Monday, July 27, 2015

Week 1 of Combined Area's

It's been an alright week here in Queenstown. Transfers went relatively smoothly and without any problems. The Elders who stayed behind just continued to work and get to know each other a bit better which was good. I really appreciated their integrity. Stud muffins.

We sent off Elder Stegelmeier, which was sad, but I know he will do great at home. Everyone here, including me, miss him already. I also saw my son, Elder Dryer in East London just before he shipped off to PE. I love that guy. 

Anyway, Elder Radebe and I are real excited to try and make things happen out here in the now combined area's of eZibeleni and Queenstown. I have really tried not to let Elder Radebe see that I have no idea what I am doing and that I was a tad bit frustrated with the new workload and areas. We didn't really have too much of a setup for us when we took over the town area. The elders did great work there and really tried, but they did not really record their efforts in the area book really well. So we are just kind of having to start a from scratch. I am really trying to keep up a hopeful and positive attitude, but I have to admit, I was feeling a bit discouraged when we were trying to make things happen in town. So we are going to really try and involve the members and make things happen these coming weeks. I know my companion is a stud and I'll be learning a lot from him, I just want to try and help him and the Zone be the best they can be.

It's different having a companion who can speak Xhosa and stuff again. We get along real good, but now that he is here, people just speak Xhosa to him for days and I am totally lost all the time. It's fine though. I just need to learn to speak better I think.

Wonderful news though, we finally had a baptism here from eZibeleni. The brothers name is Anamandla Homane, he is almost 20 years old. Just a champion. He loves the Lord and LOVES the church. He is so stoked to get the priesthood and get to work in the church. He always is asking to come fellowshipping with us and is inviting all of his friends. The baptism went well and we had a few other potential priesthood holders that attended his baptism as well which made all of them excited! I know Elder Crowell and Elder Wall (the other two elders in our ward) have several sweet people that are coming up for baptism as well. Things are just going great. The district here in Queenstown was an inspired idea. Having us all together I think will really help. Elder Crowell is doing a great job already as a district leader, I think he'll make things easy for us as Zone Leaders.

There really isn't too much more to say about the week. The Farnsworth's took Elder Stegelmeier and I out to eat since he was on his way out.. It was so dang good and I don' think I have had something that nice in forever. Chicken quesadilla's. Powerful food.

Also, the picture of the crazy looking Xhosa girl with the spoon and cinnamon is a girl named Zizipho. She is an awesome member from the Ndabeni family. I told her I would give her fifty rand if she would do the cinnamon challenge. (A spoonful of cinnamon put in your mouth and you have to swallow it without letting any come out) She NAILED it. Totally did it. I have never seen anyone do it so well. Pretty funny to see.

We are also teaching a white girl named Stacy. She is a referral from the Human family out in East London. We are working with her and I think that will go real well.

Dumisa is still a stud and progressing really well. Lwando is another brother, he is the cousin of the Ndabeni's. Real great guy and really trying to do what is right. We love him a lot. We also have a few others who are progressing, but they will probably be at the end of August for their baptism. Dumisa and Lwando we are hoping and praying will be ready to go by August ninth. Please mention them in your prayers by name.

All in all things are good. Just need to figure out how to balance our time between the two area's, baptize many, build up town, and encourage higher levels of success with the elders. I am always learning. I love that. "I yet have strength. Lord, give me one more mountain to climb."

I love Baptisms. I vow never again to go another four and a half months on mission without one.

Love you everyone. Thank you for everything.

