Monday, January 13, 2014

One for the Books...

Dear Family,

Ahh, this week has been one for the books. We have taught a lot of lessons. Probably three or more lessons a day all week! So that has been nice to really hit the ground running this week and feel like we are really implementing our purpose into our everyday work. Missionary life is definitely something I am becoming more and more accustomed to. I think as well I have found my place with all the Africans here.  Elder Capozzoli has really been great, especially this past week. We are getting to really become good friends which is cool! 
On Monday we emailed and then played soccer all day which basically is our thing out here in Africa. We played some volleyball too, but I jammed my thumb and middle finger the third game in or something, so after that I was pretty sloppy, but I'm all healed up now. Then we just went to a family home evening at the Mhini's home. We had Luvuyo, Sphux and then another girl who's name I cannot remember for the life of me... So hard to figure out how to pronounce and remember these African names. Murderous. We played a game with three cups and three knives. Everyone had to figure out how to get all the knives and cups to hold up a set of scriptures. It's super hard, you gotta really think. Anyways, the three cups were representing the three basics for sustaining and holding up our testimonies. The three basics were scripture reading, praying to Heavenly Father and then going to church every week. It was a good visual lesson which the African people really seem to appreciate. 
On Tuesday we went and taught a lot of less active members and recent converts and then went and visited the Naka family. It is the father with two sons who are all looking into the church. The youngest son, Sepinati, has a baptismal date set for January 25th so we are praying that goes through. He is such a good kid. I say kid, but he is Tal's age (18). We had taught him the word or wisdom. So just how we refrain from substances that are bad for our bodies. We told him the blessings that come from that as well as eating healthy and things such as that. He agreed to live the word of wisdom. The next time we visited, his brother (Mlondolozi) told us how Sepinati told his dad to stop buying "cool drink." Things like soda pop and coke and such. He was trying SO hard to live what we had taught him. We told him its alright to drink cool drink in moderation. He is such a champ, and his faithfulness absolutely blows me away. We taught Mlondolozi about the gospel of Jesus Christ so we used 2nephi 31. Elder Capozzoli invited Mlondolozi to be baptized and he said yes! So now both brothers are progressing towards baptism. 
On Wednesday we had exchanges. I was able to hangout with Elder Smith all day. He is a total stud out here. He reminds me of Brendon Nielson big time. One of my favorite elders out here. He is way cool, but also a hard worker and wants to be a good district leader and missionary. He has been out for fifteen months. Anyways, we taught a couple less active lessons to people, but it was a slower day overall. It is pretty fun though, there is a street where a group of probably ten teenagers hang out all day everyday and every time we drive past and say hi. They love it! Every time they see us driving up they go nuts and come talk to us. They are so funny. They all call me Zach, because I apparently look like Zach Efron. Like three weeks ago I was Justin Bieber to some other people. They obviously just love white people here. 
On Thursday we taught a few lessons to recent converts and then went over to the Naka family's house. We love them. They are such powerful people. Sepinati (the younger brother) is definitely all ready for baptism, so we just taught Mlondolozi the word of wisdom. He came right out and said he smokes and drinks sometimes on weekends, but last week he decided he didn't want to as a New Years resolution. So he gave it to all his friends and he hasn't had any since. So we taught him that and he really wants to try and be completely free from that. I promised him that as he relies on The Lord, he will be sustained and overcome this weakness. We read ether 12:27 and promised him that weak things will be made strong into him. It was pretty special. 
We also visited the three boys that are all getting ready for baptism and one of them, Lihle nyathela, was really sick so we gave him a blessing. I anointed and my companion gave him the blessing. He says he felt better the next day which was great!
But I have to say, being out here and teaching people like Sepinati and Mlondolozi really remind me of what it's all about. They are willing and faithful and working to do what is right. They love God and really want to have the spirit as a constant in their life. Ahh, I swear I almost cried for the first time on my mission in their home. The spirit is always so strong. 
