBELENI SO MUCH! Elder Young and Elder Heninger are great elders. We were able to go out with them Thursday evening and do some good work. Elder Young and I prayed and were talking to someone at the gate, then a guy starts jogging by in his suit and tie, we started jogging next to him telling him what we were doing and what is going on. Well he let us into his yard where he was staying in one of the flats at the back, he then got really excited about what we were sharing and knocked on all his neighbors doors and invited them to join us. We got a father of a family to also join. We taught the restoration and it was extremely powerful. After that we went on to get five referrals from both investigators, and less-actives. It was really great. Elder Young was just so blown away and so excited. We talked about how our faith had made the difference. It was a great mini exchange. He really taught me a lot about being sincere with those he was teaching and having a real love for them. He is a great elder.
Then the next day I was able to go out with Elder Matini my old companion. That was really good for both of us I think. We weren't able to teach and do as much as we had hoped, but we were able to interview someone for baptism as well as teach a couple others. He most of the time, while stuck in traffic driving to the next appointments told me how he is trying so hard to make a real change. He is just doing his best to give his all to the Lord. I was really grateful to him for showing me that repentance is all about the little changes. He reminded me of how I still have so much more to improve on and do better with. It's all one big process. He is really trying and it was great to see. I miss that elder, so it's fun to have him in this Zone.
Also, we had a sacrament meeting all to us missionaries. My companion and I decided that Elder Crowell, Elder Stegelmeier and Elder Farnsworth should be the speakers. They did a great job talking about member missionary work and helping the members receive some more vision. The rest of us blessed and passed the sacrament which was cool! I finished blessing then stood up and the cloth started falling off of the sacrament table, just at the last second I caught it and put it back in place... phew. That is a missionary horror story for yahh.
The rest of the Zone is great. They are working hard and making it happen. Each elder seems to really be trying. Every time I am around them and talking with them I feel like I am learning so much. I am learning more from them than I am teaching them. I think the Lord called me to serve here so THEY could teach me. It's been really awesome to learn. Elder Stegelmeier as well teaches me a lot about humility and consistency. I don't know if you all heard that talk in conference about the "Shiblon's" of this world. But Elder Stegelmeier is definitely on of those. And it's been good for me to learn from him.
We are trying to work hard, involve the members and love the people. Sometimes they make it hard when they don't act on what they KNOW to be true. It's especially sad when you have been working with them for months. But I know hopefully one day what we taught will make a difference. Elder Ballard said, "It is impossible for you to fail when you do your best while on the Lord's errand." So that brings comfort. Because one investigator, Vuyiseka, just had to get dropped once and for all.. Hopefully one day she will realize what she is missing and truly commit, but you cannot force someone to change. I labored over her, prayed and studied, testified, rebuked, encouraged and cheered on Vuyiseka, but she just wasn't ready to really give it. So we had to tell her to come to church once she was really ready. I know that she will be accountable for the truth she is turning away from, so I hope that she will repent and change before it's too late. But I am reminded that NO effort is wasted. I know my efforts went somewhere. Even if it was only for my own personal growth, I know God has a purpose and he still loves his daughter Vuyiseka.
This week we had a campfire FHE with the Jabonga family and the Ndabeni family at the Ndabeni's home. It was so sweet. We ate food they had prepared, made S'MORES, and then had a fireside testimony meeting. Everyone was sharing theirs and it went around till Elder Farnsworth (Who reminds me of Grandpa Thayne like crazy and makes me miss him all the time) bore his testimony on why he is there and how much he is learning. It was at that moment I realized one of the reasons that I am here. I am here to learn how to truly love. More than just have a unconditional love, but something more like Charity. They just give and give and give and give. They don't expect anything in return. But they do receive MUCH from the Lord as far as personal character and peace in their hearts.
So Usapho, where are you seeing that I can improve? I want to be better. I have been studying and talking with my companion a lot about consecration. Elder Neil A. Maxwell said, "Consecration thus constitutes the only total surrender which is also a total victory." I have had tastes of that, but I want more. So any advice or suggestions? They are so welcome. I have grown so much on mission, but I realize that we can NEVER stop learning and never stop progressing. 2 Nephi 28:30 really says it all. We need to keep progressing, line upon line, trial by trial, prayer by prayer.
Real quick Zandile, our recent convert who has been struggling, is also doing great. I guess she was with some friends, they all were buying alcohol but she just got herself a cool drink. As the night went on and they got more and more tipsy they kept commenting how she had made the smart choice and they wished they had followed her. One of her friends was really touched by her standing alone. So a week later she said how she had been watching Zandile and how she had seen her change. She then asked to come to church and came with her! IT was powerful! I have noticed when we get people involved with missionary work they seem to kind of sort out their own problems. "Forget yourself and go to work." Amen. It is the recipe for success with anyone who is struggling. Give them an assignment to help someone else and they will sort out everything.
Ohh yeahh, by the way, it has already been almost six weeks that I have been with Elder Stegelmeier, we are having transfers next week. So I will find out if I am staying here in Queenstown and killing him (meaning he finishes his mission with me after two years then goes home) or if I will leave to serve somewhere else. Whatever happens, I have grown to love eZibeleni and the elders and the people here SO much. It has been such a learning experience for me. We will see what the Lord has in mind for my further progression though. I'll let you all know next week!
Thanks for everything. Mom, I am still rocking my tablecloth tie and have gotten many compliments on it. Great style choice.
Mdala Mitchell Ryan Thayne