- Mdala Mitchell Ryan Thayne

Monday, July 20, 2015

Transfer News. It's all the rage.‏

TRANSFERS! It's all anyone can talk about. When we got called by the Assistants last night informing us of all the transfers and changes that are happening, we immediately were getting bugged by the whole zone, "WHERE AM I GOING? WHO IS MY COMP?" We missionaries can get a little desperate for this stuff when we know we may just be living with this guy for the next six weeks. It's valuable information.
So as for my news, I am staying in Queenstown. Super stoked for it. I will continue to work in eZibeleni, but we are also absorbing another area and merging it with our own. The town elders, their area is HUGE, are getting taken out of Queenstown. The reason being, there aren't enough missionaries coming in. The total number of missionaries is leveling out from the huge intake that the church had for a couple years after the age change announcement. So I will not only be covering eZibeleni now, but also the entire town area. Which is kind of crazy because the area is huge. Now I have six weeks to learn a whole new area, balance it with all the work we have going on, worry about the Zone all baptizing people, and get to know a new companion. SCORE.
Really, you gotta love it. Every time you start feeling like you know how things are going or every time you start to feel like you are in control, God has life throw you something you just didn't see coming. I am glad though, I know I will learn SOOO much. My new companion is Elder Radebe. I believe he is from KZN (Kwazulu natal) which is basically Durban side. He used to serve in Sierra Leone , but was taken out of that mission because of some visa issues. He is a pretty cool guy. I have talked with him a few times and had him sleep over at my flat as well. I'll be training him as a new ZL. I know he is a good missionary though, so I look forward to it. It's been forever since I had an African companion anyway, so I am super stoked.
It's going to be a legendary week I think. Elder Stegelmeier and I have a few more lessons that we have scheduled, and then he will hop on a plane and head home in just a few days. He is such a stud and is ever focused. Asking about less actives that we should follow up on, how we can help our investigators progress, and continuing to help me organize things for the zone this upcoming transfer. He has two days left, but no one could ever guess it. It's been a powerful and instructive past three months with him.
But, life goes on! And the work MUST go on, even without Elder Stegelmeier. I am super excited to get Elder Radebe! It'll be the first time I have served with someone who is the same age as me on mission. 
This past week the Town elders and us have been really working to have everything set up for this coming week. Since the town and eZibeleni area's are merging, we are wanting to be as effective as we can right off the bat. We don't want to have a slow start. So we did a lot of exchanges and I got to know a bit of the area. They have been putting forth a lot of effort these past few months, so Elder Radebe and I are going to be working a lot to keep working with the members and getting things going in our now massive area. Elder Crowell and I went to ward council for the first time since I have been here. We shared about the family mission plan, told of some goals, and basically just told them to put on some gloves and a good pair of wranglers and get ready to work. They were all excited to work with us.
This week, just a real quick cool story, we were visiting with a guy named Siyakudumisa, we call him Dumisa for short. Anyway, Dumisa is a 20 year old stud, we have only taught him the Restoration, read the Book of Mormon with him and basically had him teach us the Plan of Salvation. We found him while we were grabbing a snack at a little spaza shop. We set an appointment with him and he has never dropped one since.
He came to church two weeks back, and then just showed up again at church yesterday. He then told us how his mother has been giving him some major opposition when it comes to him meeting with us and coming to this church. His mother is a sangoma, which is basically like a traditional healer/witch person. Well, he said he was about ready to walk outside and go to church and his mother, who had been fighting about him doing this for a couple weeks told him if he walked out that door to go to "that church" then he can expect to no longer have a place in her home. He came to church. When I asked him why he came even when his mom said that he said, "I have been praying, just like Joseph Smith did to know the truth. God has told me this is the path I should take. Don't worry, God has been changing me, I know He can do the same with my mom. She will come around." - What the...? POWERFUL. 