One guy has a girlfriend which complicates things. They have been together for five years. The biggest reason so many people are living together and not being married yet is because it costs so much. Labola is the devil to this country basically. It's a tradition where the man has to pay the family TONS of money to marry their daughter. We are assuming that is the issue with this fellow and his girlfriend. We are going to talk to him and encourage him to marry her because it is a commandment from God and he needs to live the law of chastity. He wants to be baptized really bad, but this will be a tough one. So pray for Him and for inspiration on what we can do to help! Mum and Dad, your advice is appreciated greatly. We are going to talk to the bishop and maybe invite him to bring his wife and come to talk to him with us. We will see though. 
The gospel is great. Family!!!!! You would LOVE the Naka family. All boys. All humble. All wanting to follow God. It's great. We are going to try and help the father progress as well. 
Anyways, it was great because on Friday we had a training with our Zone Leaders and president wood came as well to conduct interviews. The interview was good, he was just checking up on how I am doing. He is so amazing with his knowledge of the scriptures. Ohh my word, I swear he mentions one every five minutes. He is such a cool guy though. After the training, which was about companionship study, we went and got post for the week! I got a few letters and Elder Capozzoli got sent two packages! One from his family and then one from his family and the Oaks family to him AND I. So I got a Christmas package! They were so sweet. They sent so much food and a couple of little toys for presents. It was awesome! 
Then later we taught a few lessons to less active members. One of them was to a sister. She has very little knowledge of the gospel though, so it is hard to teach her, and then on top of that she has a two year old daughter that ruins every lesson. She is constantly having to pause us or have us repeat things or whatever which really kills the flow of the lesson. So it is hard to teach her.  It's alright though, we will figure it out with her eventually, and as long as she learns something it's worth it. 
After teaching on Friday we went to the chapel and played soccer, we had a few investigators there. It was really essential for them to meet more members and to just chill with all of us and have fun. Soccer on friday was literally the cheekiest playing I've ever done though. I decided to just go barefoot on their pitch (field). Which is basically a field of grass with weeds and hills everywhere. Terry and Tal know how bad that discovery park's field was, that had nothing on this, but it's pretty good for a pitch in Africa. Barefoot, African play, is for sure  the way to go for me. With my tennis shoes I just slip everywhere and have a real bad touch on the ball. They were all surprised that a white kid could play and run as fast as them. So fun. Everyone here can play, old guys, young kids, and everyone in between. 
On Saturday it was a slower day than normal, we taught two short lessons and most people we tried to see were out and about because it was the last weekend before school started. So it was a okay day. 
Sunday we had the two Naka boys and like 6 of the less actives that we taught at church! It was so great! None of the other three boys came though which is frustrating, but we will try to get them next week. We took the sacrament to a few older folk after church. I practiced some piano with Luvuyo (because he plays a bit) and then we had a dinner appointment at the Mhini home. It was so good. Minus the potato salad and the beet salad thing. Haha I just ate those first and enjoyed the rest. There were three return missionaries at there house and we all just talked and laughed all night. It was so funny. They talked about how in Africa no one emails so all their white companions would be emailing for like two hours and they were just trying to figure out how to set up their email, but they didn't "want to ask for help or other people would think we were too black. I guess I had to get humbled, because I barely was able to write president by the time the white elders had written half of Utah." Ohh man, we were laughing so hard. Hilarious guys that gave us some cool advice for the mission. 
I told the senior couple elder and sister Boyce that you guys are doing the living Christ challenge and they said they are going to email mum the cards they have for us. It splits it all up and really makes it a ton easier. 
Grayson, whenever I have a day that I don't want to wake up and start my day I remember you when you would wake up super early in the morning just to milk the cow or just to do your homework, that helps out a lot. You're such an awesome example of that. 
Family I love you all and I pray for EACH one of you every single night. I hope all is well and I hope you all are happy. 

Toodles, poodles and I love you all oodles,
Elder Mitchell Ryan Thayne

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