We then sent a sweet mama (Mama Ndabeni) to go talk to his mother and tell her what the church is all about, and like Dumisa said, she is starting to come around. Miracles happen daily. Dumisa mid week smsed us and asked what he should do because his mom was telling him he couldn't go to the bush if he kept going to our church. I right there said a prayer and asked God for a scripture to send to him. The Book of Mormon was lying open on my lap. As I prayed I felt the book start slipping off my knee's, as I grabbed it my eye got glued on this one verse. Alma 1:25 "Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them." - It was so cool. God always will help us. Even in the little things.
Also, we are baptizing this really powerful guy who's name is Anamandla... which means "power." Go figure. That should be happening this next weekend. It didn't happen this week because it didn't fit in bishops schedule... Wow. Whatever though, we are still trying to work with our leaders. Our relationships with the ward members are great, so hopefully many more baptisms will come. By the way, Anamandla is someone who has had massive member involvement throughout his conversion process.. Member missionary work is definitely the Lord's way. I hope you are all involved with the missionaries working your side.
I sent something to my friend Heidi Stenquist, and I thought I would just add it to this email as well. - For the majority of my mission I have just put forth raw effort and hard work and been able to baptize quite a few people, but I realize the BEST way to baptize and retain is by working with the members. Elder Mchunu, in our mission, has come up with a six step process for helping members do their member missionary work.
1) Talk about their conversion. Moroni 6:3 - they covenanted to endure to the end. We encourage them to live up to their duty and the covenant they have made.
2) Help them catch the vision - Start with the leaders. Luke 22:32 - Christ focused first on Peter, who was the leader of the apostles. 
3) Help them develop faith and overcome doubts - spiritual confidence. Mosiah 17:2-3 We need to remember how we felt at the beginning of our missions when it came to doing something simple like passing out a Book of Mormon, we also need to be patient and helpful to the members as we help them develop greater faith.
4) Give them the tools to do the work. (Book of Mormon, Pamphlets, Pass-along cards, etc.)
5) Demonstrate and practice with them. PMG pg 162 2nd to last bullet under ideas to help members. Role Play with them. 
6) Help them test the promises of God. PMG pg 162 7th bullet down I think... something like "help them set a date to invite someone to..." When you set a date, give them the tools, practice with them and help them build their faith, they will be able to reach out and invite that person or accomplish that goal they have set. When they do that, then they gain a witness. Once they have gained a witness, their faith grows and it'll be easier for them to invite someone next time. Then it is just a repeated process.
The steps for building faith are: Desire - Faith - Action - Witness. So build the members faith and then you will baptize many.
MOM. The family mission plan, something you sent me MONTHS back is something that is sweeping our mission. Every Stake President and Bishop in our ward is going to be taught and briefed on what it is and it is going to be implemented big time in our missionary efforts this side. You were definitely inspired when you sent that out. It is going to help the work move forward this side so much. I have been told by so many missionaries to THANK YOU for sending that this way.
Super stoked Mom and Dad that y'all are coming to pick me up. The Jabangas already promised to slaughter a pig so you can eat it's head with us. Welcome to Africa.
Love you usapho.
Mdala Thayne
Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne
South Africa Cape Town Mission
PO Box 181, Observatory,
Cape Town, 7935
Republic of South Africa
Don't be a stranger.

To explain some of the pictures. The one in front of the huge house is Elder Ntuli. We went and knocked and GOT INTO THAT HOUSE. Those people are the owners of Twizza.. Which is basically like Coke out here. Super sweet. Then also you will see a lot of pictures of us at the Ndabeni pig pen. We just hopped over the fence and helped them feed the pigs. Our pigs at paisley farms are SO spoiled. Then a picture of me with the Jabanga's as we were painting the inside of their house. Then us with bishops big family after a DA. And then also another picture of us elders at the Bomela's home on friday night.Ohh and the one where the elder is smacking his head is when we were at the Dlanga's house for an FHE. So sweet. :]

Monday, July 13, 2015

┼ My Comp is Dying ┼‏

No... not really. Elder Stegelmeier is still working hard and being a stud.. but this week is his last week on mission. Moment of silence please.
This week Elder Stegelmeier and I were on exchanges for five days in a row. Yeahhh... pretty much the worst. We were completely destroyed and SO tired. We had the Assistants for a few days, then we left the morning the Assistants left to east london, to go to Mthatha. While on an exchange with Elder Lafleur (the AP) I learned a lot. He is a killer missionary and really loves the work. I can see why things were going so well in PE, he really works hard and works WITH the Lord which really is what we can attribute all success towards. We had a great few lessons with investigators in members homes, which is what we have really been focusing on the past couple of weeks, and it is really making things happen here in eZibeleni. Baptisms will shortly follow. Hold me to that.
When we went on exchanges in Mthatha I think I had the best experience with exchanges I have had thus far with that district. First, Elder Timba - Who is a BRAND SPANKIN NEW missionary - and I were able to go together. We only had a few hours and the other elders had all of the appointments. - typical of my exchanges - So we decided to test the promises of God and see how He would help us find those who have been prepared. We said a prayer and got after it. We walked right up to a group of tata's who were talking together, we started sharing who we were and stuff, and after some light conversation and some surprise on their side at the fact I could speak a bit of Xhosa, they directed us inside a house. 
So we walked in to find out that it was a TON of mama's and a guy who were sitting there waiting to hold a prayer meeting for a funeral that would be happening that weekend. After we shared who we are they said they would like us to share something. I then opened with a prayer and sold Elder Timba out and told everyone that he would be sharing his testimony. He just looked at me in shock as if to ask, "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?" But I just stared back smiling at him. So he then stood up and bore a powerful testimony on the Saviour and the Atonement. Lots of mama's were grunting and whispering "yes". And you know if when you are "preaching" and mama's are grunting in agreement, then you are definitely saying something good. Then I just shared a scripture on the atonement from Alma chapter 7 and talked about the assurance of a Resurrection, but of our personal responsibility and role for our own Salvation. They loved it. At the end we had to go out to our car just to get more pamphlets and everything. They were all really excited. They started asking for pictures, Book of Mormons and hugs.. They got straight up rejected on the last request, but it's fine.
We then visited a few others and then closed our exchange. Elder Timba is a dang good missionary. He is from Zimbabwe... well, you Mlungu's in America don't know this, but the people who come from Zim are some of the sweetest most humble people I have ever met. Hands down. They also have the sweetest and funniest names. Names like, Forgiveness, Beauty, Lovemore, Hardlife, Lucky, etc. They are so legit. What do you think about that mom? I could name my first son Hotstuff, or Happyfeet. Gotta love ZIMBABWE.
Then I was able to go on an exchange with Elder Lafond. Now, Elder Lafond is one dang cool ginger. His name is Parker.. Pretty sure almost every parker I have ever met has red hair... except for maybe Elder Parker Johnson out here, my cousin and a few select others.. And yes sisters, I am sure you still remember that good looking devil elder johnson even though I haven't been with him for a good four and a half months, if you want to email him his email is 
Anyways, the whole Mthatha district really has a great desire to be better. Elder Matini told me how he has really helped him so much. Even while on exchanges we were trying to visit the homes of members, we tested the promises of God and we had great success in meeting with a lot of new potential priesthood holders. We had prayed and told the Lord we had an hour and wanted to find and teach two potential priesthood holders, we had decided to tract only around a members home. So we went and knocked out those first two lessons pretty quick, then we had ten more minutes. I asked Elder Lafond what we should do, if we should go back to the car and head over to the next appointment, or what. He then said, "Well, we told the Lord we would do this for an hour, lets not cop out at 50 minutes. Let's go over to that house." - STUD - We walked over, and used every trick in the book at the front door. We got inside and sat down with an entire family. A father, mother, two daughters and a few sons. It was a powerful lesson and elder lafond just told me that they went back and taught the family again yesterday with the branch president and had another great lesson! So dang cool.
Sidenote on the cottage meetings that we set up. They went pretty dang well. We did have a less active guy named Lubabalo, who is a relative of the Ndabeni family, show up to  one of them and it was really awesome. We taught on the atonement and it was super powerful.
Anamandla, the man of all men, came to church again on Sunday after being out of town for the past three weeks. He is in 2 nephi chapter 15 or something like that. So sick. We also invited a guy, who we met at a spaza shop - little run down shop that people usually put in what we would call a garage back home. Siyakudumisa is his name. We just call him Dumisa for short though. He is super legit and also came to church and loved it. 
We found a guy named Moses a few weeks ago and have been teaching him. He is an old Tata that lives in Zone 1. He is so humble and so sweet. He can't read really because of his eyes, but he is such a stud. He accepted baptism and told us he is going to pray and find a job so he can have money just to go to church. yeahh I love this guy.
Then Elder Lafleur and I found a family that elder steglemeier and I just went back and saw yesterday. The guys names are Benjamin, Noah and Milani. Super smart guys who had read the pamphlet and were asking the best questions. Stuff like, "When God created the heavens and the earth... where was he standing?" Then also more relevant questions like, "How can we come to know for ourselves that what you are sharing is true?" We are just excited about all these people.
All in all it's just super awesome out here. I am loving my life so much. I have been thinking about how I only have three transfers left. WHAT THE HECK? Why is the time going so fast? I know I say this like every other email, but it's just dang weird. Thinking about life without waking up and reading the white handbook, or swatting away girls hands when they try to hug you is really weird. Lucky for me, I still got a while more of it. I love it, and I love my life. I have been reading in Ether. Read over Ether chapter three. The brother of Jared is such a good example of faith and diligence. I learned a lot from my studies.
The Lord has called all of us to do something special. He has sent us here, around the people we are, for a reason. So do your best to find out what that reason is and live up to it. You will be happy you did. My buddy sent this out last week in his email and I loved it.. Ben Franklin once said that "Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind rather than on outward circumstances." Attitude determines altitude. Remember that.
Love you all.
Mdala Mitchell Ryan Thayne

Monday, July 6, 2015

Independence Day/Funeral

What's good usapho?
I hope you all watched the mormon message - "Lift" - that I sent last week. If not, you still have time to repent and go watch it. Do it now.
Elder Stegelmeier and I had a great week this past week. He just keeps on going. Stud. But, I guess as far as key indicators goes, this week doesn't look like anything unreal, but we had a sort of look-in-the-mirror-moment and thought about how we aren't being as effective as we could be. Teaching 40 some odd lessons a week really isn't resulting in anything when we are only having minimal member involvement. So, we readjusted our focus and are really trying to make member missionary work a priority. We have been doing a lot of service for different members trying to really let them know how much we love them. We also have been visiting members and going over pamphlet teaching with them and extending commitments to help bring people into their home for us to teach. 
Then also this week we had a great highlight together. Elder Stegelmeier and I were visiting the homes of the active members of eZibeleni and asking for advice and council on what they would like to see us do in helping them with their missionary work. So they gave lots of thoughts and ideas. So we got approval from Bishop Vali, and we held a meeting at Mama Nkomfe's home with all the active members of eZibeleni. Only one family wasn't able to come and one single sister. Every other active member was there. Well, we spoke about rescuing the lost and our responsibility to be the saviours on mount zion for these people. We focused on Luke 15:3-7 and Alma 6:6 along with a few other scriptures. 
As we counselled together there was an obvious spirit that could be felt in the room. We then made a plan to start two seperate cottage meetings every week in different locations in eZibeleni. One will be held at the Jabanga home one one side, and the other will be held at the Nkomfe home on the other. We committed these people to invite and bring at least one less active or one investigator friend to these meetings. Everyone committed and we then taught them about testing the promises of God and covenanting with him to do all we can to make it happen. The spirit was so strong as we sang hims and closed with a powerful prayer by Elder Farnsworth. 
The next day during fast and testimony meeting there were a few members who spoke of the experience. We all fasted together as eZibeleni members for the work. It was dang cool.
Also, a powerful side-note/story... Elder Stegelmeier and I sang at a funeral for a members father that was held at the Uniting Presbyterian Church. Pretty cool to walk up while they are beating their drums and singing. Then to have it go dead silent and have us sing "Be Still My Soul." It was powerful. I am sure angels sang with us, because people really thought it was amazing. Now, Elder Stegelmeier and I are NOT singers by any means, but in that moment, Journey, Josh Groban and Michael Buble had nothing on us. Just a sweet story how God really NEVER will fail or forsake us.
I am sure you are all tired of my Zone Leader training stories and talking about member missionary work, but it's my entire life right now. Honestly I haven't and almost CANT think about anything else. It's my focus. These people are my life. I feel like the more and more I love and give to them, the more and more I gain and become myself. It's the greatest give and take situation ever. I just feel like Heavenly Father must know what He is doing. I mean, I am in the best place, with the best people ever. I love it.
So no one told me about how they have served and loved people this past week. I take that as, no one did it. So again, repent and do it. Then report back to me. Try to be a rainbow in someones cloud this week.
Love you all so much. Sorry I don't have loads of time.
Mdala Mitchell Ryan Thayne

You will read about this in my mass email... but basically we sang "be still my soul" at a funeral at the Uniting Methodist Church. Just after one of their drum banging hymns. 
Pretty sweet stuff.